Friday, April 12, 2013

Future Plans and a Great Buzzfeed Post

Hello loyal readers - all five of you left!  It's been a very busy four months for me and suffice it to say, I've had plenty of wine experiences since January 7th.  I've just been completely remiss about writing.  A busy schedule is not my only excuse.  I've been toying with the idea of taking this blog off of blogspot and creating my own page and really doing a daily post.  I know that creates a lot more work for me, but in doing so, I will be able to fulfill the objective of this site which is to share my wine knowledge in an honest and non stuffy way.

Wine is not just for the wealthy, the foodies or the humbled masses of hipsters who like to show off that they can pronounce Gruner Veltliner correctly.  Wine is one of the most democratic beverages we have with a variety of styles, countries of origins and price points.  It's the ultimate multi cultural society when you think of it!!! 

In the meantime, as I decide what to do with this blog, I will try to do a better job of keeping up with content.  I saw the posting on "The Best and Worst Celebrity Wines" on BuzzFeed the other day and just had to share.

Oh, and I love that Train, a band that I think is a testament to all that is wrong in the music business, has one of the worst wines.  I'm sure it complements their terrible music quite well.....

I can't promise that I'll write with the next sniff, sip or quaff, but I think I'll do better than October (another 4 months from now).


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Vive Le Champagne

Despite the increased supply of Champagne due to the 2011 bumper harvest and slowing demand in Europe, producers are still increasing prices.  Why?  As mentioned in my last post, the 2012 crop was much lower than expected which gave producers the excuse they needed to take up prices.  Given the rising cost of all raw materials from sugar to cotton to livestock, it was only a matter of time and I'm all for Champagne producers making a fair wage for delivering such a delightful product.  That said, I'm counting on some nice post New Year's deals.  I guess you can say I'm wearing my Rosė colored glasses.

For the full article, check out today's Wall Street Journal:


Alli M.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Silver Lining of a Slump

As you may have seen from the Associated Press, Europe is having their worst wine harvest in recent history.  The farmer's union expects France's grape harvest to slump by 20% and Italy's grape harvest to slump by 7%. 

My first reaction was, "I must go out and stockpile all of the grower's champagne I can afford/get my hands on to be able to celebrate the next several New Year's."  And then I took a breath, calmed down and realized that as hard as it is to hear this news, a down crop always means that the surviving fruit tends to be more concentrated and usually more complex.  Talented wine makers will be able to create something amazing out of this low yield.

So I'm holding out hope that despite the tragic loss of yield, French and Italian wines from the 2012 vintage will turn out to be wines that we celebrate and drink for decades.

Until the next time,


Alli M.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wonderful Willamette

I'm out in McMinnville, OR for the annual International Pinot Noir Celebration, or IPNC. I only signed up for one of the official events - the tasting "walkabout" which takes place tomorrow. But I've managed to stay pretty busy with visits to several wineries. Rather than breakdown all 15 wineries I've visited since Thursday, I'll give you the highlights of who you need to look for and ask for at your local wine store:

Montinore - They make a lot of widely available Pinot Noir. Moreover, they have some of the most budget friendly among good Oregon Pinot Noir. Their entry level "red label" can be found in many places and will cost somewhere in the low $20s. It's a classic light bodied Oregon pinot filled with bright cherry notes. They also make a lovely port that is only available at the vineyard. So visit The Willamette Valley already!!

Anne Amie - Been meaning to visit for years and finally made it there this trip. One of the few making a white Pinot Noir. I know there are many that consider this a gimmick, but if so, it's one I happen to like a lot. Imagine a white wine with a thicker body red berry notes on the nose and palate. Interesting, no? They also make a very pretty and unique late harvest Muller-Thurgau.

Winderlea - Cool space, beautiful views and excellent Chardonnay. I am particularly fond of their 2009 Chardonnay which should cost around $25-$30 at retail. Clean, bright, green apple palate with some candied notes and a hint of spice due to the neutral oak. Better than most subpar, over oaked and overdone CA Chardonnay.

