The Sama al-Sarban Vineyard near the Syrian Border
A couple of years ago we visited Omar Zumot at his winery in Amman and tasted his extensive portfolio of white and red wines. Since his wines are not available in the US, Omar recently sent us new samples via a traveler’s suitcase. These are world class wines made in a very challenging environment, both in terms of climate and culture. Our reviews of his top of the line Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are given below.
Paso Robles is making its mark in the world of rosé wines. A Paso Robles rosé—the Tablas Creek 2012 Dianthus—received the highest rating of any of the 100+ wines we tasted for our 2013 Annual Rosé Report. Furthermore, Paso Robles has developed a distinct style of rosés different from other regions of California and somewhat similar to those of the Southern Rhone. The producers of the region are mostly using Rhone varieties, especially Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Grenache, in crafting their rosés. As a result, several rosés tend to be on the richer, riper end of the rosé flavor spectrum. But others, like the Tablas Creek, Halter Ranch, and Wild Horse offerings, are light and crisp. While we didn’t review many Paso rosés when preparing our report on The Wines of Paso Robles, we certainly plan to keep our eye on them for future editions of our annual rosé report. Our reviews of Paso rosés follow:
Stinson Vineyards is a new, family run boutique winery (1500 cases) located in White Hall, nestled in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. When Scott Stinson moved there from Maryland in 2008 he wasn’t really expecting to be a vintner. But the already existing vineyard was just too tempting. The vineyard is an historic one by Virginia standards, having been first planted by Gabriele Rausse over 40 years ago. Unfortunately, those old vines suffered from leafroll virus, so the Scott and daughter Rachel replanted the vineyard in 2010 and expanded it to 12 acres of vines. They will soon be able to harvest their own estate grapes. The wines reviewed here were made with fruit purchased from local growers. The father and daughter team make the wines. As our notes show, the wines are well made. Our evaluations of these new wines are positive and we would expect them to be even more so once their estate vineyards come on line. Stinson Vineyards is off to a very promising start. Continue reading
The Chardonnays reviewed here are from three different collections of the Francis Coppola Winery and are made from grapes sourced from several of California’s best growing regions. The Director’s Collection which is a series of wines to “showcase Sonoma County” as a premier wine growing region, the Diamond Collection which is intended to offer “wines of character and complexity” at affordable prices, and the Votre Santé which is a tribute to Francis’ paternal grandmother. The wines are made under the direction of Winemaker Corey Beck.
We were pleasantly surprised by these wines. They’re well made, fairly priced for their quality and provide a pleasant drinking experience. While they aren’t exemplary of any particular terroir, they are delicious wines offered at a fair price. Our favorite Chardonnays by far are from the Diamond Collection; we especially liked the Diamond Pavillon with its note of fragrant Muscat. But we think readers will like the others as well. Continue reading
The Associació Vinícola Catalana (Catalan Winery Association) of Barcelona recently organized a magnificent lunch at Jaleo Restaurant in Washington, D.C. which featured the food and wines of Catalonia. The lunch was part of a day-long trade tasting featuring the wines of key Catalan producers from regions such as Alella, Catalunya, Cava, Costers del Segre, Emporda, Monsant, Penedes, Pla de Bages, Priorat, Tarragona and Terra Alta.
The day’s events began with a morning seminar for sommeliers and members of the wine trade conducted by Lucas Paya, Wine Director of Jose Andres’ Think Food Group. The seminar was followed by the presentation of Cartavi Awards by Hon. Ambassador of Spain, Ramón Gil-Casares and Valenti Roqueta, Vice President of AVC. The awards which recognize excellence in representation of Catalan wines on restaurant wine lists were presented to Veritas in New York and Jaleo in Washington, DC.
The lunch which was prepared by Jaleo’s Head Chef, Ramon Martinez and consisted of 8 dishes and a selection of top quality Catalan wines. The dishes provided an excellent introduction to the richness and diversity of Catalan cuisine. And, the wines selected for each dish revealed the richness of Catalonia’s indigenous varieties and the high quality of the region’s winemakers. The wine and food pairing was also masterfully planned and executed with each winemaker speaking briefly about their wines when they were served with a dish.
In the section which follows, we summarize the menu, the wines which were paired with each dish and our tasting notes. Readers interested in purchasing the wines will also find the retail prices and the name of the importers. Continue reading
Old Vine Carignan
After decades of successfully exporting good quality entry level wines, Chile has emerged as an important producer of premium wine. In our Report #21: The Chilean Wine Revolution we called attention to the increasing number of wineries that are producing new and exciting wines in re-discovered and newly discovered regions. In cool climate coastal regions such as Casablanca, San Antonio, Elquí, and Limarí, several wineries are crafting crisp and mineral-rich Sauvignon Blanc and elegant Pinot Noir. In the more temperate regions of Maipo, Aconcagua, Colchagua and Cochapoal, they are turning out richly flavored Carmenere and fruit-forward red blends. And in the South of Chile in the Bio-Bio, Malleco and the Maule Valley, wineries are proving they can produce distinctive Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and terroir-driven Carignan. Indeed, the emergence of premium quality Carignan in the hot dry Maule region is proving to be an exciting success story of the Chilean Wine Revolution. Continue reading
During our recent trip to Santa Barbara’s wine country we tasted several rosés for our forthcoming annual rosé report. While Santa Barbara isn’t yet recognized for its rosé wines, several producers are crafting delicious wines that merit serious attention. We especially liked the rosés of Beckmen, Clos Pepe, Dragonette, Ojai Vineyard, and Presq’ile. These and the other rosés we review below are great aperitif wines, but they also go superbly with a wide variety of foods, as we’ve written about elsewhere.
There’s renewed interest in Sherry these days, at least among the cognoscenti who know the difference between a dry Fino and a syrupy Pedro Ximenez, but too many consumers think Sherry is just their grandmother’s sweet afternoon Cream and avoid the drink altogether. In an attempt to educate wine drinkers on the unique virtues of Sherry, Peter Liem and Jesús Barquín have recently published a superbly detailed book titled Sherry, Manzanilla & Montilla (Manutius, New York, NY). It’s a book every serious wine drinker should read and then keep in the bookcase for future reference.
Posted in Book Reviews, Countries and Regions, Fortified, Spain, Uncategorized, Wine Articles, Wine Type
Tagged fino, jerez, Liem, Manzanilla, Sherry
The American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) holds its 7th Annual Conference June 26-29 at the elegant Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Economists from throughout the world will present research findings on a wide variety of topics related to the wine industry. Last year’s conference also included the widely reported Judgment of Princeton where a panel of experienced tasters did a comparison of the wines of France and those of New Jersey, complete with a statistical analysis of the results; we wrote an article about it last year. Information on how to register for the Stellenbosch conference can be found on the conference website.
We’re in California this week preparing our next report on The Wines of Santa Barbara. Heading north from LA yesterday, we stopped for lunch at the famous Super Rica Taquería. This humble taco stand was one of Julia Child’s favorites, and we simply couldn’t resist making it our first stop.
Super Rica is no ordinary tacquería. There are lines of people outside the door waiting to be served—a good sign. Looking through the window at the small kitchen, we immediately saw the food being made from scratch–it looked magnificent. Tacos were being made to order by hand and served fresh off the grill with their fillings. Continue reading