Wine for Normal People

By Wine for Normal People

Listen to a podcast, please open Podcast Republic app. Available on Google Play Store.


Category: Food

Open in Apple Podcasts


Open RSS feed


Open Website


Rate for this podcast

Subscribers: 321
Reviews: 1

winelawn
 Aug 29, 2020
Best wine podcast out there. Great for newbies to enthusiasts.

Description

A podcast for people who like wine but not the snobbery that goes with it. We talk about wine in a fun, straightforward, normal way to get you excited about it and help you drink better, more interesting stuff. The Wine For Normal People book is available on Amazon! Back catalog available at http://winefornormalpeople.libsyn.com.

Episode Date
Ep 348: The Mâconnais of Burgundy
52:12

The Mâconnais is the southernmost area of Burgundy, known for excellent Chardonnay. Although it's often overshadowed by the other parts of Burgundy and only given credit for AOC Pouilly-Fuissé, this picturesque and historic Chardonnay-dominated region has some of exciting appellations you should seek out to see what Mâcon is capable of (hint: a lot, at great prices to boot!)


Source: Vins de Bourgogne

 

Here are the show notes: 

Mâcon location:

  • The Mâconnais is located between the Côte Chalonnaise and Beaujolais in Burgundy. It is a transitional area between the north and south of France, where the climate starts to warm a bit, and plusher, fuller styles of wine are possible.
  • The vineyards are on a long strip between two valleys split by the Saône River in the east as it flows south to meet the Rhône and Grosne River in the west.
  • The Mâconnais has 3,345.82 ha/8,268 acres of vineyard over rolling hills that intersperse with pastures, orchards and other agriculture.
  • Chardonnay represents 80% of all vines planted in the region. Reds are made of Gamay and Pinot Noir. Mâcon covers wines of white, red, and rosé.

 

 

History

  • Vines have been here since Gallo-Roman times but viticulture took off with the Abbey of Cluny, a Benedictine monastery founded in AD 910. These monks were dedicated to viticulture and were responsible for spreading it all over Europe: The order of monks from Cluny at its height had 20,000 monks in 2,000 dependent monasteries from Portugal to Poland. In response to the success of Cluny, the Cistercian Abbey of Cîteau, equally influential in wine, began in 1098.The monastic influence lasted through 15th -16th centuries, but as that tradition waned, so did the demand for wines from the homeland at Cluny in the Mâconnais.
  • Historically reds were favored for wine (there is a lot of Gamay, since Mâcon was not part of the Duchy of Burgundy and hence it was never outlawed to grow it here as it was farther north), but whites began to increase in popularity after phylloxera in the 1870s. Still, even in 1952, over 60% of the wine was red

Source: Vins de Bourgogne

Mâcon Location/Land

  • The Mâcon is separated by a series of parallel faults, many vineyards like on north/north-westerly or south/south-easterly exposure. To the southwest of the town of Tournus,there are little valleys that are great for vines. To the south the hills open to an area that has two rocky outcrops, the most important being Vergisson and Solutré – the lower slopes of these rocky peaks is the best area in the Mâcon. Soils range from limestone to flinty clay with sandstone pebbles, and schist. This is a sunny area with warm summers and a risk of spring frosts.

Source: Vins de Bourgogne

 

The Appellations 

Mâcon Appellation

  • This broad appellation makes red, white, and rosé from anywhere in the Mâconnais. The main grapes are Chardonnay for white, and Gamay and Pinot Noir for the reds and rosés, although most of the Pinot Noir is used for general AOC Bourgogne rouge. Lots of other regional wines are sourced from here – Crémant, Bourgogne Passe-tout-grains and Bourgogne Aligoté. Since many wines classify for the higher specificity Mâcon-Villages, the Mâcon appellation is used far less. They are easy drinkers -- the white is Chardonnay, red Gamay and Pinot Noir.

 


Macon-Villages

  • If a wine is harvested within a specific commune, producers can use the word Villages on the label. The best comes from a delimited region of dozens of villages in the southern section of the Mâcon – from the town of Chardonnay down to the border with Beaujolais.
  • The limited amount of red is mainly Gamay and is fruity, violet scented, and fill. The reds are simple and easy to drink. The rosés have similar flavors to the reds, but are acidic yet mouth filling. Mâcon Villages Blanc are reliable Chardonnays with good acidity and honeysuckle, apple, and some grassy/shrubby notes. Like everything in the Mâconnais, the flavors will vary based on village/terroir and the winemaker.
  • A higher and more reliable version of Mâcon-Villages is Mâcon plus the name of the village. These include:
    • Lugny, Mancey, Milly, Lamartine, Péronne, Pierreclos, Prissé, La Roche-Vineuse, Serrières, Saint-Gengoux-le-National, Verzé.
    • Best villages are usually Lugny or Prissé
  • A lot of wine sold to big merchants. Good producers: Joseph Drouhin, Louis Latour, Verget

 

 

Pouilly Fuissé

  • AOC Pouilly-Fuissé was created in 1936. It was well known as an excellent collection of sites and regulators chose land for the appellation that was covered in the best soil -- clay with limestone base. It was decided that there would be no Premier Crus and there are none to this day.
  • Pouilly-Fuissé is a large appellation: 1,871 acres of vineyard land, which yield about 400,000 cases per year. Located between the cliffs of Solutré and Vergisson lie the villages: Solutré-Pouilly, Fuissé, Vergisson and Chaintré. They vary in rainfall, climate, altitude but the best vines grow on lower slopes of the two cliffs, where sun exposure and diurnals are ideal. Slopes face east and southeast and some are northwest facing and rise to altitudes of 200m/650 ft to 300m/984 ft.
  • The wines range greatly in this appellation both because of varied terroir, and because of diverse winemaking techniques. The best is known to be a little smoky not from oak, but from terroir. The Chardonnays can range in flavor – those aged in stainless steel or concrete egg are like apple, citrus, and peach with good acidity. If oak aged and quite ripe, they may be more like honey, pineapple, nuts, and butter. In bad examples, the oak overcomes the fruit. Some are ull and rich in flavor and soft in texture, and can have alcohol levels exceeding 14% ABV.

Top Producers: Olivier Merlin, Jean Rijckaert, Chateau Fuissé, Verget


Source: Vins de Bourgogne

 Pouilly-Loché

  • One of the smallest of appellations Bourgogne in terms of land, this is an historic area with an east-facing hillside overlooking the Saône. There are some older soils north of the village of Loché with schist and sandstone, and in the south there is heavier, mineral rich soil. Although these Chardonnay-based wines are floral and peachy, and can be acidic and refreshing, the quality and flavor varies because the terroir varies so much.

 

Pouilly-Vinzelles

  • This appellations shares an East-facing slope with Chaintré (in Pouilly-Fuissé appellation) and is near the big rock of Solutré. Much like Pouilly-Loché, soils vary – so the wine will taste different depending on whether the vines are planted on upper or lower slopes. They are similar to those of Pouilly-Loché, but can take on fuller brioche and almond notes if from those heavier soil types and if oak aged. Older wines (5+years) can even gain mushroom and earth notes.

 

 

Saint-Véran AOC: A top appellation and a great value

  • Gaining its AOC in 1971, Saint-Véran forms a belt around Pouilly-Fuissé. It is 1,590 acres, slightly smaller than Pouilly-Fuissé, which splits Saint-Véran into two areas, both of which lie on the slopes of the rock of Solutré. The old fossilized limestone soils on the west side create lighter wines than those on the eastern slopes, which are made up of marly limestone, clay, and flint. Lower in altitude than others, with some flat areas, parts of Saint-Véran overlap Beaujolais, particularly St. Amour (a cru of Beaujolais), which usually uses the Saint-Véran appellation for its whites.
  • These wines are acidic with smoke, white flower, peach, pear, and pineapple aromas and flavors. Oak can make the wine a bit nutty nuttiness. These wines are a bit zippier than those of Pouilly-Fuissé

Top Producers:  La Soufrandiere, Domaine Cordier

Source: Vins de Bourgogne

 

Viré-Clessé - High quality appellation

  • A high-quality appellation formed from the top two of the Mâcon-Villages, Viré and Clessé, this appellation is a baby – it was created in 1999. With limestone hills and chalky clay soils, these vines grow on hills and include white wines of Chardonnay only. The wines range from smoky and balsamic to citrusy, herbal, minty, and acidic. There can be oak treatment on the wines, which can add notes of nuts and butter, but these are generally acidic, great value Chardonnay (good ones start under US$20).

Top Producers: Domaine de la Bongran, Domaine Andre Bonhomme, Domaine des Heritiers, Chanson

Source: Vins de Bourgogne

Here is a great video on the Mâconnais from Vins de Bourgogne

 

_________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Oct 27, 2020
Ep 347: The Grape Miniseries -- Viognier
43:02

Saved from the brink of extinction just 50 years ago, Viognier (pronounced vee-ohn-yay), is a white grape that's native to the Northern Rhône in France – mainly the areas of Condrieu and Ampuis. The grape produces effusive wines with a strong aromatic character -- peaches, apricots, flowers, herbs, and ginger are common -- and when made well it has a medium body with a touch of acidity and a pleasant bitterness. This week we continue the grape mini-series (maxi series now?) by exploring this comeback kid and the pleasure it can bring when in the right hands. 

 

History

Viognier's parentage is a bit ambiguous, but it is related to Mondeuse Blanche, which makes it either a half sibling or grandparent of Syrah (as MC Ice points out, we could definitely make a word problem out of this – it’s a brain twister to think about, but possible!). The grape is also tied to Freisa and may be related to Nebbiolo, both which are native to the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy.

 

 

Viognier was once grown pretty widely in the northern Rhône but the combination of the phylloxera outbreak in the mid- and late-19th century, followed by WWI, the Depression, and WWII drove a lot of growers to cities and left vineyards abandoned. By 1965, only about 30 acres (12 hectares) of Viognier vines remained in France, and the variety was nearly extinct.

 

In the mid-1980s, interest started to grow both in France and from winegrowers in Australia and California. Growing interest lead to more plantings and today the grape is grown in Condrieu, Chateau Grillet, and Côte Rôtie in the Northern Rhône, all over the southern Rhône for blends, the Languedoc in southern France, as well as in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Israel, Japan, Switzerland, and Spain.

 (C)Wine For Normal People Book map

Climate and Vineyard

  • Viognier needs a long, warm growing season to fully ripen, but not so hot it develops excessive levels of sugar before its aromatic notes can develop. Viognier must get ripe to allow flavor to develop and that happens late, often after sugars develop.
  • Viognier is a small thick-skinned berry with good resistance to rot. It does well on acidic, granite soils. Older vines – more than 30 or 50 years old are best for the grape.
  • There are at least two clones of Viognier. The older, original one from Condrieu is highly aromatic and tight clustered. The other is healthier, higher yielding and looks and tastes different according to some. This clone, likely made at the University of Montpellier, is widespread in Australia.

Winemaking begins in the vineyard – picking decision is vital:

  • Pick too early and the grape has no flavor, and makes a flat wine. Pick too late the wine is flabby and oily. Must be ripe but not overripe, with lower yields.
  • Although it is likely best to make the wine in stainless or neutral oak with perhaps some skin contact for a few hours before fermenting, the barrel fermentations, malolactic fermentations, and aging on lees can squash the unique flavor and scent of Viognier.

 

Flavors and Styles

  • Viognier is like peach, apricot, clementine, honeysuckle, chamomile, jasmine, thyme, pine, spice, ginger, crème fraiche, and honey with a full body and can be oily, or sometimes a bit bitter. It is low in acidity. When aged in oak it tastes like vanilla bean and with malolactic fermentation it is creamy and custard-like. It is almost always high in alcohol, with 14.5% ABV being common. The best Viognier from France often doesn’t age, and even loses aromas after a few years in the bottle. Some of the styles from Australia and the US, which have been aged in oak, last a few more years.
  • The grape is often bottled as a single variety but can be blended with Roussanne, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc.
  • We didn’t mention this in the show, but the wine can be off-dry or even late harvest and sweet. Condrieu and Château-Grillet produce sweet wines in warmer years.

 

Regions...

France

Northern Rhône: Viognier is grown as single variety in Rhône appellations Condrieu and Château Grillet on right (west) bank of Rhône River. In Côte Rôtie, winemakers can include up to 20% of Viognier though most growers add no more than 5%.

Condrieu

  • Includes seven communes along 14 miles, and makes wines that are usually dry, delicious young, and very aromatic wit structure. The area includes steep hillside vineyards, that face south-southeast to maximize morning sun, not hot evening sun. The soils are granite with a deep sandy topsoil called arzelle. This soil makes the best wine. Yields must be low, and picking must be after the grape has full aromatics.
  • Top producers: Guigal, Rostaing, Delas, Pierre Gaillard, Vernay, Francois Villard

Chateau Grillet

  • This appellation is owned by one producer, it is a monopole. It is just 7.6 acres/3.08 ha on granite soil with mica – making the wines higher in acid. Vines are 80+ years old and although the area seems ideal, there have been problems with wine quality. Recently the owner of Château Latour of Bordeaux acquired the monopole; there’s hope for restoration of its former glory.

          

Côte Rôtie

  • We did a whole podcast on this area, but north of Condrieu is Côte Rôtie, a Syrah appellation that can include up to 20% Viognier in the wine (in reality it’s more like 5%). Viognier helps darken the color of the Syrah in co-pigmentation but it takes up valuable real estate so it’s not used as much as it could be.

Other French areas: The southern Rhône, where it is blended, the Languedoc and Ardeche, where it makes serviceable Vins de Pays varietal or blended wines.

 

Other Europe: Switzerland, Austria, Italy

 

New World

Australia

  • Yalumba was the pioneer producer in South Australia’s Eden Valley in 1979. The Virgilius is their top wine (aged in oak).
  • McLaren Vale, Barossa, Adelaide Hills, Heathcote, Geelong, Central Victoria, and more grow the grape, which is a challenge to growers because it stays flavorless for much of the growing season and then transforms into something delicious – patience is a virtue!
  • One of the best uses for Viognier in Australia is its blends with Shiraz:
    • Clonakilla (Canberra), Yering Station (Yarra), Torbreck (Barossa)

 

United States

California

  • Viognier came in 1980s to California when John Alban (Alban Vineyards in Edna Valley), Josh Jensen of Calera (Central Coast), and Joseph Phelps (Napa), brought it into the United States in small quantities. The plantings and interest grew as a group of producers dedicated to growing Rhône varieties, called the Rhône Rangers, grew in numbers and popularity. Today California has more than 3,000 acres of Viognier.
  • Yields are high compared to France, the wines can often be overblown if grown in too-hot weather but the greatest examples are full-bodied and rich.
  • Top Producers: Tablas Creek, Crux, Qupé, Alban, Calera, Kunde

Virginia

  • Viognier is a signature grape of Virginia because the thick skins of the grape work well in the humidity and the diurnals of the mountains mean Viognier can ripen but maintain acidity over a long growing season. The typical VA Viognier has great fruit, slight bitterness, medium body and good acidity.
  • Top producers: Barboursville, King Family, Horton

  • Other US: Oregon, Washington (we mention ABEJA), Texas
  • Around the World: New Zealand, South Africa, South America (Argentina has a lot, Chile some – all young plantings)

 

Food: The wine is great with dishes that have rosemary, thyme, saffron, and creamy sauces.

Expect to spend more than $50 a bottle for good Viognier (we had the 2017 version of the Guigal below. It was US$50).

 

___________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Oct 20, 2020
Ep 346: Port Wine
57:37

Port is an historical, complex, and sometimes confusing wine, but it is more than worth your time to learn about. M.C. Ice go over everything from the vineyards of the Douro, to the history of this wine (with geopolitical implications), to how it's made, and the array of styles. There's something for everyone in the world of Port and after this show, you should be able to figure out which is for you!

Here is the written primer to go along with the show...

The Basics: What is Port?

Port is a Portuguese fortified wine, meaning you add distilled grape spirit, or brandy, to the wine at some point during production. A wine is technically only Port if grapes are from the Douro Valley in northeast Portugal and winemaking takes place there or in the area surround the city of Porto on the Atlantic Coast. There are tons of styles and flavors of this wine – there’s something for everyone.

