Pencil This In: Geja’s 41st Annual Pro/Am Wine Tasting Contest – Chicagoist

Pencil This In: Geja’s 41st Annual Pro/Am Wine Tasting Contest
If you’ve seen the movie Somm you’ve seen Master Sommelier candidates tasting wine blind. They swirl, sniff, taste, then tell you what the wine is and where it’s from as if through some sort of magical ability. We wrote a how-to guide a while back that

Source: wine tasting – Google News


UK Wine Giants Merge

Sometimes one is better than two.


This past Thursday, UK-based Bibendum Wine Limited announced they have merged with importer PLB Group to form the Bibendum PLB Group. The two companies share common philosophies which will help make the merger a success, Bibendum said in a press release this week.


“Both businesses share a customer-centric, insight driven approach and pride themselves on their long-standing supplier and customer relationships,” Bibendum said. “Most significantly, both Bibendum and PLB are leaders in their respective fields and therefore coming together will mean the Group will be able to offer customers, not only the best possible service, but a service tailored specifically to their business needs.”

The merger comes in the wake of several difficult years for UK wine merchants. 

According to Bibendum, though the two companies are now one they each will focus on their area of expertise – Bibendum on the trade business and LDP on the off-trade business.


PLB’s Founder and Chairman Jeffery Fredericks is optimistic about the new company’s future.

“As a family business, it was very important to us that we found the right partner and we have found that with Bibendum,” Fredericks said in the release. “The two companies now join to become the UK’s most powerful independent drinks company and a unique route to market for any supplier.”


Michael Saunders, appointed chief executive of the new company, said the Bibendum-PLB merger will not only give a boost to the company, but will also provide a boost to the customer.


“By uniting the strengths of Bibendum with the strengths of PLB, and maximising the expertise within each trading company,” Saunders said in the release, “our new group will be uniquely placed to offer customers the best possible service.”


Photo credit: Wine Travel Stories


Source: Snooth – Articles

New Classification System for Austrian Sparklers

The Austrian Sparkling Wine Committee celebrated Austria’s Oct. 22 Sparkling Wine Day by giving their devoted following a present: a new three-tier classification system for their sparkling wines.


According to an ASWC press release, the purpose of the pyramid is to emphasize grape origin and maturation on lees.


The first level of the pyramid represents the basic quality requirements for a sparkling wine. At this level, the majority of the grapes in the wine must be of Austrian origin and the wines must have matured for at least nine months on the lees.

Second-level wines include the basic requirements while meeting the following requirements: produced according to the traditional method (including bottle fermentation), grapes must be from a an Austrian wine-growing region and their maturation on the lees must be at least 18 months. 


The top level of the pyramid is reserved for sparkling wines which, in addition to being bottle-fermented, originate from a single Austrian wine community, hit store shelves at least three years after harvest and must have matured on the lees for at least 30 months.


The ASWC noted that these explanations also include a subset of detailed regulations concerning quality assurance.


“The focus here includes the work in the vineyard, harvesting, hand picking, packing heigh, rate of yield and gentle pressing,” the release said. “Criteria for the sparkling base wines and for the checking and control of the quality levels are being developed and defined in detail over the coming months.”


The committee hopes to incorporate these standards into the country’s forthcoming 2015 Wine Law. The new standards, the ASWC said, will put top-level Austrian sparkling wines at the same level as some of the world’s heavyweight sparkling regions.


“The top category in the pyramid is on a par with the highest standards maintained by the world’s leading sparkling wines … and in certain aspects, even surpasses them,” the release said.


