Here in the U.S. of A., we drink a lot of Chardonnay—over 53 million cases of it from California alone. Cabernet Sauvignon, too; we love the stuff. Merlot, Pinot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, bottle after bottle of those, too. And that's all well and good. But there are thousands of different wine grapes out there in the world, and with all that abundance, why not take a flier on an oddball but tasty option? Here are five lesser-known but nifty varieties to look for. »
Husband and wife Joey and Jennifer Tensley of Santa Barbara county, CA, each have their own winery and their own collaborators from France. Here, two of their unique blends.
Deux Terres (photo)
French for “two soils,” this earthy bottling blends Jennifer’s Pinot Noir with Roger Belland’s premier cru Burgundy. ($45).
Joey’s Rhône-style wine blend combines his weighty Colson Canyon Syrah with fruity Grenache from France’s Domaine de Montvac ($45).
More from the July issue >
Courtesy of Sonoma Magazine
Ben Flajnik, the star of the latest season of ABC’s The Bachelor, is—contrary to what people might guess—a legitimate, honest-to-God winemaker. In 2008, he started Sonoma’s Envolve Winery with partners Mike Benziger and Danny Fay, focusing on small-production organic and biodynamic bottlings from top vineyards around the region. We asked him for his favorite date wines. >
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.
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…
© 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.
Contrary to popular belief, it's not every day that I get to taste brand new vintages of Dom Pérignon
with its Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy. In fact, I'd never done this until last week when I, of course, jumped at the chance. For being the winemaker of what's arguably the most highly esteemed Champagne in the world, Geoffroy is remarkably well-grounded and funny and easy to chat with. He even has a blog
The matters at hand were Dom Pérignon's newest rosés, of which there are two. The first, the 2000 Dom Pérignon Rosé, is a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but Geoffroy thinks the wine "makes a statement on Pinot Noir. The point is to go for the Pinot Noir-the holy grail of winemakers and consumers." The 2000 vintage is a delicate golden salmon color and has the power, tannic structure and strawberry and sweet cherry fruit of Pinot Noir, balanced by a roundness on the palate and minerality, thanks to the Chardonnay. It's a duality that Geoffroy calls "very Dom Pérignon." The price, a cool $350, is also very Dom Pérignon.
The second wine we tasted was extraordinarily exciting, but, unfortunately, you won't ever be able to get it. Let me repeat: you won't ever find this wine. There will only be 350 bottles of it in the U.S. That said, the 1990 Dom Pérignon Œnothèque Rosé (the very first Œnothèque Rosé ever released in this country) is just dazzling. Œnothèque bottlings are late releases of particularly great vintages, and 1990 is especially important to Geoffroy because it was his first vintage at Dom Pérignon. The copper-toned wine is at once mellow but intense; creamy with spectacular acidity; and has remarkable longevity on the palate. "What I'm after is the lasting sensation of something," says Geoffroy. "I want the finish to be a seamless, gliding, holding note." I'd say he hit his mark.
Obviously, last Wednesday was an epic day (as evidenced by the fact that it's taken me three days to blog about all of its goings on). The day began with New Zealand Riesling and Pinot Gris, shaded into Sauternes and then was pleasantly capped off with a tasting with Tuscan winemaker Duccio Corsini of Principe Corsini.
Corsini was a great surprise at the end of the long day. He's supremely laid back and a terrific storyteller. His account of his time as an exchange student in Utah during high school—in which he seemingly did nothing but ski—was quite funny. And his lineage, which includes a saint and a pope, provided good fodder, too. Not only were his wines good but he kept me entirely enthralled for well over an hour talking about his olive oil production, his picturesque properties in Tuscany and even his love for hunting wild boar at his Maremma estate. Another amazing thing he told me about was how he puts the olive pits from making his oil to good, sustainable use by burning them to heat his entire Chianti estate.
Now about those wines: Corsini's family has two properties in Tuscany. Le Corti, in Chianti Classico, produces Sangiovese-based wines, and the Marsiliana estate turns out reds blended from Bordeaux varieties Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. He also uses the Marsiliana property for testing out other varietals like Petit Verdot, which apparently does particularly well on the property, and Syrah, which Corsini said unfortunately produced bizarrely generic juice. A few highlights from our tasting:
2006 Le Corti Chianti Classio ($21, find this wine) This earthy, tart cherry-flavored Chianti is from Corsini's Le Corti Estate just outside Florence. The wine sees no oak, but rather is aged in cement and concrete.