 

Douro Valley: The Vineyards

The Douro Valley wine region follows the path of the Douro River as it comes out of Spain into Portugal. The region goes west through rugged, remote, steep and terraced granite mountains of northern Portugal, past  the city of Porto into Atlantic Ocean. There are three official zones of the Douro Valley: the Baixo (lower) Corgo, the Cima (higher) Corgo and the Douro Superior

  • Baixo Corgo is the westernmost zone and is cool, rainy and the sub region with the most vineyards.Often these grapes are for cheap ruby and tawny Port
  • Cima Corgo  is upstream from the Baixo Corgo and is where the best vineyards for Port are located. Hotter and drier than Baixo, these excellent grapes are used for Vintage, Reserve, aged Tawny, and Late Bottled Vintage Ports
  • Douro Superior is the easternmost zone, going right up to the Spanish border. It has a lot of land but is least developed. It is the hottest, driest area, and a bit flatter

 

Land and Climate

The Douro has hot, dry summers and steep rocky hillsides bordering the Douro River and its tributaries. The thin, poor schist and granite soils force the grapes to dig deep into schist to look for water and force humans to build terraces to do viticulture: 2/3 of vineyard are on slopes with 30%+ grade.


The Grapes

  • Reds: Producers are permitted to use more than 80 red varieties but 5 are widely used: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Tinta Cão. The best wines are blended from low yielding vines with grapes that are small with thick skins and good acidity levels. The grapes here, with the exception of Tempranillo, are indigenous and suited to the hot, dry conditions of the Douro. There is nothing else that tastes like these blends
  • Whites (30 allowed): Gouveio, Malvasia Fino, Moscatel, Vinosinho, Rabigato, Esgana-Cão (Sercial of Madeira, dog strangler), others

 

History of Port: Most of the information on Port was on Taylor Fladgate’s excellent site.

  

Winemaking: The Steps

  1. Grow grapes in Douro. The IVDP (Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto– Port and Douro Wines Institute)uses the beneficio system (similar to the Échelle des Crus in Champagne) to classify vineyards with a grade that will determine the quantity of Port Wine that can be made from each parcel.  
  2. Put the grapes in a vat (different varieties are usually co-fermented). Stomp them by foot or press them and then start fermentation. When you get to the sugar level you want in the finished wine, run the wine out of the lagar into a vat. To that runoff of juice, add aguardente to kill the yeast and stop fermentation, leaving some sweetness. The resulting wine is usually 19% to 20% alcohol


  3. Let the wine chill out in Douro until spring, evaluate it for what style of Port it will make and then take the wine to lodges at Vila Nova de Gaia near the city of Porto to be blended, aged, bottled and then sold.
  4. The real magic is in the ageing…

 

Ageing & Port Styles

Ports differ because of the quality of the vineyards/grapes, the makeup of the blend, and the ageing regimens they go through. Age softens the bitter, astringent tannins and with time older Ports become brownish in color, soft in tannin, and full of interesting aromas and flavors.

Port is classified by how long and WHAT it’s aged in: Wood or bottle

  • Wood Aged Port is matured in wooden barrels. They’re permeable to air so this is called oxidative aging. These wines lose color faster than bottle aged Ports.
  • Bottle Aged Port is aged in barrel for 2 or fewer years. It then goes into a bottle and the buyer ages it in their own cellar. Vintage Port, the finest of all Ports, is made this way.

 

Styles of Port

Fruity, dark colored Ports: Ruby, LBV

  1. Ruby Port is, not surprisingly, ruby red in color. Looking to maintain color and its full cherry and black fruit notes, this wine goes through very little oxidation before release. It can age up to 3 years in wood or another vessel that allows small amounts of air in. It is generally sweet, cheap, and is the most widely produced style (because from a cost perspective – it’s as turn-and-burn as it gets in Port – not inventory holding costs). Special Ruby Ports are:
  • Reserve: This is where the term reserve actually matters! These wines are better quality, age for slightly longer, and more rounded, full-bodied and complex
  • Rosé: Like any rosé, this type of Ruby Port is in contact with the skins for a shor period of time to obtain the pink color. This is a new type of Port and best chilled with ice

 

  1. Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port is always from a single vintage year, always bottled after spending 4 to 6 years in a wood vat of some sort, and is a dark purple-ish color, full-bodied, and is a little like drinking a young Vintage Port but without bottle ageing and from less good vineyards. This is the Port I usually drink – it’s predictable, tasty, and a great value for what it is. There are two subcategories here:
  • Bottle Matured Port: Is generally a higher quality LBV that ages in bottle for at least 3 years before release
  • These can come filtered and fined, unfiltered and unfined or in a few other variations. Unfiltered and unfined may throw more sediment.

Food Pairings with these fruity Ports: Brie with Ruby, cheddar with Reserve, tangy cheese with LBV (goat). Chocolate desserts for all that have sweetness.

 

Nutty, dried-fruit, woodsy flavored Port:

 

  1. Tawny Port in theory is made from red grapes, for a long amount of time that will cause gradual oxidation and evaporation, changing the color of the wine to a brownish TAWNY color, rather than purple or ruby. These wines are known for more secondary notes of nuts, dried fruit, smoke, and sometimes oak. With lots of age they can be like honey or even maple syrup. Often lots of different wines have aged for different lengths of time in casks or in vats are blended to reach the house style. They can be sweet or medium dry or dry. These wines are ready to drink when they are bottled.

TYPES of Tawny

  • Tawny (No age): Basic blend of wood-aged wine that has usually spent 3+ years in a seasoned cask so they don’t taste oak aged. The reality is that cheap versions of these contain unripe grapes that lack color, the addition of White Port to lighten color, or commonly, carmelized grape must that can add desired color and flavor.
  • Reserve: From a blend of wines aged 5-7 years. From better vineyards than regular Tawny, these have more nuttiness, vanilla notes, and complex fruit flavor.
  • Tawnies with an indication of age – These are blends of several vintages to get target color, flavor, and aroma. The best versions include very old wines but many large brands just aim for a “target age profile.” This is a flavor they aim to get (that yummy old wine flavor, I guess?) and the “target” is stated on the label -- 10, 20, 30 or 40 years. It’s not even an average of the ages of the wines used.
  • Colheita is a single-vintage Tawny, aged for at least 7 years and it has the vintage year on the bottle. Although it’s not a Vintage Port, if the idea of uncertainty around “20 year Tawny” bugs you, this is a more regulated wine. Also a more expensive one in many cases.

                                 

Food pairing with Tawnies: Cheese wins the day -- hard, aged cheeses like Pecorino or Parmesan and nut or cream-based desserts (Pecan pie, caramel or fruit based desserts,). Older Tawny pairs well with all that stuff, plus crème brulee, and honey- and nut-based desserts. Like most really old wines, really old Tawny should be consumed solo, chilled.

 

  1. Garrafeira is a rare vintage-dated Port that first goes through oxidative ageing for 3-6 years in wood and then is moved into huge glass demijohns for reductive aging for 8+ years.

 

  1. White Port is made solely from white grapes in very sweet, sweet, dry or extra dry styles (called Extra Seco, Seco, Doce and Lágrima). Reserve is aged slightly longer and is slightly better quality. These wines are great as cocktail mixers!

 

Bottle Aged Port:

  1. Vintage Port is one of the greatest wines in the world. Harvested during a single year and bottled two to three years after the vintage, it develops gradually for 10 to 50 years in the bottle. Each Port house decides whether to make a vintage declaration and the IVDP approves the declaration, which only happens 3 in 10 years. These wines are only a small percentage of the total production of Port. They are bottled relatively quickly and sold, for the buyer to hold and wait for the flavors to change in the bottle.
  • Great Vintages in the last 20 years: 2018, 2016, 2011, 2007, 2003, 2000, 1997, 1994
  • Single-Quinta Vintage Ports come from a single quinta, or estate. It is a very dark, full bodied red wine that becomes softer after ageing in bottle. It is the most terroir-expressive Port.

          
                        

 

  1. Crusted Port is high quality Port that’s a blend of wines from different harvests. Crusted Port is bottled after 2-3 years of ageing in wood. The wine throws a thick sediment deposit (crust) in the bottle so you need skill in decanting to get the wine out without the chunks! Some consider it bottle-aged, some consider it wood-aged but I think since it spends most of its time developing in the bottle, we’ll leave it here.

Food Pairing with Vintage and Crusted Ports: Blue cheese – Stilton or Roquefort are the traditional pairings for Vintage Port, as are nuts and dried fruit. A fine, old Vintage Port should be enjoyed alone.

 

Serving Tips:

  • 59–68 °F /15˚ and 20 °C is the ideal serving range Tawny port may also be served slightly cooler
  • Vintage Ports and Unfiltered Ports need to be decanted
  • Tawny, ruby, and LBV Ports may keep for several months once opened
  • Old Vintage ports are best consumed within several days of opening

 

Famed shippers (AKA Producers)

  • British influence remains: Broadbent, Cockburn, Croft, Dow, Gould Campbell, Graham, Osborne, Offley, Sandeman, Taylor-Fladgate, and Warre
  • Dutch: Niepoort
  • Portuguese origins: Ferreira and Quinta do Crasto, Quinta do Noval

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

And register for current classes at:  www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

Oct 12, 2020
Ep 345: CVNE -- A Rioja Legend with CEO Victor Urrutia
58:19

In the show, I welcome Victor Urrutia, the CEO of the Compañia Vinícola del Norte de España (CVNE) one of the most famed bodegas in Rioja, which has been around since 1879. Victor is part of the 5th generation of a family that has run CVNE (said coo-NAY) for 141 years. We discuss the storied history of this classic, traditional, high quality bodega, and probe into a dozen other Rioja-related topics.

Victor and I cover many subjects, and I was thrilled to have him - it’s been really hard for me to find Spanish producers to come on the show and he comes from one of the most historic, classic, and outstanding bodegas in Rioja (I drink A LOT of CVNE!). Here’s a high level of what you’ll find in the show: 

 

  1. Victor tells us the story of his family in Rioja and in wine, and his circuitous route to becoming a leader that combines a progressive attitude with a strong respect for tradition.

 

  1. We dork out on the Rioja region. Victor tells us all about what is important and what is not in the world of Rioja wine. We discuss the three major regions (Alta, Alavesa, Baja/Oriental) and how they differ in geography, grape types, and traditions.

  1. We hit on climate, climate change, and the land that surrounds Rioja

  1. Victor compares Rioja to Champagne (at first I was skeptical, but I see his point now and you will too) and the movement towards single vineyard wines to the grower movement. We have a nerdy discussion about Italians in Barolo, the French in Champagne, and the Riojanos and how all these regions share much common ground (I promise, it comes together!).

  2. Victor tells us about the differences between the four brands under the CVNE umbrella in short:
    • CVNE is the flagship brand. Grapes come from both Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa, and from warmer and cooler climates to make highly drinkable, tasty wine. CVNE is made every year, and is made in a traditional style. It is a classic Rioja which changes with vintage, but never wavers on quality.
    • Imperial is Reserva and Gran Reserva only. These wines are structured, excellent for aging, and only made in the best years from estate grown fruit in Rioja Alta. First made in the 1920s, these wines are the benchmark style of classic Rioja for many familiar with the region.
    • Viña Real was also launched in the 1920s, but it is more fruit forward, has a stronger new oak component and a higher percentage of Garnacha to make it more fruit forward and “modern” in style. Grapes come from Rioja Alavesa.

    • Contino is CVNE’s single vineyard brand, established in 1973. These wines are reflective of the site in Rioja Alavesa and are usually more fruit forward and powerful than either Imperial or Viña Real.
    • Monopole is the white wine we mention, that has a portion of Sherry blended in, representing the old school style. It’s outstanding.

 

We end with a few business questions about how Spain invested to become such a force in the modern wine world, the future of Rioja if Alavesa (which is located squarely in Basque country) was to separate from the larger region, and the plans for CVNE, which involve never being satisfied and always doing better (an excellent goal).

This is a lively, unique look at Rioja. Take a listen then try these wines – I have been a pretty loyal drinker for years and I can promise that if you like Rioja, these will wow you!

 

And register for current classes at:  www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes _____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Oct 05, 2020
Ep 344: Wines for Transitional Weather (Spring and Fall)
41:06

During transitions to cooler or warmer weather, what should you drink? I am a firm believer that we should drink wines appropriate for the seasons: crisp, acidic wines for warm weather & fuller, more alcoholic ones for cool temps. This show covers both!

 

And without further ado, here are the "slides" for which M.C. Ice spent the better half of the podcast making fun of me! These will serve as the show notes this week.

 

Transitional Whites and Rosés: 

 

 

 

Transitional Red Wines: 

 

During the show I mention the class I taught on Alsace. You can find it here:  The Wine For Normal People YouTube channel

And register for current classes at:  www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes _____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Sep 29, 2020
Ep 343: The Exquisite Wines of Alsace with Thierry Fritsch of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace (CIVA)
01:03:02

In this show, we welcome Thierry Fritsch, the head oenologist and chief wine educator of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace (CIVA), the regional wine regulatory and promotional body of the Alsace wine region. Born and raised in Alsace, Thierry is an agricultural engineer and oenologist, and has an MBA from the Business School of Lyon. Prior to joining the CIVA in 1997, he worked as Chef de Cave for Pierre Sparr and Josmeyer in Alsace.  

Thierry is a lively and fascinating guest. He shared so much about the region and the innovations in the works! Below are the show notes:

  • Thierry tells us about his background and about the history of Alsace. We discuss how his grandfather changed nationalities 5 times in his life (!). We talk about how the epic tennis match, as I call it, between Germany and France (with Alsace as the ball) shaped the region culturally and from a grape and wine standpoint.

  • We discuss one of the unique factors about Alsace – that winemaking families here have been involved longer than any other region in France – for 13, 14, or even 15 generations. Thierry tells us about the wine families’ strong passion for the region and how that has led to a focus on quality and sustainability and organic and biodynamics in the vineyard (Alsace is 25% organic, the leader in France)

  • Thierry tells us about the climate and land of Alsace – the effect of the Vosges Mountains, how the area is one of the driest and sunniest in France, how climate changed has pushed harvest up by a month and a half, and Alsace’s secret sauce is its 13 different soil types, each yielding different wine types. Thierry tells us of the three main terroir types in Alsace – the slopes of the Vosges, the foothills, and the flats – and how, as with all hillside regions in France, foothills/mid slope are best, followed by slopes and then the flats, which are used for everyday wines.

  • The current appellation system in Alsace (AOC Alsace, plus 51 Grand Cru) is quite simple now, but Thierry shares some exciting developments that are in the works and will happen in the next decade (with the INAO, the French regulatory body, it takes a very long time) – new tiers in the AOC that include villages and a premier cru level.

 

  • We end by talking about the beautiful wines. Thierry describes the main wines of Alsace and what makes them so special: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Muscat, Pinot Noir, and the very popular Crémant d’Alsace.

  • One of the issues with Alsace in recent years has been producers making sweet wines without indicating it on the bottle. Beginning next year the sweetness scale will be on every bottle, to indicate Sec (dry), demi-sec (off-dry), moelleux (semi-sweet), and doux (sweet).

 

To learn more about Alsace, visit: https://www.vinsalsace.com/en/

 

During the show I mention the class I’m teaching on Alsace. You can register for that at www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes if you’re reading this before September 25, 2020 and catch it on my YouTube channel afterwards!

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Sep 22, 2020
Ep 342: Jane Anson on her book "Inside Bordeaux", a fresh look at this classic region
56:47

In this show award-winning writer, the foremost authority on Bordeaux, and one of the nicest, most talented people in wine, Jane Anson returns to the show (she was also in Ep 155 and Ep 165).

This year she launched her opus, Inside Bordeaux, a must-have book that she took 3 years to research and write. It provides a comprehensive look at the region’s true strengths – it’s terroir, farming, grapes, and land, rather than pretty buildings and rich people.

 

The book came out in May and was published by UK merchant Berry & Bros & Rudd and you can find it at specialty retailers all over the world (click this slink to learn where).

Here are the topics we cover in the show:

  • Jane discusses the background of the book, how she did the research, and some of the great stories she uncovered in her time exploring Bordeaux and looking at it through a different lens.


  • We have a very honest conversation about how Bordeaux has strayed from its farming and agricultural roots – how this has been good, and less good -- and talk about some ideas on what needs to change to create a shift from glitz to substance and land.


  • Jane tells us about some of the best appellations that are less well-known, how to use the book to figure out wines that will overdeliver for the price based on where they are grown, and the regions she thinks are most emblematic of the quality of Bordeaux on both banks (you’ll have to listen for her suggestions!).


