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Archive for May, 2013

The 18 Noble Grapes Wine Challenge


A Spectrum of Wine in Just 18 Noble Grapes

Want to experience the entire range of wine?

It’s time to ditch the same ol’ wine you’ve been drinking and expand your palate. No more of that bottom-shelf TJ’s select or that bottle of Apothic Red. Why? Well, because not only will you get to try all 18 noble grapes, but by doing so you’ll be on the fast track to becoming a wine expert. Make a list of the grapes below and challenge yourself to try every one of them.

What Are The Noble Grapes? There are 18 red and white noble grapes (listed below) that define the complete range of wine flavors –from clear, zesty white to deep dark red wine.

The Noble Grapes Challenge

Here is the list of the 18 major grapes that are readily available and define a unique flavor of wine. Once you master this list, you will intuitively understand the major flavor profiles of most red and white wines in the world. This list is missing a few sections such as Dessert wine, Rosé Wine and Sparkling wine. (more…)

10 Most Important Things To Know About Wine



Simplifying Wine

Wine is a complex topic that is intermingled with history, culture, agriculture, geology and genetics. So how can you learn more about wine without getting glombed down by details?

For the longest time, wine has been learned by region and in the past this worked well. However today, since wine is now literally being produced everywhere, the regional lines have become blurry. So it’s time to develop new ways to learn about wine. As it happens, there are 10 fundamental things about wine that are pretty easy to grasp.

Below are the 10 most important things to know about wine.

10 Most Important Things To Know About Wine

We are guilty of bad math. It’s more like 18 things in ten different categories, but who’s counting?


What Are The Most Popular Types of Wine?

Want to find out what wine you like best? Check out just 18 different grape varieties, commonly referred to as international varieties. They include light sweet white wines like Moscato and Riesling to deep dark red wines like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Once you’ve tried all 18, you’ll actually have a pretty good handle on the entire range of wine. You’ll also know more about your personal preferences.


What Are the Most Popular Wine Regions?

Knowing that Italy, France and Spain are the top three wine producing countries in the world tells you three things. For one, they probably produce the majority of bulk wine in the world. Two, they also produce some of the best wine in the world. And three, France, Italy and Spain are the source of all of the most popular varieties of wine in the world.

6 Fascinating Oldest Wineries in the World

May 29, 2013 Blog » Wine News & Entertainment » 6 Fascinating Oldest Wineries in the World



Take a peek at some of the oldest wineries around the world. These working relics show how wine has been with us and will continue to be with us for the next millennia.


Ancient Chinese Wine Pot Bronze

Bronze wine pot from China. credit

Where Did Wine Come From?

The ancient Egyptians drank wine. Back then, wine was consumed by high society and beer was the commoner’s drink. The Egyptians got their inspiration from the Levant (modern day Israel, Lebanon, etc) who’d been making wine since 4000 BC. One ancient wine cellar was found in Armenia inside a cave on the side of a hill. The cellar dates back to 3500 BC and shows how ancient winemaking was done.

Wine is even older than that. In 2004, fluids left in 9000 year old pottery were discovered in China. What was in all those old pots? They were filled with a wine made from rice, honey and fruit. Apparently, the Chinese were making sangria before anyone made wine.




6 Most Fascinating Oldest Wineries in the World

Aerial Photo of Chateau de Goulaine vineyards in Loire Valley


Château de Goulaine


circa 1000


Château de Goulaine was owned by the Goulaine family except for a stint from 1788 to 1858 when it changed hands to a Dutch banker during the French Revolution. One of the last castles in the Loire to still make wine, Goulaine produces some Loire Valley white wines including Muscadet and Folle Blanche. It’s been said that the previous chef of Château de Goulaine, Mrs. Clémence Lefeuvre, invented Beurre Blanc sauce.


Today you can stay the night at Château de Goulaine or rent it for a wedding.


Barone Ricasoli Castello

Barone Ricasoli


Established 1141


This castle was owned by a family in Tuscany when Florence and Siena were still city-states. The Ricasoli survived Italy’s internal struggles in the mid-1200′s, the Black Death in the mid 1300′s, the rise of the Medicis until the 1700′s and World War II. Today you can find their most prestigious wine, “Castello di Brolio”, for about $70.

Schloss Johannisberg Oldest Wineries Aerial View

Schloss Johanisberg


circa 1100


There are records of an order for 6000 liters of wine during Charlemagne’s rule in the late 700′s. Schloss Johannisberg was destroyed once by marauding peasants in the German Peasant’s War in 1525. It is home to the oldest Riesling vineyards in the world and also lays claim to making the first late-harvest wines in 1775. Before then grapes with noble rot were not considered suitable for winemaking.

