SpitBucket https://spitbucket.net Diary of a Wine Student Mon, 09 Dec 2019 11:45:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 https://spitbucket.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/cropped-grapes-512-32x32.png SpitBucket https://spitbucket.net 32 32 116302530 60 Second Wine Review — Frank Family 2013 Blanc de Blancs https://spitbucket.net/2019/12/09/60-second-wine-review-frank-family-2013-blanc-de-blancs/ https://spitbucket.net/2019/12/09/60-second-wine-review-frank-family-2013-blanc-de-blancs/#respond Mon, 09 Dec 2019 11:41:04 +0000 http://spitbucket.net/?p=8763 A few quick thoughts on the 2013 Frank Family Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine from Carneros. The Geekery While today Frank Family is known for big Rutherford Cabs and buttery Chardonnays, its origins were actually sparkling wine. In 1992, Rich Frank, a Disney exec, bought Hanns Kornell Champagne Cellars with Koerner Rombauer. Hanns Kornell was a German immigrant who survived the Dachau concentration camp during World War II before founding his eponymous sparkling house in…

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A few quick thoughts on the 2013 Frank Family Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine from Carneros.

The Geekery
Frank Family bubbles

While today Frank Family is known for big Rutherford Cabs and buttery Chardonnays, its origins were actually sparkling wine. In 1992, Rich Frank, a Disney exec, bought Hanns Kornell Champagne Cellars with Koerner Rombauer.

Hanns Kornell was a German immigrant who survived the Dachau concentration camp during World War II before founding his eponymous sparkling house in 1958.

Using the methode champenoise, Kornell helped innovate many new sparkling wine techniques in California. His wines earned high praise with Marilyn Monroe reportedly being a fan.

Rich Frank later bought out Rombauer’s interest in the winery and changed the name to Frank Family Vineyards. To honor Kornell, they kept producing sparkling wines.

The 2013 Blanc de Blancs is 100% Chardonnay sourced from Carneros. The wine spent 3 years aging on the lees with 500 cases made.

The Wine

Meyer lemons photo by ChaosNil. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under ) CC-BY-SA 3.0

Lots of ripe lemon notes in this wine.

Medium-plus intensity nose. Very citrusy with ripe lemon notes coupled with floral orange blossom. Apples with a toasted pastry element follow.

The palate echos the nose but also introduces an intriguing spiced pear note that adds more depth. Creamy mouthfeel enhances the toasted element and “California Chard” feel of the wine.

Medium-plus body. The medium-plus acidity is enough to feel balanced with the dosage (likely in the 10-11 g/l range). But it could use a little more zip of freshness. Long finish lingers more on the tree fruit, especially the spiced pear.

The Verdict

For around $45-55, it’s a decent value. It certainly offers more complexity and depth than many of your typical mass-market Champagnes in that range like Veuve Clicquot & Moet.

But it’s not going to knock your socks off and there are certainly better values out there. I also got a chance to try their 2011 Lady Edythe Reserve Brut (aged for 6 years on lees), which sells at the winery for $110. That was very tasty as well, but not that drastically different from the Blanc de Blancs.

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Send Roger Morris to Mudgee https://spitbucket.net/2019/12/07/send-roger-morris-to-mudgee/ https://spitbucket.net/2019/12/07/send-roger-morris-to-mudgee/#respond Sat, 07 Dec 2019 15:20:37 +0000 http://spitbucket.net/?p=8709 Note: The wines reviewed in this article were samples from the 2019 Wine Media Conference post-conference tour of Mudgee. Just after Thanksgiving in the US, Roger Morris wrote a firebrand piece on Meininger’s Wine Business, challenging the sacred status of Riesling among sommeliers. Reading the article, you would think that blaming consumer ignorance and the myth that “all Rieslings are sweet” was just a scapegoat. The real culprit for why consumers don’t adore Rieslings is…

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Note: The wines reviewed in this article were samples from the 2019 Wine Media Conference post-conference tour of Mudgee.
Robert Stein winery
Just after Thanksgiving in the US, Roger Morris wrote a firebrand piece on Meininger’s Wine Business, challenging the sacred status of Riesling among sommeliers.

Reading the article, you would think that blaming consumer ignorance and the myth that “all Rieslings are sweet” was just a scapegoat. The real culprit for why consumers don’t adore Rieslings is the grape itself. It’s too precocious in aromatics and flavors with its worst sin, Morris argues, being that Riesling just isn’t very food-friendly.

For my palate, and I expect many if not most wine drinkers, Riesling is too often the precocious child whose parents think he is darling while the rest of us are edging toward the door. Its flavours and aromas, we doubters believe, clash with food. — Roger Morris, “The real reason consumers reject Riesling”, November 28th, 2019.

What.

The.

Fuck???

There have been many articles written about the challenges of selling Riesling. But this is probably the first time that a wine writer has picked “Riesling is not food-friendly” as their hot-take hill to die on.

Alanis, isn’t it ironic?

Don’t you think? That the one saving grace that has helped Riesling lumber out of it’s Liebfraumilch and sweet Johannisberg shadows has been its affinity for food. As early as 1988, Dan Berger was describing in the LA Times this growing epiphany among wine lovers.

The other day, John and Janet Trefethen of the Napa Valley winery that bears their name staged a cook-off to see which foods best went with their dry Riesling, which annually is one of the most attractive in the state. The winner, a Far East-leaning chicken dumpling sort of concoction, won by only a shade over six other excellent matches.

The point was thus made: The classic Johannisberg Riesling grape variety, when made into a relatively or completely dry wine, produces a beverage of incomparable quality that does, surprising as it may seem to some people, go with food. — Dan Berger, “What’s Wrong With Riesling? Nothing That a Little Information Won’t Fix”, September 15th, 1988

And even today, when you Google “Most Food Friendly Wine,” nearly every publication worth their salt will feature Riesling high on their list.

But maybe they’re all wrong and the salt they’re worth is more Morton’s table rather than fleur de sel. Could Roger Morris be right and everyone else is just “barking up the wrong grapevine” about Riesling?

Courtesy of Memegenerator

Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Though here, in favor of full disclosure, I should note that I’ve quite publically disagreed with other articles that Roger Morris has done in the past.

But I don’t doubt Morris’ sincerity when he laments how often he wishes he’d ordered something else when pairing Riesling with food. Admittedly, though, I do wonder what in the world he’s eating. There are so many amazing cuisines in the world–Asian, Indian, Soul Food, Caribbean, Hispanic, etc.–that are bursting with “precocious” flavors that need a similarly precocious counterpart.