  • We discuss one of the most amazing features of the book – extensive fold-out soil and land maps created with scientist Cornelis van Leeuwen. We talk about how they were created, and the value of having terroir matched up with chateaux so you can make assessments about what style a place produces based on its soil.

  • Jane gets us up to date on the climate challenges in Bordeaux and the innovative ways people are working with the land to overcome what Mother Nature doles out.

 

If you love Bordeaux and want to learn more this book MUST be on your shelf!

Links to things Jane mentions in the show:

 

I hope to see you in my live online wine classes. Register here: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes 

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

Sep 14, 2020
Ep 341: The Grape Miniseries -- Gamay
43:36

This week we return to our grape miniseries to cover an old Burgundian variety, one of the 20 kids of Gouais Blanc and Pinot, that emerged around the 1300s. We cover its fascinating history; we talk about how it survived defamation by Dukes, centuries later became one of the most popular wines in the world (Beaujolais Nouveau), fell from grace and now is securing its place as a serious, multifaceted grape that makes complex, interesting wines (especially in its ancestral home of Beaujolais, France).

 

Here are the show notes:

The Gamay grape and its ideal terroir

  • Often called Gamay à Jus Blanc (Gamay with white juice) to distinguish it from 2 teinturiers (grapes with red juice) that mutated from it.
  • The grape is early budding, ripening, and not vigorous if grown on the right soils and in moderate temps.
  • Gamay is predominantly grown in the Beaujolais region, just south of Burgundy. Its highest expression is when it grows on granite soils in the northern area of Beaujolais, in 10 superior communes. These are, listed in order of lightest to heavy: Chiroubles, St. Amour, Fleurie, Régnié, Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Juliénas, Chénas, Morgon, Moulin à Vent

Gamay Wines

  • Wines of Gamay are high in acidity, can be light or dark in color, can be rough in tannins or silky (all depends on terroir), have red berry, cherry, blackberry fruit notes, and stronger notes of flowers like violets, roses, and iris. I find they often have a note similar to a graham cracker, and they can show smoke or flint minerals aromas too.
  • The wines often are compared to Pinot Noir but they are brighter, a bit less complex and often show a delicate bitter note, which can be very satisfying with the right food.

Winemaking – the problem of carbonic maceration

  • Traditional or better quality Beaujolais, in particular, from the Cru or Beaujolais Villages are made in the traditional way wines are made (the quick and dirty: crush, macerate, ferment, oak age if desired, clean up, bottle) but Beaujolais Nouveau gets much of its flavor from a very quick vinification method that allows producers to take wine off the vines and have it be ready to sit on shelves within a few months’ time. This process is called carbonic maceration and it happens in lieu of crushing and macerating in the traditional way. The quick and dirty on it:
    • Whole bunches of grapes are put sealed vats that are blanketed with carbon dioxide (manual harvesting to ensure grapes aren’t broken during picking is important here)
    • Grapes at the bottom of the vat are crushed by weight of the grapes sitting on to top. The ones at the top aren’t crushed but the ones at the bottom release carbon dioxide
    • That carbon dioxide encourages fermentation within the juice that sits inside the skins of the grapes. But without oxygen and time, quick fermentation occurs and creates flavors like bubble gum and bananas.
    • And that’s what Beaujolais Nouveau usually tastes like!

 

 

Most Gamay is grown in France, where it is the 7th most planted red variety

Beaujolais:

  • 2/3 of plantings of Gamay are in and around Beaujolais, where it makes up 98% of production
  • 12 appellations have Gamay as the primary grape– the 10 crus plus -- Beaujolais AOC Beaujolais Villages AOC
  • Again, the Cru are: Chiroubles, St. Amour, Fleurie, Régnié, Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Juliénas, Chénas, Morgon, Moulin à Vent

Other parts of France:

  • Burgundy: Grown mainly in the Mâconnais, just north of Beaujolais. The grape is used for Crémant de Bourgogne and is sometimes blended with Pinot Noir in a wine called Bourgogne Passetoutgrain
  • Loire: Gamay can be light, peppery, and aromatic when it ripens well. Most of it is grown around the city of Tours in the Cheverny, Coteaux de Vendômois and other nearby AOCs. The wines are vintage dependent and can be thin in bad years.
  • Savoie and the Rhône each have some minor plantings

Other areas with Gamay include:

  • Switzerland, where Gamay is mixed with Pinot Noir to create Dôle in Valais (Bourgogne Passetoutgrains in Burgundy)
  • Valle d’Aosta of northern Italy (not too far from Switzerland!)
  • Eastern Europe
  • New Zealand: I mention Te Mata as one I’ve had and loved
  • Australia: Some smaller, cooler areas of Victoria
  • Canada: Niagara Peninsula, Niagara on the Lake
  • The US: Texas, Michigan, New York State (Finger Lakes and Hudson Valley) and…
    • California: I tell the story of the original Charles F. Shaw and his love of Gamay (and how his winery failed and he sold his name to Freddie Franzia to become what is now… Two Buck Chuck). I also add that Valdiguié, a French grape so bad it’s not grown in France anymore, was confused with Gamay
    • Oregon: At the same latitude of Beaujolais, there is lots of potential with the right soils. The grapes here are, in fact, Gamay à Jus Blanc, and they make lovely examples of the grape.

For more information on Beaujolais, the Beaujolais appellation web site is wonderful (this is not sponsored, I just love the site!)

_________________________________________

 

Don't forget to sign up for my live online wine classes: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes 

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

Sep 08, 2020
Ep 185, The Remake: 7 Types of (Non-Winery) Wine Clubs
37:10

Of all the shows in the catalog, one has always stuck out as not really fitting in so this week we’re scrapping the old and we’re replacing it with something that is related but more timely, relevant and just plain better!!

 

This week we discuss the pros and cons of the seven main types of wine clubs. We list a few specifics, but try hard to concentrate on various types of clubs and what you can expect from each.

Here is the run-down...

Wine clubs claim to do a few things for their customers:

  • Give access to exclusive discounts, free delivery, extras
  • Save you time by avoiding the wine shop
  • Allowing you the chance at discovery, or the removal of decision-making
  • Give you options on the way you want the club to work --how often, timing, how much to get
  • Many also give loyalty/rewards

We spend the bulk of the podcast going through the categories of wine clubs:

  1. Profile services ask you questions and claim to hone in on the types of wines you like. After taking a few of these quizzes, I found them to be completely inaccurate. Further, a lot of the stuff is no-name brands, so clearly bulk wine that is of dubious quality.

 

  1. Budget/bulk wine of meh wine that is marked up. A lot of this is wine produced in huge quantities that is poor quality and comes up on the bulk market for people to buy, bottle and market. Occasionally the bulk wine can have sugar or other additives put in to adjust the wine’s profile to the target customer.

    Other wines are in shiners, finished wines, often made by a decent winemaker who had too much wine or who bottled a lot that they didn’t think was quite up to snuff. Producers sell these bottles and the wine clubs make a one-shot deal brand that you’ll never see again. It can be great, but don’t fall in love – you’ll never see it again (and if you do, it could be different wine in the bottle next time!).

    Naked Wines, which is very popular, is a sub category of this – they ask for a monthly donation to keep their wine projects alive, and with that, you can buy bottles with your credits as you see fit (it’s similar to kickstarter but with an actual product you can buy!). In reality, Naked Wines is also mostly a clearing house for second wines/wines that aren’t good enough for the brand that is selling them.

  1. Media Wine Clubs: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc. lend their names to a marketing firm who manages the club and uses the name to get customers. These are often good deals, some of the wine is probably good, but the these wines are from giant distribution clearing houses who are trying to get rid of wines by marking them down. You may get an occasional good one that just didn’t sell in retail, but most is lower quality, bulk wine, or from shiners. The benefit of these – there is a lot of variety and they are CHEAP. The Wall Street Journal is a bit more transparent about its club, the New York Times says it has “experts who travel the world” looking for wines, but never tells us who those experts are, exactly.

  1. Curated clubs are those selected by real people – people who you could theoretically ask about the wines and talk to about them. Some come from wine shops who taste thousands of wines a year and have a good sense of what are good deals or what is best from their stores (I mention K&L and The Grand Tour from Verve) but they are also things like Plonk Wine Club, which provides exclusive access and carefully selected natural, biodynamic, and organic wines, and my favorite (and my sponsor!) Wine Access, whose team puts together themed wine club shipments of 6 bottles 4 times per year. Wine Access has true experts selecting the wines, and they pick based on quality and value, rather than what’s cheap and available on the wine market.

 

  1. Test tubes/wine flights: I should have mentioned the sample bottles, but I focused on the test tubes of Vinebox. It’s a good idea – you try nine wines :4 red, 4 white, 1 rosé. They come in a box with glass-sized pours. The wines are exclusive to the club and every box gives you credits towards buying full bottles, which are theoretically available on their site. There were a lot of complaints from members that they couldn’t get the full bottles. It’s clear to me that the wines are also in bulk – “exclusive” wines that are hard to get and never seen in a bottle – all red flags.

  1. Flash wine sites: Although not as popular as they used to be, and not exactly a club, these sites (WTSO and Cinderella Wines from Wine Library) sell real brands at low prices but they put you under the gun to buy – once they run out, you can’t get the deal. Fixed quantity, fixed price. They work straight with the importers of the wines or the families that make them, and they buy in enormous quantities so they are able to get great deals and pass them on. Again, not wine clubs, but in the same genre.

 

  1. Niche Wine Clubs: Do you like Oregon Pinot Noir? What about Kosher wine? Do you have to have vegan wine? If so, there is probably a club for whatever you desire. I think these are great – it can be hard to find exactly what you’re looking for and these clubs cater to special interests. The only caveat: make sure they are giving you good producers, and not junky bulk wine! It can happen even in niche-y products, you know!

I talk about my experience working as a consultant for a now defunct wine club (that was discussed in the OLD episode 185, so it wasn’t relevant anymore!) and how it has informed my view of clubs, in general.

 

The bottom line: Make sure you are asking the right questions: Questions to ask:

  • Are the wines geared to your taste? After a few shipments are they good or not so much?
  • Are you an experimenter or do you want the same wine you always get? That will help determine what kind of club you should join.
  • If it’s a curated model, who is the expert selecting the wine and why do you trust them? Also, Have you heard of the wines? Has anyone rated them ANYWHERE?
  • Is there a niche that you love but you can’t find the wines? Go for it. As long as the quality is high, this is your best chance of scratching your itch for specialty wine!
  • If you’re price sensitive, clubs can be a great value – again, just make sure you get a good one! Make sure to ask: Is shipping included? Taxes? What are the extra fees?
  • What do customer say about the customer service: Will they take returns or credit you for a skunked bottle?

 

As a last note, once you sign up, make sure you stay vigilant – changes can happen and you may not notice!

Lots more detail than just this, but these are the major points!

 

Don't forget to sign up for my live classes: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes 

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Aug 31, 2020
Ep 340: UK Wine and its Past, Present, and Future
52:51

Although limited in availability, English wine is rising in popularity. Climate change, bedrock soil that's similar to Champagne and Chablis, and growers with know-how have changed England from a producer of mainly plonk wine into a viable wine nation, with sparkling wine leading the charge.

Source: Decanter

 

Access in the US is limited, so admittedly this is more of an academic exercise, but in the show we discuss the history, as well as the present, and bright future of UK wine. 

 

After discussing the history (details which can be found here), we get into details of climate, regions, and styles of wines. Here are the show notes: 

Climate and land

  • Most of the wine regions in the UK are at 50˚ latitude and higher, making it hard to ripen grapes. Long daylight hours in the growing season, and temperature diurnals, however, lead to slow ripening and the development of aromatics -- all very positive for UK wine. 
  • The weather in the UK wine regions, although warmer and drier than all other parts of the UK, and warmer than it used to be, is still erratic -- with winds, rain, and humidity creating issues during flowering and harvest. 
  • There is limestone chalky soils in Sussex, Kent, Essex, and throughout Southern England – a great foundation on which to grow grapes used to produce sparkling wine

 

The grape varieties planted:

  • Pinot Noir* 29.7%
  • Chardonnay 28.9%
  • Pinot Meunier 11%
  • Bacchus 6.9%
  • Seyval Blanc 4.2%

 

  • A brief caveat:“British wine” and “English wine” are not the same thing!!!
    • A wine can only be called ‘English’ if it is made from grapes grown in England, ‘British’ wine can be made from grapes grown elsewhere, as long as it is fermented and bottled in the UK. Don't call English wine, British wine! 

 

Significant UK Wine Regions:

Sussex 

  • In the southeastern corner of England, along the English Channel.
  • The warmest, driest wine region, Sussex is known for high-quality sparkling and still wines. 
  • South Downs is especially of note, with limestone chalk soils and lots of calcareous rock.
  • Bacchus – the cross of a grape made from Silvaner x Riesling with Müller-Thurgau is showing great promise of having floral, apple notes with good acidity 

Kent 

  • With ~50 vineyards, “the Garden of England” in southeast England, is known for growing cereal crops, orchard fruit, and other food.
  • Here, the White Cliffs of Dover form the coastline and this area shares the same bedrock as that of Champagne, Chablis and Sancerre.
  • Other unique areas in Kent Greensand Ridge and The Weald between ridges of North and South Downs.
  • The still wines from Bacchus, and exceptional sparkling from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay caught the eye of Champagne house Taittinger, who in 2015 became the first Champagne producer to invest in the UK 
  • Notable producers: Chapel Down, Biddenden, Gusbourne

 

Essex 

  • Research published in the Journal of Land Use Science  identified 83,000 acres of land in the UK that could be good for vineyards. Essex was cited as the top location.
  • Notable Producers: Dedham Vale, New Hall Vineyards (been around since the 1960s), West Street Vineyard

Surrey

  • Second Champagne house investment with Pommery and Hattingley Valley in a partnership.
  • One of England’s largest producers - Denbie’s Estate is here (Elizabeth says it's "meh")

Hampshire

  • The home of England’s first modern commercial vineyard. Seyval Blanc and sparkling wine shine here. 

 

East Anglia

  • Norfolk and Suffolk have more clay so denser wines of  Bacchus are showing promise. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are also grown. 

 

South West England

  • Camel Valley – Cornwall’s largest vineyard is well esteemed

UK Wine's Future:

  • The wines are now exported to more than 40 countries including: USA, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Other Europe, Canada, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, and China
  • There is and will continue to be a push for sustainable farming. The Sustainable Wines of Great Britain (SWGB) certification has 40% of the industry pledged to be more sustainable.

 

Top producers: Nyetimber, Chapel Downs, Ridgeview (Sussex),  Gusborne, Harrow & Hope, Wiston Estates, Camel Valley Vineyard & Winery, Cornwall

 

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Aug 24, 2020
Ep 339: Puglia, Italy -- New World Wine From an Old World Country
46:05

In this show we tackle the heel of Italy’s boot (and the area that covers a part of the calf!): Puglia (pool-YA), or as some in the English speaking world call it, Apulia. (BTW -- the show we mention that is hysterical and has a character that says something often that sounds like pool-YA is called "W1A" and is one of our favorite shows!).

           

Puglia is spans 500 miles/800 km of the southeast coast of Italy. It juts out into the Adriatic and Ionian Seas but despite its proximity to marine air, the viticulture areas are surprisingly dry with little rain or humidity. Warm, sunny summer months have historically meant that Puglia is unencumbered by weather issues faced in more northerly areas.

 

This could have meant great quality wine, and in Greco-Roman times, that may have been true but in the modern era, not so much. The area became a major source for heavy red and white bulk wines that were shipped to producers in other parts of Italy and in France to beef up their vintages in years where Mother Nature provided less than ideal growing conditions.

Today, Puglia is in a transition from a bulk wine area to a quality wine area, and things are moving quickly. As New World wines rose to popularity and prominence in the 1990s and 2000s, Puglia’s producers realized they had more in common with parts of South Australia than with Veneto or Piedmont. They welcomed help from New World winemakers and since then the area has been modernizing and making better wines – the proof is in the new DOCGs and DOCs (restricted, delimited winegrowing regions) that have been created in the last 10 years.

 

The geography of Puglia ranges. Here’s the overview with the most important grapes:

  • The north is hillier, and more like Central Italy in its wine grapes and styles (Umbria, Tuscany) – Sangiovese and the Montepulciano grape are used more abundantly.
  • In central Puglia in on the east coast, near Barletta, Uva di Troia/Nero di Troia is emerging as the top indigenous grape, with Bombino Nero also showing promising signs.
  • In Taranto, near the Ionian Sea, Primitivo (Zinfandel) Sangiovese, and Montepulciano are popular.
  • In the south, on the Salento Peninsula, Negro Amaro and Malvasia Nera are dominant.