Schloss Vollrads Oldest Wineries

Schloss Vollrads


Established 1211


The oldest documented sale of wine from Schloss Vollrads was in 1211 when a thirsty monastery in Mainz put in a written order. The Rheingau-based winery produces a wide range of Riesling wines. You can visit their restaurant to celebrate their 800 year wine dynasty and try their Rieslings with classic German fare like bratwurst.


Codorniu Cava House



Established 1551


The first sparkling wine house in Spain didn’t start with bubbly. The house had vineyards and a still winemaking facility since the mid 1500′s. In the 1820′s, Codorniu started making Cava, referring to it as Champagne. Today Codorniu is one of the top three Cava producers in the world with an annual production of close to 5 million cases.



Parras de la Fuente Casa Madero Winery

view from the Church of Parras de la Fuente. credit


Casa Madero, Parras de la Fuente


Established 1597


As far as New World wine production goes, would it surprise you to know that the oldest winery in America is in Mexico? Casa Madero is in Parras de la Fuente, a tiny fertile valley in Coahuila, Mexico which is the Northeastern Mexican state next to the Texas border. Casa Madero’s flagship wine is equal parts Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.


Besides the aforementioned few there’s also Chateau Mont-Redon which was designated a vineyard in 1344 next to Chateauneuf du Pape. The United States didn’t get started with wineries until 1810 with Brotherhood Winery in New York.

Want to see more? Check out 4 Unbelievable Wine Regions

24 Μαϊου 1976

On this day…

24th May, 2013 by Rupert Millar

On this day in 1976 California famously took on Bordeaux and Burgundy at the Judgement of Paris tasting.

wine-country-sonoma-napa-smackdown-judgment-of-paris-wine-tasting-0812-lOrganised by British wine writer Steven Spurrier, the event was a blind tasting that pitted famous French wines against the more nascent Californian industry.

The French line-up included 1970 Mouton Rothschild, Montrose and Haut-Brion in the red category and 1973 Beaune Clos des Mouches from Joseph Drouhin and Batard-Monrachet from Ramonet-Prudhon in the white selection.

The Californian pretenders included 1973 Stag’s Leap, 1971 Ridge Monte Bello and 1970 Heitz among the reds and 1973 Montelena, 1974 Chalone Vineyard and 1972 Spring Mountain among the whites.https://i2.wp.com/greatwinenews.com/vineyard/uploads/2013/05/220px-1973_Judgement_of_Paris_Chateau_Montelena.jpg

There were 11 judges overall, although only the scores of the nine French judges were used to calculate the final results (which can be seen here).

When the results were revealed many of the French judges were shocked to discover how highly they had ranked some of the US wines and that Montelena had won in the white category.

Although dogged by some controversy later, the tasting is generally held to be a pivotal moment in the emergence of the US (and the New World more generally) onto the international wine scene.

The tasting has been recreated several times and is often used as a benchmark and model for other regions seeking to prove their worth.

Judgment of Paris (wine) (more…)

Ανακοινώθηκαν οι νικητές Decanter World Wine Awards 2013 ΌΛΕΣ ΟΙ ΔΙΑΚΡΙΣΕΙΣ ΤΩΝ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΩΝ ΟΙΝΟΠΟΙΕΙΩΝ

oinos and more2013 DWWA LOGO

Οι κριτές στα φετινά Decanter World Wine Awards δοκίμασαν ένα αριθμό ρεκόρ 14,362 κρασιών και απενεμήθησαν σχεδόν 10.000 μετάλλια, τα οποία ανακοινώθηκαν σήμερα το πρωί.

Tα Decanter World Wine Awards ξεκίνησαν το 2004 με μόλις πάνω από 4.000 κρασιά, και γιορτάζουν τώρα  τη δέκατη επέτειό τους ως ο κορυφαίος διαγωνισμός οίνου στον κόσμο.

Αυτό το έτος, 219 ειδικοί στο κρασί από 27 χώρες, συμπεριλαμβανομένων 75 Masters of Wine και 13 Master Οινοχόων, συγκεντρώθηκαν στο Λονδίνο τον Απρίλιο για να δοκιμάσουν 14,362  κρασιά από 52 χώρες.

Συνολικά σε 9.873 κρασιά απονεμήθηκε ένα μετάλλιο Decanter: 156 Περιφερειακή Τρόπαια, 229 χρυσά μετάλλια, 1.665 ασημένια μετάλλια, 4.165 Χάλκινα μετάλλιο και 3.658 Commendeds. (more…)

Chapoutier: ‘Bring water back into wine’

17th May, 2013 by Rupert Millar

Winemaker Michel Chapoutier has called for water to be re-introduced to winemaking to help counter rising alcohol levels.

waterThe suggestion was one of several Chapoutier gave to the drinks business while discussing the effects of climate change.

