Posts Tagged ‘#MWWC2’

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, #MWWC2 Winner, #MWWC3 Theme, Cabernet Day and more

August 28, 2013 7 comments
Mar de Frades Albarino

Mar de Frades Albarino

Meritage time!

First, let’s start with the answer for the wine quiz #71, grape trivia – Albariño.

In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about white grape called Albariño. Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Explain the origin of the name Albariño

A1: The theory is that the Albariño was brought to Spain from Germany’s Rhine region and it is a relative of Riesling. Thus Alba-Riño stands for “white from Rhine”

Q2: What kind of food is typically expected to be paired with Albariño?

A2: Seafood! Rias Baixas, the region where Albariño strives, is fully embraced by the Atlantic ocean, so seafood is a local specialty, and Albariño is known to perfectly complement it.

Q3: When Albariño was first planted in California?

a. 2000, b. 1996, c. 1992, d. 1988

A3: b, 1996. In 1996, Kathryn and Michael Havens of Havens Wine Cellars visited Rias Baixas and fell in love with Albariño. They brought it back to the US and started the first plantings. Albariño was officially registered in California in the year 2000.

Q4: For the long time, winemakers in Australia thought that they are making Albariño wine – until it was recently found that due to the mistake, what they thought they planted as Albariño is not Albariño at all, but a totally unrelated grape. Do you know what grape it was?

A4: Savagnin.

Q5: Val do Salnés is one of the sub-regions in Rias Baixas, making wines from Albariño grapes. True or False: to be labeled Albariño Val do Salnés, the wine must contain 100% Albariño grapes

A5: False. Interestingly enough, for the wine to be labeled Rias Baixas DO, it should be 100% Albariño, but for any other sub-regions, it is enough to use only 70% of the Albariño grapes.

I’m glad to report that we have a winner this time! Linda from Foxress is taking home the unlimited bragging rights today. Well done!

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

I’m sure you’ve seen this already, but our Monthly Wine Writing Challenge has a new Queen! Sally from My Custard Pie won the #MWWC2 with this blog post. Congratulations!

Let me ask you a question. How possessive you are? Do you possess your wines, or maybe your wines possess you? Or may be your wines are possessed? If I were you, I wouldn’t go down to that cellar…yeah. Why am I all of a sudden so possessed with the possession? Because Possession is the theme of the #MWWC3! Here is the formal announcement with all the rules and dates. Sharpen your mind and your pencil, blow the dust off your keyboard – and write, write, write! The submission deadline is Monday, September 23rd.

Last minute reminder – tomorrow, August 29th, is 4th annual Cabernet Day! Open the bottle of Cabernet and join the festivities. Hope you will enjoy whatever you will be drinking, and if it will be extra good – let the world know about it – blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest – there are so many ways today to let the world know that you are happy!

I also have two articles to share with you. Interestingly enough, I just realized that these two articles are essentially completely opposite to each other. In the first article, Harvey Steiman, Wine spectator’s Editor at Large, talks about scientific advancements in the world of wine. He talks about DNA testing being used to detect faults in wine, and then he also talks about micro-oxygenation, that makes the wines more soft and round. Fault detection might be good, but do you want your wines to be soft, round and … the same? I personally would prefer the wine with character over the dull and round, but of course you can decide for yourself.

Second article talks about the archaeological project in Italy, where the group of scientists it trying to recreate the way the wine was made thousands of years ago – no chemicals, no reverse osmosis, no micro-oxygenation – just the pure goodness of nature. Somehow, I like this. But again, read the article and decide for yourself.

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

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Don’t Forget to Vote!, 2013 Harvest Started in France, and more

August 21, 2013 3 comments
Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer

Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer

Meritage time!

First, let’s start with the answer for the wine quiz #70, grape trivia – Gewurztraminer.

In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about white grape called Gewurztraminer. Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Where Gewurztraminer was supposedly originated? Name the grape which was a precursor of Gewurztraminer

A1: Gewurztraminer is a result of genetic mutation of the grape called Traminer. Traminer grape takes its name from the town of Tramin, located in the South Tyrol in Northern Italy (Alto Adige).

