Wine for Normal People

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A podcast for people who like wine but not the attitude that goes with it. We talk about wine in a fun, straight-forward, normal way to get you excited about it and help you drink better, more interesting stuff. Back catalog available at http://winefornormalpeople.libsyn.com.

Wine for Normal People


    • Dec 7, 2021 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekly NEW EPISODES
    • 42m AVG DURATION
    • 435 EPISODES

    Listeners of Wine for Normal People that love the show mention: best wine podcast, world of wine, learn about wine, wine world, sommelier, wine education, new wines, elizabeth breaks, elizabeth does a great job, wine drinker, wine knowledge, somms, bartending, wine podcasts, terroir, good wine, wine regions, normal person, like wine, wine lovers.



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    Latest episodes from Wine for Normal People

    Ep 403: Sardinia, Italy -- an Overview of Italy's Island with it's Own Accent

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 7, 2021 39:53

    Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean, and lies off the west coast of mainland Italy. Much larger than Corsica, the wines here have a distinctly Spanish influence, with some Italian and French to boot. The wines are unlike any other you'll encounter (although many you can only encounter them if you visit!). In this show we try try to sort through the grapes and regions of this island to get to the heart of what's here (Grenache, Vermentino) and what to look for in the future.   Sardinia is 150 miles (240km) off the west coast of mainland Italy. Across the Tyrrhenian Sea from Lazio (the province where Rome is located), Sardegna is sandwiched between French Corsica in the north and Sicily in the south at 38˚N and 41˚N latitude. The island is almost three times the size of Corsica with a population of 1.64 million people, with the largest city of Cagliari in the south. Known by the jet setters for the fancy Costa Smeralda in northeast tip, this big island is making more and better wines every year. Photo: Getty Images/Canva Here are the show notes: After some facts and history, I get the hardest part of Sardegna out of the way: the fact that it feels like there are a million appellations: 1 DOCG, 17 DOCs, 15 IGPs  and two-thirds is DOP level. It seems nonsensical – too many “line extensions” of the Sardinia brand!! There are more DOC and IGT titles than Basilicata and Calabria combined but has lowest production per hectare. This is especially confusing when you consider that there are just 25,000 ha/61,776 acres under vine, and 31,000 growers, who own tiny plots (and often form co-ops to economics work).  To try to clear up the DOC confusion, I break it down into the three big buckets: “di Sardegna” Appellations: Cannonau di Sardegna Monica di Sardegna Moscato di Sardegna Vermentino di Sardegna Sardegna Semidano   Cagliari Appellations Malvasia di Cagliari Monica di Cagliari Moscato di Cagliari Nasco di Cagliari Nuragus di Cagliari   Other important DOC/Gs: Carignano del Sulcis Vermentino di Gallura DOCG Vernaccia di Oristano For Bovale: Mandrolisai, Campidano di Terralba   Then we discuss the basics on this large island…   The climate of Sardinia is dry and hot with some maritime influences to cool down the vineyards. The rolling hills and different elevations mean there are many mesoclimates, so growers have to pay attention to their particular area.   Sardinia is made up of hills, plains, coast, and inland areas with varied soils – granite (Gallura), limestone (Cagliari), sandstone, marl, mineral rich clay, sands, gravel. The land tends to be undulating but there are also very high altitudes at which grapes can be planted.   Grapes… The top five varietals are nearly 70% of land under vine, and the area is home to 120 native grape varieties. Old vines (70+ years) are common in Sardinia The top 5 grapes are: Cannonau/Grenache Vermentino Carignano Monica Nuragus   The reds… Cannonau is about 20% of the output of Sardinia. Although it is identical to Grenache, some natives think the grape originated here, and are trying to prove that. These best wines come from a triangle that covers the eastern interior areas within the Cannonau di Sardegna DOC (these names will be on the label): Oliena (Nepente di Oliena)  Capo Ferrato Jerzu   Cannonau is known to have thin skin, medium acidity, a medium body with soft tannins, and high alcohol. It often tastes and smells like peppery spice, red berry, red flowers, and earth and generally has low or no oak aging. Cannonau di Sardegna is required to be 90-100% Cannonau, with other non aromatic, local red grapes permitted. There are a few styles of this wine: Rossoor classico (a little higher alcohol, more yield restrictions), which are often in one of two styles… Strong and tannic with lower acidity and higher alcohol – a steakhouse wine, as MC Ice called it Dry, fewer tannins and slightly fruity, with red berry, cherry, floral, spicy anise/herbal notes, earth, and strong acidity. This is a wine that improves with age Riserva is generally made with riper fruit, and is required to age at least two years with time in a barrel and a minimum alcoholic strength of 12.5% Rosato is a light to full rosé The fortified liquorosowines are made as dolce with a high residual sugar content, or secco,  dry with a higher alcohol content.  Passito styles are made, where grapes are dried on straw mats and then pressed. The resulting wines have similar sweetness toliquoroso dolce. *Many of the other red grapes are made in all of these styles as well Photo: Getty Images/Canva   Other reds… Carignano del Sulcis DOC is for red and rosato wines made from Carignano in the southwest corner of the island. These vines are quite old, and the flavors are like sweet spice, smoke, and dark fruit. The wines tend to be full bodied with high alcohol. Similar to Cannonau, the are made as rosso, riserva, rosato, and passito. There is also a nouveau, or novello style for this wine.     Bovale has 24 different names in Sardininan dialects but the idea that it is Bobal from Spain has been debunked. The two common versions of Bovale are Bovale Grande, which is Carignan, and Bovale Sardo, Rioja's Graciano grape (also called Cagnulari). Mandrolisai and Campidano di Terralba focus on Bovale   The Monica grape is -- grown almost nowhere else in the world, and is definitely from Spain. It is either light and fruity or more intense. There is potential for the grape but now the yields under the Monica di Sardegna and Monica di Cagliari DOCs are so high that it's hard to glean the true potential of the wine.   Pascale di Cagliari is originally from Tuscany and now mostly used to blend with other varieties, like Carignano.    The whites… Vermentino is a sun-loving grape, which works well in Sardinia's hot, dry climate. The styles range from light and fresh to fuller-bodied, with lower acidity and higher alcohol. Good versions taste and smell either like citrus, white flowers, herbs with salinity/minerality or for the fuller styles, almonds, peach, apricot, ripe tropical fruit, with a fat body. Vermentino di Sardegna covers the entire island of Sardinia, so quality is highly variable. Often it is dry, slightly bitter, herbal, and light to neutral in flavor. It can be dry, off-dry, slightly sparkling or Spumante (dry or sweet). Vermentino di Gallura is Sardinia's only DOCG. Located in the island's northeastern corner, the area has sharp diurnals, strong winds from the Mistral and vineyards are on weathered granite soil. The result is a wine that is flavorful, with white flowers, lemon, peach, almond, minerals, and especially a salinity to it.  The wine is dry with a slight bitterness on the finish, good acidity, and high alcohol (14%+ is common). The wine is made as Superiore (higher alcohol requirement, riper grapes), frizzante, spumante, passito, late harvest, and off-dry versions. Winemakers are experimenting with skin contact, amphora, lees stirring (battonage), oak aging, and other techniques to spice things up for Vermentino. Photo: Getty Images/Canva Other white grapes include Nuragus, which was  planted by the Phoenicians, and is light-bodied, dry, acidic, with citrus, green apple, pear, and melon notes. It can be high in alcohol.   Nasco is grown around Cagliari, and is used for passito and liquoroso, with some dry styles.   Torbato is an acidic, minerally white with pear notes that can be creamy with some age. It is also made as a sparkling wine.   Malvasia, dry or sweet is made here, as is Moscato (Muscat) – both are floral, aromatic, and generally lighter in style, although Moscato is bolder than Malvasia   Vernaccia di Oristano is made from a grape that is unique to this area, and the wines, which range from dry to sweet, but are most famed when made in a sherry-like fortified wine, are rarely seen outside Sardinia.   Photo: Getty Images/Canva Here is the list of top producers we mention: Argiolas,  Antonella Corda, Capichera, Contini, Ferruccio Deiana, Cantina Santadi, Sella & Mosca (Campari owns), Siddura, Vigne Surrau, Pietro Mancini   Some sources I used for this show: Strictly Sardinia Ian D'Agata for Vinous, Sardinia's Wines: High Quality, Low Visibility, March 2018 Wine-Searcher, Sardinia Italian Wine Central:Sardegna   Thanks for our sponsors this week: Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal If you think our podcast is worth the price of a bottle or two of wine a year, please become a member of Patreon... you'll get even more great content, live interactions and classes!  www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

    Ep 402: Corsica, the French Island with an Italian Accent

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 30, 2021 43:09

    Corsica is the 4th largest Mediterranean island and the most mountainous. It is a territory of France but is closer to Italy in proximity and, often in wine styles. Corsica is called “Ile de Beauté,” the beautiful island, and its wines, which were once known for quantity rather than quality are making great strides in amazing reds, whites, and rosés, which is the majority of their production.   These off-the-beaten trail wines, made of Nielluccio (Sangiovese), Sciacarello (an elegant, native red), and Vermentino (an aromatic white) with a mix of other grapes represent the unique terroir of this rugged, varied isle. These wines are ones to keep on your radar – they are getting better and should be on your “watch” list!   Map: Vins de Corse   Here are the show notes: Location, Climate, Geology We discuss the location of Corsica -- 90 km/56 mi west of Italy, 170 KM/106 mi SE of France, 11 KM/7 mi north of Sardegna Corisca is a big island -- twice the size of Rhode Island, half the area of the country of Wales. Down the center a single chain of mountains takes up 2/3 of the island We discuss who actually planted vines here and debate Phoceans v. Phoenicians (the former is from Persia, the latter more from what we know as Greece today) In this, the most mountainous island in the Mediterranean, there are many soil combinations, but most contain at least some granite or schist, except on the east coast where there is more alluvial and colluvial soils from mountain runoff 20% of island covered by wild scrub known as the maquis -- fig, lavender, wild mint, thyme, rosemary -- Wines are highly aromatic, minerally – especially the reds due to the Granite and the maquis The CLIMATE is Mediterranean, with abundant sunshine but also a lot of rain and very strong winds from every direction (the Mistral, the Transmontane, the Liebeccio, and the Gregale are some of those we list). The mountains and the sea are the influences that reduce day-night temperature swings. There are a variety of mesoclimates because of altitude and maritime influence     Grapes: More than 40 grapes that are Italian, Spanish, French and more, are allowed, but most are only allowed in IGP wines. The main grapes are Nielluccio, Sciacarello and Vermentino Nielluccio represents  1/3 of plantings and is genetically identical to Sangiovese but tastes totally different because of the terroir in Corsica.   Sciaccarello is 15% of production and displays high acidity, elegance with smoke, raspberry, licorice, hazelnuts, blackberries, orange notes   Others: Grenache, Aleatico, Barbarossa, Carcajolo Nero,  Minustello (Graciano), Mourvedre, Cinsault, Carignan   Vermentino was probably brought to the island by the Greeks and, today is 15% of production, created floral, honeyed wines. It's often blended with Ugni Blanc, Biancu Gentile.     Regions: 9 AOC/AOP regions and the I'lle de Beauté IGP   Ile de Beauté  Representing about 2/3 of production, this IGP allows for all 40+ grape varieties grown on the island – it's a cross section of all the native grapes of so many countries, from Spain to Italy to France to Greece. These wines aremostly the cheap and cheerful set, but can be really good if the winemakers are like the AOP laws   Patrimonio AOC Granted Corsica's first AOC in 1968, Patrimonio is on the northern coast of the island, near the sea. Nielluccio is the lead grape with Grenache and Sciacarello used prominently in reds and rosés, and Vermentino in whites and sometimes rosés. The reds are aromatic, fruity and a bit smoky. The rosé is fuller bodied and the whites, are usually floral and full.   Ajaccio AOC Granted its AOC in 1971, the AOC is along the west-southwest coast of Corsica. It contains some of the highest vineyards, up to 500 meters (1,600 feet) and has clay-based soils with granite, leading to wines with structure and fullness. Medium bodied, spicy reds and rosés are from the lead grape Sciacarello with Barbarossa, Nielluccio, Vermentino, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan and others. Aromatic, dry whites are made of Ugni Blanc and Vermentino.   Muscat du Cap Corse AOC An AOC for Vin Doux Naturel made in the northern peninsula of Corsica from Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains. Vineyards are on steep terraces, grapes are hand-harvested later in the season and the top wines are aromatic with candied fruit, beeswax and apricot. They are sweet but have excellent acidity.     Vin de Corse AOC and its sub regions Vin de Corse AOC is a region-wide designation and represents 45% of all AOC wines produced in Corsica. This specific AOC is for the eastern seaboard of Corsica and it's planted in the plain and rolling lands. Reds and rosé wines are at least 50% Nielluccio, Sciacarello, and Grenache with the other grapes like Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault, Aleatico, Barbarossa, Graciano. Reds tend to be rustic, full flavored, higher in alcohol and strong in tannin, the rosés are peppery, and the white is mainly minerally, floral Vermentino.   The 5 Vin de Corse sub-regions are: Coteaux du Cap Corse, Calvi, Figari, Porto Vecchio, Sartène. These sub-regions have lower yields than Vin de Corse and use the same grapes mentioned above. Map: Vins de Corse Vin de Corse-Coteaux du Cap Corse is in the northern peninsula of the island, which extends into the Ligurian Sea, which may be why there is salinity in the wines. The area is windy with schist-based soils, and ~ 50% of production is rosé with smaller proportions of red and white. The steeper site made interesting wines.     Vin de Corse-Calvi is in the northwest corner of Corsica with vineyards along the coast and in the foothills of Corsica's mountains creating many mesoclimates. This area contains some of the oldest vineyards in Corsica and producers are 100% organic or in transition to it. The wines are of a similar breakdown to Coteaux du Corse.     Vin de Corse-Porto Vecchio is on the southeastern coast near the Golfe de Porto-Vecchio, a bay that provides shelter from winds. Porto Vecchio has granite-based soils with some alluvial areas in flatter lands. The wines are similar to others in the Vin de Corse AOCs.     Vin de Corse-Figari is he oldest vineyard area in Corsica, likely cultivated since the 5th century BC. It is on the southern tip of the island and is relatively flat, with granite-based soils sunny but a harsh and very windy climate. It is hard to grow grapes here yet there are many young winegrowers, who are very terroir focused.   Vin de Corse-Sartène is a hilly area northwest of Figari, that experiences strong winds. With granite soils the reds are spicy and rich, the rosés fruity and the whites light.   Producers we mention: Clos D'Alzeto, Domaine Vico, Clos Venturi, Domaine Comte Abbatucci (known for cultivating native vines), Domaine Antoine Arena (biodynamic), Domaine De Torraccia (advocate for quality Corsican wines), Clos Canarelli ________________________________________________ Thanks for our sponsors this week: Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal If you think our podcast is worth the price of a bottle or two of wine a year, please become a member of Patreon... you'll get even more great content, live interactions and classes!  www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

    Ep 401: Easy Wine Cocktails to Make You the Hero of Holiday Hosting

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 22, 2021 35:00

    Wine is essential to the Thanksgiving meal, and of course we discuss some pairing strategies as we do every year. Our quick “greatest hits” is from the TV spot I did with WWLP in Massachusetts, where I discussed wine pairing – check it out here: https://www.wwlp.com/massappeal/picking-the-perfect-wine-for-thanksgiving/  After we do a review, the focus of this show is how to wow the crowd with easy wine cocktails. You can use what you have on hand or grab a few basic items and you'll become the holiday host of the season. We talk about these marvelous cocktails, with tips on how to make them, but as promised the links to the recipes are below.   1. Apple Cider Mimosa: The key to this one is to make sure you rim the glass with sugar and cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. It's not hard to add sparkling wine to apple cider, but the festive rim with it's delicious spices will make the drink shine. Here's the link to the recipe: : https://wine365.com/fall-cocktails/   2. Cranberry Mimosa: A variation on a theme, this time you want to use a little less cranberry juice and more sparkling wine to ensure the blend doesn't taste too tart or bitter. Again, the key to a delicious drink is going to be the sugar-rimmed glass. Recipe: https://stressbaking.com/wprm_print/6796   3. Kir/Kir Royale: A classic wine cocktail from Burgundy, this couldn't be easier to make. No recipe needed – 2 parts Aligoté, Chablis, or an unoaked, fairly neutral wine with excellent acidity, to 1 part Crème de Cassis (dark red liqueur from blackcurrants) and you're in business. If you want to go nuts, go for the Kir Royale and use Champagne or sparkling wine instead of dry white!  Photo: Kir Royale from Pixabay   4. The New York Sour: According to Liquor.com, this drink has been around for at least 140 years (and they claim that despite the name, it originated in Chicago!). It's a spin on a Whiskey Sour – the classic with rye or bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and, for a touch of salmonella, a raw egg white. This drink is the same ingredients, but after the Whiskey Sour is shaken and poured, you very slowly pour red wine on top and you get a pretty looking red wine float, which also adds some great fruitiness and acidity to the drink. Here are details: https://www.liquor.com/recipes/new-york-sour/ Photo: Unsplash 5. Hot Spiced Wine: I love this recipe because it include kirsch/cherry brandy. The base of the drink is red wine and kirsch but the get and go is all about the spices you add – peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and various citrus zest make this wine cocktail really sing. A perfect wine for a cold, fall day. And you can make a huge vat of it ahead of time and reheat it for guests! Check out the recipe here: https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/hot-spiced-wine     6. Murderer's Row: I know I should have introduced this one for Halloween, but the fact that this cocktail includes Port, and I really love the idea of serving Port with dessert (but I understand you may not want a lot left over!), makes it an MVP for a big holiday meal. Crush up blackberries, then grab some Port, bourbon, lemon juice, pear juice, and simple syrup, shake it up and you will be the hero of the night…and feel free to rename the cocktail to (YOUR NAME HERE) Row! Recipe:  https://wine365.com/fall-cocktails/ Photo: Unsplash 7. The Paysan from the now closed restaurant, Poste in Washington, D.C.: As I say in the show, Chambord with anything pretty much wins the day for me. This wine cocktail is like a dream come true – fruity red, cranberry juice, orange juice and Chambord with zests of various citrus fruits and BAM! A delicious wine cocktail is born. Here is the link to the recipe: https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/paysan   8. The Francophile: I have no idea why the recipe here calls for Rioja when it's called the Francophile so I've changed it to incorporate Bordeaux (Merlot-based, basic Bordeaux is perfect. It should have some tannin and acidity to offset the brandy). This is another variation of mulled wine, this time with Calvados, the apple-brandy that is an AOC and is required to be aged in oak before it's released. You can go high rent or get another apple brandy, but either way, the combo of Calvados, Bordeaux, cinnamon simple syrup ,and lemon juice heated up will make you the hostess with the mostess/host with the most. Here is the recipe: https://www.liquor.com/recipes/francophile/ Photo: Unsplash   Happy Thanksgiving or happy fall – either way, we are grateful to you for listening and for your support!!   ________________________________________________ Thanks for our sponsors this week: Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal If you think our podcast is worth the price of a bottle or two of wine a year, please become a member of Patreon... you'll get even more great content, live interactions and classes!  www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

    Ep 400: 10 Things That Have Changed in Wine in the 10 Years of WFNP

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 15, 2021 41:10

    Thank you for 10+ years and 400 episodes. We couldn't do it without you! A VERY special thanks to our Patrons who have kept the show alive since 2018.  In this show we discuss 10 things we've learned over the 400 episodes we've produced over the last 10+ years. Here's a quick summary... 1. Climate change is no longer a BS term. People are taking it seriously and being more positive about what to do about it 2. Change in the New World – confidence, maturity, and even better wine 3. Change in the Old World – a more wine-lover centric attitude 4. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater…wine styles have diversified, so make sure you try many examples before you say you dislike a grape or a region 5. The decline of the wine score…we still use them, but they carry a lot less weight and there are many of us who know they are highly biased and don't give a lot of information to us 6. Balance is more important in wine than any one component 7. Consistency for WFNP (and for wine) is never going away…but changing your mind with new facts is ok! 8. Everything in wine changes, everything in wine stays the same… 9. You can get a great bottle for $9, if you know what to look for 10. A riff on #4 – sometimes wines that are bad sippers are great with food. It's sometimes imbalance in a sipper that makes it perfect with food (yes, it contradicts #6 but this is a special circumstance – food changes a lot of things with wine. And that's wine…full of consistency, full of contradiction!)   Cheers to another 400 episodes -- we'll make them as long as you keep listening!  __________________________ Thanks for our sponsors this week: Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal If you think our podcast is worth the price of a bottle or two of wine a year, please become a member of Patreon... you'll get even more great content, live interactions and classes!  www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

    Ep 399: Basilicata, Italy and the Wines of Aglianico del Vulture

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2021 48:02

    Basilicata is a tiny region that represents the arch of the Italy's boot -the small area that borders Calabria in the west, Puglia in the east, Campania in the north and the Gulf of Taranto in the south. In this, Italy's 3rd least populous region, wine has been made for thousands of years but today, what remains is just 2,006 ha/5,000 acres of vineyards, which is 0.15% of Italy's total wine production. Of the 2% that is DOC wine, there is a shining star – a wine that can rival the best of the best in all of Italy – Aglianico del Vulture (ahl-LYAh-nee-koh del VOOL-too-ray). In this show we discuss the background of this southern Italian region and discuss the jewel in its crown.     Here are the show notes… We first discuss the location and land of Basilicata In the southern Apennines, Basilicata is the most mountainous region in the south of Italy. 47% is covered by mountains, 45% is hilly, and only 8% is plains. The west is the hillier area, the east runs into flatter land into Puglia. There is a small stretch of coastline between Campania and Calabria and a longer one along the Gulf of Taranto, between Puglia and Calabria. Photo: Getty Images We do a good look at the history of Basilicata, but the highlights are: People (or really ancestors of modern people) have inhabited the area since Paleolithic times. Matera is considered one of the oldest continuous civilizations in the world. Its Sassi district, which has now become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has caves on a rocky hillside that were inhabited by people as far back as the Paleolithic times. Greeks settled in Basilicata from at least the 8th c BCE and likely brought Aglianico with them. Basilicata has been conquered by nearly everyone who paraded through southern Italy over the centuries. In the 1970s and 80s there was a renaissance in wine in Basilicata but it didn't last. Today, there is renewed hope and investments, as a new generation of winemakers takes over their family domaines, establishes new properties and combines traditional and modern winemaking to make excellent wines.   We mention several DOCs of Basilicata: Photo of Matera: Getty Images Matera DOC was granted in 2005 It is 50 ha / 124 acres, and produces about 11,200 cases per year REDS: Matera Primitivo (90%+ Primitivo/Zinfandel grape), Matera Rosso (at least 60% Sangiovese and 30% Primitivo), and Matera Moro, (a minimum of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Primitivo and 10% Merlot). There are basic and Riserva levels Whites: Matera Greco (85%+ Greco), Matera Bianco (minimum of 85% Malvasia Bianca di Basilicata) There is also spumante (sparkling) made in the Champagne method   Grottino di Roccanova DOC was granted in 2009 8 ha / 20 acres, and producers about 3,000 cases per year White/Bianco (Minimum of 80% Malvasia Bianca di Basilicata) Red/Rosso: Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignino, Malvasia Nera di Basilicata, Montepulciano   Terre dell'Alta Val d'Agri DOC was granted in 2003. At 11 ha / 27 acres, the area makes a mere 3,840 cases a year. Vineyards can be no higher than 800 m/ 2,625 ft Red/Rosato: Rosso (Minimum 50% Merlot; minimum 30% Cabernet Sauvignon; maximum 20% other red grapes). Riserva and regular versions Photo: Getty Images, Val d'Agri   We spend the rest of the show discussing  Aglianico del Vulture DOC/DOCG, which is 25% of Basilicata's total production Vulture's land… Vulture is an extinct volcano that was last active about 130,000 years ago. It is 56 km/35 miles north of Potenza at an altitude of 1,326m/4,350 ft, close to borders with Puglia and Campania. Woods surround the area and the top of the slope has more volcanic soils and lower lying vineyards have more mixed, colluvial, and clay soils. The elevations are specified by the DOC – too low or too high and you won't get great flavor development or quality wine, so the range is 200-700 m/660 -2300 ft. The variety of soils, elevations and exposures mean that there are different styles of Aglianico del Vulture. Photo: Getty Images Vulture's climate… Vulture is continental in climate and it has lower average daily temperatures than Sicily or Tuscany. There are cool breezes that sweep in from the Adriatic, cooling the area and preventing humidity. Elevation also keeps things cooler, especially at night, which means the grapes experience a long growing season, building flavor in the hot sun during the day, and cooling at night to hoard acidity.  The rain shadow of Mount Vulture also keeps the weather cool and dry.  That said, in some years the drought is fierce, grapes can get sunburned, the tannins can be tough, and the wine can be overly alcoholic.     Characteristics of Aglianico del Vulture Aglianico is a thick-skinned grape that needs mineral-rich soils with clay and limestone (like what is on Vulture). It can be overcropped, so careful tending to the grapes leads to better results (this is kind of a dumb thing to say, since that's the case with all grapes, but I'm putting it out there anyway!).   Flavors range in Aglianico del Vulture. Younger wines are high in tannins and acidity, with black cherry, chocolate, flowers, minerals, dark-fruit, and shrubby, forest notes. With a few years (5 or more), you may get nuances of Earl gray tea, black tea, licorice, earth, tar, spice, and violets. The tannins calm with age, but the acidity remains – with age (7-10 years) these wines are pretty impressive. We discuss the fact that there are some lighter styles and some savory, complex ones, but most are minerally with tannin in some form. Photo of Aglianico: Getty Images  Aglianico del Vulture was made a DOC in 1971 It is 520/1,284 acres, and it's average production is 235,000 cases The wine is red or spumante – all is 100% Aglianico (the sparkling must be made in the Champagne method). Reds are required to be aged for 9-10 months in a vessel of the producer's choice before release (oak isn't required). Spumante must rest for 9 months on the lees. Photo: Monte Vulture, Getty Images Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG/ Riserva Superiore DOCG was created in 2010. It is within the Aglianico del Vulture DOC but is only 89 ha/220 acres Production is much smaller, at 6,670 cases. The wine is 100% Aglianico. Superiore is required to spend 12 months in oak, 12 months in a bottle, cannot be sold until at least three years after harvest. Superiore Riserva spends 24 months in oak, 12 in bottle, and cannot be released until at least 5 years after harvest. Both categories must reach a minimum of 13.5% ABV (basically a guarantee that the grapes are ripe!)     In the show we discuss the food of Basilicata and mention a few specialties: M.C. Ice was surprised that in this area, bread crumbs were a cheese substitute, sprinkled over pasta, meat, and vegetables. Horseradish is common here, along with Italian hot peppers, beans, pork sausage, and the famed bread of Matera, which is a Protected Georgraphical Indication and uses wheat grown locally and a yeast infused with fruit.     Producers are vital to getting a quality wine. This is my list… D'Angelo (Split into D'Angelo and Donato D'Angelo recently, and each is good) Paternoster (recently sold to Veneto's Tommasi family) Cantine del Notaio Elena Fucci Terre degli Svevi /Re Manfredi Grifalco Eubea and Basilisco (both small-production bottlings) Bisceglia (we were drinking the 2018 Terre di Vulcano, which was about $18) DOC wines are around US$20/GBP£15, DOCG wines are more like US$45/GBP£43.   __________________________ Thanks for our sponsors this week: Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal   If you think our podcast is worth the price of a bottle or two of wine a year, please become a member of Patreon... you'll get even more great content, live interactions and classes!  www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes _____________________________ Some interesting sources I used for this show: Italian Wine Central (Great for data on DOCs/DOCGs) "The Wines of Basilicata Paradise Lost and Found" 4/17, Vinous, by Ian d'Agata  NY Times Article on Aglianico

