Wine Writing Income Continues to Challenge

will_work_for_wine.jpgBy Susan Kostrzewa

Gloria Steinem once said that writing was the only thing she ever did where she felt she should not be doing something else.

Most writers accept that writing, and in particular wine journalism, is a profession and passion that has chosen them, and not the other way around.

But at what cost? A recent controlled survey of 20 journalists working in the wine media field revealed that while fulfilling, the wine writing trade was still extremely challenging as regards livelihood.

Survey respondents working in freelance and full-time roles in the wine media field answered questions about per-word rates, frequency of jobs, types of projects and other contributing income in the household. Some key points:

– The average wine writing income was between $15,000-25,000 a year.

– Most were making the majority of their wine journalistic income from traditional print editorial sources (magazines, newspaper).

– For freelancers, wine media income constituted between 10-25 percent of their annual income, the rest typically supplemented by additional wine-related gigs such as teaching, lecturing, consulting, judging and in about half the cases, another unrelated full-time or part-time job. In all but three cases they were living in a household with a second income.

– The average per-word rate received for their work was 25 cents to $1 a word.

Additional research revealed that the median national income for work as a wine editor was $50,000 to $66,000 a year.

The good news? As wine and food trends continue to grow in the U.S., the demand for knowledgeable and talented writers and experts in the field grows. But the field is still very competitive, and slow to respond, it seems, to media rate trends on other categories.

[Editor’s Note: Susan Kostrzewa is the Executive Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine. She presided over a conversation and research session at the 2013 Symposium for Professional Wine Writers about how wine writers were compensated for their work. The session was extremely interesting, if a bit depressing, so I asked her to summarize the conversation in a brief article here on Vinography.

The following statistics were the result of an anonymous survey of Symposium attendees, a separate survey from the one referenced in the above piece. Please note, the survey referenced above was given to freelance wine professionals already active in the wine writing field, while Symposium attendees were both seasoned professionals and interested parties just starting in the business. The results overall for both still reflect the same trends, however. ]

How much do you make annually on your wine writing?

less than $5,000: 15%
$5,000-$10,000: 22%
$10,000-$25,000: 25%
$25,000-$50,000: 19%
greater than $50,000: 19%

Which media types contribute the most to your annual wine writing income?

Magazine: 29%
Newspaper: 18%
Web sites/blogs: 20%
Other: 33%

What percentage of your overall income is from wine writing?

0- 10%: 29%
10-25%: 18%
50-75%: 21%
75-100%: 33%

What is your current per-word rate for wine writing projects? If you are paid by the project, please convert to a similar per-word rate.

Less than 25 cents per word: 26%
Less than 50 cents per word: 27%
Less than $1 per word: 21%
$1 a word or more: 27%

What category of wine writing represents the majority of your income?

Editorial print (magazines. newspapers): 37%
Editorial digital media (Web articles/notes, blogs etc): 35%
Commercial (promotional, marketing, PR): 28%

What other types of writing or work do you do to supplement your income?

Other wine editorial/media (wine education, wine tour guiding, etc): 21%
Wine trade/service: 29%
Food service/retail: 29%
Unrelated profession: 22%

Image of guy begging with sign courtesy of Bigstock.

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Via: Vinography: A Wine Blog

Winery of the Year 2013

This is always one of the most difficult things I have to do each year. Sit down and try to figure out who will Snooth’s Winery of the year be?

I’m never going to please everybody, or most  of the people even, but I try and select someone, or some winery that does two things. The first is to produce wines that I really like. Ha! Sorry about that but in this case I am the arbiter of good taste, or what passes for it.

So far our wineries of the year have been:

 

The second, and equally important aspect of the selection process is simple. These great wines have to be offered to consumers at fair and affordable prices. Our Winery of the Year 2013 satisfies both requirements completely. In fact pricing is in part why I’m choosing this year’s winery of the year. You see the prices for these wines are going up. Not quickly, but steadily, and while still in the realm of affordability for many people I think the top wines, which are already pushing $60 a bottle, will soon be even more.

 

Not too long ago these wines were under $50 a bottle, and along with several other great producers, Produttori del Barbaresco and Simon Bize spring to mind, a string of ridiculous values has garnered the attention of those in the know. Great values become simply great wines, so with today’s choice of Winery of the Year I hope to turn you on to a great value that for me is one of the world’s truly iconic wines. 

 

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In truth I’ve wanted to name Commendatore G.B. Burlotto as winery of the year since I first thought of the idea. If I had we’d be talking about lower prices for sure, but even with the delay Burlotto still produces terrific wines are fabulous prices. Consider the line-up. 

 

Barolo from the famed Cannubi vineyard, and it’s the lowest priced Cannubi on the market.

Barolo Monvigliero, an iconic wine and one of the greatest expressions of terroir and classic winemaking left in the marketplace.

Barolo Aclivi, a precocious Barolo that represents the essense of Verduno. 

The full portfolio of Piedmontese varieties, all expertly produced and offered for about $20 a bottle or less.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course this is not Value Winery of the Year we’re talking about, it’s plain old Winery of the Year and for that you have to produce wines of quality and distinction. Fabio Alessandria does a brilliant job on that front, using a mix of techniques and resources to produce what he feels are the finest expressions his vineyards are capable of.

 

What does that mean exactly? In the case of Barolo we have a variety of styles. From the classic foot treading and 60 day maceration practiced with Monvigliero, and Neirane, when it was made, to a more updated 15 day fermentation, always in upright wood fermenters, for the other wines.  The choice of wood, larger formats of either 3 to 5 hectoliters or 35 hectoliters that are mostly now in French oak, also shows a willingness to adopt what is best for the wines. There is no dogma here.

 

What’s best for the wines in the case of Burlotto can be summed up in few words. These are wines that are bright, supple, aromatic and precise. Fabio isn’t reaching, or pushing the wines to do something they would rather not do. More than a winemaker he is a tour guide, showing off his cellar to the product of each vintage. It is naive to suggest that some wines do not show winemaking, they all show winemaking but in the case of Burlotto the signs are relatively subtle.

 

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Nowhere is this more obvious than with the for lack of a better term, ‘lesser’ varieties. Dolcetto and Barbera in particular have been victims of excessive winemaking in Piedmont for years, and are only now emerging from under these veneers. Truth be told even here chez Burlotto there is a modern wine, the Barbera Aves. Fabio plays a bit with lower yields, riper fruit, and perhaps unexpectedly small format French oak with his Aves; a wine I have admired but have never preferred to Burlotto’s classic Barbera d’Alba.

 

It is the expressions of these classic varieties, vesty and pure, perfumed and showing such beautiful typicity that really seals the deal for me. It should not be heard to make great $60 wine, even in Barolo, but for $20 you’d have a hard time finding better Freisa or Dolcetto, Barbera or best of all Verduno’s own Pelaverga. These are all delcious wines, but the Pelaverga is so emblematic of Verduno, and like the region with a long history but mostly ignored by enthusiasts and writers alike until very recently, that I can’t help but have a soft spot for it. In truth though the Burlotto Barbera and Nebbiolo d’Alba are the wines I most often reach for at this price point.

 

Like Verduno, G.B. Burlotto has a long history stretching back to the middle of the 18th century and in some circles is most famous to this day for being the sole provider of wine to the 1899 -1900 Polar Expedition by the Duke of Abruzzo.  Looking back Burlotto has always been a bit of a pioneer, and a renegade, being among the first to bottle their wines, from vineyards in Cannubi and Monvigliero. The also were among the first to recognize the quality of their own Pelaverga decades before it became a popular if obscure variety. 

 

This sort of risk taking and leadership continues to this day at Burlotto, even if it is hidden under a gauze of calculation and caution. Burlotto remains a family run business of modest size producing about 60,000 bottles a year. It’s tough to make sudden or significant changes when your family relies on such a small production, and this has worked to Burlotto’s advantage. Whatever changes have been implemented over the years have been gradual and well thought out, not in pursuit of fad or points for that matter, though it is inarguable that today’s Burlotto wines have never been better.

 

In some ways it is easy to overlook these wines. they are elegant and built on balance and freshness, never power. They may not win competitions or large scaled comparative tastings, because that’s not their milieu. These are wines to be enjoyed with both food and friends, or simply with either. They satisfy on a very basic and visceral level. They are pretty in a world where wines are expected to be more. But they don’t need to be, and these wines are proof. 

 

For my money these are some of the finest, most consistent, most captivating, and frankly delicious wines available today at the respective price points. When I drink these wines they make me happy and not just in an intellectual or hedonistic way. No. They hit me emotionally and put a smile on my face. What more could one ask for?

 

Yes there are wines that may be better, but they are most certainly more expensive and in truth few are better than a well aged bottle of Burlotto’s Monvigliero. Time may prove me right, and if it does we can look on these days fondly and reminisce about the days when Burlotto Monvigliero was such a great value. Will you be joining me?

 

One final note here before I leave with some tasting notes. I wrote about about a well aged bottle of Monvigliero. It should be mentioned that one of the great things about Burlotto’s wines is that you don’t have to wait forever for them to come around. They might go through a grumpy phase, as most great wines are prone to do, some 5 to 10 years after the vintage but in general Burlotto’s wines,and here I’m am speaking in particular about their Barolos,  being so elegant and well balanced, tend to shut down later and open sooner than many similar wines. It’s an added advantage that makes enjoying Burlotto’s wines that much easier to enjoy!