Q2: Explain the meaning of the name Gewurztraminer

A2: “Gewurz” means spicy in German. But the “spicy” reference here is for the extreme aromatics of the grape and not to taste of the grape itself, so in the direct translation Gewurztraminer stands for Spicy Traminer.

Q3: Unlike many other grapes, if the French wine is made out of Gewurztraminer, you can easily know that just by looking at the bottle. Why is that?

A3: Alsace, unlike any other AOC in France, requires the name of the grape varietal to be shown on the label. While most of the Alsace wines are typically bottled in the tall narrow bottles called vin du Rhin, one look at the label will tell you exactly the type of the grape the wine is made out of.

Q4: Which area in California produces best Gewurztraminer wines:

a. Monterey County, b. Alexander Valley, c. Russian River Valley, d. Anderson Valley

A4: Anderson Valley (“best” is subjective, but I seem to find a number of sources pointing to Anderson Valley)

Q5: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are no Gewurztraminer wines with Classic rating

A5: False. There are couple of Gewurztraminer wines with 98 ratings, and in excess of 30 wines overall in the Classic rating range.

Now, when it comes to the answers, we have an interesting situation. All the respondents answered all the questions correctly, except for the Q3 – typical answer was based on the unique shape of the bottle, but the problem is that most of the wines from Alsace share the same bottle shape – however, nobody pointed to the label and the major difference in the labeling laws between Alsace (based on the grape) and the other AOCs (based on geographic location). Thus we don’t have a winner in this weeks’ quiz – but hey, there is always another quiz.

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

First and foremost – please don’t forget to cast your vote for your favorite post in the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #2! The theme of the challenge was “Trouble”, and despite the initial troubles with the trouble, quite a few bloggers took a stub at the theme. ArmchairSommelier was hosting this month’s challenge, and she will announce the winner on August 24th. To read all of the submissions, and most importantly, to vote, please use this link.

Another interesting opportunity to “vote” for you – W. Blake Gray asked his readers to vote on what country which makes their favorite wine. You don’t have to think to hard about “the one”, as you can vote for up to 3 favorites. So far based on the voting results, the clear leaders are France, USA and Italy – but you should definitely vote and see for yourself – here is the link to the blog post.

While it sounds way too early (it is still an August!), the 2013 harvest already started in in Roussillon in France. An interesting fact is that this year actually has a late start due to the cold spring, and the picking usually starts 10-15 days earlier. Here is a link to the article where you can find all the details.

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

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, #WBW80, #MWWC2, GMO Wines???, Harvest Marathon and more

August 14, 2013 10 comments

P1130746 Viognier Les Vins des VienneMeritage time!

Let’s start with the answer for the wine quiz #69, grape trivia – Viognier. In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about the white grape called Viognier.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Viognier stands pretty unique among all white grapes as it is often added or can be added as blending component during the production of the red wines around the world. Do you know the name of the red grape it typically accompanies?

A1: Syrah. Viognier is allowed to be added to the red Syrah wines of Côte-Rôtie (up to 20%), and Shiraz Viognier wines are quite popular in Australia.

Q2: Name the source of essentially the best and most long-living Viognier wines in the world

A2: Château-Grillet. Château-Grillet is so called Monopole, as it is both an AOC and the single winery. Château-Grillet is known to produce some of the best, long living Viognier wines ever. Château-Grillet is surrounded by another Viognier-only appellation, Condrieu, which also makes great Viognier wines, but the answer I was looking for here is Château-Grillet.

Q3: Viognier became so popular in the United States, that one of the states even called it “an official grape of the state”. Do you know which state it is?

a. California, b. New York, c. Texas, d. Virginia

A3: Virginia! In 2011, Viognier was named an “official grape” of the state of Virginia.