Yes, Riesling will most definitely overwhelm and clash with grilled cheese. But duck breast with red Thai curry and sticky jasmine rice? The thought of pairing that with ANY of the Rieslings I’m going to talk about below makes my mouth water.

Which brings me to my proposal to convert a Riesling skeptic into a Riesling saveur.

Send Roger Morris to Mudgee.

Gilbert 2010 Riesling

Interestingly, in that Wine Enthusiast article, Morris does recommend 2016 German Riesling as potential birth year wines to save. So he at least recognizes the immense aging potential of Riesling. Something that the 2010 Gilbert Riesling amply demonstrates as well.

For those of you who are thinking, “What the heck is Mudgee?” Don’t despair. That’s a frequent thought of wine lovers when it comes to this thoroughly under-the-radar gem in the New South Wales region of Australia.

While most folks justifiably know about the Hunter Valley when they think of New South Wales, it is well worth taking the 4-hour trek west from the Hunter over the Blue Mountains to experience the delicious combination of food, wine and hospitality in Mudgee.

Full disclosure part III: While the food and wine as well as travel to Mudgee from the Hunter were sponsored by Visit Mudgee Region as part of the Wine Media Conference, the wife and I paid for our own travel to Australia and hotel accommodations.

But we fell in love with the region and are already planning a return trip with friends. Heck, my wife was checking out real estate prices before we left. Because now, apparently, Mudgee is high on her list of places to retire to. The last trip that got her googling land prices was St. Emilion in Bordeaux. The wine, food and people of Mudgee impressed us that much. (And it’s WAY cheaper than St. Emilion too :P)

However, I’m not a Food or Travel blogger so this really won’t be a food or travel piece.

It’s just not my personal style. Instead, I’ll be linking to a few of my blogger friends who can give you a little more feel of Mudgee. All of their sites and IGs are well worth following.

But I will highlight 3 Mudgee cellar doors that I think would give Roger Morris some food for thought about Riesling.

Robert Stein Winery and the Pipeclay Pumphouse

Robert Stein Riesling

Kangaroo tartare and Riesling? Sure, why not?

This is the show stopper and should be on the bucket list for any food and wine lover. But it’s a particular must-stop for Riesling fans (& skeptics) because of winemaker Jacob Stein’s passion for the grape. He makes 3 Rieslings (dry, half-dry and reserve) sourced from both his family’s 40+-year-old estate vines and other historic vineyards in Mudgee like the Miramar vineyard.

His Rieslings go for more of an Alsatian-style with a rich-mouth-filling texture that is exceptionally well-balanced by zippy acidity. Despite being a warm region, Mudgee’s altitude with vineyards going up to 1100m (3600 ft) above sea level encourages a sharp drop in temperatures at night. This maintains acidity and freshness of fruit flavor that you see throughout Mudgee’s wines.

Sharon Parsons of SpaWineFood posted a great rundown with pics of our group’s lunch at Robert Stein’s on-site restaurant, Pipeclay Pumphouse.

I got a chance to try the 2019 Dry and 2018 Half-Dry Rieslings with several courses prepared by Jacob Stein’s brother-in-law, chef Andy Crestani.

The Dry Riesling was my favorite with it going particularly well with the scallop boudin blanc and truffled pea. Oh, and the house-made pork rillette with this Riesling was to die for! The added weight of the residual sugar gave the Half-Dry Riesling enough body to hold up to the kangaroo tartare and sweet potato. Yes, I ate kangaroo and it was surprisingly tasty. But that could be because it was made really well and had a great wine pairing partner.

I’m not a mussels person, but both my wife and Diane Letulle of WineDineGo were fans of the Half-Dry Riesling pairing with those.

The Cellar by Gilbert

Will Gilbert, a 6th generation winemaker, made some of the most exciting wines that I tasted on the entire trip. Expect to see a future post with me raving about more of their wines. But for now, I want to highlight how delicious Gilbert’s 2015 & 2010 Eden Valley Rieslings were paired with locally sourced charcuterie and cheeses made by High Valley Cheese Company in Mudgee. The brie, in particular, was melt-in-your-mouth luscious. The high acidity of both Rieslings served as a nice contrast to the heaviness of the cheese.

The choice of Eden Valley as the source for their Rieslings was very deliberate.
Will Gilbert

Will Gilbert of Gilbert Family Wines

Will’s great great great grandfather, Joseph Gilbert, pioneered Riesling in Eden Valley and founded the iconic winery Pewsey Vale Estate.

A sub-region of the Barossa zone in South Australia, the Eden Valley is another region that defies expectations when it comes to producing intensely vibrant Riesling. However, while cooler than neighboring Barossa Valley, these Rieslings still shows ample weight with ripe lime and a generous mouthfeel. With only a smidgen of residual sugar–that I doubt the average wine consumer would notice–both the 2015 & 2010 had mouthwatering acidity.

2010 tasted distinctly drier and was starting to develop some of the petrol notes, which are, understandably, controversial. While I’m firmly in the “I love it!” camp, I accept that petrol in wine is a lot like Brett (A Spice of Brett). So I don’t blame folks like Roger Morris if that’s a bit too much.

Sharon Parsons of SpaWineFood, again, has another lovely write-up about our evening at Gilbert along with several of Will Gilbert’s other outstanding wines.

Moothi Estate

Moothi Estate owners

Jess and Jay of Moothi Estate

The Mudgee region takes its name from the local aboriginal word Moothi which means “nestled in the hills.” You get a sense of what the original Wiradjuri were talking about when you take in the gorgeous views at the family estate of Jess Chrcek and her husband, Jay. Like most cellar doors in Mudgee, Moothi Estate provides snacking platters of locally sourced meats, cheese and produce that folks can pair with wines while soaking up the sights.

Steve Noel of Children of the Grape has a few photos of those sights on his Instagram and write-up about our tour of Mudgee.

The 2019 Mudgee Riesling, again, stood out from the pack. But this was quite different compared to its peers. It would undoubtedly challenge Roger Morris’ sentiment that Rieslings are “too fragrant” and that “…if someone were wearing Eau de Riesling as cologne or perfume to a wine tasting, we would send them to the washroom to hose off before taking a seat.

When the Moothi Riesling was poured, at first I didn’t hear what it was.
Moothi Riesling

The beauty of Riesling is its diversity. Even in the same region, it’s far from monolithic.