As previously reported by db, Chapoutier has questioned the findings of a study into the effect of climate change on vineyard regions.

However, he was more concerned with the immediate problems of rising alcohol levels brought about by increasing CO2 levels.

He noted that one of his wines, single vineyard Le Pavillon from Ermitage, had seen an alcohol increase of 12.5% to 14% between the 1990s and now.

“How can we counter this?” he asked, “perhaps new yeasts with higher consumption.

“In Bordeaux they can drop Merlot and introduce more Cabernet Sauvignon.”

He also said that he had suggested to the INAO that in Roussillon, more heat resistant grape varieties such as Touriga Naçional might be admitted to the AOP.

He also suggested higher density planting, which would encourage roots to go deeper as well as meaning each vine is able to shade the other and also grafting – attaching new shoots to existing rootstock rather than simply up-rooting vines.

“But people don’t want to take the time,” he conceded.

However, he was most in favour of adding water to achieve lower alcohol levels without diluting the taste.

He described it as a much easier way of reducing alcohol without the costly and relatively destructive techniques of reverse osmosis.

He said that in tests he had conducted, the wine with water was the preferred of all the samples.

On the other hand, as with grafting, it is not a method that winemakers are keen to either discuss or practice, this time due to the negative impression they fear such a technique would impress upon consumers.

Finally though he added that the ability of vines themselves to adapt to climatic changes should not be underestimated.

“Plants are able to adapt quickly to disease and temperature,” he said, “much more quickly than animals in fact as they cannot run away as animals can.

“There have been tests with tomatoes which show that within a generation or two the plants have readjusted to various changes.”

Το Ακακίες ροζέ Κυρ-Γιάννη στα Top 10 κρασιά του Αμερικάνικου τύπου





Κυρ-Γιάννη Ακακίες Ροζέ 2012


Αυτό είναι το κρασί που o Dave McIntyre της The washington post περιγράφει ως «ένα εξαιρετικό ροζέ για το καλοκαίρι», προσθέτοντας ότι είναι «καλύτερο από πολλά Γαλλικά ροζέ του 2012.»


Ο McIntyre συνέχισε: «Αυτό είναι ώριμο και πικάντικο, με καλή οξύτητα να ισορροπεί τις γεύσεις φρούτων.»


Amyndeon, Greece, $14

Μιχάλης Μπουτάρης: Βρήκε το κατάλληλο σημείο παραγωγής σταφυλιών στη Gansu της Κίνας

oinos and more



Shandong, Ningxia, Xinjiang, Hebei και Yunnan είναι ορισμένα από τα σημεία, όπου οι άνθρωποι εναποθέτουν τις ελπίδες τους για το μέλλον της κινέζικης βιομηχανίας οίνου. Από την πλευρά του ο Μιχάλης Μπουτάρης, ένας οινοποιός 5ης γενιάς, που έχει (εξ)ασκήσει την τέχνη του στη Γαλλία, τη Χιλή και στο κτήμα Κυρ-Γιάννη στην Ελλάδα, που ανήκει στην οικογένειά του, είπε ότι βρήκε ένα sweet spot στη Gansu, μια επαρχία στην βορειο-κεντρική Κίνα. Ο Μπουτάρης, απόφοιτος του πανεπιστημίου της Καλιφόρνια στο Ντέιβις, με Master στην επιστήμη της Φυτοκομίας, μιλάει γι’ αυτό και άλλα projects.

–          Παράγετε κρασί στο Gansu εδώ και μερικά χρόνια. Πάνω σε ποια project (μελέτες, έρευνες, πρακτικές) εργάζεστε; (more…)

Screw Caps Go Upscale


Screw caps are having a moment, as American wines seek alternatives to cork.




Stelvin® capsules, more commonly referred to as “screw caps,” are having a moment. Amcor, a manufacturer of caps and other packaging, has just introduced four new liners that expand the range of permeability and eliminate PVDC—the material that contains a chlorine component. The company’s Technical Field Service and Quality director, Eric Graham, estimates that about 10 percent of America’s wines now have screw caps, and the numbers are growing.


While wines topped with screw caps are all the rage, many winemakers and consumers prefer corks as the closure for their fine wines, particularly those meant for aging—but not all. Dusted Valley Vintners partners Corey Braunel and Chad Johnson don’t, for example. They have used screwcaps on all their wines for the past decade, including for their most expensive bottlings.


