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Wednesday Meritage #151

December 2, 2020 Leave a comment

Meritage time!

Why don’t we start with the Top 100 wines list – James Suckling Top 100 Wines of 2020. Having created my own top dozen wine lists, I have a lot of appreciation for all the hard work deciding on the best 100 wines from tens of thousands of potential candidates. But I have to say that this 2020 Top 100 list is full of surprises. I will let you do your own analysis, but here are my observations. The top wine of the year is a Pinot Noir from Patagonia in Argentina. The first time you find Californian wine on the list is in position #31. France – #56! Lots and lots of German, Italian and Australian wines in the top third of the list. Really unique and different. I plan to do a bit more analysis once Wine Spectator releases its own Top 100 list on December 14th.

If you are an obsessed wine lover living in the USA, I’m sure you are perfectly familiar with Last Bottle Wines, a great online source of amazing wines sold at value prices. What I recently learned, courtesy of the search engine, that Last Bottle also has an excellent wine education section, called Last Bottle Sediments. You can learn about Burgundy, Riesling, or many other popular wines – all in a concise, well-written manner. There is never enough good wine information, so check this out.

I’m sure you heard already about China imposing tariffs on Australian wines, some in excess of 212% – this is definitely terrible news for the Australian wine industry, and for the worldwide wine market. In case you are trying to understand what is going on there, here is a very good article from the Wine-Searcher, offering an in-depth exploration of the conundrum.

Okay, now – who likes corked wines? Yep, I don’t know too many (any?) wine lovers who do. You know how it goes – you fetch the bottle from the cellar for dinner with special friends. You pull the cork, you pour a little taste, and the first whiff of air from the glass makes you cringe – you smell wet basement. Your well-thought entertainment ideas and joy of sharing a special bottle are all trashed – the wine can go only directly into the drain. Or not? According to the research conducted by French scientists, a plastic wrap of specific qualities can actually remove the cork taint from the wine.  Before you sigh with relief, read the article – the experiments were conducted on the wine barrels, using very specific cling wrap – but who knows, maybe your kitchen staple can have a brand new use now…

Last but not least – the grape holiday is coming! This coming Friday, December 4th, we will be celebrating one of the tastiest grapes in the world – Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc is one of the main grapes in Bordeaux and California, but Cabernet Franc really has no country borders in its appeal, as there is hardly a wine-producing region, never mind the country, which doesn’t produce a delicious Cabernet Franc wine – Argentina, Australia, Chile, California, Washington, Oregon, New York, Canada, France, Italy, Israel, South Africa – we can go on and on. A few years ago, Lori Budd, who makes delicious renditions of Cabernet Franc in California under the Dracaena Wines labels, founded the Cabernet Franc Day to celebrate the noble grape. Don’t stay aside, join the festivities – get the bottle of your favorite Cabernet Franc, and share your happy moments with everybody.

To finish, a couple of interesting stories from the Wine Spectator. First, here you can read about a special around the world voyage of two barrels of Sherry on board the Spanish ship, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation. This journey should take 12 months and 44,000 miles. Upon return, the Sherry, produced by Gonzales Byass, will be bottled and commercially sold in some quantities, and it is expected to improve due to maritime influences. And here you can read about a special Port release by Taylor Fladgate, to commemorate the release of the 3rd movie in the Kingsman franchise. Special edition Kingsman Port spent about 90 years in the oak barrels, appropriately priced at $3,800, and packaged in a crystal decanter. I’m definitely looking forward to watching the movie when it comes out in February 2021, but as for the Port – Christmas is around the corner, so can I hope for a present from a kind soul?

That’s all I have for you today. The glass is empty, but the refill is on the way. Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage #150

November 4, 2020 Leave a comment

Meritage Time!

In the last issue of Meritage (#149) we talked about Italian police uncovering the crime ring focused on the production of the fake Sassicaia. While essential in its own right, this should be designated as a child’s play comparing with what’s coming. This week the wine press was overflowing with the news that the most famous wine fraudster of modern time, Rudy Kurniawan, is about to be released from jail. This article on wine-searcher is full of predictions for Kurniwan spreading his wings after deportation and doing again what he does best – making fake wine. I guess we will see, but the lovers of the first-growth and DRC should probably take notice.