 

 

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Barolo Cannubi 

 

2009 – All limestone, tobacco, and incense on the nose with late arriving dried herb stems, and rose petals. Relatively open on entry then this tightens up considerably though it does reveal nice kernel of fruit, elegant, smoky, taut fruit with hints of watermelon freshness supported by super tannins, love the cut of these tannins. The finish shows great persistence and clarity to the fruit, but the tannins continue to be impressive, so ripe, well integrated, and yet firm. 93pts 

 

2008 – This exhibits a classic nose featuring cherries in alcohol with hints of cocoa, spices, rose petal, balsamic, ash and roasted herb notes. On entry, this is tense, nervy and taut with fine red cherry fruit, plenty of ripe tannins and good supporting acids lending great freshness. This is classic, lean Cannubi with crisp tannins on the finish, low fruit, savory nuances, and lovely chalky/soil-driven length. 92pts 

 

2007  Nebbiolo Prima – Burlotto Vigneto Cannubi Barolo – sweet red fruit, nettles, sandy soil, bright and aromatic, more green with air, cool up front, nice weight, good tension in the mouth, nice herbal tinged red berry fruit, a bit savory, nice savory tannins, nice finish, good lift, nice herb and mineral tones a touch of heat 8/10 

 

2006  – Wonderfully aromatic already with precise raspberry fruit framed by hints of campfire, saffron, baked clay and a slight underbrush tone. In the mouth this is crystal clear with a lean yet very precise feel to the candied red raspberry flavors. The structure is very finely balanced and the tannins are perfectly ripe leading to a fine, long taut finish. An excellent wine in the making 91-94pts 

 

2005 – Deep and dark on the nose with fruit, heather, dried grass and hints of grilled meats, cinnamon and green anise seed adding great detail. In the mouth this is very classic Barolo with clear acids and assertive if polished tannins supporting the slightly leathery, bright amarena cherry tinged fruit. Fine balance and great length but this is really a bit tight at this point 91pts

 

2004 – 100% Lampia clone from vines averaging 20 years old. 15 days maceration in tini, temperature controlled if needed, Aged 10 months in small, 3-5 HL, French oak barrels where Malolactic fermentation takes place. Aged an additional 20 months in botte. Slightly liquory fruit at first with a touch of fresh sawdust on the nose then turning very sweetly fruited and expressive with handfuls of freshly picked aromatic herbs, sandy soil tones, bright spicy red fruits, ever so jammy currants, sharp notes of dry, white soil, beautifully perfumed. A powerful yet elegant expression in the mouth with great structural balance that support a rich core of red fruits with a subtle medicinal edge. Very aromatic in the mouth with almost spearminty sweet herbs, dark spice notes and an edge of fennel. This offers up an impressive core of sweet-tart wild cherry fruit that shines brightly on the finish accentuated by subtle fennel seed and bitter cherry pit tones. Classic Barolo in need of 5-7 years in the cellar 93pts. 

 

1996  – Simply wonderful aromatics that ranged from lilacs, to seared cherry, hot rocks, to roses, orange peel, earth and spice all around a core of sweet red fruit. In the mouth there is superb balance with succulent mineral notes and clear, if fairly rich and quite tannic, faceted fruit. The fruit grows in the glass revealing exceptional intensity and purity with significant upside potential. 93pts 

 

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Barolo Monvigliero 

 

2009 – This has a hugely aromatic nose that explodes with savory, tapenade, thyme, light geranium notes, followed by a spicy truffle precursor and rich, dark fruit. This is fairly ripe, packed with soft abundant tannins and integrated acidity, this will be ready quite early. The fruit here freshens up on the backend showing a little ripe strawberry, strawberry seeds, building with great intensity and clarity on the backend and showing great brilliance on the finish. 93pts

 

2008 – Very herbal on the nose with tapenade aromas that are more thyme-driven than olive at the moment, all accented by a dusting of cinnamon and really lovely strawberry fruit. This could be called lush if it wasn’t so nervy, with juicy acidity and super fine tannins supporting wonderfully crisp strawberry fruit. Topped with a hint of truffle, some spice notes and a touch of tropical fruit. It’s wonderfully transparent in the mouth, firming up with a bit of air and offering great lift on the back end and the long, pure finish. 93pts 

 

2006 – The nose here is very complex with rich notes of olive tapenade, thyme, dried meat, ginseng, dried herbs, rosehips, rose petals and a touch of leather. On entry this is light and bright with huge inner-mouth perfumes. It’s very finely balanced with an elegant, suave feeling. The fruit has an edge of liquory richness and hints of medicinal herbs adding complexity but the rush of wild berry fruit on the mid-palate extends right through the long finish with big acids helping to extend the fruity finish. Really gorgeous wine. 93pts

 

2005 – Leathery and slightly bretty on the nose with a deep gamy element that contrasts against the sweet dark fruits of the nose Notes of olive brine, mortadella and carnations emerge from the glass with air. Soft and suave in the mouth with a rich core of spiced fruit supported by great acids that keep this taut and tense. Great camphor tinged cherry fruit in the mouth conceals a bed of ripe tannins. A very well balanced 2005. 93pts 

 

2004 – Olives and spicy green middle eastern tones immediately greated the nose with this wine and were joined by notes of hung game, moist tobacco and sweet, candied root, angelica root tones after several hours of air. This was initially quite bitter and beef bloody with lots of candied raspberry fruit tones that gradually added some vegetal, cucumber like notes and a very big flourish of fresh green herbs that set up the palate for this green/red fruit tension that was very intriguing and lead to a crisp clean finish with some subtle pignoli nut bitterness. After several hours air the big herbal element remained as did a very quinine like medicinal tone that framed the red fruits. The mouthfeel remained both zesty and polished and I appreciated the great complexity and sneaky finish but this is a very distinctive Barolo, something I applaud. 91pts 

 

2000 – Crazy! What a fine nose with confiture fruits, huge herbs, sweet and almost candied/dried fruit tone dates and dried cherry but still moist and fresh. Slight tobacco, more black olive brine than olives, leather, sweet licorice, intense and complex and gaining a purity to the block olive notes with each passing moment. A bit loose at first, perhaps too hot for Monvigliero though this remains elegant and caressing with fine fruit and a pitched mineral tone that makes it seem fresher than perhaps it is. The backdrop to the fruit is very licorice and very tannic but the tannins are gentle, quite earthy and slightly leathery. The fruit has a prune plum quality that is very ripe but still fresh. This is deceptively easy to drink with a lovely cocoa note on the really fresh finish My only complaint is that this could use a bit more acid but none-the-less this is an unsung hero of Barolo. This should be an icon! It is such an individual expression of Barolo yet is so completely and thoroughly Barolo. Every Barolo love needs to try these wines. Superb! 95pts 

 

1995 – Intense notes of incense and candlewax immediately emerge from the glass joined by dark, smoky, slightly jammy fruits with complicating notes of fish sauce, underbrush, tapenade, thyme and olive oil. In the mouth he tannins are delicate and light if abundant giving the wine a velvety texture. The rosehip and wild cherry fruit is framed by vitamin like mineral notes and a wonderful inner mouth perfume of roses and tapenade. Still youthful this is emerging from its shell and has a very promising future. 93pts. 

 

1989 – This smelled quite bloody at first, down right like an abattoir but with incredibly sweet spearmint, sassafras and sautéed mushroom notes that were deeply embedded in the gamy, slightly roasted, meat core of dark berry and dried fig fruit. On the palate this had a brilliant texture with bright acids balanced by a blanket of superb, soft tannins. The dark fruit presented itself with great precision possessing a lovely sweetness matched by the complex, layered notes of dried herbs, earth, tobacco and salted capers that drove through the long, powerful finish. 2009-2030 93pts 

 

Barolo Acclivi

 

2009 – Lightly green on the nose in a very fresh way, with hints of lightly toasty leather, dried orange rind and fresh camphor laced wild rainier cherry fruit. The fruit is quite full here but it is super fresh with the sweetness of the vintage and yet it retains a fabulous clarity. Elegant and refined, this is a gorgeous 09 with exceptional inner mouth perfumes, fine ripe yet firm tannins, and a long finish rich with a hint of orange rind accenting long delicate strawberry fruit, with just a bit of heat on the finish. 92pts 

 

2008 – This is really soil-driven on the nose and turns quite sweet, with finessed raspberry fruit accented by hints of rose petal, a little quinine, red apple skin and bit of herb. In the mouth, this is round and very lively on the mid-palate. Vertical acids, ripe tannins and a savory core of woodsy herb notes support woodsy red currant fruit. This then turns darker and more licorice-toned on the rich finish. Good power, lovely ripeness to the tannins, almost ready today. 91pts 

 

2007 – Burlotto Accivi Veduno – nettle and herbs, a bit of stone, some ripe amarena cherry fruit, shy nose, a bit flat up front but then nicely focused in the mouth with ripe amarena cherry fruit on the palate, a bit simple, nice ripe tannins, nice fruit on the moderate finish, a bit short, 7/10

 

2006 – A lovely nose of floral tones with savory hints of oregano, olive oil and sundried tomato. In the mouth his is sapid and round with soft tannins and sweet fruit on the palate with hints of fresh green herbs adding detail. The wine is still very tight but well balanced with strawberry fruits and fine, well proportioned structure. 88-90pts 

 

2005 – Balsamic on the nose with complex aromas of church candle, bay leaf, chalk and wild berry fruits. Nervous with fine-grained tannins in the mouth that frame slightly spice sweet red fruit notes. The feel is wonderfully fresh in the mouth and strikingly transparent though one could wish for a bit more richness to the fruit. 89pts 

 

2004 – A blend of their three finest vineyards, Monvigliero, Neirane, and Rocche dell’Olmo. 15 days maceration in tini, temperature controlled if needed, Malolactic fermentation in Stainless followed by about 30 months in botti. Intense ripe fruits greet the nose, red fruits with a slightly musky tone, pomegranate, menthol and a subtle dried fruit tone all add to the mix. Really develops fine complexity with emerging tones of dried strawberry, dried mushroom, a bit of calcium and fine women’s perfume. A bit weighty, like plush hanging drapes with folds and pleats to the dark core of fruit. The fine acidity keeps things bright in the mouth and the balanced tannins support the layered palate which features notes of earth, faded Middle Eastern spices, licorice and floral tones. Finishes very tight with taut red fruits leading to an earthy finale with notes of walnut and dried mushroom adding interest. 92pts 

 

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Barolo Classico

 

2009 – Tight and lightly herbal on the spicy, rather focused nose that gives up a little white soil and green herb note over fine tight red fruit aromas. This is immediately transparent and crisp, in the mouth with lovely tannins, integrated acidity supporting fresh red fruits in a rather vibrant and clear style for the vintage. It is is still on the fruity side but with firm acids and a touch of heat on the finish. A very nice expression of the vintage. 89pts 

 