“The cork industry has cleaned up a lot,” claims Chad Johnson. He and his partner easily disregard concerns and criticisms about screw caps.


“Here in the tasting room, most people don’t even notice that we’re pouring from screw caps,” says Johnson. “The comment most often heard when they do see it is, ‘Thanks!’”
And at “white tablecloth restaurants, we believe [screw caps] are a teaching moment,” he says.


When it comes to ageability concerns, it’s even more clear. “Ten years ago sommeliers were still on the fence regarding aging wines with screwcap, but now you’d be hard-pressed to find a wine professional who would argue that it isn’t a significant advantage in quality control,” Johnson says.


And the partners aren’t the one only who have a proclivity to the caps. Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, one of Washington’s biggest wine producers, is now using them to seal select white wines and lighter reds. Their new wine—Anew Riesling—was introduced nationwide in June with a Stelvin® capsule.


“This wine is geared toward a millennial female consumer,” says Lynda Eller, communications director for Chateau Ste. Michelle. “We are finding that younger millennial consumers are more experimental and open to alternative closures,” says says. “However,” she adds, “the majority of our core wine portfolio wines are cork finished. We think that using a natural closure best highlights wine.”


Tim Donahue—enology instructor at Walla Walla Community College, Enology and Viticulture—strongly disagrees with cork usage. “Winemakers will spend years on site selection, soil amendments, clonal selection, canopy design and spray programs,” he says, adding, “They will monitor water stress, leaf pull, fruit thin, measure phenolic data… use a 100% sterile bottling line and bottles, and then, just for the hell of it, shove an old piece of tree bark in the neck of the bottle and hope everything works out.”


Nicolas Quillé, winemaker and general manager at Pacific Rim, is another long time supporter of screw caps. “When I started to work with Randall [Grahm], owner of Bonny Doon Vineyards], it was already 100% screwed, and we’ve carried that in the Northwest,” says Quillé. “I would think we are the largest user of screw caps in Washington…I am at the point where I don’t understand why winemakers use corks for any wine. I have had no complaints from customers for years now,” he says.


At Dusted Valley, Braunel and Johnson say advances in screw cap technology allow winemakers to select different liner options, and offer aesthetic improvements, such as non-threaded closures. Even the best corks, they argue, will have density and porosity differences, and varying oxygen transfer rates, whereas screw caps are consistent and reproducible.


“Imagine a world where all wines are sealed with screw caps and someone comes along and tries to sell you on using tree bark?” asks Johnson. “It’s more expensive, a percentage of corks may fail, quality is inconsistent, but it looks good. Would you really consider switching?”


While disagreements about closures remain, there is no argument that Dusted Valley is turning out some outstanding wines. In our most recent reviews of the Dusted Valley 2010 reds, seven out of eight scored 90 points or higher, and were priced between $35 and $53.



Below are Paul Gregutt’s top rated Dusted Valley selections: 


90 Dusted Valley 2010 Petite Sirah Columbia Valley. Strong tannins are a given with varietal Petite Sirah, and they are here in force, along with dark, deep notes of licorice, vanilla and cassis fruit. It’s a big wine throughout, with very ripe fruit that never veers into jammy flab. Just plain delicious all the way through the long finish.  
abv: 15.3%         Price: $42


91 Dusted Valley 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley. A bright, tart, spicy wine with plenty of grip and detail, this threads flavors of herb, stem and earth into the substantial blackberry and cassis fruit. It’s nicely woven together, penetrating and punchy.
abv: 14.7%         Price: $35


92 Dusted Valley 2010 Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley. This is a lovely Cabernet Franc, polished and clean. It’s wound tight, with black fruits and firm, pencil lead tannins. There’s a dash of clean earth, good length, and some softening of the mid-palate from the addition of 18% Merlot. Editors’ Choice.
abv: 14.7%         Price: $42


92 Dusted Valley 2010 Malbec Columbia Valley. Dusted Valley is really rockin’ it in 2010, with outstanding varietal releases of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and this yummy Malbec. A big entry brings blackberry and cassis into the palate, with peppery highlights. Nice details of herb and tobacco are found, as the wine seems to get more powerful the longer it lingers. Editors’ Choice. 
abv: 14.7%         Price: $42


91 Dusted Valley 2010 Wallywood Red Columbia Valley. Wallywood is a Rhône-style red, two thirds Syrah, with Grenache, Mourvèdre and Petite Sirah filling in the rest. It surprises with its elegance, despite hefty alcohol and tannic components. It’s a very well done blend, melding together flavors of plum, berry, herb, stem, earth and iron. 
abv: 14.7%         Price: $42