    Ep 398: The Grape Miniseries -- Merlot Revisited

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 3, 2021 56:29

    Photo: www.medoc-bordeaux.com 10 years after the first show on Merlot (Episode 18!), it was time for a refresh!   Merlot hasn't staged a comeback as a varietal wine, but it shines brightly as a part of a Bordeaux-style blend. It's better than ever in its native home and has seen some real strides in New World regions too.   We discuss characteristics and background of the grape, the very particular conditions that it needs for quality (but often doesn't get), and then the major regions that grow Merlot well!    It's International Merlot Day on November 7, so grab a bottle and celebrate this outstanding grape.  _________________________________________________________ Thanks for our sponsors this week: Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal   If you think our podcast is worth the price of a bottle or two of wine a year, please become a member of Patreon... you'll get even more great content, live interactions and classes!  www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

    Ep 397: The World of Online Wine Auctions with WineBid CEO Russ Mann

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 25, 2021 51:42

    WineBid is the largest online auction site for wine and it's been around for 25 years. Founded in 1996 by a wine collector in Chicago, WineBid has grown over the years to develop the technology, logistics, and customer service to acquire over 100,000 registered bidders.   Russ Mann, CEO WineBid   In this show, Russ Mann, CEO of WineBid, breaks down the entire wine auction market – from live -scratching-your-nose-to-bid events, to charity auctions, to online auctions. I can't tell you how much I learned from this show and how excited I am to start bidding and buying wine from WineBid. I was hesitant before but I think I can do this -- you should listen and you'll feel the same!    ___________________________________ Registration for the FREE Wines of the Médoc Class is here:    Session 2, October 28, at 8 PM Eastern   Thanks for our sponsors this week: Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

    Ep 396: Halloween Candy and Wine Pairings Revisited

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 18, 2021 45:37

    We scoured the internet to find commonly recommended pairings, so we could actually try them and tell you if any of these things actually work. Much like our prior episode, the news isn't great, but we did find a few diamonds in the rough, including an extremely surprising combo that I thought could be lethal! Patrons Kelsey and Colby Eliades guest host with me to power through this episode and sum up the things we learned about candy pairings – what works, what doesn't, and why!   Here are the combos we tested… Pop rocks with Prosecco   Candy corn with Prosecco and Moscato d'Asti Gummy worms with Rosé   Sour Patch Kids with off-dry Riesling   Starburst and Moscato d'Asti   Twizzlers, and Swedish Fish with Beaujolais   Kit Kat with Pinot Noir   Peppermint Patties with Syrah   Reese's Peanut Butter cups and Reese's Pieces with Lambrusco   Hershey's bars and Whoppers with Zinfandel Port-style Zinfandel with M&Ms, Snickers, Twix, Heath bar   And, so concludes my attempt at pairing wine with Halloween candy. We did the encore, I am so thankful for Kelsey and Colby for participating, and now I'm never doing this again

    Ep 395: Walla Walla, Washington's Caprio Cellars and Its Estate Wines

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 12, 2021 43:12

    Caprio Cellars makes wines from estate vineyards in the Walla Walla viticultural area of eastern Washington. Owner and winemaker, Dennis Murphy crafts wines mainly from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from his three Walla Walla vineyards, one of which is named after his Italian grandmother Eleanor Caprio, and another for his great grandmother Sanitella Caprio. In the show, Dennis shares some good information about Walla Walla and its climate, soils, and the region's unique position in the wine world. The bulk of the show is dedicated to my conversation with him, and he gives us a different perspective from others we've talked to in Walla Walla, like Sleight of Hand Cellars (who doesn't love Jerry Solomon and Episode 295) and Amavi/ Pepperbridge (Eric McKibben rocks out Episode 294). But a lot of Dennis's references are to seminal figures in the Walla Walla wine industry.   Photo: Dennis Murphy, Caprio Cellars Given that, in the first part of the show, I spend a few minutes telling you about the founding figures in the Walla Walla wine industry.  Not only does this help in explaining the references, it sets you up to understand all of Walla Walla -- if you ever talk to anyone about the region or go visit, these names will come up over and over again. They are...   Norm McKibben. A founding father of Walla Walla's wine industry, and he founded Pepper Bridge Cellars and Amavi. His mentorship, forward thinking attitude (he was an early proponent of sustainability), and openness are a big part of the success of Walla Walla. Jean-Francois Pellet is the Director of Winemaking and a partner at Pepper Bridge and Amavi. He was born and raised in Switzerland, and is a third-generation wine grower. After working in vineyards around Europe and for Heitz Cellars in the Napa Valley, he was recruited by Norm to Pepper Bridge  and also helped start Amavi. He is an active partner in the businessl and an important force in the Walla Walla wine scene. Marty Clubb is Managing Winemaker and co-owner of L'Ecole N° 41 with his wife, Megan, and their children, Riley and Rebecca.  Megan's parents, Jean and Baker Ferguson, founded L'Ecole in 1983. In 1989, Marty and Megan moved to Walla Walla and Marty became manager and winemaker of L'Ecole.  Marty, along with Norm McKibben and Gary Figgins (see below) were the three most important figures in starting viticulture in the Walla Walla Valley.  Marty is one of the most revered figures in Walla Walla.   Gary Figgins is the founder of Leonetti Cellar, which was Walla Walla's first commercial winery. The Figgins family has been in Walla Walla for over a century and Gary learned viticulture from his uncles, who were farmers. He is self-taught and has done miraculous things for Walla Walla – Leonetti's wines were among the first to gain high scores and national recognition for the valley. Gary and his wife Nancy passed on the winery to their kids, Chris and Amy, but Gary is a major figure in the development of Walla Walla and is still active in vineyard consulting.   Christophe Baron is a native of Champagne and came to Walla Walla in 1993 while doing an internship at a vineyard in Oregon. He saw the famed “rocks” of the Milton-Freewater district that looked like the puddingstone in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and decided to buy 10 acres for his Cayuse Vineyards. The waitlist for the winery is many years deep, so Cayuse's wines are only available to us on the secondary market (auctions and stuff – there is a podcast to come on auctions that will make that secondary market easy to understand!). He's essential to helping make Walla Walla wine a coveted, hard to get luxury!   Dennis Murphy mentions other important wineries: Gramercy Cellars, Va Piano, and Hanatoro, to name a few!    Finally, we discuss a few vineyards: Seven Hills and Sevein: These are top vineyards of Walla Walla. They have unique soils and are managed by the founding fathers of Walla Walla – Norm McKibben, Marty, Clubb, Gary Figgins, and a few others, with many top wineries sourcing from this land. Photo: Seven Hills Vineyard After the intro, Dennis and I discuss Caprio, and its vineyards and its wines, which are quite tasty. Dennis discusses winemaking techniques, viticulture and sustainability, and his unique, very welcoming hospitality model. He has recently purchased a stake in Pepper Bridge and Amavi, so we discuss that briefly as well.   If you haven't been to Walla Walla, put it on the list. In many ways it represents the. best of the American wine industry -- collegial, entrepreneurial, with a focus on hard work and quality. Who could ask for more?   Photo: Caprio Cellars _________________________________________________________________ Registration for the FREE Wines of the Médoc Class is here:  Session 1, October 21 at 8 PM Eastern Session 2, October 28, at 8 PM Eastern   Thanks for our sponsors this week: Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

    Ep 394: Germany Overview

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2021 56:34

    After 10.5 years of doing the podcast I realized that we have never done an overview of Germany! Details, yes, but never the whole deal. Well, now we have. Photo credit: Pexels We discuss an overview of the most important things to know about Germany so you can buy and try the wines more easily. We begin with an overview of the German wine industry, and a reassurance that most of the stuff for export is pretty darn good. Then we tackle the climate and land, both which are completely unlikely places for great viticulture, but for a few dedicated people and a few quirks in geography.   We talk about the major grapes (spoiler alert: Riesling is huge here) and then we discuss various wine styles before giving an overview of the very rich history here, which is meant to give you context for how long Germany has been in the winemaking game and how significant the country has been in wine.   The second half of the show is an overview of the major regions in Germany and then we wrap with a quick discussion of the classification system, which hopefully makes much more sense once you hear about the history, climate, and terroir of Germany.   I love German wine. I think you could too, if you don't already. I hope that this show (and the Germany section in the WFNP book, which gives a lot of great detail) can convince you to put it in the rotation more often!   Here are the show notes: German wine regions are mainly in the southern and southwestern part of Germany, and are quite northerly, many at around 50-51˚N latitude There are 103,000ha/252,00 acres of vineyards 2/3 of the wine is white, with Germany's wine reputation pinned to Riesling Most people who make wine in Germany are small producers by New World standards. 25,000 cases/300,000 bottles is considered a huge winery, whereas in the US that's on the small side of medium! Photo of Riesling: Canva/Getty Climate and land Germany is a cool climate country, grapes can only grow and ripen because of the Gulf stream from western Europe and the warmer air the comes in from Eastern Europe Rainfall in Germany's wine regions occurs DURING the growing season, not during harvest. There is significant disease pressure on the vineyards but irrigation is not an issue and the long, dry fall enables easier harvesting and allows for late harvest wines to flourish The very steep slopes face south, southeast, or southwest. The slopes experience intense solar radiation, helping ripen the grapes Photo (C)Wine For Normal People: Slate in the Mosel Slate is a preferred soil in Germany because it retains heat and imparts spicy, minerally notes to the wine Grapes of Germany Riesling is about 23% of production Müller-Thurgau is about 12% Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) is 11.5% Dornfelder (a red) is about 7.6% Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) is 6% Weisburgunder (Pinot Blanc) is 5% Silvaner is 4.8% And many other grapes are grown in small percentages all over the country   Wine regions: We review all 13 Anbaugebiete... Map from the Wine For Normal People Book Ahr is the northernmost region. It is small and grows a majority of red wine, mainly spätburgunder Baden is Germany's southernmost region and accordingly it is the warmest, sunniest region. It is close to France, and grows a lot of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc as a result Franken is known for its flagon – a flat, round-shaped bottle called a bocksbeutel. The regions specializes in earthy, white Silvaner from the limestone shores of the Main River Hessische Bergstrasse is a teeny region with Riesling as the lead. You don't see these wines outside of Germany Mittelrhein is in the middle of the Rhine (fitting name, huh!?). It is dominated by Riesling, which grows on steep slate slopes Mosel is the most famed region in Germany and makes what many consider to be the best Riesling in the world. The first winegrowing in Germany was in Mosel and it contains the steepest vineyard: at 65˚ grade, Bremmer Calmont has this distinction. Slate soils are dominant and the wines are known for low alcohol levels, high acidity, pure fruit and floral (jasmine, gardenia) notes, along with strong minerality. They are generally off-dry to sweet, to offset the very powerful acidity the terroir imparts to Riesling. Photo (C)Wine For Normal People Nahe is located around the river Nahe, the volcanic soils create wines with fuller, richer textures than in other parts of Germany. It is a medium-sized area and not all vineyards or wineries are created equal – there are excellent producers and less good ones too! Pfalz is the second largest area after Rheinhessen. It is consumed heavily in the domestic market and can make rich, fuller stules of dry Riesling because the climate is slightly warmer. Red wines are growing here as well, given the warm conditions and the ability to fully ripen red grapes. Rheingau is the home of Riesling, the creator of Spätlese and Auslese, and highest percentage of Riesling (nearly 80%) and the home of Geisenheim University, one of the best viticulture and oenology schools in the world. The wines range in sweetness and in stule but they are subtler than Mosel wines and tend to develop intricate flavors of petrol, flowers, chamomile tea, and herbs with a few years in the bottle. Photo (C) Wine For Normal People Rheinhessen is the largest production area in Germany. It has the dubious distinction of being nicknamed “Liebfraumilch land” from its mass production of the sweet plonk that kind of tanked Germany's reputation. Rheinhessen has tried to shirk that image and focus on quality wine made from Riesling. The areas of Nackenheim, Nierstein, and Oppenheim can produce excellent quality wine. Wurttemberg specializes in red wines that aren't grown in other parts of Germany – Trollinger, Lemberger (Blaufränkisch), and Schwarzriesling (Pinot Meunier) are all big here. Saale-Unstrut and Sachsen are in the former East Germnay. Both specialize in dry wine and are at 51˚N latitude. The wines are improving with the help of climate changes and better viticultural practices.   Finally we tackle the levels of German Classification: Deutscher Tafelwein: German Table Wine, consumed domestically Deutscher Landwein: German Country wine like Vins d'Pays in France or IGP in Italy, consumed domestically QbA (actually stands for Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete): Wines from a defined region. It can be blended from a few regions but generally it's from one of the Anbaugebiete, so you'll see Mosel, Pfalz, Rheingau, etc on the bottle Prädikatswein is made from grapes with higher ripeness levels. The levels are: Kabinett: Ripe grapes. Can be dry or sweet Spätelese: Late Harvest wines. Can be dry or sweet Auslese: Select Harvest wines. Can be dry or sweet, very flavorful wines Beerenauslese: Berries of the Select Harvest. Always sweet, generally have experienced the effects of botrytis so the wines are honeyed, waxy, and apricot like. Berries are selected off the vines for the best of the bunch Trockenbeerenauslese: Dried Berries of Select Harvest. Always sweet, very rare. Grapes are very ripe must have been affected by botrytis. The grapes are raisined with very high concentration of sugar. Very expensive and rare wines Eiswein: Grapes are harvested after the first frost. The water in the grapes freezes, the winemakers squeeze out the frozen water and then press the sugar that remains. These wines should not be affected by botrytis   We wrap up with other terms that are good to know: Trocken means the wine is dry Halbtrocken wines are off-dry and can seem very sweet Feinherb wines are sweeter or as sweet as halbtrocken wines The VDP: A private marketing organization of about 200 producers around Germany, with its own standards of quality that it expects its members to live up to. Not all great producers are VDP members but it is a safe bet if you know nothing about the wine VDP Logo Weingut is a winegrowing and wine-producing estate Gutsabfüllung refers to a grower/producer wine that is estate bottled   Much of the data for the podcast was sourced from the Wines of Germany ________________________________________ Thanks for our sponsors this week: Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

    Ep 393: A Trip to Vinho Verde and a Fresh Outlook on these Wines

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 28, 2021 53:56

    I need to thank the Commission of Vinho Verde for hosting this trip to the region and setting up such wonderful experiences that really gave a 360˚ view of this region. Photo: ©Wine For Normal People, Vineyards of Aveleda After talking about a wonderful tasting at Graham's Port Lodge in Vila Nova di Gaia (across the Douro from Porto) and Quinta do Noval, we discuss some important things about Vinho Verde that augment Episode 291 from my time there. This show is not about the base tier wines – fizzy, cheap and cheerful versions, but about the premium wines that are single grape varieties and made in interesting ways. It's a look into the diversity that Vinho Verde has to offer, beyond what you may know!   We discuss some key points on Vinho Verde: There are nine subregions (see below for more detail). Depending on whether they are in the north or the south, closer to the Atlantic or inland, styles and grapes vary enormously.   We talk about the thing that wowed me the most: how very different the aromas and flavors of wines of this region are based on the soil they grow on – granite v. schist   We discuss the main grapes and their general flavor profiles: Loureiro: A grape with herbal bitterness, that's floral, and creamy. It's the top grape of coastal areas. Arinto: The MVP that adds acidity and minerality to blends, this is the base of most Vinho Verde sparkling wine. Trajadura: Although very light in flavor with low acidity, it adds body to blends. I found it tastes like stems – woody but not oaky. It's great with Loureiro and Alvarinho. Alvarinho: The same grape as Albariño from Rias Baixas on the western coast of Spain. Here the grape seems more tropical, but more acidic because unlike the Spanish, the producers in Vinho Verde do not put the wine through malo-lactic fermentation so the acidity is a bit sharper. The grape is from this region and interesting versions show rosemary and other savory herbal notes with salinity. We discuss the various permutations of the grape – there is experimentation with oak, amphora, eggs (stainless steel and concrete), and extended skin contact and what those versions are like. Avesso: An unusual grape, it represents only 2-3% of production because it is so tricky to grow. When it is good it is like pears, red apple, flowers and the texture is creamy, even though it doesn't undergo malolactic fermentation. It's a grape/wine worth seeking out. Azal: A rare grape grown only in some of the subregions, it is like citrus and herbs. It is usually marked for blending but the varietal wines are high in minerality and acidity and not short on fruit flavor. Photo: ©Wine For Normal People, Arinto Grape in Sousa And the reds: Vinhão: In its best form smells good – like incense, violets and lilies, but I found it can also smell like goat poop, band-aid, and dirt. It is lower in alcohol and very acidic (some versions are tannic). An inky, light style red with lots of flavor, this is really a local wine, made in a very local style, not for broader consumption. It is used in rosé but often blended with Touriga Nacional, the famed grape of the Douro/Port. Espadeiro: Another hard to grow grape, it is late ripening and tastes of strawberry and cherry. It is used for rosé. As well. Touriga Nacional: A lighter version of Portugal's star grape from just over the mountains in the Douro.     Regions and their main grapes: Lima: Herbal, fresh and grassy Loureiro is their wine. The wines are lovely.     Ave: Both single variety wines and blends of Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura, Alvarinho. The Alvarinho + Trajadura blend is common and produces green herb, tangerine notes. Producer: Sao Giao     Cavado: Similar to Lima, with fresh Loureiro and some Arinto for very acidic sparkling wine, Alvarinho that is peachy, floral and acidic.     Sousa specializes in floral, talc-like and acidic Loureiro , Arinto for sparkling and for blending to add body to Loureiro, Alvarinho as the more serious wine that has lime and flint notes, and Trajadura, which is light and rounds out blends. Producers: Quinta da Lixa, Quinta das Arcas (Arca Nova) Photo: ©Wine For Normal People, Quinta das Arcas in Sousa  Amarante is in the southeast. It makes a lot of different grapes but we focused on the Avesso grape, which is floral, like pears and red apples, bready (from lees contact) and creamy, as is the nature of the grape.  I love this grape, it belongs in the full whites category with Rhone whites, Priorat whites, Verdejo, and Fiano. Producers: A&B Valley Wines, Curvos     Basto is in the southeast as well, with Douro on the other side of the mountains. Avesso, Arinto, Azal, and Alvarinho are the main grapes. Azal is a rare grape that is acidic with green apple, citrus, herbal, lemon, grass, mineral notes and and acidic yet savory quality. (I mention that only about 10 -15 pure Azals made in the world, Quinta da Razas in one of them). Producer: Quinta da Razas   Photo: ©Wine For Normal People, Harvest team at Quinta da Raza in Basto Monçao e Melgaço  is the home of Alvarinho! There is traditional Alvarinho and then there is so much experimentation with the grape that flaovrs range enormously. The standard bearers show tropical fruit, lime, and floral notes with characteristic strong acidity because the wines don't go through malolactic fermentation. Granite v schist soils make a difference and any number of styles from sparkling to oak aged, to amphora aged to skin contact wines are being made. Producers: Soalheiro, Adega de Monçao, Quinta da Santiago.   I did not visit the subregions of Paiva and Baiao so we don't discuss them in the show, but they are in the south and specialize in Arinto, Avesso, Azal, with some Loureiro.   All in all it was a lovely trip! The producers are open to the public, so it's an easy and fun few days to plan if you love white wines and want to learn something new!   _____________________________ Thanks for our sponsors this week: Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal   To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople     To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

    Ep 392: The Greats -- Chablis

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 21, 2021 42:56

    One of the greatest Chardonnays (and actually white wines) in the world comes from Chablis in the northern part of Burgundy. In this show we discuss this historic region and why it is capable of making the most distinctive, minerally, terroir-driven white wines made.    Here are the show notes:  Map: https://www.chablis-wines.com Location: At nearly 48˚N latitude in the northern part of the Bourgogne region in the Yonne department between Paris and Beaune, around the village of Chablis, Serein River runs through it, with vineyards on either bank Area under vine in 2020: 5,771 hectares/14,260 acres 18% of the total volume of wine produced in the Bourgogne region Also contains: St-Bris, which makes mineral driven Sauvignon Blanc   Terroir: Terroir expressed more clearly in Chablis than almost anywhere else Valleys branch from the Serein river – left and right, hills are basis of the vineyards Right-bank: softer, bigger wines Left-bank: more acidic, less ripe, more like citrus, green apple Soils: Subsoil is Kimmeridgean limestone with layers of Marl –limestone and clay turned into rock sometimes with fossils of Exogyra virgula, a small, comma-shaped oyster. Different vineyards have different proportions of limestone, marl, clay, loam, Portlandian limestone – younger, harder, no fossils. Sites with this used only forvPetit Chablis 47 Defined Climats (can be mentioned on the label) 40 are Premier Cru, 7 are Grand Cru Photo: Chablis wines Climate: Maritime and continental Maritime influence but kind of a modified oceanic climate with continental influences from Eastern Europe Less rainfall and the winters are harsher and summer hotter than maritime   Winemaking Fermented in stainless or oak, low temperature, slow fermentation followed by malolactic fermentation Neutral oak (already been used) is used in Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru. Very few producers use new oak barrels since the goal is to preserve terroir     Classification: Petit Chablis (19%): 729 hectares (1750 acres) ALL of Chablis wine-growing district (catchall) – AOC 1944, least prestigious – lesser rated vineyards Soil is Portlandian limestone – harder, younger soil on a plateau at the top of slopes, above premier and grand crus Flavors: citrus, flowers, less minerally, light, acidic, saline, to be consumed within 2 years Pairings (goes for Chablis and many Premier Cru too): Oysters, seafood in citrus, salads and acidic vegetables, spicy food, vegetarian pasta   Chablis (66%): 3656 hectares (9,034 acres) of vines In the department of Yonne, on the Serein River On Kimmeridgean limestone and marl, very large - quality varies Flavors: Mineral with flint, green apple, lemon, underbrush, citrus, mint, fresh-cut hay Best within 2-3 years Photo: Chablis wines Chablis Premier Cru: (14%) - Almost 809 ha/2,000 acres over 40 sites (climat) Both sides of the river Serein, with 24 on the left bank and 16 on the right bank Mostly on slopes of the Serein, southeast or southwest facing, on Kimmeridgian chalk Can just use the phrase "Chablis Premier Cru" if blended across Premier Cru sites Right bank: Softer, fuller wines--Mont de Milieu, Montée de Tonnerre, Fourchaume, Vaucoupin Left bank: Flinty, acidic. Côté de Léchet, Vaillons, Montmains, Vosgros, Vau de Vey Can age 5-10 years   Grand Cru Chablis (1%) - 101 hectares/250 acres Contiguous site on the right bank of the Serein, south facing on Kimmeridgian limestone, with fossilized oysters, marl Seven vineyards are Grand Cru, which are each part of just one appellation, Grand Cru Chablis. The difference in these wines: Better sites, lower yields, higher alcohol, higher planting density, matured until at least March 15 of the year following harvest Grand Crus: north to south Bougros: Fresh and mineral Les Preuses:: elegant, minerally with a long finish Vaudésir: Stronger, richer wine – more body Grenouilles: Fruity with strong acidity, a fuller body Valmur: VERY fruity, balanced with strong minerality Les Clos: The most famous site: elegance, minerality, fruit, acidity Blanchot: Soft and more like white flowers La Moutonne is an unofficial 8th Grand Cru Best with 10-15 years of age Pairings: Lobster, mushrooms, shrimp, cream sauces We love this wine. If you haven't had it, definitely get one and discover what makes it a "great!"  Photo: Chablis wines _____________________________________________________ Thanks for our sponsors this week: Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal   To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople       To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

    Ep 391: Édouard Miailhe - Dynamic leader of the Margaux AOC & 5th Generation Owner of Château Siran