2008 – Lovely herbal and balsamic top notes over wild raspberry fruit with hints of dusty earth and rose stem on this perfumed nose. This is wonderfully bright and tense on entry with juicy fruit that shows lovely purity and finesse. Transparent up front with a nice load of vivid raspberry fruit. Amarena cherry on the back end is accented by a hint of white earth ash and nice savory tannins, which underpin it all. A great introduction to Barolo. 90pts 

 

2006 – Liquory on the nose with a medicinal, herbal edge to the smoky, wild red berry fruit and gentle soil tones. Smells feminine and slightly perfumy. On entry this is quite soft and elegant with a lush feel and low-ish acidity. The fruit is a nice combination of stemmy herbal tones and cherry pit fruit. The backend shows building power and a more velvety feel but the finish is short, if full of fruity sweetness.  A bit unevolved but with a nice balanced and perfumed character. 91pts

 

2004 – Opens with a whiff of tar, which is followed by very pure fruit notes and a strong balsam edge that highlights the herbal qualities of the nose. Fine open rose notes emerge but then the aromatics draw back a bit. Fresh and crisp with great tannins framing the medium weight here, really fine balance, precise. Dark fruits but still feeling very fresh, perhaps a bit closed but very pure expression of Nebbiolo with red fruits, rose petals, green herb and slight menthol tones that lead to a cleansing precise finish. The wine is consistent from nose to finish but feels a bit folded in on itself. Seemingly a textbook base Barolo but in need of3- 5 years in the cellar. 90pts 

 

Barolo Neirane

 

1996 – The bright aromatic of this wine are full of heather, licorice, smoke, olive brine and menthol notes but the fruit is still a bit reticent. In the mouth one finds superbly fine-grained tannins that are powerful but balanced by notes of white clay, leather and incipient dark raspberry fruits. This offers beautiful precision but remains a bit tight and coy on the palate. I like where this is going though and the aromatics hint that we are almost there.. 92pts

 

1995 – This opens like a remarkable example of Cote Rotie with notes of olives, flowers, red raspberry fruit and an undertone of dried strawberry. With air notes of tar and tobacco emerge and add complexity. In the mouth this is somewhat small scaled but with great focus in a smooth, medium full bodies style with supple wild cherry fruit and light spice tones on the mid-palate that yield to notes of citron and strawberry on the finish. A very fine bottle at maturity with a balanced yet fleshy feel 91pts

 

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Langhe Nebbiolo 

 

2011 – Very aromatic with intense aromas of cherries in alcohol, pickled watermelon, mint and fresh rye bread with a gently smoky top note. Light jammy raspberry fruit greets the palate with a bit of a soft, broad feel. This lacks the nervous energy of previous vintages but delivers rich, soft fresh and deep fruit, with nice earthy top notes all supported by very Nebbiolo tannins. The finish is long and lovely with fine persistence to the fruit. A happy, round and supple Nebbiolo. 89pts 

 

2010  – Low aromas of wild cherry liqueur with a nice woodsy edge to the aromas, that are earthy, twiggy, and herbal. Round and fleshy in the mouth with easy fruit, nice framing tannins that a bit tough on the back end though this good length and nice acid it does come off as a bit plodding and missing fruit on the backend. Time might help. 86pts

 

2008 – Very herbal on the nose with great fresh tones of fresh strawberry tops and gravelly mineral tones. Astringent and bracing smelling, like an aftershave should. Smooth on entry with absolutely velvety tannins on the palate that gives this medium-bodied wine real mouth presence. This offers up orange rind, rosehip, and dusty cherry fruit on the mid-palate with brilliant precision. It is wonderfully pure and complete and yet all about the fruit draped transparently over clear soil tones. The finish is a touch short but otherwise this is great stuff. 90pts

 

2007 – Fresh and herbal on the nose with a sandy underlay and suggestions of briary wood and wildflowers adding detail. Huge acidity in the mouth is followed by a wave of fruit and perfectly ripe tannins. The midpalate is laced with minerality that adds cut and definition to the wild cherry and watermelon fruit that gains some pomegranate depth on the back end. This finishes strongly with excellent length and an almost salty, mineral finale. 91pts 

 

2006 – Completely unusual nose. Reticent at first with a sandy, dried herbal edge to the roasted deep cherry in alcohol/cherry confiture tone, with background notes of candy apples. Gains a lot of complexity with wooly and meaty flesh notes with a roast edge to it, yet remaining fresh and clean. This borders on profound with time. Rigid and erect on entry yet deceptively deep with full flavors of light red berries and airy spice tones that recall caraway seeds and dried herbs de Provence. Wonderfully precise structure with stemmy tannins that keep this fresh and crisp, very well integrated acidity. Great structure lacks some complexity at first but this gains over the course of the evening offering up real Nebbiolo fruit tones in a flannelly soft and rich package. Has the elegance of a grand dame. Barbaresco weigh 92pts 

 

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Barbera d’Alba Aves 

 

2011 – Aged in a 50hl barrrel Woodsy aromas greet the nose where there is a nice base spice tone, a touch of oyster shells, very pretty slow to emerge violet notes and very clear berry fruit. This is rich, broad and broad in the mouth with a nice tang to the acids. the palate shows great cut to the lovely black fruit, clear though broad shouldered in the mouth with some wood tannins on the finish, this is elegant and powerful and probably will be better in a year or two. 89pts 

 

2010 – Darker and more mineral and balsamic than the Barbera d’Alba with a little rosehip, accenting a core of black fruit. Bright on entry, and even a bit weighty with  obvious richness to the plummy fruit. The mid-palate has a bit of a matte feel though it turns fresher on the backend and through the raspberry finish which has a lingering edge of sweetness. This is both richer and less elegant than the base bottling. 88pts

 

2008 – Lacks a bit of freshness on the nose, with a bit of wood spice and raw wood tones with a really intense rose top note. Lush and sexy on the palate with a velvety feel to the dense but not heavy mid-palate that is full of rich, dark flavors. The fruit is a bit jammy, dark cherry tones, and framed with spicy wood tones. The wood contributes some tannin on the finish as well. While this is in many ways the equal of the classico Barbera, I prefer that wine. 88pts

 

2006 – This comes from a select parcel of the vineyard that offers a better exposition yielding grapes that are a bit riper. Yields are kept a bit lower here as well to add to the richness of the wine. 10 day maceration in tini, temperature controlled if needed, Malolactic fermentation in Stainless followed by about 10 months in wood, half in barrique and half in 30 HL botti. The percentage of new wood varies as barriques are replaced as needed. A bit smoky on the nose but packed with dark fruit. There is an obvious touch of chocolaty oak with some toasted cookie/toasted coconut notes as well so some of the wood was recently replaced. This is well balanced and certainly has more impact across the midpalate than the regular Barbera but there are super acids here and they keep everything lively. The pure, deep, spicy fruit is enlivened by the acidity and while there is a bit of cheek-grabbing tannin here it is unobtrusive. Not the most complex wine but the wood spice tones do add a bit to the ever so jammy black berry fruits. Eminently likeable and while the tannin does creep in around the edges the acid offer great pushback and leads to a touch of mulberry on the finish. 92pts 

 

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Barbera d’Alba 

 

2011 – Almost 6 grams of acidity Lovely floral spice pops on the precise nose which shows off precise aromas of fresh fruit that are quite high tned. Perhaps a touch soft on the palate this exhibits lovely clarity with black fruit that is just a touch roasted. The acidity appears later on the palate lending an elegance here and cleansing the palate. This turns into a bit of fruit bomb, not in a pejorative way but this is bursting with juicy black berry, fruit and black plum flavors that linger on the long black fruited finish. 88pts 

 

2010 – This is really aromatic with sour plum, charcoal earth, dusty earth, a little cedar, wild raspberry, licorice, and forest floor aromas. Totally impressive on the nose and brilliantly open and clear on the palate with a lovely fruit that shows a roundness to the edges but no loss of tension. The acidity is bright yet integrated, offering good cut on the palate and lifting the perfumed fruit through the tangy, gently floral finish. A classic Barbera. 92pts 

 

2007 – Huge, soaring aromatics are captured here with note of cold earth, pollen, wild animale notes and slightly spicy notes of black-fruited hard candy. In the mouth this is perfectly proportioned with deep, lively fruit a hint of round tannin and snappy acids. The finish is dominated by the acids but with excellent length and reverb. Super Barbera. 90pts 

 

2006 – 10 day maceration in tini, temperature controlled if needed, Malolactic fermentation in Stainless followed by about 10 months in botte. This offers intense and focused notes of black fruit and moist earth that are so typical of Barbera. With time notes of rose petals, sweet spices, and a touch of forest fruits add to the perfume. Elegant with lovely balance in the mouth one finds very lovely balance here with fine acid serving like the frame of a kite supporting a sheen of transparent fruit, no need for tannin here. This is easy to like with pure black raspberry fruit and subtle notes of black spices and rosemary adding interest. The finish is classic Barbera, bracing with cleansing acids offering great precision to the spread of black cherry fruit. Maybe a bit simple but broad and with good length. 90pts 

 

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Dolcetto d’Alba $20  

 

2009 – This is a bit reticent on the nose with a dusty mineral character and gentle herbal suggestions floating above the taut blackberry fruit. In the mouth this has laser focus for Dolcetto, with the acidity corralling the fruit and driving the black, lightly spicy fruit into a long finish that shows a gentle herbal top note on the finale. 90pts

 

2006 – 1 week maceration in tini, temperature controlled to retain freshness and aromatics, Malolactic fermentation in Stainless followed by ageing, half in stainless and half in botte for several months depending on the vintage. Lovely floral tones soar from the glass, big violets then some dark coal, mineral notes, black earth, black cherry builds into lovely rich deep, dark fruits with background notes of sweet, tropical flowers but they never obscure the depth of fruit. At first this appears lean and elegant in the mouth but quickly adds impressive density with strong structural elements that make this both chewy and bright. This retain great freshness to the palate that offers up great inner mouth perfume of cocoa, sweet spices, floral and red berry notes but is a bit blocky at this point. It finishes with impressive follow through and good purity so it looks like it may need some time to relax a bit in the mouth. 89pts 

