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Wednesday’s Meritage #154

January 20, 2021 2 comments

Meritage time!

Today’s issue might be a bit geeky, but let’s roll with the punches, shall we?

First, an interesting ruling from the TTB in regards to the allowed bottle sizes. Until now, the only approved (standard) wine bottle size was 750 ml. Yes, you could go to half (375 ml), or a quarter (187 ml), or up to a liter (1000 ml), and also 500 ml were permitted, but that was about it – for the “standard” bottles, of course, because there are many large formats, such as 1.5L, 2.25L, 3L and so on, which we are not discussing here. Now, to accommodate a fast-growing category of wine in the can, new sizes were introduced – 355ml, 250ml, and 200ml. However, the ruling allows new wine packaging sizes without restricting them to bottles or cans. So now it would be possible to see a 355 ml bottle of wine. While it is only 20 ml less than a standard 375 ml, it is still an option to give you a smaller bottle and keep the price. The level, of course, is not the same as for the typical orange juice cartons, which went from 64 oz to 52 oz while keeping the same price, but still, there is an option for an implicit price increase and some of those “half-bottles” can go into the hundreds of dollars…

Next, I found a few interesting articles in the Wine Spectator. The first one is the story of the Witch’s Wine, which I don’t want to regurgitate just to give an opportunity to read it in its entirety. Then there are a couple of good news in regards to the health benefits of wine.

First, it appears that the consumption of wine and cheese can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. The study seems to be reasonably founded: “Analyzing data from the UK Biobank, a biomedical research database, the study followed more than 1,700 participants, ages 46 to 77, over the course of 10 years.” This sounds to me like a good number of subjects and the duration of the study, so I’m sure no wine lover will be upset at the prospect to consume wine with cheese on more occasions. The second study once again looks at the anti-aging effects of resveratrol, an anti-oxidant usually found in red wine. While establishing the long-term benefits of consuming a glass of red wine every day, the study also suggests that consumption of higher amounts of wine doesn’t increase the health benefits of resveratrol, but quite on the contrary can lead to negative consequences.

And the last one for today is all about wine games. Wine Enthusiast summarized 6 games available to wine lovers with different levels of skills and expertise. I only played one of those, Wine Wars, and it was somewhat interesting, depending on the level of the audience. SOMM Blinders sounds really interesting, and I would love to play a Wine-opoly, however, I’m sure I would never win as I can’t take the risk, and thus my son always beats me in Monopoly. Oh well, we need to be able at least to see each other to play any of these, so I’m definitely looking forward to that happy moment…

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

Wine Quiz #132 – How Well Do You Know Your Wines?

January 16, 2021 2 comments

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome your new wine quiz!

Let’s start with the answers to the last quiz #131. In that quiz, you were given a series of questions related to our favorite festive beverage – Champagne.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Question 1:  A typical pressure inside of the Champagne, and for that matter, most of the Méthode Traditionnelle sparkling wine bottles, is 6 atmospheres (this is why you need to take special care while opening the bottle of Champagne). However, some of the wines produced under the same Méthode Traditionnelle are deliberately made to have a lower pressure of 5 atmospheres – can you find this wine in the list below?

  1. Trentodoc
  2. Cava
  3. Cremant de Jura
  4. Franciacorta Satèn
  5. Méthode Cap Classique

Answer 1:  Franciacorta Satèn (Satèn means “silk” in Italian, and it is a trademarked term), while made using Méthode Traditionnelle, were created to offer silkier (pun intended) mouthfeel compared to traditional Champagne/sparkling wine, so they are bottled at 5 atmospheres to achieve that gentler experience.

Question 2: You know that to remove the cork from a Champagne bottle, you need to untwist the wire (which is called Muselet). While untwisting, how many turns do you have to make:

  1. 3
  2. 4
  3. 5
  4. 6
  5. 7

Answer 2: You always have to make 6 twists, no matter where this Méthode Traditionnelle sparkling wine is coming from. For more info, click here.

Question 3: Riddling (remuage) is a process where the bottles of Champagne are turned little by little, also with the change of an angle, while inserted upside down into the vertical “table” called Pupitre, to gradually force the sediment to concentrate in the neck of the bottle for easy removal. Do you know who is credited with the invention of the Pupitre?

  1. Dom Perignon
  2. Dom Ruinart
  3. Madame Clicquot
  4. Claude Moët

Answer 3: Madame Clicquot. For more information, please click here.