Smelling it, my thoughts originally went towards Italian whites. Maybe something like a Soave?

The aromas were undoubtedly pleasant, a mix of peach and citrus zest. But they were distinctly on the medium to medium-plus side of the intensity scale rather than the high octane aromatics of Riesling.

However, the palate was all-Riesling. Mouth-watering acidity that made the flavors of aged cheeses and salume do the tango on your tongue.

I would gladly enjoy savoring the sights of Mudgee on the patio with a platter and “Eau de Moothi Riesling.”

And I think after a thoroughly memorable experience to the Mudgee region, Roger Morris would too.

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Wine Shops’ Biggest Mistake https://spitbucket.net/2019/12/05/wine-shops-biggest-mistake/ https://spitbucket.net/2019/12/05/wine-shops-biggest-mistake/#respond Thu, 05 Dec 2019 15:41:01 +0000 http://spitbucket.net/?p=8720 On Reddit, there’s an interesting thread by a retail manager seeking advice about what consumers want in a wine shop. There’s a lot of replies focusing on selection, staff training and holding frequent tastings–which all good wine shops should do. But the biggest mistake that wine shops make, regardless if they’re a boutique indy or big box retailer, is not hiring the right people. Too often wine shops think they need to hire either: A.)…

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On Reddit, there’s an interesting thread by a retail manager seeking advice about what consumers want in a wine shop. There’s a lot of replies focusing on selection, staff training and holding frequent tastings–which all good wine shops should do.

Wine shop photo by Bjørn Erik Pedersen. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-SA-3.0

But the biggest mistake that wine shops make, regardless if they’re a boutique indy or big box retailer, is not hiring the right people.

Too often wine shops think they need to hire either:
A.) “Wine People” who are super knowledgeable about wine and love sharing that passion with customers.

B.) Salespeople with smooth selling skills that can sling bottles to anyone.

But what they really need is C.) People who genuinely like LISTENING and helping other people.

What makes or breaks every wine shop (or winery tasting room for that matter) is the abundance or lack of empathic listeners.

Wait! What’s wrong with hiring “wine people”?

Wine people are great. They’re my tribe and this post isn’t a criticism of them. But I’ve spent a lot of years working retail and many more years as a consumer. While I’ve encountered many wine people and salespeople at shops, only around a third of them knew how to engage me enough to open up my wallet and eagerly want to come back to their stores.

Diogenes statue in Sinop photo by Michael F. Schönitzer. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-SA-4.0

Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good listener?

That’s because wine and salespeople spend far too much time talking than they do listening. It becomes all about sharing their passion and their knowledge about the wine instead of cultivating the customer’s own passion.

As the famous Diogenes quote begins, “We have two ears and only one tongue…”. Even though the tongue is so important to us in the wine industry, sometimes we do need to give it a break.

Yes, it’s great that you’re passionate about wine and want to share that passion with customers.

Yes, it’s wonderful that you can describe all the ways that South African Cap Classique is similar and different from Champagne.

But knowing all the crus of Beaujolais is not going to help you connect to a customer who would probably be happier walking out of your store with a fleshy California Pinot or Spanish Garnacha.

Only empathetic listening–asking more questions instead of telling more details, seeking to understand the customer rather than trying to get the customer to understand the wine–truly “builds relationships.”

And isn’t that the goal of every wine shop? To build enduring and lasting relationships with customers?

An empathic listener is worth more to a wine shop than an MW or MS.

Wine knowledge can be taught. Good wine shops should never scrimp on their staff training programs.

Poster from the CENTRAL COUNCIL FOR HEALTH EDUCATION, Ministry of Health, HMSO in UK. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under PD-scan (PD-UKGov

Thankfully not how passion for wine is spread.

And while, yes, passion is contagious, it’s not an airborne contagion. It doesn’t get picked up in the mouth spray of words.

Passion needs to be ingested. It needs to be consumed–which requires a deliberate action on the consumer’s part. But that action is only going to be taken after developing genuine trust in the person trying to share that passion pill with you.

And how much do you trust someone that is a poor listener?

A tip for pegging the empathic listener in your wine shop.

Whether you’re doing a hiring interview or staff evaluation, my favorite trick is to do a blind tasting with them. But the key is to tell the person that you are blinding them on one of your absolute favorite wines.

The Wine People will be caught up in the blind tasting part. They’re going to be trying to guess what it is and maybe showing off their knowledge.

The Salespeople will be zeroing in on what they think are the best parts of the wine. That’s because they’re looking for angles and thinking of how they would be selling it.

The Empathic Listener will be focusing on figuring out what you like about the wine and asking questions about it.

The good news is that empathetic listening can be taught. Though I’ll admit it’s not easy. As a wine person myself, it took me a long time on the sales floor to retrain my instincts. I always wanted to go full throttle in sharing all the fantastic details and stories about the wines I was passionate about.

The best tool I’ve found is to keep that Diogenes quote top of mind and regularly repeat it.

“We have two ears and only one tongue in order that we may hear more and speak less.”

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60 Second Wine Review — Bruno Paillard Première Cuvée NV Brut https://spitbucket.net/2019/12/04/60-second-wine-review-bruno-paillard-premiere-cuvee-nv-brut/ https://spitbucket.net/2019/12/04/60-second-wine-review-bruno-paillard-premiere-cuvee-nv-brut/#respond Wed, 04 Dec 2019 15:33:36 +0000 http://spitbucket.net/?p=8713 A few quick thoughts on the Bruno Paillard Première Cuvée NV Brut Champagne. Note: This wine was a sample. The Geekery Bruno Paillard founded his eponymous house in 1981 when he was just 27 years old. Right away, Paillard forged his own path, pioneering the use of back label disgorgement dates in 1983. He also took a considerable gamble for a young house by forgoing the tricky 1984 vintage because the quality didn’t meet Paillard’s…

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A few quick thoughts on the Bruno Paillard Première Cuvée NV Brut Champagne.

Note: This wine was a sample.

The Geekery
Bruno Paillard NV

Bruno Paillard founded his eponymous house in 1981 when he was just 27 years old. Right away, Paillard forged his own path, pioneering the use of back label disgorgement dates in 1983.

He also took a considerable gamble for a young house by forgoing the tricky 1984 vintage because the quality didn’t meet Paillard’s standards. In her book, Champagne, Master of Wine Serena Sutcliffe noted that this hard decision cost Paillard over 1 million francs but solidified his quality-minded reputation.

