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Posts Tagged ‘Matt Kramer’

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Barolo Boys, California Wine Month, Tasters Must Read and more

September 3, 2014 2 comments

Meritage time!

Let’s start with the answer to the wine quiz #112: Grape Trivia – Müller-Thurgau.

In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about the white grape called Müller-Thurgau.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Which country is not known to produce Müller-Thurgau wines:
a. Australia, b. England, c. Hungary, d. South Africa, e. United States

A1: South Africa. The rest of the countries make wines out of Müller-Thurgau

Q2: True or False: In 2010, plantings of Riesling in Germany were double in size compare to those of Müller-Thurgau

A2: False. Plantings of Riesling were barely exceeding plantings of Müller-Thurgau (it was even the other way around few years before – Müller-Thurgau was one of the most planted grapes in Germany).

Q3: Wine Spectator calls wines with 90-94 ratings “Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style”. True or False: There are Müller-Thurgau wines rated as Outstanding by Wine Spectator.

A3: True. However very few, but yes, there are Müller-Thurgau among Outstanding wines, with 92 been the highest rating.

Q4: Which one doesn’t belong and why:
a. Kerner, b. Müller-Thurgau, c. Scheurebe, d. Sylvaner

A4: Sylvaner. The rest of the grapes are the result of crossing between Riesling and other grapes.

Q5: True or False: There  are no sparkling wines produced from Müller-Thurgau

A5: False. All grapes are used today to produce sparkling wines, and Müller-Thurgau is no exception. According to the reviews, some of the Müller-Thurgau sparkling wines are very good.

When it comes to the results, this is something I was afraid of – nobody took the challenge. I can’t blame anyone – the grape, generally famous for its appearance in often insipid Liebfrauenmilch wines, doesn’t incite people to spend time researching information about it. Well, I will stick to my plan, nevertheless, and the next quiz will be about Pinot Blanc – start studying!

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

Barolo Boys are coming! Well, this might be a bit of a weigh announcement. Let’s try it again. The movie “Barolo Boys. The Story of a Revolution” is coming to the theaters near you. The movie, which took two years in the making, will profile a number of famous Barolo winemakers, talking about the winemaking revolution which took place on the hills of Piedmont in the 80s and 90s. The movie will open on September 26th in Italy, and will be showing at the beginning of November in New York. To wet your appetite, here is the preview:

Did you know that September is California Wine Month? Of course you don’t have to drink only California wines during the whole month of September, but on the second thought – why not? So many amazing wines coming out from California, one month will not be even nearly enough to get a clear picture of what wines California can produce. To celebrate California wines, there will be lots of special events in California and beyond – here is the link for you to read more about California wines and all the festivities around it.

Yes, Matt Kramer is one of my very favorite wine writers, and it is showing. Here is yet another reference to one of his articles. If you are serious about tasting the wines, this is a must article to read. I want to stress the difference between tasting wines and enjoying them. To say you enjoy the glass of wine, you really don’t have to dig into it, and try to figure out “texture”, “mouthfeel”, “midpalate density”, “fruit” and many other descriptors. Enjoying wine is pretty much a binary activity – you either enjoy it or not. For all of us who passionately pursues the geeky, technical side of wine, this article  is a godsend. Taking Montrachet as an example, Matt Kramer goes into the depth of explanations about texture, mouthfeel, ageability and many other elements which are near and dear to every oenophile’s wine geeky side. Don’t miss it – and I would even suggest reading it multiple times to let it all settle in.

Last one for today, a mixture of curious and borderline funny. As part of the 10 year anniversary of the movie Sideways (produced in 2004), the Merlot Taste-Off will take place on September 13th in Solvang in California – the town closely associated with the movie and one of the main characters, Miles, exclaiming “I’m not drinking no f*ing Merlot”. Here is the information about the event – of course you have to be in Solvang to take part in it. I wonder what Miles would say about it…

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

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, #VerdejoDay Tomorrow, French Laundry Story, Generous Pour Is Back!, Of Clones and Varietals, and more

June 11, 2014 11 comments

PedroXimenezTrianaMeritage time!

Let’s start with the answer to the wine quiz #105, Grape Trivia – Blends, Part 9.

For the long time, the grape trivia series was focused on the single grapes. But now we are stirring things up, so all the questions in the quiz are about blends (well, even if it is a blend of one ), as most of the wines in the world are actually blends. As usual, there were 5 questions in the quiz.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Amarone, a powerful dry Italian wine, made out of the sun-dried grapes (appasimento), was actually a result of the accident (complete fermentation of all the sugar) during the process of making of the sweet wine in the same region. This sweet wine is still produced today, albeit in the very small quantities – but it used to be quite famous hundreds of years ago. Can you name this sweet wine?