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 13, 2021 54:57

    Château Siran is an historic and innovative estate on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, in the commune of Margaux. Once owned by the painter Toulouse-Lautrec's great-grandmother, in the mid-1800s Siran was purchased by ancestor of Édouard Miailhe's family and today he is the 6th generation to run Siran.   Miailhe, like many of the most interesting people in the wine industry, had an entire career doing something other than wine (in his case finance and real estate in the Philippines) until his mother and father retired about 15 years ago and he decided to move back to France to run the Château. He likes to stay busy (and take on challenges) because in addition to being the leader of Château Siran in 2018, he took the difficult job of running the winegrowers association of Margaux, a post that was held by his predecessor for decades! Photo: Team at Château Siran, Marjolaine Defrance, oenologist on the left, Édourard Miailhe center, Jean-Luc Chevalier, vineyard manager, right. In this show Édouard does double duty – telling us first about Margaux and then about the spectacular, very classic wines of Château Siran, which are an insane value and should be sitting in your cellar to age right now! We discuss the Margaux AOC: the location, the climate, the (slight) elevation, the soil and the typical style of Margaux, plus how it differs from its close neighbors like Pauillac, St-Julien, Listrac, Moulis, and parts of the Haut-Médoc Édouard shares a bit of the political landscape of the Margaux appellation, its long history (he is amazingly and refreshingly honest about this – Margaux hasn't always been fancy, glitzy and glamorous!) and talks about how Bordeaux was a very different place 35 years ago. We talk about the grapes in Margaux and what each brings to the blends in the appellation (with special attention given to Petit Verdot). Then we discuss Château Siran … We learn the history of the château and how the property wound up in the Miailhe family's hands in 1859. Édouard tells us about the fine gravels and subsoils of the region, the proximity of Siran to the river and its unique place in the Labade commune.   The blend and the role of Petit Verdot is featured -- they use up to up to 11% of the grape in some years. We also discuss Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. We discuss the importance of sustainability – Édouard's father never sprayed chemicals in the vineyard so it has been free of pesticides for more than 40 years. His vines are old, healthy and full of character. We talk about the Grand Vin – Château Siran – the blending, vinification, and aging. Then we discuss the other wines: S de Siran, the second wine Château Bel Air de Siran (Haut-Médoc) Château Saint-Jacques (Bordeaux Superieur) We really get into the limitations of classifications and why Siran originally opted out of the 1855 Classification and why they recently decided to opt out of the Cru Bourgeois classification. We close talking about how Château Siran is one of the few estates in the Médoc that people can visit. Let's visit!!! Photo credit: Château Siran Other notes... Chateaux mentioned: Château Giscours, Château Dauzac, Château Prieure-Lichine, Château Pichon-Lalande, Château Palmer, Château Margaux Édouard also mentions Professor Denis Dubourdieu as wine consultant from St.-Émilion Here's a link to the video of Marjolaine Defrance, the enologist at Chateau Siran   _____________________________________________________ Thanks for our sponsors this week: Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal   To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople       To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

    Ep 390: The Grape Miniseries -- Petit Verdot

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 6, 2021 41:24

    Petit Verdot is often the secret weapon in a blend -- providing unique aromas and flavors plus acidity and tannin. In this show, we discuss this essential grape and the vital role it plays in wines around the world. What is Petit Verdot? The name means “little green one”, since it's hard to ripen, the berries remain green when other grapes are ready to harvest The grape is used in Bordeaux blends but sometimes made as a varietal wine Petit Verdot ripens later than other varieties and is used for tannin, color and flavor, gives structure to mid palate Photo: Virginia Wine Origins: Around in Bordeaux before Cabernet Sauvignon Could have been brought to Bordeaux by Romans Probably from Southwest France around the Pyrénées but gained recognition in the Médoc and Graves (on the Left Bank of Bordeaux) Plantings shrunk after phylloxera and the big 1956 frost in Bordeaux Petit Verdot was uprooted to be replaced in Bordeaux with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon Now – more being planted, can withstand heat and drought   The grape: Small, thick-skinned berries that look almost black because of high anthocyanins -- lots of color and tannin! Early budding, late ripening -sometimes too late for the Bordeaux climate but that is changing (more similar to Cabernet Sauvignon than Merlot in the vineyards   In the vineyard: Best on warm, well-drained, gravel-based soils  Canopy management to maximize sun exposure is important If the weather does not cooperate in the spring during flowering, the fruit will not ripen well  Sensitive to water stress Winemaking: Even in small amounts (0.5%!), Petit Verdot can make a big difference Most winemakers will age these wines in oak, fostering undercurrents of vanilla   Aromas/flavors: Pencil shavings, violet, black fruit, spice, tannins, acidity Very acidic if not fully ripe but can be elegant and refreshing if it's ripe Cool climate: Dried herbs (sage, thyme), blueberry, blackberry with violet, leathery, pencil shavings Warm climate: Jammy, spicy, dark fruit, full-bodied, decent acidity, high tannin   Old World France Almost all Petit Verdot in France is in the Médoc of Bordeaux Big proportions are in: Chateau Margaux, Chateau Palmer, Chateau Pichon Lalande (Pauillac), Chateau Lagrange in St. Julien, Chateau La Lagune, Chateau Siran in Margaux Italy Primarily in Tuscany in the Maremma Toscana DOC (we mention the PV by Podere San Cristoforo), and in Sicily in the Menfi and Sicilia DOCs. Some in Lazio and Puglia Other Old World Places: Spain: Petit Verdot grow in warmer areas like Castilla y Leon, Jumilla, La Mancha, Alicante, Méntrida DO Portugal: Success in Alentejo Found in Turkey, Israel   New World United States Virginia: Often blended with Merlot of Cab Franc Needs free-draining soils (gravel is best) and high heat We get a firsthand account of PV from Elizabeth Smith of Afton Mountain, who makes outstanding wines. California: Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Lodi, Central Valley used in Meritage/blends often, with a few boutique standalones Washington State: PV is grown and made in Columbia Valley, Walla Walla, Yakima, Red Mountain Other Places: Planted in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Texas, Michigan, PA, Maryland, New York, and more   Canada: Okanagan Valley of BC, Niagara Peninsula in Canada   Australia Used to make big bodied, lots of floral and dark fruit flavor single varietal wines. The grape has good acidity and tannin that will age for several years Ripens very late, often weeks or a month later than Shiraz Regions:  More bulk wine: Riverland, Murray Valley, Riverina, region is home to Australia's largest plantings of Petit Verdot (which maintains acidity, even in heat) Better areas: McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Barossa, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, and the Limestone Coast.     Argentina Every region from Patagonia to Calcahquí but mostly in Mendoza -70% or more is there. Verdot has good results in Bordeaux style blends Other South America: Peru, Chile, Uruguay – in blends and a varietal wine   South Africa: Mainly in Bordeaux blends and as a varietal too   Food Pairings with PV: Grilled or roasted red meat or hearty vegetables Spicy pork and spicy foods in general – Latin American spices ____________________________________________________________ Thanks for our sponsors this week: Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal   To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople   To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes  

    Ep 389: Chateau Doyac and the Diversity of Terroir in the Haut-Medoc of Bordeaux

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 31, 2021 38:13

    Photo: Château Doyac In our continued exploration of the Médoc (which will culminate in two free, live, online classes that I hope you'll join or watch on YouTube afterwards), on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, I spoke with Astrid de Pourtalès, co-owner of Château Doyac. This property is a Cru Bourgeois Supérieur located in the northernmost part of the Haut-Médoc appellation that is unlike what you think of when you consider this region. This show presents a high level overview of a different part of the Médoc (versus Château Meyney, where Anne Le Naour gives a very detailed view of St-Estèphe) and a nice view of what a family owned château is like in the region.   Astrid de Pourtalès owns the château with her husband Max and her daughter Clémance. She discusses her experiences in being fairly new to Bordeaux after a career in the New York theater scene (they bought Château Doyac in 1998) and the bold move that Max made to transition Doyac to an ECOCERT certified organic vineyard in 2018 and then a Demeter certified biodynamic vineyard in 2019 (this is no small feat in Bordeaux, which has an erratic climate, we don't go into extensive detail but it is an interesting contrast to the show with Sofía Araya of Veramonte in Chile who discusses biodynamics in that easier to farm area). Photo: Château Doyac Astrid tells us how they came to buy the château, the measures they took to improve it (including hiring famed consultant Eric Boissenot, who consults for the majority of the Grands Crus Classé in the Médoc), and the role her daughter, Clémance, an agronomist, will take in the future to run things for this small, high quality property that makes about 100,000 bottles/8,300 cases.   We discuss a number of high-level topics: What it is like in the very northern part of the Haut-Médoc where the effects of the Atlantic and Gironde are stronger and the soil has a big proportion of limestone (Doyac's Sauvignon Blanc is on my list to try – apparently it is reminiscent of Chablis - not a typo she says it's like a minerally Chardonnay!). Map: Vacances-Location.net We talk about the reasons Max pursued the organic and biodynamic paths for Château Doyac and the results: better, easier to work soils, and much improved vines and wines that demonstrate elegance, acidity, and pure fruit character (right now the mix is Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon but in the future about 20% will be Cabernet Franc, with 70% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc is their most recent planting -- it does well on the limestone clay soils here).   Astrid discusses their second wine, Espirit de Doyac and their newest wines in Le Pelican line.                                 Astrid tells us why Doyac uses amphora (you can listen to this podcast to really learn about that topic) and what the benefits of that is versus oak.   We wrap up with a discussion of the Cru Bourgeois and talk about the bright future for Château Doyac. Photo from Les Grappes: Astrid and Max de Pourtalès _____________________________________________________ Astrid mentions a few chateaux in the conversation. Here are links that will be helpful if you missed anything in the conversation: Chateau de Malleret, Haut-Medoc, France – the chateau Max's father in law owned (Holy COW this is a huge château and gorgeous!)   Chateau Ferrière in Margaux (very pricey wines, BTW) where a group meets to discuss and mix teas for  biodynamics   We also talk about the Saint-Émilion Classification issues (Article) and the Cru Bourgeois.   ____________________________________________________________ Thanks for our sponsors this week: Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal     To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople     To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes  

    Ep 388: The Greats - Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 24, 2021 44:06

    Photo: Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano The Nobile Wine of Montepulciano is a wine based on a clone of Sangiovese and from a small hillside town in Tuscany called Montepulciano. It is, indeed, one of the great wines of the world. Although often overshadowed by its neighbors – Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico – and confused with a grapey, high yielding producer in Abruzzo (the Montepulciano grape), this wine has class, style, and a legacy of greatness to back it up.   After ups and downs over nearly 2000 years of winemaking, Vino Nobile is experiencing a quiet revival and it's one of my favorite wines in Italy. Moderate in body with an interplay of fruit, herb, and brooding tea and forest-y aromas and flavors, this is a wine that those in the know (you!) will immediately fall in love with. With its latest comeback, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is back and better than ever. And who doesn't love a comeback story? Photo: Getty Images Here are the show notes: We discuss where exactly this hillside town is: in Tuscany, southeast of Siena, 40 minutes east of Montalcino We talk about the specific regulations the region has built into law to try to improve the wines: Grapes must grow on the slopes to qualify for the Vino Nobile DOCG 70-100% Sangiovese or 30% other red varietals (Colorino, Canaiolo Nero, Mammolo, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, other local grapes) and up to 5% Malvasia and other whites You can find all the laws here, as well as the requirements for aging. Here is the official page from the Consorzio del Vino di Montepulciano with the latest rules on aging, yields, etc. They also have proposed Pieve, as of 2021. We address the elephant in the room: Montepulciano IS not the grape, this wine is from the PLACE called Montepulciano!!! We get you squared away on the difference between these two wines – Montepulciano is a grape that makes an US$8-$10 wine. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is the noble wine made from Sangiovese in the Tuscan town of Montepulciano. It is based on a clone Sangiovese – Prugnolo Gentile History The wine has been noted since 55 AD. Montepulciano has been praised by merchants, authors, Popes, and politicians like Thomas Jefferson Phylloxera, mildews, World Wars, the Depression, and then an emphasis on quantity versus quality put the wines of Montepulciano in a real funk. It got lumped in with Chianti, lost its status, and that was a real setback for the region In 2017, six like-minded Montepulciano winemakers created a small association called Alliance Vinum to show the purest expression of single-vineyard Sangiovese/Prugnolo Gentile. The group calls these wines Nobile instead of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano to avoid confusion with the southern Italian grape. Here are the wines of this group: Avignonesi: Nobile Poggetto di Sopra Boscarelli: Costa Grande Cantine Dei: Madonna della Querce La Braccesca, an estate of the Antinori family: Podere Maggiarino Poliziano: Le Caggiole after a 20-year pause, Salcheto: Salco Vecchie Viti Photo: Getty Images Other wines we mention… Rosso di Montepulciano  Vin Santo    We review Pairing Suggestions with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano: Antipasti --Grilled Vegetables, fresh cheeses, cured meats like prosciutto, salami Pasta with tomato, truffle, Bolognese, mushrooms sauces Risottos with mushrooms Pizza, lasagna, eggplant Braised and roasted game, red meats. Stews. Portabella mushrooms Ribollita Hard cheeses Photo: Getty Images ______________________________________________ Thanks for our sponsors this week: Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal   To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople   To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

    Ep 387: Veramonte's Sofia Araya -- Organic, terroir-driven wine in Chile

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 17, 2021 60:22

    Sofía Araya  - head winemaker of Veramonte, Ritual, Primus, and Neyen Sofía Araya was born and raised in Chile and she has made wine in nearly every high quality valley of the country since she graduated from la Universidad de Chile. After years of working on conventional farms for some big names, she moved to Veramonte. She helped transition the over 500 ha/1,235 acres to 100% ECOCERT certified organic vineyards. Veramonte represents 15% of all organic vineyards in Chile.   Sofía is now the head winemaker and oversees the organic Veramonte and Ritual and the organic and biodynamic properties of Neyen and Primus.  All are under the umbrella of Sherry-based Gonzalez Byass.   Although this may seem like a mega-brand because of its excellent distribution, it actually turns out that Veramonte and its sister brands – Ritual, Primus, and Neyen – make just 200,000 cases of wine a year (2.4 million bottles) combined. That's the size of a medium brand at a big hulking winery!   Two things that are important: 1. Sofía and I jump right in on the geography. It may be helpful to follow along with the WFNP map or to listen to this podcast we did on Chile before you listen. (You can listen to this on the Casablanca Valley, this on Maipo, and this on Rapel if you really want extra credit!) 2. A summary of the brands to keep it all straight: Veramonte: Cool climate Casablanca and Colchagua wines for everyday consumption. Pop and pour! Ritual: Also from Casablanca, and only Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot. These are more food wines, with stronger tannin, and fuller body. They are a bit more terroir driven. Primus: The same idea as Ritual but these wines are bolder reds. There is a red blend and a Carménère from Apalta in Colchagua, and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo. Neyen: The signature, high-end blend, sourced from their top site in Apalta.   Here are the points we cover: Sofia tells us about her life and career. She talks about working for Casa Lapostolle and Luis Felipe Edwards in the Colchagua Valley, and Arestí in Curicó.   We get the history of Viñedos Veramonte and how Sofía was a major part of its transition to organics. We discuss some of the exciting things about the transition and some of the more difficult ones (including a change in mindset. **Sofía mentions Flowers and Quintessa as being brands owned by Augustin Hunneus. Flowers is a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir brand, Quintessa is a Napa-based mainly Cabernet-based brand. Both are biodynamic and both are very pricey).   We discuss the Casablanca Valley at length – its surprisingly cool climate, how it developed through the 1990s and 2000, and the very pure fruit flavors that she is able to achieve in the wines made here: Ritual and Veramonte. We discuss the reds of the region, the different flavor profiles they can achieve in this area, and why they are successful in Casablanca. Sofía discusses Colchagua and why the Carmenére is so good from this area. We discuss the sub areas of Apalta and Marchigue (pronounced mar-Chee-way) from which Primus and Neyen are sourced. We discuss what makes Neyen, their flagship wine, so special.   Since Primus Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from the Maipo Valley, we also discuss this beautiful, famed area. We mention the Maipo Alto, Maipo Medio, and Maipo Bajo as being diverse   Sofía schools us on why Chilean wine is an incredible value for the money and why price doesn't always mean quality, especially where Chile is concerned.   ____________________________________________________________ Thanks for our sponsors this week: Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal   To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople     To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

    Ep 386: Natalie MacLean -- Author, Wine Reviewer & Podcaster

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 9, 2021 61:37

    Natalie MacLean is an accredited sommelier who operates one of the largest wine sites on the web at www.nataliemaclean.com. Natalie's first book Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass and her second book Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World's Best Bargain Wines were each selected as an Amazon “Best Book of the Year.” She is the wine expert on CTV's The Social, Canada's largest daytime television show, CTV News, and Global Television's Morning Show. She was named the World's Best Drinks Writer at the World Food Media Awards, and has won four James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards. Natalie is an author, online wine course instructor, and wine reviewer. She is a member of the National Capital Sommelier Guild, the Wine Writers Circle, and several French wine societies with complicated and impressive names. Natalie holds an MBA and is a fellow podcast host, with her excellent podcast “Unreserved Wine Talk” (on which I have also been a guest - Ep 50). Being two podcasters, we like to talk!! This is more of a conversation than an interview and we had a great time chatting about a variety of subjects. Here are the show notes: Natalie talks about her journey into the wine world from a live in tech and an MBA to becoming a wine reviewer and writer. She and I discuss the professional challenges that she faced in 2012 and how she didn't give up and used her positivity and strength to continue being a powerful voice in wine. We chat about the Canadian wine industry Then we get to the main event – bantering about the current trends in the wine industry and what we think about them. Here are the main topics we take on: The natural wine movement/clean wine/raw wine Celebrity wine Alcohol free or low alcohol wine Wine critics and “influencers” Climate change and what it will do to wine Wine v. white claw or spirits, which follows nicely into a conversation about canned and boxed wines and alternative packaging, including the environmental impact of shipping in the wine industry and our hopes for change Orange wines, blue wines A very fun conversation about wine and life. Please check out Natalie's books:  Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass and her second book Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World's Best Bargain Wines           _____________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors this week: Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!  Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today!    Wine Access  Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal for a special deal on your order! I'm so excited to work with Wine Access and you should definitely try them out. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. They have REAL brands, REAL people picking the wines, and the deals and service are outstanding. Try their wine club out -- it's one of the best ways to get quality wines you may never have tried!  Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

    Ep 385: Anne Le Naour of Chateau Meyney - Redefining Saint-Estèphe of Bordeaux

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 3, 2021 65:06

    Anne Le Naour is the technical and managing director for Château Meyney of St-Estèphe in the Médoc of Bordeaux. She also manages the other properties of CA Grands Crus. The company is owned by the top bank that supports wine in France, Crédit Agricole Group (sometimes referred to as "la banque verte" due to its historical connections with farming). Its current portfolio includes Chateaux Meyney, 5th growth Grand Puy Ducasse in Pauillac, and Santenay in Burgundy.   Le Naour is a trained oenologist with global experience and since she began at Meyney in 2016, she has transformed the Château, restructuring vineyards, improving viticulture, and moving towards organics. She has introduced better winemaking – less extraction, less obvious oak, and more care in handling vine and wine. Her deep knowledge of wine and winemaking, plus her unwavering dedication to quality has meant that the wines of Meyney are attracting more attention than ever.   These are exquisite wines, underpriced for what they are (Meyney is right next to second growth, Montrose, incidentally, even though it was unfairly omitted from the 1855 classification) and Anne joins to tell us about her outstanding career, the underappreciated area of St-Estèphe on the Left Bank, and the beautiful wines of the historic Château Meyney. Here's my quick tasting video for a review.   Here are the notes from our conversation: We open with a discussion of Meyney and its heritage first an ecclesiastical property, then as a woman-owned property (that was, at that time, conspicuously left out of the 1855 classification), to the more recent family ownership and then to Credit Agricolé, the current owner. Photo: Château Meyney Anne gives an overview of her outstanding career, where she worked at chateaux and domaine in Champagne (Mumm), Burgundy, Loire, Bordeaux (at Château Beychevelle) --some of the biggest names in French wine. She discusses her time in the Yarra Valley of Australia (Yering Station), and the US working with David Abreu. We discuss how her curiosity and a bit of innocence about how hard it would be to break into the industry helped her excel, and how going to Australia gave her an education of a lifetime. We discuss what it means to be of Generation X and in a management role in wine, and how our generation differs from others.   We move on to St-Estèphe, and why it is not as esteemed as it should be… Anne posits that St. Estèphe's distance from Bordeaux city – it takes 1.5 hours to travel St-Estèphe vs. 40 mintues to Margaux, may make it less desirable. We discuss the terroir – the traditional ability for wines to get riper in Margaux and St-Julien (those wines were known for elegance) vs St-Estèphe (called rustic). With better decisions in the vineyard and with winemaking the wines of St-Estèphe are often full and elegant – the best of all world due to the presence of gravel on the top soils to help ripening and clay beneath to keep soils wet during periods of drought. Map: Bordeaux.com, Vins de Bordeaux The we discuss the specifics of what Anne has done to improve the vineyards and wines of Meyney. This is a great education session on what actually matters in the vineyard and why. We discuss some specific improvements that have been made at Meyney to boost wine quality: Switching Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon sites to improve quality of the wine dramatically Using better grape material – quality over quantity is now the priority Improving canopy management and increasing vine density Watching extractions and over-use of oak Creating a unique style for the second wine, Prieur de Meyney Organic and sustainable practices to improve soil health Photo: Wine.com We wrap up with a discussion of how we need to keep terroir in mind, but be flexible about our ideas of the appellations. Here is a link to the video with the soil and plantings map, that is so very well done: Meyney Video This was an excellent conversation from one of the best people working in wine today! I learned more than I can express, and I think you will too. Take a listen! _____________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors this week: Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!  Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today!    Wine Access  Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal for a special deal on your order! I'm so excited to work with Wine Access and you should definitely try them out. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. They have REAL brands, REAL people picking the wines, and the deals and service are outstanding. Try their wine club out -- it's one of the best ways to get quality wines you may never have tried!  Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

    Ep 384: Txakolina --The Wine of Basque Country

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 28, 2021 38:50

    The Basque Country in northeastern Spain lies on the Bay of Biscay and abuts the Pyrenees Mountains, a mere 18 mi/30 km from the French border. Until about a decade ago, this area was relatively unknown as a wine region. But with the rise of Basque cuisine, an increased interest from wine buyers in native varietals, and a desire for lower alcohol, thirst-quenching wines, Txakolina (chock-o-LEEN-ah), a white, high acid, spritzy wine started to get attention. The phenom started in places all over the United States (which boasts a Basque population of more than 50,000 people), then the UK and Japan, now small quantities of wine find their way to  many other countries around the world. Map of Basque Country: Vineyards.com In this show, we discuss this historic region, with its own language, culture, and wine traditions. We talk about how the modern wine industry was renewed, and what you can expect from these delicious, refreshing (mainly white) wines. If you haven't had these wines or heard of them, this should will give you a good foundation to learn about them and appreciate all that it took for them to make it to your table!   Here the show notes: We give an overview of the Basque region (Euskadi), and the language of Euskera, one of the oldest spoken languages with no link to any other known language We discuss the quirky naming convention of the wine of this area, the original name of called txakolin and the meaning of txakolina  "the txakolin" – a term was used from middle of the 18th century onwards and how Txakoli was a misspelling used after 1985. (Source: Wikipedia, originally from the Academy of Basque Language) The wine is called chacolí in Spanish We spend time on the history of Basque country, with a focus on the independent spirit of the Basque people. We discuss the political discord in the region, especially the difficulties with the Basque Separatist Movement. We tie in wine—discussing the importance of the rise of Michelin-starred chefs in the Basque region, the interest of importers like Jorge Ordoñez who imported cases of Txomin Etxaniz to the US in the early 1990s, and how sommeliers and others had growing interest in native grapes Photo: Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao in Basque Country Location: We review where Basque Country is… Northern Basque Country: The French part in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department of France Southern Basque Country/El País Vasco of Spain, Basque Autonomous Community: including Álava, Biscay, and Gipuzkoa Other areas that make Chacolí (I'm spelling it this way because they are Spanish areas) are Cantabria and Burgos   Land and climate: We mention features like the Cantabrian Mountains, vineyards near the coast surrounding Bilbao, and vineyards toward the Ebro Valley and Rioja. Vineyards are terraced and on hillsides, some quite steep. We talk about the wet Atlantic climate of the reigon and its effect on the grapes. Photo: Bodega Doniene Gorrondona Grapes: The main grapes are Hondarrabi Zuri (Courbu blanc and here is the link to the blog we mention), Hondarrabi Zuri Zerratia, Hondarrabi Beltza (a red grape for reds and rosés), Also allowed: Bordeleza Zuria/ Mune Mahatsa (Folle Blanche), Izkiriota Ttipia (Petit Manseng), Izkiriota (Gros Manseng), Petit Corbu, Txori mahatsa (Sauvignon Blanc), Chardonnay, Riesling Here's the article I mention in the show about rosé being a creation for the American market…    Vineyard and winemaking. We discuss the parras – the high pergolas that help keep the airflow through the canopy. We talk about the mainly modern winemaking facilities and methods, but how some of the producers are working with longer lees aging, aging in wood and concrete, and blending. We explore the technique of making the wine under a blanket of nitrogen to ensure spritz in your glass and how it is pour from shoulder height to enhance the fizz in the glass.   Txakolina Vineyard Photo: Josu Goñi Etxabe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Finally, we discuss the Denominaciones de Origen: Getariako Txakolina or Txakoli de Getaria, (Chacolí de Guetaria -Spanish), is the most important, oldest, and most prolific DO, yet the smallest geographically. The wines are softer and riper, with less bitterness and great acidity. They nearly always have spritz.   Bizkaiko Txakolina or Txakoli de Bizkaia  - (Spanish is Chacolí de Vizcaya), got its DO in 1994. It is mostly small tracts of land around Bilbao, overlooking the Bay of Biscay. These wines are more herbaceous than other regions and can be less fizzy, fuller, rounder and more textured.   Arabako Txakolina or Txakoli de Álava, achieved DO status in 2001, making it the youngest DO. This area is inland, south of Bilbao. In the south of this province, you'll find Rioja Alavesa. The north makes acidic, dry, fruity, low alcohol wines. These wines are often blended -- Hondarrabi Zuri, Gross Manseng, Petit Manseng and Petit Corbu are commonly mixed together.   Producers we mention: Getariako: Txomin Etxaniz: Largest winery in the Getaria region, makes 18% of the region's output Ameztoi Gaintza   Bizkaiko Doniene Gorrondona Bodegas Itsasmendi Photo: Bodegas Itsasmendi Arabako Bat Gara _____________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors this week: Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!  Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today!    Wine Access  Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal for a special deal on your order! I'm so excited to work with Wine Access and you should definitely try them out. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. They have REAL brands, REAL people picking the wines, and the deals and service are outstanding. Try their wine club out -- it's one of the best ways to get quality wines you may never have tried!  Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

    Ep 383: Domaine Wachau of Austria - One of Europe's Best Co-Ops with Roman Horvath, MW

