5 Unique Wine Grapes to Focus on this Fall

I know the idea of wines being seasonal is kind of misplaced, after all a late afternoon snack of goat cheese calls for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc whether it’s summer or winter, but we do tend to drink certain wines at certain times of the year, in no small part because our diet changes with the seasons. As it gets colder our diet gets richer, heavier, and often more deeply flavored, and our wines have to keep up, but we don’t want to jump headfirst into the wines of winter do we? No, of course not. That would be silly, and what would I write about in 13 weeks time when we are awaiting the arrival of winter? No, today let’s focus on some unusual middleweight wines that are perfect as our warm days transition into cool nights.

 

Origin: Snooth – Articles

Where can you find our wines to join our online wine tasting Oct. 2? – The Plain Dealer – cleveland.com


The Plain Dealer – cleveland.com

Where can you find our wines to join our online wine tasting Oct. 2?
The Plain Dealer – cleveland.com
CLEVELAND, Ohio – The three wines we are sipping at our online wine tasting 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, are available throughout Greater Cleveland. Feel free to buy them and join in the tasting at cleveland.com/wine. Here’s a list of some of the retailers.
Vino with a movie among wine events in the Los Angeles areaLong Beach Press Telegram
THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE: Fall program features fun new events, best of the Bucks Local News
Red blend from Washington highlights Lancaster PLCB free tastingThe Patriot-News – PennLive.com (blog)

all 7 news articles >>

Source: wine tasting – Google News

Get to know our online wine tasting experts Susan DeCarlo, David Sterle – The Plain Dealer – cleveland.com (blog)

Get to know our online wine tasting experts Susan DeCarlo, David Sterle
The Plain Dealer – cleveland.com (blog)
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Our two area vino experts, Susan DeCarlo and David Sterle, who will be joining us at our next online wine tasting, came into the world of wine in different ways. But each shares a passion. That passion will be clear as we field your …
Vino with a movie among wine events in the Los Angeles areaSan Bernardino County Sun
Red blend from Washington highlights Lancaster PLCB free tastingThe Patriot-News – PennLive.com (blog)

all 4 news articles >>

Source: wine tasting – Google News

Discover Syrah in Ballard Canyon

One of Syrah’s problem with consumers has always been the savory nature of the wine that is often coupled with some aggressive tannins. The solution to both issues, if and when they are viewed as problems, has been to get Syrah so ripe that it is all about fruit, has minimal tannins, and at the same time low acidity and no real complexity. As a variety Syrah is tough to farm precisely because of this. However in the right spots and with the right soils, and of course conscientious care in the vineyards it is possible to get Syrah that is full of fruit, with ripe tannins, and intact acidity that still displays the savory and sometimes peppery complexity that the grape is famous for. Ladies and gentlemen, that place is Ballard Canyon. 

Located smack in the center of the Santa Ynez Valley, Ballard canyon is an AVA completely surround by the Santa Ynez AVA. One of the most recent AVAs, having achieved recognition only a year ago in October of 2013, Ballard Canyon is also on the most quickly developed AVAs. While blessed with a long history of farming and ranching, the first vineyards arrived in Ballard Canyon only in 1974 and significant planting in the region really didn’t kick off until the 1990s. And yet here we are, just a few decades later not only celebrating the Ballard Canyon AVA, but recognizing that this is a special place, and in particular a special place for Syrah, though the tiny plantings of Grenache and Nebbiolo have also been pretty impressive.
With only 18 producers and growers and under 600 acres, out of a potential of 7,700 within the AVA under vine, it might seem that we’re making a mountain out of a molehill , but those molehills, the elevation here rises to about 1250, made of Interlacing layers of sand and chert, over a base of chalk and precious limestone have proven to be ideal for Syrah. The orientation of Ballard Canyon, running South to North as it does, not only offers protection from the coastal influence that has made much of the region ideal for Pinot Noir, but also affords hillside vineyard a direct view of the sun throughout the day. 