 

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Langhe Freisa 

 

2011 – Tons of raspberry fruit greets the nose here along with intense aromas of slightly smoky, meaty herb notes, almost like rose stems along with hints of chocolate and orange oil. There’s a nice richness on entry here with early powdery tannins adding a bit of texture to the palate which shows fine clarity with black raspberry flavors and a touch of bramble that lingers on the long, orange and raspberry toned finish. 90pts 

 

2010 – Dark, liquory fruit on the nose is full of forest floor and lightly pepper middle eastern spice and sandalwood aromas. On entry this is bright with  lovely fruit up front, tightening on the midpalate with some fine grained tannins and scrub brush resiny notes along the long, if slightly chewy finish. This is king of foxy and musky in the mouth with hints of  grapevine smoke accenting rather dark berry fruit. This succulent and complex and  more texturally challenging version of Freisa than I’ve had in a long. 91pts

 

2008 – The spicy nose is a sea of tea, tobacco, sweet wood, pink peppercorn, briary sandlewood and dark berry fruit. Dense on the palate with drying tannin and a chewy, woodsy feel. The tannins are really spiky in the mouth and punctuate the clay soil toned mid-palate which is full of spicy, burnt raisin, and slightly cocoa tones. The finish shows some nutty tannin before turning clean and bracing with notes of wild raspberry and sweet plum jam. A bit rustic in some ways but rather compelling. 89pts

 

2007 – Lightly smoky on the nose with an exotic boysenberry coulis note that is countered by dark aromatic spice roots and a hint of leafy geranium. The mouthfeel is both transparent and mouthcoating with a hint of bitterness on the mid-palate. The tannins are pretty big but ripe enough that they already begin to melt away on the finish, which is tarry and spiced with floral tones that compliment the dark plummy red fruits. This is better on the nose at this point. 86pts 

 

2006 – 1 week maceration in tini, very variable elevage due to vintage character and quantities produced. Averages 3500 btls so usually fit only in smaller vessels. Vines were planted in 200, 2004 was the first vintage. Offers a bit of a winemaking challenge as this tends very heavily towards reduction. A bit reticent on the nose but with time opens to reveal earthy, red berry fruit with a slight confiture edge, a bit flat but does add a touch of spice with time. The palate is full of contrasts, the texture is light and bright with clean acids and a touch of stiff tannin yet the flavors are dark and tarry. This shows a touch of bitterness and leans towards the savory end of the spectrum with notes of blue slate, bresaola, and old wood. Finishes with solid intensity of flavor and reveals a core of Ranier cherry fruit but ends on a very brisk note with austere tannins on the finale accentuating the slight bitterness of the wine. This would be better served with food. 86pts 

 

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Verduno Pelaverga 

 

2011 – Gently spicy on the nose and a little compact with aromas of white pepper, thyme, and a mineral sweetness,  Rather ripe on entry with dusty tannins. In the mouth this is austere and almost severe with a short, peppery, rhone like finish. There’s a lovely core of red currant fruit and hints of strawberry waiting to come out and play, and this has fantastic tension in the mouth on the finish, with air bringing  out a small rose petal, chamomile, and incense notes. Tight today. 89pts

 

2010 – Very pretty on the nose with fragrant aromas of small red berry fruit, raspberry, slightly sweet candied tones, a little balsamic oregano, green peppercorn, then some spice behind a little cherry coke note. Really impressively aromatic today. the mouth is full of bright acids, fresh and nervous, with, small if edgy tannins. This was recently bottled and has a bit of a compressed feel though ti shows nice length and an attractive rusty mineral and spice note accenting the raspberry fruit on the moderately long finish. 89pts

 

2009 – Huge herb stem and peppercorn nose with a touch of ginger and brambly rosebush tones on the nose. In the mouth this is rich and bright with plenty of crisp tannins over wild strawberry fruit with mineral water and woodsy herb tones in the background.  It really shows a nice peppery top note to the red fruit and remains beautifully vibrant through the long finish, which is packed with oily herb tones and wild cherry fruit. 91pts

 

2008 – Aromatics are intense and deep with penetrating, minerally focus that carries over to the palate. Cranberry fruit on the palate is paired with the intense minerality giving this a downright steely quality but it does lack some of the intensity of the 2007. 86pts

 

2007 – 1 week maceration in tini, temperature controlled to retain freshness and aromatics, Malolactic fermentation in Stainless followed by three months in botte. Intensely herbal on the nose at first this slowly segues into layers of mineral, thyme, cherry juice and spice that lean heavily towards white pepper. A lighter weight wine yet with some tough tannins keeping things wrapped a bit tightly, good balance with soft acidity. The flavors build in intensity with notes of spicy wild red berries and light gamey meat notes playing off each other. Notes of mahogany and herb add some interest on the back end and lead to a long, fresh, slightly peppery finish that is cleansing and ends on a brisk note of raspberry fruit. 90pts 

Original: Snooth – Articles

The Doctor is In: A Visit with the Mosel’s Dr. Loosen

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Winding your way along the German Moselstrasse, tucked in between the curves of the river that the highway mirrors, and the impossibly steep vineyards, the picturesque villages whose names adorn some of the world’s greatest Rieslings give the impression of timelessness. When the stately homes whose family names also appear on these labels cozy up to 12th Century churches and cobbled courtyards, you can be forgiven for imagining unbroken lines of winemaking patriarchy stretching back for a millennium, as each father handed the cellar keys to his son through the ages.

Certainly, most of the region’s famous estates easily fit this description, with names that fill the history books, and forbears whose names were often preceded by honorifics such as Baron and Count.

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By comparison, the beginnings of the estate known as Dr. Loosen seems a bit more like a scene from Wayne’s World, especially when you meet the bespectacled, long curly-haired and voluble Doctor himself.

Ernst Loosen was chosen by his father and grandfather to take over the family estate from among his siblings and other members of his generation more by process of elimination than by destiny. Coming back from college at word of his father’s illness in 1988, he dragged his best friend Bernie Schug along to help him figure out what to do with his father’s “little hobby” that grossed $250,000 a year and carried $500,000 worth of debt.

Loosen described the scene a few years later, after he and Schug had managed to figure out where the estate’s 19 acres of vineyards were, and how to work all the ancient equipment in the cellar.

“My dad said, ‘here’s the winery, and here’s my debt, too'” laughs Loosen. “I studied archeology. Bernie specialized in tropical pig disease. We were old hippies. We got this other guy from Tonga to come with us, and he was great at logistics. He was in college and said that his whole program was paid by the German state to help develop Tonga. He had a great relationship with the King of Tonga and used to organize booze for the king. We all lived together here in the house, and it was a great time. We continued college here. The door was always open. Sometimes I came home at 4 AM and tried to find a bed in this 18-room house without any luck. Friends told friends told friends. There was always a bed, always booze, always a party. Frankly I didn’t know who these people were. It carried on that way until I met my wife in 1992. It became a little too much and my wife said ‘OK you have four weeks to get everyone out.'”

“Then only Bernie was left,” continues Loosen, “and my wife said ‘What is up with this guy?’ and I said ‘He’s the winemaker!’ and she said ‘OK, I don’t care.’ Bernie and me, we’re the old donkeys here.”

Loosen has not lost his reputation for partying, even after forty years. Indeed, several winemakers I know in the U.S. cheerfully warned me off going drinking with Loosen, which they said was a sketchy proposition at best.

But if Loosen has kept that reputation, it certainly has not been at the expense of what is now considered to be one of the best and most successful modern German wine estates, a reputation earned, as it were, with an equal amount of perseverance.

“In the beginning,” remembers Loosen, “with me and Bernie, it was easy. We didn’t have any money. We had an idea, but neither of us had been trained. My father was ill, and he was clueless anyway. He always had hired a winemaker.”

“We developed it fast, we developed it enthusiastic. We were very passionate, very convinced. I wouldn’t say we did everything right. In fact, it’s better if you get the chance to do things wrong. You have to have your own experience. We learned more every year. I think 1993 was our first break-even year. And things have looked up ever since.”

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The day his father died, Loosen was handed the keys to not one, but two wine estates. One that had been run by his father and grandfather, dedicated to making primarily dry wines, the other that had been owned by his mother’s family (who is descended from the famous Prüm family) and focused on sweeter, or as the Germans like to say, “fruity” wines.

Neither estate had been particularly well cared for, a fact that turned out to be distinctly to Loosen’s advantage.

“I’m rather in the fortunate position that neither my father or grandfather ran the wineries as their primary business” says Loosen. “They were tightfisted and never spent a penny on the winery. As you know, the most expensive thing you can spend money on is planting new vineyards. My father and grandfather never planted, and my great-grandfather last planted in 1938. When I took over the winery in ’88 the youngest vines were fifty years old.”

The oldest vines at the time were headed towards 100 years old, and were growing on their original rootstocks, buried deep into the fractured slate that helps them all but defy gravity on the precipitous walls of the Mosel valley.

If the vines were two generations old, then so were most of the implements in the cellar, leaving Loosen and Schug to figure out how to make wine the same way they were growing it: the old fashioned way.

The pair approached winemaking with the same fervor they pursued the hedonistic lifestyle they had begun in college.

“Bernie and me, we’d come out of the bar at 3 AM and go right into the cellar to stop a fermentation,” remembers Loosen fondly.

Loosen’s nostalgia for his beginnings could easily mislead the casual listener into imagining two buddies bumbling their way through the cellar. While that might have characterized their very first harvest, Loosen got serious quite quickly. The student of Roman ruins found something to love in the slippery slate and his rows of vines and there was no turning back.

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Loosen switched his studies to wine, in the classroom and out. He studied enology at Geisenheim University, and spent several years traveling all over the world tasting wine, and apprenticing with other winemakers in between his own harvests. In the course of that exploration, Loosen realized the treasure that fate had preserved for him in his family’s old vines, and set out to build a winery that would showcase these gems to the fullest.

Today, Loosen and Schug have expanded the family’s acreage from 19 acres to almost 100, making Dr. Loosen one of the largest producers in the Mosel. Loosen makes three blended wines in larger quantities, a non-estate Riesling called “Dr. L,” and two estate Rieslings, one made from grapes grown entirely on blue slate, and another from vines in red slate.

