The subject of the wine quiz #8 was “Do you know your AVAs“, and it seems that most of you have a pretty good knowledge of them. The list in the quiz contained mostly Napa Valley AVAs, with the exception of one – the correct answer was “Knight Valley”, as it is an AVA in Sonoma. Well done, team. To kick it up a notch, questions about AOCs, AOPs, DOs, DOCGs, IGTs and WOs are forthcoming in the near future.
Now, for the mini-quiz which you will need to answer in the comments, I have a question for you. Have you heard of the expression “Whistle while you work“? Do you know where it is coming from and what is the relation of that saying to the wine world? Please comment with your answer.
Happy Wine Tuesday! Cheers!
Saturday has come, so is the time for our weekly wine quiz. Before we get to the quiz itself, just a little update – based on the “popular demand” (okay, I don’t know if it was popular, but I got couple of requests), the answers for the weekly wine quiz will be provided in a few days after the quiz was published (probably Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week). And if that doesn’t make everyone happy – we can change it again.
Now, the subject of today’s quiz is something which is called AVA – American Viticultural Area, which is similar to the french concept of AOC. AVA designates the certain region as having unique terroir and unique grape growing and wine production requirements. If you remember an example with circles from Singles Night Out blog post, all AVAs are enclosed into one another – California includes Central Coast, Mendocino, Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley and more, all of which are AVAs in their own right. And then there are more smaller AVAs definied within a bigger one, such as Howell Mountain, Diamond Mountain and Yountville all being sub-regions of Napa valley.
Now, for the task at hand, below is a list of “smaller” AVAs. They all belong to one and the same bigger AVA, except one. And the question is: which one doesn’t belong?
Enjoy your weekend! Cheers!
Today is Wednesday, right? Well, yes, of course, it is already Thursday for half of the world, but at least here, on US East coast, it is still Wednesday. And it is not only #WineWednesday as celebrated all over the Twettersphere, it is also a Wine Blogging Wednesday #76, a.k.a #wbw76, with the theme Barossa Boomerang. In other words, it is all about wines coming from Barossa Valley region in South Australia.
Winemaking history in Australia goes back more than 200 years, of course with ups and downs. From 1990s, Australian wine imports were growing very steadily, with Australia literally becoming a number one wine importer to US around 2005-2006. Australian Yellow Tail was the most popular wine on the shelves of US wine stores. And then…it all went down. The glut of inexpensive but at the same time absolutely indistinguishable wines was one of the reasons for that demise. Of course there were more reasons than that, but this is not the subject of today’s post – however, if you want to read more, here is a very good post by Jancis Robinson. As of late, Australian wines are slowly working its ways up the ladder, but it will take time and dedication to regain the lost positions.
So the theme of today’s Wine Blogging Wednesday should help exactly with that – there are many great wines produced in Australia, and this #wbw76 certainly helps to bring attention to the Australian wines. Barossa wines are somewhat of an easy subject, as there are lots of wines produced in the Barossa Valley, so finding the bottle to open is definitely not an issue. Would the subject be Victoria or Great Perth, it would make the task of finding the appropriate wine a lot more difficult. Outside of sheer availability, another great fact about Barossa region is that it is a home to some of the best and most famous wineries in Australia, such as Penfolds, Henschke, Seppeltsfield and others.
Okay, enough fluff, let’s talk about the wine. When the theme of #wbw76 was announced, I pretty much new only one thing about the wine I’m going to select – it will be a Shiraz. Which one exactly – I had lots of ideas in mind, until two days ago, when I saw 2008 Fetish Playmates Barossa Valley wine on sale at local Bottle King for $8.99. Considering the price and the fact that label looked very inviting, the decision was made rather easily.
Here are my tasting notes, in quasi-real time: Dark chocolate and blackberries on the nose, slight hint of vanilla. Very round on the palate, showing lighter than expected just by the smell. Touch of spice and wine disappears on the palate, leaving it coated with tannins. Lots of tannins. This wine needs time to allow fruit to develop to support the nose experience on the palate. Very easy to drink… and then this wine grows on you – seductive, escaping and effervescent – if you can say that about red wine. Before you understand what happened, you are looking at the empty bottle – you still want more… but it’s gone.
If you care for a bit of technical detail, this wine is a blend of 80% Shiraz, 10% Grenache and 10% Mataro, ABV 14.5%. Drinkability: 8.
There you have it, folks – great seductive Barossa Shiraz for the Wine Blogging Wednesday. How was your #wbw76 experience? Cheers!
I was told today that waiting for a whole week to get an answer for the wine quiz is unacceptable. So I have to comply with this request (okay, it was more than one request) and start providing answers sooner. Here comes an answer for the Wine Quiz #7 – Where in the world am I.