A1: Recioto della Valpolicella. Recioto della Valpolicella, sweet wine from Valpolicella,  was very well known and well recognized way before Amarone was discovered for the first time. While production of Recioto dramatically decreased over the last few decades, currently Recioto is in the revival and it is drawing more interest, both among producers and consumers.

Q2: These two red sweet wines are primarily made out of all three types of Grenache grapes – Noir, Gris and Blanc, but one of them also allows the use of Carignan grape. Can you name these two wines (I’m looking for the name of appellations, not particular producers) and also specify which one of the two allows the use of Carignan?

A2: As it almost became a tradition for me with this Blend series, here is yet another question where I goofed up. Yes, the sweet wines of Banyuls in France are made predominantly from Grenache grapes – Noir, Gris and Blanc, and Carignan is also an allowed grape in Banyuls. But then there are more than one appellation which uses all three Grenache grape types in production of the sweet wines – Riversaltes ( this was my intended answer), Maury and Rasteau would all fit the bill here. Anyway, I keep learning, and anyone who answered  “Banyuls” is getting a point here.

Q3: This rare red dessert wine is made out of Nebbiolo grapes, and one of its characteristics is incredible aromatics. Can you name this wine?

A3: Barolo Chinato. This wine is made as Barolo, from the Nebbiolo grapes, but with the addition of aromatic herbs – it is a pure symphony in the glass.

Q4: This sweet wine, while typically made from the single grape variety, might claim the prize of “ultimate blend”, as it represents a blend of wines of many different ages, potentially tracing hundreds years of history in some of the bottling. Can you name this wine and explain about “hundred years of history”?

A4: Sweet Sherry, a.k.a Jerez, is typically made out of grape called Pedro Ximenez, and it is aged using so called Solera method – portion of the wine from the old (or oldest) barrel is bottled, and then the barrel is topped off with the younger wine. The barrel is never fully emptied and never cleaned, which means that even in the trace amount, but the very old wine is still present in the bottles, potentially going back to the year when the winery was built (and some of them are 250 years old…).

Q5: This delicious dessert white wine is made by the famed red wine producer in Napa Valley. The wine is made from the single white grape variety, estate grown in Napa Valley, which is of German/Austrian origin (and it is NOT Riesling). Name the grape, the wine and the producer.

A5: Silly me, I thought this would be a difficult question – nope : ). As many of you correctly answered, this dessert wine, called Eisrebe, is made by Joseph Phelps (the producer of famous red California wine called Insignia), from the grape called Scheurebe. A very delicious wine – try it if you will get a chance.

When it comes to the results, again – good participation and we have winners! Gene Castellino (no blog) and vinoinlove both correctly answered all 5 questions, thus they become the winners of this round and get the coveted prize of unlimited bragging rights! I want also to acknowledge Jennifer Lewis (no web site) who correctly answered 4 questions out of 5. Well done all!

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

Let me start from the bad news – for the second year in the row, Bordeaux vineyards experienced the hail storm, torrential rains and almost hurricane-strength winds. The areas around Médoc had been hit the most. I think we are [again] looking at a dim prospects of the 2014 vintage in Bordeaux… For more information (and the picture of hail, quite impressive) please click here.

And now, on a more positive side…. Tomorrow, June 12th, don’t forget to celebrate #VerdejoDay! As I understood from the comments to my post about upcoming #VerdejoDay festivities, Verdejo wines are not that unfamiliar to many of the wine lovers, so I’m sure you will have no problems either to join the festivities in person or at least find a bottle of Verdejo and have fun! I plan to be at the celebration in New York at Tavern 29, so if you will be there, please let me know – will be glad to meet and raise the glass together!

One of the most fascinating restaurants for me in US is French Laundry, located in Yountville, in the heart of Napa Valley. I never visited it, but I read a lot about the restaurant and its star chef, Thomas Keller. As with most of the other success stories, there is not much magic or luck in Thomas Keller’s success-  it is only a lot of hard work and perseverance. The reason I’m talking about Thomas Keller is that I just came across a very interesting article about his recipe for success – you can read it for yourself here. And I really hope one day to write a blog post not just about success of the French Laundry,  but about an actual dining experience there.

Wine [and steak] lovers, rejoice! The Capital Grille just announced a comeback of their Generous Pour program for the summer of 2014. Starting July 7th, 7 wines from California and Oregon, hand selected by The Capital Grille’s Master Sommelier George Miliotes, will be offered at The Capital Grille locations for $25. I always take advantage of this program, and I can’t recommend it higher to anyone who wants to have a great wine experience with their food.

Last but not least for today, I want to turn (again) to Matt Kramer, the columnist for the Wine Spectator. Matt Kramer recently wrote an excellent series about wines of Portugal, but I just want to bring to your attention one article from that series, where he is talking about the need for the mix of grape varietals in one vineyard, almost a field blend, either clonal or the real varietal, to produce great wines. This might be a very controversial positioning – but read the article for yourself and, of course, feel free to comment.

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

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