 

Every grape imaginable is grown in Puglia, but the main ones of interest that are unqiue to the area are:

  • Nero di Troia / Uva di Troia (the proper, registered name)
    • Traditionally used in blends to add acidity and refinement to wines with bolder flavor
    • When made well, wines of this grape taste like: red cherries, currants, violets, black pepper, tobacco, and are medium weight with high acid, and smooth tannin
    • We mentioned there are two different types:
      • A larger berried version that has been used for bulk wine but also, when grown well, can provide perfume and freshness
      • And a smaller berried version that is rarer but considered higher quality and is being used more often now
    • DOC appellations with Nero di Troia in the blend are: Rosso Barletta, Rosso Cerignola, Rosso Canosa, Cacc'e Mitte di Lucera, Orta Nova
    • DOCG appellations using the grape are: Castel del Monte Rosso Riserva, Castel del Monte Nero di Troia Riserva
  • Primitivo (Zinfandel)
    • Originally from Croatia, the grape is grown across Puglia and despite a vine pull financed by the EU that resulted in many old vines being destroyed, there remains some very old, high quality vineyards of Primitivo in Puglia
    • The Primitivo name signals the early ripening of the grape, which is one of the first varieties to be harvested in Italy.
      • The grape can over-ripen quickly, rise to very high sugar levels, and is not a very productive vine. It’s wines can suffer from a lack of pigment, which can be mitigated by oak aging
    • When made well, and not permitted to over-ripen wines can have sour and black cherry aromas with spicy, pepper, licorice, and garrigue (rosemary, thyme, lavender). Fresher styles are more like raspberry and can have higher acidity.
    • DOCs are: Gioia del Colle, Primitivo di Manduria, Lizzano, Terra d'Otranto, Gravina
    • Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale DOCG is for sweet wines made of the grape

  • Negro Amaro
    • A black grape variety grown all over Puglia, this thrives in the southern part in the Salento. The grape can handle heat, and is thick skinned so it is a very productive and hearty vine.
    • The smallish, oval, blue-black berries are packed with polyphenols, making structured, full-bodied wines
    • When well made, the wines of Negro Amaro are medium to full bodied with black fruit, tobacco, and sometimes tar notes. There are other versions that are lighter on their feet (especially the rosato made of this grape), and these area often blended with Malvasia Nera to make the wine more multidimensional.
    • Rosatos are dark in color with good acidity and flavors and aromas like almonds, strawberries, and oranges
    • DOCs using Negro Amaro are: Copertino, Salice Salentino, Squinzano, Leverano, Lizzano

  • Bombino Nero:
    • This grape is hard to ripen and often high acidity and low sugar levels. It is lighter and becoming popular in Puglia as an alternative to the rich, thick wines of the other red grapes
    • Bombino Nero is a preferred grape for rosato, as it bleeds color without excessive tannin. The evidence: there is a DOCG- Castel del Monte Bombino Nero for Rosato only

Producers I like:  A Mano, Cantele, Due Palme, Felline, Masseria LiVeli, Masseria Monaci, Taurino, Tormaresca (part of the Antinori family). 

 

Taste some of these wines and let us know what you think! 

 

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

Aug 18, 2020
Ep 338: Glassware and Gadgets Revisited
50:06

We haven't done a show on this topic for a long time, so here's the 2020 update. We cover what to look for in glassware, decanters, wine fridges, wine openers, preservation systems and more. This is the skinny on what you need and what you don't (and why!).

 

Our picks are all on the Wine For Normal People store (where I make a tiny bit through affiliate money), but here's the list with some buying tips:

  • Glassware picks, well, I'll make you read this article from epicurious.com ( I wrote it so I believe in it!)

  • Decanters: they are good for removing sediment, aerating a full bottle, and heating up a too-cold wine. Make sure you get one that is easy to wash (forgot to mention that in the show)
  • Aerators: still a no-go for me. If you don't have the time to wait for a wine to unfold, drink something else.

  • Wine openers: the WFNP one, the electric one

  • Wine ice cubes: We like the thin plastic ones because we are the weight and color of stainless steel or rock can mess with the glass (break it) and the wine (discolor it)


  • Wine fridges: The fewer bells and whistles, the better. Make sure you think about how much wine you WILL consume in the future, as opposed to what you drink now. If your wine habit is growing, buy a slightly bigger fridge.

  • The Corksicle: This also serves as an aerator, but you would ignore that function if you take our advice. The main purpose of the device is to chill down the wine quickly. You put it in the freezer and the plastic icicle reaches down through the bottle to chill the wine. I'm not sold on it, but this is the only one that at least ONE of us thinks has promise. 

  • Yeti Wine tumbler: the only stemless that gets my ok, this keeps the wine at a perfect temperature every time. GREAT for the beach or any outdoor drinking!


  • Vacu-vin or other vacuum sealer: It will give you a day or three more with fresh wine, so it's a yes! 



  • Press-n-Seal for sparkling wine -- seriously.

  • Coravin: If you live alone or like drinking different things from your partner, or different things every night, this is worth the $200 - $400 plus the $50 refill cost a few times a year. The money you'll save in wine down the drain is well worth it! Make sure you always remove the foil and you don't use it on synthetic cork. Also, let the bottle stand upright for a few hours so it doesn't leak -- the cork will "heal" but it doesn't do so right away and that can leave a mess in your fridge.




  • Funnel and filter combo: Perfect for getting rid of floating cork, sediment, tartrate crystals -- the filter is a must. I know this may not happen to you, but occasionally you want to go to bed and you didn't finish all the wine in your glass. That's a good time to use the funnel!

Are there other gadgets that are fine? Absolutely, but this is our best of the best -- the ones that we find useful and necessary!

Let us know if you have additions.

_______________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

Aug 11, 2020
Ep 337: Feudi di San Gregorio and the Unrivaled Wines of Campania, Italy
01:05:56

Feudi di San Gregorio is the largest winery in Campania region of Southern Italy. The winery has fought to bring the region to prominence in the minds of wine drinkers looking for reds and whites unlike any others in the world (that you HAVE to try!).

Campania was the premier winemaking region in Italy in Ancient Roman times, but after the fall of Rome the producers chose to be grape growers/merchants, rather than winemakers. Although some made headway, it was after a large earthquake hit and destroyed much of Campania in 1980, that reinvestment in wine truly began.

To support local industry, along with another family, the Capaldo family began Feudi di San Gregorio in 1986 in the town of Sorbo Serpico in the province of Avellino. One son of the family, Antonio Capaldo grew up around wine but then he pursued business, leaving Campania to obtain a Masters in Management and Economics at the London School of Economics and a PhD in Economics and Finance from a joint program between LSE and University of Rome. By age 32, he was working at McKinsey (a top consulting firm) and made partner. On that very day, he quit consulting and got to work for his family’s winery in Campania, putting his skills and vision to work.

To my great delight, Dr. Antonio Capaldo, with his brilliance and razor-sharp humor, joins me to discuss the beautiful wines of Campania, one of my all-time favorite regions in Italy. He is the Chairman of Feudi di San Gregorio and shares his insights on the region, its appellations, what makes the land and grapes special, and the bright future Campania has ahead of it.

 

Some of the areas we mention:

  • Fiano di Avellino (I love this wine!)
  • Greco di Tufo
  • Lacryma Christi (white is Coda di Volpe, red is Piedirosso, Aglianico, Scianscinoso)
  • Irpinia
  • Aglianico – Taurasi, Irpinia, Aglianico del Vulture (in Basilicata)

Check out the beautiful wines (with their beautiful, mosaic labels) of Feudi di San Gregorio. They are everything we describe and more!

                 

________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

Aug 04, 2020
Ep 336: Santorini, Greece and it's divine white of Assyrtiko
38:40

Santorini is one of Greek wine's guiding lights. The wines from this ancient volcanic island are unlike any other – exhibiting fullness, smoky minerality, and acidity that you won’t find elsewhere. The whites of Assyrtiko are among the best Greece has to offer. The fascinating history and legacy of viticulture will transport you to this lovely Mediterranean paradise. In this show, we take you on the ultimate armchair travel destination: the island of Santorini, a Greek paradise!

Here are the show notes:

  • Santorini is at 36.4 N latitude, in the Cyclades group of islands.  
  • The region has 2200-2900 acres/900-1,200 hectares of land are under vine
  • Santorini was formed by an enormous volcanic eruption around 2,600 years ago
  • Wine has been made since the ancient Greek and Roman times but a Venetian crusader took over in 1336 and made the sweet wines of the Assyrtiko grape, Vinsanto, popular around the Mediterranean

  • On the poor, volcanic soil on this hot windy island, the grapes are trained via an ancient pruning system, called “kouloura." The trunk is trained into a basket-like or wreath-like shape so the grapes hang on the of the basket, protected from wind and harsh sun
  • Some of these basket trained vines may be over 400 years old; with Assyrtiko making up 70-80% of the plantings. 

 

  • In this dry, harsh climate with less than 10 inches of rain per year, grapes struggle. They're well adapted to the heat and wind, and the diurnal temperature swing at night helps them maintain their characteristic acidity.
  • Reds: Mandilaria and Mavrotragano  represent 20% of Santorini's vineyards. 
    • Mavrotragano:used to only be for sweet wines. But it does seem to have good potential for dry wines'
    • Mandilaria (which M.C. Ice believes is picked by Baby Yoda) is grow around Greece and is tart and tannic, and often better in blends

  • White: Assyrtiko with Athiri and Aidani
    • Assyrtiko is a tough skinned variety. Drought, wind, and heat resistant. Regardless of heat, it maintains its acidity as it ripens. high acid grape. It makes a dry Wie with citrus, mineral, smoke, pumice, lemon rind, jasmine aromas and a saline, stony, quality when you taste it. The wines are full bodied. 
    • Athiri is sweet, fruity and aromatic with lower acidity so it's a good blending partner with Assyrtiko. Aidani is similar.

Types of wine

  • Santorini PDO: is 75% or more Assyrtiko, 25% Athiri and/or Aidani. 
  • Nykteri: the Greek term for 'working all night', the grapes are  harvested at night to avoid the hot temperatures. The wine is at least 75% Assyrtiko with Athiri and Aidani. It is aged in oak for a minimum of 3 months, and creates a dry, high acid wine with  mineral, citrus, and peach flavors and aromas.

  • Sweet Vinsanto: This dessert wine has great acidity to
  • offset the dried orange peel, fig, and apricot aroma always with a salty mineral note, typical of Assyrtiko (the wine must be at least 51% of this grape with Aidani and Athiri).
    • Vinsanto as a name, comes from the Venetian era of dominance - wines from the island were labeled, “Santo,” for Santorini -- “vin” or “vino”,  the Italian word for wine -- Vinsanto. The EU recognizes this as a separate, distinct, historical product only from Santorini and different from Italy's "Vin Santo"

 

Producers we mention: Hatzidakis, Estate Argyros, Gaia, J Boutari & Son, Vassaltis, Venetsanos, Domaine Sigalas, Gavalas, Santos

 

________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Jul 29, 2020
Ep 335: The Grape Miniseries-- Gewurztraminer
44:36

That's right, no umlaut for my show notes on this grape. I consider Alsace the true home of this grape and the place we should be looking for the most spectacular versions. For that reason, I stick with the French way of spelling it 😉

Gewurztraminer (guh-VERTZ-tra-MEEN-ah)is one of the most distinctive grapes and makes one of the most overtly perfumed, full-bodied whites in existence. The lychee, rose, citrus, incense, and smokey notes can be intoxicatingly fantastic or WAY too much.

Here are some quick show notes on the grape's past and regions where it's grown. 

 

Aromas and Flavors

  • "Gewürz" means “spice” or "herb" but the grape was named so because of it's high levels of perfume and aromatics (it can smell like warm spices and pepper, but that's not the origin of the name)
  • The Gewürztraminer grape is actually pink to red in skin color and it generally makes deep gold wines, sometimes with a copper tinge

  • The grape has high natural sugar, so sometimes sweetness remains in the wine and many times the ABV reaches 14%
  • The most distinctive aromas and flavors of Gewürztraminer are: lychee, peach, melon, oranges, tropical fruit, roses, ginger, incense, smoke, pepper and sweeter spices

  • The effect of the aromas and flavors are so strong, they are sometimes too much for people, especially because bad versions of the wine have low acidity and can be flabby. Good versions strike a BALANCE between richness and acid, and avoid the bitterness possible from the phenolics of the darker skins. 

 

DNA/Parentage

  • The grape is a derivative of the ancient Traminer grape from the village of Tramin in South Tyrol, which is in Alto-Adige in the northeast of Italy
    • Pinot is its parent
    • Gewurztraminer is an aromatic (musqué) version of Savagnin

 

In the vineyard

  • Gewürztraminer is extremely picky. It's hard to grow, needing cool sites and limestone, marl, or granite soils to shine.
  • If picked too early, the resulting wine will have acidity but be missing the beautiful aromatics we expect from Gewürztraminer. If picked the overripe, the aromas are too strong, the acidity too low, and a bitterness creeps in, that makes the wine completely unpalatable

Regions:

  • Alsace in France makes the best Gewurztraminer.  There are only 7,000 acres or so but this is the best there is. The styles range from very dry to very sweet (Vendange Tardive, Selection de Grains Nobles).
    • Top Alsace Producers of Gewürztraminer: Léon Beyer, Zind Humbrecht, Muré, Schlumberger, Cattin, Domaine Weinbach

  • Germany makes Gewürztraminer (with the umlaut!) but it is very different from the wines of Alsace. There are about 2,000 acres here and much of it is in a relatively dry style, that seems to unfortunately crush the flamboyant nature of the grape. In a cool country like Germany, the grape needs warm sites to avoid spring frost and assure fruit set, so 2/3 of German "Traminer" is in Baden and Pfalz.

 

  • Italy is the native home of the grape -- it began on the cool slopes of the Alps in Trentino Alto-Adige and the grape is named after the town of Tramin. Styles run the gamut so it's important to buy from good producers. Elena Walch and Hofstatter are two solid ones. 

  • Other places the grape grows in Europe include: Luxembourg, Spain, Switzerland, Austria (in Styria, specifically), Hungary, Slovenia, Romania and all over Eastern Europe, although likely it is not the clone of Gewürztraminer we see in Alsace, but some less aromatic version. 

 

New World:

  • Australia has plantings in South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales

 

  • New Zealand has had success on the North Island, near Gisbourne and Hawkes Bay

  • Chile has some promising spots in the south

 

  • Canada grows Gewürztraminer in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, and in Ontario, Prince Edward County, the Niagara Peninsula, among other spots

 

  • In the US: Washington, Oregon, the Finger Lakes of New York, and my favorite spot: Navarro Vineyards in Anderson Valley

To wrap, we discuss good food pairings: spices like ginger, tamarind, coriander, and salty things like soy sauce or tahini are great with Gewurztraminer. 

 

We decide that Gewürztraminer is like our dog, Ellie. Very cute, awesome when awesome, but kind of a diva about everything! 

Go and try some great versions of this wine! I promised MC Ice we would get a Grand Cru of Alsace to try so I could prove that there IS a version out there he would like. I will keep you posted! 

 

________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

Jul 22, 2020
Ep 334: Hungarian Wine Overview with Zoltan Heimann of Heimann Winery
01:03:23

Zoltán Heimann of Heimann & Fiai Winery helps present the wines of Hungary.

 

He keeps me on task with the proper pronunciations (very hard and the reason it’s taken me so long to cover this country, honestly!), and gives us an overview of what we can expect from Hungary and its wines, before focusing in more on his beloved region of Szekszárd (sex-ARD), known mostly for its famous Kadarka red wine. The Heimanns have a long history of farming in Hungary, and Zoltán has a global view from his education at Geisenheim in the Rheingau Region of Germany (one of the best wine schools in the world). He has a lot to teach us about Hungarian wine – its history, its geography, its grapes, its wines, and its future, which he is helping drive.

 

 

A few things for clarification:

  • When Zoltán refers to small winemakers, he refers to them as a Hobby Industry. Because of the recording, it’s a bit hard to understand. Just remember that as you listen!

  • Please don’t make fun of me for having no clue how to pronounce anything right. I told Zoltán before I started that it was going to be rough and he was patient as anything!