Yes, I understand that the question could’ve being a bit unfair, but nevertheless – this is California. To be more precise, this is Temecula Valley, almost a Southern-most appellation (AVA) in California, and the picture was taken from Leonesse Cellars property.
We will continue the subject of appellations, or AVAs (American Viticultural Area) in the next wine quiz – just making sure you will be ready…
This past weekend was filled with different wine events, which I want to share with you. First and foremost – arrival of the No Girls wine. No Girls wine is made by Christophe Baron, the wine maker behind Cayuse – one of the cult wineries from Washington state. What is so special? No Girls wine is available only through the mailing list. If you ever dealt with winery mailing lists you probably know that before you get on the mailing list, first you spend time on the waiting list for the mailing list. It took more than two years for me to move from waiting list to mailing list with Turley, makers of the great Zinfandels. I think for more than 3 years I’m still on the waiting list for Alban, Cayuse and Carlisle. With No Girls wine, despite the fact that I signed up literally on the same day as the offer came in, initially I got an e-mail that I didn’t make the mailing list, with the follow up e-mail in a couple of month saying that I got an allocation.
Hence the excitement and anticipation associated with arrival of No Girls wine – 2008 Grenache and Syrah from La Paciencia vineyard in Walla Walla. I can’t tell you anything about the wine itself – I plan to give it some time first. However, even packaging alone can make you excited – and to explain what I mean, here are few pictures for you.
Very bright and clever – what do you think?
Now, on the subject of the wines I actually tasted over this weekend, there were few I wanted to talk about.
First one is a Spanish wine 2010 Laya D.O. Almansa (14.5% ABV). This wine is a blend of Garnacha (70%) and Monstrell (30%). When you open the bottle and take a first sip, it comes out very grapey and young. It took this wine 3 days to develop a nice undertone of richness, with some ripe red fruit, a touch of spices and smokiness. Considering the price ($7.99) this is a great everyday wine (Drinkability: 7+).
Next one is a 2009 Textbook Cabernet Sauvignon Fin de journee Napa Valley (14.5% ABV). I had this wine for a few months, waiting for the right moment to try it and building up expectations – somehow the name “Textbook” caused a lot of warm expectations, especially with the back label promising a “textbook Napa Cabernet”. The wine had a nice nose of the dense black fruit, not too jammy, but present. On the palate, the fruit grew together with nice tannins and silky texture, only to somehow stop short of delivering the “oompf”. Almost like watching the golf ball slowly rolling after the putt “almost, almost, almost, ahh”. Signature black currant was almost there, but didn’t really show up in its clean beauty. Don’t get me wrong – for a $20 Napa Cab, this was a good wine, but it had to battle my inflated expectations… and lost. Drinkability: 7+.
Last but not least was 2009 Catastrophe Red Cattail Creek Estate Winery, Four Mile Creek VQA, Canada (12.5% ABV). We brought this wine back from Canada after the last year’s trip. It is a blend of Gamay Noir, Merlot and Cabernet. On the nose, it has a bright red fruit. On the palate, there is more red fruit, such as sour cherries, hint of earthiness, good clean acidity, very balanced. Medium body and very easy to drink. This wine also would be a great food wine – too bad, I only brought one bottle back. Drinkability: 8-.
That’s all folks. Don’t forget that April 25th is a Wine Blogging Wednesday, with the theme “Barossa Bumerang” – find a bottle of Barossa wine from Australia, enjoy it, and write a blog post or at least leave a comment here. Have a great week! Cheers!
One more week passed by, and here we go again – new wine quiz for you.
In the last week’s quiz you had to identify region which is not making wines from Pinot Noir grape. Correct answer is Beaujolais – while it is neighboring the Burgundy, one of the world’s best regions for Pinot Noir, Beaujolais wines are made out of grape called Gamay.
Now, this week’s quiz will be somewhat tricky, I think. Please take a look at this picture:
Can you guess where this picture could’ve being taken? Your possible choice are listed below…
Happy weekend and have fun! Cheers!
If you follow the wine discussions in the social media world, one of the most controversial (and therefore, popular and recurrent) subjects is price of wine. There is a full range of opinions out there, as you can imagine, from some people religiously advocating cheapest possible wines as their one and only choice, to those who pay $2500 for a bottle of Screaming Eagle or Chateau Petrus (to tell you the truth, I’m really curious as to what percentage of those spending the money on Screaming Eagle actually end up drinking it versus selling later on at an auction – but this is a subject for the whole another post). There had being also posts and articles advocating that consumers must buy only cheap wines due to the fact that majority is incapable to understand the difference between cheap and expensive wine anyway – here you can find my response to one such a post.