2005 Cortevecchia Chianti Classico Reserva ($35, find this wine) Also from the Le Corti Estate, this Reserva bottling is smooth with silky tannins and juicy black cherry notes.
2004 Marsiliana ($54, find this wine) This blend comes from Corsini's estate in the coastal Maremma region of Tuscany. The wine is bold with spice and cassis flavors, but is mellowed by well-integrated oak.
This week, New York is overrun by fashion models, designers and those who have to be in-the-know for Fashion Week, with runway shows all over the city. Coincidentally (at least I don't think there's any connection, as winemakers aren't exactly known for being a fashion-savvy bunch), there has also been an invasion of wine-industry folk, from winemakers to importers to sommeliers to retailers from all over the place, all in town for tastings and dinners and other such events.
This has made for a very exciting, albeit hectic, time around here.
Yesterday, I was able to taste with producers from three different wine regions around the world without ever going below 43rd Street, above 46th Street or west of Sixth Avenue. It was a doozy of a day, but I tasted some wonderful wines—so many that I've decided to break the highlights into parts. I'll deliver them one at a time today, so stay tuned.
The day began at the office, tasting with Kiwi winemaker Dave Pearce from Grove Mill in Marlborough, who was fascinating to talk to because of his commitment to figuring out which grape varieties will maximize the potential of the region. His next experiment will be with some Grüner Veltliner that he planted a couple of years ago.
We tasted through a bunch of wine, but the standouts for me were his Riesling and Pinot Gris. I know that sounds a little odd, as New Zealand is best known for its Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, but these wines were particularly fascinating.
The 2007 Riesling (find this wine) had just a smidge of residual sugar that expertly balanced its zap of acidity and minerality. There's a bit of petrol aroma to the wine, which is matched by sweet citrus-think mandarin orange-flavors. I mentioned the wine's peppery character to Dave and he corrected me, saying that it was more raw ginger than anything else. He was spot on.
As for the 2006 Pinot Gris (find this wine), it was so rich and pear-filled that I can almost still taste it. Dave told me that he approaches Pinot Gris as if he were making red wine. "With Pinot Gris, it's all about the weight. It should have texture and be unctuous and weighty," he said. The wine was precisely that—with elegant viscosity and fullness, overflowing with fruit. Dave thought the wine was pitch-perfect with blue cheese. I look forward to that experiment.
Next stop, Sauternes!
Alberto Antonini is one of the world's most influential winemakers, consulting on wines everywhere from his native Italy to Uruguay, California and Portugal. I recently sat down with Alberto to taste through a selection of wines he's consulting on for Bodegas Nieto Senetiner in Argentina's Mendoza region. We had a fascinating conversation about the importance that he places on making each wine specific to the place it's from, rather than aiming for a broad international style. As winemakers become more international, this ongoing discussion of terroir will become increasingly interesting.
Philosophies aside, the Bodegas Nieto Senetiner wines are standouts, with gorgeous, concentrated flavors thanks to the grapes' growing conditions: very warm days and cool nights. Here's what we tasted.
2008 Reserva Torrontes ($11, find this wine) Argentina's top white, Torrontes, has inherent floral notes, but this bottling has a tremendous white-flower aroma of orange blossoms, jasmine and magnolia alongside bright citrus flavors. This is the perfect wine for these hot summer days. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it.
2007 Reserva Bonarda ($30, find this wine) Alberto told me that Bonarda has a particularly long growing season and needs lots of sunlight. Extra time on the vine gives this soft, rustic red its spicy black fruit.
2007 Reserva Malbec ($11, find this wine) Alberto ferments this juicy, cherry-scented Malbec in concrete tanks, because he thinks it gives the wine fuller flavor.
2006 Don Nicanor Malbec ($17, find this wine) This deeply colored Malbec is loaded with black cherry and blackberry, plus a refreshing menthol note that keeps it from overloading the palate.
2005 Cadus Malbec ($45, find this wine) This single-vineyard Malbec is surprisingly fresh, even though it's also quite structured. It's long and elegant with pretty, spiced-cherry flavors.