Le Cadeau - I could write several postings just about Le Cadeau. Best views I've seen in The Willamette Valley. And the best thing about them - they have a great deal of distribution in the Northeast. I was pleasantly surprised to find that a few of their 2010 Pinots were my favorites - the 2010 Diversite and the 2010 Equinoxe.

Walter Scott Wines - I cannot say enough good things about this new winery. The founders, Ken and Erica, are as warm and friendly as they are talented. I genuinely enjoy everything they make. Based on the barrels we tasted today, I am waiting with baited breath for their spring bottling. In the meantime, I'll have to bide my time with their Holstein Pinot Noir as well as the Dumb Ox and Combe Vert Pinots I picked up previously that have since sold out. Dumb Ox is one of my absolute favorite Pinot Noirs. The acid, alcohol and tannins are in perfect balance and the palate is a cornucopia of berries, earth, spice and meat. Moreover, I need to give Ken credit for turning me onto Oregon Chardonnay. I was never a big Chard fan, but neutral-oaked Oregon Chardonnay has become a new favorite of mine. I think we're going to be seeing more and more good Chardonnay coming out of Oregon - especially if Ken and Erica accomplish everything I think they will.

I've been looking forward to this trip for months because The Willamette Valley is one of my favorite travel destinations. I love the wine and the landscape, but above all I love the sense of community out here. It seems as though all the winemakers know, as well as, respect one another. I have never experienced this much admiration amongst winemakers (and chefs and waiters) in any other region I've visited.

I sincerely hope this region never becomes what Napa has become, but in case it does, get out here soon. And by soon, I mean now! Oregon is just as lovely in August and September....

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Just a Typical Trip to the Wine Store...

'Twas a dark and stormy Saturday night when my friend, Sharon, and I visited a local wine store, Shopper's Vineyard, in pursuit of a bottle of Schild Shiraz.* I've introduced several people to Schild because it is a juicy, berry filled, medium bodied crowd pleaser. It pairs with a lot of foods and unlike a lot of Asutralian Shiraz, it is not unbalanced due to a high degree of alcohol. 

Having picked up the Schild, we were browsing the rest of the store when the manager, Steve, came by to see if we needed help. Sharon remarked that I was "in the zone" and this sparked a conversation between the manager and me. Turned out that Steve was the wine buyer for the store and he had a diploma from the WSET, the organization I received a certificate from. After a lot of intense discussion, Steve recommended a few Italian wines for me: Statti Mantonico 2009 from the Calabria Region and Ceppaiano Tenuta Di Ceppaiano 2009 from Tuscany. 

Mantonico is a white varietal I'd never heard of and Ceppaiano is a label I'd never had, but Steve clearly knew what he was talking about.  Plus, I always love learning about new varietals so I was excited to try to Mantonico.  As advertised, both wines were great.  The Mantonico was light, refreshing and elegant.  It had some lush notes of honeysuckle and peach, but it was not overly fruity or sweet.  On the other hand, the Ceppaiano Tenuta from Tuscany was big, bold and rich with notes of cooked fruit and smoke.  And at $15, a lot cheaper than most Super Tuscans.

One of my favorite things about wine is there is so much choice and always something new to learn.  Classes and tastings are a wonderful way to learn, but a helpful manager or wine buyer can be just as educational.  Explore new stores or ask new questions at your current stores.  If you end up taking home a Mantico, it will be well worth it. 

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.