Tre Bicchieri Gambero Rosso tasting in New York is one of my favorite wine events to attend – this year, it was the last grand wine tasting I managed to attend before covid took the world under its blanket. I don’t think we will have an opportunity to taste the Tre Bicchieri 2021 winners next year, but at least we can read about them in the Tre Bicchieri magazine. I can give you a few of the interesting stats – for example, 46,000 wines were tasted, 467 wines were awarded Tre Bicchieri, and 1,800 wines received Due Bicchieri Rossi award. You can also read about 12 special awards such as Bubbles Of The Year which went to 2011 OP Pinot Nero Dosaggio Zero Farfalla Cave Privée Ballabio, or Meditation Wine Of The Year which went to 1976 Vernaccia Di Oristano Antico Gregori – Contini. Don’t know about you, but I would loooooove to taste Meditation wine of the year…

When it comes to wine, is 20 years a long period of time or not? Of course, it depends. In today’s world, everything is changing fast, and while particular wine in the bottle might only barely start its aging after 20 years, the same 20 years bring a lot of change to the world of wine and wine culture at large. This article by Richard Hemming MW published at JancisRobinson.com looks into some of the changes in wine production, wine consumption, and more.

You know what time of the year this is, right? Yes, the holidays are coming! While the holidays are great, they also bring with them uneasy questions – presents. Presents are difficult and finding some suggestions always helps. If you have a wine lover in your life (and you probably do if you are reading this), here is one list I can recommend to flip through – you might find some good ideas there.

Last but not least – another grape holiday is almost upon us. On Monday, November 9th, we will be celebrating Tempranillo! Tempranillo is one of my absolute favorites, whether in its Rioja, Ribera del Duero, or Toro rendition – but Tempranillo today is one of the most planted and most popular grapes in the world, so you can look for it well beyond Spain. California, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Australia all produce delicious Tempranillo wines. Get your favorite bottle ready and make sure to share your Tempranillo experiences with the world on November 9th.

That’s all I have for you today. The glass is empty, but the refill is on the way. Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage #149

October 21, 2020 1 comment

Meritage Time!

Let’s start with something you already knew, and hopefully, participated in – if not, it is not too late: do you know that October is #MerlotMe month? Way before social media was a thing, one mediocre movie (Sideways, 2004) almost killed Merlot wine sales in the USA. I remember about 8-10 years ago, a friend of mine who has a wine store didn’t have a single bottle of wine with Merlot name on the label at his wine store – nobody would buy it. The situation is much better today, but still, while some of the very best wines in the world – Petrus, Le Pin, Masseto are made exclusively from Merlot, Merlot wines still need everyone’s help to restore its pre-sideways status. You still have time to grab a bottle of Merlot from your favorite producer (need advice? how about L’Ecole No 41 or Duckhorn) and join the celebrations.

Wine can often be considered an art form. For example, Sassicaia, one of the very best super-Tuscan wines Italy has to offer. If you ever had a sip of this wine, you would agree that it is transformational, and might have a similar effect as looking at the beautiful painting. Art forms are often subject to imitations – this is actually a bad choice of the term – counterfeiting is what I’m talking about. At $300+ per bottle, Sassicaia represents a lucrative target for the counterfeiting – and that what some folks in Italy thought too. Italian police were working for more than a year to catch counterfeiting Sassicaia ring in Northern Italy – you can read the full story in the Wine Spectator article.

We grow from the adversities – this is a known fact. The poorer the soil, the harder vines have to work, the better fruit they will bear. When humans have to concur the obstacles, they grow, invent, persevere, and overcome. Humankind at the moment is fighting with the silent, invisible killer, COVID – but looking for the proverbial “silver lining”, we (humans) continuing to move forward, and whatever we invent to deal with the virus, is helping us advance far beyond that singular task. Case in point – dealing with vine diseases, such as powdery mildew. It turns out that the same UV light which is effective against the virus is effective in the fight against powdery mildew. Take the UV light source, put it on the robot tractor, and let it roam the vineyards during the night – problem solved. Or at least the solution looks very promising. For more details, read this article.

The last one for today is not even the news. It is simply a powerful story. An account of the fighting and winning against one of the most powerful forces on Earth – wildfire. This is a terrifying read, but I can’t recommend it highly enough – the story of the Smith family, defending their Smith-Madrone winery and vineyards against the recent Glass Fire, is a must-read in my opinion. You can find it here.