Q4: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are no Viognier wines with Classic rating

A4: False. There is a number of Condrieu wines rated in the range of 95 – 98 (98 so far was the highest rating for Viognier wines)

Q5: Based on DNA research, Viognier has an unlikely cousin in Italy, which is not even the white grape, but red. Can you name that “cousin”?

A5: There is almost always a slight element of controversy with all this DNA research data. According to DNA research information in Wikipedia, Viognier is shown “to be closely related to the Piedmont grape Freisa and to be a genetic cousin of Nebbiolo” – thus both Freisa and Nebbiolo are correct answers here.

We had lots of great answers for this quiz, and we have winners! Considering the absolute precision on the answer for the second question (Château-Grillet), Jeff a.k.a. TheDrunkenCyclist is our Grand Winner today, but both Julian at VinoInLove and Kirsten at TheArmchairSommelier are also the winners of this wine quiz #69. Winners get their due share of unlimited bragging rights, but I definitely want to thank all participants  – great job!

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

I have few of mostly the reminders for you today.

Today, August 14th – Wine Blogging Wednesday event, #WBW80 – Dry Rosé. There is still some times left to drink Rosé and submit your post! For all the details please click here.

This coming Friday, August 16th – deadline for submission for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #2, with the theme called Trouble. You can find all the rules here. There is still time, get your trouble under control and write! Use #MWWC2 hash tag your submission.

Tomorrow, Thursday, August 15th – Last Bottle 2013 Harvest Madness Marathon is taking place! If you like get great wines at unbelievable prices, this event is for you! Starting at 9 AM Pacific time, new wines will be sold at LastBottle web site at neck-breaking speed. Last Bottle model is similar to WTSO – no e-mail announcements, and they don’t even use twitter, so you have to refresh your browser all the time. There is one difference though – there are no minimum quantities to buy to get free shipping. The event will continue for 2 days, and all the wines will be shipped during few weeks after the event. If you are not buying wine at Last Bottle – you really missing lots of great deals. It is free to subscribe to their web site – but if you are not a subscriber and want to become one, send me an e-mail so I will subscribe you – you will get $5 credit (yes, true, and I will get $20, but then of course you can subscribe someone else…).

Last but not least for today is an interesting article by W. Blake Gray which caused my quick and short reaction – WTF?! Seriously? Here is a post in The Gray Report, where W. Blake Gray is talking about an article in Wine Spectator advocating the idea of … noting else but GMO wines! I might be over-reacting, but after reading this article I was split-hair close to canceling my subscription. Well, read it for yourself and let me know what do you think.

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

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, New Life at Mayacamas, Few Reminders and more

August 7, 2013 19 comments
Field Recordings Chenin Blanc Jurassic Park Vineyard

Field Recordings Chenin Blanc Jurassic Park Vineyard

Meritage Time!

Let’s start with the answer to the wine quiz #68, grape trivia – Chenin Blanc. In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about Chenin Blanc grape.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: True or false: South Africa grows (area-wise) twice as much Chenin Blanc as France

A1: True. Chenin Blanc plantings in South Africa take a bit less than 25% of all grape plantings in the country, and it exceeds plantings in France by at least two times.

Q2: Do you know how Chenin Blanc is typically called in South Africa?

A2: Steen. Chenin Blanc is South Africa was traditionally called Steen, but as many wineries are improving quality of their Chenin Blanc wines, they also use the traditional “Chenin Blanc” name on the labels more and more.

Q3: Based on DNA research, Chenin Blanc might be a parent of:

a. Pinot Blanc, b. Sauvignon Blanc, c. Marsanne, d. Ugni Blanc (Trebbiano)

A3: Sauvignon Blanc.

Q4: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are no Chenin Blanc wines with Classic rating.

A4: False. While there are only 14 Classic Chenin Blanc wines to the date (all from Vouvray region in France), Domaine Huët Vouvray Cuvée Constance 1997 scored even perfect 100 points.

