Wine Talk from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Mon, 18 Nov 2019 05:31:24 -0800 Wine Talk from Creators Syndicate b5e3f6c9fb286fe839fb0d2786290539 The Case for Domestic Wines at Thanksgiving for 11/12/2019 Tue, 12 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The default recommendation of many experts for the perfect complement to the Thanksgiving feast is Beaujolais, a French wine. Yet there is a case to be made that serving domestic wines on this uniquely American holiday can be every bit as satisfying.</p> <p>Not only that, it can be economical as well. For inspiration, I consulted my notes from the 2019 Critics Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition. The wines are evaluated by prominent wine journalists from across the United States, and the results are typically consumer-friendly. I combed the awards looking for domestic wines that were awarded platinum or gold medals and have a suggested retail price tag of $25 or less.<p>Updated: Tue Nov 12, 2019</p> fa14802ca6dfc91778438862df332f9f The Verde Valley Wine Trail for 11/05/2019 Tue, 05 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>SEDONA, Arizona &#8212; There are a number of good reasons to visit Sedona. The stunning and picturesque "red rock" country alone is a magnet for tourists. Proximity to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon also rank high on the list. Then there is the perceived spiritual and healing aspect of a Sedona vortex; the Native American culture and history; and the hundreds of hiking trails.</p> <p>There is another attraction that doesn't get as much attention, though awareness seems to be growing. The Verde Valley Wine Trail, which includes Sedona and the neighboring villages of Cottonwood, Clarkdale and Oak Creek, provides a glimpse into the potential of Arizona wine.<p>Updated: Tue Nov 05, 2019</p> d7b078df8e5f826b5966a33cb0022ef6 The Sonoma Fires for 10/29/2019 Tue, 29 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The Kincade fire started Oct. 23 near Geyserville in northern Sonoma County. Fueled by gusts of wind clocked at as fast as 100 mph, it has since burned more than 60,000 acres and driven tens of thousands of residents from their homes. At this writing, containment doesn't seem to be in sight.</p> <p>The area affected covers one of the most storied regions in California wine, the Alexander Valley and the charming village of Healdsburg. The fire also threatens the city of Santa Rosa, the cultural hub of Sonoma County, and has now spread east toward the northern tip of the Napa Valley, where Calistoga residents are under evacuation orders.<p>Updated: Tue Oct 29, 2019</p> 5e71318e3c2241cd7b33c143bea7e740 Time to Chill for 10/22/2019 Tue, 22 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On a brief vacation in the mountains of Arizona, I took the opportunity to taste a flight of three Arizona wines from the Verde Valley in and around Sedona. The restaurant presented a rose, a chardonnay and a red the server described as a grenache blend.</p> <p>The first taste confirmed my suspicion that this could be an up-and-coming area for wine, although I was puzzled by the grenache blend's somewhat coarse tannin. This is a grape variety that typically delivers bright red-fruit character with relatively smooth tannins. I don't often encounter a grenache with rough edges.<p>Updated: Tue Oct 22, 2019</p> 6998e04a97c1d59979142038d11097ca The Coming Wine Crunch for 10/15/2019 Tue, 15 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>A headline in the San Francisco Chronicle wine section caught my eye this week: "California wineries, fearing recession, cut grape output. Farmers are worried."</p> <p>Setting aside the reality that farmers are always worried, my takeaway from the article by Chronicle wine editor Esther Mobley is the fact that there is a looming wine glut. Huge grape crops in 2018, and now 2019, have the wine industry in a dither.<p>Updated: Tue Oct 15, 2019</p> b224c866c05c50d5d642cb5192515736 Wisdom of the Somms for 10/08/2019 Tue, 08 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When the Sommelier Challenge was conceived in San Diego more than a dozen years ago, the profession was undergoing a renaissance. The image of a snobby sommelier full of condescension (never really an accurate portrayal) was melting away as a generation of young, eager wine professionals embraced the quest for advanced and master sommelier status.</p> <p>What struck me as founder and director of the challenge was the remarkable thirst for knowledge exhibited by the first participants. Several wrote afterward thanking me for organizing such a splendid blind tasting.<p>Updated: Tue Oct 08, 2019</p> 121ce30dd8e97cb141f288dc0fd7326e 20-Year Aged Sherry Impresses Somms for 10/01/2019 Tue, 01 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Sherry, a fortified wine from Spain, is produced in styles ranging from dry to remarkably sweet. Master sommelier Robert Smith sat on the panel that evaluated the sherries entered at the 12th annual Sommelier Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition Sept. 21-22 in San Diego, awarding a platinum medal to the stunning 20-year-old Don Guido Pedro Ximenez from Williams & Humbert.