That’s all I have for you today. The glass is empty, but the refill is on the way. Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage #148

September 30, 2020 2 comments

Meritage Time!

I have an eclectic mix for you today. How eclectic? You be the judge.

Let’s start with Wine & Spirits Magazine Top 100 list of 2020. Every year, Wine & Spirits magazine comes up with the list of top 100 wineries of the year, which are all celebrated at the grand tasting event in San Francisco. This year the celebration will be virtual, and multi-staged. First, there will be Top 100 Sessions with the winemakers on that Top 100 list, taking place  October 14-23. Then, as Top 100 wineries list of 2020 is already announced, there will be a celebratory event in November. Check any of the links above for more details.

I have to present the next update as oddly peculiar, but hopefully, some of you will find it fun. Do you like Oreos? Yes, the cookies. Well, whether you are a fan or not is not essential, but I’m sure you can appreciate an effort of tasting and rating 119 (yes, one hundred and nineteen) different types of Oreo cookies. Courtesy of my friend Emil, here is your full list. I’m not an Oreo connoisseur, but this was a fun reading nevertheless. Some of the tasting notes are nothing short of hilarious – “I’m not a big matcha guy, but I think these Oreos would be a lot better if they didn’t exist“.

Our next piece is not really the “news”, as this article is 16 years old (again, courtesy of Emil). Nevertheless, I feel compelled to share this article from New Yorker magazine, called The Ketchup Conundrum. This is a long read, so maybe bookmark it for the weekend, but it helps one to appreciate the depth and intricacies of the food marketing, even when you are talking about such basics as mustard and ketchup. Give it a try and tell me if you think it was worth sharing here or not.

Now, let’s move to the subject of sex and garlic. Worrying already? Don’t be! This article from Wine Spectator, “Sex and Garlic: New Weapons Against the Most Notorious Vineyard Diseases?”, talks about new experimental methods of protecting vineyards from powdery and downy mildews, some of the worst enemies of the grapevines. I don’t want to regurgitate the article here (it is also reasonable technical), but it is somewhat of a short read. The interesting part of the story that it took me a while to figure out what the “sex” part had to do with anything, as the word “sex” can be found in this article only once – in the title. Instead of telling you what sex has to do with the protection of the vineyards, I will let you figure it out on your own.

The last piece for today is about wine writing. Jancis Robinson, one of the best and most famous wine writers in the world, hosts an annual wine writing competition. The 2020 theme was “sustainability”. According to this short summary, 85 articles were submitted for the 2020 competition, out of which 75 were good enough to be published on the Jancis Robinson website. 18 articles were selected for the final round, out of which 2, not 1, were declared the winners. You can see all of the published entries here. Happy reading!

That’s all I have for you today. The glass is empty, but the refill is on the way. Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage #147

September 23, 2020 1 comment

Meritage Time!

Let’s start with some interesting developments in the world of celebrity wines. We just recently pondered at the topic with the fellow wine writers (you can watch it here), and I mentioned Château Miraval as one of the celebrity wines (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) done right – with celebrities themselves very much involved in the process and website talking about wine passion instead of just trying to promote some irrelevant “merchandise”. It appears that the celebrity couple had ambitions going far beyond Provençal Rosé – after diligently working for 5 years, Fleur de Miraval Rosé Champagne is released to the market – at a hefty £290, according to The Drinks Business. This is a grower Champagne, produced by an apparent superstar Rodolphe Péters of the Pierre Péters estate in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. I would love to try that Champagne, but at around $370, I can only hope someone wants to surprise me – holidays are coming? While still talking about the same celebrity couple, I also want to mention that I just learned about new wine on the completely opposite side of the spectrum – a new Rosé called Studio by Miraval, which can be found for a mere $15.