 

While the sun does bless Ballard Canyon with a more moderate and warmer climate than much of the region, the canyon allows for excellent heat drainage at night ensuring the great diurnal shift that is one of the key’s to the region as a whole’s succes. Sun, well drained soils, cool evening and added warmth late in the season allow growers to not only fully ripen their fruit, which is of course rarely a problem in california, but they can do it while retaining acidity in the fruit, and developing both ripe tannins in the skins and deep rich flavors.

 

Ballard Canyon Syrah is still learning what it wants to be when it grows up. The wines are already undoubtedly quite fine, and among the best of the variety, but the wines up to now have often been made with young vines and clones that may not have been ideally suited to their sites. That’s the phase ballard Canyon already finds itself in. It’s a phase of refinement that will certainly lead to wines with more finesse and complexity in the future, though this remains a region where capturing the power Syrah is capable of might always be the variety’s ultimate expression.

 

neither inexpensive nor easy drinking, these are wines that strive to make a name for themselves, and rightly so. With such limited vineyard acreage, and limited potential for adding more, both due to the small size of the AVA and regions water issues, Ballard Canyon Syrah will, for the foreseeable future, remain a bit of a rarity. A such it make sense for producers to continue to push the boundaries here, and challenge us with their unique expressions of Syrah.  We should challenge them to keep going.

 

A few examples of Ballard Canyon Syrah will better help define the style of the wines, though as I have written I’m not sure that the style has been fully defined. It’s also worth noting that 2012 was a bit of a cooler vintage, and one that might appeal more to my palate than those of people more accustomed to richer vintages. 2010 was even cooler and longer, and again is my kind of vintage, which is reflected in my reviews of the following wines.

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Planted in 1999. 12 acres, planted to Syrah, grenache, and Mourvedre. First harvest of mourvedre this year. Northern end of the appellation at an altitude of 1000 feet. Comes from the ridges in the vineyards with shallowest soils and most limestone influence. All spontaneous fermentation. 

 

Limestone gives great ripeness, helps hold the acidity, breezy late in the afternoon helps keep things cool after days that may reach the high nineties, overnight down to the fifties.

 

Effusive and bright on the floral nose rich with violets and roses and  great detail coming from the gentle wood framing notes, blackberry and plummy fruit, and base of mineral and black pepper notes. Polished in the mouth with some early chocolatey notes but showing superb balance with a lovely early note of herbal spice followed by almost creamy black fruit, black berries and black spice flavors with a nice pop of boysenberry on the backend before this transitions to a spicy, slightly hot finish. Milk chocolate and hints of grilled meats add further complexity on the palate, and this shows great cut with pinpoint tannins driving the long finish.93pts

 

 

Originally planted in 1970s then replanted in 2002 and 2003. Two different clones. Added three more since then,   four different soil types with clones planted on specific soil types,not simply in blocks

 

Sweetly smoky and toasty on the nose with lots of wood spice and plummy fruit. there’s a lovely texture in the mouth, bright and lacking the weight of many of these wines, with tannins that are refined and the acids do a lot of the heavy lifting here. The flavors are pure and delicate with great definition to the cherry skin, plum skin, and smoky notes. Good length and definition on the long finish which shows a bit of heat ntwo. Just a lovely wine in the style, bright juicy fruit, more red toned than many of these wines and showing compelling freshness. 92pts

 

 

11 clones of syrah on the estate, with a big contract operation with lots of custom crushing, also very sandy soils which lend a structure and strength to the wine

 

For this wine seven different clones were fermented individually

 

Fairly oaky on the nose with some older wood notes, baking spice, a bit of stewy plum fruit, licorice and black tea. Smooth and elegant with lovely brightness on the palate and a fine blend of fruit and savory character. With dark wild berry fruits on entry followed by leathery, dried meat notes this is detailed and possesses a sense of delicacy even with its medium plus weight on the palate. A nice hit of cherry fruit on the backplate is lively and bright with tannins that remain firm if well covered by fruit that lingers on the finish with baked fruit notes and wild red cherries.. Elegant with a hint of VA adding detail on the finish. 92pts

 

 

92 acres of Syrah. Clones from Cornas and Cote Rotie are now in the vineyard but these original vines are moderately old vines, old for the region, 18-20 years old.