Q5: One of my all time favorite Chenin Blanc wines is made by the company called Field Recordings in California. It is a single-vineyard wine, coming from the vineyard which has the same name as one of the blockbuster movies of the 90s. Do you know how this vineyard is called?

A5: Jurassic Park! I’m really curious what would give such a name to the vineyard, but hey, this is how it is called. And Jurassic Park Chenin Blanc I had was spectacular.

I’m glad to report that we have lots of winners this time! Emil, SheWinesSometimes, VinoinLove and TheDrunkenCyclist answered all 5 questions correctly, and they get the coveted prize of unlimited bragging rights!

Now, to the interesting stuff around vine and web!

I have a few interesting things for you to read. First, an article by New York Times‘ Eric Asimov, talking about new life of Mayacamas Vineyards in Napa. Mayacamas is one of the historical vineyards in the region, originally built in 1889, and owned by Bob Travers and his wife since 1968. I experienced Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon only once, and it was a spectacular wine, done in very restrained and elegant style. Now the winery is acquired by Charles Banks, who owned Screaming Eagle in the past, and he brought in Andy Erickson, a past Screaming Eagle’s winemaker, to make wine at the Mayacamas. How Mayacamas will change is a big question for all of its fans,  so you should read the article to learn more.

Here is an interesting read for you from W. Blake Gray, on the subject of [yeah, here we go again] wine tasting notes. Before you read the article, test yourself – do you know what gunflint is? You do? Great, do you know how does it taste like? My personal answer is “no” for both questions, but you go read the article to learn something new and get entertained.

The last article for today on the subject of Georgian wines, talking about new and interesting wines coming from the “cradle of winemaking”, as Georgia often is referred to. Go find the bottle of Georgian wine to enjoy while you will be reading the article.

We are getting closer to the few important dates (deadlines, rather) so here are your reminders:

August 14th – Wine Blogging Wednesday event, #WBW80 – Dry Rosé. All you need to do is to write a blog post pertinent to the subject, and submit it to the host. For all the details please click here. Let’s make it a success!

August 16th – deadline for submission for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #2, with the theme called Trouble. You can find all the rules here. I finally made my submission, so I sleep much better now. There is still time, get your trouble under control and write! Side note – if you are using twitter, I recommend using #MWWC hash tag for all submissions and discussions.

August 29th – Annual Cabernet Day 2013. Grab the bottle of your favorite Cab and join the festivities – here is the link to the invitation I received for this Cabernet Day, in case you want to state your participation officially.

That is all I have for you, folks. The glass is empty -but the refill is coming. Until the next time – cheers!

Wine … It Will Get You In Trouble

August 5, 2013 35 comments

In June 2013, Jeff a.k.a.The Drunken Cyclist, started the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge, where the new theme is announced on about the monthly basis by the winner of the previous round. This month’s theme, as announced by The Armchair Sommelier, is “Trouble”.

To be entirely honest with you, I was about to give up on this challenge, as I couldn’t associate “wine” with “trouble”. Before I would “officially” give up, I did what would [probably] most of the married men do – ask the wife’s advice. So the first thing she said, “what do you mean you don’t know what to write about? How about the time when you quietly drunk most of the home-made plum wine when you were a kid”? Yeah, but I really never got into trouble for that, don’t think it was even noticed. “Okay, fine”, she said, “so what about that girl in the wine store…”? Aha – you could probably hear my brain clicking – now we are onto something…

Mouton Rothschild

Mouton Rothschild

When you look at the bottle of wine, do you see a trouble lurking around ? No? Well, let me help you.

Think about bottle shapes. Probably 80% of all the wine bottles made worldwide will fall into one of two shape categories – Bordeaux or Burgundy. Yes, there are some shape variations even in those big classes, but they are nominal. Which means that if you will put next to each other a bottle of Bordeaux which retails for $6.99 and the one which will command $699, they will look very, very similar. What differentiates them? Yes, of course the content, but this is not something you know just by looking the bottle. So the only things which will differentiate those two bottles will be labels. See the trouble yet? Let’s continue.