But the core of the Loosen portfolio are the six old-vine sites from which Loosen makes both dry and sweet wines that are benchmark examples of the form. These sites represent some of the Mosel’s most hallowed terroir: Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Ürziger Würzgarten, Erdener Prälat, Erdener Treppchen, Bernkasteler Lay, and Graacher Himmelreich all qualify as the German equivalent of Grand Cru vineyards, or Erste Lage.

With the exception of the Dr. L wine, all the wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts, and aged on their lees in massive old oak barrels for at least 9 months before being racked. The singe vineyard wines are aged in old oak for between 12 (for sweet) and up to 24 months (for dry) on the lees before filtration and bottling.

Loosen, who has no children, has been working on a succession plan for the estate.

“My oldest nephew Daniel FINALLY decided to come into the business,” says Loosen. “In Germany, they like to stay in college until they’re thirty. I don’t blame him. I did the same thing. His first degree is Engineering and Business, but he’s doing his masters now in Philosophy. He’s going to finish next year, and he can talk, this guy. And drinks like a cow.”

“He’s a bright kid. Not a big spender or someone looking for prestige, and he loves wine. So that means the estate will be in good hands — someone who honors it and gets it. Of course, he has to go through training. He has to start from the bottom, and work for maybe ten years. Two years at Dönnhof. A year in Oregon. Then he has to work with the distribution company for a year or two. Then two years in China, learning Chinese. Then he has to live there for two years and work the market. Then he has to come back here, work in the bookkeeping department and only then does he get to do winemaking.”

Loosen grins, and pours another glass full of afternoon sunlight. It’s clear he’s got no plans to retire anytime soon.

“We’re in sixty countries now,” he muses. “Bernie likes to ask me ‘where are we going next, sweetie?'”

TASTING NOTES:

2012 Dr. Loosen “Red Slate – Dry – Tank Sample” Riesling, Mosel, Germany
Light yellow gold in the glass, this tank sample smells of linalool and pears. In the mouth, the tank sample has a delicate acidity that enlivens flavors of pear and ripe golden apple. The acidity is slightly soft, and white flowers linger in the finish. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15. click to buy.

2012 Dr. Loosen “Blue Slate – Dry” Riesling, Mosel, Germany
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet chalkboard, unripe pear, and hints of citrus zest. In the mouth, bright, zingy acidity brings green apple and green plum flavors a bit of bounce on the palate. Nice sour-ish SweetTart flavor on the finish. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9 . Cost: $16. click to buy.

2011 Dr. Loosen “Wehlener Sonnenuher Grosses Gewächs Trocken” Riesling, Mosel, Germany
Pale yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of wonderful white flowers and hints of spicy pear. In the mouth gorgeous white flowers and crushed stones are riddled with gorgeous filigreed acidity, poised and delicate. Made from 80-year-old, ungrafted vines. 12.5% alcohol. 300 cases made. Score: between 9 and 9.5 . Cost: $35. click to buy.

2011 Dr. Loosen “Ürziger Würtzgarten Trocken Alte Reben Grosses Gewächs” Riesling, Mosel, Germany
Palest yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of pears poached in cream with a deep wet chalkboard character. In the mouth pear and a hint of spice mix with exotic citrus and hints of exotic wood. Fantastically bright acidity makes the wine zingy and wonderfully long in the finish. 12.5% alcohol. 300 cases produced. Score: between 9 and dr_loosen-4.jpg9.5. Cost: $27. click to buy.

2011 Dr. Loosen “Erdener Prälat Trocken Alte Reben Grosses Grewachs” Riesling, Mosel, Germany
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of crushed stones and white flowers with a deep, deep stony nature. In the mouth the wine tastes of liquefied rock scented with pear, white flowers and rainwater. Gorgeous, delicate acidity, perfect balance. The finish is long and clean with a chalky note to it. Stunning. Made from 120-year-old ungrafted vines in red slate. Lightly sweet.12.5% alcohol. Tasted out of 375ml. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $34. click to buy.

2012 Dr. Loosen “Bernkasteler Lay” Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers and a touch of honey and linalool. In the mouth, gorgeously bright mandarin and pear flavors burst on the palate and linger with a stony note in the finish. Lightly sweet. 8% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5 . Cost: $23. click to buy.

2012 Dr. Loosen “Erdener Treppchen” Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers and ripe pears. In the mouth, beautiful pear and white floral flavors sit poised on the palate while mandarin acidity races electrically around the edges of the mouth, making the saliva glands go into overdrive across the long finish. Juicy, bright and delicious. Lightly sweet. 8.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5 . Cost: $25. click to buy.

2012 Dr. Loosen “Wehlener Sonnenuher” Riesling Spätlese, Mosel, Germany
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of peaches, pears, and honeysuckle. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful weightlessness to it as flavors of honeysuckle, mandarin orange and exotic citrus zest pop and crackle with electric acidity. Poised, balanced and gorgeously long in the mouth. Stunning. Moderately sweet. 7.5% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.

2012 Dr. Loosen “Ürziger Würtzgarten” Riesling Spätlese, Mosel, Germany
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet stone and rainwater mixed with white dr_loosen-5.jpgflowers and citrus. In the mouth bright and juicy acidity makes flavors of mandarin orange, white flowers and hints of ripe apples dance beautifully on the palate. Gorgeous, balanced, and racy, with a very long finish. Moderately sweet. 8.5% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $27. click to buy.

2012 Dr. Loosen “Erdener Treppchen – Tank Sample” Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany
Light yellow-gold in the glass, this tank sample smells of honeysuckle and fresh rainwater. In the mouth gorgeous honey and candied pink grapefruit flavors have fantastic brightness thanks to brilliant acidity. The finish sails on for minutes leaving a pastry cream and white flower essence in the mouth. Stunning. Moderately sweet. 7.5% alcohol. Score: between 9.5 and 10. Cost: $50. click to buy.

2012 Dr. Loosen “Ürziger Würtzgarten – Tank Sample” Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of bright mandarin oranges and there is a hint of peachiness to the wine as with the Spätlese. Gorgeously balanced and light on its feet this wine is all but effortless to drink, sliding across the palate on a golden beam of white flowers and honeyed goodness with a zingy citrus kick that lasts through a long finish. Stunning. Moderately sweet. 7.5% alcohol. Score: between 9.5 and 10. Cost: $50. click to buy.

2012 Dr. Loosen “Erdener Prälat Goldkapsel – Tank Sample” Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of apricots, pink grapefruit and honey. In the mouth gorgeous grapefruit and tropical fruit flavors dance on the palate. Peaches, pineapple, and papaya linger in the finish over stony minerality. Effortless and utterly drinkable. Moderately sweet. 100 cases made. The goldkapsel designation refers to a wine made entirely of botrytized fruit. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $60. click to buy.

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The wines above would have been an extraordinary tasting on their own, but the good Doctor had one more trick up his sleeve. Someone, it seems, had expressed an interest in Trockenbeerenauslese wines, those made solely from the shriveled raisins left by grapes that have been completely consumed by botrytis. In fact, a fellow journalist traveling with me was busy writing a story on TBAs, and when our hosts, Wines of Germany, made the appointment, they mentioned this fact to Loosen.

“So one of you is writing about TBAs, yes?” said Loosen. When my colleague nodded, Loosen stood up and said “Hold on a moment.”

He returned holding five small bottles.

“We make a TBA from the Erdener Prälat vineyard but we’ve never sold it,” he said, gently placing the five bottles on the table. “In fact, we’ve never opened a bottle,” he laughed.

“I had this billionaire who wanted to buy some, and I told him he’d have to wait ten years. Then when ten years was up, he came back to me and I said, ‘I changed my mind, it’s twenty years now'” chortled Loosen as he pulled the cork. “Last year he asked again, and I told him thirty years!”

“The wines have never even been labeled, you see,” said Loosen, pointing out the smudged laser-printed labels on the bottles. “We make about 100 bottles of TBA from Prälat each year,” said Loosen, “one third in full bottles, two thirds in half bottles.”

The few other TBA wines that Loosen produces are usually sold through special distribution arrangements or auctions, and are snapped up by collectors the moment they hit the market, even at their usual astronomical prices.

Without further ado, here are the world’s first tasting notes on the Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat Trockenbeerenauslese Rieslings:

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2003 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat TBA Riesling, Mosel, Germany
Light amber in the glass, this wine smells of smoky honey, apricots, and candied orange peel. In the mouth the wine is voluminous and silky on the tongue. Incredible apricot, peach pie, dried mango, and candied orange peel flavors swirl for minutes on the palate, brightened by intense acidity. Stunning. Very sweet. 5.5% alcohol. Score: between 9.5 and 10.

2005 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat TBA Riesling, Mosel, Germany
Light orangey-amber in color, this wine smells of dried orange peel and a hint of sawdust from exotic woods. In the mouth this wine is extraordinary. Perfectly balanced between sweetness and acidity. Gorgeous dried mango, candied orange peel, honey, and exotic floral tones soar through a minutes-long finish. Very sweet. 5.5% alcohol. Score: between 9.5 and 10.

2006 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat TBA Riesling, Mosel, Germany
Dark gold in the glass, this wine smells of dried orange peel, dried mango, and apricots. In the mouth the wine is exceedingly silky and thick in the mouth. Like liquid sunshine, the wine lingers on the palate with stunning flavors of candied orange peel, dried apricot, dried pineapple, honey and a hint of nasturtium. Phenomenal balance, incredible acidity, utterly delicious. Very sweet. 6% alcohol. Score: between 9.5 and 10.

2009 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat TBA Riesling, Mosel, Germany
Medium to dark gold in the glass, this wine smells of bright fresh apricots and honey, with dried apricots and candied orange peel backing them up. In the mouth the wine is heavy and thick with candied papaya, candied mango, and candied orange peel all swirling in a bright storm of juicy acidity. A stunning minerality still manages to rumble beneath the technicolor fruit. Phenomenal. Very sweet. 6% alcohol. Score: Score: between 9.5 and 10.