 

Deeply fruited with hints of vanilla stemmy hints, mineral base notes adding complexity to the core of fresh plummy and red tinged fruit. Velvety and dark on the palate with a bit of bitterness adding a nice accent to the nuanced and deep flavors on the palate which shows soil tones, red earth, a hint of red peppery spice and lovely warm dark berry fruit. Good length, with fine tannins lending nice spice and Lipton tea notes on the finale  A bit gamy on the palate, with lots of detail,  this is texturally very lively with fine minerality on the moderately long finish. 92pts

 

 

From a big vineyard, over 365 acres of which some 18 blocks planted to 8 clones of Syrah, at  a variety of elevations between 700 and 1200 feet, this comes from the entire range of Syrah plots within the vineyard. The very top third up to about 1200 feet has very little topsoil, vines growing instead almost directly in the chalky limestone substrata. As you move lower there is more covering soil. The limestone soil helps the region act more like a colder region. farmed biodynamically since 2006. 

 

High toned and black fruits with a thin cedar veneer and spicy black and green peppercorns layered over blackcurrant fruit with a top note of garrigue like herb  Dry and  bit leathery on entry, this is a large scaled with with integrated acids supporting dark plummy fruit that is very spicy and peppery on the palate, with lots of fine grained tannins and leathery, meaty flavors on the backend through the long, slightly hot and jammy blackberry toned finish. The tannins here offer good contrast to the richness of fruit here and accentuate the chocolatey overtones and hints of black tea on the long, slightly tacky finish. 91pts

 

 

From vineyards located in the southwest corner of the appellation, a little bit colder, own rooted high density 2900 per acre. Low trellised fruit zone close to the ground, big canopy

 

Grilled meats, sour plum and pepper knit together with old wood smokiness emerge on the nose which starts out tight and small, then turns very aromatic with a decidedly savory character of mineral, dried meats and black pepper.  Bright with ripe tannins and fine supporting acids in the mouth,  this shows some warm climate texture, but cool if rich flavors. Powerful and savory with some stemmy tannins on the short finish, this is a tight wine with great raw materials. 90pts

 

 

All sand soils

 

Oily and seedy on the nose with fine briary accent notes. More in the strawberry end of the spectrum with asphalt and poppy seed base notes and hints of gamy hung meat. Big and dense in the mouth, chewy on the palate and packed with dry matter. There’s a nice, mineral note here on the  midpalate with tannins that close down the finish and coat the mouth and acids that manage to keep this fresh though it remains chewy and dense. The nose is more attractive than the palate with its hints of apricot, black spices, and violets. Too much power for me at this point in its evolution, though it is promising in the style. 90pts

Credit: Snooth – Articles

From the Quiet Garden: The Wines of Pichler-Krutzler, Wachau, Austria

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Winemaker Erich Krutzler has carried a lot of baggage in his life. At 46 he is still a relatively young man, but when he smiles from under his mop of slightly graying bangs, you can see the miles he has traveled in the corners of his eyes.

Even leaving aside the difficulty of purchasing vineyards in the very limited market of Austria’s Wachau valley, beginning a wine label wasn’t going to be easy for Krutzler. For starters, there was the long shadow of Blaufränkisch to step away from. Krutzler was partners with Roland Velich when he began the MORIC project, and thanks to the remarkable wines, his name had become synonymous with Blaufränkisch.

“People would say ‘Oh, here comes Mr. Red Wine from Burgenland,'” laughs Krutzler. “And look, he’s with Mrs. Pichler, the posh lady from Wachau.”