In the wine store, one is guided by the visual cues – namely, the price tags. Take the cues out – and then even labels look identical. Yes, yes, before you call me an unintelligent low life and stop reading, give me a few more minutes and you will see where am I going. Of course, for the small group of crazy devoted wine geeks, every little word on the label is cherished and carefully assessed. 1982 vintage? Bordeaux? That’s nearly a heart attack. Tiny letters RM on the bottle of Champagne. La Turque, Qunitarelli, Alban, 1961, Pingus, Latour, 2000, To Kalon, Colgin, Riserva… I can go on and on and on with all those cherished words. We see any of those words on the label of the wine bottle, and the brain immediately sends out command for awe and appreciation.

Now, step outside of this crazy devoted circle. Outside of the wine store, does the bottle of 2009 Chateau Latour Bordeaux (about $1,600 per bottle, if you can find it) looks all that different from 2009 Chateau Moulin de Beausejour Bordeaux ($6.99, readily available at your Trader Joe‘s)? No, not really. Bottles look very similar in shape, both say “Bordeaux”, both have the same vintage listed – 2009, both have the word “Chateau” on them. Do you see it now? The trouble is not lurking anymore, it is looming, as a huge stormy cloud, full of wind and water.

Let me give two examples. Here are two real life stories of my friend Zak, the owner of the wine store in Stamford. The first one I only heard from Zak, and second one I witnessed myself.

2006 Ornellaia - sorry, Zak was out of Sassicaia

2006 Ornellaia – sorry, Zak was out of Sassicaia

The lady comes into the store and asks for help. “I’m looking for the bottle of the Italian wine. I don’t remember the exact name, but I think it starts with “S”. If you will show me what you have, I will be able to recognize it”. Zak takes her to the Italian wines section. The lady looks around and says excitedly “this one!”, pointing at the bottle of Sassicaia. Then she looks at the price tag ($179 or so), looks at Zak, back at the price tag and says with the hope in her voice: “this is the case price, right?”. “No, madam, this is the bottle price”, answers Zak, and lady’s face becomes all overwhelmed with he emotions and she mutters “ahh, no wonder my husband got so upset when I used this wine for the pasta sauce…”. Turns out the husband was not at home, and the lady was looking for the bottle of red wine to add to the pasta sauce, and the bottle of Sassicaia looked not any different than any other bottle of the Italian wine… Trouble!

I’m standing in the store talking to Zak. The girl comes in with the bag of empty bottles and starts putting them one by one on the counter and then tells Zak: “I need to get this exact wines”. I’m, of course, curious, and I’m picking over Zak’s shoulder as he is looking at them one by one. Some kind of Spanish wine. Something else I don’t recognize. 1995 Chateau Mouton Rothschild. 1999 Riesling. Something … Wait, what? Mouton Rothschild 1995, one of the First Grows Bordeaux? That will be interesting. Zak points at that exact bottle and says: “I don’t have this wine, miss, and it will be hard to get it as this is an old vintage”. The girl asks if he can get the current vintage. Zak looks in the catalog and says “well, I’m not sure if it will be available, as this is highly allocated wine, but if it will be, it will be about $900… Yes, for a bottle”. You should have seen despair and horror on the girl’s face. Turns out her uncle left on a long trip, and left the girl to be house-sitting. Of course having the house party with the full access to the cellar was not what her uncle planned for, and now that he was coming back soon, the girl was on the recovery mission. Is that a trouble? One look at that girl’s face would tell you – yep, big time trouble!

There you have it, my friends. Wine is a dangerous thing, with the “trouble” spelled all over it… Or not. While there can be multiple personal “troubles” around the wine, which will seem serious to the person experiencing them (think about that girl), in a big schema things, we need to remember that at the most, all those troubles will become great (and funny, for the most part) stories to tell later on. Wine is just a beverage, and there always will be another bottle to drink. I can only wish to all of us, that the wine troubles would be the biggest troubles of our lives. You can pour another glass now. Cheers!

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