91 Dusted Valley 2010 Rachis Syrah Columbia Valley. Rachis refers to a particular part of the grape stem, and indicates that roughly one quarter of this wine is whole cluster fermented. Very pretty cherry fruit is gently mixed with accents of Italian herbs, and the stems tighten up the tannins and add a light hint of bitterness. The finish has a tart, grapefruity kick.
abv: 14.9%         Price: $53


87 Dusted Valley 2011 Stained Tooth Syrah Columbia Valley. Dusted Valley puts out a number of Syrahs, with this being the first to be released from each vintage. Young and grapey, it’s got good fruit flavors, with suggestions of plum and berry. The tart acids bring a wash of citrus that lifts the finish.
abv: 14.7%         Price: $32


90 Dusted Valley 2011 Squirrel Tooth Alice Red Heaven Vineyard Red, Red Mountain. Mourvèdre is the dominant grape (60%) with Grenache making up the rest. It’s a riot of flavors, Bing cherry, green olive, some stem and herb, with the minerality of the Mourvèdre underscoring the finish. Very well done and quite tasty.
abv: 14.9%         Price: $39

Jefford on Monday: A Decade on the Bench

What’s a decade? One-fifth of a working lifetime, in most cases: a significant span. I’m now home after the tenth year of sitting in judgment as a panel chair for the Decanter World Wine Awards – for Regional France on this occasion. What have I learned?


DWWA 2013

1: Listen up
A wise judge is a good listener. Wines don’t talk, I know, but the metaphor usefully stresses openness and a lack of prescription, and implies attentiveness to all those ways in which a wine might be excellent. If you have too strong or fixed an ideal about what a wine variety, style or appellation should deliver, you’ll find that almost every wine you taste will fall short. You begin to lecture the wines, rather than allowing the wines to talk to you. The good of this world don’t have to be saintly; being good is enough. I’ve yet to meet a drinker who was unhappy with a delicious wine because it wasn’t ‘typical’, or because it didn’t measure up to some formal ideal. In any case, violent departures from what nature intended (the true meaning of typicity in the long term) are rarely delicious. Meet each wine on its own terms; be as sympathetic as you are able to its beauties and charms; and judge on that basis.

2: Look for quiet excellence
As any lifelong wine drinker knows, great wines don’t shout. Indeed they can often be discreet when you meet them; their excellence is, if you like, subcutaneous. In the competitive tasting context, this makes them easy to overlook. It takes both concentration and confidence for members of a judging panel to get behind that ‘quiet gold’ – but such medals exist, at least for the panels I’ve been lucky enough to chair. Of course showy wines deserve their golds: they’re enormous fun. But if I’m proud of anything, it’s that for the past three or four years the panels I’ve work with have found quiet golds. (It’s one reason I particularly relished judging the rosés of Provence this year: excellence always whispers there.)

3: Taste projectively
Tasters are surrogate drinkers – but drinkers will spend an hour or two with a wine, mostly over a meal, whereas we tasters have just a few minutes to taste the wine in artificial isolation. The most difficult skill for a judge to acquire is the ability to taste with drinkability (and the food context) in mind. It’s a kind of papillary astral projection, an out-of-palate experience, because the minor protuberances and gruff or austere emphases which finely honed but literal palates object to on flight two of the morning may be just what the mealtime or full-bottle drinker needs and loves. European red wines are sometimes over-berated for apparent failings in this respect.

4: Never turn off
Jaundice is contagious. If a flight or flights aren’t going well, gloom sometimes sets in, and that’s when wines risk going under-rewarded. Everything we taste is someone’s year’s work; it deserves sympathetic scrutiny. Cheerful attentiveness characterizes the perfect judging temperament. Tasters should always travel hopefully.

5: Share, share, share
None of us knows what it’s like to possess someone else’s mouth or nose. The utility of sharing the tasting experience, and appreciating the felicities others note first, is the fifth great lesson I’ve learned. Obduracy has no place on a tasting panel, particularly to negative end; no single palate, including that of the panel chair, is ever ‘right’. The most useful role of the chair, in fact, is not to douse enthusiasm or lay down law but to ensure that no excellence goes unremarked or undiscussed, even if it never goes further either. Honestly, there’s no greater pleasure than seeing fellow panelists come, smilingly, to enthuse about a wine which had initially unhooked a dusty score.

I’ve been lucky, I admit, to have judged panels down the years for regions whose finest producers see the utility of entering this competition – and lucky, too, to have judged the international trophies (which pit regional trophies against one another) on several occasions. When I’ve tasted at that level, of course, I’ve realised the final lesson of the last decade: that all beauty is unique. But that one I knew anyway.

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