 

These show notes are more about pronunciation and help with the regional names than anything else. If you listen to the show, you’ll need to refer to these (maybe often!).

 

After a conversation about history, Zoltán talks about how Hungary is in the Carpathian Mountain basin with the Danube River dividing the country and the Tisza River near Tokaj in the east.

  • The hills (some quite high, others undulating) make a crescent from the northeast around the north to the southwest
  • A large plain, the Hungarian Plain, is in the middle of the country and is where bulk wine, paprika, and lots of food production takes place
  • A smaller plain, near Austria is in the northwest of the country
  • The climate is continental, with cold winters, hot summers

Image: Topographical map of Hungary

We talk about the main grapes of Hungary:

  • Whites:
    • Furmint (FOOR-mint): The main grape in Tokaj, now winemakers are using it for dry wine. It can be like limes and oranges, smoky, even spicy, and quite acidic – the challenge is to tame the acidity through good vineyard practices and proper winemaking that doesn’t cover the essence of the grape (i.e., no oak)

    • Hárslevelű (HARSH-levalew): The name means “linden leaf”, a plant that smells like honey, smoke, and pears. Zoltán explains that Hárslevelű is like a smoother, softer version of Furmint 

    • Juhfark (YOU-fark): A novelty that is made mainly in Somlo (Showm-LO), in the northwestern (ish – kind of central northwestern) area of the country, we’ll see more in export markets than they will in Hungary. The volcanic soil here makes the wines smoky, ash-like, and minerally…with just a little moodiness that only a volcanic soil can express

    • Olasrizling (said how it’s spelled): Also known as Welshriesling, the grape has traditionally been a neutral, workhorse grape for bulk whites. Zoltán says there are more and more producers getting great flavors from this grape, so it’s one to watch.
    • Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and other international varieties are also cultivated

 

  • Reds:
    • Kékfrankos (cake-FRAHN-kosh): Blaufränkish in Austria, this is the main component in Bull’s Blood of Eger and the grape that Heimann is concentrating on as a uniquely Hungarian expression of the grape – spicy, intense and interesting

    • Kadarka (said how it’s spelled): Zoltán explains that this is a very difficult grape to grow. Two in 10 years the harvest will go badly. The grape has big bunches and is prone to rot. It takes so much to grow that most vintners have no use for it. Heimann is one of the premier producers of Kadarka and aim to make an international reputation for this Pinot Noir-like grape

We move to the major wine regions

  • In the northeast/Upper Hungary: Tokaj, Eger
    • Tokaji: The dry and sweet (Tokaji aszú, Tokaji eszencia) of Furmint, Hárslevelű

    • Eger: Basalt/volcanic soil with loess can create excellent wines. The red blends are called Egri Bikavér or Bull’s Blood, the newer white blends (dreamed up in recent years as a marketing idea in the region) made of muscat and native grapes called Egri Csillag (EGG-ree chee-laug), known as “the Star of Eger”

  • Near Lake Balaton: Somló, Badascony

 Image: Balaton, the largest lake in Europe

    • Somló (showm-LOW): Made of the smoky white Juhfark and other native whites

    • Badascony: Known for fuller bodied, minerally whites with good acidity. A combination of Olasrizling and native grapes. Volcanic soils make these wines unique

  • Sopron
    • Sopron (SHOW-pron): Located adjacent to Neusiedl (noy-ASEED-el) in Austria and the Burgenland region, these wines are mainly Kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch) and are similar to those of Austria

  • Pannon: Villány, Szeksgárd
    • Villány (ville-AHN-ee): With excellent marketing, a strategic and unified vision, and excellent Cab Franc, this region has succeeded in getting its wines to market

    • Szeksgárd (sex-ARD): Kardarka, Kékfrankos, and other reds thrive here. Heimann is on the cutting edge of reviving this region

To wrap up, Zoltán and I discuss the potential for Hungary, the new generation, and all we have to look forward to from Hungary

________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Jul 14, 2020
Ep 333: Richard Betts, Former Master Somm, Shows What Moral Fortitude REALLY Looks Like
01:07:36

After studying geology and gaining a BS, an MS and nearly a JD, Richard Betts discovered a love of wine. He served as the wine director at The Little Nell in Aspen from 2000 to 2008, and while there, in all his spare time, in 2003, Richard was the 9th person to ever pass the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Masters Exam on the first attempt.

Richard co-founded the wine labels Betts & Scholl in 2003 and Scarpetta in 2006 and founded Sombra Mezcal in 2006. Today, Richard runs Komos Tequila and Superbird Paloma (in a beautiful can), My Essential Wines, and the wine from Barossa in South Australia,  “An Approach To Relaxation.”

 

Richard is the New York Times best-selling author of “The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert” and “The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All.”  And after nearly two decades as a Master Sommelier, and feeling disillusioned by the lack of evolution in the organization, Richard has altered the wine world forever, by being the first person to resign as a Master Sommelier. He is here to tell us about his journey and his decision.

Here are the show notes:

  • Richard covers his background and his path towards becoming a Master Sommelier. He takes on a journey of what it was like for him in the early 2000s and how the Court of Master Sommeliers of that time fostered his love of learning and wine
  • We talk about Richard’s growing concerns about the Court of Master Sommeliers over time and then we delve into the two major issues that made him quit the organization:
    • The Cheating Scandal of 2018, in which a Master Sommelier gave away answers to the blind tasting portion of the exam to several people in California, and then the Board revoked all certifications of the credential around the world with no explanation or apology.
    • The apathy of the Board of Directors of the Court of Master Sommeliers to the Black Lives Matter Movement, and their veto of a statement of inclusivity to remain “neutral.”
  • Richard tells us how he quit the organization and the painful and extensive steps he took to try to fix things before he made this drastic step.

To editorialize: Richard is a hero in the wine world. He has left an indelible mark that screams “I value integrity over status and exclusivity.” His moral compass, intelligence, and down-to-earth style and, ultimately, its lack of fit with the Court should have us all questioning why we give so much deference to those with the credential, when it is a reductive look at one’s ability to take an exam well, not to be the best wine professional s/he can be.

 

Bravo to Richard. He is a hero and a model for us all.

Here is a slink to his resignation letter.

 

_______________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

Jul 07, 2020
Ep 332: Tahiirah Habibbi from the Hue Society Is On a Mission to Diversify Wine
51:18

Tahiirah Habibi grew up in north Philadelphia, graduated from Penn State University and began working in hospitality, while taking wine classes at night to begin her journey of becoming a sommelier and pioneer. 

In 2012 Tahiirah opened the St.Regis, Bal Harbour. She later moved on to leadership positions at Michael’s Genuine and Baoli. Frustrated with the lack of diversity in the industry she believed her skills could bridge the intersection of wine and culture.  

 

In 2017, she launched The Hue Society as a safe space for the community to learn, commune and find resources in one place. Tahiirah has been featured in Ocean Drive as one of the top 5 female sommeliers, VinePair, Upscale Magazine, David Banner Podcast, and Imbibe Magazine to name a few.

With a decade as a sommelier in some of the top end restaurants in Miami, Tahiirah is an accomplished wine professional yet she has struggled every step of the way to gain recognition, and to cope with the overt and covert racism that exists in the industry. She discusses her difficult experiences, including the incident that prompted her viral video describing how the Court of Master Sommeliers requires all candidates to call them “Master” and what that means to her and other black and brown people who take the exam.  Watch Tahiirah's video from Instagram about her experience with the Court of Master Sommeliers here.

 

After we discuss the issues, Tahiirah uses her never-ending positivity and her penchant for action and problem solving to explain why she founded the Hue Society, which aims to provide a safe space for black wine lovers to come together, learn about wine, and enjoy the process without feeling the need to assimilate. She discusses the Roots Fund, founded this year with Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy, to help fund people of color on their journeys into wine professions and how we can support her mission and vision by being more proactive about forming more multi-racial communities of wine lovers.

Discussing these issues and hearing this perspective is an essential step in changing wine so it reflects more of what the world looks like, not just what wine has traditionally represented. If you listen with an open mind, there are many important ideas Tahiirah shares in this show.  

 

To learn more about The Hue Society and the Roots Fund, please click here.

Tahiirah's article in Wine Folly is here

 

_______________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

Jun 30, 2020
Ep 331: Carnuntum -- Austria's Newest, Oldest Quality Red Wine Region with Christina Netzl
56:37

Carnuntum is a small wine region in Austria with only 2% of the wine growing area, but it packs a punch in quality. A short drive from Vienna, Carnuntum is an old Roman hub, with a rich history and its wine is only just making an impact on the international wine scene. Christina Netzl, from Weingut Netzl joins – a producer who is largely responsible for putting this region on the map and making its red wines, especially of Zweigelt, so well-known and respected.

Here are the show notes:

  • We discuss the location of Carnuntum, its storied Roman history, and its unique position in Austria as an extremely high-quality wine region.
  • Christina gives us an idea of what the terroir is like in Carnuntum, the challenges with a windy climate, and the positive effects of the Danube, Lake Neusiedl, and the Pannonian Plain (which was once an old seabed!) on the climate and weather in the region.

  • We learn about the differences between the reds of Burgenland to the south, and the small Carnuntum region: the reds in Carnuntum are acidic, fresh, with bright fruit and ample spice. The wines are never overshadowed by the use of oak, which is used to support flavors, not to get “in front of the fruit” (I loved this phrase!).

 

Christina tells us about the very long, drawn out process of getting a Districtus Austriae Controllus (DAC) designation for Carnuntum.

  • We learn how very collaborative Carnuntum is – all winemakers had to agree to the standards of the DAC before it was finalized (very unusual!)

  • We discuss Carnuntum’s own classification system. Here are the German names:

    • Gebietswein (regional wine)
    • Ortswein (village wine)
    • Riedenwein (single-vineyard wine)

  • When wines can’t be classified as Carnuntum, they’re designated “Niederösterreich” which is sort of like Vins de Pays d’Oc (like from all of the Languedoc, for example) in France. The wines can come from a very large area all over the northeastern part of Austria. For smaller producers, it’s usually from their individual area, but the wine doesn’t qualify for the stricter DAC regulation.
  • Christina explains "Rubin Carnuntum”, a Zweigelt made in a certain style by a small group of producers (each has one under her own label – e.g., Netzl Rubin Carnuntum)
  • We discuss the name Zweigelt, and the slink to its creator, an enthusiastic member of the Nazi party.

Christina tells us about the importance of Netzl working the land organically, how she is thrilled when she travels that people even know Austria makes wine, and the challenges she has had both as a woman, a young person, and a daughter taking over a family business.

A really fascinating look at an up and coming, (yet old and well-established) region!

_______________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

Jun 22, 2020
Ep 330: Journalistic Integrity in Wine with Don Kavanagh of Wine-Searcher
01:06:47

The question comes up again and again in wine: who can we read that is trustworthy and who reports on the truth? We know it isn't the glossy magazines and many industry wonks are all in the pocket of high end producers and beholden to them so they can stay in the "club" and continue to drink expensive wine in their elite circles. 

 

There is one guy, however, that you can trust. And that is Don Kavanagh the editor of Wine-Searcher's journalistic arm. He has spent the past 25 years either working in the wine trade or writing about it, in his native Ireland, the UK, and New Zealand. He is far from an insider and his dedication to telling things as they are -- as a true observer of situations rather than a judge, jury, or partisan -- is clear in all that he writes and publishes. 

Don is a truly normal person. Unlike people who were graced with expensive bottles at his parents' dinner table, he worked his way through the wine trade, working in the UK and learning about wine (while also laying bricks, doing construction and being a bouncer), setting up his own shop in New Zealand, and then attending journalism school before launching a successful career at newspapers, wine trade publications, and now Wine-Searcher. I really relate to his story, having grown up in a home without luxuries myself and having to work many jobs to pay the bills.

 

Don's commitment to honest representation of facts led him to doggedly pursue the 2018 scandal in the Court of Master Sommeliers in which a board member gave away the answers to portions of the exam. This led to all candidates being de-certified and was a big enough story to hit the international news.

While the Court turned to its friends in the wine trade to quickly sweep the scandal and all of the implications it had under the rug, Don kept asking hard questions. He was the single voice in the wine trade that wouldn't let it go. To date, the Court of Master Sommeliers has still never answered his questions nor have they discussed the changes they would make to the exam that would fix some of the problems Don's stories highlighted. 

We discuss the issues with the wine industry at large, the certification culture that has emerged, the elitism, and how advertiser dollars drive what gets published and what stays quiet (we mention this disturbing yet honest article by Richard Hemming, Master of Wine  “Why Wine Writers Don't Hold The Trade To Account”?). 

 

We discuss how the industry can be fixed, and come to a few conclusions.


If you ever wanted to hear about the underbelly of the wine industry and how wine writing works when advertisers in the industry are involved, as well as the power structure that prevents more honesty in wine, this is the podcast for you. Sign up for the Wine-Searcher newsletter to keep up with him. 

Don is one of the best guests I've ever had and I personally love this show! 

 

_______________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine club, which is the REAL DEAL!  

 

Jun 15, 2020
Ep 329: Muscadet - The Overlooked White of the Loire
39:06

The wine world often looks at Muscadet with disdain for its lighter body and subtlety of flavor. But for white wine lovers who care less about showiness and want something with the interplay of acidity with nutty, bread flavors and soft textures, this historic wine is a thrill. There is far more to this wine than there used to be, as it has continued to improve since the 1980s and seems to get better every year.

This week we discuss this westernmost area of Loire Valley, which lies along the banks of the river and its tributaries. We review Muscadet and the grape Melon -- its storied history – from being a defiled grape in Burgundy (it was outlawed in 1567!), to finding its place in the Loire (albeit with a strange name), to moving from just a grape to be distilled to a legitimate wine that, at the top end, can age more than a decade.

Here are a few of the show notes that you may have missed:

  • Muscadet is not the name of the grape (that’s Melon de Bourgogne) or a place (that’s the Pays Nantais) but it is a huge part of the AOC system and there are many appellations named after it.
  • The maritime climate in the Muscadet area makes it warmer than other parts of the Loire – the Gulf Stream, the river, and the humidity make for a more consistent temperature. But the perils of this area are many – rain, frost, ice storms, hail are all possible and can be devastating to the vines.
  • As we mentioned, Muscadet is scattered across many areas – some of it is gently rolling hills near the river, much is in fertile flats near the estuary. The best areas are on the hills.
  • This area was once a hotbed of volcanic activity. Soils vary here – granite and gabbro (a harder form of granite) make up the subsoils in the better regions, yielding complex wines. Gneiss, sand, silt, and gravel provide much-needed drainage – in this are with so much moisture the vines must stay dry!
  • Lest you think this area is one-note, there are now producers like Domaine l’Écu, Jo Landron and Pépiere that make wines from multiple terroir to show their differences!

The grape, the wine, the appellations:

  • There is only one grape permitted in Muscadet: Melon de Bourgogne
    • In the Pays Nantais, other grapes do grow -- Folle Blanche, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Pinot Noir
  • The styles of the wines have changed over the years. Producers used to pick early but of late, they prefer to pick later to develop more flavor. This presents a tradeoff between fruit and complexity with higher acidities. Still, the ripeness is limited – there is a maximum alcohol for Muscadet of 12% ABV.
  • Muscadet is best described as a wine that is salty, acidic with lemon, lime, chamomile, herb and gunflint aromas and flavors. With techniques like sur lie aging (to promote autolysis), bâtonnage (lies stirring), fermenting in oak barrels, and extended skin contact the wines acquire a soft, bready, creamy texture that is unique to this wine – it’s light yet has subtle dimension when made well.

There are 4 main appellations:

  • Muscadet: Light-to-medium-bodied floral, fruity notes and good acidity. It can be very meh, as it’s often not grown on the best sites.
  • Muscadet Sèvre et Maine: (sub AOC) 75% of output. This is the largest Muscadet appellation and it’s the home of the top wines. The area is where La Petite Maine and La Sèvre Nantaise rivers meet. It has much more dimension, flavor, and aroma than general Muscadet –there is more elevation, better soil types, and the wines are generally aged sur lie for more interest. We mention special terroirs/CRU
    • Muscadet Sevre et Maine Clisson
    • Muscadet Sevre et Maine Gorges
    • Muscadet Sevre et Maine Le Pallet
  • Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire: In the northernmost area, the quality and ripeness of the grapes varies based on vintage. Cooler years don’t bode well for this region!
  • Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu: In the southwest around Grandlieu Lake, this wine is rich, full, and flowery with lower acidity but with good balance.