Moving along, let’s now touch on the subject of wine numbers. I don’t know about you, but I love numbers. What are the total plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon in the world? Are the plantings of Pinot Noir are rising or declining? Does anyone still plant Merlot? Which country has the biggest plantings of Syrah? Of course, this information is far less valuable compared to knowing which stock will double in the value tomorrow, but these are still the numbers I’m happy to ponder at. If you are sharing my excitement about wine numbers, a book called “Which Winegrape Varieties are Grown Where? A Global Empirical Picture” (2nd Ed) by Kym Anderson and Signe Nelgen, is published by the University of Adelaide Press in Australia, and it is freely available on the publisher’s website. What might be even more interesting, on the same website, you can find a collection of the wine-related datasets, including, for example, the Annual Database of Global Wine Markets, 1835 (!) to 2018, freshly updated in January of this year. Love the numbers? Hit those links!

Now, let’s talk about our new reality – the virtual one, where you can see, but can’t touch. It works well if you need to solve a business problem or debug a complex algorithm, but virtual wine doesn’t offer a satisfying experience (whatever way you want to twist that word). I don’t know if the folks at Taste The World were expecting the pandemic to be besieged upon us, or just had a good business hunch, but the idea behind this operation sounds really good. You have an opportunity to get a set of wines for the blind tasting, hand-selected by the group of Master Sommeliers, with the promise of perfectly representative wines for the different categories. Each set includes 6 different wines, and you can get it once for $90, which I believe is reasonable for this offering, or as a subscription. Whether you are looking for a cool gift for the wine lover in your circle, or study for WSET, this sounds like a great help. Don’t get me the Fleur de Miraval, I would be quite content with Taste The World set.

Last one for today – how about some wine videos? Wine Spectator just completed the voting for their annual Video Contest, and here you can find all the videos selected for the final round. With the pandemic-appropriate theme of “Wine at Home”, you will find some truly creative videos – well worth a few minutes of your time.

That’s all I have for you today. The glass is empty, but the refill is on the way. Cheers!

 

Wednesday’s Meritage #146

September 9, 2020 6 comments

Meritage Time!

First, I’m sure I have some explaining to do – all of a sudden here is Meritage #146, while you can’t find #1, #50, or #145. I know I had not been contributing on the regular basis to this blog, and I would like to see how I can change that. Meritage posts were always an aggregation (Meritage) of interesting wine and food news, which were published on Wednesdays, hence the title. I counted all the Meritage posts in this blog during the 10+ years and found out that there were 145 of them published before. Previously, I would give you the synopsis of the post right in the title – going forward, I will substitute that with simply a number. Hope I managed to explain my logic, so now let’s proceed with the news.

Let’s start with some interesting developments in the world of Spanish wines. Classification of the Spanish wines appears to be simple – most of the wines are designated under a certain DO, which stands for Denominación de Origen, and then there are few other categories, such as the highest quality category in Rioja and Priorat, which are interesting enough are written differently but signify the same – it is DOCa for Rioja (Denominación de Origen Calificada) and DOQ (Denominació d’Origen Qualificada) in Priorat. Then you also have Vino de Pago, which signifies a single vineyard and a few other categories. It appears, however, that the simplicity is somewhat crumbling and more classifications had been sought to address different quality levels in Spanish wines. For example, you now have Corpinnat in Penedes, designating Cava made with organic grapes plus few other restrictions, or Vino de Villa and Vino de Paraje classifications which just had been launched in DO Bierzo. If you want to learn more, I would like to offer you this article on the Guild of Sommeliers website – it is definitely technical but well worth the effort of understanding the latest dynamics in the world of Spanish wines.

Ever heard of Tour de France, probably the greatest annual cycling race in existence? I’m sure you have, and if you need any technical details about the 2020 race, you can find it here. Many wine writers use this event simply as a canvas to talk about French wines from all the different regions, as cyclists race through them in the quest for glory. I want to offer you two of the Tour de France wine tours – one which is covering the whole race in one sitting, and another wine which is a series of posts. I don’t know if you are a cycling fan or not, but this is definitely an interesting way of exploring the world of French wines.