Today, Bruno Paillard owns 32 ha (79 acres) of vineyards, which covers about 60% of their production. These include choice plots in the Grand Cru villages of Oger, Le Mesnil and Verzenay as well as highly esteemed Premier Cru vineyards in Cumières. All estate vineyards are farmed sustainably, with many plots organic and biodynamic.

The Première Cuvée is 45% Pinot noir, 33% Chardonnay and 22% Meunier, partially fermented in oak barrels with MLF allowed. The blend includes up to 50% reserve wines aged in a modified solera system that Paillard developed in 1985. This is impressive considering many NV usually only have 20-40% reserve wine.

Paillard treats his NV like a vintage Champagne with 3 years on the lees before disgorgement and dosage of 6 g/l.

The Wine

Lemon custard pie photo by Prayitno. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-2.0

The zesty citrus nose morphs into a round custardy mouthfeel.


High-intensity nose. Ripe apple with zesty lemon rind. Roasted almonds add a smokey note.

On the palate, the ripeness of the apple comes through. But the creaminess of the mouthfeel makes the lemon more custardy. Very well balanced with the dosage and lively high acidity. Long finish keeps the smokey notes and adds a little ginger spice.

The Verdict

This is truly an NV that over-delivers at vintage Champagne level. Exceptionally well made with excellent complexity. It’s averaging around 46 euros ($51), but if you can find this in the US for under $70, you’re getting a steal.

BONUS GEEKERY

Really enjoyed this Bruno Paillard interview with Lisa Denning of Grape Collective about organic viticulture in Champagne.

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Geek Notes: Top 5 YouTube Videos on Sherry Wine https://spitbucket.net/2019/12/03/geek-notes-top-5-youtube-videos-on-sherry-wine/ https://spitbucket.net/2019/12/03/geek-notes-top-5-youtube-videos-on-sherry-wine/#respond Tue, 03 Dec 2019 15:42:21 +0000 http://spitbucket.net/?p=8680 When it comes to studying wine, I’m a fan of taking a multi-prong approach to learning. Reading wine books and crafting flashcards are great, but your goal should be more than just rote memorization. To have the info really stick with you, you need to make it meaningful. That involves connecting the concepts to something else that you’ve already learned or experience. For me, that “experience” part is vital. Of course, the very best way…

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When it comes to studying wine, I’m a fan of taking a multi-prong approach to learning. Reading wine books and crafting flashcards are great, but your goal should be more than just rote memorization.

Pouring sherry photo by Jesus Solana. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-2.0

To have the info really stick with you, you need to make it meaningful. That involves connecting the concepts to something else that you’ve already learned or experience. For me, that “experience” part is vital. Of course, the very best way to learn about a wine region is to actually visit the place and talk to the people who make it.

But that’s not always possible to do. So I find the next best thing is to seek connections between the material I’m learning to other audio and visual experiences. I’ve talked before about how useful I find wine podcasts to be in supplementing book learning. Often these podcasts feature interviews with people intimately connected to the wine I’m studying. I find that hearing, in their own voice, key insights will solidify these details more in my mind.

That takes care of the audio component, but what about the visual? What’s a good way to get a feel for a wine region and the culture that shapes its wines? This is where the oodles of free content on YouTube steps in.

Now not everything on YouTube is great.

While I’ve found tons of useful stuff,  a lot of it is just “meh.” It takes a bit of effort to find the videos (especially in English) that have truly educational content. One of the things that you’re going to have to wade through is promotional material done by wineries, retailers & distributors. These aren’t necessarily bad (though I’ve found plenty of errors in many retailer & distributor videos). But you have to remember that the goal of these vids is more about selling wine than teaching.

Chamomile photo By Karelj - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20041986

I also recommend having some chamomile tea while studying Manzanilla. Not only is it a trademark tasting note but also the word “Manzanilla” is the Spanish name of chamomile.

There is also a lot of wine video content that focuses on wine reviews (a la Gary Vaynerchuck’s old WLTV format). Again, these aren’t bad but, from a wine student’s POV, there’s minimal value in the tasting notes of other people. You can read reviews if you want. Watching someone sniff, sip and spit on camera to tell you the same thing isn’t going to help you understand the influence of biological aging under flor any better.

But having a glass of Manzanilla yourself, though, can make a world of difference. Especially if you’re pairing that glass with watching aerial drone shots of just how close Sanlúcar de Barrameda is to the Atlantic’s influences while listening to a winemaker describe the conditions they need to maintain flor.

That will go much further in hammering home those fundamental concepts than any wine review ever will.

My criteria:

In compiling this list below, I focused on the videos that I think put a “face” on the Sherry wine region beyond pictures & descriptions in wine books. Not all of these videos will have stellar production value. But I do believe that everything here delivers enough meaningful content to warrant the time to watch them.

Of course, this list won’t be exhaustive. So if you know of another great Sherry wine video, please post them in the comments!

GuildSomm’s The Wines of Sherry (11:01)

By far, GuildSomm produces some of the best content that any wine student can find. Well worth subscribing to their channel!

At the (5:40) mark, there is an excellent demonstration of how the fractional blending of the solera system takes place. However, the narration and explanation of the tools used for this process is better in Jamie Goode’s short (2:39) video.

The Gastro Traveler’s All About Sherry! || The secrets behind Spain’s misunderstood wine! (10:09)

A great video to help you get a “feel” of the Jerez region with several worthwhile interviews. I also enjoyed paying attention to the writings and markings on the barrels during the bodega visits–spotting even a rare vintage Añada barrel at Tio Pepe at the (4:09) mark.

The Culinary Institute of America’s Sherry Wine of Andalucía (9:49)

It’s no surprise that a video from the CIA would focus a lot on the food pairing qualities of Sherry. But I found this immensely useful in developing blind tasting strategies for the various styles of Sherry by connecting them to food pairing concepts. Now when tasting a Sherry blind, I’ll let my mind wander towards what kind of food I want to pair it with–matching intensity & weight, bridge ingredients, etc. It’s been helping.

Paul Gormley & Antonio Souto’s Discovering Jerez/Sherry (25:28)

The Gormley video is not on the same scale when it comes to production quality as the previous three videos. It looks like a travel video from the early 1990s. But there is still some good content here with interviews and visuals of the region and winemaking.