2011 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat TBA – Cask Sample Riesling, Mosel, Germany
A cloudy orange-amber in the glass, this wine smells of candied orange peel, dried mango, and fresh apricots drizzled in honey. In the mouth the wine is exceedingly thick and viscous, with flavors of honey and exotic woods mixed with dried mango and candied orange peel. The finish has a baked apple quality to it with burnt orange peel taking over where the stone fruit leaves off. Excellent acidity, and a faint powdery texture thanks to not having been filtered yet. Fermented for almost 2 years before finishing at about 6% alcohol. Score: around 9.5.

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Via: Vinography: A Wine Blog

Great Pumpkins

Pumpkin, so emblematic of the end of the summer and entry into Autumn. It’s among the last of the great harvests, just in time for Halloween and right through Thanksgiving pumpkins grace out stoops and our tables, but what can you really do with them?

That’s a valid question because we tend to think of pumpkins as ornaments at worst, and pie fling that comes from a can at best. Of course they are winter squash like Butternut and Kabocha, thought as not as prized. Pumpkin tends to be less intensely flavored, often less sweet, and less firm and holding more water than the best winter squash but that shouldn’t prevent you from trying your hand at some of these great recipes that take advantage of this super abundant and well priced American icon.

Source: Snooth – Articles

Icon Wines of Napa: A Tasting

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What would you do if someone offered to hold a tasting of all the best Cabernets in Napa according to you? You’d give them a list, and then do a little dance, and then you’d show up early with bells on.

That’s not entirely how it went down, but a few weeks ago I was indeed invited to help put on a tasting of many of Napa’s top wines for a group of visiting writers, sommeliers, and wine buyers from all over the world.

Organized by the Wine Institute, this tasting and the dinner that followed were the penultimate event in a five-day, no-holds-barred tour of California wine that these visitors were experiencing.

The Institute asked myself and several of the other wine writers who they had employed as hosts and moderators during the week to submit a list of our “most favorite” Napa Cabernets. According to the Institute, they selected the most commonly chosen bottlings, and put together a tasting, hosted by Master Sommeliers Geoff Kruth and Matt Stamp. Writers Patrick Comiskey, Karen MacNeil, and myself were also present to offer color commentary on the wines and the wineries.

We ended up with quite a lineup, and certainly many of the very best Cabernets that Napa had to offer. And apparently enough people mentioned Ridge Monte Bello, so it ended up in there too.

There were a few missing from my ultimate Cabernet list (Dominus, Kapscandy, and Araujo, most notably, along with Futo, Heitz Martha’s Vineyard, and a few other candidates) but no one, myself included, was particularly complaining about having to spend an evening tasting these wines.

As if the superstar lineup of wines wasn’t enough, we then proceeded to go to dinner, where another batch of wines was on offer, including a number of older vintages from the same producers, some of which were stunning.

So for your educational, and perhaps envy-inducing pleasure, here are my tasting notes from the whole “ordeal.”

PART I
Formal guided tasting.

2009 Silver Oak Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of whiskey barrel and coconut over the top of cherry. In the mouth bright cherry fruit has great acidity, but very drying tannins. Lean and narrow, with sweet fruit and too much wood. 13.9% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $ 95. click to buy.

2009 Corison “Kronos Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of violets and cedar and forest floor. In the mouth the wine is bright and juicy with cherry and licorice on top of a beautiful deep earthy mineral core. Fabulous acidity and length, not to mention a gorgeous texture. 13.1% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $130. click to buy.

2010 Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa
Dark garnet in the the glass, this wine smells of violets, cassis, and tobacco. In the mouth gorgeous, lush black cherry and cassis flavors have supple but very muscular tannins and excellent acidity. Still quite young and somewhat tight, but lip staining and rich. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $140. click to buy.

2009 BOND “Pluribus” Proprietary Red Wine, Spring Mountain District, Napa
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich cassis and black cherry. In the mouth, deep wet dirt and cassis flavors mix with black cherry and earth. Massive tannins and bright acidity don’t distract from the richness of this wine. Fabulous.14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $340. click to buy.

2009 Stags Leap Wine Cellars “SLV” Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of toasted oak, graphite and deep rich dark cherry fruit. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful supple smoothness with gorgeous, muscular tannins, great acidity, and impeccable balance. The wine walks a fine line between elegance and rusticity but with serious class. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $90. click to buy.

2009 Shafer Vineyards “Hillside Select” Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa
Inky purple in the glass, this wine smells of bright cassis and black cherry. In the mouth the wine has a deep cherry and chocolate richness, with thick fleecy tannins and a hint of sweetness to it. Rich, thick, and somewhat blocky today, it is not showing as well as it has on previous tastings. 15.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $240. click to buy.

2009 Harlan Estate Proprietary Red Wine, Oakville, Napa
Dark garnet in the get glass, this wine smells of raisins, chocolate, and roasted figs. In the mouth the wine is huge and rich with some alcoholic heat that carries massively rich flavors of cherry and cassis across the palate. Too big..14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $675. click to buy.

2009 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of crushed nuts, cocoa powder, and cherries with a hint of pyrazine green bell pepper. In the mouth the wine offers bright flavors of cherry, tobacco, green bell pepper, and earth. It is rich and remarkably generous for its age, as Dunn wines generally need more time to open up. This is stunning. 13.9% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $70. click to buy.

2010 Quintessa Proprietary Red Wine, Rutherford, Napa
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry, cassis, and wet earth. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful cola quality, cherry and tobacco. A wonderful balance between leanness and richness with good acidity and well integrated oak. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $130. click to buy.

2010 Continuum Proprietary Red Wine, Napa Valley
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich cherry fruit and hints of tobacco and licorice. In the mouth, licorice, cherry, and tobacco flavors have a wonderful rich creamy quality and bright fruit Character. Wonderfully supple tannins, good acidity and excellent balance. A smooth operator. 14.7% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $160. click to buy.

2007 Scarecrow Proprietary Red Wine, Rutherford, Napa
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich cherry and cassis. In the mouth the wine offers juicy cherry, fleecy tannins, rich cassis bright acidity over a deep resonant well of minerality and firmer structure. There’s a remarkable mouthwatering juiciness to this wine that is impossible not to love. Yum! 14.6% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $750. click to buy.

2009 Diamond Creek “Red Rock Terrace” Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District, Napa
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of beautifully floral violets and cherry. In the mouth the wine is equally, and stunningly floral with flavors of candied violets and cherry That leap around the mouth on the back of excellent acidity. Tough leathery tannins add a rusticity to the wine that is quite charming, and suggest there’s a long way for this one to go. 14.1% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $160. click to buy.

2010 Spring Mountain “Elivette” Bordeaux Blend, Spring Mountain District, Napa
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of graphite and deep cherry fruit. In the mouth the wine offers bright cherry and tobacco flavors enlivened with a juicy acidity. There’s also a stony earthiness underneath the fruit and cocoa powder in the finish which is uncharacteristically showing a little alcoholic heat, despite the wine’s quite moderate 13.8% alcohol. Maybe a slightly off bottle. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $120. click to buy.

2009 Ridge Vineyards “Monte Bello” Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of the coconut of American oak quite distinctively as a layer over rich cherry and tobacco scents. In the mouth bright cherry and tobacco flavors mix with crushed green herbs a hint of forest floor. Powdery tannins and mellow and quite restrained. While this wine is still showing a little too much of its wood in the nose, it doesn’t taste of oak, and with time it will blossom into something even greater than its current stupendous state. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $160. click to buy.

2009 Dalla Valle “Maya” Proprietary Red Wine, Oakville
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells quite distinctly of cherry cola. In the mouth rich cola, cassis and cherry flavors mix with notes of chocolate, all wrapped in sweet tannins. Rich velvety, and whole the wine offers a kick of earthiness in the finish. 14.6% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $295. click to buy.

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PART II
Wines with dinner.

2003 Diamond Creek “Volcanic Hill” Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District, Napa
Dark garnet in the get glass, showing none of its age in the color, this wine smells of cedar, violets, licorice, pencil lead, and well worn leather. In the mouth, the wine is stunningly silky with suede-like tannins that lovingly wrap around gorgeous red berry fruit. Notes of crushed roasted nuts, lavender, and leather swirl across the palate. Fabulous acidity and length. Remarkable and very youthful, yet. 14.1% alcohol. 500 cases produced. Score: between 9.5 and 10. Cost: $175. click to buy.

2003 Corison “Kronos Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cassis and cherry, with hints of violets and tobacco. In the mouth the wine is beautifully lithe, with gorgeous acidity and great length. Flavors of cherry, cassis, floral notes, and just a hint of the cedar, mix with the leather and red apple skin of age. Suede-like. Very youthful. 13.8% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $109. click to buy.

1993 Spring Mountain “Mirabelle Alba Chevalier” Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District, Napa
Medium ruby in the glass. This wine smells of pine duff, cedar and cherries. In the mouth, flavors of cherry, cedar, leather are wrapped in elvety tannins with a wonderful minty chocolate and cherry quality that lingers in the finish. Score: between 9 and 9.5.

2006 BOND “Quella” Proprietary Red Wine, Rutherford, Napa
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright cherry fruit and a hint of new oak. In hype mouth the oak is not yet fully integrated, but it doesn’t obscure the gorgeous bright cherry fruit brought to life with fantastic acidity. Long lean supple tannins, great finish. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $300. click to buy.

2005 Harlan Estate Proprietary Red Wine, Oakville, Napa
Inky, cloudy garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry, tobacco, and dark roasted espresso. In the mouth, rich cherry, chocolate, and cigar box spices are enclosed in a fleece blanket of powdery tannins that coat the mouth. Lush and rich and quite pleasurable, though perhaps leaning towards the ripe end of the spectrum. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $500. click to buy.

2002 Ridge Vineyards “Lytton Springs” Zinfandel Blend, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of sweet blackberry, cherry and cedar. In the mouth, the wine is velvety and lush with cherry, raspberry, cedar, and hints of lavender. Gorgeous, bright, long, seamless, lush, drinkable, Yum!!! A blend of 75% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah, and 5% Carignan. 14.4% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $42. click to buy.