The year 2020 is absolutely unique in thousands of ways. Not for the things which happened during 2020, but maybe even to a larger extent, for the things which didn’t happen. Chowdafest 2020 would be one of such “things”. Chowdafest is one of my favorite culinary events in New England, usually taking place at the beginning of October, where thousands of Chowder lovers get together to taste and rate a large offering of the hearty soups, also known as “chowder”. With all of the fun of 2020, getting about 20,000 people together on the beach for a few hours doesn’t sound like a smart idea. But – it doesn’t mean that chowder lovers have to be deprived of their favorite treat. How? Easy. Please meet the brand new initiative of the Chowdafest – the Chowder Club. You can join the club for only $10 (not per month, just a one time $10). 24 restaurants in the program will supply their original chowder recipes and a professional chef will prepare them. You will have an opportunity to buy two different types of Chowder every month, at the $20 per quart of the chowder – if you don’t like the particular offering, you don’t have to buy anything. Initially, the chowders will be shipped only within the New England, but hopefully, they will expand nationwide. Make sure to read the FAQ section on the Chowder Club’s website as it provides additional information to what is listed on the Join Club page. I already signed up, so now I will have an opportunity to write about chowders 12 times a year instead of only once :).

Whatever happens, is for the better, right? Not always, yes – but sometimes it works. I wanted to get this post out last week, but that didn’t happen. On the flip side, however, I got a notification about the first Chowda Club offering, which will consist of two soups that won the Chowdafest in their respective categories for 5 years in the row – Pike’s Place from Seattle with its Classic New England Chowder and Our House Bistro from Winooski in Vermont with their Drunken Pumpkin Seafood Chowder. At the moment these chowders can be shipped only within New England – if you want to get yours, all the details can be found here – but hurry up, you can only order your chowder until September 18th.

One last news, more of a local kind – about this blog. Yesterday, I got a totally unexpected email from Corked Wines in the UK, informing me that I made it to their Top 101 wine writers list of 2020, and thus I can proudly display this logo:

I’m very humbled by this honor, but I wouldn’t lie to you, it was definitely a pleasant surprise. In case you would like to see the full list of awardees, you can find it here.

That’s all I have for you today. The glass is empty, but the refill is on the way. Cheers!

 

Wednesday Meritage: Where To Get Wine [Values]

June 4, 2020 1 comment

Meritage Time!

This is a bit of an unusual Meritage post, as it is focused on one single subject – how to maximize your hard-earned dollars while continuing to enjoy your beloved beverage. Plus, I want to share with you my case buy recommendation at the end of this post.

The inspiration for this post were the notes I receive via subscription to the blog by Robert Dwyer called Wellesley Wine Press which I had been following for a long time. Robert has a special talent for finding wine deals and discounts, and he shares all that information in his blog, so we can all benefit from that.

In addition to Robert’s finds, I also want to suggest another source of discounts which might or might not work for you – the American Express credit card. If you don’t own the American Express card, you should skip all this Amex talk and advance to the case discount section. For those of you who has the card you can’t leave home without, please continue reading.

When you log into your account at the American Express website, you can find a section of “Amex Offers & Benefits” at the bottom of the page. There are 100 different offers that are available to you on any given day. I believe those offers are targeted, and I’m not sure if everyone will see the exact same set of offers. Today, out of those 100 offers, 12 are wine-related. These are real savings, I used those offers many times in the past and those are real deals, saving you $20, $30, $50. These offers are easy to use – find what you are interested in using, apply the offer to your card, then make a purchase in required amount before the offer expiration date on the American Express card you applied the offer to, and your credit will be posted automatically within a few business days.

Here is the list of the offers which are currently available for my American Express card – I’m also adding the additional discount information which can be found in Robert’s blog:

Wine.com

Spend $100+, get one time $30 credit. Expires 6/30/2020.
You can add to this a $50 off $150 purchase with the code CN50 – see Robert’s post for explanations and additional discount codes. So technically, you can spend $150 on the wine, and with the combination of these two offers, your cost will be only $70. I took this opportunity to get a few bottles of Grosset Riesling from Clare valley – definitely a great deal.

WineaAcess.com/amex

Spend $250+, receive $50 credit. Expires 9/30/2020. Limit of 3 statement credits (total of $150). Wine Access offers many interesting wines – you can read about my experience here.

Parcellewine.com

Spend $100+, get one time $20 back. Expires 9/1/2020

BenchmarkWine.com

Spend $250+, get a one-time $50 credit. Expires 8/22/2020. Benchmark Wine Group is one of my favorite online stores to shop for wine – lots of unique and different finds.

The restaurant at Beringer Vineyards or online at beringer.com

Spend $200, get a one-time $60 credit. Expires 8/28/2020. Beringer Vineyards needs no introduction – and this sounds like a good deal.