Question 4:  The foil covering the top of the Champagne bottles was originally intended to:

  1. Hold cork in its place
  2. Just for looks and marketing
  3. To protect the cork from a variety of insects and rodents while wine is in storage
  4. To cover wire cage imperfections

Answer 4: To protect the cork from a variety of insects and rodents while wine is in storage. Here is a Wine Spectator article offering some insight.

Once again, we didn’t have a lot of players, but Lynn answered all 4 questions correctly, so she gets the prize of unlimited bragging rights! Well done!

Our today’s quiz is one of the “classic” ones here. Below you will find the pictures of the tops of the bottles (foil capsules for most of the cases). You need to identify the producer based on those images.

Let’s go:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

These are reasonably well-known producers from around the world, with maybe some exceptions – not sure I can give you more of the hint.

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and enjoy your weekend! Cheers!

Wine Quiz #131 – Champagne!

January 2, 2021 3 comments

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to the New Year 2021 and your new wine quiz!

Let’s start with the answers to the last quiz #130. In that quiz, you were given a series of questions where you were supposed to figure out what connects the items on the list and which one of the items doesn’t belong.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Question 1: Below is a list of wines. One of those wines shouldn’t be listed, but to find out which one doesn’t belong, you will need to understand first what connects all those wines:

A. 2014 Duckhorn Vineyards Three Palms Vineyard Merlot
B. 2016 Chateau Leoville Barton
C. 2012 Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz
D. 2012 Peter Michael ‘Au Paradis’ Cabernet Sauvignon
E. 2015 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia
F. 2013 Lewis Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

Answer 1: This was definitely a difficult question. The correct answer is C, 2012 Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz. All wines on this list are Wine Spectator top wines of the year throughout the different years, with the exception of 2012 Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz, which was wine #2 in 2014.

Question 2: Below is the list of names – one of them doesn’t belong to the list. Can you find out which one:

A. Cayuse
B. No Girls
C. Andremily
D. Horsepower
E. Hors Categorie

Answer 2: C, Andremily. All of these wines are produced by or closely affiliated with Christophe Baron, the famous Washington Walla Walla winemaker – with the exception of Andremily, which is also a highly allocated wine produced by former Sine Qua Non assistant winemaker Jim Binns.

Question 3: Below is the list of vintages. One of them shouldn’t be on the list. Do you know which one?

A. 2011
B. 2010
C. 2005
D. 2004
E. 2001
F. 2000

Answer 3: The correct answer is F, 2000. All other years achieved a perfect rating for Rioja wines by Rioja Consejo Regulador, Excellent, but year 2000 was rated only Good, which is the 3rd rating from the top.

Sadly, we had no takers for this quiz, so I will have to keep all the lucrative prizes to myself.

Now, to the new quiz. It is the beginning of the year, and I definitely still in Champagne mood, so this is the subject for our new quiz.

Here we go:

Question 1:  A typical pressure inside of the Champagne, and for that matter, most of the Méthode Traditionnelle sparkling wine bottles, is 6 atmospheres (this is why you need to take special care while opening the bottle of Champagne). However, some of the wines produced under the same Méthode Traditionnelle are deliberately made to have a lower pressure of 5 atmospheres – can you find this wine in the list below?

  1. Trentodoc
  2. Cava
  3. Cremant de Jura
  4. Franciacorta Satèn
  5. Méthode Cap Classique

Question 2: You know that to remove the cork from a Champagne bottle, you need to untwist the wire (which is called Muselet). While untwisting, how many turns do you have to make:

  1. 3
  2. 4
  3. 5
  4. 6
  5. 7

Question 3: Riddling (remuage) is a process where the bottles of Champagne are turned little by little, also with the change of an angle, while inserted upside down into the vertical “table” called Pupitre, to gradually force the sediment to concentrate in the neck of the bottle for easy removal. Do you know who is credited with the invention of the Pupitre?

  1. Dom Perignon
  2. Dom Ruinart
  3. Madame Clicquot
  4. Claude Moët

Question 4:  The foil covering the top of the Champagne bottles was originally intended to:

  1. Hold cork in its place
  2. Just for looks and marketing
  3. To protect the cork from a variety of insects and rodents while wine is in storage
  4. To cover wire cage imperfections

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and enjoy your weekend! Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage #153

December 30, 2020 Leave a comment

Meritage time!

This is the last Meritage issue of 2020, so let’s get to it.

I would like to start with the virtual wine event which I plan to attend next year – Oregon Wine Symposium. The event will take place over four days, February 16-19, 2021, in a browser next to you. The event will offer excellent educational and networking opportunities, and if you register before January 15th, you can save 25% off the registration cost. The event is definitely geared towards wine professionals, but I’m sure some of the sessions would well worth any wine lover’s attention.