Marrying the daughter of FX Pichler, arguably the most famous winemaker in the Wachau, added its own set of expectations and pressures. And that was before he and his wife moved in with her parents.

“It’s not so easy to live in the same house as FX Pichler and do your own thing,” says Krutzler, who has made a conscious effort to forge his own style of wines, even under the watchful eye of his father-in-law. “It’s hard. I’ve known her father 15 years longer than I’ve known my wife.”

The wines of FX Pichler resemble the bold, modern winery a few kilometers down the road, whereas the wines that bear the names of his daughter and her husband more resemble the quiet garden behind their stately salmon-colored home just off the main thoroughfare in the village of Oberloiben.

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“I began making wines with my brother at our family winery, Krutzler in 1986,” explains Krutzler. “This was a good time. We were a small family winery with three brothers. The youngest, he was the one with the education, so it was always clear that I would leave.”

Without the family winery to run, Krutzler cast about for another place to indulge the passion for winemaking that had been cultivated since childhood. With his good friend Uwe Schiefer, he talked about maybe moving to Hungary and beginning a wine project there.

Two possibilities appeared almost simultaneously, and the brash young Krutzler embraced them both. The first was the work in Burgenland that would become the MORIC project in partnership with Roland Velich. The second was the opportunity to begin a winery in Slovenia on the site of an old monastery.

It quickly became apparent that Krutzler couldn’t do both.

“I was putting 60,000 kilometers on my car every year. I left the MORIC project before harvest in 2003 to focus on Slovenia. It was a good project. I thought I would stay my whole life there.”

After replanting 90 acres of vineyard and building a winery on a 50 Million Euro budget, Krutzler found himself the director, the winemaker, and the salesman for a project with big ambitions, but headed in a decidedly more commercial direction than he desired. Sensing his discomfort, the project backers brought in another Austrian to make and sell the lower-end wines, with the hopes that Krutzler would focus on the top end, but his heart was not in it.

“That was the year my daughter was born,” recalls Krutzler, “In 2006 I was sitting in an office without any wine.”

After leaving that project Krutzler again found himself unmoored for a time. “All my friends had started much earlier, and were on their way. I was thinking I might do something with my family. My father told me I needed to just make some wine, and we found some Blaufränkisch, and that was our first idea.”

But within a year Krutzler had begun consulting on another Slovenian wine project. “I would leave [the Wachau] at 4:00 AM and drive 300 kilometers to go to work. It was crazy,” says Krutzler, shaking his head.

“But then FX came to me and said ‘I will help you find some vineyards in the Wachau’ and that, in a way, was his permission to do something else.”

Krutzler and his wife, with the help of his father-in-law, secured leases on several acres of vineyards in select parcels in nearby villages and in 2007 began making small quantities of wine in a tiny rented cellar in nearby Unterloiben. The facility is so small that they had to rent another small cellar space to hold their few thousand bottles.

“Now I am in the vineyards and with my kids instead of in the car,” smiles Krutzler, who transitioned to being purely a consultant on his last Slovenian project in 2010.

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In 2012 Pichler-Krutzler bought a few small vineyard parcels, including some 60 year-old vines in the well-known Pfaffenberg vineyard, bringing the project’s total acreage to about 25, and the total production to about 4800 cases of wine, split across six Grüner Veltliners and seven Rieslings.

“We are still on our way, but we have found our way,” muses Krutzler, perfectly capturing the confidence and presence of his wines, while at the same time clearly understanding that he and his wife are at the beginning of their journey as a winery.

The sensibility into which he has settled will make fans of many who delight in the understated and restrained side of the Wachau. “I am the more old fashioned Wachau,” says Krutzler. “I want to go back to the late Eighties and early Nineties.”