Vinfolio.com

Spend $250+, get 5,000 additional Membership Rewards points (one time). Expires 7/31/2020. Considering that American Express points can be valued at about one penny per point, 5,000 membership points would equate $50 – a good deal.

FirstBottleWines.com

Spend $250+, get a one-time $50 credit. Expires 8/23/2020

Benziger.com

Spend $200,  get a one-time $40 credit. Expires 7/20/2020.

Bcellars.com, the restaurant at B Cellars Vineyards and Winery

Spend $300+, get a one-time $90 credit. Expires 8/18/2020.

StagsLeap.com

Spend $200+, get a one-time $60 credit. Expires 7/27/2020. Another coveted winery on the list.

Vinesse.com

Spend $50+, get a one-time $15 credit. Expires 7/3/2020.

WineInsiders.com

Spend $20+, get $20 credit. Expires 10/31/2020. Limit of 3 statement credits (total of $60)

These are all the American Express offers which I found available today for my credit card.

Rabbit Ridge Wines Paso Robles

And now, for the case recommendations.

You see, when I find a good value wine, I’m always a bit hesitant to share that information with the world – what if there will be not enough left for me? Well, yeah, it is really not about me, right? It is all about delicious wine which you can afford to drink any day. What is also unique about these wines is that they don’t come from Spain, Italy, or France, where you can still find great bargains – these wines are made in California – at Rabbit Ridge Winery in Paso Robles.

I recently met winemaker and the owner Erich Russell and his wife Joanne at the virtual event organized by John Fodera. We were going to discuss Rabbit Ridge wines, and I ordered a few bottles for that discussion – 2017 Rabbit Ridge Allure de Robles Paso Robles (15.4% ABV, $10(!), Rhone blend), 2018 Rabbit Ridge Zinfandel Westside Paso Robles (114.9% ABV, $15), and 2013 Rabbit Ridge Petite Sirah Paso Robles (14.8% ABV, $20).

Opening a $10 bottle of California wine is hardly possible without trepidation – finding great wines at that price is really challenging. And nevertheless, Allure de Robles was delicious – soft, supple, well-present, and perfectly balanced. Would it compete head to head with the wines from Saxum or Alban – no, of course not. Yet this is an excellent, delicious everyday wine in its own right.

$15 Zinfandel is also not an easy find. Rabbit Ridge West Side Zinfandel was superb – the core of raspberries with a touch of smoke. Yep, delicious is the right word.

$20 Petite Sirah, drinkable upon the opening of the bottle – this doesn’t happen often, if ever. Petite Sirah is tricky and finding drinkable one at that price is also quite difficult – again, Rabbit Ridge perfectly delivered dark and firmly structured core, with the fruit leisurely weaved around it.

If these wines are not the case buy recommendations then I don’t know what is.

Here you go, my friends. I hope you will be able to take advantage of at least some of the offers and don’t miss on those Rabbit Ridge wines – nothing lasts forever… Cheers!

Wednesday Meritage – OTBN, Tre Bicchieri, Cru Bourgeois 2020 Classification, and More

February 26, 2020 Leave a comment

Meritage Time!

Let’s start with my perennial favorite – Open That Bottle Night, or OTBN for short. OTBN movement was started by the Wall Street Journal wine writers, Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, back in 1999, to encourage wine lovers around the world to open up that long stashed special bottle which might be long gone while waiting for a special enough day. OTBN is always celebrated on the last Saturday in February, which will be falling on the February 29th this year. I had been a passionate supporter of this special wine holiday for many years. Last year, we had a great celebration hosted by Jim van Bergen of JvBUncorked fame. This year, John Fodera of Tuscan Vines will be hosting a wine dinner I’m very much looking forward to attending. The only question left is what bottle is special enough to be open this coming Saturday, but this will be hotly debated until the very moment of leaving the house. Oh well, these are the first world problems of the wine lover. I hope you have some special plans too.

Next, let’s talk about the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchiery event. Gambero Rosso is a wine publication in Italy which every year rates about 45,000 Italian wines. Out of all these wines, about 1% receives prestigious Tre Bicchieri (three glasses) designation – 465 wines attained these honors in 2019. To celebrate the best of the best in Italian wines, Gambero Rosso conducts an annual Tre Bicchiery tastings around the world. Such tasting is coming to New York this coming Friday, February 28th – it is open to the trade and media only, so if you belong to one of these categories, don’t miss this fun tasting. You can register for the New York tasting using this link. After New York, the show will make a number of stops in California – here you can find the full list. If you are interested in learning more about Tre Bicchieri 2019 awards, here is a very informative link for you.