In particular, I like where César Saldaña, the director of the Consejo Regulador, goes into more details about Sherry food pairings than he did in the CIA video above. For instance, I sometimes have difficulties distinguishing Amontillados from Olorosos. But at (5:23), Saldaña talks about pairing Amontillado with strong tuna and poultry while Oloroso is more for robust red meats. With Amontillados having more salinity and aldehydes from its partial time under flor, I can see those flavors going towards seared tuna much better than they would for a sirloin.

Vinos de Jerez TV’s Sherry Wines (6:58)

The dramatic music and narration of this video is hilariously hokey. However, even if you mute the audio, there are still a lot of great visuals of the vineyards and winemaking of Sherry. Starting at the 2:09 mark to 3:09, there is some cool “History Channel” type footage of Sherry’s history that I’ve not seen from other sources. It’s pretty much that one single minute of content as to why this video made the list.

But I will say, after a couple glasses of Sherry (and not spitting), the groan-worthiness of the over-the-top narration becomes immensely amusing.

BONUS: The Unknown Winecaster

This falls outside of my criteria of highlighting YouTube videos that give a “feel” for a wine region. But the Unknown Winecaster is a channel that every wine student should subscribe to. He did a four-part series on Sherry that is broken down into very manageable bites.

Part 2 Sherry Winecast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpcJ1INaknY

Screenshot from Part 2 of the Unknown Winecaster’s series on Sherry (July 20th, 2018)

Part 1 (12:18) – An Intro, the grapes & region
Part 2 (11:45) – The production process
Part 3 (12:47) – The different styles
Part IV (8:32) – Special age designations and food pairings

Essentially these are free wine classes with high-level content delivered on Powerpoint that the Winecaster narrates. If you’ve ever taken an online university course, these winecasts will give you déjà vu. But I mean that as a compliment and testament to the academic quality of the material.

A Tip:

In my opinion, the best way to use these winecasts is as a review after you’ve done the bulk of your studying and just before you take your exam. If you start with these in the beginning, you’re going to get bogged down in taking notes instead of really listening or absorbing the content.

By using these winecasts as a review tool, you can sit back and focus only on the material that jumps out to you as unfamiliar. And, believe me, no matter how much you’ve studied or think that you have a region down pat, I guarantee you that the Unknown Winecaster will drop a little nugget of knowledge that you haven’t stumbled upon yet.

For me, it was being introduced to the albedo effect

This triggered a light bulb moment in how the reflectiveness of the white Albariza soils helps with water retention.

Albariza soil photo by El Pantera. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-SA-4.0

It’s particularly crucial for wine students pursuing WSET certifications to be able to move beyond listing facts towards connecting those concepts to how it impacts the vine & wine.

Every wine student will memorize the advantages of Albariza.
It’s not very fertile.
It retains water.
The clay and silica mixed with the limestone form a crust to reduce evaporation.
It’s very crumbly and allows roots to penetrate deep.
It stays cool but reflects heat on the canopy to aid ripening.

That last part on reflectiveness is almost always connected in rote memorization to the impact on the grapes (staying cool to maintain what little acidity Palomino has as well as allowing leafier canopies for shading without jeopardizing ripeness). Yet, that albedo effect cooling also plays a key role in limiting the evaporation of the water in the soils. It makes perfect sense when you stop and think about it so I feel silly that it hadn’t clicked earlier. But it’s one of those connections that you often overlook when you’re memorizing flashcards.

This is the value in taking a multi-prong approach to your wine studies. You never know what’s going to flip that light switch.

Those are my picks. What’s your favorite wine video about Sherry?

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Terroir Sundae https://spitbucket.net/2019/12/02/terroir-sundae/ https://spitbucket.net/2019/12/02/terroir-sundae/#respond Mon, 02 Dec 2019 19:43:50 +0000 http://spitbucket.net/?p=8653 As a wine student, I’m always knee-deep in terroir. Working through the WSET Diploma, the enduring question that runs through every wine is: Why are you the way you are? The TL;DR answer is usually “Terroir”-that vague French word which encapsulates all the natural elements of a vineyard and vintage. Over the last couple of decades, that term has evolved like the ice cream sundae from a soda float of “somewhereness” to 3 scoops of…

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As a wine student, I’m always knee-deep in terroir. Working through the WSET Diploma, the enduring question that runs through every wine is: Why are you the way you are?

Ice cream sundae by National Cancer Institute. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under PD-author

The TL;DR answer is usually “Terroir”-that vague French word which encapsulates all the natural elements of a vineyard and vintage. Over the last couple of decades, that term has evolved like the ice cream sundae from a soda float of “somewhereness” to 3 scoops of soils, topography and climate topped by a cherry of tradition.

Fantastic stuff for study guides and wine books but dreadfully boring for wineries trying to reach the lucrative Millennial market.

Somewhereness still matters. But not in the way we think.

Terroir is essential, no doubt. Ultimately the quality of the sundae depends on the base ingredients that are the foundation for the whole dish.

Spanish wine bottled in France

Is it Spanish? Is it French? Secretly Aussie? Most folks aren’t going to care as long as it’s tasty and a good value.

However, wine writers, such as Master of Wine Tim Atkin, have long noted that the increasing globalization of wine (and the general apathy of consumers) is making those folks who are genuinely interested in the nuances of terroir a minority.

But across the world, wineries still need to find ways to stand out from the pack–to trumpet their distinctiveness. They still need to give consumers a reason to choose their sundae over all the other sundaes and derivatives out there.

So why not lean in hard on the quality ingredients you’re using? After all, isn’t that what everyone else is doing?

However, those aren’t the questions that wineries should be asking. They certainly aren’t the questions that most Millennial wine consumers are asking. Instead, with so many options competing for attention and wallets, the more pertinent question is, “How hard am I making it for consumers to enjoy my terroir sundae?”

Spoonfed

Wine is a unique commodity in that we willingly create multiple barriers to entry. There are price points and availability, of course, but also a substantial education barrier.

To really “get” the differences between various terroirs and why some wines are worth hunting and paying more for, requires a fair degree of knowledge on the consumer’s part. It’s a level of expertise that we routinely take for granted. There is this assumption that if a consumer likes wine, then they’ll eventually “get serious” enough to invest time and effort into learning about it.

Meanwhile–while we’re waiting for consumers like those pesky Millennials to “get serious”–we still desperately want them to enjoy (and buy!) our sundaes. “You want something distinctive? Here is our world-class terroir with a unique combination of natural factors that gives our wine a ‘sense of place’!”