Next, I would like to once again get back to the subject of the Top 100 Wines lists. James Suckling just made all of the Top 100 Wines reports available for free on JamesSuckling.com. You can use this link to access a large collection of Top 100 reports – Top 100 Wines of the Year, Top 100 wines of Argentina, Austria, Australia, France, Italy, Chile, Spain, Germany, and the United States. A very impressive collection with some eclectic choices, like Alsace wines in the #1 and #2 positions of the French Top 100, or Rieslings taking the first 4 positions in the list of Top Austrian wines. Have fun analyzing those – I’m sure you will make some interesting discoveries.

Not to be outdone, I published the Top 20 of 2020 list of the top wines of 2020. This year’s list takes a step aside from the traditional “top dozen” format and is heavily skewed towards red wines with only 3 white wines, 1 Rosé, and none of the sparkling wines included. Definitely a reflection of 2020 drinking habits.

Here an interesting article from Wine Spectator, talking about Heitz Cellars’ owner and CEO’s quest to preserve some of the historic Napa Valley vineyards. The duo just acquired Stony Hill Vineyard, one of the first wineries built in Napa Valley after the repeal of Prohibition. You can read the full story here.

And the last one for today, really an unexpected one for me. According to this article in Wine Spectator, “a recent study conducted at Iowa State University has found that consuming more wine and cheese over time could help bolster cognitive health as we age.” – isn’t this statement the best music for the winelover’s ears? None of us, wine lovers, needs to be asked twice to double down on wine and cheese consumption, especially if this can help to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Is that the best news to finish the year, or what?

That’s all I have for you today. Until we meet next year, the glass is empty, but the refill is on the way. Cheers!

Wine Quiz #130 – Which One Doesn’t Belong?

December 13, 2020 1 comment

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to your new wine quiz!

Let’s start with the answers to the last quiz #129. That quiz was dedicated to the Beaujolais Nouveau, in honor of the recent 2020 release. Below are the questions, now with the answers:

Question 1: True or False: Beaujolais Nouveau wines can age

Answer: False. Beaujolais Nouveau wines should be consumed by the May of the following year.

Question 2: The ideal serving temperature for Beaujolais Nouveau is

  1. 46°F to 50°F (8°C to 10°C)
  2. 50°F to 54°F (10°C to 12°C)
  3. 54°F to 57°F (12°C to 14°C)
  4. 57°F to 61°F (14°C to 16°C)

Answer: 2, 50°F to 54°F (10°C to 12°C)

Question 3: True or False: During the first half of the 20th century, Beaujolais Nouveau was released and celebrated in December instead of November.

Answer: True. In 1951, the Beaujolais Nouveau release date was moved to the 15th of November, and in 1985, the date changed to the third Thursday in November.

Question 4: True or False: Nouveau wines (the wines of new harvest) are produced only in the Beaujolais region in France, and not anywhere else in the world.

Answer: False. Over the last 10 years or so, Nouveau releases became popular with winemakers around the world. You can see an example of delicious Nouveau from Oregon in this post.

We didn’t have a lot of players, but Lynn answered correctly 3 questions, and while she had a different answer for question #2, wine serving temperature is not cast in stone and allows a difference of opinions, so Lynn is the winner of the quiz #129 and she gets unlimited bragging rights!

Now, for the new quiz, I didn’t come up with any better ideas than another “which one doesn’t belong”. Below is a set of 3 questions – in each one, you need to understand the connection between the items in question and decide which one (or more) shouldn’t be on that list. Here we go:

Question 1: Below is a list of wines. One of those wines shouldn’t be listed, but to find out which one doesn’t belong, you will need to understand first what connects all those wines:

A. 2014 Duckhorn Vineyards Three Palms Vineyard Merlot
B. 2016 Chateau Leoville Barton
C. 2012 Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz
D. 2012 Peter Michael ‘Au Paradis’ Cabernet Sauvignon
E. 2015 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia
F. 2013 Lewis Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

Question 2: Below is the list of names – one of them doesn’t belong to the list. Can you find out which one:

A. Cayuse
B. No Girls
C. Andremily
D. Horsepower
E. Hors Categorie

Question 3: Below is the list of vintages. One of them shouldn’t be on the list. Do you know which one?

A. 2011
B. 2010
C. 2005
D. 2004
E. 2001
F. 2000

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and the rest of your weekend! Cheers!

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!