Our next tidbit is about French wines. On a perfectly unique date – 02/20/2020 – Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc announced its new classification of the Crus Bourgeois wineries. Crus Bourgeois is a classification which is one level below of the famous 1855 Crus Classés (Classified Growths), but still represents a high level of quality and is difficult to attain, as an application process is quite rigorous. The new 2020 classification is awarded for a period of 5 years. It includes 249 Châteaux with a total production of 28 million bottles. Out of 249, 14 Châteaux are classified as Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, 56 as Cru Bourgeois Supérieur, 179 as Cru Bourgeois. You can find all the interesting stats here.

Now, a bit of the advice – how to store wine. I’m sure many of you have a few bottles which you want to keep for some time – the reason is not important, it is your wine – but not everybody has a wine cellar in their house or an apartment. Even if you don’t have a wine cellar, it is not a problem – you can still preserve your wines in the perfect condition for the years to come. The folks at Redfin, real estate news and analysis firm, asked winemakers, wine experts, sommeliers and wine writers for advice on storing the wines at home, and assembled all the recommendations in the form of the blog post, which you can find here. I’m sure not all of those recommendations are universally applicable to everyone, but I’m also sure you might some useful details there.

Not to be outdone, one last note for today – about Georgian wines. If you are living in or will be visiting New York on Monday, March 2nd, you are in luck – Georgian wine tasting will be hosted at a restaurant called Chama Mama in lower Manhattan. There are actually two tastings – one for trade and press from 4 pm until 6 pm (you can find information here), and one for consumers from 6 pm until 9 pm (here is the link to buy tickets). I always consider Georgian wines to be some of the best in the world, so if you can make the tasting, you can thank me later.

That’s all I have for you today. The glass is empty, but the refill is on the way. Cheers!

 

Wednesday Meritage – Festivals Galore

June 12, 2019 Leave a comment

Meritage Time!

It seems that June is everyone’s favorite month for wine and food events. I guess it makes sense – the schools and colleges just finishing the year, the weather is generally great, and the vacation season didn’t fully start yet – so all the event organizers are trying to pack as much as they can into that one month. No matter what the reason – the end result is an abundance of choice when it comes to the different events focused on food and wine lovers.

I wanted to share with you three of the events which look interesting. Two of the events fall on the same weekend, so you will have to make some decisions, but having a choice is better than having none, right?

Let’s start with the event which will be taking place around the country – a Black Truffle Festival 2019. Who doesn’t like truffles? Well, actually, I know some people who don’t, but outside of those few, the majority is easily excited at the prospect of having a dish – pasta, risotto, steak – all covered with generous shavings of black truffles and exuding the aroma which alone makes you hungry. From June 14th until June 23rd, top chefs in New York, Miami, and San Francisco will help you celebrate the prized mushroom. By the way, until I started working on this post, I had no idea that truffles can also come from Australia – it appears that truffles are not limited to Piedmont only. See, I already learned something – check the information at the link above to see how you might enjoy some pungent beauty.

June 22nd, which falls on Saturday this year, is known as Summer Solstice – the day with the longest duration of the daytime and shortest night. The summer solstice is an important day in the biodynamic viticulture, where the sun’s cycle plays a key role in the whole program. Thus it is only appropriate that Summer Solstice 2019 will be celebrated with the Natural Wines Festival. Hosted at the Burnt Hill Farm in Maryland, the Natural Wine festival will have 25 wineries from Maryland, Virginia and DC pouring more than 100 wines – of course, the food, art, and music will be a part of the festivities as well. For more information and tickets, please click here.

Now, you can follow that Summer Solstice celebration with more wine the very next day. On Sunday, June 23rd, wines from the Côtes du Rhône region in France, which includes Côtes du Rhône Villages, Vacqueyras, Beaumes-de-Venise, Rasteau, Saint-Joseph, Condrieu, and Cornas will take over Manhattan. Okay, this might be an exaggeration, but still, Côtes du Rhône Wine Festival will take place right in the middle of Manhattan. The festival consists of both press/trade portion, and consumer portion. In addition to all the wines, the festival (expectedly!) will offer food, music and lots more. For more information and tickets, please click here.