 

Top Producers: Pierre Luneau-Papin, Domaine de la Pépiere, Jo Landron, Stéphane, Orieux, Domaine du Fief aux Dame, Domaine de l’Ecu

Other areas we mention:

  • Coteaux d’Anciens --reds and rosés Gamay, semi-sweet whites of Pinot Gris
  • Fiefs Vendeens (+regional designation like Brem, Chantonnay, Mareuil, Pissotte, Vix are communes allowed): Chenin for whites, Pinot Noir or Cab Franc for reds
  • Gros Plant du Pays Nantais: Folle Blanche with some Colombard

 

_______________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine club, which is the REAL DEAL!  

Jun 09, 2020
Ep 328: The Wines of Lebanon
39:39

With a history that stretches back perhaps 9,000 years to 7,000 B.C., Lebanon contains some of the original winemaking areas. In spite of political turmoil, violence, and opposition to wine (and all alcohol) and winemaking, this country has always found a way to keep production alive. Its unlikely location and small size may seem, at first glance, to be an impossibility for quality wine but the geography and the fortitude of the people here have created a unique and enduring wine culture.

In the show we discuss the long history of Lebanon in wine -- from the Phoenicians, to the Greeks and Romans, monks, and then to the French, who had such a huge influence in their 30 year tie to this region between World War I and World War II.

Below are some notes on the climate, the spellings of the regions, and the producers we mention:

  • Lebanon is only about 150 miles long and 60 wide but it is extremely varied in terms of altitude and topography -- with beaches, hills, and high, snow-capped mountains all contained within. 
    • It is at 33.5˚N latitude, about the same as Margaret River in Australia, and within the traditional grape growing band of 30˚-50˚ latitude (north or south)
    • There are four main geographic regions: the coastal plain, the Mount Lebanon range (altitudes of nearly 10,000 feet), the Bekaa Valley, and the Anti-Lebanon Range
    • Most wine producers are in the western Bekaa but some are experimenting with new terroir in Batroun and  areas in the Eastern Bekaa
  • The key to good wine in Lebanon is altitude: The Bekaa Valley has altitude of around 1,000m/3,820ft. This is a plateau but there is a moderating influence of Mount Lebanon and the area has snowmelt and rain runoff from the mountain to provide ample water for grapes
  • The soils are colluvial (runoff from mountains) so they are divers and contain limestone, clay/loam, stones, gravel and some red terra rossa soil similar to Coonawarra in South Australia

  • Climate is Mediterranean, with long, dry and often very hot summers. The mountains and valley get very cold at night and the diurnal temperature swings are so dramatic that grapes can maintain acidity if grown in the right places 
  • The Wines:

    • Only about 2,000 ha/4,942 acres are cultivated and yields are extremely low

    • The main reds are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault (the grape with the longest heritage), Carignan, Grenache, with Merlot, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Tempranillo and Pinot Noir

    • The main whites are: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier, Muscat, Clairette, and Riesling along with indigenous grapes Merwah and Obaideh

    • The wines have always been known for excellent fragrance, spice, and a sweet aroma (but not flavor)
    • French influence is everywhere in these wines-- some of the top wine producers from France consult for wineries in Lebanon and help craft the wines of the top producers

 

Top Producers are:


Above: Ixsir

Most of these wines are around USD$20! They are worth a try! 

 

_____________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine club, which is the REAL DEAL!  Wine Access is fantastic and satisfaction is guaranteed! Give them a try -- you won't regret it!  

Jun 03, 2020
Ep 327: Wine Ingredient Labeling Pushes Forward in the EU -- with Barnaby Eales
33:07

I know this topic may seem wonky, but consider a world where you could look at a wine label and see if there was extra, unwanted sweetness or if the wine was packed with chemicals (actual picture of big hulking winery on the right, below).

                  

                                                    

Barnaby Eales, international wine journalist takes us through the European Union's ultimatum to producers, the machinations they are going through, and the likely outcomes of transparency in wine. From the impact on top conventional producers (it should be great -- they can finally stand up to "natural wine" producers and say their products aren't loaded with chemicals) to the producers that may have to cop to a list of additives a mile long (industrial wine, I'm looking at you!), we go over the ramifications of this initiative, the complications behind it, and the benefits transparency brings to us all. 

Barnaby's article is here: The EU Moves on Wine Ingredient Labeling

Above: Barnaby Eales, Journalist

______________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

May 26, 2020
Ep 326: The Best Spanish Wines You've Never Heard of -- Jumilla and Yecla
38:53

Tucked into a small corner of southeast Spain is one of the greatest sources for delicious, multi-layered, and decadent reds you’ll find. In the province of Murcia, at latitude 39˚N lay two regions of Monastrell (Mourvèdre) production that have quietly churned out wine for more than 3,000 years: Jumilla (joo-ME-yah) and Yecla (YAY-clah).

Today, these regions are magnificent but receive so little press that we can get exquisite bottles that have the fullness, richness and depth for less than US$20.

In the podcast, we take you through the wine history of the region --from the early days with the Phoenicians to the Romans and then the Moors, and then a few strange brushes with the phylloxera root louse that at first propelled the region’s wines, then decimated the land and ultimately saved this area from a fate of nasty bulk production to make it a quiet haven of powerful reds.

 

We discuss the conditions in Murcia, discuss Bullas, a small Denominacíon de Origen and then we move to the big guns of this area: Jumilla and Yecla.

 

Jumilla 

Jumilla is the best area quality in Murcia and also makes the most wine. Vineyards are spread across a wide valleys and plateaus surrounded by mountains. A few geological and climate facts:

  • The high elevation of the vineyards -- between 1,300 -2,600 ft (400 -800 m) make it possible for grapes to cool at night and maintain acidity.
  • The soils here are dark and have a high limestone content. They’re permeable but have good moisture retaining properties, allowing the vines during the harsh summer droughts.
  • This is a very difficult place to grow things – it’s a harsh, dry, continental climate that is tempered a bit by Mediterranean breezes but is brutal in its dry heat.

Jumilla is one of Spain’s oldest DOs – its historical legacy as a high-quality wine producer is well known in its native land. It now makes whites, reds, and rosés, although the reds are the flagship for the region.

  • Red grapes include: Monastrell, Tempranillo (called Cencibel here), Garnacha Tinta, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. The French varietals were added to the Monastrell to create more dimension in the finished wine (read: international appeal). This has been critically acclaimed, however some of it muddies the character of the grape.
  • White grapes include: Aíren, Macabeo, Pedro Ximenez, Malvasia, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Mosacatel de Grano Menudo
  • Although not mentioned in the podcast, the Jumilla DO has several areas it draws from: Jumilla, Montealegre, Fuenteálamo, Tobarra, Hellín, Ontur, and Albatana. 40% of the wine is from Jumilla proper.

Monastrell represents 85% of the vines planted and 80% of any blend must be this grape. The character of the wine is superb:  it tastes like dark fruit, earth, and minerals with a brambly, gamy character. With age, these flavors mellow to be more like dark soil, coffee and spice.

 

Although it isn’t prevalent, Jumilla makes rosé from 80% Monastrell too -- in the best versions it’s similar to the rosé of Bandol, in Provence, France with some acidity and tannin and, from a careful producer, the opportunity to potentially have a longer life than 1 year.

 

Modern technology, good farming and a consistent climate mean there isn’t a lot of vintage variation here although the region does have aging classifications similar to Rioja:

  • Vino joven ("young wine") or Sin crianza: little, if any, wood aging.
  • Crianza:
    • Reds: aged for 1 year total -- at least 6 months in oak, 6 months in the bottle.
    • Whites and rosés: at least 1 year with at least 4 months in oak.
  • Reserva:
    • Reds: aged for at least 2 years -- at least 12 months in oak, 12 months in the bottle.
    • Whites and rosés: aged at least 18 months with at least 6 months in oak.
  • Gran Reserva: Made only above average vintages.
    • Reds: 4 years aging, 12 months of which in oak and a minimum of 36 months in the bottle.
    • Whites and rosés: aged for at least 4 years with at least 6 months in oak

 

Wine Map of Spain

Yecla

Towards the end of the show, we discuss the smallest and northernmost wine zone in Murcia, Yecla. This area is landlocked by other DOs: Jumilla DO to the southwest, Almansa DO to the north, and Alicante DO to the east. It’s 50 miles (80km) inland and represents a transition from more coastal Mediterranean influences to hotter, arid continental conditions.

 

Yecla is similar to Jumilla in that its altitude allows the grapes to maintain acidity at night, creating balance in the wines.

  • White grapes: Airen, Macabeo, Merseguera, Malvasia, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay. These wines are usually blended. A small amount of sparkling wine is also made here.
  • Red grapes: similar to those of Jumilla, but the blends must have a least 85% Monastrell. The area has transitioned from making a light, very fruity red to making more serious reds with spice mineral and red fruit notes, after seeing the success Jumilla has enjoyed.

If you haven’t tried these wines yet, get on it. They will become your new go-to and a total revelation for your palate (and wallet!).

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

May 19, 2020
Ep 325: The Greats -- Alsace Riesling
52:16

Alsace Riesling is, without a doubt, one of the greatest white wines of the world. With its rich body, effusive flavor that ranges from flowers to fruit to nuts and spice, and acidity to keep it in balance, this liquid gold has been famed for centuries. It was the wine that got me into wine, my "aha" wine but even without that, I would still love the wine. 

 

Alsace has a rich history (it's been the ball in a ping pong match between Germany and France for centuries), and a complex geology and climate.

Alsace is a land of paradoxes. It labels wines by grape and bottles in tall German-style but its wines are distinctively French in their elegant, silky, voluptuous style. It is one of the most northerly growing regions in the world at (47˚ - 49˚  north latitude) and yet the summers are hot, dry, and sunny due to its location in the rainshadow of the Vosges Mountains. It is a small area, yet it contains 13 soil types, and more microclimates than can be counted. 

 

There is wonderful wine to be had from Riesling -- from the basic wines of the plains to crémant (sparkling) to unctuous sweet wines (Vendanges Tardives and Selection de Grains Nobles) but the Greats of Alsace are the top wines of the Grands Crus.

These 51 sites are not all exceptional, but those that are make wines of unparalleled aroma, flavor, and texture that still have the pointed acidity you'd expect from Alsace. When you get a great Alsace Grand Cru Riesling, it is a memorable experience that you never forget. Here are a few details that may have been hard to catch from the show:

 

Geology and Climate deets:

  • We discuss the graben (not the mythical creature we posit it could be and for which we provide side effects): a trough formed by two parallel faults that rubbed and broke many geological eras ago.
  • We mention the various soil types -- volcanic, gneiss, granite, schist, limestone, marl, sand, loess, loam alone and together

 

We discuss the classifications of Alsace:

  • Alsace AOC 
  • Alsace Communes:
    • Bergheim
    • Blienschwiller
    • Coteaux du Haut Koenigsbourg
    • Cotes de Rouffach
    • Cotes de Barr
    • Klevner de Heiligenstein
    • Ottrott
    • Rodern
    • Scherwiller
    • Hippolyte
    • Vallee Noble
    • Val St. -Gregoire
    • Wolxheim
  • Alsace Lieu-Dit: A plot or vineyard with special character – have to meet strict requirements

Alsace Grand Cru examples discussed:  

  • Schlossberg – 1st Grand cru, 1975
  • Hengst
  • Brand
  • Rangen  (challenging vineyard, ages well)
  • Schoenenbourg  (where Voltaire one owned vines)

 

Producers mentioned:

  • Reliably DRY producers: Trimbach (Clos Sainte Hune Cuvée Frédéric Émile), Ostertag and Kreydenweiss
  • Others: Zind-Humbrecht, Josmeyer, Hugel, Domaine Weinbach, Beyer

__________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

May 14, 2020
Ep 324: Chile's Cool Climate Wines of Casablanca, San Antonio Valleys
33:05

Cool climate wines are in high demand, as many of us seek wines that are on the lighter side but still have fruit and ripeness. We usually turn to places of high latitude for that, but on this show we tell you about an unlikely region for some of the best and yet most affordable cool climate wine around: the Casablanca Valley, San Antonio, and Leyda Valley -- all in a small area at 33˚south latitude!

 

Here are the show notes:

Both located in the far western coastal areas of the Aconcagua wine region, Casablanca and San Antonio are in mountainous coastal country that experiences cool to cold breezes due to the Humboldt current coming up from Antarctica. There are a handful of producers that make wines from these areas, but thankfully most of them are widely distributed so we have a chance to try these acidic yet fruity wines with little hunting around. 

Valle de Casablanca

  • Casablanca and Valparaíso are famed (at least in their homeland) and were voted, as a unit, as one of the 10 Great Wine Capitals of the world. The food, wine, and the ease of visiting vineyards make it an ideal destination. 
  • Until the 1980s, livestock grazed and grain grew where vineyards would soon pop up. It was then that Pablo Morandé, who was working for the giant winery Concha y Toro, realized that the Casablanca Valley had tremendous potential to make cool climate wines like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc. 
  • Within a few decades the area was thriving. Producers set up shop, including:  Montsecano, Kingston Vineyards, Casas del Bosque, Veramonte, Loma Larga, Quintay, Cono Sur – and Pablo Morandé's Bodegas Re 

 The Geography/Climate

  • Casablanca is in the eastern part of Valparaíso province just 30km/20 miles from the Pacific Ocean at its furthest point.
  • At 33˚S, the Humboldt Current from the Antarctic is the only reason viticulture can work so well here. The area has cool early morning fog, which both depresses temperature and keeps the air most -- important in this water-deprived area. Cool afternoon breezes and regular cloud cover slow the ripening period of the grapes. It is so cold here that spring frosts can be an issue! 
  • Similar to Santa Barbara, in California Casablanca is a transverse valley – it runs east to west, funneling in cool ocean air and creating wines that are flavorful yet highly acidic.
  • Look for excellent Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Viognier, Gewurztraminer, and Riesling

Chile Wine Map Wine For Normal People Book

 

San Antonio Valley and it's Zone, Leyda Valley

  • In province of San Antonio, only 55 miles (90km) west of central Santiago and south of Casablanca is San Antonio, which was planted a decade later than Casablanca, in the late 1990s. It is similar to its neighbor to the north, in that it is also heavily influenced by the effects of the ocean but here the mountains turn north to south again, and the area must rely on a closer proximity to the ocean and wind gaps in the coastal range to provide cool air. 
  • This is an up-and-coming area with a limited number of producers, many of them small. 
  • Sauvignon Blanc is the flagship wine but there is some great Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and sparkling wine as well. 

 The Leyda Valley is sub-region or zone of San Antonio

  • The valley is 9 miles from the coast and in some areas the vineyards are on the west (sea-facing) side of the coastal mountain range, so it’s quite a bit cooler than Casablanca, which is on the other side of the hills. 
  • The sharp diurnals, poor soils, and long growing season make Leyda's wine display fresh fruit flavors, ripe tannins, with high acidity.
  • Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Merlot shine here.
  • Unfortunately Leyda's growth is limited because it is so dry here. When winemaking began here, a 5 mile pipeline from the Maipo River in the south was built to irrigate vineyards. Those areas without water rights can't grow grapes, even if the exposures and soils are good. Until that gets resolved, Leyda will be limited to a few players. Viña Leyda and Garcés Silva are two wineries here – but Montes Alpha, Undurraga  and others source grapes to make wine from here.

 

These wines are all worthy of your time and attention! Go and get some! 

___________________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Skylight Frame

If you want the perfect Mother's Day gift, you have to get a Skylight Frame! It's a digital frame that finally works and will keep you connected with your friends and family, with ease. There are three easy steps:

1. Connect Skylight to a power source and it powers up.
2. Tap our touch screen to connect to Wi-Fi in <60 seconds.
3. Send photos to your unique Skylight email, and they arrive in seconds. Your loved one just sits back & enjoys!

I love mine! You will love yours too! 

To get $10 off your purchase of a Skylight Frame just
go https://www.skylightframe.com/normal and enter code NORMAL! 

May 04, 2020
Ep 323: Dao Region of Portugal -- The Burgundy of the Iberian Peninsula
38:59

Located in north-central Portugal, just a three-hour drive from Lisbon, Dão is a small quiet region with outstanding, elegant, and distinctive wines. Named for the Dão river which carves a path through the rugged, old granite hills here, the region is the original home of Portugal’s top red grape, Touriga Nacional.