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 19, 2021 57:23

    In this show I speak with Roman Horvath, a Master of Wine, is the Winery Director of Domaine Wachau, which is among the leading wine producers in Austria. The Domaine  is actually a cooperative, meaning it is run by and owned by individual growers, with Roman bringing them all together under his leadership. But whereas most co-ops in Europe produce seas of mediocre to plain BAD wines, Domaine Wachau has been cited as one of the best co-ops in the world and is known for making wines of origin and pure flavor. Photo: Domaine Wachau The Domaine has a full range of Grüner Veltliner and Riesling that reflect their unique terroir – from small vineyard plots on steep terraces along the Danube to regional wines. Roman coordinates the vintner families, who work to capture the terroir of the historic wine region of Wachau. These wines are splendid and show how the co-op system can work well when under the right management.   Here are the show notes: Roman tells us about his path through the MW and to becoming the managing director of Domaine Wachau. He gives us some great insight into the MW program (spoiler – it's probably not what you think!) Photo of Roman Horvath, MW: Domaine Wachau We discuss the structure of Domaine Wachau and what makes it such a successful cooperative (along with Produttori del Barbaresco in Piedmont and La Chablisienne in Chablis). We talk about the success of this co-op versus the thousands of others in Europe and the formula for great wine.   We discuss Wachau, the small (3321 acres/1,344 hectares), narrow valley carved out by the Danube through marble and mineral rich, amphibolite (metamorphic rock), and quartz-based gneiss (said "nice) rock. We talk about the effect of the Danube, climate patterns, and the individual 155 Rieden (single vineyards like the famed Kellerberg, Achleiten and Singerriedel), as well as the vital importance of the stone terraces (terrasen) to mountainside viticulture in Wachau. Photo: Domaine Wachau Roman tells us about the style we can expect from the Grüner Veltliner and the Riesling that grow in Wachau, and factors that make a difference in style – from terroir to aging. We talk about why screw cap is fantastic for young wine but why cork is a better bet for aging wines.   We discuss the two classification systems that Wachau is part of – the national DAC system, which includes a Burgundy-like place-based classification system (Gebeitsweine for Regional Wine, Ortswein for Village wine, Riedenwein for single vineyard wines) and Wachau's own classification by ripeness under the Vinea Wachau, which includes wines labeled Steinfeder, Federspiel, and Smargd (in order of lightest to heaviest) Map: Wine for Normal People book We wrap with a conversation about climate change and the future for Wachau. Roman mentions some excellent other Austrian regions: Burgenland for reds, and Kremstal, Kamptal, Wagram, Traisental for whites. This conversation gave me a new appreciation for Wachau and for successful co-ops. Domaine Wachau is great and I know I will appreciate Grüner Veltliner and Riesling from the majestic area more than I ever have before! _____________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors this week: Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!  Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today!    Wine Access  Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  I'm so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!  Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal   

    Ep 382: Don Kavanagh on Wine's Next Wave and The End of the Cult of the Somm

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 12, 2021 52:07


    Don Kavanagh who joined for "Episode 330: Journalistic Integrity in Wine with Don Kavanagh of Wine-Searcher"  comes back to talk about wine's next wave and Wine-Searcher's controversial article: "Farewell to the 'Cult of the Somm.'" Don Kavanagh, Editor of Wine-Searcher To refresh your memory from Ep 330, Don is the editor of Wine-Searcher's journalistic arm. He has spent the past 25 years either working in the wine trade or writing about it, in his native Ireland, the UK, and New Zealand. He has a dedication to telling things as they are -- as a true observer of situations rather than a judge, jury, or partisan -- and publishes articles on topics that need to be tackled in the wine industry but that others won't touch because of wine politics.    In this show Don and I discuss how the wine world is starting to look in a post-pandemic world where a shift towards stay-at-home drinking and more casual dining will likely be lasting trends. We address the (sort of earth-shattering, in our little world) quote from the head of Penfolds, Peter Gago, which was the highlight of the article in Wine-Searcher: "The pandemic has probably diminished the 'cult of the sommelier'. Recent events may have also subdued their profile/visibility in the US market. Perhaps we're moving towards a new paradigm: less aspirationally rock star - more humility?" Photo: Peter Gago, Chief Winemaker, Penfolds.com Although he said what most of us in the industry were thinking, his articulation of this sentiment (with a hint of hopefulness) really gives permission to others to stop putting sommeliers on a pedestal. With his proclamation, he effectively has made it ok for restaurants and producers to stop treating these people as influencer gods (as Don and I discuss, beyond their bubbles and their restaurants they don't actually sell wine so this makes sense!). He has sounded the death knell for sommelier culture.    James Lawrence, the author of the piece in Wine-Searcher, contacted other heavy hitters in the industry, including respected importer Thierry Thiese in the US, who concurred that the ego and adulation of sommeliers needed to go away. Others in the restaurant world stated that the role of the sommelier needed to change to something more operational and more guest-focused.   I highly recommend reading the article to see the blunt nature of the comments made and how they represent a true shift in the wine world away from truly, ‘the cult of the somm' as Peter Gago christened it. Photo credit: Pixabay As for our conversation, Don and I discuss the role of critics and sommeliers, the future of the wine industry, non-alcoholic beverage trends, and what we both hope will be a better, more wine-drinker friendly world with the wine industry requiring a total reset of the sommelier role, attitude, and ego.   Some heavy topics but Don is devoid of pretense and so very clear-eyed and articulate about the industry, what is happening, and needs to happen. Don is infinitely entertaining and this podcast is bound to delight (unless you're a snobby sommelier and then you'll really hate us).  Sign up for the Wine-Searcher newsletter to keep up with Don.    _______________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors this week: Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople To sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!  And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today!    Wine Access  Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine club, which is the REAL DEAL!  


    Ep 381: Wines for a Barbecue

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 4, 2021 34:23

    Barbecues are fun, but having wine at them…not so much! The food at barbecues ranges but the theme is that even though they generally occur in the dead of summer, the food is heavy and served warm so the wines we needed for pairing aren't necessarily the same ones we'd have for sipping on the porch. In this show, we go over the main foods we eat at BBQs and break down some of their constituent components so we can find the best wines for them.  Photo: Unsplash It turns out that, as we talked through it all, there are some wines you just can't do without at a barbecue – we tell you the details of great pairing and hopefully convince you that with just a few key wines, you can have bottles that pair as well with food off the grill and the sides, as a cold, frosty beer.   Condiments we discuss: Ketchup (and its ingredients) Mustard (and its ingredients) Mayo Photo: Pexels Sample foods we use to explain pairing and offer some ideas with explanations: Hot dogs and popular toppings like sauerkraut, slaw, ketchup, and mustard Burgers with popular toppings Sausage Pork and various preparations Steak Chicken Veggies Seafood and fish Corn Watermelon Pasta salad Cole Slaw Photos: Unsplash Ribs and rubs: ketchup based sauces, sugar and fruit based sauces, smoky flavors, tandoori or hot spice notes, garlic and lemon marinades   MVPs (most valuable players – meaning best wines): Rosé: heavier styles from Tavel, Bandol (both in France) or those with higher alcohol levels, therefore a heavier body Photos: Pixabay Whites: Grüner Veltliner, fruity Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling (off dry and dry), Chenin Blanc (off dry and dry), Albariño, Verdejo, Fiano, Etna Bianco   Reds: Gamay, fruity Pinot Noir (California, New Zealand, Chile), Grenache/Syrah/ Mourvèdre blends (GSM) – either Côtes-du-Rhône or from warmer places in Australia or the US, Shiraz from Australia or earthier Syrah in some cases, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, right bank Bordeaux   Sparkling – have to have it, even if it's cheap (Cava. Prosecco) Don't forget to chill your whites, rosés, and especially your REDS!! Happy grilling! _____________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors this week: Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!  Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today!    Wine Access  Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  I'm so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!  Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

    Ep 380: Wine Moves North to Brittany & Beyond with Barnaby Eales

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 28, 2021 35:58

    As the climate has changed, winegrowers have initiated the hunt for places where natural acidity and lightness can shine in the glass. Warmer years mean we can't always rely on our standbys -- Sancerre, Chablis, Chinon, and other wines from northern climes -- to have a balance of lighter alcohol and excellent acidity. People are seeking answers in many places -- some add artificial acidity or use technology for balance, some seek higher altitudes, and some higher latitudes. In this show we deal with the latter.    Map: Mikael Bodlore-Penlaez, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons (notice the Pays Nantais, part of Loire Wine Region, in the lower right...)   Following a prologue from me about the wines of Scandinavia, which is, in fact, a thing, journalist Barnaby Eales of show 327 (EU Ingredient Labeling) joins again to discuss his latest article from Meininger's Wine Business International "Cool Breizh", about the new trend towards winegrowing in the northwestern area of Brittany, France.   Frankly, my introduction and our conversation are a bit surreal to think about, but this is the new reality and we need to be open to what is coming next as traditional regions warm and we seek to maintain food friendly, balanced wines in our fridges. In my intro, I discuss wines mainly of Scania, Sweden and I mention the PDO of Dons, Denmark, the EU's northernmost protected wine region. I discuss the grapes that are popular in both places: Reds: Rondo, Regent and Léon Millot (all three are hybrids) with Pinot Noir and others Whites: Solaris (a hybrid developed from Riesling) for acidity and sweetness with Pinot Gris and Auxerrois Blanc for sparkling wines   Barnaby and I discuss: The background on his story, what is happening in Brittany, and why now   The terroir and which grapes are best suited to the area (hybrids for organics, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Chenin Blanc for vitis vinifera) Some of the arcane laws that stopped Brittany from producing wine, even though it was capable of making great bottles 20 years ago. In addition, we discuss the very odd relationship Brittany has with the Loire (the Pays Nantais is really part of Brittany but was re-allocated under the Vichy fascist regime...it still stands today).    The people who are trying to develop vineyards in Brittany -- they are from Provence, Bordeaux, and Champagne, among other places, and they are some big names. This is a serious place for wine in the future!    I really encourage you to take a look at Barnaby's article. It's a great read and will really get you thinking about what's next.   If you want to read about Scandinavian wine, here are a few sources I used: The Wine Gastronome The New York Times: Scandinavian Wine? A Warming Climate Tempts Entrepreneurs Wine Enthusiast: Sweden's Growing Wine Scene https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_wine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danish_wine Visit Denmark  _____________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors this week: Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!  Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today!    Wine Access  Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  I'm so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!  Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

    Ep 379: The Main Alternatives to Oak --All About Concrete Eggs and Amphoras

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 15, 2021 62:24

    Oak stabilizes color and smooths tannins, some think of it as a seasoning ingredient. But what about the other vessels that are increasingly popular for fermentation and aging? What do they do and are they really more than hype? We discuss the main alternatives to oak -- concrete and amphora, what each does and the benefits of each. Photo: Concrete eggs made by Sonoma Cast Stone  The show is a hybrid of discussion and interview, as I welcome Steve Rosenblatt of Sonoma Cast Stone, who manufactures custom concrete eggs and tanks, and Debbie Passin of VinEthos.com who sells custom, next generation amphora. Photo: Vinethos We start at the beginning and explain the purpose of all vessels for fermentation and aging.   For winemakers looking for good texture and small transfers of oxygen to smooth the tannins in reds and provide a good medium for sur lie aging in whites, but who don't want the oak flavor, they have a few choices. They can use aged, neutral oak barrels. These neutral barrels provide the benefits people seek but they do absorb a lot of wine, are hard to clean, and don't always keep the fresh flavors of the wine.  They can use stainless steel tanks or smaller stainless steel drums. These are great for wines that don't need any oxygen, as they keep flavors fresh and clean. They are temperature controlled, easy to clean and sanitize, and they allow the wine's flavor to shine. For those who want a more intense flavor, the smaller vessels will allow more contact with the lees (dead yeast cells that break up and give nutty, breads flavors to the wine).  Photo: Quality Stainless Tanks  But what if you want the benefits of oak without the flavor? That's where concrete eggs and amphoras come in.  We first address concrete, which is at this time, a bit more popular than amphora. The main benefits we discuss: The shape of the egg allows for continuous flow to the wine as it ferments and matures, creating a more homogenous wine. As fermentation creates heat, convection currents move the wine around, as it does in a tank or barrel. The currents are so strong, that the wine barely needs to be punched down or pumped over during fermentation. Battonage (stirring lees for increased flavor) also is barely needed. The lack of corners in the container mean there are no "dead areas" and the wine is more complex and uniform in quality and texture. Tannins are softened during maturation: Similar to the benefits during fermentation, the egg shape constantly circulates the lees as the wine matures after malolactic fermentation so the tannins in reds are softer and finer with age in eggs.   Insulation: Concrete can be up to six inches thick so there is natural insulation from outside temperature swings that stainless steel tanks cannot provide without cooling or heating coils. This allows wine from concrete eggs to maintain freshness.   Oxygenation (with a caveat): Unlined concrete allows tiny amounts of oxygen to permeate and come into contact with the wine (from inside of the tank when it first is put in the tank). This softens tannins, creates complexity, texture, and a better mouthfeel especially during fermentation. The wine is fruity without any oak flavors. Beauty and sustainability: The vessels are beautiful, can be customized, and they last forever if they are taken care of – score for sustainability!   Ease of cleaning in a fermentation or aging vessel is really essential in wine. Sanitized vessels = clean wine. Concrete is easy to sanitize and clean. Photo: Steve Rosenblatt, Sonoma Cast Stone After we set up the history and benefits of concrete, I welcome the wonderful Steve Rosenblatt, founder and owner of Sonoma Cast Stone (and hobbyist winemaker!), the only manufacturer of concrete eggs in the United States, who gives us incredible detail on these benefits and more. Next, we discuss amphoras. The benefits are largely the same (shape allows convection, clay is great for insulation, they are beautiful and sustainable, and easy to clean) but the real difference is porosity of amphoras, which mimics oak without flavor more than concrete… True mico-oxygenation...Amphoras are made of clay and the newest generation have materials that can be fired at very high temperatures (in a kiln). These new amphoras don't impart flavor, don't crack or leak, and they have small pores, which allow for slow and steady micro-oxygenation similar to oak. The wine has complex texture, tannins relax over time, and lees are integrated into the wine. The difference: the grape and terroir are preserved with no oaky flavor. Photo: Deborah Passin of VinEthos.com Deborah Passin of VinEthos, who sells the top amphora producer, helps explain amphora and, importantly, dispel the myth that somehow amphora are only for natural wine or for funky, oxidized styles.  Amphoras are great vessels for all wine.   I learned so much in this show – I hope you will too! ________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors: Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople      Wine Access   Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.

    Ep 378: Prosecco -- The wine, the region, and how to get the best bottles

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 7, 2021 42:06

    Prosecco is not only Italy's most popular sparkler, but recently it has surpassed Champagne to become the world's best-selling sparkling wine. In this show we go over the details of the Prosecco region, the winemaking techniques, and I share the most important thing about the wine and how to get the best: the DOCGs that make way better wine than the cheap and cheerful stuff at the supermarket.   By the end of the show you'll understand why Prosecco shouldn't be compared to Champagne (spoiler alert – it's not made the same and that's on purpose!) and how to get better versions of what you may already be sipping! Photo Valdobiaddene, Unsplash   Here are the show notes: Location: The Prosecco DOC is in North East Italy between the Dolomite Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. It spans four provinces of the regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia (Gorizia, Pordenone, Trieste and Udine) and 5 provinces of the region of Veneto (Belluno, Padua, Treviso, Venice, Vicenza). Treviso and Trieste can add the special titles of Prosecco DOC Treviso and Prosecco DOC Trieste given their historic importance.  Given the vast area the DOC covers (23,000 ha/56,000 acres) and the diversity of soil – from poor hilltops to fertile, loamy valleys and plains – it is difficult to name a single style of Prosecco. Climates also range –from cooler sites with mountain or marine breezes, to very warm flat areas that produce masses of grapes for industrial wine. Source: Prosecco DOC Grape: The Glera grape is the main grape in Prosecco (although it used to be called the Prosecco grape!). It is grape prone to high yields, which must be controlled to get high quality wine. When it is grown on good sites, it has moderately high acidity, a lighter body, and relatively low alcohol levels (the wines are usually not more than 12% alcohol by volume). Flavors range but typically Glera exhibits melon, peach, pear, and white flower notes. Prosecco can also have up to 15% Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, Glera lunga, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Nero grapes in the blend. Source: Prosecco DOC   Prosecco is NOT Champagne and it shouldn't be compared to it (or any of the other wines made in that method). The key difference in the flavor of Prosecco, apart from the Glera grape, is in the winemaking techniques (again, different from Champagne!!). In this process, you harvest the grape and make wine through a primary fermentation. But whereas in the traditional method of sparkling wine, where secondary fermentation takes place in individual bottles, Prosecco's secondary fermentation takes place in autoclaves, large steel tanks kept under pressure.   The process takes as little as a month (versus the required 9 months for most sparkling wine in made in the traditional method), and the wines do not rest sur lie for a long period of time, so the fruitiness of the Glera grape is maintained, rather than replaced with the yeasty, bready character from the yeast. Further, the pressure within the bottle is significantly less in Prosecco, making it a much less bubbly wine in most cases (although there are exceptions). The process has several names: the Martinotti Method, the Charmat Method, Cuve Close, Tank Method, or Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Method.   It's important to recognize that for grapes like Glera (or Riesling in Germany where this method is also used) preserving aroma while getting a fresh effervescence is the goal – they should not be handled like grapes used for the traditional method – the goal of those wines is different. Hence, we should not be comparing Prosecco to Champagne or other sparkling wines – it's apples and oranges, really. Source: Prosecco DOC   There are several types of Prosecco, they vary based on how sparkling they are: Spumante (sparkling), which is the most common and the most bubbly and has a regular sparkling wine cork In 2020, Prosecco DOC Rosé was approved as a new sub-category of Spumante. It must contain at least 85% Glera with 10-15% Pinot Nero. The wine must use the Martinotti/Charmat Method but spend 60 days in autoclave v 30 days for Prosecco DOC. It is vintage dated.   Frizzante (semi-sparkling), which has light and less persistent bubbles than Spumante an is more floral than fruity and often bottled with a screw cap. Proseccco Col Fondo, is a frizzante, but more specifically a pétillant naturel(pét-nat). That means a single fermentation takes place in the bottle from which you drink the wine. It is cloudy and full of lees, or dead yeast cells, and often a bit bready from years on the lees. Tranquillo (still), which is very uncommon and is bottled before the secondary fermentation   Similar to all sparkling wines, there is a sweetness scale for these wines, which you will see on the label: Brut Nature (0-3 grams per liter of residual sugar) Extra Brut (0-6 g/l of residual sugar) Brut (up to 12 grams per liter of residual sugar) Extra Dry (12–17 g/l of residual sugar) Dry (17–32 g/l of residual sugar) Demi-sec (32-50 g/l of residual sugar)     The DOCG The 20% of high quality Prosecco production happens around the smaller, hilly, historic DOCG towns of Conegliano, Valdobbiadene and Asolo. These areas have strong diurnals, poorer soils (meaning, better for the vines), and the wines are a few steps above general Prosecco. They are more complex, the fruit flavors are purer – lemon, peach, pear notes are strong as well as floral notes, flintiness, chalk, and saline aromas and flavors. The wines tend to have lower levels of sugar and are more terroir driven. They are trying to distance themselves from cheaper big-brand Prosecco DOC, some even have elected to remove the world “Prosecco” from their front labels.   Here are the Prosecco Superiore DOCG to seek out: Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG is a cut above and it's a fairly low risk way to see how better Prosecco tastes. Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore “Rive” DOCG is from the steep hills and top vineyards of 43 designated sites – these are outstanding terroir driven wines Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG is the top wine of Prosecco. It consists of 107 ha/264 acres of vineyards on the steepest hillsides of San Pietro di Barbozza, Santo Stefano and Saccol, in Valdobbiadene. Asolo Prosecco DOCG is outstanding, with great salinity and minerality as well   ________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors: Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople      Wine Access   Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.

    Ep 377: The Wines of Beaujolais and its Ten Divine Cru

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 1, 2021 58:43

    Beaujolais is a unique, standalone wine region in central eastern France. Sandwiched between southern Burgundy (the Mâconnais) and Lyon (where it is their preferred wine), these wines and this terroir is like no other on earth. With high elevation from the western Massif Central, east and south-facing slopes, these wines get ripe over a long growing season with good diurnals. The unique pink granite and weathered granite sand, along with mineral rich soils of the northern section of Beaujolais, aren’t something you’ll easily find elsewhere in the wine world. In addition, nowhere else in the world specializes in the Gamay grape. Source: www.beaujolais.com This grape’s expression in the 10 Crus of Beaujolais – whether it be like iris and violets, tart cherry, blackberry, mineral or intense spice – is always surprising and refreshing due to the high acidity of the wines. The quality for price can’t be beat and as producers embrace traditional vinification rather than carbonic maceration (used in Beaujolais nouveau, which is declining) the wines continue to improve and show what Gamay and the Beaujolais region are capable of. We give you all the details you need to seek out these splendid, undervalued gems.   There are 12 Appellations in Beaujolais: 10 Cru and 2 regional appellations   Beaujolais/Beaujolais Superiéur are regional appellations. These wines are mainly (99%) red of Gamay. They are required to have a minimum of 10% alcohol (not very ripe!) and are generally made via semi-carbonic maceration. These wines can be red or rosé. The reds taste like red grapes, cranberry, cherry, banana, candied pear, and are light in color, light in tannin and high in acidity. 1% of Beaujolais AOC wines are simple whites of Chardonnay. Added designations: Superiéur: The wines have lower yields, and 0.5% more alcohol. You can only use this designation for reds. 30 specific village names can be added to the Beaujolais AOC or Beaujolais Superieur Nouveau/Primeur: released the third Thursday of November, made through carbonic maceration, these wines represent 2/3 of the Beaujolais AOC. All are hand harvested to keep the whole grapes for carbonic maceration   Beaujolais Villages are from 38 specific villages that are deemed extremely high quality and can also be red or rosé although they are mainly red.  These reds are darker in color and less grapey than basic Beaujolais. They have red and black berry, mineral, and spice notes, with more tannin and strong acidity.  Some of these wines are made without carbonic maceration and are more serious wines with complexity, although Villages can be sold as Nouveau as well.    Beaujolais Villages Blanc are 100% Chardonnay and are concentrated in flavor, similar to the wines of Mâconnais.    Crus: The 10 best of Beaujolais All wine is 100% Gamay. The pruning methods, vine density and yields are specified by commune. All grapes for the Crus are hand-harvested, most of it is hand-sorted. The best of these wines are transitioning from carbonic maceration to traditional red wine fermentation. The minimum required minimum alcohol is 10%. Although “Cru de Beaujolais” must be somewhere on the label, it is generally in very small print, so you need to know the names of the Crus to find them!   The Crus also have special vineyard sites, or climats, which you will see on the bottle and should seek out. Because so few people are familiar with these wines, they are incredibly affordable, with great examples costing less than US$30!   From north to south, as we discuss in the show, the Crus are: Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-á-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régníe, Côte de Brouilly, Brouilly Source: www.discoverbeaujolais.com In groups by style, here are the descriptions of each… Light -Medium Bodied: Chiroubles These wines are floral, with iris, violet, and peony notes. They also have red berry and baking spice aromas and flavors with a light body and the famed “Glisser en bouche” – glides down the throat – quality. These wines ages 2 to 5 years.   Medium-Bodied Saint -Amour is made in two styles. Style 1: Light, fruity, grapey, peachy, and like violets/flowers. Acidic and should be consumed within a year or two of vintage. Style 2: Medium-bodied, slightly tannic, with sour cherry, ginger, baking spice and a savory, earthy quality that is like Pinot Noir with age. The best can age 10 years.   Fleurie is elegant and silky with iris, violet, rose, red fruit, and peach aromas and flavors. Fleurie wines can be soft or more substantial with dark fruit notes. They can age up to 5 years Source: www.beaujolais.com Brouilly is fruit-driven with plum, red berry, cherry notes and sometimes mineral notes. They are have softer tannins and can age 3 to 5 years.     Medium- to full-bodied: Cote de Brouilly is sourced from the high-altitude areas within Brouilly. The wines are more robust in body with blackberry, plum, fresh grape, iris flower, and black pepper notes. They have strong acidity and mild tannin. They taste better after 4 to 6 years.   Juliénas is highly aromatic with sweet and tart red berry, violet/dark flower, cinnamon, peach notes, and a mineral earthiness. They have great acidity and can age 6 to 10 years.   Full-bodied: Chenás is floral with peony and rose aromas. It has a special spicy, woodsy quality, regardless of whether it has been in a barrel. Chénas has some tannin and is ageworthy – it can age 8 to 10 years.   Moulin-a-Vent is the King of Beaujolais; the pinnacle of the region. When it’s young, it’s like violets, cherries, and plums with a mineral, earth note. With age (the wines improve over 10 or more years), these wines become more like Pinot Noir - Indian spice, sandalwood, and earth.  They are balanced with good tannin and acidity. Source: www.beaujolais.com   Morgon is the longest lived of the Cru, with aging potential of 5 to 20 years. These wines are full-bodied and powerful with black cherry, peach, plum, and violet. Their tannin, flavor, and acidity allow them to evolve and with time, get earthier (like truffles) and spicy (like licorice or mellow spice), and the texture is velvety. “Morgonner”, or to “Morgon” is a local word that describes how these wines evolve.   Régníe is full-bodied but not as ageworthy as the others in this category. The wines taste like tart cherry, raspberry, red currant, plum, blackcurrant, blackberry aromas. Acidic, mineral, spice, some tannin   Food for heavier styles:  Steak, mushroom-based dishes, eggplant-based dishes with herbs and pepper, strong cheeses, pizza with meat toppings, tuna, salmon, lentils, black bean burgers, and anything with garlic.   Food for medium to light styles:  Brie, anything with garlic, salmon, cod with garlic based sauces, turkey burgers with savory notes, dishes with scallion/onion as a main flavor, Thanksgiving fare, bacon dishes, pork with fruit glazes (fruitier wines).   If you have not tried these splendid Cru, go out and get the one that sounds the best to you immediately. These are wines to discover. Once you do, you’ll drink them forever!   ________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors: Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople      Wine Access   Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.   Sources: https://cluboenologique.com/story/welcome-to-the-new-burgundy-chablis-out-beaujolais-in/ https://www.beaujolais.com/en/ https://www.discoverbeaujolais.com/

    Ep 376: The 1976 Judgment of Paris -- the Tasting That Made California Wine Famous