Krutzler prefers acidity to ripeness. (“We had 7.7 grams of acidity in my Trum Riesling, and so I couldn’t even sell it as Federspiel”) and aims to keep his wines in tank and barrel on the lees as long as possible. He likes to keep them in bottle as long as possible before releasing them to market as well (“We would like to sell our wines even later, but even selling them in October, we are almost the last to sell”). Krutzler also aims for a slightly more oxidative style of winemaking, eschewing sulfur additions during fermentation, and using a mix of native and cultivated yeasts as he does a mix of stainless and large barrel fermentation vessels.

When I ask Krutzler how he came to this more traditionalist approach, he laughs. Describing his first harvest he recalls, “My wife came to me and said ‘why are you starting harvest today!?’ and I realized I was coming from the red wine [which is usually harvested earlier than whites].”

He shrugs. “My wines from those years are a little….” He completes his sentence by making a serpentine motion with his hands. “But now I have found my way.”

Krutzler is basically a one-man cellar crew. His wife Elisabeth takes care of sales, but helps him with “all the major decisions” with the wine. He has “a couple of guys from Macedonia” that help him harvest, and if he’s lucky, his mother-in-law will also help manage things in the vineyards.

Now with seven vintages under their belts, Krutzler says he is happy with their size and their style. “We want to build a new cellar, but it is hard to find a place and I’m not sure I want to do it,” says Krutzler. “A little improvisation and I’m fine.”

Seventy percent of the couple’s production is exported, and the thirty that remains in Austria has slowly gained acclaim. “It’s all slowly starting to work in Austria,” says Krutzler admitting that, “Our names have been slightly counterproductive.” But that’s one piece of baggage he’s unlikely to ever get rid of.

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TASTING NOTES:
These wines have not yet been released in the US. You can find some earlier vintages online, but sadly none of the 2010s.

2013 Pichler-Krutzler “Durnsteiner Frauengarten” Grüner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of pears and linalool and wet stones. In the mouth asian pear and wet stone mix with faint floral and citrus character. Nice acidity and brightness.12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $26

2013 Pichler-Krutzler “Loibner Klostersatz” Grüner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of pears and green apple, with a hint of lemongrass. In the mouth pear and lemongrass flavors shift to green apple skin and pink grapefruit. Good acidity. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $26

2013 Pichler-Krutzler “Tank Sample – Supperlin” Grüner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of white peaches and wet stones. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful silky presence with crystalline flavors of pear, white peach and a hint of white pepper on the finish. Gorgeous acidity and length. Excellent. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $26

2013 Pichler-Krutzler “Tank Sample – Loibenberg” Grüner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of pear and apple with wet stones underneath. In the mouth, juicy pear and asian pear mix with a hint of chamomile and wet stones. Good acidity and depth. Long finish. Score: around 9. Cost: $36

2013 Pichler-Krutzler “Tank Sample – Steiner Pfaffenberg Alte Reben” Grüner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria
Light greenish-gold in the glass, this wine smells of white peaches and pears. In the mouth the wine is broad and powerful with broad pear and pear skin flavors mixed with pink grapefruit. Nice wet stone minerality, good acidity and long finish. 60 year-old vines. Score: around 9. Cost: $46

2013 Pichler-Krutzler “Tank Sample – Kellerberg” Grüner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria
Light gold in the glass with a hint of green, this wine smells of linalool and pear and wet stones. In the mouth slightly spicy pear cobbler flavors mix with wet stones and quince paste. Notes of lemongrass linger in the finish. Score: around 9. Cost: $36

2012 Pichler-Krutzler “Fass No.43” Grüner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of oak and flowers and honey. In the mouth, flavors of sweet oak, vanilla, pears, and strong honeysuckle mix with a rich silky texture. Because of the fact that this wine went through full malolactic fermentation the acidity is softer, and doesn’t have the edge I would like.. This wine was aged in a 600l liter barrel with no sulfur on the fine lees and bottled with only a tiny bit of sulfur at the bottling but no fining or filtration. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??