2010 Scarecrow “M. Etain” Proprietary Red Wine, Rutherford, Napa
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells incredibly lush with bright mulberry, cherry, and cassis fruit. A truly gorgeous nose that makes the mouth water. In the mouth the wine is stunningly bright and juicy with flavors of cherry, cassis, and cola. Velvety tannins, sleek and muscular wrap around this core of fantastic fruit electrified by wonderful acidity. Yowza! And this is the “second” wine of the estate. 14.8% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $250. click to buy.

2010 Stags Leap Wine Cellars “Fay Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of bright cassis and black cherry fruit. In the mouth, gorgeous and bright mulberry cherry, and cassis are dusted with hint of new oak. But despite the overt wood, this wine has beautiful acidity and great length. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $80. click to buy.

2011 Orin Swift “The Prisoner” Red Blend, Napa Valley
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich cassis and mulberry fruit. In the mouth the wine is distinctly sweet, with lush cherry, sweet blackberry and mulberry. Faint tannins dust the edge of the mouth and good acidity keeps the wine from being too cloying. Definitely on the sweet side, but so well blended that it’s still quite pleasurable, with very little trace of its massive 15.2% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $36. click to buy.

2010 Beringer “Private Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich cherry and mulberry fruit with bright cola notes. In the mouth, cherry, mulberry and cola flavors are bright and juicy with great length. Elegant and refined, but missing a little something in the middle of the wine at the moment. 14.6% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $140. click to buy.

2003 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of whiskey barrel and coconut sunscreen. In the mouth velvety tannins enclose cherry and coconut flavors. Good acidity but the wood obscures the fruit, which is drying out at this point. Poured from magnum. 13.9% alcohol. Score: between 7.5 and 8.

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Origin: Vinography: A Wine Blog

Luxury PVA Winners

Today we’re wrapping up our presentation of Snooth’s Top 100 wines of the Year.

Unlike other Top 100 lists, you the consumer have played a critical role in determining our list. 80 of the top 100 wines were chosen by you as your favorites of 2013, the remainder being selected by yours truly!

I also want to take this opportunity to thank our nominating committee who helped put together a terrific list of well over 1000 wines for us all to choose from.

Thank you!

Eric Guido – The V.I.P. Table

Jon Thorsen – The Reverse Wine Snob

Julia Crowley – WineJulia

Bob Fyke – Brunello Bob

Mary Cressler – Vindulge

In case you missed it our other winners can be found here:

2013 Top Value Wines – 22 Wines

2013 Top Premium Wines – 29 Wines

2013 Top Super-Premium Wines – 28 wines

Original: Snooth – Articles

Argentine Malbec

In yesterday’s Argentine Wine 101 article I gave a brief rundown as to the wheres, whys and whos of Argentine malbec, but offered only a little in the way of whats. Today I can fix that with a modest report on some Malbec that is in the marketplace today. In many ways this selection is the same sort of selection that has been available for several years now, though I do see some changes in the making.

The first and most obvious change is in the pricing of these wines. While the price increases have been relatively slow it seems as though several of these wines have jumped up about 30% or more at retail over the past five years or so. What was a $10 wine has become a $13 to $15 wine. Whether they still represent value or not depends on the preferences of the consumer and what other wines out there are offering at these price points, but it is safe to say that these wines are not exactly the values they once were.

The wines themselves have also changed a little, or should I say more correctly that the range of wines represented by Argentine Malbec has changed. It has broadened, which is a relief. For several years, particularly towards the end of the last decade, Argentine Malbec seemed to be following the trajectory of Australian Shiraz. the wines were getting bigger, and sweeter, and were garnering more critic’s points, but they weren’t really getting better or more interesting for that matter. In fact they were getting less interesting and less food friendly to boot. Chasing points is a recipe for disaster, especially chasing points at a modest price level.

 

It’s one thing if you don’t have a lot of wine to sell, and the wine that you do sell is too expensive to drink except by people who have to lord the unfathomable quality of their unobtainable wines over you; lest they look like dopes for ponying up the dough for them. With everyday wines that ordinary people drink you run the danger of losing what makes your wine distinctive if you simply follow the herd. What will be a success in the first years will quickly turn into the great equalizer and leave people searching for the least expensive 90pt Malbec after all the wines taste essentially the same.

 

It seems that this is no longer the case, with two distinct camps of Malbec emerging in the marketplace. One the one hand you have the powerful and plump Malbec, easy going, fruity and ripe, it finds many admirers. On the other hand there are wines like the Cuarto Dominio Chento, Las Moras Malbec Reserve, and the Graffigna Malbec Centenario Reserve  all of which seem to trade in some of the power you can get with Malbec for more complexity and a little bit of stemmy herbaceousness which makes these wines superb partners for food. 

 

The strategy, as far as there is one, of producing both styles of wines under the banner Argentine Malbec is of course a brilliant one. The masses are happy to have their wines, affordable and intense, while those looking for more complexity and less sheer mass can also turn to Argentina for an enjoyable Malbec. There is also the added bonus of keeping the critics at bay, because we do love to go around building regions up and then bashing them for delivering what their public wants and has grown accustomed to. 

 

The bottom line here, beyond ascribing motive to where there is probably none, is that Argentina is a diverse country. Even with Malbec, and frankly with the monetary gain to be had with one particular model of Malbec, kudos to them for producing a range of style. We, the collective wine drinking community, are ready to move to the second phase of exploration with Malbec. Where we move beyond broad conceptions of style and typicity and begin to better understand the nuance and complexity that springs from the varied landscape that gives birth to Argentina’s undisputed flagship wine: Malbec. 

 

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This is quite attractive on the nose with a floral base note framing the cinnamon dusted plum and black cherry notes on the nose, and picking up a bit of dried herb with air. Round and plump up front, the rich plum and blackberrry fruit is nicely supported by integrated acids and rounded tannins. There’s some obvious wood on the mid-palate acting as a bit of a spice accent to the fruit, and the wood tannin shows through on the moderately long finish but the fruit here is quite bright, fresh and persistent showing off flashes of herbs and a licorice note. This has fine fruit and complexity and a lovely, inviting texture supple, smooth and yet innately firm. 92pts

 

 

Intensely aromatic on the nose with imposing aromas of  dried herbs and dried blood orange peel along with inky notes and hints of diesel and stone all layered over a base of black currant and blackberry fruit with bitter chocolate shavings over them. Another wine that is so smooth, and polished in this case but not without life in the mouth. There’s a nice edge to the acidity and it helps to highlight the mineral streak that runs through this herb infused and slightly amaro tinged wine. The fruit is dark, mulberry and dates along with a rich, slightly chewy core of black currants all coming together with nuanced tobacco and oak notes on the backend and then turning chocolaty on the long and attractively wild raspberry tinged finish. A bit of a powerhouse but very well made. 91pts

 

 

Very aromatic with lots of sweet toasty oak and super-ripe fruit lending a really sweet impression to the nose here, filled as it is with candied blackberry, orange peel, and chocolate covered black cherry studded with clove, vanilla and allspice. Seamless in the mouth this is rich and powerful but not as large scaled as one might expect from the nose. It’s a little chewy and while it is frankly oaky the oaky is well done and balanced by the intense black cherry skin, mineral and mulberry flavors that gain a hint of green anise seed and herb on the backend.  The acid and minerality op on the finish, which is cut short but it’s relatively heavy load of tannin. This is intense and a powerhouse that sacrifices nuance for intensity.  91pts

 

 

Dry, earthy and herbal on the nose which is quite pronounced and distinctive. There’s a lot of spice action emerging with air and a fine core of candied black fruits. Matte on entry, and low in the mouth, this shows a tight core of fresh black raspberry and blackcurrant fruit framed with nuanced green herbal tones and topped with well judged oak. The green herbal aspects add attractive freshness in the mouth and highlight the acids which add some lift to the backend before reintegrating with the tart berry fruit on the modest finish which ends with a bit of sweet oak spice. For a big wine this shows some restraint and has some old world character with a fine mineral note coming out with air. 91pts

 

 

70% Malbec, 30% Bonarda

 

Fairly vanilla oaky on the nose but also nicely rosemary stemmy with intriguing herb notes helping to add complexity to the plummy and candied black cherry fruits of the nose. This is very broad on entry, and shows attractive transparency on the palate with modest tannins and well integrated acidity supporting fresh plummy fruit. There’s a nuance of chocolaty oak here but it’s really very well integrated, and while the tannins build on the palate they remain within the rich if simple fruit. The finish is a bit subtle and shows good persistence to the dried herb, mineral and older wood flavors that help to carry a kernel of red cherry fruit right through to the finale. Rather juicy and perhaps a touch simple but also quite satisfying on a hedonistic level without crossing the fruit bomb line. 90pts

 

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Dark and rich with nutty oak on the nose along with aromas of caramel, melted licorice, dried thyme, vanilla, and asphalt framing a core of dark fruit. Smooth and plush on entry, this has nice acidity adding some liveliness on the palate and plenty of soft tannins helping to support the black cherry, mulberry and vanilla flavors that lead to a nice, bright, and fairly fruity finish which shows some toasty wood spice along with a nice herbal streak, hint of minerality and tart red fruit character. This is a little raw today, not quite rustic but lacks the integration of the best wines, though it delivers a lot. 89pts

 

 

Candied raspberry, tobacco, and dried herbs greet the nose nicely accented with floral, fennel, and gently meaty aromas. Nice and bright on entry and texturally a great success with it’s fresh integrated acids supporting red cherry and raspberry fruit and fine, ripe tannins forming a real foundation but this does lack some oomph in the mouth. the flavors are there, and attractive at that. The red and black fruits, spice and herb notes and lovely savory complexity that yields to a touch of minerality on the rather long finish but this will prove underwhelming to many. I find this to be delicious and eminently drinkable with a freshness and complexity that is rare at this price point. 88pts

 

 

Stemmy , smoky and filled with underbrush nuances on the nose, there’s also plenty of dark berry fruit here along with a hint of mushroom. Smooth, focused and rather restrained in the mouth, this has a fine tight core of polished tannins and integrated acidity supporting tobacco and tar framed flavors of dark plum and cherry fruit. Some wood spice shows up on the backend, though in a supporting role with the fruit remaining vivid and fresh through the moderately long finish. Showing a bit more elegance than you average malbec. 88pts

