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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!

Learning With #WineStudio – Coup de Foudre Pétillant Naturel from Vermont

August 7, 2014 4 comments

Coup de Foudre Bottle TopHave you tasted wines from Vermont? Do you know what Pétillant Naturel is, or have you tasted any of them before? Yep, me neither – until I joined the #winestudio event a few weeks ago. In case you are still not familiar with the concept (which you should be by now!), #winestudio events are intended to showcase unique and often lesser known wines and wine regions; these events are usually organized in series, take place every Tuesday on Twitter (just search for the hashtag #winestudio), and represent great learning opportunity.

The event I’m talking about was part of the series discovering lesser known wines of United States – Colorado, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin – not a bad line up, huh? This particular session was dedicated to the wines of Vermont, and for me, there couldn’t be a better wine selected to represent the Vermont in the series. Just look at the bottle top in the picture – how many wines did you see with this type of closure? Yep, not many. And the learning? Wow, all the way!

Let’s start with Pétillant Naturel. It was the first time I encountered this type of wine, and looking for the information on internet, I discovered that I’m almost missing a train (well, I’m on it now). Classic méthode champenoise sparkling wines are made with the secondary fermentation taking place in the bottle. Pétillant Naturel wines are also sparkling wines, but made with the first(!) fermentation finishing in the bottle. No blending, not chaptalization, only the grapes and (usually) the natural yeast. The resulting wines are typically more fruit forward and expressive of the terroir, and also lighter than Champagne and such. They also develop only half of the pressure of the typical Champagne bottle, thus a standard “beer bottle” closure works quite well. Talking about “missing the train”, it appears that Pétillant Naturel wines are made all over the world and have quite a substantial following – here is an interesting article from the Wine & Spirits magazine.

Let’s continue with the learning and let’s talk about the wine. First, I love the name – French expression “Coup de Foudre” stands for “love at first sight” (unfortunately, the winery will not be able to use this name going forward, as there is now the winery in Napa Valley under the same name, so going forward the wine will be called “CdeF”).

I don’t want to use the term “natural wine” here due to the associated controversy in the wine media, but I will let you be the judge of it. The La Garagista winery is using organic methods and in the process of conversion to biodynamic. The grapes for this wine had been hand harvested and foot tread (!), and fermented with the natural yeast in the glass semijohn for about 5 weeks, then bottled to finish fermentation under cap as pétillant naturel. I think this is as natural as the winemaking can be.

And the love at first sight (and sniff and sip) it was for me! 2013 La Garagista Coup de Foudre White Pétillant Naturel, Vermont (11% ABV) had a yellow tingled color in the glass, quite intense. The nose was hard to describe – minerality was the first thing which was coming to mind, but also it was light, balanced, showing flowers and fresh bread, touch medicinal. On the palate, the wine was very refreshing, with herbs and touch of white stone fruit + minerality. If I can give you a frame of reference, the natural wines of Jean-Pierre Robinot and Frank Cornelissen come to mind, with their pure expression of terroir. I couldn’t stop drinking this CdeF wine, and the best overall descriptor I can come up with is “delicious”. Drinkability: 8

Added [personal] bonus – this wine is made out of the grape called Brianna, which is a cross between European varieties Bourboulenc and Tibouren Gris – this is a new grape for me, so I’m inching forward towards the coveted 500.

That’s all I wanted to share with you. If you like to learn more about unique wines and regions, do yourself a favor and join the #winestudio conversations, I’m sure you will be happy you did. If you can find this Coup de Foudre wine anywhere – buy a case (and send me a few bottles, will you?) Also, go and look for the Pétillant Naturel wines – you might discover the new love. Cheers!

 

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, WTSO Marathon, Dangers of Twits, Natural Wines Commotion

July 23, 2014 5 comments

Meritage Time!

Of course we are staring with the answer to the weekly wine quiz #109, where you were supposed to identify 8 wines by the image on top of the bottle cap or a capsule. Below are the pictures, now with the answers:

While nobody was able to identify all 8 wines, Zak (no web site) did an excellent job identifying 6 out of 8 wine tops, so he is definitely the winner of this round and gets the unlimited bragging rights! I also want to acknowledge wineandhistory, who correctly identified PEJU wine. I’m also glad to say that a number of people said that they will start paying more attention to the bottle tops, which makes it all more fun.

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

First, the WTSO is on it again – Summer Cheapskate Marathon is coming to the browser next to you on Tuesday, July 29th. Starting at 6 am  Eastern time, the new wines will be offered in the $7.99 to $18.99 range every 15 minutes or sooner if the offered wine will sell out. All wines are offered in the quantity of 4 bottles or more to get the free shipping. The marathon will finish at 11:59 pm Eastern time.

Next up is an interesting post by W. Blake Gray. I made a number of attempts to come up with a clever abstract for his blog post; instead, I just have to explain why I think it worth a few minutes of your time. In the article, W. Blake Gray explains how two of his short posts on twitter led to the angry rebuttal from the Cellar Tracker founder, Eric Levine, with the declaration of “wine snob” being literally slapped on W. Blake Gray’s face (yes, as a figure of speech – no bodily harm took place). Twitter is a dangerous medium – the condensed format requires lots of careful attention to what one is saying – and viral potential of any twit making huge waves should always be taken into account… Anyway, read it for yourself, including the comments, and if you will, let me know what you think.

What do you think of natural wine? Yes, I know that the term itself is somewhat controversial. But, considering that the wine is a form of art, I only see it as one of the styles, which is perfectly valid alongside of many others. However, it seems that a lot of wine professionals don’t see it like that. First was an article by Bruce Palling, called “Is there anything natural about raw wine“. Jamie Goode, a winner of the Best Overall Wine Blog Award at WBC14, responded to this article on his blog, in the post called “Comments on Bruce Palling’s anti-natural wine article“. Then Steve Heimoff jumped in with “I weigh in on Jamie Goode’s post on “natural wine””, and even Matt Kramer couldn’t stand aside and wrote the post called “When Did Wine Become So Partisan?“. If anything, I’m definitely siding with Matt Kramer and his question – I don’t understand why the opinions about wine, which is an extremely, extremely subjective in terms of “good and bad”, should be so fiercely antagonistic. If someone doesn’t like the taste of Australian Shiraz, does it mean that Australia should stop making Shiraz? And if the answer is “of course not”, then I don’t understand why natural wine should be any different. Anyway, I suggest you will spend a few minutes of your time reading those articles – and don’t forget to read the comments.

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

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