Jaxon with a cupcake

Granted, it could still be a fun experience. But maybe not the kind of experience worth splurging for top-shelf stuff.

But without the “utensil” of education needed to understand those natural factors and what makes them unique, we’re basically just giving consumers a sundae with no spoon. Sure, they can dig right in, but it’s going to get messy.

Don’t forget the cherry on top.

However, there is one part of the sundae that you don’t need any help or utensils to enjoy–and for many, it’s the best part.

The cherry.

It’s the stories, traditions and people behind the wine. While often overlooked, this is still an immutable part of the terroir sundae. But, more importantly, it’s the tangible part that consumers don’t need a long spoon of wine education to devour.

This is because people relate to people. Even if the stories and traditions are worlds apart from their own, it is far easier for folks to connect to these human elements than it is to soils, topography and climate.

It’s also the one part that every winery can absolutely nail with their marketing message–regardless of how spectacular the rest of their terroir really is.

Your sundae might not have hand-churned, French vanilla ice cream sourced from grass-fed cows that received daily deep tissue massages. But fresh homemade Maraschino cherries make even store brand scoops tastier.

Likewise, you might not have vineyards in the blessed terroir of Chablis, Barolo, Hunter Valley or the Stags Leap District, but remember that consumers are going need a long spoon to dig into what makes those sundaes special.

So work with what you have and don’t forget the best part.

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60 Second Wine Review – Renzo M. Erta e China Rosso di Toscana https://spitbucket.net/2019/11/11/60-second-wine-review-renzo-m-erta-e-china-rosso-di-toscana/ https://spitbucket.net/2019/11/11/60-second-wine-review-renzo-m-erta-e-china-rosso-di-toscana/#respond Mon, 11 Nov 2019 14:38:21 +0000 http://spitbucket.net/?p=8643 A few quick thoughts on the 2017 Renzo M Erta e China Rosso di Toscana from the Renzo Masi family. Note: This wine was a sample. The Geekery Renzo M is the negociant label of third-generation winemaker Paolo Masi. His family estate, Fattoria di Basciano, is based in the Chianti Rufina DOCG subzone of Tuscany. Located in the hills east of Florence, Rufina is a higher elevation with vineyards going up to 1600ft (500m) compared…

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A few quick thoughts on the 2017 Renzo M Erta e China Rosso di Toscana from the Renzo Masi family.

Note: This wine was a sample.

The Geekery
Renzo M Erta e China

Renzo M is the negociant label of third-generation winemaker Paolo Masi. His family estate, Fattoria di Basciano, is based in the Chianti Rufina DOCG subzone of Tuscany. Located in the hills east of Florence, Rufina is a higher elevation with vineyards going up to 1600ft (500m) compared to the average 1000ft (300m) elevation in Chianti Classico.

Because of this higher elevation combined with a continental climate, there’s a wide diurnal temperature spread. As a result, Sangiovese from the limestone soils of Rufina tends to ripen slower with well-integrated tannins and fresh acidity.

For the Renzo M wines, the Masi family supplements their estate fruit with grapes grown by their neighbors in Rufina and surrounding areas. The Erta e China is 50% Sangiovese and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon that has been aged 14 months in a mix of 2nd year French & American oak barrels that were previously used for the family’s estate wines. In 2017, Masi only produced 40,000 bottles of this wine.

The Wine

Photo by ShakataGaNai: Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Juicy red cherries linger on the finish of this Sangio-Cab blend.

Medium-plus intensity nose. Lots of floral and bright red cherry notes. There are some noticeable vanilla and oak spices.

On the palate, those cherry notes carry through with juicy medium-plus acidity. However, the Cab flavors of red currant and tobacco leaf become more pronounced. Oak is present but well integrated with the medium-plus tannins and medium-plus body of the fruit. Moderate length finish lingers on the fruit and tobacco leaf.

The Verdict

My previous experience with the Masi family’s wines was with the Il Bastardo Sangiovese that Paolo Masi consults on. While that wine is enjoyable, as was the 2018 Renzo M Chianti that was also sent as a sample, this 2017 Erta e China is definitely a step above.

For between $10-15 USD, this Rosso di Toscana certainly has great structure & complexity that can stand alone or with food.

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The Past and Future of Small Family Wineries https://spitbucket.net/2019/08/19/the-past-and-future-of-small-family-wineries/ https://spitbucket.net/2019/08/19/the-past-and-future-of-small-family-wineries/#respond Mon, 19 Aug 2019 08:40:01 +0000 http://spitbucket.net/?p=8612 First off, I want to apologize for the radio silence the last couple of weeks. August is “vacation-month” in France and, perhaps, Paris is rubbing off on me.  My brain certainly needed some time away from the wine world to recharge. Still not quite back in the saddle yet but I’m getting there. However, I do want to take the time to highlight this Kiva micro-loan for a small Georgian winery and what it means…

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First off, I want to apologize for the radio silence the last couple of weeks. August is “vacation-month” in France and, perhaps, Paris is rubbing off on me.  My brain certainly needed some time away from the wine world to recharge. Still not quite back in the saddle yet but I’m getting there.

However, I do want to take the time to highlight this Kiva micro-loan for a small Georgian winery and what it means for the future of wineries like Tinatini’s.

KIVA loan https://www.kiva.org/lend/1812416

Kiva.org’s loan page for Tinatini and her son to modernize their winery so they can take part in Georgia’s growing wine tourism industry.
Please consider donating and sharing this page.

Most folks in the wine industry have heard this “joke.”

How do you make a small fortune in wine?

You start with a large fortune.

The response is usually a knowing chuckle followed by a small sigh because of how true that statement is. It’s not easy to make money in the wine industry. This is why so many winery owners nowadays are “second career” folks who have made their fortune elsewhere.

But the goal hasn’t always been to make a small fortune.

When you look at the history of wine on a global and historical scale, it’s populated far more by stories of small family wineries like Tinatini in Tsinandali, Georgia than it is by dot.com billionaires and shipping magnates living the “vintner’s life-style.”

Yes, there has always been the grand estates of the gentry like the Pontacs’ Ho Bryan and the esteemed Roman crus extolled by Pliny the Elder.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jacob_Gerritsz._Cuyp_-_Wine_Grower_-_WGA5850.jpg

Jacob Gerritsz’s The Wine Grower. (1628)

But it likely wasn’t all Roman DRC poured at the taverns of Pompei. Of the thousands of ships that have sailed from Bordeaux to London, the fabled classified growths only accounted for a small percentage of that cargo.