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Everything you need to know about weekend wine tasting in Sonoma County – KOMO News


Everything you need to know about weekend wine tasting in Sonoma County
In taking in Sonoma County as a destination compared to Napa Valley, you’ll notice that it’s almost opposite to their eastern neighbors. While there are two main roads that tourists can traverse to visit tasting rooms in Napa, Sonoma is spread out over
Wineries, wine bars celebrate HalloweenYour Houston News
Don’t Try This at Home: My Boozy Bike Ride Through Napa ValleyYahoo Travel
James LaubeWine Spectator (blog)
PR Newswire (press release) –Sonoma Valley Sun
all 11 news articles >>

Source: wine tasting – Google News

Your Vermont Wine Guide, Part One

Harvest time in Vermont conjures images of dried cornstalks, heaps of pumpkins, fresh cider donuts, and multi-colored leaves. Amber, orange, and yellow images may be iconic to autumn in the Green Mountain State but lately hues of red, white and rosé are showing-up in an expanding agricultural economy where cold climate fruits are fermenting into value added libations to become unique facets of the modern wine world.

Commercial vineyards and wine making have been in Vermont for three decades, with plantings of French-American hybrids as well as forays into traditional vinifera, resulting in success with the former and sporadic survival among the latter. The last ten years have marked a revolution in northern wine making from Wisconsin to Maine with the widespread propagation of cold hardy varieties developed by Elmer Swenson, Cornell, and the University of Minnesota. These vines, hand-cultivated over multiple generations through a complex inter-breeding of European wine grapes and “wild” grapes from North America and Eurasia, have borne offspring that offer disease resistance, ripen in a short growing season, can withstand the deep cold of arctic winter…and can still make decent wine.

Many folks would say that the wines are even better than decent and that they are downright good. Vermont is a fine wine consuming state and regularly ranks high in per-capita purchasing. Restaurant culture has exploded with world class offerings and with that raised bar the wine lists have evolved to rival those in big cities. It is within this context that a nascent local wine industry has to find a place. Farm wineries are not only surviving but thriving and garnering attention within their communities and beyond. The farm-to-table movement has been a big boon to Vermont wineries whose aromatic whites and fresh red wines tend to be inherently food-friendly and are lively matches for cuisine that is grown, raised, harvested, foraged and hunted nearby.

In terms of terroir, tiny Vermont is vast in its meteorological patterns, topographical variety, and geological diversity. The Lake Champlain Valley and Islands, the Green Mountain slopes, the Great Western Valley, the Eastern Piedmont, the Northeast Kingdom and the Connecticut River Valley are all distinct areas with subtly different growing seasons and ripening idiosyncrasies dependent on the year. What is consistent are the varieties that enjoy this extreme environment where it is said “if you can grow apples, you can grow cold hardy grapes”. LaCrescent is a favorite fresh aromatic white and Marquette a desirable red that has strong cherry notes and ripens to solid medium body wines. A supporting cast with names like Louise Swenson, Brianna, St. Croix, and the Frontenac siblings Noir, Gris and Blanc, fill out production with varietal wines as well as playing their parts in unique proprietary blends.

This piece has barely scratched the surface, and so the Vermont Wine Guide will continue next week for a second installment covering up-and-coming producers on the Vermont wine scene. See you then!

Credit: Snooth – Articles

Portuguese Power: Table Wines Gaining American Adoration

The land of rooster and port is seeing a welcomed surge in popularity among American wine consumers, according to Impact Databank’s yearly wine and spirits report. Reports are that Portugal saw a 21 percent jump in table wine exports to the United States in the first half of 2014 – more than 700,000 cases have been shipped. The significant spike is an encouraging sign, particularly in light of a seven percent increase in exported cases this past year. 


Portuguese industry experts point out wines under $15 are the most popular with American drinkers, but that there’s a growing interest in Portuguese wines between $15 and  $20.


Table wines aren’t the only winners in the Portugal wine industry. The United States has also developed a taste for vinho verde, a young wine consumed within a year of bottling and include a light sparkle resulting from in-the-bottle malolactic fermentation. In the past five years, exports of vinho verde to the United States have grown 43 percent to 484,000 cases. 
Though Americans’ interest in Portuguese wines is rising at a rapid rate, their consumption is a fraction of other nations.


According to Wines of Portugal’s report of the industry’s 2013 export statistics, seven countries import more Portuguese wines than the United States. Angola led the way with a little more than 650,000 hectoliters. France imported more than 500,000 hectoliters. 