Why am I talking about the
cheap value wines all of a sudden? While in California, I visited Trader Joe’s store near by. In Connecticut, where I live, Trader Joe’s sells only beer. In Massachusetts, Trader Joe’s has very good selection of wines (I wrote a few posts about those wines before – here are couple of links for you – one about Amarone and one more generic). Wine selection at this Trader Joe’s in San Diego definitely beats the Boston store hands down – great representation of many regions, with a lot of wines offered at a great prices. So I decided to run a simple experiment – let’s see what I can get for a $20. I spent $21 on three bottles of wine, and when I tasted the Dearly Beloved Forever Red … this blog post was born.
I will give you my tasting notes a bit later, but let me tell you – this wine was simply very, very good – at the price of $6.99, which I’m sure constitutes cheap wine in anyone’s book. I wonder how many people would reach out for this wine because of the label alone, which looks very cool, and then will put it back because they would think at $6.99 it can’t be good? I would very likely ignore this wine too, if I would not be conducting this experiment (not anymore, of course – after tasting it, I know I need a case). So what is driving the consumer behavior around the cheap wine? Outside of elitism, clever wine marketing and all the wine press which is trying to convince us that only more expensive is better, I think we have one fundamental issue coming out from our experience with cheap stuff. How many of you came back from the dollar store just to realize that what was looking almost as a treasure chest full of stuff for $10 or $15 is actually a $10 or $15 worth of junk, none of which can be used for its intended purpose? How many of us bought the cheapest tool just to understand that probability of killing oneself is a lot higher than probability of actually accomplishing the job you got the tool for? How many of us used cheapest possible material for a project, only to regret your decision every minute after and ending up paying a lot more than we would if we wouldn’t be so frugal to begin with? I think this experience is programming us to effectively disregard the cheap option simply from the fear of disappointment.
We transpose this experience onto our dealings with the wine world – and in a lot of cases we effectively end up losing. I have to tell you that I had a lot of $15-$20 wines, which end up being not good at all, with or without any comparison with this Dear Beloved wine. I tasted many $50 and $100 bottles which are not bad, but don’t give you nearly as much pleasure as this wine. Am I saying that from now on I will only be buying the wines for $6.99 or less? Not at all. And if anyone wants to spoil me with Chateau Petrus or DRC, I will be forever obliged. But if we will be able to avoid making assumptions and judgements based on the price of wine alone, we would be far better off in finding the wines we like at the prices we can afford. This is not simple. I would love to conduct a simple experiment – pour this wine to the two different glasses and tell people that wine in one costs $6.99, and the same wine in another one costs $19.99, and see how many people will wholeheartedly advocate the $19.99 wine to be far more superior to the $6.99 one. I’m sure it will be a fun exercise – something you should try at home (if you do, I will be glad to hear about your results). So we really need to work on our wine buying habits – we definitely will be far better off if we do.
Now, let me share the tasting notes with you. First, here are all three wines ($20.97 total + tax):
Let’s start with 2011 Caves du Journalet Cotes du Rhone (13% ABV, $4.99) – very soft and round. The wine rolls very smoothly in your mouth – very subtle tannins, good red fruit, good acidity – nice balance, nothing stands out, just round and smooth. Very easy to drink. Doesn’t give you any amazing “oompf”, but I’m sure would be a great party wine as it will appeal to the broad audience. Drinkability: 7.
Next – 2009 Dear Beloved Forever Red Central Coast, California (13.5% ABV, $6.99). Very nice nose of blackberries and some spice. More of the same on the palate – good red and black fruit, plums, ripe blueberries, warm spice, hint of eucalyptus, medium to full body, round tannins and and acidity, very balanced ( and stayed that way for 3 days). This is the description of much more expensive wine, but – $6.99 is $6.99… Definitely the wine to buy by the case. Drinkability: 8.
Last one - 2009 Blason de Bourgogne Montagny Premier Cru, Burgundy (13% ABV, $8.99) – Burgundy for $9? Can that be even drinkable? Nice and balanced. Nose of white apple and lychees. Very round on the palate, white fruit, with distant hint of vanilla and toasted oak, may be a tiny touch of butter. Good balance, good acidity – should be a good food wine. Drinkability: 7+.
That’s all for today folks. I’m glad it is a #WineWednesday, so this post will hopefully give you some food for thoughts. What are your great experiences with the
cheap value wines, and what are the “not cheap wines” you regretted buying? Share it all here. Cheers and happy #WW!