</p> <p>This beauty is very sweet and complex, but what really stood out, in Smith's opinion, was the "beautiful acidity." <span class="column--highlighted-text">And that, indeed, is the fascination with sweet sherry: fresh acidity that cuts through the sweetness and delivers a clean, palate-refreshing finish. </span>The Don Guido is a classic and went on to be named import wine of the year at the 2019 sommelier challenge.<p>Updated: Tue Oct 01, 2019</p> fb9ab1e5aa4147aa683221bf84519af9 The Amazing V. Sattui for 09/24/2019 Tue, 24 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It would be difficult, perhaps even impossible, to overstate the brilliance of the Napa Valley's V. Sattui Winery. Situated along Highway 29 in Saint Helena, in the heart of the Napa Valley, the V. Sattui picnic grounds have been a magnet for wine enthusiasts over the past few decades. <span class="column--highlighted-text">The idyllic setting aside, the wines of V. Sattui are, and always have been, the main attraction.</span></p> <p>That point was underscored once again this past weekend at the 12th annual Sommelier Challenge in San Diego. A gathering of 15 prominent sommeliers from across the nation, including three master sommeliers, evaluated roughly 1,000 wines. They were tasked with awarding worthy wines a platinum (the top award), gold or silver medal.<p>Updated: Tue Sep 24, 2019</p> 87a7b37d9870a8a5eeecb0bcbc243729 Harvest Destinations for 09/17/2019 Tue, 17 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Throughout these United States, wherever wine is made (and that's just about every state), harvest is underway. There is no better time to visit wine country. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Harvest is a feast for the senses, with the smell of fermenting grapes in the air, warm days and cool nights, and the up-close-and-personal view of the new vintage.</span></p> <p>Whether you are in New York or Virginia, Missouri or Idaho, California or Washington, the time for a visit is now.<p>Updated: Tue Sep 17, 2019</p> 4427996d3a6c60f5906352edc105d69c Tailgate Tips for 09/10/2019 Tue, 10 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The kickoff of football season always reminds me of burned brats, warm white wine and that sinking feeling when you learn no one remembered to bring a corkscrew. Tailgate parties don't have to be a disappointing launch into an otherwise glorious autumn afternoon, though they often are.</p> <p>Over the years, <span class="column--highlighted-text">I've learned a few lessons that I will now share with those inclined to want wine instead of beer at the next tailgate party.</span><p>Updated: Tue Sep 10, 2019</p> 5428ab73f3e0d1488246f4520ced5c5a Diving Back Into Samples for 09/03/2019 Tue, 03 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>You may have noticed that our "Wine Talk" tasting notes have been on hiatus for the past several weeks, while your humble correspondent recovered from knee-replacement surgery. While I stepped to the tasting sidelines, the stack of samples grew and grew and grew.</p> <p>Now on the mend and off the pain meds, I've taken a deep dive into my growing pile of samples and dedicated this week's "Wine Talk" to the noble quest of catching up. As most longtime readers know, I only recommend wines that I personally find appealing, and I don't discriminate by price.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 04, 2019</p> e9a8a60b9fe4d8dfc2b5c65168b825b5 The Spottswoode Story for 08/27/2019 Tue, 27 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>On a recent tour of Southern California with longtime winemaker Aron Weinkauf in tow, Spottswoode's Beth Novak Milliken presented another stunning vintage of Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2016 Spottswoode Cab is much like every Spottswoode Cabernet that came before it &#8212; a Napa Valley classic that seems to defy vintage variation.</p> <p>The late Jack and Mary Novak had no idea, of course, that they had settled upon one of America's greatest vineyard sites when they purchased the historic property in St. Helena in 1972. Their goal at the time was to move their five children from the San Diego area to a more rural setting. And given the property's history &#8212; the first wine grapes had been planted in 1882 &#8212; they became winegrowers, selling their cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc to iconic wineries such as Robert Mondavi, Caymus, Heitz and Duckhorn.<p>Updated: Tue Aug 27, 2019</p> a6d600bb65ff497dfa0a3876b9c1bb24 A Stealth Juggernaut for 08/20/2019 Tue, 20 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Unless you're a wine industry insider, chances are you've never heard of the Vintage Wine Estates.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Whether by clever design or simply an accident, Sonoma-based Vintage Wine Estates (VWE) is a high-fly act that manages to cruise under the radar, a stealth juggernaut that now controls 30-plus wineries and/or wine brands plus two separate spirits companies.