Throughout history, the backbone of the wine industry has always been families making wine for sustenance. Both personal sustenance and as a source of income.

Not to make a fortune and to buy a Ferrari. But to pay for a roof over the head.  Support for their children. And maybe buy a few more barrels.

As consumers and folks in the industry, we must never lose sight of this.

The vast, vast majority of people in the wine industry aren’t here to make a fortune. But instead to do something they love. Perhaps, with the hope that they’ll make enough to pass that love onto the next generation.

Photo by Jim G from Silicon Valley, CA, USA. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-2.0

If you see a tasting room sign of a winery you’ve never heard of, give it a shot. You never know, it might become your new favorite.

While no one is entitled to a sale (the “Nice Guy Syndrome”) on the merit of being a small family winery alone, I do think these wineries deserve respect and at least the chance to earn your attention.

Today, there are so many agricultural crops that are nothing but commodities. Do you know who farmed your corn? Who harvested the peaches you enjoyed at lunch? Do you know where the grain that went into your bread or the milk in your butter came from?

We’ve lost our connection to so many of our food items because we’ve lost sight of the people behind them.

I don’t want to see the same thing happen to the wine industry. Which is why when small family wineries like Tinatini ask for our support, let’s not lose our opportunity to give it.

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Nitty Gritty Grumble – Are winery websites dropping the ball? https://spitbucket.net/2019/07/31/nitty-gritty-grumble-are-winery-websites-dropping-the-ball/ https://spitbucket.net/2019/07/31/nitty-gritty-grumble-are-winery-websites-dropping-the-ball/#respond Wed, 31 Jul 2019 23:15:52 +0000 http://spitbucket.net/?p=8555 I had a great Tasmanian sparkling rosé that I wanted to write something on. Lovely aromatics. Tremendous mouthfeel. Killer value. Definitely a bottle worth spreading the word about. So I went to the producer’s website to start researching for a post. Pretty site, lots of lovely pictures. The bottles moved when I hovered the mouse over them. I found the Méthode Tasmanoise tab charming. Clearly, the winery spent a bit of money and thought to…

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I had a great Tasmanian sparkling rosé that I wanted to write something on. Lovely aromatics. Tremendous mouthfeel. Killer value. Definitely a bottle worth spreading the word about.
Photo by Finlay McWalter. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-SA-3.0

So I went to the producer’s website to start researching for a post.

Pretty site, lots of lovely pictures. The bottles moved when I hovered the mouse over them. I found the Méthode Tasmanoise tab charming. Clearly, the winery spent a bit of money and thought to put this together.

But that charm and my enthusiasm for writing about their wine got zapped when I came to its product page.

Now I know that many winery websites are designed with Direct-to-Consumer sales in mind instead of wine writers’ research. I get that. So I expect to see the “nitty gritty” details I crave (blend composition, vineyard sources, aging, dosage, case production, etc.) buried beneath the fold. Or maybe hidden away in a trade section.

But I didn’t quite expect this.

Jansz product page for rose sparkling wine

Side note: The gift bag marketing on the product page is very clever.

Wait.

You’re going to tell me what the pH and acidity specs are even though few wine writers and hardly any consumers care about them. But the best answer you’re going to give me about the grape composition is…. sparkling rosé?

Really?

Photo by Randy OHC. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-2.0

I wonder if, at my next WSET tasting exam, I can get away with identifying the composition of the red wines as “red wine.”

I highly doubt this is some top-secret proprietary blend. Even if you don’t want to give the exact percentages because they change often, it shouldn’t be that difficult for someone to find out if this 12.5% ABV sparkling wine with a 3.11 pH and 6.7 g/l acidity has Pinot noir and Chardonnay.

I suppose I could email the winery or tag them on social media to ask what’s in their wine. Maybe I’ll get a reply? Or not.

But that still begs the question of why in the world do so many wineries make it hard for somms, retailers and wine writers to find meaningful information about their stories and products? Why is this an area where wineries regularly drop the ball when it comes to helping folks sell and talk about their wines?

Above the Fold – Entice

A winery’s website serves two audiences. Consumers and the communicators who are going to be presenting your wines to those consumers.

I haven’t seen any good traffic studies on who is more likely to visit a winery’s website. It very well may be industry folks and writers. But the smart move is to always keep the consumer (and what they’re thinking) front and center. That means making sure that the “above the fold” content of a page is enticing as numerous scroll map studies have shown that website visitors are not likely to scroll further down the page.

Unless, of course, they’re looking for something. But more on that later.

Here is where I think the Jansz page does a decent job. The tasting note is not too jargon-driven, using words that consumers respond to such as “vibrant” and “mouthwatering.” As I mentioned above, I think the gift bag suggestion is an excellent idea for add-ons.

Brunnello di Montalcino

Even world-renown wine regions that are monovarietal will get the “What’s in it?” question from consumers who are not geeks or connoisseurs.

For a lot of consumers, this is perfect. But some will want a little more detail. Maybe stuff like, oh I don’t know, grape composition?

What’s in it?

When I was on the sales floor, this was always the question I got asked the most. No one asked me about pH, acidity, yields, harvest dates or trellising.

Occasionally, folks would want to know if the wine was “natural”, vegan or “green-friendly.” The “butteriness” of Chardonnay would come up for customers who loved or hated that style. Sometimes I would get general questions about how oaky a wine was or if it was sweet. But, even then, I never had a consumer expect me to give them exact oak aging and residual sugar details.

Often consumers wouldn’t ask any questions whatsoever and were happy with just a strong recommendation that the wine was worth trying. But that didn’t mean that I didn’t still have questions that would send me to a winery’s website for answers.

Below the Fold – Educate

What kind of “nitty-gritty” info should you have on your site for the folks who really want to learn more about your wines?

A lot of that will depend on if you want everything on the consumer page or in a separate trade/tech sheet section. If it’s the former, you still want to keep the page focused on enticement and driving home why this wine is worth your attention. Again, details like pH and TA are great for geeks, but most consumers aren’t going to care.

illustration by Luigi Chiesa. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under PD-self

Seriously, I only had one customer ever ask me what the pH of a wine was. That was because he just had veneers put on and his dentist told him not to have any beverages with a pH less than 3.

One example I like is from Arlo Vintners in Victoria with what sounds like a fascinating white field blend.