We like puzzles. We like those little challenges, which are innocent but give us a sense of fight, achievement and winning. Here is a little puzzle for you – let’s see how well do you know grapes. Please name a grape which starts with ”O”, 6 letters. I will give you couple of minutes, take your time. Done? What it is? I’m sure some of you could’ve known it, but I honestly think that majority would not.
I don’t want you to feel discouraged. There are about 8,000 different grapes in the world (or more), and about 1,600 of them are used in winemaking, so chances of knowing all of them by a one person are slim to none. Okay, so what is my point, you ask?
The whole point of this little puzzle exercise was to show you an opportunity. An opportunity for an exciting journey and discovery of new experiences. This is an easy journey, which doesn’t require months of planning and tons of special equipment. You can start it any day by joining Wine Century Club. You can download an application, check-mark at least 100 grapes you tasted in your life (doesn’t have to be single grape wines – all blends are perfectly ok), and voila – you can become a member.
I started this journey about 4 years ago. It was relatively simple to get to the first hundred grapes. By the time I received the certificate, I found out that the club now has a new level – Doppel, which requires tasting of 200 grapes. New challenge, great! I started a new journey which was not as simple, and … yes, you got it right – by the time I got to the 200 grapes mark, Treble and Quattro levels appeared! I got to the Treble mark last year, and it was quite hard – had to start including clones in order to get there. But – if you are a ”life traveler”, your arrival to a specific place only means an opportunity to start going to the next destination – so I kept on going.
Just to make myself clear – the point of all this “wine century” journey is not collecting accolades or feeling unique and special. Not at all. The whole point of this journey is a discovery. I can’t tell you how many amazing wines I tried along the way – if you are looking to expand your “grape universe” and collect new experiences – this is definitely what you can achieve with this exercise of purposefully seeking new grapes and unknown bottles.
Trying to reach the ”Quattro” I decided that this shouldn’t be set as a hard task, definitely should be enjoyed more and taken easier than before. I don’t call it a ”quattro journey”, I do very limited updates, and only keep the total grape counter, which you can see at the top of the page if you’re reading this post on the web site.
Nevertheless, it seems to be a good time to provide and update and change the grape counter, as I tasted a number of new wines (read: grapes), at Michael Skurnik tasting and not. First, an answer to the puzzle. The name of the grape which starts with ”O” and consists of 6 letters is Ortega – it is used in Germany and produces wines similar to Riesling. Overall, here are 10 new grapes to add the list:
Resi – 2010 Chanton Weine Resi Visp Wallis AOC, Switzerland
Vidiano – 2010 Alexakis Vidiano, Greece
Malagousia – 2010 Alpha Estate Axia White, Greece
Clairette Rose – 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc ‘Cuvée Speciale Vieilles Clairettes’
Doña Blanca – 2009 Godelia Bierzo Blanco, Spain
Bacchus – Château de Briat Armagnac, ‘Hors d’Age’ NV
Folle Blanche – Château de Briat Armagnac, ‘Hors d’Age’ NV
Ortega – 2006 Anselmann Trockenbeerenauslese Ortega. Pfalz, Germany
Ojaleshi - 2005 Marani Ojaleshi, Georgia
Agraman – 2009 Barkan Classic Merlot Agraman, Israel
And here are some pictures for you:
In case you want a head start on the project, I decided to share the list of grapes and reference wines - you can find a full table here. Note – if “reference wine” is empty next to the grape, it means I didn’t try that grape yet (example: Picpoul Noir). Conversely, if you got a suggestion for me as to where I can find an appropriate wine, I will be very appreciative…
That’s all for now, folks. Look for that unknown bottle on the shelf – who knows, you might find your best wine experience ever. Cheers!
Saw a great video in the Dr. Vino wine blog – can’t help it, but I have to re-post. Anyone dares to repeat?
Have a wine and fun filled weekend, everyone. Cheers!
I guess it is Saturday, therefore, it is a time for our weekly wine quiz. Before we get to the new quiz, let me give you an answer for the past week’s quiz “Do you know Kosher wines” – correct answer is Massaya. While the name might be suggestive that it would be a kosher wine, this [very tasty, full bodied] wine is produced in Lebanon, and it is not Kosher. The rest of the wines on the list are Kosher, including Goose Bay, which I saw was a popular choice as a “non-kosher” wine.
Now, the theme for today’s poll is Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is one of the most popular grapes in the world, and literally there are very few regions where wines are not made out of Pinot Noir. Below is a list of regions where great wines are made out of Pinot Noir – all except one. Which one do you think it is? Answer is coming next week.
Enjoy your weekend, everyone! Cheers!