A steep dropoff follows the French. The United Kingdom and Germany imported around 200,000 hectoliters, while Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United States hovering around 150,000 imported hectoliters.


Overall, Portugal’s table wine is the global favorite. More than 1,400,000 hectoliters of table wine was exported in 2013, followed by nearly 400,000  hectoliters of D.O.P. Wine and more than 360,000 liters of I.G.P. Wine. 


Hat Tip To: Snooth – Articles

Quitting Yeast To Winemakers: I Blame Protein

A team of researchers from the University of California at Davis have made a significant discovery about the mechanism responsible for halting the fermentation process of yeast, a bane for wine producers who, until now, had no explanation for their occasionally quitting catalyst.


The culprit, UC Davis yeast geneticist Linda Bisson said in a UC Davis release, is self-reproducing producing protein called prion (PREE’on).


“The discover of this process really gives us a clue to how stuck fermentation can be avoided,” Bisson said. “Our goal now is to find yeast strains that essentially ignore the signal initiated by the bacteria and do not form the prion, but instead power on through the fermentation.”

The researchers found that, at times, yeast undergoes significant stress in the fermentation. Like vultures circling viticulture fortunes, bacteria present in fermentation “convince” yeast to produce prion.


Prion does it’s dirty work, the study said, by suppressing the yeast’s ability to break down glucose by allowing it to process other elements. Normally, the type of yeast used in winemaking, brewing and breadmaking works the opposite way: other forms of processing are suppressed, focusing the yeast’s efforts on breaking down glucose.


“As sugar metabolism slows down, conditions in the fermenting wine are more conducive to bacterial growth, and the yeast benefit by gaining the ability to metabolize glucose but also other carbon sources as well – maintaining and extending their lifespan.”


Prion essentially opens up yeast’s diet options, welcoming to the fold other metabolism meas besides glucose and allowing it yeast to live longer. Initial solutions for winemakers, researchers said, include altering levels of sulfur dioxide in order to knock out bacteria which can trigger prion production. “They can also be careful about blending grapes from vineyards known to have certain bacterial strains,” the study said, “or they could add yeast strains that have the ability to overpower these bacteria.”



Original: Snooth – Articles

Innovation Sweeping South Africa: Get Thirsty!

The status of South African wine in the USA is lamentable. Even in New York City, where the most diverse selection of wine styles and origins in the world spoils imbibers, South Africa barely appears on the radar screen. 

The US has no heritage links to the Cape, and much of what has come ashore here in the 20 years since the end of apartheid has either hardly inspired thirst or been near-impossible to source thanks to tiny allocations. 

Granted, the best often isn’t cheap. It’s time to get over a willingness to pay $60 for a Russian River Pinot Noir then wonder if in most other wine regions if paying more than a Jackson is “worth it”. I’m not saying there aren’t terrific South African wines under $20 but rather suggesting that those requiring more coin are very often worth it.
Slightly annoyed by the jubilations of UK wine pals over the South African wines they regularly drink, I began seeking out what I couldn’t find stateside. I spend about six weeks a year in London, so I made it my mission to drink “new wave” South African wines there.


In quenching my thirst, what I found is that the typical approach to delve into either appellations or varieties to establish frames of reference isn’t necessarily the best approach. On the Cape, I suggest investing in individuals, wherever they produce wines and with whatever varieties. Though not a comprehensive list, here are the names I urge you to taste:

Winery – Winemaker

AA Badenhorst – Adi Badenhorst

Alheit Vineyards – Chris & Suzaane Alheit

Avondale – Jonathan Grieve 

Boekenhoutskloof – Marc Kent

Cape Point Vineyards and Savage Wines – Duncan Savage

Creation Wines – Jean-Claude Martin

DeMorgenzon – Carl van der Merwe

De Toren Private Cellar – Albie Koch

Keermont – Alex Strey

Mullineux Family – Chris Mullineux

Paul Cluver – Andries Burger 

Raats Family – Bruwer Raats and Gavin Bruwer Slabbert

Sadie Family – Eben Sadie


Not to categorically exclude, well, categories, I admit two merit special notice. The first is white blends. These are highly atypical blends that often include old vine Chenin Blanc as well as a wide and entirely unpredictable range of other white varieties like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier and a smattering of other grapes. Though at least a portion of these wines often sees vinification in oak, they are nonetheless impressively aromatic. They are also broad on the palate with good weight, yet their acidity is so crisp as to make them very sippable.