    Play Episode Listen Later May 24, 2021 52:52

    First, thanks to listener and Patron Rafael C. for the podcast topic this week! It is the 45th Anniversary of the Judgment of Paris: a tasting of California and French wines, organized but the late Steve Spurrier, that opened the door for wines from the US and all over the New World to be recognized for their excellence. We should raise a glass to him, his partner Patricia Gallagher, and to journalist and author George Taber, all of whom made this event so very significant.  Here's a quick recap, all of which we cover in the podcast... In 1976, an English wine shop owner, Steven Spurrier, and the director of his adjacent wine school, Patricia Gallagher, wanted to introduce members of the French culinary elite to the wines of California. The goal was to show them the new developments happening across the world in wine (and to get publicity for Cave de la Madeleine and the Academie du Vin -- genius marketing!).   Photo: Berry Bros & Rudd Wine Blog In preparation, Spurrier and Gallagher researched, tasted, and carefully selected 6 boutique California Chardonnays and 6 boutique Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines. They brought these wines to France and on May 24, 1976 conducted a three-hour tasting that (unbeknownst to them) would change the wine world forever.   Nine French judges sat at the Intercontinental Hotel in Paris and sipped 6 California Chardonnays with a group of four high end white Burgundies (100% Chardonnay). They followed that up with 6 California Cabernet Sauvignons and four of the best Bordeaux from the Left Bank. The results were as follows:   Chardonnays 1973 Chateau Montelena, Napa Valley (family owned) 1973 Roulot Meursault Charmes, Premier Cru, Bourgogne 1974 Chalone Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains (owned by Diageo) 1973 Spring Mountain Vineyard, Napa Valley (owned by an investment company) 1973 Joseph Drouhin Beaune “Clos des Mouches,” Premier Cru Bourgogne 1972 Freemark Abbey, Napa Valley (owned by Jackson Family Wines/Kendall-Jackson) 1973 Ramonet-Prudhon, Bâtard-Montrachet, Grand Cru, Bourgogne 1972 Domaine Leflaive, Puligny- Montrachet, “Les Pucelles”, Premier Cru, Bourgogne 1972 Veedercrest Vineyards, Napa Valley (shut down for 20 years, resurrected in 2005 under a sole proprietor) 1972 David Bruce Winery, Santa Cruz Mountains (family owned) Photo: National Museum of American History -- Smithsonian  The Cabernets/Bordeaux 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Napa Valley (owned by Chateau Ste. Michelle/Antinori) 1970 Château Mouton-Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux 1970 Château Haut-Brion, Graves, Bordeaux 1970 Château Montrose, St-Éstephe, Bordeaux 1971 Ridge Vineyards, Monte Bello, Santa Cruz Mountains (owned since 1987 by a Japanese pharmaceutical company) 1971 Château-Leoville-Las-Cases, St. Julien, Bordeaux 1971 Mayacamas Vineyards, Napa Valley (family owned) 1972 Clos du Val, Napa Valley (family owned) 1970 Heitz Cellars, Martha’s Vineyard, Napa Valley (investor owned) 1969 Freemark Abbey, Napa Valley (owned by Jackson Family Wines/Kendall-Jackson)   Shocking and unexpected though they were, the results helped land California a seat at the table in the world of serious wine and paved the way for other regions to show that they were also capable of making excellent wines. Photo: Bella Spurrier The contest was not without objection. According to George Taber’s book (FYI -this is an affiliate link and I may earn a small commission from your purchase) the major ones were: The 20-point system was too limiting (but 20 points was standard at the time, I think any scale would have been criticized) For each category there were only four French wines to six California wines, so the odds were statistically in California’s favor (this is a very valid argument but the purpose of the tasting was for fun and learning, so we can’t really fault Spurrier for not knowing!) Spurrier didn’t choose the best French vintages (Spurrier picked French wines he thought would win, this was the best available) The French wines were too young (the tasting has been replicated and the California wines have aged better than the French wines!) Blind tastings suck – (this is very true but there was no "gotcha" here. It was just done to remove judgment, not to make people guess what wine was what Chateau!)   My additional objections: It is quite unfair to judge French wine without food. A small roll for palate cleansing isn’t enough. With a meal, the French wines would have been different. Food must be at the table for a fair judgement. The order of the wines in a tasting matters. Of course a lighter style wine tried after a heavier one will seem washed out. I don’t know what the case was here, but the “out of the hat” system was probably not the best order for the wines. We do need to realize that 1976 was a very difficult time for France. It was still rebuilding after the trauma of two World Wars in very quick succession and it took years to garner investment and get the wineries functioning and modernized. This was likely in the period of transition and that means the wines, made by traditional methods may have tasted less “clean” in comparison to the wines of California, which benefitted from cutting edge technology and scientific know-how, which was part of the culture of the reborn wine culture there.   That said, we all must raise a glass to Steve Spurrier, Patricia Gallagher, and George Taber for holding/covering this event, which improved and globalized wine for the modern times! Book cover from Amazon.com I highly recommend George Taber’s book "Judgment of Paris"  It’s a great read!   PS-- As we discussed in the show, check out my friend Tanisha Townsend's podcast, "Wine School Dropout" and her site Girl Meets Glass! ________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors: Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople      Wine Access   Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.  

    Ep 375: Phil Long of Longevity Wines -- Bringing Heart to CA's Livermore Valley

    Play Episode Listen Later May 17, 2021 45:18

    Winemaker/Founder Phil Long of Longevity Wines is a true Garagiste – he began his making wine in the garage with his late wife Debra in the mid-2000s. In 2008, the couple quit their full-time jobs and the couple opened their tasting room and winery in the Livermore Valley near their home. Livermore Valley is a sub-AVA of the Central Coast with a really unique climate (I lived in Pleasanton, the next town over, so I speak from experience!) – with cool nights and some San Francisco Bay influence bumping up against the heat from the east of the Central Valley. The wines were sourced using local fruit and Longevity grew from a few hundred, to a few thousand cases.  Map from the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association Phil is revered for his balanced wines from Bordeaux and Rhone varietals. His wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Debruvee (the GSM Rhone Style blend), and Philosophy (Bordeaux style blend). In 2018, the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association voted Longevity Winery of the Year. With their artfully designed labels (done by Phil as a tribute to Debra), Longevity's wines are also a darling of Hollywood, with bottles being featured on tv shows and in movies. Phil is the President of the Association of African American Vintners (AAAV) and has been a key player in the discussion around the lack of diversity in the wine industry. We discuss his role as the spokesperson for the organization and the importance of making changes to improve the wine industry as a whole.  Phil is a down-to-earth, smart, and talented guy. Despite how big Longevity may be in the future with the Bronco partnership, I don't think that will ever change!  __________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors: Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople     Wine Access      Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.

    Ep 374: Bordeaux Classification Systems Explained

    Play Episode Listen Later May 11, 2021 51:43

    After a few conversations, it became clear that M.C. Ice has been very confused about the differences between classification systems in France. Isn't Bordeaux the same as Burgundy? What’s the terminology -- it's it Premier Cru? Grand Cru? What exactly is each place ranking? And why do they do it at all? In this show we get in the weeds on the five classifications of Bordeaux (read the Wine For Normal People book or listen to Ep 59 and 60 to get up to speed on Bordeaux before attempting this!). We talk about their history, what they aimed to achieve and the criteria each use. We try to clear up what each is ranking, how they are ranked and why it all matters. MC Ice was clear by the end, we hope you are too!   Here are the classifications of Bordeaux mentioned in the show: 1855 Classification (with Sauternes and Barsac): The terminology for each level is “Cru”, there are five levels: First-Growths / Premières Crus Second-Growths / Deuxièmes Crus Third-Growths / Troisièmes Crus Fourth-Growths / Quatrièmes Crus Fifth-Growths / Cinquièmes Crus Sauternes and Barsac have first and second growths, and Château d’Yquem is a Great First-Growth / Grand Premier Cru   And the 1961 Proposed classification   Graves Classification Grand Cru Classé de Graves   St Émilion Classification:  Premier Grand Cru Classé 'A'   Premier Grand Cru Classé 'B' Grand Cru Classé St Émilion Grand Cru     Cru Bourgeois Crus Bourgeois Crus Bourgeois Supérieurs Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels   Cru Artisan Classification (only Médoc)   __________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors: Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople   Wine Access      Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

    Ep 373: Tips for Wine Travel with Travel Writer and Media Producer, Krista Simmons

    Play Episode Listen Later May 3, 2021 52:56

    Krista Simmons is a culinary travel writer and producer who runs the digital media company, Fork in the Road Media. She has been on TV shows like Top Chef Masters, Knife Fight, Hell's Kitchen, The Today Show, and more. She has written for Travel + Leisure, Departures, and the Los Angeles Times. Krista is the real deal: she has held jobs in the restaurant industry since she was 15. And following that she traveled, went to culinary school, and she's studying for WSET Level 2 Exam. She has lived more in her young life than most of us could hope to in our whole lives!   In the show Krista joins to share her wisdom and advice on wine travel, and specifically on travel in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara, California, which she recently covered for a ridiculously popular piece in Condé Nast Travel: How to Spend a Weekend in California's Santa Ynez Valley We share several tips, and go through the "personalities" of the major areas of the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County (Solvang, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez, Buellton). Here are some highlights with links we mention: Tip 1: Stay close to where you want to go to dinner! That way you can walk home after having some adult beverages. Some hotels we mention: The Winston Solvang   The Santa Ynez Inn Fess Parker Inn (very pricey) The Winston, Solvang   Tip 2: Find great restaurants by following people like Krista and the publications she writes for (like Condé Nast Traveler). Food bloggers are another great source of info for top restaurants you may want to hit while visiting wine country. Also, ask your local chefs if they have ever traveled to the area you are going and if they know any great restaurants. When on the ground, tasting room staff are a great resource for the best local fare!  Here are some restaurants we mention: Breakfast at Bob’s Well Bread in Los Alamos and Ballard  El Rancho Market (Santa Ynez) Industrial Eats (Buellton) Coast Range (Solvang)  Bell's (Los Alamos) Pico (Los Alamos): My favorite, because I love Lumen and Will Henry (Episode 259!) who owns it and the restaurant (it is also delicious!) Pico Restaurant, Los Alamos  Tip 3: Pack well! We spend lots of time talking about packing for comfort (NO HIGH HEELS!). Krista mentions some specific shoe brands: https://www.blundstone.com/ https://www.redwingshoes.com/ https://www.bornshoes.com/ https://www.danner.com/ She also recommends bringing a jacket for the cool nights and a hat for the hot daytime!   Tip 4: If you're traveling on a budget, plan trips for the “shoulder season” – the least busy time of the year. In wine country that's December to February. Travel during the week if you can, it will save you a bundle.   We share so many more tips, including the biggest pitfalls you can fall into in travel. This is a great show for all wine country travel and it is a must if you are going to Santa Barbara County wine country!    Make sure to follow Krista and listen to her podcast, Fork in the Road (especially the episode with Wine for Normal People

    Ep 372: The Grape Miniseries -- Gruner Veltliner

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 26, 2021 44:55

    Grüner Veltliner (GROOH-ner felt-LEEN-ah) is the main white grape of Austria. In this show we discuss its surprisingly recent rise to fame, its unusual origin, and its important place in wine.   Here are the show notes: History and Parents of Grüner We discuss this beautiful white grape whose name means  'green grape from the village of Veltlin in the Tyrol (Italy)," despite that fact that the grape likely comes from Niederösterreich, Austria M.C. Ice becomes baffled by Savagnin v Sauvignon. We settle on calling Savagnin it's other name, Traminer. The story of Grüner's other parent, St. Georgener is a marvel.In short, it was discovered as a 100+ year old lone vine growing on a cattle farm in 2000 after a local vintner followed a hunch that it was there. After six years of study, it became clear it was the parent of Grüner. In 2011, vandals chopped this old, lone vine into smithereens -- the ancient trunk and all shoots were hacked to pieces, devastating the Austrian wine industry. The thieves were never caught (although M.C. Ice swears he's on the job) but grapes are hard to keep down -- new shoots from this old vine grew from the ground and now the new growth is a national monument.   We discuss how Grüner Veltliner was not much of a revered grape in Austria until the proper trellising system came along and changed the game. In the 1950s, producer Lenz Moser created a new vine training system that changed the way the grape is grown."High culture" or Hochkultur calls for growing the vine trunk to (1.3 m/ 4.3 ft) and reducing vine density by wide row spacing.  These changes revolutionized Grüner. By 2002 it gained great critical acclaim and it grew in popularity from there. Here is a link to the Wall Street Journal article written by Leattie Teague, who I referred to as the  "bizarro" me (as Seinfeld reference -- it means it is you, only the exact opposite!). In this case, I don't think Grüner has ever been "out of fashion" but I also don't believe in wines being fashionable, so there's that.    Grüner in the Vineyard To get the best wines from this grape, restricting yields is essential This mid-ripening grape has very green, yellow toned berries and does well on Loess soils, does not like dry soils   The rest of the show is a quick tour of the regions...  Austria  Weinviertel DAC : Austria’s largest wine-growing region, this northeast area is home to more than half of all Austrian Grüner Veltliner. The wines from the west are lighter and more minerally. Those in the northeast are spicy. In the southeast the wines are soft, round, and can be at higher levels of ripeness (on the Prädikat scale  -- Auslese, Beerenauslause -- fully ripe to botrytized unctuous wines).  Weinviertel Grüner is known for  “Pfefferl” - white, black, and green pepper notes with fruit and acidity.   Traisental DAC: Along the Traisen -- a tributary of the Danube -- this is a small area with very long lived Reserve wines and fruity, spicy, acidic, minerally Grüner Veltliner. The single vineyard wines are prized, albeit hard to find outside of Austria.   Leithaberg DAC : Creates varietally labeled or blended Grüner  (often with Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Neuberger)   Wagram DAC: Known for easy drinking spicy wines but the region does make rich reserve wines as well.   Austrian Grüner's "Big Three" along the Danube: Kamptal, Kremstal, Wachau Kamptal DAC: Named for the river Kamp that runs through it, Kamptal is known for mid-weight to very robust, dry wines with tropical, mineral, and peppery notes. In cooler years the wines are lighter and refreshing, in warmer ones it is full bodied and silky with fruit and pepper flavors and aromas.   Kremstal DAC: Named for the Krems river, Kremstal has three zones that produce different styles. The best generally come from the loess (wind-blown silt soils) terraces along the Danube, which create round, full-bodied, fruity wines with ample acidity for balance. Kremstal is slightly warmer than Kamptal, so especially in cooler vintages, Kremstal will show noticeably silkier textures, more body, and more fruit than the wines of Kamptal   Wachau DAC (as of spring 2020): The most famed area for Grüner Velliner in the world, this narrow valley runs from the city of Melk to Krems. Vineyards are on steep, terraced hills, which face south and must be harvested by hand. The climate here represents the meeting of the cooler Atlantic air from the west and the warmer Pannonian air from the east -- the blend is ideal for growing Grüner. Wachau makes some of the best Grüner in the world. When it is made from ideal sites and aged, many compare it to the finest Burgundies, for a fraction of the price. Wachau has its own ripeness classification: Steinfeder is for lighter wines with up to 11.5% alcohol Federspiel is the classic Wachau wines with good ripeness and flavor, and alcohols ranging from 11.5%-12.5% ABV Smargd is for full ripe grapes with ABV of more than 12.5% (smargd is a green lizard that runs around the vineyards of Wachau) (more information on all these spots at the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, from which much of the above info is sourced)   Other spots in Europe that grow Grüner:  Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Trentino Alto-Adige (Italy),  Wurttemberg (Germany), France   Grüner in the New World In the US: The Finger Lakes and Long Island in New York Various other east coast states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia California – various places, including ACORN Winery in Sonoma, which will soon have a white field blend featuring Grüner Oregon: Both in  Willamette Valley and Umpqua Valley Washington State Other spots around the New world... Canada:  British Columbia is experimenting with Grüner Australia: South Australia, specifically Adelaide Hills as well as Canberra New Zealand: Gisbourne on the North Island, Marlborough and Central Otago on the South Island (I didn't mention this in the podcast but there is a good amount of loess soil in New Zealand, which is ideal for Grüner. This is especially true in Central Otago, where the climate is similar to that of Wachau).   A final note on Grüner Veltliner styles... There is a tremendous amount of variety -- some wines are fresh and young wine, some are sparkling, some are very age worthy. Boiling it down to basics, we could put flavors into two buckets: Light, fresh, minerally with arugula, pepper, lemon, grapefruit and other citrus character. Some have spritz (small bubbles) to show off the minerality and fruit. The acidity may seem more pronounced in these styles because the fruit is not as ripe and lush Heavy, complex, with white pepper spice, tropical fruit or ripe apple notes, can be silky but with balancing acidity. These are the versions you find from warmer sites like Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal regions. Look for "Reserve" on the bottle if you plan to age these wines. And wait a few years before you have them -- many aren't ready for five or more years. Other style notes: Grüner is generally made without oak aging in small or new barriques, as it hides the beautiful natural flavors of the grape. The sweet wines of Grüner are full and ripe -- like peaches, pineapple, and nutmeg but their richness is balanced by strong acidic.   Grüner Veltliner Food Pairing Ideas Charcuterie, schnitzel, smoked fish Salads, asparagus, other green veggies Vietnamese or Thai food. Lemongrass or spicy curries, and spring rolls are great pairings   If you haven't had Grüner get some today (I promise it's not a has-been. And if it is, let's snatch up what all the trendy people don't want -- their loss!).   __________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors:   Wine Access      Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal    Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

    Ep 371: The Wines of Croatia

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 19, 2021 39:23

    Croatia is a small country with unlimited wine potential. With a 2,500-year history of winemaking, this beautiful nation has coast, islands, and inland hills, all with unique soil types that make its growing conditions unlike anywhere else in the world. The four main regions make distinctive wines using indigenous grapes and although the industry is just getting back on its feet after a century of war, socialism, and poor viticulture, Croatia is a country on the ascent, and one you should know about!  Dubrovnik in Dalmatia These show notes really have to be a list of places and grapes, to help you figure out what the heck we were saying on the show. So here it is, as promised:   Source: Croatian Chamber of Economy and Croatian Premium Wine Imports Continental/Inland areas Croatian Uplands: The cool, hilly areas around the nation’s capital of Zagreb Whites: Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Furmint (Hungary’s grape used for Tokaji, known as Pušipel or Moslavac), Škrlet (like Grüner Veltliner) Sparkling wine production using traditional method with long lees aging Reds: Pinot Noir, Purtugizec (Blauer Porturgieser)   Slavonia: A flatter area that goes east from Zagreb to where the Danube hits Serbia. It has Gently rolling hills but the area is famed from the Slavonian oak for (especially Italian) barrels. Whites: Graševina (grah-shay-VEEN-ah) - Croatia’s most planted white variety, Traminac (Gewürztraminer) in warmer sites Reds: Frankovka (Blaufränkisch) for still and sparkling wines     The Dalmatian Coast and Istria Dalmatia and Croatia’s Islands: The southernmost region of Croatia, the area has a mild Mediterranean climate – with dry, hot summers, mild winters with rain. This is the big tourist area, it lies on the coast and includes Split and the city of Dubrovnik (the city of King’s Landing in the HBO Show “Game of Thrones.” Yes, I did read all 6 books).   There is island viticulture here and we mention some specific places: Brač, Vis, Korčula, Hvar (where the world’s oldest continuously cultivated vineyard can be found at Stari Grad Plain). Also home to the great wines of the Peljesac (pell-yer-shatz) Peninsula Whites: Pošip (po-SHIP) Vuguva (VOO-gah-vah) Maraština (mar-ahsh-TEEN-a) Debit Grk Reds: Crljenak Kastelnski (serl-YEN-ick casht-el-EN-ski)/Tribidag (regional name for same grape) Babić (bab-ICH) Plavac Mali (plaa-VAHTZ mah-lee) -- From Postup and Dingač (where Miljenko (Mike) Grgić was born)     Istria is the dynamic, outward looking, northern-most wine region. Throughout history it belonged to Austria, Italy, and Yugoslavia and that means it has a influences in food and wine from these nations. Istria has a Mediterranean climate, like Dalmatia but it is slightly cooler. It has rocky soils, rolling hills, and iron rich red soils (terra rossa like the Coonawarra of South Australia). Whites: 2/3 production is the Malvazija Istarska grape (Malvasia Istriana in Italy) Žlahtina (zh-LACHK-teen-ah): grown only on the island of Krk (KIRK), with citrus and pear notes, soft round textures and low acidity Reds: Native red variety Teran – acidic, aromatic medium to full bodied reds, best on clay-based terra rossa soils. Also great for Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the native varieties. Also Refošk. Good wine tourism here     Grape Descriptions   Whites Graševina: Welschriesling, Laški Rizling, Riesling Italico, Olasz Riesling): Croatia’s most planted white and grape variety overall Best in continental climate on the plains of Slavonia Styles range young, fresh, saline, and grassy when aged in neutral vessels Oak-aged with floral, peachy, apricot notes and a fuller body. Can age well, can be dry or off-dry, sparkling, botrytized, ice wine. Part of Gemišt, a mix of Graševina with sparkling water   Malvazija Istarska: Malvasia grown in Croatia with no relation to the Malvasia from Greece or Italy. Croatia’s second most-planted variety, can reflect terroir well Istria’s big grape –representing more than 50% of all their whites Styles: Fermented and aged in stainless steel – floral, honey, apple, pear notes, with lower acidity, salinity With extended skin contact and barrel aging -- full-bodied white or orange wine Experimentation with oak, concrete, amphora, skin contact is becoming common   Whites of Dalmatia Pošip: Originally from the island of Korčula (CORE-chu-lah) where it was shielded form phylloxera as it grew on sandy soils. It also grows on the Pelješac Peninsula and on Brač and Hvar, and other islands The wine is aromatic, herbal, grassy, and acidic. Can be oaked, aged on the lees, huge styles, passito for region’s traditional sweet wine Prošek   Debit is like minerally Sauvignon Blanc but with more lime than grapefruit flavor. With oak age this wine can be like a medium bodied Chardonnay.   Maraština is dry and full-bodied with peach, nut, and floral aromas and a full, viscous texture.   Vugava: Mostly found on island of Vis in central Dalmatia, which has steep hillsides. The grape is similar to the Rhône Valley’s Viognier –it can get overripe and its lovely notes of apricot, honey, and flowers can verge on excessive, especially when accompanied by high alcohol and low acidity. For this reason, it used to be for blending only but growers are getting better at making varietal versions     Reds Plavac Mali: The third most planted variety, it is grown mostly in southern Dalmatia, in bush vines on rocky soils and steep south-facing slopes. Dingač and Postup on the Pelješac peninsula are famed. Cross between Crlenjak Kaštelanski (Tribidrag or Crljenak Kaštelanski depending on the locality ancestral Zinfandel) and Dobričić (an ancient red wine grape variety from the Dalmatian coast). Similarities to Zinfandel: flavors like raisins, plums, and herbs. Both ripen to very high alcohol and have problems with uneven ripening, which makes them difficult to grow. Differences with Zinfandel: Plavac Mali is denser and heavier than Zinfandel and can have more black cherry flavors and more tannin. Plavac Mali can have lower acidity and producers sometimes do it no favors by putting it in new oak for too long     Babić: A small percentage is grown but some is imported to the US. It is grown Northern Dalmatia, NE of Split, some on the island of Korčula The grape is related to Dobričić so it is also a relative of Plavac Mali The wines are full bodied, herbal, acidic, with cherry notes, soft tannins, and lower alcohol levels     Teran: Grown in Istria, this lighter style, thin-skinned grape was grown in Istria for centuries, replaced with French varieties but is making a comeback The wines have good acidity and tannin. They look dark but have lighter aromas like red fruit, earthy, herbs, pepper. These wines are good for barrel aging and can age   Sources: Vina Croatia, Wine Anorak, The Buyer, SevenFifty, Wine Enthusiast __________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors:   Wine Access      Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal    Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

    Ep 370: Six (or Twelve) Unorthodox Wines for Spring

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 12, 2021 33:46

    For this show, we discuss a list of lovely reds and whites that you won't see on other lists for spring wines. Etna from Sicily? Check. Chignin Bergeron from Savoie in France? Yup. If you're looking for a change from the norm and a great spring list, here it is!  As promised, here is the list...with some example labels to make shopping easy (see the winefornormalpeople.com/blog for label examples)   With its medium body, excellent acidity, and minerally flavors, Etna Rosso from Sicily is a must have for spring. It can gracefully handle grilled food as well as it does mushroom risottos! The bonus wine: Etna Bianco, made of the Carricante grape. Similar nature, but with a greater hit of acidity and a cheek coating texture. Taste the volcano!    As we called it in the Chardonnay episode, Jura is the Bizarro Burgundy. It's just across the Bresse plain and grows similar grapes...except when it doesn't. In the Arbois region, light, spicy, peppery reds of Poulsard and Trousseau can be lovely on a spring evening with salads, morel mushrooms, and flavorful fish like salmon. The bonus wines: sparkling Crémant from the Jura made of Chardonnay and becoming more widely available OR Chignin Bergeron, aka Roussanne, from the neighboring region, Savoie. That peachy, herbal, fuller body with good acidity is great when there’s still a chill in the air but you still want to stay outside!   Bordeaux, M.C. Ice’s favorite. For spring, a white Bordeaux with a large proportion of the waxy, peachy, sautéed herb, honeycomb flavored/textured Sémillon is nice as the nights warm up. Sauvignon Blanc gives these blends excellent acidity and herbal aromatics but you just need a touch of that when we’re dealing with spring. The great part about Bordeaux Blanc? You can switch to Sauvignon Blanc heavy blends in the summer for a more refreshing bottle! I recommend steering clear of Bordeaux Blanc and Bordeaux Blanc Superieur (unless you know the producer) and seeking out wines from the Côtes de Bordeaux (label examples below). If you can swing it, get a wine from Pessac-Leognan – the best areas for whites in Bordeaux. The bonus wines: Merlot heavy red blends from the Côtes de Bordeaux—Castillon and Francs are the more serious areas but Blaye may be the most refreshing for our spring hit list. No list of mine is complete without Alsace, France. However, this time I’m switching up my regular Riesling reco and instead recommending Pinot Gris. We’re not in summer yet and the nights can have a nip, so Alsace Pinot Gris, with pear, citrus, white flower, and smoke notes, and a medium body will be a versatile sipper. It goes so well with onion tartlets, mushroom quiche, and chicken in herbal and citrus preparations! The bonus wine: Yup, I’m doing it. Pinot Grigio. No, not the alcoholic lemon water! The good stuff from Trentino Alto-Adige. If you get a case, try the Pinot Gris and the Pinot Grigio together to see the similarities and differences. Pinot Grigio will be nuttier with higher acidity and more lemon notes, but the similarity will be far greater between these two wines than if you get a cheapy from the bottom shelf of the grocery!   Rosé. Here’s the one on everyone’s list, but rightfully so. Fresh rosé is released in the springtime and there is nothing better than newly released rosé. Provence is the standard – especially from sub regions like Sainte-Victoire, Frejus, and La Londe. We forgot to mention Tavel and Bandol in the show, which are always homeruns. Rosé is versatile in pairing – fried foods, grilled salmon, strawberry salads with goat cheese, and pasta with pesto (pistou as it’s known in Provence) are some options. Bonus wines: Other styles of rosé, especially California with its sun kissed styles from Pinot Noir or Spanish rosé from Tempranillo, Garnacha, or Monastrell are outstanding and great for a contrast against the lighter Provence style. Italian rosato can be wonderful as well and is made in most regions from their local grapes.   The last one was really “Sophie’s Choice” for me. I couldn’t decide between Malbec and Torrontés from high elevation Salta in Argentina or Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from cool climate Casablanca from Chile. Ultimately the floral, peachy yet acidic and slightly bitter Torrontés from Cafayate/Salta and its intense, yet elegant counterpart Malbec from the same region seemed to be best for us. M.C. Ice astutely pointed out that for people living in hotter areas where spring becomes summer-like quickly, the high acidity and refreshing lighter notes in the Chilean wines were the winners. Either way, you can’t go wrong!   Happy Spring! We hope you drink well, and that this list gives you at least one new idea to try as the days heat up slowly over the next few months.   __________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors: Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople     Wine Access      Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