*One final note:  Schild Shiraz 2008 has since become controversial because Schild produced an additional 5,000 cases of 2008 after they received a Top 10 Wine Spectator ranking (an illegal practice in some wine producing regions).  However, I believe the wine holds up - especially for $18 a bottle.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Daily Meal Article: The Best Wines You Can't Have YET

I saw this article in today's Daily Meal and it was a quick, good read with some good suggestions so I wanted to share.  I can't wait to buy some of these (and by some, I mean the ones in my price range, which is a lot humbler than most First Growth Bordeaux):

"Every April, Bordeaux throws a blowout party for the wine trade and media called "primeurs," a big barrel tasting of their new wines from the previous vintage barely seven months after the grapes were picked. But you can’t buy them then because no one knows yet how much they will cost, plus they won’t be bottled for another year or two.

I traveled to Bordeaux last week to taste some of the first growths, aka primeur crus, including châteaux Rothschilds (Lafite and Mouton), Margaux, and Haut-Brion (generally costing hundreds of dollars per bottles), as well as the petite bordeaux that most of us can afford. The red wines are tannic, murky, and powerful — you can easily spot a fellow primeurs taster because our teeth are stained purple and we look like vampires trying to avoid the garlic.

In the next few weeks, the top growths will decide how many hundreds of dollars their wines will cost, while the lesser growths struggle in the $15 to $100 range. And while the 2011 vintage turned out to be quite good in spite of bad weather, it is not up to the levels of 2009 and 2010 — so there probably will be a price drop.

If you have a very good memory, or if you want to bookmark this posting, here are some of the top 2011 wines from the 130-plus tasted in case you want to buy them when you find out their prices and when your wine merchants have them to offer to you.

Best first-growth wine: Château Margaux
An almost-perfect wine in an imperfect vintage. Lovely purple fruits bolstered by large amounts of tannins that are virtually unnoticed at first sip. Great fruit-acid balance. Long on the palate, almost drinkable now put will last for many decades. (Château Ausone came in at a close second.)

Most distinctive wine: Château Le Pin
This former garagiste winery has moved into a small new winery that is as elegant in design as is the wine — lots of dark cherry fruit with that distinctive brûlée, earthy finish for which Le Pin is known. Very few cases are made, so you may not be able to buy it, even if you can afford it.

Best affordable premium Right Bank wine: Château Corbin
Loads of good fruit. Elegant, yet powerful wine with good structure and more tannins than this favorite estate normally displays.

Best affordable premium Left Bank wine: Château Lynch-Bages
A sentimental favorite, but a solid one as well. Dark and rich fruits with lots of essence, supple, yet muscular. Long finish. It’s somewhat low in alcohol — about 13.4 percent — which should appeal to traditionalists.

Best everyday wine: Château Clarke
Substantial and sophisticated with good structure and long-lasting raspberry flavors.

Best new/old winery: Château Quintus
The folks who own the spectacular Château Haut Brion on the Left Bank decided to buy Château Tertre-Dugay on the Right Bank last June because it had a lot of promise if no curb appeal. They re-named it Château Quintus and made a quick turnaround by offering a wine for primeurs. I liked the second-tier wine,Le Dragon de Quintus, better than the estate wine — floral nose with lots of black raspberry fruit on the palate, yet firm and full-bodied."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

You Can Find Good, Restrained Chardonnay from the West Coast

Happy (almost) St. Patrick's Day!  Though I usually post a picture of the labels I'm talking about so you can find them in the store, I found this picture online earlier and felt it was apropos, not to mention much more fun!

Perhaps it's because they picked Evening Land, one of my favorite Oregon producers, number 2, but I felt compelled to share this article from the New York Times:

Oregon Chardonnay Speaks Up

For half the price of the Evening Land the New York Times tasted, Evening Land makes a Mad Hatter Chardonnay that is fantastic  I'm not a big Chardonnay fan and I love this wine.

I can also vouch for the Lemelson and the King Estate the Times wrote about.  Both good choices and $15 for a bottle of the King Estate is a crazy, good value.  Try paying that little for a California Chardonnay that is half as good!

Hope everyone enjoys their weekend and don't forget that green food coloring does o.k. in a good glass of white wine.....

Until the next sniff, sip, quaff or interesting article,


Alli M.