Wine Quiz #129 – Beaujolais Nouveau Edition

November 21, 2020 3 comments

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to your new wine quiz!

Let’s start with the answers to the last quiz #128. In that quiz, you had three sets of items, and for each set, you had to figure out what that set was representing, and which item (or items) didn’t belong. Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Question 1:

Adelaide Hills
Blackwood Valley
Currency Creek
Eden Valley
Hunter
King Valley
Waitaki Valley

Answer: This is a list of Australian wine regions. The item which doesn’t belong is the last one, Waitaki Valley, as this region is located in neighboring New Zealand.

Question 2:

Anjou
Chinon
Jasnières
Orléans
Reuilly
Rully
Saumur

Answer: Most of the items on this list are the wine regions in Loire Valley, except Rully, which is located in Burgundy.

Question 3:

Cayuse
Clos Erasmus
No Girls
Penfolds
Pingus
Vega Sicilia

Answer: This was probably the most difficult one. This is the list of famous producers, which all make wines out of Tempranillo grapes, except Clos Erasmus, a famed Spanish producer in Priorat, which doesn’t make wines out of the Tempranillo.

We didn’t have a lot of players, except Lynn who answered the second question correctly and definitely deserves an honorable mention.

Last Thursday, November 19th, was the third Thursday in November, and thus it was the day to celebrate a brand new Beaujolais Nouveau 2020 release. In honor of that celebration, I have a very simple quiz for you, all about the simple wine, Beaujolais Nouveau:

Question 1: True or False: Beaujolais Nouveau wines can age

Question 2: The ideal serving temperature for Beaujolais Nouveau is

  1. 46°F to 50°F (8°C to 10°C)
  2. 50°F to 54°F (10°C to 12°C)
  3. 54°F to 57°F (12°C to 14°C)
  4. 57°F to 61°F (14°C to 16°C)

Question 3: True or False: During the first half of the 20th century, Beaujolais Nouveau was released and celebrated in December instead of November.

Question 4: True or False: Nouveau wines (the wines of new harvest) are produced only in the Beaujolais region in France, and not anywhere else in the world.

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and the rest of your weekend! Cheers!

Wine Quiz #128 – Which One Doesn’t Belong

November 7, 2020 3 comments

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!

Our last quiz was about pairings. Pairing is a very important concept around wine, so you were presented with a few of the lists of paired objects, and you had to identify proper pairings. Here are questions, now with the answers:

Question 1: Here is the list of countries and wines which are famous and unique, often made for thousands of years in their respective countries. Can you pair these countries with their wines?

1. France A. Egri Bikaver
2. Georgia B. Kindzmarauli
3. Greece C. Malaga
4. Hungary D. Retsina
5. Italy E. Vin Jaune
6. Spain F. Vin Santo

Answer: France – Vin Jaune, Georgia – Kindzamarauli, Greece – Retsina, Hungary – Egri Bikaver, Italy – Vin Santo, Spain – Malaga.

Question 2: Celebrity wines had been all the rage lately, with more and more celebrities getting into the ownership of the vineyards, wineries, and wine labels. Here is a short list of wines and celebrities behind them – can you create the right pairings here?

1. Brad Pitt A. Avaline
2. Cameron Diaz B. Armand de Brignac
3. Jay-Z C. Hampton Water
4. Jon Bon Jovi D. Maison No 9
5. Post Malone E. Studio Rosé

Answer: Brad Pitt – Studio Rosé, Caneron Diaz – Avaline, Jay-Z – Armand de Brignac, Jon Bon Jovi – Hampton Water, Post Malone – Maison No 9.

Question 3: Many wines today represent blends, a combination of different grapes in different proportions. Some of those mixes and proportions are strictly regulated by the appellation laws – for example, Brunello di Montalcino can only be made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso. Some of the rules are rather well-established practices, such as the use of Petite Verdot in the Bordeaux blends, for color and power. Below is the list of main and supporting grapes – you need to pair them properly and also name the wine or an appellation where such grapes are combined together – again, either by the appellation rules or by common practices.

Main grape Secondary grape
1. Montepulciano A. Grenache
2. Sangiovese B. Sagrantino
3. Syrah C. Sangiovese
4. Tempranillo D. Petitte Sirah
5. Zinfandel E. Viognier

Answer: Montepulciano – Sangiovese (Rosso Conero wines in Marche, Italy), Sangiovese – Sagrantino (Montefalco Rosso wines in Umbria), Syrah –  Viognier (Côte-Rôtie, France), Tempranillo – Grenache (Rioja, Spain), Zinfandel – Petite Sirah (Turley, Carlisle, and other Zinfandel producers often do that).