    Ep 369: The Greats -Sauternes and Barsac

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 5, 2021 57:47

    Of the greatest sweet wines of the world, those of Bordeaux – Sauternes and Barsac – may be the most famed. These small regions (covering just 2,217 ha/5,478 acres) and their 132 producers, make some of the world's most prestigious, long-lived and expensive sweet wines.   Pascal MOULIN, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons Located just 40 miles/65 km south of Bordeaux city, along the Garonne and Ciron Rivers, the AOC Sauternes includes the communes of Barsac, Sauternes, Bommes, Fargues, and Preignac. These areas are undulating, with a combination of soils and some elevations up to 240 feet. The Barsac AOC, which can also use Sauternes AOC, stands alone as the commune with unique character – it is distinguished by its limestone and sandy soils, which create lighter, more minerally and elegant styles of this beautiful wine. This area is flatter, but the Barsac has limestone soils, which make the wines taste as they do.   Both Sauternes and Barsac are made from a combination of three main grapes  -Sémillon for structure, smoothness, and richness, Sauvignon Blanc for herbal aromatics and acidity, and a small proportion of Muscadelle, also for aroma. The key to Sauternes, the thing that makes it stand apart from other sweet wines is the unique climate conditions that occur here regularly in the autumn most harvests. During Autumn mornings in Sauternes, the cooler Ciron River meets the warmer Garonne and condensation or mist forms, covering certain vineyards. These moist areas could be subject to grey rot (and sometimes are) but if those moist conditions are followed by drier, warmer afternoons, instead of grey rot, Botrytis cinerea forms. This fungus attacks grapes, perforating their skins and allowing moisture trapped inside to evaporate when this happens over a number of weeks, the result is a complex wine, that has aromas and flavors like apricot, mango, tropical fruit, honeycomb/beeswax, honeysuckle, hazelnut, almond, flowers, peaches, nutty, pears, orange, (new oak: vanilla, butterscotch), and has sweetness with strong acidity and a long finish. The best of these can age up to 50 years.   In terms of pairing, there are so many ideas that many don’t consider when thinking of Sauternes. Although foie gras is classic, the wine goes well with roasted chicken with thyme and herbs, oysters and seafood dishes, especially lobster and crab, spicy food with some sweetness (especially sweet and sour Chinese dishes, Indian dishes with heat and sweet, and Thai curries). Blue cheese and other salty cheeses are great, and Sauternes or Barsac should definitely be on the table for the Thanksgiving turkey – adding moisture, acidity, and sweetness to the mix. Traditionally, Sauternes and Barsac are also served as aperitifs, cold and as a welcome to guests as they come in (similar to Champagne). Sauternes was part of the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux wines – they were the only whites ranked. There were 27 Cru Classes, 11 First Growths, 15 Second Growths, and Château d’ Yquem  at the top of the ranking – a Premier Cru Supérieur.   Among these topics, we discuss the business of Sauternes, the decline in planting and sales, and do an overview of Chåteau d’Yquem, the most famed sweet wine in the world. Benjamin Zingg, Switzerland, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons We mention other top Château: In Barsac: Château Climens, Château Coutet, Château Doisey Daëne In Sauternes: Château Guiraud, Clos Haut-Peyraguey, Château Rabaud-Promis (underrated), Château Sigalas-Rabaud, Château Rieussec, and more.   A great deep dive into this interesting, classic region, this podcast gives you another tool to be well-rounded in wine!   HUGE Credit to Jane Anson's spectacular "Inside Bordeaux" book for making the research easy and fun!  __________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors: Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople     Wine Access      Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal   

    Ep 368: Michael Dhillon of Bindi Wines, Icon of Australia's Boutique Wineries

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 29, 2021 62:08

    Michael Dhillon of Bindi Wines is one of the most famous winemakers in Australia. Bindi is a 170 hectare farm of which 7 hectares are planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Michael Dhillon had gained renown through his beautiful wines which show balance and purity in the expression of Bindi's individual vineyard sites. Famous winemaker and writer James Halliday writes of Michael: “One of the icons of Macedon. The Chardonnay is top-shelf, the Pinot Noir as remarkable (albeit in a very different idiom) as Bass Phillip, Giaconda or any of the other tiny-production, icon wines. The addition of Heathcote- sourced Shiraz under the Pyrette label confirms Bindi as one of the greatest small producers in Australia.” Image from https://www.visitmacedonranges.com The area of Macedon Ranges has dramatic mountains and those high elevations translate to cool climates. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Shiraz, and sparkling wine are the specialties of the region. Most of the wines are made by family-owned producers who make small amounts of wine. Among them is Bindi  In the show, the articulate, passionate Michael Dhillon joins us to introduce this magical region, and tell us about his wines, which many think are the best of Australia.    Here is a list of Bindi's wines: Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir Bindi Kaye Pinot Noir Bindi Original Vineyard Pinot Noir Bindi Dixon Pinot Noir Bindi Quartz Chardonnay Bindi Kostas Rind Chardonnay Pyrette Heathcote Shiraz You can get Bindi Wine in the US from www.wineworksonline.com (send them an email if the wines are not up on the site and they can get them for you if you reference the podcast -- I don't make money off the wines, they are helping us out! ) __________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors: Wine Access      Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal    Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

    Ep 367: Chardonnay -- The Grape Miniseries Refresh

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 22, 2021 57:58

    In this show we take another look at the regal Chardonnay grape and talk about how it has changed over the years. This is a refresh of a previous show done years ago, so we cover everything we do in a normal grape mini-series. Once you get to know Chardonnay, you realize what a chameleon it really is and how important it is to understand place and producer to get the styles that you like. Here are some brief show notes (with special focus on writing out regions that you may not have caught while listening)!   Chardonnay originated in Burgundy, and is a cross of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc. In the vineyard it is early budding and ripening, so frost can be an issue, however it grows very well on a multitude of soils and growers the world around love it for how it takes to most sites. Powdery mildew, coulure (shatter), and rot can cause a headache in the vineyard but with more than 28 clones to choose from, growers can pick what is best for their site.   The variety does different things in different climates – it has lower alcohol and higher acidities with mineral and citrus aromas and flavors in cool climates and is tropical, fruity, and full bodied with low acidity in warmer climates. Soils make a difference too – well drained soils are best. Limestone is generally considered the best type for Chardonnay with bits of clay and marl to give the wines dimension, but there are lots of different soils that yield beautiful wines from Chardonnay. Drainage and low yields make a world of difference with this grape too. Chardonnay is a non-aromatic, generally neutral grape that can take on flavors from the vineyard or be a blank canvas on which winemakers show their skills. The grape can and does express terroir, as we see in places like Burgundy, its homeland, but often it is subjected to full malo-lactic fermentation (yielding buttered popcorn notes), oak aging in a high proportion of new, heavily toasted barrels (vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, smoke/char), and battonnage (stirring of the dead yeast cells or lees, to create bready, toasty, yeasty notes in the wine).   Chardonnay is ideal for sparkling wine. In cool climates it is floral with low acidity and brings a lightness and elegance to sparkling wines. Champagne, with its long aging on the lees (sur lie, dead yeast cells – basic Champagne is aged this way for at least 12 months, vintage Champagne 30 months and the Tete de Cuvee, the best Champagnes, even longer), has shown us the changes that can occur with this contact over time –amino acids, peptides, proteins, and fatty acids for to add aromas and flavors like hazelnuts and honey.     Old World Burgundy Chablis: Steely, minerally wines that are a great expression of the grape. Affordable Grand Cru Côte de Beaune: The most age worthy and famed Chardonnay in the world. Grand cru vineyards that straddle the towns of Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet: Le Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet, Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet Corton-Charlemagne Côte Chalonnaise Mâconnais: Pouilly-Fuisse is good and improving Champagne: Blanc de Blancs is pure Chardonnay   Other France: Loire: Used in Crémant and the white blends of Saumur, Anjoy, Touraine Jura (as we call it, Bizarro Burgundy) Languedoc-Roussillon: most Chardonnay is bulk and is bottled under Vins de Pays d'Oc Limoux: Does sparkling Crémant de Limoux, barrel-fermented still wine. Italy Often mixed in with Pinot Bianco in the northeast areas -- Alto Adige, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia Franciacorta: Used in this fine sparkling wine of Lombardy Piedmont: Excellent Chardonnay when it’s not too oaky   Other Old World Spots Spain: Used in Cava as a small proportion of the blend, used in some other white blends Austria and Switzerland Eastern Europe: Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia Israel England: Excellent in sparkling, more varietal wine being made _________________________________________  New World United States California: Most important variety Napa: Carneros, Russian River Sonoma: Sonoma Coast, Petaluma Gap, Russian River Central Coast: Santa Barbara (my favorite region), Santa Lucia Highlands, Mendocino: Anderson Valley Central Valley: BULK Washington State: Lots of fruit, maybe less MLF Oregon: The one to watch in the U.S. NY State: Finger Lakes and Long Island Virginia: Linden, Pollak make especially good versions   Canada: Niagara, BC   Australia New South Wales: Hunter Valley – tropical, fruity, buttery, opulent Victoria: Yarra, Mornington Peninsula, Macedon Ranges – lighter, more acidic wine with good terroir expression South Australia: Eden Valley, Adelaide Hills, nice, still oaky sometimes Margaret River: Can be complex, fruity, good acidity Tasmania: Delicate to complex, good acidity, used in sparkling   New Zealand: Ripeness with Acidity, nice herbal character often, excellent from Hawkes Bay where the styles are fatter, to Martinborough, and to Canterbury where the acidity is pronounced.   Chile Casablanca Valley: Ripeness with acidity, not much oak or malolactic fermentation Leyda, San Antonio: Similar to Casablanca Other cool regions: Limarí, Bío Bío and Itata Valleys   Argentina Very much like California Chardonnay. Promising in cooler, higher vineyards - Tupungato.    South Africa – hot, except in Walker Bay Walker Bay, Elgin: Soft with mineral and nut notes Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl: Fuller, can have a lot of oak    Aging Top Chardonnays can age and need the age: 30 years is not unheard of from great producers of Grands Crus. With Premiers Crus – more like 20 years is appropriate. Village – within 8-10 yrs. New World wines generally age for less time, but the length of aging depends on the producer and the area   Flavor: We discuss the difference between primary and secondary flavors and how knowing the difference can help point you to styles you prefer: Primary flavors from the grape: Cooler sites: lemon, chalk, minerals, flint, green apple, citrus, pears, grapefruit (higher acidities, lower alcohols, lighter bodied) Warmer sites: baked apple, pineapple, guava, melon (also fuller bodied, lower acidity, higher alcohol) Secondary flavors from winemaking: Oak notes: Smoke, toast, spice, coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, butterscotch, caramel Malolactic fermentation: buttered popcorn, clotted cream Sur lie aging: toast, nuttiness, yeasty notes Serving temperature effects the flavor. I prefer it a little cooler than is often recommended: 48˚-50˚/9˚-10˚C is what I prefer, although many recommend 55˚F/12.8˚C   ___________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors: Wine Access      Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal    Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

    Ep 366: Riccardo Sobrino of Cascina Delle Rose, The Toast of Barbaresco's Boutique Producers

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 16, 2021 70:41

    Riccardo Sobrino, of Cascina delle Rose, runs a small estate in Barbaresco that produces elegant, perfumed and complex wines and has been in his family for more than 70 years. This 5 ha/12 acre vineyard is a family operation – he and his brother inherited the property from their parents, who are still involved in major decisions of the winery.   Cascina delle Rose was started by Riccardo’s mother, Giovanna Rizzolio, in 1992 on this ideal site – steep vineyards with calcareous soils on the Tre Stelle vineyard side and clay soils on the Rio Sordo side to yield two equally wonderful but very different Barbarescos. Since its inception, Giovanna insisted on biodiversity, organic viticulture, and making wines that represent the elegance and grace. Made to highlight terroir, these wines represent the elegance and grace that is inherent to the wines of this region. Photo: Courtesy Cascina delle Rose, Riccardo is second from the right The estate is run by Davide, Riccardo’s older brother and Riccardo, who I welcome and who I have had an opportunity to visit and learn from in the vineyards and in the winery.   In the show we cover: The history of Barbaresco and of Riccardo’s family in the area We discuss his AWESOME mother, Giovanna Rizzolio, who saved up money working at a job she hated in textiles to buy the winery from her family and create outstanding wines that she made working in concert with the land. Riccardo shares her story and what it was like to be a woman in the early 1990s owning a winery on her own (hint: she is amazing) Riccardo talks about the roles everyone in his family plays in the business – his brother as head of the vineyards, Riccardo as a co-winemaker and businessman.   Barbaresco Riccardo gives us an excellent view into the terroir of Barbaresco, the MGA system and then we go into detail on his beautiful vineyards, Rio Sordo (heavier soils, a bit bolder in flavor) and Tre Stelle (lighter soils, a bit more elegant in style). Riccardo teaches us about the importance of aspect, elevation, slope, and soil – it’s a great dork out and so well explained. We discuss, in detail, the differences between Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto. And how Riccardo and Davide work hard in the vineyard to achieve the elegance that typifies Cascina delle Rose. We wrap with a very useful discussion of how long to age Barbaresco (we both prefer it around 10-15 years, but agree it’s personal preference) and Riccardo gives us his word that tradition at Cascina delle Rose, is sacrosanct, so we can expect these wines to stay in their beautiful style for years to come. Photo: Courtesy Cascina delle Rose, View of property ___________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors: Wine Access      Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal    Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

    Ep 365: Vins Doux Naturels -- the Underrated, Elegant Wines of Southern France

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 8, 2021 44:12

    Vins doux naturels (VDNs), translated to ‘naturally sweet wines’, are some of the most historic yet underestimated wines in France. These wines are made using the process of mutage – adding neutral grape spirit/alcohol – to fermenting wine in order to halt fermentation and leave sugar in the wine (they aren’t REALLY naturally sweet wine, although producers will say you are preserving the natural sweetness of the wine so that’s the counterpoint). Image of Rivesaltes: WinesoftheRoussillon.com The technique of mutage was created in Roussillon in 1285 by Arnaud de Villeneuve, physician of the Royal House of Barcelona from 1281 to 1310 and a professor of the University of Montpellier. It is the same process used to make Port. Here the wine must be around 6% alcohol by volume when grape spirit is added to kill the yeast and bring the alcohol in the wine to 15-18% ABV. Wines retain sugar and this base wine can go many different directions depending on what the producer wants to present in the bottle. Although these wines can be made with more than 20 different grape varieties, two take primacy: Muscat blanc à petit grains for the white and Grenache noir for the red. Grenache is great as a young wine but can also be good if aged for years in old oak barrels, sometimes large glass jars (called bonbonnes or demi-johns) developing complexity and tertiary aromas (tobacco, saddle, mocha) Muscat has fresh, grapey aromas, and naturally high acidity so the resulting sweet wines are very balanced. These grapes get more flavor and color if the producer wants to put the juice in contact with the skins and, like the reds, they can also be aged oxidatively   Vins Doux Naturels of the Languedoc We begin the show in the Languedoc, which only produces white vins doux naturels (VDNs) of the Muscat grape. Each of these wines is made from Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains and made in a non oxidative style to show the ripe fruit flavors, honeyed notes and richness contrasting with the acidity of the grape. Here are the four VDN appellations of the Languedoc, all of which are fortified with neutral grape spirit to 15% - 18% alcohol and a minimum of 11% residual sugar (Saint Jean de Minervois has a minimum of 12.5% RS). These wines are all golden in color and made of white grapes:   Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois: Vineyards are at elevation so the wines have a better balance of acidity, more elegance, and are more complex Muscat de Frontignan: the biggest area for VdN in the Languedoc, these wines range in quality but Frontignan has great historic importance as it probably contains France’s earliest vineyard sites and was certainly the country’s first VdN appellation Muscat de Lunel is small and the local co-op makes many of the wines. The best have floral honeyed notes Muscat de Mireval is right next to the coast, immediately northeast of Frontignan and the wines, dominated by co-op production are rarely seen outside of France   Vins Doux Naturels of Roussillon Roussillon was incorporated into France in 1659, but before that was part of Spain, which it borders. There is a very set Catalan influence in this area, which is a hybrid of Spanish and French culture in many ways. Roussillon is shaped like an amphitheater and borders the Mediterranean Sea, the Pyrenees & the Corbières Mountains. This sunniest region of France has rivers which shape the landscape and the terroir.   Roussillon is the epicenter of vins doux naturels, making 80% of all VDN. It makes white, and more interestingly, reds whose flavors you will not find anywhere else. After mutage, the VdNs are made reductively (like regular wine where you try to avoid contact with oxygen to maintain fresh flavors) or oxidatively, with exposure to air for varying lengths of time. On the wines of the Roussillon you will see the following labels:   Wines that are aged without oxygen (topped off barrels/reductive) and are fruity and strong: Blanc Rosé Rimage (used for Banyuls) Grenat (used for Maury, Rivesaltes) If they have a bit of age but are still reductive you will may see recolté or vendange on the bottle Wines that are aged oxidatively in barrels that are not topped off, thus concentrating flavors and giving the wines more character (similar to tawny Port, rosé is never aged this way, BTW) Ambré: Whites that are oxidatively aged Tuilé: Reds that are oxidatively aged Rancio: VERY rare category of wine. Either whites or reds aged for so long that they taste almost like Madeira. They are aged in glass bonbonnes/demi-Johns that are kept outside or in attics to gain exposure to the temperature extremes to intensify flavor Hors d’Age: Anything aged more than 5 years before release, normally oxidatively aged Vins Doux Naturel aging in bonbonnes Image Source: Vig'nette     Roussillon Wines/Areas  Muscat de Rivesaltes can be made two Muscat varieties blended in varying ratios: Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains (blend must be at least 50%) which contributes aromas of tropical, citrus fruits (lemon) Muscat of Alexandria which offers aromas and flavors of flowers, herbs (mint) and peaches The wine mellows over time to have honeyed, baked fruit flavors   Rivesaltes is France's largest sweet-wine appellation, in terms of area and volume. Rivesaltes wines are blends or single varieties. Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir and Macabeu are the main grapes used When made from white varieties they can be Rivesaltes Ambré (nutty and caramelized), rancio (Madeira-like, baked notes) or Hors d’Age (aged 5+ years) Rivesaltes Rosé is a fresh, fruity wine made mainly of Grenache Noir. It is aged reductively Rivesaltes Rouge is made mainly of Grenache Noir. It can be Grenat (reductive), Tuilé (oxidative) and for rare bottles, rancio and hors d’age when oxidatively aged     Maury Doux is in northern Roussillon on steep limestone cliffs at the beginning of the Pyrenees foothills. Maury's vins doux naturels are produced mainly from the Grenache grape varieties. Maury Blanc is made with mainly Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris and aged reductively. There are oxidative versions -- Maury Ambré and Hors d’Age Maury Rouge is made with a minimum of 75% Grenache noir with Grenache Blanc, Gris, Carignan, Syrah, Macabeu (max 10%). Similar to Rivesaltes, there are Grenat, Tuilé, hors d’age, and rancio versions. Wines labeled with récolte, vendangeor vintage must have aged a minimum of 12 months in an airtight environment, making them a nonoxidative style of VDN. Image of Maury: WinesoftheRoussillon.com   Banyuls is one of the world's very few fortified red wines. Its best sites are on steep slopes or narrow terraces facing the sea. All Banyuls are made mainly from Grenache grapes of various colors. Banyuls Rouge is required to be at least 50% Grenache Noir. These wines are the best pairings with all manner of chocolate. These classifications are different from Rivesaltes and Maury Rimage is aged reductively and bottled early. It has black fruit and chocolate flavors Rimage Mis Tardive is Rimage that is aged for 1-3 years Banyuls Tuilé, rancio, and hors d’age are aged oxidatively Banyuls Blanc is made with Grenache blanc and Grenache Gris. It can be ambré, rancio, and hors d’age Banyuls Rosé is young and fresh, made of Grenache Noir and reductive Banyuls Grand Cru is at least 75% Grenache that is aged for a minimum of 30 months in oak – so all are slightly oxidized. They can be labeled dry/sec/brut (all are ok to use) as long as it has

    Ep 364: The High-End World of Rare Wines with Dave Parker of Benchmark Wines

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 1, 2021 60:11


    In this episode I welcome David Parker, CEO and Founder of Benchmark Wine Group , which is the largest online seller of fine and rare wines for wine retailers, restaurants and collectors worldwide. Benchmark does auction, retail, wholesale and import.  Dave is an unusual guest for us in that he specializes in a part of the market that most of us, as normal wine people, know nothing about -- fine and rare (and VERY expensive) wine! He is a great guest and openly shares everything from how Benchmark procures wine to how they ensure the wines are authentic (provenance) to the important things to know about collectible wine, should you decide to dip into this world.   As a bonus, David tells us about the Rudy Kurniawan scandal (he knew Rudy!) and he shares great information about how the market works to keep that kind of fraud out of rare wine.    As an important program note: I do need to thank the Patrons for encouraging me to have Dave on as a guest and for providing some great questions for this interview. If you are interested in becoming a Patron to have opportunities like this and to take part in other exclusive conversations, you can join for as little as US$20 per year! Here are the show notes: Dave tells us how Benchmark sources wine, how the wine is evaluated and what makes it a good candidate for his portfolio.   We discuss provenance/authenticity guarantees, fraud, and how they ensure the wines are in great condition when Benchmark buys them. We discuss the sources of these wines -- from restaurants to private collectors and how Benchmark knows exactly what will work for them.  "Bordeaux Wines at Fareham Wine Cellar" by Fareham Wine is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Dave tells us how to begin investing in wine – the types of things people should collect, what you need to start a collection, and how wines become collectible over time. I ask him if these wines are actually worth the money (and he gives a diplomatic answer!)   Finally, Dave tells us what makes a wine age-worthy and we have a discussion about tariffs and what that may do to the rare wine market.   If you're interested in learning more or starting somewhere, check out Benchmark's site. They have a guarantee of quality, so if you decide to invest it's less risky.  ___________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors: Wine Access      Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal    Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople


    Ep 363: The Personal Side of Loire with Serge Dore Importer

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 22, 2021 60:08

    Serge Doré, importer of French wine (and American via Quebec…he’s a man of many identities and a worldliness we can only aspire to!) and popular podcast regular, joins us to talk about the Loire Valley. Serge has been visiting the Loire since 1985 and has seen its evolution over the decades. He joins to give us the world of Loire from his perspective, humanize it with stories of producers he imports and some he has just met, and tell us what we can expect from this sometime confusing but wonderfully beautiful and diverse French wine region (for those of you interested in tariffs and how they are affecting business, the last 5 minutes of the pod is also devoted to that topic!). Here are the notes: Serge takes us through the main Loire regions. We being in Muscadet/the Pay Nantais. We discuss how far the wine has come in the last 20 years, and what good quality it is now. Serge says it reminds him of a ripe honeydew melon, so the grape name is fitting (the grape is called Melon de Bourgogne). He mentions Domaine Bouchaud whose wines he imports. I mention Domaine Louvetrie as an example of a very rocky, flinty Muscadet. We talk about Anjou and the lovely Chenin Blanc here. We focus first on Savennières, and then discuss the sweet wines of Quarts de Chaume, Coteaux de Layon, and others in the area. Serge talks about his early experiences with these stunning, yet rare wines.   We take a side trip to Sancerre. Serge confirms my hypothesis that Sancerre can sell all day long, but that Pouilly-Fumé has no takers! I mention the great Didier Dageneau and his Silex wine.   We discuss the marketing issue for Loire – namely that they don’t know how to do it! I fell that Anjou blanc and rouge, as well as Saumur blanc and rouge are generally generic and don’t taste great. Serge explains that most growers sell to negociants and co-ops who make seas of blah wines that aren’t from specific areas. The result: Rouge and Blanc from these parts are hard to pin down from a style perspective.   Serge loves Saumur- Champigny – a Cabernet Franc that is light, fruity, lower in alcohol but has great earthy notes. Thierry Germain is the master and is imported by Kermit Lynch. I say I have found it to be hit or miss. Serge reminds me: it’s all about producer.   Serge talks about why Touraine is the upcoming region of France and has been for a few years. He cites climate change as making a big difference for the ripeness levels and flavors for Touraine. 2015 was the big shift in the wines. We mention my new favorite Chinon and St. Nicholas de Bourgueil: Pascal et Alain Lourieux (available on Wine Access). Serge tells us stories about how absolutely focused these brothers are on the vineyard to get the results they do. The story is funny and amazing. Ahhh, Vouvray! It’s a frustrating topic. Serge tells us about how hard it is to sell because of its many styles and we return to one of the themes of the Loire: superb wines, no marketing savvy. The wine of Serge’s that I love is Domaine Bourillon Dorléans “La Coulee d’Argent”. It had some age (which I think Vouvray really needs) and was very flinty, with lemon curd and vanilla notes – tasty! Serge tells us stories of Fred Bourillon, his family and his wine. We briefly discuss the top dog of Vouvray, Domain Huet who makes outstanding, consistent Vouvray. Source: jamesonf- https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesonfink/5147142662/ Vouvray AOC moelleux Domaine Huet 1985 Serge tells us about the terroir of Sancerre and the three soil types that make it stunning: Les Caillottes Flint/Silex Terre Blanche – Clay   We discuss the importance of climate and how the two different climates, which switch off at Amboise from maritime influenced to continental, divide the Loire. Slope, breezes, river effects – all the dorkiness is in this section of the conversation.   Serge and I muse about how natural wine may be a bit overhyped by the media where the Loire is concerned. Low intervention/traditional winemaking is the order of the day with the reds and Chenin however, Serge doesn’t hear producers talk about it.   Finally, we discuss the issues around tariffs and why they are so destructive for the wine industry in the US. I love Serge,having him on is such a pleasure. Check out his site to see his selection of wines.  ___________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors: Wine Access  Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal    Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