That’s all I have for you for today. The glass is empty, but the refill is on its way. Until the next time – cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage: Chowdafest, Champagne in Space, WBC18, Losing the Donuts and more

September 26, 2018 1 comment

Meritage Time!

I have a lot of interesting tidbits for you, so let’s get going.

Clam ChowderFirst and foremost, the Chowdafest. Now in its 11th year, one of my all-time favorite fun culinary events keep on going strong. Same as the last year, 40 culinary teams (restaurants, catering, etc) will compete in 5 categories (Classic New England Clam Chowder, Traditional Chowders (Manhattan/Rhode Island’s), Creative Chowder, Soup/Bisque, and Vegetarian). Even the lobster chowder is expected to be present this year. As usual, the guests will be sampling and judging. To put things in perspective, 40 of 1 oz samples make it for 40 oz of chowder – that is 2.5 lb of chowder combined! I don’t know how you see it, but this is a lot of chowder! Oh well, if you are anywhere within a few hours drive, the event is well worth it, so see you there!

Next one might be an old news for many (for sure my kids are already all over it) – the famed Dunkin’ Donuts is going to lose the donuts! Not to worry, only in its name. As it seems to be popular nowadays, the iconic chain which had been around since 1948, is going to change its name to just Dunkin’ – as my kids said, this is how everybody calls it anyway, so no big deal. I hope this renaming will be more successful compared to the recent failure of the IHOP->IHOB->IHOP attempt – and it most likely will. You can find more details about renaming at the Dunkin’s (can we already call them like that?) website.

The next subject I want to touch on is something I would typically include into my April 1st posts – but today is not April 1st, so this is actually not a joke and not a prank. It seems that in only a couple of years, anyone who has a spare $10M or so will be able to book their hotel room in … yes, space. It is obvious that such a unique achievement have to be properly celebrated – and what else says “celebration” if not a glass of Champagne? Challenge is that it is hard to pour a glass of revered bubbly in space – but have no fear, Champagne house of Mumm set out to solve the problems by teaming up with the designer Octave de Gaulle. The problem will be solved by creating a special two-chamber bottle which will create a foam out of Champagne, which will then return to its traditional bubbly state directly in the consumer’s mouth. For more details, please see the original article here (thanks to my friend Emil for bringing this to my attention).

Now, let’s talk about numbers – can you not like talking about numbers? When we hear numbers, we think we are in the know – if we can measure something, we are now in control, right? Okay, these are obviously wine-related numbers (you didn’t expect me to talk about Prius production here, didn’t you?) – and they relate to the wine consumption in different states in the USA. Well, not even wine – the alcohol consumption overall. VinePair just published a ranking of all 50 states in terms of the alcohol consumption per capita. Want to guess which state leads the pack? I will give you a moment to ponder at it. Ready? If you said New Hampshire, you won! Wait, I don’t have any prizes here. Well, pat yourself on the back, will you? New Hampshire is leading in terms of alcohol consumption in the USA, with 4.76 gallons per capita per year. Washington, DC is second, with 3.85, followed by Delaware at 3.72. At the bottom of the table is state of Utah (I’m sure we could predict that), with 1.34 gallons per capita. When it comes to numbers, I always remember the old adage of “there are lies, damn lies, and statistics” – I have no idea where all these numbers came from – for example, if most of my wines come directly from the wineries through the mailing lists, is that accounted for? Anyway, the numbers are always fun, so for the full report, please follow this link.

Last one for today, and it is not even really the news. The Wine Bloggers Conference of 2018 (WBC18 for short) will start in a mere week, on October 4th, in Walla Walla, Washington. I will be attending WBC18 (I know a lot of bloggers can’t make it, unfortunately), so if you are reading this and will be attending the conference, please find me and say “hi”. The state of Washington makes amazing wines, and Walla Walla is on the forefront of producing those amazing wines, so I’m definitely looking forward to experiencing the wines and meeting all the wine people next week.

And we are done here, my friends. The glass is empty, but the refill is on the way. Until the next time – cheers!

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