</span><p>Updated: Tue Aug 20, 2019</p> 955efc9070ee753afa4e7465fef8adf1 Best Winery Tasting Room? for 08/13/2019 Tue, 13 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p><span style="background-color: initial;">Hardly a day passes that I don't come across an invitation to vote on social media for the best winery tasting room in California. Best, of course, is best only in the eyes of the beholder.</span><br></p> <p>Personally, I have a fondness for the Eberle Winery in Paso Robles, which celebrates its 40th vintage this year. Eberle is situated on California Highway 46, which links the vast Central Valley of California with the state's Central Coast, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.<p>Updated: Mon Aug 19, 2019</p> 140ff9af6135c886c22a4d057c52ec78 Wine Competition Daze for 08/06/2019 Tue, 06 Aug 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>If you enjoy wine and occasionally read the shelf talkers in the wine department where you shop, you are no doubt aware that we are awash in wine competitions throughout these United States.</p> <p>Wine competitions are nothing more than organized blind wine tastings, "blind" being the operative word. Each wine's identity is concealed from the judges &#8212; generally respected wine industry professionals &#8212; to ensure awards are based on the merits rather than the prestige of a famous label.<p>Updated: Tue Aug 06, 2019</p> fb13ede4b16448fd45bbd1b8323f82c8 International Canned Wine Competition for 07/30/2019 Tue, 30 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The best line from the first International Canned Wine Competition (ICWC) was uttered by Handley Cellars winemaker Randy Schock, who was among the judges evaluating the more than 200 entries at the July 24 Mendocino County Fairgrounds in California. Schock said tasting the canned wines made him "think about how to approach winemaking outside of the bottle."</p> <p>At a time when growth in wine sales across the United States has slowed to a crawl (year-to-year sales last year managed a meager 1 percent increase), <span class="column--highlighted-text">the industry is looking for the next big thing. Canned wine, which delivers both ease of portability and convenience, could be the ticket.</span><p>Updated: Tue Jul 30, 2019</p> 31fc55c3ffd8f91416b1b6966a9c2103 The Perfect Summer Wine for 07/23/2019 Tue, 23 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>A Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages will set you back about 11 bucks. The Beaujolais Villages from Maison Louis Jadot can be found for under 10.</p> <p>Jadot's more upscale Beaujolais, its Chateau des Jacques lineup of Beaujolais crus, retails in the low $20 range. Ditto the Beaujolais crus from Duboeuf. I found the Duboeuf Beaujolais crus Brouilly for $23.<p>Updated: Tue Jul 23, 2019</p> 43fd7e2095fbc970e31b220899180e13 Direct-to-Consumer Restrictions in Peril at SCOTUS for 07/16/2019 Tue, 16 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Wineries scored a huge victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 when the court ruled that state laws that banned direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipments of wine were unconstitutional if the same law allowed DTC shipments by in-state wineries.</p> <p>The decision was a boon to wineries eager to avoid the so-called "three-tier" system and sell and ship directly to wine consumers, thereby cutting out the middlemen and increasing profits. Small wineries that lacked clout with large distributors benefited most. Since the ruling, many states have altered their laws to permit out-of-state wineries to ship directly to consumers, and currently, 44 states allow consumers to accept out-of-state winery shipments.<p>Updated: Tue Jul 16, 2019</p> 978aa1b0d4381f3f0679bc539d7d5572 Time to Chill for 07/09/2019 Tue, 09 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Now is the time to enjoy those crisp, cool, refreshing white wines that will bring down the temperature on a warm summer day. With summer in full swing, riesling, gruner veltliner, sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, albarino and the like are enjoying peak demand and flying off the shelves. And that begs the question: Is there any room for red wine at your picnic table?</p> <p>The answer, of course, is yes. <span class="column--highlighted-text">The secret to red wine in summer is the chill. </span>Forget everything you've ever heard about serving red wine at room temperature. Room temperature on a hot summer day can be anywhere from 80 degrees to well above 100.<p>Updated: Tue Jul 09, 2019</p> e3b761516238e178b63973ef4378ac6b 4 Sizzling Roses for the Fourth for 07/02/2019 Tue, 02 Jul 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Fireworks needn't be the only sizzle in your Fourth of July celebration this week. You can bring a bit of sparkle to the party with a crisp, dry rose wine long before the pyrotechnics begin.</p> <p>Everyone will thank you because <span class="column--highlighted-text">few adult beverages are as refreshing on a hot summer day</span>. That's only one of the reasons dry roses are suddenly changing minds and winning fans. The other is a dramatically improved product.<p>Updated: Tue Jul 02, 2019</p>