2013 Pichler-Krutzler “Trum” Riesling, Wachau, Austria
Palest blonde in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers and linalool. In the mouth, the wine has electrically bright lemon-lime flavors mixed with wet chalkboard. Pink grapefruit and lime zest linger in the finish. 12% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $23

2013 Pichler-Krutzler “Pfaffenberg” Riesling, Wachau, Austria
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of pink grapefruit and green apple. In the mouth, bright, even searing acidity makes flavors of green apple and pink grapefruit all but electric in the mouth. A deep wet-chalkboard minerality leaves a chalky tart finish lingering for a long time. 12.5% alcohol.. Score: around 9. Cost: $37

2013 Pichler-Krutzler “In der Wand” Riesling, Wachau, Austria
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of pears, apples, and linalool. In the mouth, gorgeously balanced flavors of pear, apple, and pink grapefruit have a fantastic crackling brightness to them that is totally disarming. It’s hard not to swallow this wine. Long and bright and juicy. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $23

2013 Pichler-Krutzler “Tank Sample – Loibenberg” Riesling, Wachau, Austria
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet stones, white flowers, and a hint of white peaches and pear. In the mouth bright and crisp pear and unripe peach flavors have a gorgeous crackling acidity and great mineral depth. Long and lean. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $27

2013 Pichler-Krutzler “Tank Sample – Steiner Pfaffenberg Alte Reben” Riesling, Wachau, Austria
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of honeysuckle and wet stones. In the mouth the wine has a light sweetness with a great mineral depth to it. Flavors of honeysuckle and asian pear seem glassy and clean with wonderful brightness thanks to incredible acidity. Made from 60 year-old vines. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $37

2013 Pichler-Krutzler “Tank Sample – Kellerberg” Riesling, Wachau, Austria
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet stones and honeysuckle with hints of pink grapefruit. In the mouth bright apple and pear flavors have a deep stony quality to them. Wet chalkboard lingers in the finish with top notes of honeysuckle. Pure and quite beautiful with fantastic acidity and a long finish. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $27

2013 Pichler-Krutzler “Tank Sample – Rotenberg Reserve” Riesling, Wachau, Austria
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of honeysuckle and green apple. In the mouth bright green apple and white flowers have a faint sweetness to them, though most people would think this wine was dry. Excellent, racy acidity and stony minerality round out a very delicious package. Moderate finish. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $57

2010 Pichler-Krutzler “Supperin” Grüner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of elderflowers and chamomile with a hint of warm bread. In the mouth flavors of clover honey and chamomile have a bright juicy quality thanks to excellent acidity. A faint yeasty note lingers in the finish along with a taint, chalky tannic grip. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $27

2010 Pichler-Krutzler “Loibenberg” Riesling, Wachau, Austria
Light greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet stones, cucumber, and candle wax. In the mouth, tart green apple flavors mix with white flowers and phenomenal acidity. Bright, but also deep and resonant thanks to excellent minerality. Wet chalkboard and pink grapefruit pith linger on the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $27

2013 Pichler-Krutzler “Loibenberg” Riesling TBA, Wachau, Austria
Light greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of dried apricots and clover honey. In the mouth, the wine has a thick satin texture and flavors of clover honey, dried and fresh apricots and ripe peaches. Excellent acidity keeps the wine fresh and not too cloying. Very sweet. 10% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $??

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Original: Vinography: A Wine Blog

Vinography Images: A Sea of Blue

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A Sea of Blue
A tumbling sea of blue grapes moves through the destemmer at harvest in Sonoma County.

INSTRUCTIONS:
Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting “save link as” or “save target as” and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their desktops.

To set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these.

PRINTS:
If you are interested in owning an archive quality, limited edition print of this image please contact photographer Andy Katz through his web site.

ABOUT VINOGRAPHY IMAGES:
Vinography regularly features images by photographer Andy Katz for readers’ personal use as desktop backgrounds or screen savers. We hope you enjoy them. Please respect the copyright on these images. These images are not to be reposted on any web site or blog without the express permission of the photographer.