Map from the Wine For Normal People Book

Made up of tens of thousands of growers and small plots, just 5% of the land area of this region is planted to vines, 80% of which are red grapes. The hot, dry climate of this distinctive region is made possible by its unique position on a plateau sheltered on 3 sides by granite mountain ranges – the Serra da Estrela, the Serra do Caramulo, and the Serra da Nave.

 

Mountains protect the area from the capricious Atlantic and continental storms, and the provide altitude which means the grapes can cool down at night, hoarding precious acidity.  The granite subsoil also helps boost the acidity of the wines, making them fresh and bright, rather than dark and brooding as is often the case in the Douro wines.

There are seven subregions can be on the bottle: Alva, Besteiros, Castendo, Serra da Estrela, Silgueiros, Terras de Azurara, and  Terras de Senhorim, but you will rarely see them (at the time of this show in 2020, at least).

What can you expect from the wines?

Reds produce medium bodied wines with spicey, peppery, and red fruit notes. They can be earthy or even barnyard like with an excellent balance of alcohol and acidity. This is the new style of Dão, for which it has become known, and along with its myriad plots, this lightness and elegance is why some refer to the region as the Burgundy of Portugal. Older styles were harsh, tannic, and lacked both fruit and acidity – rustic to say the least. The grapes used here are:

  • Touriga Nacional as the leading red --At least 20% of every blend must be Touriga
  • Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo of Spain)
  • Jaen (Mencía of Spain)
  • Alfrocheiro Preto – a native to this area with dark color, dark fruit character and a good balance of alcohol and acid
  • Rufete – a lesser used, fruity red
  • And sometimes Baga, Bastardo (usually for lesser wines)

Touriga Nacional

Styles: Whites used to be oxidized and like a day old apple but with better winemaking they are now refreshing  with citrus, mineral, and nut notes with great acidity. The best are exclusively made of Encruzado, with its floral notes and oily textures it is a white to seek out. Malvasia Fina, Bical, and Arinto are also used in whites.

Rosé and Sparkling  wines can also be found in the Dão.

Great producers to see out are:

  • Quinta dos Carvalhais – Sogrape -- (The Oaks Estate)
  • Quinta da Pellada/Quinta de Saes
  • Casa de Santar
  • Quinta do Vale das Escadinhas
  • Quinta de Lemos

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

StoryWorth is a fun and meaningful way to engage with family, especially with relatives you might not get to see often. This online service helps your loved-ones share stories through thought-provoking questions about their memories and personal thoughts. It’s the gift of spending time together, wherever you live.

 

Give the mom in your life the most meaningful gift this year with StoryWorth. Get started right away without the need for shipping by going to www.StoryWorth.com/normal. You’ll get $10 off your first purchase! 

Apr 28, 2020
Ep 322: The Hudson River Region of NY with Fjord Vineyards
46:21

Spanning a large portion of New York, just about an hour north of Manhattan, lies one of the oldest winemaking regions in the US: The Hudson River Region AVA.

This week Casey Erdmann and Matt Spacarelli of Fjord Vineyards join to talk about the Hudson River Region and the innovative things they are doing there. 

To start the show, MC Ice and I give a quick overview of the area:

  • We go WAY back to the glaciers and talk about how this area came to have so many different soil types, a varied terrain, and the mighty Hudson River.
  • We discuss the continental climate, and the challenges that come with heat and humidity (hint: grape vine diseases) 
  • We talk about how large the region is. It encompasses all or part of big counties:  Columbia, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester.
    • It is 224,000 acres, but just 450 acres are planted to wine grapes
  • We discuss common grapes here:
    • Vitis labrusca (native): Concord, Delaware, Niagara
    • French-American Hybrids: Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc,  Baco Noir (among others)
    • Vitis vinifera that is cold tolerant: Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc 

Then I discuss the region with Casey and Matt. Matt grew up in the region and his family owns the historic Benmarl Winery where he is the head winemaker and GM. He gives us great insight and detail around the region -- its history, its challenges, and its opportunities. 

We have a lively discussion around French-American hybrids (we may or may not discuss how they taste like burnt hair), and what their role is for wine regions.

Finally we discuss Fjord Vineyards which was founded in 2013 so the couple to make wines of Vitis vinifera from local parcels that express the terroir of the region. They make balanced, sustainable wines of Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño, and Cabernet Franc that reflect where they are grown and are delicious! 

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Skylight Frame

If you want the perfect Mother's Day gift, you have to get a Skylight Frame! It's a digital frame that finally works and will keep you connected with your friends and family, with ease. There are three easy steps:

1. Connect Skylight to a power source and it powers up.
2. Tap our touch screen to connect to Wi-Fi in <60 seconds.
3. Send photos to your unique Skylight email, and they arrive in seconds. Your loved one just sits back & enjoys!

I love mine! You will love yours too! 

To get $10 off your purchase of a Skylight Frame just
go https://www.skylightframe.com/normal and enter code NORMAL! 

Apr 21, 2020
Ep 321: The Greats -- Côte Rôtie, Rhône Valley
50:58

One of the greatest wines of the world is the Syrah-based Côte Rôtie, from the northernmost appellation in the northern Rhône. Named "roasted slope" after the sun that bathes the south-facing slopes, the region is less than 25 miles south of Lyon near the town of Ampuis, and is at the cool-climate limit for growing Syrah.

On the right bank of the Rhône, across 3 communes of Saint-Cyr sur Rhône, Ampuis, and Tupin-Semons, the vineyards are on extremes slopes at 180m/590 ft and 325m/1070 ft above sea level.
 

This week we explain what makes these wines, from this tiny, historic area, so very fascinating and why they truly are one of the greatest wines in the world. 

 

I think the best thing to do in the show notes this time is to list the things that are hard to catch on the show. Rather than a lengthy recap, this time I'll list the regions and producers mentioned!

 

Sub areas

 Ampuis: The area that lies above Ampuis town contains the best sites. The Reynard River serves as the geological dividing lie between the schist soils of the northern part of the appellation, and the granite soils in the south. 

Schist: 

  • Cote Brune – Schist soils make  powerful, tannic, darker
  • Chavaroche – Borders Cote Brune. Bernard Levet produces a single vineyard Cote Rotie from here
  • La Landonne – Famed for Guigal’s La Landonne but Gerinn, Rene Rostaing, Delas and Xavier Gerard also make wine from here
  • Cote Rozier- some of the steepest sites in Cote Rotie. Great wines include Ogier’s Belle Helene, and wines from Jamet, Guigal, Bonnefond and Gangloff
 
Granite:
  • Cote blonde – Vastly different soils and more Viognier. The soil is granite and the wines are more aromatic and lighter. The famed La Mouline vineyard is here

The village of Tupin  has no single vineyards but makes some great wine

The Village of Verenay is the next village upstream from Ampuis, and producers full, rich, long-lived wines. The vineyards of interest are Grandes Places, and Vialliere (10 hectares makes it quite variable in quality)

 St Cyr is in the far north of the AOC, past Verenay. It was added in the 1960s and is on schist but not as good as the wines near Ampuis. 
 

Top Producers

TRADITIONAL:  Domaine Gilles Barge –most traditional practices,Domaine Bernard Levet  
 
MODERN: Guigal, Gerin, Bonnefond
 

Middle ground:

  • Domaine Jamet: one of the brothers went off to set up his own domaine, Jean-Luc Jamet, both are very good
  • Rene  Rostaing: Rene's son Pierre took over a few years ago – wines are amazing. Single vineyards from Cote Blonde and La Landonee, Ampodium blend for early drinking.
  • Clusel-Roch  from Verenay, single vineyard from Grandes Places
  • Stephane Ogier
  • Vidal-Fleury (the merchant house for which Marcel Guigal's father once worked as cellarmaster but which now belongs to Guigal). 
  • Chapoutier

 

Top Vintages: 1997, 1998,  2001, 2003, 2007, 2009-10, 2012, 2015-19
 

_______________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Skylight Frame

If you want the perfect Mother's Day gift, you have to get a Skylight Frame! It's a digital frame that finally works and will keep you connected with your friends and family, with ease. There are three easy steps:

1. Connect Skylight to a power source and it powers up.
2. Tap our touch screen to connect to Wi-Fi in <60 seconds.
3. Send photos to your unique Skylight email, and they arrive in seconds. Your loved one just sits back & enjoys!

I love mine! You will love yours too! 

To get $10 off your purchase of a Skylight Frame just
go https://www.skylightframe.com/normal and enter code NORMAL! 

Apr 14, 2020
Ep 320: The Grape Miniseries -- Carignan (Mazuelo)
41:37

Carignan or Mazuelo, as it's known in its native Spain, is a complicated grape that gets a terrible rap. But the truth is, in the right hands and growing in the right conditions, this grape can fashion powerful wines that are pure hedonistic pleasure! 

   

Carignan has a long history. The grape is likely from Aragon in northeast Spain, but it spread around the Iberian Peninsula. It’s current Spanish name, Mazuelo comes from Mazuelo de Muñó, a town in Castilla y Leon in northwest Spain. Carignan may have originated in its namesake town of Cariñena, which is a Denomiacíon de Origen (DO) that grows mainly Garnacha Tinta. From these parts of Spain, Mazuelo spread to Catalunya in northeast Spain and then during the reign of the Crown of Aragon to the area it ruled. The grape:

  • Was introduced to Sardinia, the Italian island, sometime between 1323-1720
  • Moved to Algeria where it became a high yielding grape that was exported to France to bolster French blends in the color, acidity, and tannin department

 

The grape became commonplace in France after three incidents: phylloxera in the late 1800s, a frost destroyed the other “workhorse” grape,  Aramon in 1956 and 1963, and the independence of Algeria of 1962 brought French-Algerian winemakers into the Languedoc-Roussillon region who brought their trusty workhorse grape.

Pied Noir from Algeria

The over vigorous nature of the grape made it produce rustic, flavorless wines with rough tannin and high acid. It contributed majorly to the wine lake of the EU (low quality wine that was subsidized by the EU and then needed to be dealt with because there was no demand for it). Nearly half the Carignan in the Languedoc was grubbed up in the 1990s and today no one is planting it, as the only value in it is in grapes that are more than 50 years old.

 

When the vines are old, the soil is poor, and the climate is hot, Carignan makes wines that are full of dark cherry fruit, blueberries, violet and other floral notes. It’s full-bodied with (sometimes dusty-feeling) tannins and great acidity, and moderate alcohol. Winemakers have to be careful to ensure the fermentation gets enough oxygen or the wines can take on a burnt match/reductive note.

 

Where does the grape grow??

 Old World: 

France: 80% of the Carignan plantings are in the Languedoc-Roussillon – and make ordinary Vins de Pays (countryside) wine. Some appellations: Minervois, Corbières, Faugères, Fitou, Languedoc, and St-Chinian each have a certain amount of Carignan specified in their AOCs and use carbonic maceration to soften the tannin and produce fruitier notes in their Carignan. The best wines come from old vines, as is the case in all areas.

Really the two best places for Carignano/Mazuelo are Italy and Spain...

Italy: The grape here is called Carignano and 97% is planted on the island of Sardegna, where it has been called Bovale Grande or Bovale di Spagna. Because of the name difference,  it was only recently discovered that this grape is Carignan. The grape grows well in the hot, dry south-western corner of Sardinia. The best co-op is Santadi, which makes soft, supple, fruity, and rich wine from the Carignano del Sulcis DOC.  Rocco Rubine and Terre Brune are great wines from the co-op.

Spain: Mazuelo is found as a dwindling part of the Rioja blend
(although Marquis de Murrieta makes a varietal Mazuelo). The place the grape shines is Catalunya, especially Priorat. Here the vineyard recipe for this grape is perfect: 100+ year old vines, schist slopes (llicorella), poor soils, and a hot, dry climate. The wines it yields are silky, rich, powerful and luscious, especially when blended with Garnacha.

 

In the old world you can also find the grape in Croatia, Cyprus, Turkey, Malta, Morocco, Tunisia and Israel.

 

New World

In the New World, the grape is found in Uruguay, Australia (South Australia),  Argentina, Mexico, and South Africa.

In the US, in California, the grape is spelled Carignane and has historically been used as  a major component in jug and box wines, and was a popular grape home winemaking in the 1970s and 1980s. Like all Carignan, the best in California is found where there is old bush vines – places like Mendocino, Sonoma, Contra Costa County and other areas.

Chile has great promise for the wine as well – especially with the ancient, dry farmed Carignan in Maule Valley.

 

There seems to be hope for Carignan as younger producers have taken an interest in giving it the attention it needs to make good wine. The grape has great potential!

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Apr 06, 2020
Ep 319: How to Get Great Rhône Wine with Serge Doré, French Wine Importer
01:05:32

Serge Doré is a fan favorite and he returns to tell us about the place in France where he feels most at home: the Rhône. He's been in wine for decades, since he got his start in his native Quebec, and has been a wine importer and wholesaler out of Chappaqua, New York for almost as long as he's been in wine. To order any of the wines he mentions or those you find on Serge Dore Selections , go to Grapes The Wine Company

We've learned about life as an importer and about the business of wine in Bordeaux from Serge, and this time he tells us about the Rhône. If you are unfamiliar with the area, I'd check out the Rhône overview show first. This show goes into detail on regions and Serge regals us with stories of meetings with famous producers, and the spectacular wines they make. 

 

The show notes this week are primarily a list of the many producers Serge mentions in the show.

 

Big Northern Rhône Names:

  • E. Guigal (king of Côte Rôtie), 
  • Domaine Jean Michel Gerin (Côte Rôtie)
  • M. Chapoutier (king of Hermitage)
  • Domaine Jean-Louis Chave (Hermitage, mainly)
  • Cornas: Domaine August Clape, Domaine Alain Voge (the Cornas appellation is much improved, more elegant)
  • St. Joseph: J.L. Chave, Domaine Chez, Delas, Anthony Paret (also makes excellent Condrieu, a white-only appellation of Viognier)
  • Crozes-Hermitage: Laurent Fayolle, Cave de Tain

It's from the southern Rhône but here we also mention a Roussanne wine in this converasation of whites: Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf Du Pape Blanc Roussanne Vieilles Vignes 

 

One great nugget Serge shares on Condrieu: It's good the year it is released, not after. Also, don't forget Hermitage Blanc -- it's stunning.

 Southern Rhône

 We discuss fewer producers and more about the differences in Cru:

  • Vinsobres: Higher in altitude, cooler climate, more elegant wine
  • Cairanne: Bigger wine, bolder than Vinsobres
  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueryas: Are all bolder styles
  • Others mentioned: Lirac, Rasteau, Beaumes de Venise

Serge tells us the trick to getting good Cotes du Rhone: which is buy a brand, not something you’ve never seen unless you know the importer or producer! If you want the Estate Côte du Rhône he imports:  Domaine de Dionysos.

Serge tells us the most important thing about the Rhône and maybbe about wine in general these days:

 “It depends on who makes the wine and the attention they pay to the wines” 

   

And according to Serge this is getting easier as the younger generation is looking to focus on quality not quantity! Go togo to Grapes The Wine Company to order any of the wines Serge discusses! 

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thrive Causemetics is a beauty brand with a Bigger Than Beauty™ mission that goes beyond skin deep to empower women everywhere.

  • Thrive Causemetics makes high-performance, vegan, 100% cruelty-free formulas without the use of parabens or sulfates.
  • Their amazing products use skin-loving, performance-driven ingredients that not only highlight your best features but are formulated for all-day wear.
  • For every product you purchase, Thrive Causemetics donates to help women thrive.
  • Start thriving and help women in need today by going to ThriveCausemetics.com/normal and use Code normal for 15% off your first purchase!
Mar 30, 2020
Ep 318: High Altitude Wines
38:29

High altitude wines are often discussed in the wine world, but what REALLY defines high altitude? There are a lot of features that would make a region qualify but the keys to determining “high elevation” are latitude and altitude and their cross section. At lower latitudes, elevations are way higher than at higher latitudes. Places at elevation share characteristics like cool nighttime temperatures, dryness (no mold or disease), later harvest dates, a good amount of wind, and higher levels of UV radiation.  

 

Among other things, we discuss this study (BMC Plant Biol. 2014; 14: 183. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4099137/) which discusses the genetic adaptation and metabolic changes that happen in high altitude grapes.