 

 

Tight on the nose, a little smoky and herbal with and smelling subtly of dried grasses over the base of sour plum and vanilla. Rich and yet restrained in the mouth with good acids and fine grained but present tannins supporting a nice blend of earthy red fruit and fresh plums. There’s a touch of autumnal rusticity here adding nice nuance on the palate, though the backend is more oak and fresh fruit driven with hints of caramel emerging on the backend but yielding to earthy, dry flavors on the moderately long and austere finish with it’s streaks of sour cherry and tart plum flavors. This is quite attractive, a value malbec for grown ups. 87pts

 

 

Smoy and lightly caramelly on the nose with lots of darkly jammy blackberry fruit and hints of both dates and pomegranate with a dusting of white pepper as a top note. Smooth as wool on entry, a little fuzzy but ultimately plush and friendly with a big core of dark, almost coffee accented blackberry fruit which shows hints of fresh bay leaf and a little citrus peel nuance. S little chewy in the mouth, and a little sticky on the finish, this highlights the bold fruit that made malbec such a household name, layers of blackberry, black currant, and black cherry fruit all gently spiced with oak and supported by enough acid to become obvious on the finish and help keep everything fresh. This is a bit of a big, chunky wine and while it may be inelegant it will be very popular. 87pts 

 

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Cocoa, spice and leather greet the nose along with rather intense wild berry and chocolate covered pomegranate seed notes. This shows a hint of sweetness on entry and delivers a nice blend of vivid plum and sweet raspberry flavors wrapped in well judged milk chocolaty oak. Very easy drinking with well balanced structural elements, this is round and friendly with nice nuanced blackberry and herb notes adding a touch of detail on the backend and through the modest, fruity, and slightly tacky finish which reveals some tart apple flavors. 86pts

 

 

Fresh, smoky and somewhat soil driven on the nose with aromas of rocky earthy  layered under the core of tart red and herbal fruit with hints of thyme, sage, and bay leaf. Smooth and very easy drinking in style, this enters the mouth with nice wild raspberry fruit and shows a hint of  wood spice adding some depth on the palate and a bit of a tannin base, though this is a bit more driven by acid in the mouth. The fruit remains very red currant, tart and fresh with a hint of vanilla and those lovely spice notes driving the modest finish. Fresh and very approachable with some carob and cherry flavors emerging on the finish. 86pts

 

 

Rather fruity on the nose with a tarry top note to the candied aromas of dates and prunes that are wrapped up in vanilla and bay leaves. Round, plum and fruity in the mouth this has very soft tannins and integrated acidity helping to support a mouth filling exuberance of fruit. The initial attack drops off on the backend which remains very fruity but turns a bit more perfumed with jammy blackberry and mulberry aromas and a bit of black cherry pie.  The wine drops off quickly on the finish leaving one with some soft wood tannins and lingering wood spice. Very popularly styled. 84pts

 

 

Fresh and jammy at the same time with lots of bright wild cherry fruit tones, some intermediate green anise seed notes, and finally plenty of creamy vanilla oak aromas in the glass. In the mouth this is a simple ball of relatively fresh red fruit. the tannins are almost nonexistent, and the acidity enough to keep this feeling fresh in the mouth. There’s some nice nuance in the mouth with hints of fresh and dried herbs and some woody top notes, but this is basically just a bowl of fresh red fruits with little finish save a bit of woody astringency. 83pts

 

 

Sweet and smoky on the nose with a gentle green herbal base note under attractive black currant and red cherry fruit all topped with rather spicy oak. Light and fresh, if relatively heavily laden with oak on entry. This is a bit rough around the edges with plenty of wood tannin throwing the wine a bit out of balance. the fruit is fresh with hints of licorice and and spice, but the berry tones are layered under the wood. The finish is short and a bit dry with wood tannin. Smells better than it tastes with tart red fruit appearing on the raw finish. 80pts

By: Snooth – Articles

The Wines of Argentina 101

Argentina has emerged as one of wine’s great success stories of the 21st century, which might be disappointing to the Argentines who have afterall been at this for several hundred years. None the less, today the selection of Argentine wines has never been greater, and to a large extent Argentina can thank mother nature for that. Blessed with a continental climate, limited rainfall and abundant groundwater, a variety of vineyard locations that include some spectacular high altitude plots, and young soils poor in organic material, Argentina has all the pieces to produce world class wines.

We all know that Argentine Malbec is one of the most popular wines at the local retailers, but have you ever wondered why?  Or what else is worth exploring from Argentina? Spend a few minutes with us today as we go over some Argentine basics in Argentina 101, the first in a series of intructive articles that will take a look at the wheres, whys, hows and whos of the world’s greatest wine regions!

Original: Snooth – Articles

Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 13, 2013

box_o_wine.jpgHello from the bottom of the samples pile. This is the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles of sample wine that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This week’s dive into the samples pile yielded a wide range of wines. On the one hand we’ve got, frankly, a wine that was lost in the cellar for a while, and after a couple of years has yielded remarkable things. At six years of age, this Glen Carlou from South Africa may well be the best $15 bottle of Chardonnay I’ve ever had. A remarkable accident, indeed.

On the other end of the spectrum we’ve got the 2010 Phelps Insignia, which is all that you’d expect a luxury cuvee to be, albeit with a bit more oak than I’d like. But having tasting any number of past vintages, I can safely say the wine will swallow the wood over time, even though at the moment it’s quite the reverse.

Star Lane Vineyard / Dierberg makes a decent showing this month, with well made wines that show good restraint, while Adelsheim from Oregon’s Willamette Valley offers some excellent wines, in particular, a beautiful Pinot Blanc.

All these and more below. Enjoy!

2011 Adelsheim “Bryan Creek Vineyard” Pinot Blanc, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Palest greenish gold, nearly colorless in the glass, this wine smells of ripe pears and white flowers. In the mouth, juicy bright pear and lemon rind flavors have a zippy, sour quality that makes the mouth water. Lean and mineral, this is quite refreshing. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.

2012 Star Lane Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Happy Canyon, Santa Barbara, California
Palest green-gold in the glass, this wine smells of green apples and white flowers. In the mouth green apple, cut grass, and gooseberry flavors have a night bright crispness to them thanks to excellent acidity. Juicy and refreshing.14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $15. click to buy.

2007 Glen Carlou Chardonnay, Paarl, South Africa
Medium gold in the glass, this wine smells of toasted hazelnuts and lemon curd. In the mouth, toasted oak, hazelnuts, lemon curd, and bright lemon peel swirl in a bright, deliciously aged package. This wine has held up remarkably well, and is drinking phelps_insignia_2010.jpgbeautifully. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15. click to buy.

2011 Adelsheim “Temperance Hill” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of wonderfully dark raspberry fruit and forest floor. In the mouth, dusty, even smoky, forest floor flavors surround dark raspberry and redcurrant fruit flavors. Faint tannins dust the edges of the mouth, and bright acidity puckers the cheeks bringing a light citrusy quality to the finish that is otherwise shot through with wet earth. Lovely. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $68. click to buy.

2011 Ridge Vineyards “Ponzo” Zinfandel, Sonoma County, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry and black pepper. In the mouth, bright black cherry and blackberry flavors have a wonderful lightness to them, and excellent acidity backs them up as faint tannins scratch along the edges of the mouth. Juicy and delicious. 97% Zinfandel, 3% Petite Sirah. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $28. click to buy.

2010 Joseph Phelps Vineyards “Insignia” Bordeaux Blend, Napa Valley, California
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright black cherry and cassis with a hint of espresso. In the mouth, bright and slightly sweet flavors of cherry, chocolate, espresso and new oak mix with notes of cedar and sandalwood. Powdery, mouth-coating tannins wrap around the core of the wine. Luscious fruit, but just a little too much new oak for my tastes at the moment. After 10 years, this wine will be brilliant, but for now, it’s too oaky. A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petite Verdot, 4% Merlot, and 2% Malbec. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $180. click to buy.

2010 Dierberg Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of struck match, white pepper, and cassis. In the mouth, bright blackberry and cassis flavors have a wonderful juiciness to them thanks to excellent acidity. Leathery tannins grasp the edges of the mouth, while smokier notes of black pepper linger in the finish. 14.7% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $34. click to buy.

2009 HH Cellars “Reserve – Robert Andrews – Coyote Canyon Vineyard” Mourvedre, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of bright black cherry, cassis, and notes of vanilla. In the mouth, sweeter flavors of black cherry and black plum are distinctly flavored with oak, whose drying tannins leave the mouth somewhat parched. Excellent acidity and juicy fruit, however, make this a pleasant enough wine to drink, and the oak doesn’t totally overwhelm the wine. 14.3% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??

2010 Adelsheim “Elizabeth’s Reserve” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cranberry, cherry, and a slightly sharp aroma of ethyl alcohol. In the mouth bright notes of raspberry and cherry have a slightly sharp, bitter edge to them on top of notes of cedar and forest floor. Despite being 13% alcohol, there is a bit of heat to the finish of the wine. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $55. click to buy.

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Via: Vinography: A Wine Blog

Over And Over Again

I Remember The Way That You Move… Desperate Hopeful Regal Proud Pure in your desire to make me understand you….. I do you know, remember the way you move The way your voice spread through me The way you shared your soul Opened up to me and let me see…You Where you came from Where you might go What might await me should I wait… I will you know, I will be here hopelessly waiting Imperfections Unpolished Raw Just You…. Making my mouth water for Until… My fingers here, twisted and aching to tell everyone how perfectly not perfect you are.. My greed whispering in my ear, warning me not to share, to keep you for my very own.. The pulsing of muscles along my sides letting me know how deeply you have slipped beneath my skin The tightness of my ribs assuring me that the heart I once owned now beats at the hand and whim of another Cannot stop thinking of You… Stiff, fingers gripped and white as I think of the way you felt when my lips took you in Mouth wet and slippery, breath escaping my chest in tiny tufts, I was dominant until you arrived How…

Source: Samantha Sans Dosage