    Ep 362: The Grape Miniseries -- Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio)

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 16, 2021 62:19


    Of the many grapes that we have covered in this series, possibly the hardest to define is the one in this show -- Pinot Gris. It's so complex in part because it goes by many names and can taste neutral and boring to oily, powerful, and bold with notes of smoke, ginger, and spice. It can be bone dry to amazingly sweet and can be powderpuff or very serious in quality.   Whatever the incarnation, wine drinkers lap it up! In the U.S., Pinot Grigio (the Italian style) is the second most-consumed wine behind Chardonnay, according to Impact Databank (the sister publication to Wine Spectator). But it's not just the US that loves this wine, it's growing like mad in Australia too.    In this show, we discuss the many sides of Pinot Gris, or Pinot Grigio, or Grauburgunder or whatever you want to call it! Here are the show notes:   We first discuss the grape itself: Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Grauburgunder, or Rulander are all the same grape and all are mutations of Pinot Noir, so similar to their parent that the only thing that is different is the color of the grape after veraision Pinot Gris is one of the darkest skinned grapes that makes white. It's fruit is gray-blue fruit but can be brown- pink,  white or deep purple. As a result, the finished wine can have a copper tinge or be light pink  The adjective gris is French for "gray" and the grape is named so because it has a grayish look to it. The gray name is used everywhere and has been adapted to local culture: Italian (grigio), German (grauer), Slovenian (sivi) and Czech (sede) Pinot Gris is thin skinned and does well in cool to moderate climates with very long growing seasons. Picking decision is essential to the wine's character for every wine but with Pinot Gris, it will determine whether it is insipid and neutral (picked early) or rich with higher alcohol, lower acidity and rich, full flavors like pears, apples, apricot, tropical fruit, ginger, spices, smoke, and mineral "Pinot Grigio prior to harvest, vintage 2012" by stefano lubiana wines  is licensed under CC BY 2.0   We discuss some general ideas about winemaking There is a sharp distinction between early picked Pinot Grigio (the Italian style) and full bodied, rich and flavorful Pinot Gris (the Alsace, France style) Most cheap Pinot Grigio, in particular, is picked, fermented and brought to market quickly -- it is a cash cow Pinot Grigio styles rarely use oak, but Pinot Gris (French style) often use older, neutral barrels for fermentation to give the wines texture. These styles also go through sur lie aging to give more texture to the wine  The Growing regions and their styles: Pinot Gris/Grigio is grown in: France, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Germany, Romania, Canada, the U.S., Hungary, Switzerland, Russia, Moldova, China _____________________________________________ Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio Around the world Alsace, France Pinot Gris is 16 % of production in Alsace The grape thrives in the dry, sunny climate, with its long autumns. Yields are kept quite low and the best sites are the Grand Cru sites designated for Pinot Gris Alsace Pinot Gris is layered and bold with honey, ginger, spice, and bold apricot and sometimes tropical fruit notes. It can be picked late harvest (Vendanges Tardive) or allowed to develop botrytis (noble rot) that changes the wines into unctuous, full dessert wines. Occasionally these wines are oak-aged for texture, some are more medium bodied, many have residual sugar, so you must check the producer's style and web site to see how sweet the wine is These wines, in the past, were substitutes for red wines and accordingly, go with fuller food Top producers in Alsace: Albrecht, Blanck, Marcel Deiss, Dopff & Irion, Kuentz-Bas, Albert Mann, René Muré, Schlumberger, Trimbach Italy Growing in Veneto, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, and Trentino Alto Adige, along with a few other northern areas (Valle d'Aosta) the Italian style is always picked a bit early and has an emphasis on dry, mineral flavors Unlike Alsace, where grapes develop over a long season, in Italy the goal is to harvest grapes early, and to have high yields. The result of this overcropping is dilution of flavor and a high acid wine that doesn't reflect the true character of the grape. Many experts charge that much of the Pinot Grigio planted in large vineyards is actually Pinot Bianco or even Trebbiano Toscano In the winery, stainless steel tanks are used and the wine is fermented and bottled quickly but the better wines can have light oak-ageing or skin contact Cheap Pinot Grigio has very little flavor or character. It is cheap and cheerful and nothing else.  In Alto Adige -world-class Pinot Grigios from estate bottling are expensive but lead to nuttier, fruitier flavors that are recognizable as related to Pinot Gris. Producers include: Elena Walch, Franz Haas, Tiefenbruner, San Michele Appiano, Sanct Valentin Pinot Grigio, Alois Lageder, Cantina Terlano In Friuli, Isonzo has full, tropical notes and the cooler areas of Collio and Colli Orientali produce more saline, spicy, and mineral wines that can have a spritz to them. Lis Neris, Vie di Romans, Dessimis, and Marco Felluga are good producers In Valle d’Aosta, experts see high potential for these Pinot Gris to be the best in Italy – frequently mentioned by critics is Lo Triolet di Marco Martin, called Pinot Gris rather than Pinot Grigio Germany Germany ranks third in the world for Grauburgunder production. Most of that is in Rheinhessen, the Pfalz, and Baden These wines tend to be lower in alcohol, higher in acidity and more mineral-driven that Alsace versions with floral, citrusy notes. All versions are made -- sparkling, dry, off-dry, and late harvest and botrytized sweet wine My favorite producer is Müller-Catoir from Pfalz  In Europe, Pinot Gris is made in... Burgundy – some people still use it Loire, where it's called Malvoisie Switzerland, where it has floral notes and a soft texture Luxembourg, where the wines are fuller Slovenia, which specializes in Pinot Grigio with skin contact These skin contact wines only use a bit of contact (24 – 48 hours of skin contact is common) to give Pinot Grigio flavor without stripping the essence of the grape Other places:  Austria, Romania, Croatia, Hungary   New World New Zealand Pinot Gris is the more like the Alsace version with a medium body and flavors like apple, pear, honeysuckle, spice, and toast On the North Island, especially from Hawkes Bay and Gisbourne, you'll find ripe full, oily styles of Pinot Gris On the South Island, the volume is large in Marlborough where the wines have spicy and structure but they shine when from North Canterbury.  Good producers include: Seresin, Greywacke, Jules Taylor   The United States California grows a lot of Pinot Grigio but mostly for use in jug wine or cheap "California" appellate wine. Most grows in the hot Central Valley. it is not a focus for most producers Oregon is the real hotspot in the US for Pinot Gris. the area has long, moderate summer days with cooling breezes. It has a longer fall which allows Pinot Gris the space it needs to develop flavor. These wines taste like fresh cut apple, pear, underripe melon, and can be medium bodied, occasionally with oak notes Bigger Producers include: King Estate (the largest Pinot Gris producer), A to Z, Erath, Adelsheim, Ponzi, and Rainstorm    Canada -- British Columbia  21.2% of the white wine crop in 2018, makes Pinot Gris the Queen of the whites in BC. I recall it being very serviceable to good   Australia Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris -- the names and styles are used at will is one of the hottest, fastest growing wines There are no style rules or naming conventions. The wines vary from acidic and light (Italian style) to bold and full (Alsace style). Producers often call full styles Pinot Grigio and light styles Pinot Gris. There is no convention. We mention Kathleen Quealy and Kevin McCarthy of T'Gallant Wines in the Mornington Peninsula of Victoria. Kathleen Quealy was named the ‘Queen of Pinot Grigio’ back then and she still makes wine under her own label today   It's a lot to take in! Who would have thought that something I call alcoholic lemon water (in it's Grigio incarnation) would be so complex!    ___________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors: Wine Access  Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal    Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople


    Ep 361: Food and Wine Pairings that Inspire Love

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 8, 2021 36:11

    In the tradition of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and fertility, after which aphrodisiacs are named, we give you a list of 12+ foods that inspire love and passion, and the wines to match. Date night just got more exciting!! You can let us know if any of these actually work. William Blake Richmond, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Here's the list of the top 14 aphrodisiac foods and the wines to pair with them: 1. Watermelon is rich in L-citrulline, an amino acid that helps improve blood flow. Like Viagra, L-citrulline increases blood flow to the sexual organs but without any negative side effects!  Put it in a salad with feta and arugula (rocket, also and aphrodisiac so you get a double hit of spice in your life). Wine: Spanish rosé. I like a Monastrell-based wine because it's bolder and fruitier than some other Spanish versions, and you need that fruit to stand up to the flavors in this tasty but sweet, bitter, and salty salad. You can use a California rosé too, but Pinot Noir may be too light so get something a bit bolder and made from a different grape.    2. Salmon (and other cold water fish like herring, anchovies, sardines) has lots of omega-3s, which encourage good moods, good skin, good brainpower and a good sex drive!  Since salmon can be prepared in so many different ways, we give a few wine ideas: Raw salmon (sashimi or tartare) goes well with a dry rosé (here you can use a Provence rosé) or Albariño from Rias Baixas, Spain Salmon in a butter sauce (beurre blanc): A slightly oaked Chardonnay like a white Burgundy or an Oregon Pinot Gris could work Grilled salmon: New Zealand Pinot Noir or St. Amour from Beaujolais would be fantastic Blackened salmon: Zinfandel but make sure it's not over-the-top (Here's the wine I said should be the standard for all CA Zin: Nalle Estate Old Vines Zinfandel)    3. Oysters. Both because they are thought to resemble certain female body parts and because Romans in the 2nd century AD claimed that women had much prowess after eating them, oysters have become the standard for aphrodisiac food.  Wine: If you like the magnification of salt, go for a Chablis, Muscadet, Albariño, or Champagne. If you dislike that, stick with a Bordeaux Blanc or a Côte du Rhône blanc, both of which have lower acidity so it won't make the oysters seem quite as salty.    4. Asparagus. Well M.C. Ice had ALL sorts of issues with this one, but it's on all the lists I've found, so it has to make ours too. Another food that is all about increasing and maintaining sex drive, both its intrinsic properties and its "interesting" shape contribute to its effectiveness. M.C. Ice was grossed out by the smell factor and the shape argument really made him squirm.    5. Avocado.  This one comes from the Aztecs. They called the avocado tree "ahuacuatl." That means "testicle tree", because the avocados hang in pairs off the branches, so...yeah. Wine:  Avocado is great alone or in salads, sandwiches, or with Mexican. If you are having Haas avocados, the most popular type in the U.S., you'll notice they are both creamy and nutty. What's a wine that's creamy and nutty? One of my favorite whites: Fiano di Avellino, which has a lovely almond or hazelnut finish. Arneis from Piedmont could work too.    6. Carrot and ginger soup.  Here we go again with the shape thing... but carrots also have beta carotene and lots of other good for you vitamins, which Middle Easterners believed aided in making people more attractive. Ginger is spicy and it helps get your blood flowing. It also tastes delicious when combined with carrots in a soup!  Wine: If you're having roasted carrots (and other dishes that will fit this) you can easily pair them with a red like Côtes-du-Rhône or another Grenache-based wine that will be moderate enough to stand up to char but let the carroty flavor shine through.  If you take our suggestion of the soup (and add coriander, which we mention is known to increase sexual appetite), you'll have a trifecta of goodness that will pair well with Alsace Riesling or a Viognier from California or from the northern Rhône.    7. Truffles. I'm not talking about the chocolate kind. I'm talking about the rare kind found in the Piedmont of Italy that Greeks and Romans both claimed the musky scent of truffles made people's skin more sensitive and that's a good thing for a healthy love life. Wine: Slightly older Barolo or Barbaresco (also from Piedmont) is a perfect fit for the earthy, barnyard, mushroom note of truffles. Especially if the truffles are with red meat, bolder versions of these Nebbiolo-based wines will be perfect matches.  If you are having risotto or pasta with truffles, have Fiano di Avellino from Campania, or a bold white from the Rhône. I would steer clear of fruity, young wine for this pairing.    8. Fennel. The ancient Greeks found this vegetable which is like a celery, licorice mash-up (both also alleged aphrodisiacs), to be a real labido enhancer. Maybe it's because it has plant estrogen in it!  Wine: If you are have a steak with roasted fennel or a soup or stew with a fennel base, a great Northern Rhône Syrah or a more subtle California Syrah will be an excellent pairing. The flavors of a Syrah -- the rich fruit, the black pepper, and the spice will be great with the fennel notes.  For lighter style fennel dishes like vegetarian soups with a fennel base or chicken with a fennel cream sauce, a white Rioja or a slightly oaky Chardonnay can each hold their flavor and structure against the strong celery/licorice notes well.   9. Figs. Like oysters, when cut open, figs allegedly resemble a female body part and for that reason they have always been considered a food for the amorous. Because having them on their own presents a tough wine pairing challenge we recommend having them with a little cheese -- goat, feta or especially blue with counter some of that natural sweetness.  Wine: If you take the idea of having figs with cheese for your date night appetizer or tapas, you are going to need a very fruity, bold red to pair. Zinfandel, or southern Italian wines like Nero d'Avola, Primitivo (Zinfandel), and Negro Amaro can take on both the sweetness of the figs and the salty, penicillin-like note of the blue cheese. A slightly sweet tawny or ruby Port could also do the trick quite well.   10. Pesto (the aphrodisiac trifecta). Basil produces a sense of well-being and boosts fertility. Garlic spices up your desires. Pine nuts have zinc, which increases male potency. Put them together and bam! the most love enhancing potion there is.    Wine: Pesto comes from Liguria, right near the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. Cortese di Gavi and ARneis are classic Piedmont whites that have enough flavor to stand up to the garlic, a nuttiness to go well with the pine nuts, and excellent acidity to make them stand out. If you want a light red, stick with Piedmont again -- a simple Barbera, Freisa or Grignolino will do the trick.   11. Dessert of strawberries, raspberries and vanilla cake or whipped cream. Strawberries and raspberries are said to invite love. Latin American legend tells us that the vanilla plant was created when a beautiful young girl fell in love with a boy from the wrong class, and when a god asked for her hand and she said no, he got so angry he turned her into a vanilla plant.  Wine:  The honeyed, apricot flavors and good acidity of Sauternes or Barsac from Bordeaux would be excellent dessert partners. A late harvest (Auslese) Riesling from Mosel would be great or a lighter style fizzy wine like Moscato d'Asti also work wonders with berry vanilla desserts. Each of these ideas would work but my favorite pairing for berry vanilla desserts is demi sec Champagne 12. Wine! All on it's own, is an aphrodisiac in a bottle! Whether it's because your inhibitions go away or because alcohol also increases blood flow, red wine and Champagne, specifically, have been praised for raising the libidos and amorous intentions of those who consume it (in moderation). Apart from Champagne, which is always a great wine to pair with any food, and to liven up any dinner, here are some love inspired wines to consider: Romeo and Juliet, the greatest love story of all time, lived in the city of Verona. To pay homage, drink the bold reds of the region: Valpolicella and Amarone If you want the more pious route, you could pay homage to St. Valentine, the patron of love, marriage, and relationships. His relics are in a few key spots around Europe and you can choose which you like best for your wine selection! 1. St. Valentine's remains lie in Rome. Although Lazio's wines are a bit lacking, you could get a Sagrantino di Montefalco from Umbria (it borders Lazio in the northeast) or a lovely Piedirosso or Aglianico from Campania (borders Lazio to the south). Close enough, and these are great reds!   2. Relics of St. Valentine's are also in Madrid. There are some wines coming from Madrid now, but if you can't find those, get the rich reds of Ribera del Duero to inspire love. If you prefer white, get the whites of Rueda, in the same zone as Ribera del Duero, due north of Madrid.    3. It's a little unclear whether the relics in Roquemaure in the Rhône are the real deal, but if it justifies drinking Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which is across the river, I'll go with it!  **Note: there are also a ton of St. Valentine stuff in Dublin, so if you want a Guinness, that works too!  Whether its for Valen-wine, date night, or to test the properties of these aphrodisiac foods, we wish you a fun filled night!  Sources:  Gourmet Sleuth (this has many more ideas and is a great article!) Cosmopolitan The Healthy The Independent ____________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors: Wine Access  Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal    Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople   To sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!

    Ep 360: Touraine and its Red and White Jewels of the Loire Valley

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 2, 2021 49:25

    Touraine is in the Middle Loire Valley, and it has a myriad of pockets with famed and delicious wines. We give an overview of this region and discuss its most famous areas (Vouvray, Chinon, Bourgueil), which make some of the most distinctive, complex red and white wines in the world.   Here are the show notes: Touraine is in the heart of the Loire Valley, half-way between Sancerre and Nantes, 225 km/140 mi from the Atlantic Ocean, and from the northern Massif Central Touraine follows the Loire River for 100 KM/60 miles, and has 5,000 hectares /12,355 acres of vineyards Dry and sweet white, red, rosé, and sparkling wines are all made here The soil is varied, containing three main types: Tuffeau: calcareous rock that produces wines of great acidity Perruche: flint and clay with pockets of gravel, near the river Limestone and clay, with pockets of gravel, near the river The climate is Atlantic in the west, more continental as you move east. "Thésée-la-Romaine (Loir-et-Cher)" by sybarite48 is licensed with CC BY 2.0. Click here to view a copy of this license, Grapes White is 59% of production: Sauvignon Blanc (nearly 80% of whites), with Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Arbois and Sauvignon Gris, Pinot Gris Red is 22% of production and Rosé is (8%): Gamay makes up more than 60% of harvest, with Cabernet Franc, Malbec (aka Côt), Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d’Aunis, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Merlot Sparkling -- 11% -- Crémant de Loire   The rest of the show is spent on appellations… The Famed Red Appellations Chinon Chinon is the biggest red AOC in Loire It is on the western edge of the Touraine district, with multiple soil types, a combination of maritime and continental climates and, as a result, different styles of wines depending on site Reds are of Cabernet Franc (90% with up to 10% Cabernet Sauvignon) make up 95% of production, with a small amount of whites of Chenin Blanc and rosé Styles: light with red fruit, simple with good acidity or wines with dark black fruit with gamy, campfire, decayed leaf, earth notes and structure, power  Aging: Most are best young, some 10 and 20 years. Pascal et Alain Lorieux Chinon, Serge Doré Selections (the best Chinon I've ever had!)   Bourgueil & St. Nicolas de Bourgueil North of Chinon, these wines are similar to those of Chinon – some are powerful, some are lighter in style, depending on the soil types and sites Nicolas de Bourgueil is within Bourgueil (and can use the Bourgueil appellation) but the soils of this sub AOC are sandy, so the wines are lighter in style with soft tannins, and are meant to be consumed young. Pascal et Alain Lorieux St. Nicholas de Bourgueil, Serge Doré Selections (the best St. Nicholas de Bourgueil I've ever had!)   The Famed White Appellations Vouvray: Chenin Blanc These Chenin Blanc wines are complex, diverse and varied due to differences in climate (some sites are more maritime influenced, some more continental), soil (some have tuffeau jaune, some tuffeau blanc, some alluvial), and slope direction (depending on tributary) The wines can be dark or golden or very pale, have hay-like notes with apple, honey, citrus, wool aromas and flavors. Textures run the gamut – some are big and soft, some are dry and more refreshing. Still Wines: Lots of sweetness levels – that are not always used on the labels so you don’t know what you’re going to get! Sec, Sec-Tendre, Demi-Sec, Moelleux (sometimes with botrytis). Top wines can age for decades Sparkling: petillant (spritzy) and mousseux (fully sparkling) – neither the fizziness nor the sweetness is always marked clearly 2015 Bourillon Dorléans "La Coulée d'Argent" Vouvray -- what we drank during the podcast, Divine! Also Serge Doré Selections   Montlouis Sur Loire: Vouvray’s sister appellation, it is across the river from Vouvray in the commune of Montlouis-sur-Loire, and is based on Chenin. These wines are similar to Vouvray and have the same confusing labelling problems, but also can be long lived, developing honeyed, spicy notes with time (30-40 years)     The other appellations of Touraine with their grapes are: Northern areas Coteaux du Loir: Whites of Chenin Blanc, reds with Pineau d’Aunis (min 65%) with Cabernet Franc, Côt, and Gamay. Rosé can be Côt, Gamay, Grolleau with Pineau d’Aunis   Coteaux du Vendomois:  Strangely, this appellation’s grapes are dictated by the percentage of the grapes in the vineyards, not by what is in the final blend. Whites are mainly of Chenin Blanc (80% of vineyards) with 20% Chardonnay. Reds are from Pineau d’Aunis, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, with Gamay. Rosés are 100% Pineau d’Aunis.   Jasnières is a small appellation with dry white of 100% Chenin Blanc.     Touraine District level designations Touraine is a generic regional AOC but within it are 5 designations with unique wines: Touraine Amboise is rosé and red of Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Côt with whites of Chenin Blanc Touraine Azay-le Rideau is whites and rosés. Rosés are a minimum of 60% Grolleau, with Gamay, Côt or Cabernet Franc. Whites are made from 100% Chenin, and can be sec, demi-sec and sweet Touraine-Mesland is reds and rosés that are a blend of Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Côt, Whites are Chenin Blanc but may be blended with Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. Touraine-Oisly (wah-LEE) is mainly white with tropical, fatter Sauvignon Blanc that has less minerality and acidity than Sancerre, for example. Touraine Chenonceaux has similar whites to Touraine-Oisly of Sauvignon Blanc and reds of Cabernet Franc (35% – 50%) and Côt ( 50% – 85%) Touraine Noble Joué is a Vin Gris (rosé) of Pinot Meunier (main varietal, minimum 40%), Pinot Gris (minimum 20%), Pinot Noir (minimum 10%)     Eastern areas Cheverny makes reds, rosé, and whites. Reds are light in style, and are made with Gamay and Pinot Noir with some Cabernet France and Côt Rosé: must be at least 60% Pinot Noir with Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Côt Whites are Sauvignon Blanc with Sauvignon Gris with Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Arbois (spelled Orbois The area contains Cour-Cheverny, made from the rare Romorantin grape – which is light and aromatic with citrus and honeyed notes   Valençay makes whites of mainly Sauvignon Blanc, with Chardonnay, Arbois, Sauvignon Gris and reds mainly of Gamay. ____________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors this week: Wine Access  Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal    Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople   To sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!

    Ep 359: Barra of Mendocino on Mendocino Wine, Organic Farming, & the Business of a Family Wine Company

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 26, 2021 56:06

    The Barra Family has been farming grapes since Charlie Barra began in 1945 when he was 19. He bought his own vineyards in 1955 and married Martha Barra in the 1980s. The couple made the business run in earnest, with Martha concentrating on business and Charlie focused on farming. In 1988, the Barras began farming their land organically and haven’t stopped since. They started their own brand, Barra of Mendocino in 1995, which today includes Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Muscat Canelli. After creating Barra of Mendocino, they created Girasole (sunflower in Italian) Vineyards, a lighter style with no oak. Charlie passed away in 2019 but Martha and the family carry on with Randy Meyer, Barra's Director of Winemaking and Operations playing a major role in the business. As you’ll hear, Randy is a live wire and as we talk about organics about halfway through the show,  he unabashedly shares the secrets of conventional winemaking and how it is in sharp contrast to organics (and he knows, he spent 20+ years at Korbel and other large wineries). And it’s awesome. Here are the show notes. Martha shares the fascinating history of Barra and how Charlie Barra’s dedication to Redwood Valley, to Mendocino and to farming the right way brought about these excellent wines. We hear the family story, a 40+ year legacy We delve into the economics of Mendocino fruit and how big Napa and Sonoma County wines couldn’t make their wines at affordable prices without Mendocino (the rule of 75% reigns here – only 75% of grapes need come from an AVA for it to be stated on the label. Where do you think that other 25% comes from?) Yup, this is what I thought. Taken from an old publication, Courtesy of the Barra family   Martha and Randy tell us about Mendocino's and Redwood Valley's geographical and weather features – and how diurnals make these wines so special. Randy gives us a great perspective of how Mendocino is different from Sonoma and Napa on temperature, terrain, and culture. Martha tells us the basics of organic farming, including the US laws around organic viticulture and wines. In short... They use no “cides” (herbicides, pesticides, etc), no chemicals, no fertilizers and use pomace and cover crops to nourish the vines. Martha gives us details on how it all works to get healthy soils and healthy vines Martha gives us the tip off for spotting a non-organic vineyard – “spray strips” of pesticides around the vines. It’s her tell-tale for a chemically treated vineyard   To round out the show, Randy gives us the lowdown on organics versus non-organic! We have a good time talking about his journey into the world of organics from large industrial wine (he spills so much for us and he’s hysterical!): Randy talks about how organic winemaking is about prevention -- getting it right in the vineyard and during crush so you don't have to fix things later. He talks candidly about the challenge of making wine without sulfites (they help make wine shelf stable and provide longevity). Then stuff gets real!! I ask Randy, who is really at the beginning of his organic winemaking career, after years of working at big wineries, to compare and contrast. We bust it all open and Randy tells us all about the “tricks” of big wine. Randy contrasts organic winemaking with other winemaking. You'll never buy big wine again!   Finally, we talk about the Barra of Mendocino's wines and the Girasole wines and how they differ Barra of Mendocino are wines selected from the best grapes and aged in about 30% new French oak (We dork out again on barrels, digging into what oak does to a wine and how different toast levels affect the juice) Girasole is a fresher style with no oak __________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors this week: Wine Access  Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal    Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople   To sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!