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Hat Tip To: Vinography: A Wine Blog

Vinography Images: Swift Work

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Swift Work
A worker moves quickly through a vineyard during harvest in Sonoma County. Vineyards throughout the state are full of workers at the moment, who are bringing in the 2014 vintage.

INSTRUCTIONS:
Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting “save link as” or “save target as” and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their desktops.

To set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these.

PRINTS:
If you are interested in owning an archive quality, limited edition print of this image please contact photographer Andy Katz through his web site.

ABOUT VINOGRAPHY IMAGES:
Vinography regularly features images by photographer Andy Katz for readers’ personal use as desktop backgrounds or screen savers. We hope you enjoy them. Please respect the copyright on these images. These images are not to be reposted on any web site or blog without the express permission of the photographer.

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Hat Tip To: Vinography: A Wine Blog

Hourglass, Napa Valley: Current and Upcoming Releases

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There is no single recipe for greatness when it comes to Napa wine, but starting with a great plot of land can take you a long way. The only problem is, a lot of people don’t necessarily know a great plot of land when they see one. Sometimes these plots of land can be hidden in plain sight until the right person comes along to notice.

When Jeff Smith’s father moved the family to St. Helena in 1964, he wasn’t thinking about wine, he was thinking about real estate development. He was also thinking about the tiny trickle of tourists that were making their way up from San Francisco to visit Napa and then turning right around at the end of the day and driving back home since there weren’t really any nice places to stay. Without any real idea of whether it would work, he turned a beautiful old home into the Wine Country Inn, and very quickly learned the meaning of “build it and they will come.” The Inn ran at around 95% occupancy the first year it opened.

When the neighboring parcel of land came on the market, Jeff’s father snapped it up with the idea of building a home on it, and because he liked Zinfandel, he planted a bit of it on the hillside behind the building site in 1977. His way of thinking about the 4-acre vineyard was “landscaping that could pay for itself.” He gave most of the grapes to friends in exchange for bottles of wine made from them in return, and sold the rest.

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Jeff’s father passed away in 1990 and within a year, the vineyard succumbed to phylloxera, and had to be pulled out. Jeff’s mother was making ready to sell the property just as Jeff was getting interested in the wine business, but his entreaties to keep the property and replant to see if they could start a small winery weren’t convincing. As a last ditch effort, Jeff talked a buddy who was in school at U.C. Davis to get their top viticulture professor to come down and take a look. He did, and in the process of telling Jeff, his friend, and his mother that this was quite possibly one of the best Cabernet vineyard sites he had ever seen, he also pointed out that it sat at the narrowest point of the hourglass-shaped Napa Valley.

The vineyard, needless to say, was not sold. It was replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon, and enlisting the help of a family friend, winemaker Bob Foley, Jeff launched Hourglass Wine to nearly instant acclaim.

From that 4-acre vineyard, Hourglass produces about 600 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon that are snapped up the moment they are released to the mailing list, and thousands of people wait patiently for their chance to get on that list.

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After a few years, Jeff and his wife Carolyn started thinking about buying another piece of land, but faced the difficulty of needing a vineyard that could both compete at the level of quality they already had, and that would be distinctive enough to merit being bottled on its own, as they had no intention of diluting Hourglass.

Over the years, they nearly bought several properties, but backed off each one when they got the feeling it wasn’t quite right. They looked pretty hard for almost three years, and gave up. Growing up in the valley, Jeff knew that the kinds of vineyards he wanted were not common, and all the examples he knew about were unlikely to be sold anytime soon, or for a price anywhere near what he could afford to pay.

But then one day, on his way to the dump in early December, he saw a For Sale sign on a piece of property he had driven by thousands of times without a second thought, and something clicked. Across the street from the famed Three Palms Vineyard, this piece of property sits at the neck of Dutch Henry Canyon, and defines the transition zone between valley floor and the hillsides above. Covered in alluvial gravel and cobble, the property is essentially an overlap of two alluvial fans created by the wanderings of the two blue line streams (year-round streams that are marked with blue ink on topographic maps) that drain the hillsides above.