The second phenomenon falls in the category of red Rhône blends. I confess that I avoid Rhône-style wines from many New World countries. They often suffer from too much extract, alcohol and new wood. Not so in South Africa. These reds generally show precision, freshness and complexity that make them not just drinkable, but gulpable. 


What’s new in South Africa? Loads. Don’t waste time getting to know what is out there and open your wallet just a bit wider from time to time to enjoy a full exploration of the new guard.



By: Snooth – Articles

New Chandon Sparkler To Release Nov. 1 in U.S.

Moet Hennessy is looking to sweeten the pot.


The Champagne and cognac giant is sweet to release Delice, a semisweet sparkling wine, the first of November in Texas and Florida. Moet is expected to open Delice to national distribution in February. 


The sparkling wine is a combination 45-45-10 split of Napa Valley-sourced Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Moet executives are hoping the new offering will appeal to millennials, an age group which marketers have identified as a crucial generation for winemakers who want to maintain growth in the United States.

Moet CEO Jean-Guillaume Prats has said Delice can be used not only as a sparkling quaffer, but also as an addition to cocktails. 


The flexibility of the forthcoming product should attract the attention of the younger generation, Prats noted.


The release of Delice should have an impact on Moet sales in the United States. According to research firm Impact Databank, Chandon sold 400,000 cases of product in 2013. Chandon expects Delice to boost that number to 500,000. 


The American release of Delice is part of a worldwide initiative in which Moet creates Delice for certain regions of the world based on those regions tastes. 

The semisweet sparkling wine will be available in Argentina and will include late-harvest grapes. A Brazilian version of the product will be called “Passion”.

Reviews of the product have noted it’s light flavor and mild sweetness. Preliminary cocktail suggestions include mixing Delice with orange peel, cucumber or basil. 


Photo Credit: Planeta Joy

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Kosher Wine Partners With International Distributor

Things are looking up for a niche wine company.


Earlier this month kosher wine and spirits producer L’CHAIM signed a contract with Italian distributor Enovation Brands, a move which experts have said will further the mission of both companies to provide “innovative solutions” for adult beverage consumers.


“We reached a stage where we needed a strong partner who understood our vision, shared our aspirations and recognized the potential of the brand, and, we realized this in the US importer of one of the largest, and most respected winemakers in Italy,” L’CHAIM CEO Ralph Mizraji said in a press release.


The move is a comprehensive one for L’CHAIM, who will benefit from an expanded supplier base, improved logistics, better marketing and higher sales, the release said.

“This immediately catapults L’CHAIM to a new level, expanding their reach not just in the U.S. But internationally,” Enovation CEO Giovanni Pecora said in the release. “This alliance opens up avenues to procure kosher Italian wine of the highest quality.”


Of particular importance to both companies is L’CHAIM’s plans to launch a new kosher Passover wine to younger wine drinkers. 


The company employs a millennial-focused marketing campaign emphasizing modernity, style and luxury.


L’CHAIM’s wine is available in a variety of well known American retailers. Their products include “To Life”, an Italian kosher box wine.


“L’CHAIM proudly presents this special series of fine wine, handcrafted in Italy,” the company’s website says of it’s Italian wine. “Satisfy your sense, delight in the remarkable tones, enjoy the blissful aromas and most of all, savor the extraordinary flavors and taste.”


In addition to its kosher wines, L’CHAIM also sells kosher vodka.


Source: Snooth – Articles