    Ep 358: Mendocino, California

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 19, 2021 46:21

    Just over the county line from Sonoma is the fascinating region of Mendocino. Mendocino is a large county that spans one California’s largest, most diverse, and northernmost wine growing regions. This quiet area, full of farmers who are passionate about the land, has just over 17,000 acres under vine in 12 appellations. From www.avwines.com, Anderson Valley, Mendocino As we dig into what is here, you will learn that this region is full of surprises. Not only is Mendocino termed the “organic wine mecca of California” for its meticulous care of the land and focus on organic certification, it's range of terroir means producers can make everything from sophisticated, earthy, cool climate Pinot Noir and Alsace varietals, to elegant sparkling wine, to full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. From www.mendowine.com; Shannon Ridge Winery There is a myriad of climates, soils and elevations in Mendocino, and learning more will make you question why more wineries aren’t based here and why these wines are not more widely available and known to wine lovers. www.mendowine.com: Gibson Vineyard, Hopland

    Ep 357: The Role of Alcohol in Wine

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 11, 2021 53:34

    It’s the first show of our 10th year! WOW! And for our double digit birthday, this time we bring you a super dorky one that is so important to understand in wine. I have already professed it the dorkiest show of 2021, and I’m pretty sure I can’t top this so – Voilà! First we have some fun, and challenge you to follow the three wine resolutions/challenges I’ve set forth! They are so easy, even I can keep them: Have a wine from a region you’ve never heard of or had before! Expand your palate, do a little research, and try something totally new.  Have wine from a region that you have hated in the past. Wine is constantly changing, especially with climate change so a region you may have thought was yucky in the past, may very well have turned into your next favorite wine hub! Drink more of the wine you love but always forget about! We all have one of those. When you get it you say to yourself, “why don’t I drink more of this? It’s so great!” Here are the show notes on the role of alcohol in wine: __________________________________________ Alcohol levels are largely determined in the vineyard: Sugar is converted to alcohol during fermentation, so sugar levels in a vineyard are essential to determining how much potential alcohol a wine can have. From véraison (when grapes start to get color) to ripening, grapes accumulate glucose and fructose.  How much sugar depends on the vineyard conditions-- light, water, vineyard management are important Cooler climates, elevation, north-facing slopes yield lower potential alcohols Irrigation matters in determining sugar levels –some studies show glucose and fructose is higher in irrigated vines than non-irrigated ones (see Beverages Journal below, Imbibe Magazine) Vineyard practices like canopy management (chopping off leaves - plant doesn't absorb as much sunlight) or green harvesting (cutting grape bunches before they ripen, can focus on ripening the few that are left) help increase or decrease sugars. We discuss the idea of phenolic ripeness and how that quest for flavor has led to higher alcohol levels We also discuss how early picking, which seems like a natural solution, can lead to higher acid levels, less complexity, sometimes green notes in the wine – often just LESS GOOD flavor!   Alcohol in winemaking (how it gets into wine): Yeast convert fermentable grape sugars to alcohol either from ambient yeast or by inoculated yeast. Sugar + Yeast = Alcohol +Carbon Dioxide (+heat) Potential alcohol (often measured by must weight) is how much sugar is available to the yeast in the grape must. if you don’t have enough, you can chaptalize with cane or beet sugar to raise alcohol levels (this has NOTHING to do with sugar in a wine, only with raising alcohol during fermentation) During fermentation/maceration: Alcohol produces esters by working with the organic acids in the very acidic fermenting juice. alcohol + acid = ester Yeast play a big role in alcohol production, obviously. When yeast make alcohol, they kill themselves and other strains take over to finish the fermentation Wild fermentation can help restrain alcohol levels, but is less predictable Alcohol tolerance in yeast has increased, so yeast are more efficient and create higher alcohol levels in wine (discussed in our Underground Wine Event Virtual event by Stu Smith of Smith-Madrone) Mark Smith, CC BY 2.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0   Alcohol is a strong solvent so it can extract stuff out of the grape must (mushed up grape soup after crush) Bitter and astringent notes from seeds, skins, stems come out as alcohol levels increase, so winemakers have to be careful not to over-extract bitter compounds when the alcohol levels are high at the end of fermentation. Cold Soaking can help: The wine stays at -10˚C for up to one week, so anthocyanins can come out without the bitterness. Other benefits of Alcohol in winemaking Alcohol is anti-microbial Alcohol is a preservative during the wine maturation process.   Alcohol Measurement: Alcohol by volume (ABV): milliliters of alcohol present in 100ml of wine expressed as a percentage. Wines range from 5% - 25% alcohol. Factors like climate, grape variety, and winemaking play a role What’s low, medium and high alcohol levels: My Judgement Low Alcohol: Under 11.5%, and are often sweet and light – German Kabinett wines, Moscato d’Asti are examples Medium Alcohol: 11.5 -12.5% Medium-low: 11.5% - 12% ABV – Lambrusco, some Loire whites, some German and Austrian Whites, some northern Italian Medium- 12.5% - 13.5% -- This is about the average for dry wines in Europe. Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Champagne, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Rosé, many Chilean wines are in this range High Alcohol—14%+ -- Nearly all New World Wines, many Spanish and Portuguese reds, Argentinean reds, Southern Italian wines, some southern French wines Fortified/VERY High Alcohol – 15%+ Usually fortified but can just be really ripe and not de-natured   The Perception of Alcohol: Alcohol activates smell, taste, and feel (the burn) receptors We perceive alcohol as a combo of sweet and bitter taste and the burning sensation (similar to a chili pepper) and some of this is genetic -- some people perceive alcohol as sweetness, some as more bitter (also has to do with concentration of alcohol: Body: viscosity, fullness are directly related to alcohol content Alcohol amplifies astringency, bitterness and acidity. Higher residual sugar is often used to counter this issue there is no predetermined alcohol level that will create balance, this is the ART VA: lots of alcohol means it can seem vinegar like   Alcohol Levels and Taxes: For the wonks among us, we discuss how alcohol is taxed in the US, UK, EU and Canada. You may be surprised at how it’s calculated!   We wrap with some interesting ways winemakers reduce alcohol in wine We reiterate the importance of getting it right in the vineyard Humidification/ watering back: is a very common practice. You add water and it dilutes alcohol (and flavor) Semi-permeable membranes to separate alcohol from wine Reverse osmosis: wine passes through a membrane to strip it of ethanol. It is performed at low temperatures and aims to change only the wine alcohol content, and it usually results in 1-2% reduction. It is cheap, but it has been found to reduce complexity, mouthfeel, and affect aging in red wines. Spinning cone column: uses centrifugal force and steam, to separate water from alcohol. The water is then recombined with the color, flavor, and tannins and poured back into the wine to dilute the alcohol while keeping flavor. This is very expensive yet effective Source: Flavourtech   ____________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors this week: Wine Access  Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal    Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople   To sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!   ___________________________________________________________ Podcast Sources: Beverages 2015, 1, 292-310; doi:10.3390/beverages1040292 https://daily.sevenfifty.com/taking-control-of-alcohol-levels-in-wine/ https://imbibemagazine.com/dry-farmed-wine/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinning_cone https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/Wine-equalisation-tax/ https://www.decanter.com/learn/tax-wine-much-pay-uk-ask-decanter-357119/ https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/add.14631 https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/business/excise-duties-alcohol-tobacco-energy/excise-duties-alcohol_en

    Ep 356: The Historic Champagne Lanson with Hervé Dantan, Cellarmaster

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 28, 2020 63:00

    Founded in 1760 as the 4th Champagne house, Champagne Lanson is known for its fresh, acidic style (no malolactic fermentation!). Over its 260 years, it has stayed true to its principles and that original flavor profile. In this show, Hervé Dantan, cellarmaster and Champagne native, gives us a unique perspective. Hervé is the son of grape growers in Champagne, and after graduating from enology school, he did  internships in Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Alsace, and in California to learn about regions around the world. At 25 years old only he became one of the youngest cellar master in Champagne. He joined Champagne Lanson in 2013 and in 2015, Hervé Dantan became the Chef de Cave of Champagne Lanson.  This podcast is different from others in that Hervé discusses the land and the vineyard. His perspective is so very different from many in the region, who choose instead to focus on the process in the winery. For you as listeners -- meaning dorky normal wine people -- I think you will appreciate the conversation. It's much less marketing and much more meat of how Champagne is truly made.  Here are some of the topics we cover:  Hervé discusses the origins of Lanson -- how it was the 4th Champagne house founded and how, whereas others have decided to change their styles to something fatter and fuller bodied over time, Lanson has kept it crisp style that forgoes malolactic fermentation for bright, dancing fruit, pure acidity. We discuss the importance of relationship with growers, understanding the land in Champagne, and how Lanson sources its grapes. They use fruit from 100 of the 320 Cru villages that make up the Champagne Appellation. More than 50% of all the grapes that Lanson uses come from Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages (30% is normal for Champagne).    Hervé tells us about the different regions of Champagne and the value each serves in the blend.   We discuss the organic and biodynamic viticulture projects of Lanson and what Hervé and his team have learned from growing grapes in this manner. We discuss the difficulty of total certification in Champagne, and Hervé discusses the importance of sustainable certification. In this, Hervé also tells us how Lanson is dealing with climate change, mainly by working in the vineyard and with nature to adapt.    We discuss the most difficult part of Hervé's job -- assembling the blends. He gives great detail into how it's done and what goes into making each type of wine (hint: the non-vintage wine is the hardest to make!)   We talk process and I ask about two things I've always wondered about: Why having the disgorgement date on the bottle is important  Is there a noticeable difference in quality between using a gyropalette and remuage/riddling by hand   Hervé, as a native of Champagne, tells us how he pairs the wine with food. Here are some of his ideas: Always as an aperitif and with cheese Chardonnay-based Champagne with seafood Blancs de Noir/Vintage/Rosé Champagne with white meat or with dishes that are both sweet and salty Old vintage Champagne with some red meats   Not surprising, when asked about the future for Lanson and Champagne, Hervé told us it's all about the vineyard! Amen!  ___________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors this week: Wine Access  Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! And get an eGift Card for the holidays and Wine Access will donate 10% of the proceeds to one of my favorite charities: No Kid Hungry.  It's a great charity that helps end childhood hunger.  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal    Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople   To sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!  

    Ep 355: The 8 Holiday Wine Gifts for Wine Lovers (plus 5 wine gag gifts to make you laugh)

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 15, 2020 39:14

    It's the end of the year and there's still time to get interesting and USEFUL gifts for the wine lovers in your life. We covered basics of glassware and gadgets in Episode 338, but this pod covers some cool gift ideas that aren't essentials but, rather, nice to haves (or just damn funny to know about in the case of the 5 gag gifts!). Here's the run down of our recommendations (in no particular order so don't read into it!)  Disclosure: Some of the products contain affiliate links so I may make a small amount if you buy the products below but no one has paid me or gifted me these products so I'll put them on the list. The Real Gifts 1. Brumate Winesulator and 2 Uncork'd XL wine tumblers with lids, $59.99-$69.99 What is it: If you travel to the beach, go camping, or hang out outdoors in warm weather, you know that glass bottles and drink ware are a no-no. At the beach glass is illegal, for camping and hiking the risk of breakage is high, and in warm weather your wine temperatures rise and can skunk the wine while it sits in glass. Enter the Brumate Winesulator. Pour the wine into this insulated bottle and it will keep it cool for 24 hours (so it claims. Even if it's not that long, it will be long enough for you to down it!).   Why we like it: The cups are akin to the Yeti Tumblers that we recommend in Ep 338 and they will keep the wine at a great temperature too. This is a completely practical gift that the recipient wind up using frequently once they have it.                     2. Sipski Silicone Wine Glass Holder for the Bath & Shower $14.99 What is it: As I say in the show, I have no idea why I find myself in the shower with a wine glass so often (M.C. Ice blames it on our kids), but I do. This is a wine glass holder that suctions right onto your shower wall. Why we like it: My main problems with wine in the bathroom are twofold: I worry the glass will break if I perch it on the side of the shower Water gets into the glass if I put it on the floor of the shower and dilutes the flavor. The Sipski seems to solve both problems. Know anyone with these pressing issues? This is a perfect gift.   3. The Durand for old bottles and fragile corks $125 What is it: I think their site says it best: The Durand® removes "compromised and fragile corks, whole and intact, from older, valued wines. The Durand has been repeatedly tested on the most challenging corks. It has performed consistently and flawlessly."   Why we like it: I have to admit, I don't drink enough fine, old wine to justify buying this device, but I do know people how own it and they love it. I will admit that I've unwittingly made my own makeshift Durand using a corkscrew and a two-pronged cork puller, but this is far more practical, slicker, and makes more sense! This is perfect for a wine lover who has a big cellar with lots of old bottles     4. CORAVIN, Model Three, $149.95 What is it: Coravin is the biggest innovation in wine since the invention of the corkscrew. Coravin was a sponsor of the pod for a brief time and their founder, Greg Lambrecht, came on to talk about this invention process. He's a biotech guy who figured out how to insert a needle into a cork, take out wine and replace it with argon gas, without introducing oxygen to the wine. Why we like it: It is pricey, but if you know someone who likes to try a lot of different bottles instead of opening one and sticking with it for the night, or if someone is the lone wine drinker in his or her house, this is the best investment going. It works so well and I use it all the time, especially when I teach classes and don't want to open five bottles in a night! It is perfect if you just want a glass of wine on a Tuesday night but don't want the whole bottle. This is the gold standard for any wine lover and you will be much beloved if you gift this!     5. A Wine Access Gift Card (you choose the amount) What is it: Yes, they are my sponsor for the show and they did sponsor this podcast but they didn't put me up to putting them on the list. I could have been more generic about a "wine gift card" but I truly believe that Wine Access has top notch products and that the best gift card for wine you could get someone is an  eGift card to their site. Why we like it: I have worked with them for more than a year and I can tell you that the wines are awesome. They have a great team who only selects 1 in 18 bottles they try. They have excellent customer service, can guarantee that every bottle comes directly from the winery (no weird second-hand stuff), and they have perfect temperature controlled storage so every bottle comes to you in perfect shape. I also love the materials each bottle comes with -- pairings, serving temperatures, educational information -- it's all here. So yes, they are my sponsor, but there's a reason for that. They are top shelf and if you get someone a gift card from them, they will thank you a hundred times over. Bonus: If you are pressed for time, this is an eGift card -- it gets there within seconds of you registering it! (*Not available in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Utah.)   6. Murray’s Cheese Shop: Red Wine Lover's Collection Basket, $95 What is it: Being a native New Yorker means I'm partial to all things New York, and Murray's Cheese (the original location is on Bleeker Street in the East Village) is one of those things. A going concern for more than 80 years, Murray's has its own cellar where they age their cheeses, trained staff, and all around exceptional cheeses. Why we like it: This collection has a bunch of great cheeses that will pair with reds (and if you don't want to fork over the $95 plus shipping, you can use their list as a guide and make your own basket!). Another great one for a last minute gift -- it's shipped within two days so it will get to your wine and cheese lover fast!   7. The Outdoor Wine Table, $58.00 at Uncommongoods.com  What is it: Another great gift for outdoor wine enjoyment, this is the perfect little table for people who picnic, like hanging out outdoors, or who go to a hell of a lot of sports games to watch their kids play

    Ep 354: A New Look At Bordeaux's Médoc -- with Château La Cardonne's Magali Guyon

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 8, 2020 56:58

    Magali Guyon has been the technical director/ winemaker of Château La Cardonne in the Médoc of Bordeaux for more than 20 years. Having worked in Bordeaux for some of the biggest names – she is the former winemaker at Château Lynch-Bages – she represents the best of the best in Bordeaux. Château La Cardonne was recently awarded the prestigious Cru Bourgeois Supérieur title as well.  In this show, we take a different look at the Médoc (the prestigious Left Bank of Bordeaux) and approach it as a proposition of growing and terroir – not of pretty chateaux and expensive wines. Magali helps us reframe the discussion of Bordeaux to show us that the true essence of Bordeaux is the vineyard and the land.   Here are the show notes/discussion topics: The location, size, and the major water, soil, climate, and other influences in the Médoc Map from Vins du Médoc The soils and the differences between the various types of gravel, the clay-limestone, and the limestone bedrock that could be particularly suited to white wine in the future (yes, we do discuss the possibility of a Blanc appellation for Médoc)   The flat aspect of Bordeaux and how diurnals must make up for what it lacks in altitude or slope The grapes of the Médoc – mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. We talk about what type of land is well-suited to each grape and what matters when it comes to good viticulture   The many separate areas/AOCs –Margaux, St. Julien, Pauiilac, Listrac, Moulis, St. Estèphe, and the wider areas of Haut-Médoc and Médoc. We talk about the similarities (the oceanic climate) and the differences (nuances in climate and soil)   I ask Magali about why there are no wines that tout “old vines” or Vieilles Vignes on their labels in Bordeaux. She explains why that could be. Climate change and the challenges of strictly organic or biodynamic viticulture are a big topic. We also talk about the new grape varieties – Touriga Nacional, Marselan, Arinarnoa, and Castets – and the potential for a few of them. We address the importance of tradition and how keeping wines stylistically true to the region is a priority   After an in-depth conversation on Médoc, we discuss Château la Cardonne. Magali explains why she vinifies each lot separately – plot by plot. We discuss how important it is for a vigneron to be in charge of both vineyards and winemaking. We talk about the use of oak and how it is viewed in Bordeaux (as a way to provide controlled oxidation and tannin stabilization, NOT as a “spice rack” as it is in the New World) and why many vigneron are trading barrels for amphora     Château La Cardonne ages the wines before release in their famous “Cathedral” . It is 2020 at the time of the show and they are just releasing their 2010 wine Photo credit: Vins du Médoc We discuss the “caste system” of Bordeaux and how frustrating it is that the classification systems suppress the reputation and excellent wines of places not included in these old rankings. On the positive side, we discuss how that translates to value for us as wine lovers (La Cardonne is a mere US$25)   We wrap with a brief discussion of women in Bordeaux, the benefit of foreign investment in Bordeaux (Château La Cardonne is owned by a Hong Kong-based company), and how the future for Bordeaux is exciting and full of possibilities.   The show is a great new way to look at Bordeaux. Forget chateaux: look at the land! *Unless specified otherwise all photos from the Instagram feed of Chateau La Cardonne ____________________________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors this week: Wine Access  Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! And get an eGift Card for the holidays and Wine Access will donate 10% of the proceeds to one of my favorite charities: No Kid Hungry.  It's a great charity that helps end childhood hunger.  Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal    Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople   To sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! To get a Gift Certificate for a Wine For Normal People class for your loved one go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! And for a customized, signed bookplate for a gift, send your receipt to hello (at) winefornormalpeople (dot)    com

    Ep 353: Women in Wine and the Subtle Symphony of Quiet Misogyny

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 1, 2020 43:18

    This is a transcript of the first part of the podcast. The second part of the show discusses these points in more detail.    Women in Wine and the Subtle Symphony of Quiet Misogyny After mulling over the various scandals in wine lately, and thinking about my position in the wine world, I have a perspective to add beyond just a social media post to call out the behavior of those in the wine business, those who have minimized the situation, and the hollow calls for change that likely won’t happen.   Part I: What’s in the news, and what I have seen… If you missed it, in the past few months, a spate of “scandals” has broken out in the wine world regarding women in wine.   First, it was the #winebitch scandal in the United Kingdom. This occurred when a well-known TV wine personality from the “Wine Show” in the UK and his cronies passed around text messages debasing young female and “softer” male wine influencers. I didn’t see these messages before they were removed from the web, but I’ve heard from those who did that the threads were raunchy, rude rants. They were also far-reaching – covering everything from the lack of value of these people’s contributions to the wine world (one could say that topic is at least ok to discuss although not in the manner raised) to criticizing their looks, children, and families (not even remotely ok).   On the heels of this, an exposé in the New York Times revealed that the highest-ranking men of the cult of Master Sommeliers, as I like to call it and have written about before, have been demanding sexual favors and even raping (young) women in exchange for guaranteed career advancement. I have made the argument for a long time that the Court of Master Sommeliers is an exclusive in-crowd of people who know each other and who dictate membership based not only on skill but on favoritism. Apparently, that favoritism stretches far beyond the run of the mill BS that I had speculated about.   Is this surprising? No. When I worked at the big hulking winery in the mid-2000s, executive assistants who had been there for 35 years told me that the senior executives and owners used to say wildly inappropriate things to them, and kiss and grope them while they were trying to work. Although these women tried (literally) to run away from these predators, this mistreatment was acceptable behavior and the women’s silence was the only way to maintain employment.   I’m not excusing the behavior, but maybe this legacy means we need to take a historical view to understand the issues. Wine in the United States is an old school industry. Its very structure is based on something that was set up in 1933 after Congress’s failed attempt to ban alcohol through a constitutional amendment. Doubting the public could handle itself properly, Congress encouraged states to set up roadblocks and a three-tier system that treats adults as children with choices made for them about what, when, and how they can buy wine, gives certain huge producers and distributors power over markets, and in certain states, despite Supreme Court rulings, denies citizens the ability to procure the wines they prefer to drink.   Further, for those in the industry, if you don’t drink copious amounts with your customers and co-workers, and if you are a woman not willing to be a good old boy and listen to piggish talk and smoke cigars, you’re a pariah. It’s an industry based on power in the hands of the few (like many industries).   The deification of sommeliers, who completely disconnect with the very people they are supposed to serve in pursuit of a title that will give them power, is another outgrowth of this. The conclusion: the wine industry is based on other people who apparently know better than you (whomever you are), making decisions for you that you may or may not agree with. The recent scandals prove that little has changed since the incidents of the “Mad Men” era the women at the big winery told me about. And as more women have entered the industry, the opportunities for this kind of behavior have just multiplied.  Sexism in the wine industry is a subtle symphony of quiet misogyny.     As for me, I can’t count the number of times I have been ignored when I am in a group of industry men talking about wine. I am usually invisible to them and generally have no value. When I am with MC Ice in a setting that is not for podcast fans and listeners, men ask him the questions about wine even after he tells them what I do. And although I was too old and not cute enough to be a candidate for sexual harassment when I entered wine (I’m not sad about this, don’t worry!), the invisibility factor and belittlement factor was high with my male colleagues and bosses.   Women in high positions in wine are also guilty of this type of behavior – ignoring those they feel are unimportant or who lack status (men and women at conferences will ignore me until someone else tells them my audience is large and then there’s huge interest on their part, huge disgust on mine). Plenty of women in wine are just about self-preservation. In fact, an article by Jancis Robinson is nothing short of a “there’s nothing to see here” rant about how the younger generation has social media to make “a fuss” as she puts it. She argues that change should come for the economic viability of the wine industry, not for the absolute immorality of the acts of misogyny and inequality. I fear that her stance and that of those who support her show us that many women of the old guard are equally at fault for ignoring what goes on in the real world with normal wine people, AKA, the unwashed masses.     Part II: The Solution -- No, it’s not more women’s only groups or women’s scholarships I don’t really consider myself part of the industry -- I chose to blaze my own path and work with what I consider to be the best sides of wine – producers and wine drinkers – and abandon the business for the very reasons I just described. Because of that I often stay out of these debates. But this is one that I need to discuss. Because like everything else in wine, the issue has been framed in a way that just doesn’t work and won’t bring structural change.   So now I’d like to talk about the fix. Because the fix is not letting the men and women with stale ideas in the wine industry and financial interest steer this ship. And this is what is happening now. The wine industry LOVES to take the issue of the day, elevate it, and sweep it under the rug, or marginalize it so it becomes a splinter group. That’s what I see happening now: women’s initiatives! Let’s create a group to forward the cause of Women in Wine! Let’s make it so that women get promoted and we have our own safe space! Let’s give scholarships to women!   This tack lacks imagination and accomplishes nothing: We’ve already done this and it doesn’t work. The large corporations become sponsors of these “women-first” organizations so the problems they themselves create in the industry can’t be discussed in an open forum. Further, often the events are too costly and in places where the people who would benefit most can’t afford to get to (Napa and New York ain’t cheap). And frankly, once these organizations are off the ground, the women form their own in-crowd and never reach the people who may need the most help; Think of the young woman starting out in wine in Alabama who may be getting harassed but has nowhere to turn, or the sommelier in Omaha who has been told she can’t advance because men won’t take her seriously at a steakhouse. The elite women’s groups and scholarships for the few lucky enough to get them do nothing to help the majority of women.   And while I applaud the people who are trying to lift up other women (unlike many in the old guard who feel they need to keep rising stars down to maintain their own status), we do not and cannot operate in a bubble. These organizations that are supporting women need to take a hard look at how to make change. The only way to make this work is to enlist male allies; not to cloister off in group of women who believe what you believe. Men and women must work together to create a productive solution that doesn’t make this problem a “women’s issue,” thus giving these predators and subtle sexists the power to make the situation an “us” vs. “them” issue.   The organizations for women are already funded and organized, but now it’s time for them to move beyond talk and into action. They should take a page from the LGBTQ community: PFLAG could serve as a great model – chapters exist all over the US to help people work together to understand the issues, foster acceptance, and create safer and more inclusive communities for people of the LGBTQ community. This volunteer chapter structure allows dialog, understanding, and true change and it is not dependent on how much money you have or whether or not you can pay $1,000 for a weekend conference in New York or Napa. With well-known, funded, publicized, and gender inclusive chapters change can happen in any community where women and decent, good men are willing to work to solve the problems in wine.   Women are hurt and outraged but they should heed the warning: it is never right to close ranks and push people to the margins who want to help and who are willing, during our darkest times, to stand up for us and with us to help fight the darker elements of sexism. This is not a “women’s issue.” This is a cultural change that must happen in the wine industry and it can’t be done with scholarships and conferences of women alone. It must be a joint effort from everyone who is willing to be educated and to advocate for fairness.   Until we address the problem and come up with an innovative, inclusive solution, the engine of sexism and discrimination will continue in wine, stifling creativity, destroying the self-esteem of outstanding people, and holding the entire wine industry back from progress it deserves.  _______________________________________________ Thanks to our sponsors this week: Wine Access  Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!  I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).  They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops. Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps. Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!  Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal    Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today: https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople   And to sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

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