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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Wine Wednesday

Wines from the Rest of the U.S.

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Courtesy of Becker Vineyards

Courtesy of Becker Vineyards

At last count, there were wines being made in all 50 states. Now, some do face unusual difficulties—Tedeschi Vineyards in Hawaii, for instance, is the only vineyard I can think of in the U.S. located on the slopes of an active volcano—but nevertheless, there they are, wineries in every state. This fact can be easy to overlook, since California makes more than 90 percent of all U.S. wine. But as the weather has turned nicer (or, at least, is supposed to have), why not take a spin out to a local winery or two? Not a bad activity for a balmy weekend afternoon, and you’re supporting local businesses, too, which would be rather civic-minded of you. To spur you along, here are five wineries from around the country that are worth a trip. »

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Winemakers

All Good Things

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You know the rest of that line, right? Well, it's with some small amount of sadness that I am saying that about this blog: It must come to an end. I've had a terrific time writing it, but we've decided that in the end it's a bit strange, for a magazine that's all about bringing together food and wine, to have separate blogs on those topics.

So, from here on out, any wine blogging that I (and Megan Krigbaum, Kristin Donnelly, and various other stalwart folks) do will instead appear in F&W's primary blog, Mouthing Off. No less wine coverage, just a different venue. See you there.

Ray Isle

Winemakers

“Fueled by Fine Wine” Half Marathon

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Fueled by Fine Wine Half Marathon

I wouldn’t really consider myself a “serious athlete.” Sure, I’ve done a few triathlons, and a half marathon always seemed like a great accomplishment. But when I found out about the Fueled by Fine Wine Half Marathon, happening on Sunday, July 10, I didn’t think twice–this is the one for me!

Set in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, the course winds through the gorgeous vineyards in the Dundee Hills. In addition to being acclaimed for producing top Pinot Noirs, I can’t think of a more spectacular setting for a half.

The best part, though, is the after-party, which will feature wines from some of the top producers in the region, including Archery Summit, Domaine Drouhin, Domaine Serene and Lange Estate, to name a few. Says winemaker Jesse Lange: “While there are plenty of rolling hills to tackle, your source of infinite inspiration will be the world-class wines that await you at the finish line. And this is also your chance to put highfalutin winemakers in their place by leaving them in the red dust of our volcanic soils!”

The official motto of the race is “You won’t run your best time, but you’ll have your best time!” I know that a glass of amazing Pinot will be the proverbial carrot on a string to get me to the finish line.

PS: Stay tuned for reports from the road…

Winemakers

Visiting India’s Wine Country

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beyond

© Jen Murphy
The guesthouse at Sula overlooks the vineyards.

 

Only a true wine geek would make the four-hour drive from Mumbai to Nashik to go wine-tasting in the 100-plus-degree heat. But some prodding from F&W’s always-curious wine editor Ray Isle, coupled with a meeting in Mumbai with Rajeev Suresh Samant, the wine visionary behind India’s Sula Wines, convinced me it was my journalistic duty to leave Mumbai's chaos and investigate what was going on in India's wine country. In the last five years, a wine scene has slowly emerged in India’s major cities. Wine bars are popping up in design stores; retail wine displays are being added to specialty-food shops; India’s social set are joining wine clubs; and drinking red wine has become fashionable among the Bollywood set.

Nashik-based Sula Vineyards is now pioneering wine tourism in India to fuel the growing wine interest. It opened the country’s first tasting room in 2005 and has since added an Italian restaurant, as well as a six-month-old Indian restaurant. Two years ago, Rajeev opened Beyond, a modern, three-bedroom guesthouse set amid the vineyards, with an infinity pool and a private chef on call. I spent the day touring the barrel rooms, watching elegant women in saris prune the vines and tasting the dozen-plus styles of wine that Sula produces under the guidance of Sonoma winemaker Kerry Damskey. Throughout my trip, I noticed that Sula’s excellent sparkling wine and Chenin Blanc were featured on every restaurant’s wine list.

I also got a sneak peek at Sula’s 20-room eco-resort and spa, which will open later this year. With more than 500 people visiting the winery on a weekend day and new wineries like York and Chateau d’Ori opening nearby, I couldn’t help but feel Nashik will soon be, well, not quite Napa, but perhaps Mumbai’s equivalent to Long Island wine country.

Wines Above $40

Revisiting a Classic Chianti

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In my October column on 50 of the classic wines of the world, I singled out Castello di Monsanto's renowned Il Poggio bottling as a defining example of Chianti. So it was good fortune, or weird coincidence, or something, that Monsanto's Laura Bianchi happened to swing through town today to do a short retrospective tasting of three decades of Il Poggio.

I'll give her the prefatory remark: "What's important is that the style of the wine does not change. We believe in what my father started forty years ago, and we always try to improve the quality but not change the style."

That seems to me a good approach, if you've got a wine in your portfolio that is as exemplary as Il Poggio. It comes from a single five-and-a-half hectare vineyard on the Monsanto property, and is a blend of 90% Sangiovese with roughly equal parts Colorino and Canaiolo, aged for 18 months in new and one-year-old French oak. And, as this tasting proved (yet again; I've tasted this wine a lot over the years) it ages beautifully.

We tasted five vintages—2004, 2003, 1997, 1982, and 1977—and all of them were in admirable shape, with the '04 and the '82 the standouts of the group. 1997 and 2003 were both hot years, and that showed in both wines' black cherry fruit (more dried black cherries in the '97, and shading to plum paste in the '03) and a dark-roast coffee character in the '97 as well. Yet, even in vintages like these, it's worth noting that superripe for Chianti would still be considered somewhat astringent and austere in, say, Napa or Barossa. That's one lovely thing about good Chianti—even from a hot year it retains a cracked-twig crispness to its tannins and general character that makes it a fantastic partner for food.

The '82 was vividly aromatic, full of floral, leather and black tea. In the mouth it showed game and truffle along with sweet dried raspberry and cherry, and, as it opened up, distinctly fresh mint notes. If you can find this anywhere, and it's been stored carefully, buy it. It's drinking beautifully, and should continue to do so for some time.

The '04 is the current release (it's the one I wrote up for my column) and it's a great vintage of this wine. Dark cherry and raspberry aromas with a slight caramel hint from oak, lightly gamy and intense, loads of black cherry fruit, tea leaf suggested both in the taste and in the tactile tannins, an alluring note of violets... It's young, but after about two hours open it was terrific, and if you're hunting for a top-notch Chianti to cellar for—well, pretty much as long as you'd want to cellar it—this is a great choice.

 

 

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

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