Sadly, nobody attempted to answer this quiz, so once again I have to keep all the lavish prizes to myself.

Today we are going to play game of “which one doesn’t belong”. Below are lists of names – for each question, you need to figure out what is common between those names, and then find one item which shouldn’t be on that list. Here we go:

Question 1:

Adelaide Hills
Blackwood Valley
Currency Creek
Eden Valley
Hunter
King Valley
Waitaki Valley

Question 2:

Anjou
Chinon
Jasnières
Orléans
Reuilly
Rully
Saumur

Question 3:

Cayuse
Clos Erasmus
No Girls
Penfolds
Pingus
Vega Sicilia

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! 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!

Jerez – A Tasty Treat and Halloween Candy Solution

November 3, 2020 Leave a comment

Yes, I know. Halloween is history now, so why am I even mentioning it?

Because I know that those Halloween candies are still lurking around, and will be for a while. And Halloween candy is not something which would make you crave the wine. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are wines out there which will help you get rid of the candies – with pleasure. What am I suggesting? Let’s talk about Sherry, also known as Jerez.

Jerez wines (officially known as Jerez-Xérès-Sherry) take its name from the town Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, Spain, with the grapes coming from the vineyards surrounding the town. Jerez is one of the oldest winemaking regions in Europe, tracing its roots to more than 3,000 years back. Sherry is a fortified wine, and it came to being around the 8th century when the distillation process was invented. As a fortified wine Sherry can be compared to Port, however, the major difference is that Port is typically fortified in the middle of the fermentation process, to preserve the sugars in the wine, where Sherry wines are typically fully fermented, and then fortified, so with the exception of the particular style of Pedro Ximénez, most of the Sherries are dry wines.

There are many styles of Sherry wines, offering various levels of dryness, complexity, and oxidative qualities. Sherry wines are often also produced using the solera method, where the wines of the different vintages or constantly combined and resulting wines might represent a blend of hundred of vintages. The world of Sherry is quite complex, so if you want to read about all the different styles, this Wikipedia article contains a lot of good information.

González Byass started in 1835 in Jerez de la Frontera, in the heart of the Sherry country. Now in the 5th and 6th generation, González Byass is one of the major sherry producers, combining a number of Sherry brands under one umbrella. I had three sherries from González Byass to play with the candies – let me tell you how did it go.

First, the dry wine – Gonzalez Byass Alfonso Jerez Oloroso Seco. As it is a dry wine, it expectedly didn’t work too well with most of the candies, but I found some options:

Gonzalez Byass Alfonso Jerez Oloroso Seco (18% ABV, $25, Palomino 100%, aged for 8 years in solera)
Light amber color
Hazelnuts, sapidity, herbs
Hazelnuts, clean acidity, Rosemary, beautifully complex
Worked best with Payday because of explicit saltiness – not really with Reese’s or KitKat

The bottle on the right is directly from the wine fridge and it is ready to drink – the Harveys letters are blue

I recently wrote about Harveys – after years of personal neglect, this became a gateway wine for me to warm up again to the world of Jerez. As Harveys is quite sweet but not super-sweet, it provided the best pairing option for the majority of candies.

Harveys The Bristol Cream (17.5% ABV, $20, 80% Palomino, 20% Pedro Ximénez, a blend of 7 yo Fino, Oloroso, PX and Amontillado Soleras)
Dark amber color
Light herbaceous nose, a touch of dried fruit
Dried fruit on the palate, good acidity, refreshing
Nice with Reese’s, works well with KitKat, excellent with Payday

Nectar is seriously sweet wine (residual sugar of 370 grams per liter), but it is nevertheless very balance and delivers tremendous pleasure. The Pedro Ximénez (usually abbreviated as PX) is one of my most favorite dessert wines in general. The Pedro Ximénez grapes are dried on the mats for 2 weeks before pressing, losing 40% of liquid and becoming practically raisins – this explains the depth of color you can see in the picture above.

Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximénez Dulce (15% ABV, 25%, 100% Pedro Ximénez, aged for about 8 years in solera)
Very dark amber color, almost black
Dried figs, dates, inviting.
Dried figs all the way, delicious, clean acidity on the finish, perfect balance
Great with KitKat, complements
Excellent with Reese’s, okay with Payday, Butterfinger – not so much

There you are, my friends. Don’t sweat the Halloween candies – pair them with a good Sherry. Or you know what – you can actually dump the candy – Sherry should be enough to keep you happy. Cheers!

 

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