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Wednesday’s Meritage – A Mini Quiz, 100 Point Scores, Super Rhone, Story of Pappy and more

October 22, 2014 8 comments

Yes, there been a lapse in the wine quizzes and subsequently, in these Meritage posts – the quizzes will resume at some point, I just think that I exhausted the ‘grape’ series and need to come up with another series which can last for a while – if you have any suggestions, please let me know. But – I came across quite a few interesting articles well worth sharing, and – I also have a mystery object for you to guess what it can be – so let’s have some fun!

Meritage time!

Instead of providing the answers for you today, I have a mini-quiz. A few people saw this and asked – “What is it????”. So the idea came – why don’t we make a quiz out of it? Please take a look at the picture below and let me know what do you think this is, and as a bonus part, name the place of origin of this object:

What Is It?

What is it?

Please provide your answers in the comments section, as usual.

And now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and web!

First, I came across an interesting article by Tim Atkin, Master of Wine and an author of a number of wine books. In this article Tim is talking about the problem with 100-points wines, which seem not to be a “universal truth” for everybody. He is talking about his personal experience with 3 of the 100-points wines, where his own ratings were not anywhere near that perfect score. I can also attest to having the same situation with two of the 100-pointers I was able to try. Yep, a classic case of YMMV – but read the article, it’s definitely worth your time.

We all know the carrying power the words “super-tuscan” have – attach those to the simplest bottle of wine, and everybody are immediately interested. Put some effort into that bottling – and you can easily ask for $90+ per bottle, and you will have no problems selling the wine at that price. Yes, the Super-Tuscan is an Italian phenomenon, and now some producers in France, in the Rhone valley to be precise, are trying to create something similar – a Super-Rhone wine. Here is the link for you to read more.

Have you heard of the Pappy Van Winkle? Well, if you didn’t, may be it is better to leave it like that? Pappy Van Winkle is an American whiskey, a Bourbon, which has such a cult following that while it costs a lot more than absolute majority of single-malt scotches of any age (prices for the simple 10 years old start from about $300), it is literally impossible to find, especially the well aged bottles of 15, 20 or 23 years old. I think it is one of the most fascinating stories for any of the alcoholic beverages, considering that it got to such a prominence in less than 10 years. The story of Pappy Van Winkle definitely worth few minutes of your time – here is the link to the article.

Bordeaux is coming back! Well, of course it never really left, but it lost its luster, especially in the eyes of the millennials, and finally the folks at Bordeaux decided to do something about it. The Bordeaux wine Bureau (CIVB) is starting a global campaign in US, China, Japan, UK and a few other countries to convince the wine buying public that Bordeaux is well and alive, and worth their hard earned money. You can find more details about the campaign here.

Last for today – a few words about 2014 harvest, which have mostly completed in thew Western hemisphere. This article from Wines and Vines presents some interesting numbers – for instance, the whole grape harvest in California was a bit less than 4 million tons. It also goes beyond the numbers and presents some of the trends – as an example, some growers in California Central Valley pull out the vines and replace them with the nuts – our sacred beverage, wine, is only a business for many, and it must be profitable, or else. Go read it for yourself.

And we are done here. The glass is empty – but the refill is on the way. Cheers!

[Wednesday’s] Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Merlot is Back, Harvest Everywhere, About Yelp and more

September 25, 2014 Leave a comment
Botani Moscatel Seco Sierras de Malaga DO 2008

Botani Moscatel Seco Sierras de Malaga DO 2008

Meritage time!

Let’s start with the answer to the wine quiz #115: Grape Trivia – Muscat.

In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about one of the oldest cultivated grapes – Muscat.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: This Italian wine, made out of the Muscat of Alexandria grapes (which has a different local name), is quite unique in having a given vintage receive top ratings from all main Italian wine publications, including Gambero Rosso, Slow Wine, Bibenda and Veronelli. Can you name this wine?

A1: Donnafugata produces dessert wine called Ben Ryé, made out of Zibibbo grapes, which is the local name for Muscat of Alexandria. Ben Ryé typically gets awarded highest ratings by various Italian publications, year in and year out.