In a few brief paragraphs, this product page tells me:

What’s in it.
Where the fruit comes from and why this is unique/interesting.
How it was made (co-fermented, ambient yeast, tank, no acidification, unfiltered).

The biggest things missing are details about how the vineyard is farmed–i.e. organic, sustainable, biodynamic, etc. This is definitely an area that consumers are asking more questions and becoming increasingly mindful about.

Tech Sheets/Trade Sections

Personally, I think every winery website should have a trade section. When I worked in the industry, it was always the first thing I looked for and, as a writer, my heart still drops when I visit a website without one.

Selling wine is like big game hunting. The ammo you use matters. For the somms, wine stewards and writers looking for more info about your wine, here is where you’re either going to properly equip or send them on their way with Nerf darts.

Photo by JKDesigns. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Nerf Strike Vulcan aka a fancy, expensive winery website that offers little to no useful info about a wine.

This is the section to geek out with nitty-gritty technical specs but keep in mind that those are “low caliber” details. They’re not going to bag a sale on their own.

You need high caliber equipment to really nab the prize. Few things pack a punch like personal story tidbits.

And you can slip this powerful ammo into a tech sheet.

A perfect example comes from the vineyard details that Pedroncelli provides with their tech sheet for the Courage Zinfandel.

Dave and Dena Faloni are the neighbors behind Courage Zinfandel, a three-generation grape-growing family located two miles west of the winery. While most Zinfandel in the valley is head-pruned, Dave has trained his vines on a trellis. He knows every quirk of the soil and every vine on their 24 acres having farmed it all of his life.

I love that line “… the neighbors behind Courage Zinfandel” and how it invokes the picture of neighbors and families working together to make something that a consumer would want to share with their family. Great personal connection. The other lines also add personality that makes this Zin feel different and distinct from all the other Zins competing for attention.

Likewise, I also love how Ramey drops several details in a tech sheet about how their Napa Valley Claret is different from its many, many peers.

10% Russian River fruit. (Remember, AVAs are only 85%)
8% Syrah.
12 months lees aging with monthly bâtonnage.

How cool is that?

If you take me back to my sales floor days with a customer asking why they should get this $35-50 Napa wine over other $35-50 Napa wines, this is the type of stuff that I’m going to be telling them–along with my personal recommendation of how delicious the wine is.

Knowing these details gives communicators ammo to highlight the unique and interesting points that make a wine worth paying attention to. So why not give it to them?

Here’s one more.

While I would like a little more “ammo” from an enticement perspective, I’m impressed with the technical design of how Juniper Estate in the Margaret River incorporates their tasting notes on their product pages.

Juniper Estates Malbec

Next to each bottle is a link to view tasting notes as a popup window. No need to click around and visit multiple pages to learn about different wines.

That’s a lot of nitty-gritty info packed into a small space. But it’s done in a fairly elegant and unobtrusive way. Many wineries would be wise to imitate this design.

The Bottom Line

The people who visit your website came to your site for a reason. There was something about your wine that captured their attention and here is where you are either going to foster that intrigue or lose it completely.

A well-designed and functional website is a critical piece that shouldn’t be overlooked. It affects not only consumers and potential DtC sales, but it profoundly impacts what kind of tools you’re giving sommeliers, retailers and writers to sell and talk about your wine.

The ball is in your court. Go to your website and take a look at your armory. Is it well stocked with useful and meaningful tidbits that entice, excite and inspire folks to want to learn more?

Or is the room mostly empty except for some scattered Nerf darts?

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60 Second Wine Review — Gonet-Médeville Extra Brut Rosé https://spitbucket.net/2019/07/23/60-second-wine-review-gonet-medeville-extra-brut-rose/ https://spitbucket.net/2019/07/23/60-second-wine-review-gonet-medeville-extra-brut-rose/#respond Tue, 23 Jul 2019 18:29:00 +0000 http://spitbucket.net/?p=8545 A few quick thoughts on the Gonet-Médeville Premier Cru Rosé Champagne. The Geekery In 2000, Xavier Gonet started the Champagne house with his wife, Julie Médeville, in the premier cru village of Bisseuil in the Grande Vallée de la Marne. Gonet hails from the notable Champagne family of Philippe Gonet in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger with that house now run by Xavier’s siblings. Médeville comes from Bordeaux where her family owns several estates in Graves and Sauternes…

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A few quick thoughts on the Gonet-Médeville Premier Cru Rosé Champagne.

The Geekery

Gonet-Medeville rose Champagne

In 2000, Xavier Gonet started the Champagne house with his wife, Julie Médeville, in the premier cru village of Bisseuil in the Grande Vallée de la Marne.

Gonet hails from the notable Champagne family of Philippe Gonet in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger with that house now run by Xavier’s siblings. Médeville comes from Bordeaux where her family owns several estates in Graves and Sauternes including Ch. Respide Médeville, Ch. Les Justice and Ch. Gilette.

Gonet-Médeville farms all 10 ha (25 acres) of their vineyards sustainably. The vines are located entirely in premier and Grand Cru villages and include the Champ Alouette and Louvière vineyards in Le Mesnil as well as La Grande Ruelle in Ambonnay.

For many years, Champagne Gonet-Médeville has been brought to the US by legendary importer Martine Saunier. The 2014 documentary film, A Year in Champagne, features Xavier Gonet prominently along with other Saunier clients–Stephane Coquilette, Saint-Chamant and Diebolt-Vallois.

The Extra Brut Rosé is 70% Chardonnay and 27% Pinot noir with 3% still red wine added for color. The wine was aged for seven months after primary fermentation in neutral oak barrels before bottling. Gonet then matured the wine three years on its lees with around 8000 bottles produced.

The Wine

Photo by 4028mdk09. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-SA-3.0

The rich pomegranate adds some savory complexity to this Champagne.

Medium-plus intensity nose. Tart cherries and pomegranate with an interesting ginger spice note.

On the palate, the red fruits carry through and add some ruby red grapefruit as well. Here, the spice morphs into a toasty gingerbread note. The medium-weight of the fruit balances well with the silky mousse. But what’s most remarkable is the long saline/minerally finish that is almost lip-smacking.

The Verdict

This is a charming Rosé that’s very solid for around $65-75 retail. The restaurant I enjoyed this at had it marked up to $130 which is still a good value for its quality.

BTW, if you want to check out the trailer for A Year in Champagne, I highly recommend it!

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