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With the help of some investment from friends and family, the Blueline Estate was born, giving Hourglass its own winery facility for the first time, and offering a distinctive new set of vineyard designated wines. The Blueline property was replanted over the past 6 years, bringing about 22 of its 44 acres into full production.

The winery produces a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Merlot, a Cabernet Franc, and unusually, a Malbec. The estate recently began bottling a Sauvignon Blanc as well.

Until 2011 the wines were made by Bob Foley, but recently he has been replaced by Tony Biagi, who left Plumpjack winery to take over as winemaker at Hourglass. The wines below were my first taste of what Biagi is up to, and I’m pretty excited about the results, which are balanced and very pretty, especially considering Biagi is just getting to know the property.

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TASTING NOTES:

2013 Hourglass Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of cut grass, green apple, and a bit of green melon. In the mouth, the wine has a wonderful balance between green apple and green melon flavors, and the hint of vanilla from a kiss of oak. Juicy acidity and excellent length. A tiny hint of bitterness and sweetness tussle in the finish. 14.2% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $40. click to buy.

2012 Hourglass Blueline Merlot, Napa Valley
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright plum and cherry fruit with an undercurrent of oak and mint. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful bright freshness and fantastic acidity that makes for a lean and mineral quality to the plum and black cherry fruit. The taut, very fine grained tannins have a kind of canvas-in-the-wind snap of a cool breeze. Long finish. 14.8% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $75. click to buy.

2012 Hourglass Blueline Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of hazelnuts and green-herb-tinged cherry. In the mouth plush tannins have a velvety feel and wrap gently around flavors of black plum and cherry and chocolate. Notes of dark chocolate linger in the finish along with a bitter cocoa powder note. 14.8% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $125. click to buy.

2012 Hourglass Blueline Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry, green herbs, and a hint of dark earth. In the mouth, juicy black cherry and bright fresh cherry fruit are welded to very supple powdery tannins and a touch of wet loam. Juicy and fresh, but with a dark chocolate and cocoa powder finish. 14.8% alcohol.Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $125. click to buy.

2012 Hourglass Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and chocolate with hints of wet earth. In the mouth black cherry, cassis and a touch of oak blend beautifully with suede-like tannins. A smoky note emerges with some time in the glass. The finish is wonderfully earthy with cocoa powder and loam. 14.8% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $125 . click to buy.

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By: Vinography: A Wine Blog

Drought Problems? Just Have an Earthquake

Folks in Napa and its surrounding areas are still cleaning up after the earthquake that struck the region two weeks ago. The piles of toppled barrels are being picked apart barrel after barrel to salvage those that remain intact, and repairs are being made to homes and wineries that suffered damage.

The after-effects of a disaster like this are usually quite predictable. Losses are tallied, tears are shed, and people move on.

But something unusual is going on in Napa in addition to all the typical fallout from a serious earthquake. Things are getting wetter. A lot wetter.

According to the Press Democrat, as well as winemaker Carole Meredith, whose Facebook post alerted me to the situation, the earthquake has resulted in dramatically increased stream flows throughout Napa and Sonoma, with some levels approaching the kinds of flows only seen in Spring.

Apparently increased flow from springs and changes in groundwater availability are common following large earthquakes, and don’t often last. Calling this a silver lining to an otherwise unfortunate situation might be going a bit far, but in this time of unprecedented drought, no one is complaining.

Read the full story.

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Source: Vinography: A Wine Blog

Your Wine Drinking Soundtrack

So much of your wine drinking experience relies on set and setting. Is the room tidy? Do you have the right glassware? What is the weather forecast? With whom are you drinking? And of course, what sort of music is playing? Allow us to assist you with the latter-most question. Here are our top five wine-themed songs for a guaranteed good wine-drinking time!

Credit: Snooth – Articles