Q2: This Muscat wine was the last solace of exiled Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. Can you name the wine and the country where it was made?

A2: This legendary wine is Klein Constantia Vin de Constance from South Africa

Q3: Which one doesn’t belong and why?

a. Banyuls, b. Beaumes de Venise, c. Frontignan, d. Rivesaltes

A3: Banyuls – while Banyuls is known for its dessert wines, same as the three other AOCs, Grenahce Noir is the main grape used in Banyuls, not the Muscat which dominates the others.

Q4: Muscat wines often get very high ratings from the reviewers. Based on Wine Spectator Classic wines (95 – 100 rating), which country do you think has the most Muscat wines rated as Classic:

a. Australia, b. France, c. Italy, d. Portugal,

A4: It might come as a surprise, but this country is the Australia – 9 out of 10 Muscat wines with topmost ratings are from Australia, including a 100 points Campbells Muscat Rutherglen Merchant Prince Rare NV.

Q5: Which should be excluded and why?

a. Muscat of Alexandria, b. Muscadelle, c. Moscato Giallo, d. Muscat of Hamburg, e. Morio Muskat

A5: This was a bit of a tricky question – actually 2 grapes don’t belong – Muscadelle, which has nothing to do with Muscat, and Morio Muskat, which is a blend of Sylvaner and Pinot Blanc.

When it comes to the results, we had no winners, unfortunately, but I’m glad to see Oliver the winegetter back in the game. There is always the next time!

Now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and the web!

Let’s start with … Merlot! Merlot is back, and to make sure everyone will notice, October is designated as the  Merlot month! If you think about it, Merlot never left, and Chateau Petrus didn’t switch all of a sudden to  the Cabernet Sauvignon as a main grape. Still, Merlot wines are now demanded by name, so it is definitely a reason to celebrate. Drink it, talk about it, write about it – just don’t be indifferent about it. Here is the web site which will help to plan your Merlot festivities.

Harvest is under way in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, so here are few of the updates. Long stretch of a warm weather in September greatly helped vintners in Burgundy and Bordeaux. The summer was cold and rainy in both regions, and the hailstorms didn’t help either. However, warm and steady September weather greatly improved the overall outlook; while the 2014 vintage is not expected to exceptional, both Bordeaux and Burgundy expecting good results. White Burgundy look especially promising in many appellations, including Chablis. Here are the links with more details – Burgundy and Bordeaux. California weather was quite opposite compare to France – very hot and dry summer forced an early harvest start in the Northern California, with some estates picking up grapes as early as July 29th – one of the earliest starts in a decade. Here is the link with more information about California harvest.

When I’m looking for the good restaurant, especially in the unfamiliar area, my first choice of information source is usually one and the same – Yelp. I generally can’t complain, and for majority of the cases I’m quite happy with Yelp recommendations – I’m sure it saved me from the number of a bad experiences. This is why it is even more upsetting to read about the issues businesses face with Yelp forcing them to take advertizing deals or be punished by artificial manipulation of ratings. Unfortunately, this is what happens when shareholder value becomes the purpose of business existence and trumpets the relationship with the real customers (which eventually drives company out of business). Case in point – the restaurant called Botto Bistro in San Francisco, which refused to badge with Yelp’s demand for advertizement placement, and instead started fighting back with Yelp by undermining the core of the Yelp’s existence – the rating system. The restaurant requested all of their patrons to leave negative one-start reviews, which people did. Take a look at the this article which lists a lot of examples of such a one- star “negative” – or rather super-funny – reviews. Yelp have to get its business integrity together, or it will disappear.

If you are actually a writer, how often do your read your writing, edit it, then read again and edit again? You don’t need to answer this question, but the number of the read/edit cycles is better be substantial if you want to end up with the quality outcome. Here is an interesting article by Jo Diaz, where he talks about the importance of the editor and the editing process. It is clear that most of us are not going to hire an editor for our “labor of love” blog posts – however, the editing still remains an essential part of the “writing well” process, and you really should find the way to implement it.

And we are done here. The glass is empty – but the refill is on its way! Cheers!

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