 

The upshot: thicker skins that protect against the heat of the day and the cool of the night produce wines with greater body, flavor and aromatics. Wines can be lower or higher in alcohol depending on the latitude, but the similarity of these grapes is that they taste like fresh, newly picked fruit becuase of the fresh acidity retained because of cooler temperatures at night, wind, and the long growing season.

 

We mention some examples of these vineyard areas. In Europe, we mention:

  • Val d’Aosta in Italy, below Mont Blanc in Alps
  • Dolomites in Alto Adige
  • Tenerife in the Canary Islands
  • Etna in Sicily
  • Armenia
  • I also refer to Switzerland and Jura and Savoie in France (although these French regions are not quite as high as the other regions we discuss)

In the New World

  • In the US, specifically Fox Fire Farms in Ignacio, Colorado (6,500 ft!)
  • Some of the world’s highest vineyards in South America:
    • Colomé Altura Máxima, in the province of Salta, Argentina at 3,011m/9,878 ft
    • In the JuJuy province of Argentina is the Quebrada de Humahuaca GI at 3,329m/ 10,922 feet above sea level, Claudio Zucchino makes his famed Uraqui blend
    • We mention Mendoza, Argentina
  • In South Africa, Mount Sutherland is at 1,500 m/4,921 ft

After some discussion, we conclude that “higher” does not automatically mean “better” and that although altitude is short hand for a fresh wine, unless it’s on a slope and at elevation, you can’t always rely on that heuristic!

 

Don't forget to sign up for online classes: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Mar 24, 2020
Ep 317: Valpolicella and Amarone from Veneto, Italy with Filippo Bartolotta
58:14

Filippo Bartolotta joins us again to explain the wonders and changing nature of the Valpolicella region in northeast Italy. Filippo tells us about the geological underpinnings of the region, how the winemaking styles developed here, and what's gone on in modern history. 

We cover things you many of you have asked about in the past, like...

  • Where and what Valpolicella is

  • The difference between Valpolicella, Valpolicella Classica, Valpolicella Ripasso, and Amarone della Valpolicella
  • We discuss Amarone and why it's hard to make, expensive, and HUGE as a wine (hint-dried grapes = intense wines!)
  • We talk about the appassimento technique and how it used to be used to help unripe grapes taste a little better

  • Filippo gives us a summary of the 13 valleys of the "Valley of many cellars" , as Valpolicella translates from Latin. He mentions some of the more awesome one like Fumane, Marano and Negrar(which I think we'll see on labels in the future)

  • We talk about the blend here and how a grape that we didn't even know existed a few decades ago is now a main part of the quality blends (Corvinone). 
  • Filippo goes over the flavor profiles of (from lightest to heaviest here...) and food that goes with it:
    • Valpolicella (lighter pastas)
    • Valpolicella Superiore (pastas with meat)
    • Valpolicella Classica (depends on the producer's styles)
    • Valpolicella Ripasso (bolder, heavier grilled meat and vegetables)
    • Amarone della Valpolicella (long, slow-cooked meats with a lot of flavor, game, hard cheeses and grilled vegetables)

And finally, the producer list:

  • Cult producers: Quintarelli, Dal Forno Romano
  • Others: Roccolo Grassi, Latium Morini, Secondo Marco (especially for Classica), Villa San Carlo, Bocaini Carlo (old school Ripasso), Novaia, Ca dei Maghi, Cà la Bionda, Bertani, Pasqua, Tenute Falezza, and Corte Sant'Alba (for biodynamic wines)

 

Don't forget to check out Filippo's website for cooking classes and luxury custom tours of Italy! 

 

Don't forget to sign up for online classes: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Mar 18, 2020
Ep 316: Women of Bordeaux with Caroline Perromat of Ch Cerons and Sylvie Courselle of Ch Thieuley
49:47

From Eleanor of Acquitane who married Henry Plantagenet of England in 1152, uniting Britain with Bordeaux and kicking off a lifelong relationship between the two nations, to Caroline de Villeneuve, owner of Château Cantemerle who fought tooth and nail to be included in the 1855 Classification, to Madame Labat whose vision and marketing genius gave us Petrus to Baroness Philippine de Rothschild of  Château Mouton-Rothschild and Corinne Mentzelopoulos of Château Margaux women have played a role in Bordeaux for centuries. And in this show we have two women of the current generation. They are here to celebrate women in wine.

 

On this show I talk with Sylvie Coursell of Château Thieuley, whose estate is in the Entre deux Mers and has been in her family since it was acquired in 1950 and who runs the estate with her sister, making lovely red, white, and sparkling wine. And also Caroline Perromat of the historic Graves estate of Château de Cerons. The property has been around since the 18th century, has groundings in the aristocracy of Bordeaux, and is well known for beautiful reds, whites, and especially botrytis affected sweet wines, which rival those of Barsac and Sauternes.

Caroline tells us about the transformation of Bordeaux culture in three generations. Château de Cerons has kept its aristocratic beginnings  but with Caroline and her husband Xavier at the helm, changes have been made. What are three ways this historic property has changed?

  1. Caroline and Xavier have hired people of diverse backgrounds -- women and men from the arts and other industries apart from wine to give the Château a wider, global perspective. 

  2. They work sustainably in their vineyards, so they can maintain the beautiful freshness (acidity, medium body/lower alcohol, mineral character) in the reds, whites and sweet wines. 

  3. They are working to marry tradition with new practices and a new sense of openness to tourists and to wine lovers around the globe to make Bordeaux a more welcoming, warm place where people can have fun. 

Cool fact Caroline shares: The famous more tangerine flavored Cerons sweet wines from Château de Cerons is actually grown side by side with the grapes for the fresh whites. The difference between the grapes: picking times only!

 

Sylvie Courselle of Château Thieuley runs the estate with her sister in Entre-Deux-Mers, the home of excellent, fresh white wines and bright, fruity reds. What are Sylvie's 3 points:

1. There used to be far more white than red in Bordeaux, now there is a mere 9% of whites here. 

2. The new grapes that have been introduced for climate reasons (Marselan, Touriga Nacional, Castets, and Arinarnoa for reds and Alvarinho, Petit Manseng and Liliorila for whites) will give winemakers flexibility that they crave -- she and her sister feel inhibited by the AOC system, so much that they planted Chardonnay and Syrah so they could make wine from them (they are label Vin de France, the general appellation for French wine).  Experimetation in anticipation of climate change has been happening for years, so these grapes are the best options based on research.

3. Sylvie believes that in the next generation, the conversation around women and wine will be a non-issue. She feels the playing field has equalized and that we won't be talking about this in 10 years (I gotta disagree with her, but I love the optimism!).

 

Cool fact from Sylvie: Château Thieuley is named for its soil types of clay "tiles" that surround the estate. Sylvie tells us that many of the Bordeaux chateaux are named in a similar fashion, if they aren't named for the people who founded them.

A great show to salute two fantastic women in wine, this women's history month! 

 

_____________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Mar 09, 2020
Ep 315: The Grape Miniseries -- Mourvedre/Monastrell
38:37

The grape miniseries continues! This time we cover the grape known as Monstrell in Spain, Mourvèdre in France, and Mataro in other parts of the world. Difficult to grow and make, when treated well the wines from this grape are unlike any other -- herbal, gamy, powerful.

The key things to know about Monastrell/Mourvèdre:

  • The grape originated in Spain, and then moved to the Roussillon, Rhône, and Provence in France. It needs a lot of heat to grow, so it can only thrive in hot locations with lots of sun but ample water.
  • Flavors: They vary greatly depending on where the wine is made, but generally it has deep color, full body, is tannic and high in alcohol.
    • Spain: can be more like red fruit -- cherries and raspberries with spice and herbs.
    • France, especially Bandol: the wines have more dark fruit (if any fruit character at all) with spice, olives, herbs (garrigue as they call it in southern France), and a gamy, barnyard or wild animal smell to the wine. With time (3-5 years) that flavor mellows to something more akin to leather or tobacco and the tannins calm. In the new works styles are less tannic and less gamy.
  • In blends: Mourvèdre adds fullness, flavor and structure that complements the more lifted Grenache and the elegant Syrah.
  • In rosé: The grape helps these wines have longevity, lending tannin and great flavor to the wine
  • Food Pairings: Meats or root/hearty vegetables that are braised, grilled, or in a stew. Hard cheeses work too.

 

Where can you find it?

France:

  • Provence: Especially Bandol, where the finest Mourvèdre is made. Producers we mentioned are Domaine Tempier (reds and rosé), Château de Pibarnon
  • Languedoc-Roussillon: one to watch for more varietal Mourvèdre in the future
  • Rhône:  in blends and especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. We mention Beaucastel as having a high percentage of Mourvèdre

 

Spain (called Monastrell)

California

Other US:  Washington State, Oregon, Arizona, TX, Virginia, Chile, South Africa

 

Australia

  • Used as a component in GSMs  -- Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre blends
  • South Australia: Riverland (bulk wine), Barossa, McLaren Vale
  • New South Wales: Riverina (bulk wine area)
  • Producers making single varietal Mourvèdre:

 

A link to where I'll be for upcoming Wine For Normal People book signings: www.winefornormalpeople.com 

_______________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Mar 02, 2020
Bonus Sponsored Ep: Vanessa Conlin, MW, Head of Wine for Wine Access
40:42

This bonus episode is sponsored by Wine Access.

Founded by wine lovers and searchers in 2007, each day, they write stories about wines they discover, taste, and evaluate in the cellars where they were made. They negotiate prices on their membership's behalf, then arrange to have bottles shipped directly from the source — right to your door.

 

They stake their reputation on every bottle they select, and it shows! Wine Access offers some wines on their site and their email offers are amazing, so sign up today. 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!

 

This episode is with Vanessa Conlin, Master of Wine, and the Head of Wine for Wine AccessShe has had a wonderful and unexpected career: While pursuing a career in opera, she discovered a love of food and wine and pursued wine education while continuing her music studies.

 

Eventually, she chose wine over music working in wine in New York. She has been the head of sales and marketing for several prestigious Napa wineries including Arietta Wines, Dana Estates, and Realm Cellars.

 

Vanessa holds the WSET Diploma, and was the recipient of the Niki Singer Memorial Scholarship from the International Wine Center. She is a newly minted Master of Wine!! 

 

Some of the topics we cover: 

  • The career transition Vanessa made from a completely different field into wine 
  • The connection between wine and music
  • Vanessa's path to becoming a Master of Wine and the difference between the MS and MW programs
  • The things that make Wine Access so special --
    • Meticulous selection and excellent, original notes done by Vanessa and her team
    • The guarantee of provenance (where the wine came from -- always directly from the winery)
    • A Napa-based service team that can help with shipping and selecting wine, and if any bottle is not to your liking, they'll refund your order.

 

We wrap up by discussing the changes in the industry and how important direct to consumer channels like Wine Access are!

Check out Vanessa's favorite picks on www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more!

Feb 28, 2020
Ep 314: Ribera del Duero, Spain -- a Study in Power and Elegance
54:36

Ribera del Duero makes some of the most outstanding Tempranillo in the world. Located in the northwest of the Spain, about two hours north of Madrid, Ribera del Duero has been making wine for 2,600 years but its modern story is one of a dynamic, changing region that is improving every year. This is an exciting region and an example of Spain's willingness to change, improve and go the distance to produce excellent quality wine.

Here are the show notes:

  • Ribera del Duero is on an elevated northern plateau of the Iberian Peninsula. Altitude of more than 2,000 feet, varied soils that include limestone cliffs, and the Duero river are defining features of the region.
  • The region follows the course of the Duero river for approximately 115 km/70mi upstream from the southern plains of Burgos, west to Valladolid and includes parts Segovia and Soria to the south and east. The west has the most aromatic wines, the central has fruitier wines, and the east has big, bold wines.
  • The climate of the region has influences of Mediterranean, Atlantic, and continental climates, but is generally pretty extreme (‘three months of winter and nine months of hell’) with hot summers and huge diurnals that result in slow ripening and a long growing season

  • The wines are usually 100% Tempranillo but are allowed to include up to 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Malbec with no more than 5% of Garnacha or the white that is native to this area, Albillo Mayor.
  • These wines are powerful with a full body, black fruit notes and flavors from oak like smoke, vanilla, and tobacco. The best ones are balanced with acidity and tannin.
  • Along with Rioja, Ribera del Duero is the only Spanish wine region that utilizes crianza, reserva and gran reserva for the aging and labeling of its wines.

Top Producers: Aalto, Alión (owned by Vega Sicilia), Alonso del Yerro, Emilio Moro, Pago de Carraovejas, Pesquera, Dominio de Pingus, Vega Sicilia , O Fournier, Hacienda del Monasterio

Links:

 

And don't forget to order your Wine For Normal People book today!!

_______________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Feb 25, 2020
Ep 313: The Cote Chalonnaise, Burgundy's Hidden Gem
54:30

The famed parts of Burgundy make wine that most of us can only read about in books and articles. But Côte Chalonnaise, just south of those famed parts, is a treasure trove of great whites and reds. Although it has been praised throughout history, in recent times it has been overlooked by Burgundy lovers, despite the fact that in many years it makes wine that isn't so different from its neighbors to the north.

As a quick overview, the region takes its name from the commune of Chalon-sur-Saône, near the Saône River. It is sandwiched between the Côte de Beane and north of the hills of the Maconnais, and here Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and the white Aligoté grape grow on soils strikingly similar to Côte de Beaune, which is a mere 3 miles away.

 

The Côte Chalonnaise is between the Dheune and Grosne Valleys. With a continental climate, it rolls over gentle hills with many areas that possess the very same limestone prized (and 3-5 times more for) in the Côte de Beaune.

 

With max’ed out demand for the wines of the Côte d’Or (where the best Pinot is from) and the wines of the Côte de Beaune (the most famed Chardonnay wines, also with excellent Pinot), prices for wines from these areas of Burgundy are simply outrageous. Although the wines of the Côte Chalonnaise are not always as elegant as those from the regions to its north, they are still outstanding wines and better yet, they are wines that we can afford that allow us to taste the land of Burgundy without paying 6 months mortgage for a single bottle.

 

In the rest of the show, we discuss specific appellations. Here are the notes:

Regional: Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise

  • The red of Pinot Noir is dark colored, berry and cherry scented and flavored wines often with a mushroom or earth note. The wine has good tannin, acidity and is lovely to drink.
  • The whites of Chardonnay are light colored, with apple, floral, lemon and honey with good acidity. They are often fermented or aged in oak barrels.
  • The rosé is made of Gamay or Pinot Noir and can be herbal, spicy, full of red berry notes and have great acidity.

Cremant de Bourgogne: Although not exclusively made in Chalonnaise, this is the area in which the sparkling wine was first made.  

 

Village:

Bouzeron: The only appellation to make wine from the Aligoté grape, which is acidic, aromatic, and silky when made well.

  • Top producers: A & P de Villaine, André Delorme, Chanzy Frères

 

Rully: The whites of Chardonnay are the best in Côte Chalonnaise and are very often better than comparable wines from the Côte de Beaune for a way better price. Rully is adjacent to Bouzeron and makes excellent Pinot Noir too. The whites of Chardonnay are usually fermented or matured in oak.  The best Crémant is made here as well

  • Top Premiers crus: La Pucelle, Grésigny, Meix Cadot, Montpalais and Champs Cloux.
  • Top producers:  André Delorme, Domaine de la Folie, P & M Jacqueson; Jean-Baptiste Ponsot

 

Mercurey: The Côte Chalonnaise was once known as the Région de Mercurey, because the area is so large and important. Divided into two parts, there are lots of sub valleys on either side which make research necessary to get good wines. 25% of vineyards are classified as Premier Cru, but these are more legitimate than other communes, because Mercurey does regular reviews, to make more stringent conditions than the appellation's other wines (the maximum yields are closer to those of the Cote d’Or). 90% of the wine is flavorful, earthy, spicy Pinot Noir with chewy, rich tannins, great acidity, and mineral notes.

  • Top Premiers crus: Combins, Champs Martin, Clos des Barraults, Clos l’Eveque, from north of the village, and Clos de Roi and En Sazenay from the other side.
  • Top producers: Philippe Garrey; Michel Juillot, Guy Narjoux, Lorenzo, Antonin Rodet

 

Givry: Similar to Mercurey, Givry’s production is 90% Pinot Noir. Also like Mercurey, the excellent limestone based soils allow the best Givry producers make wines similar in style to Côte d’Or for a fraction of the price. This is a small area but it has 38 Premier Crus and that means the significance of those climats isn’t always earned – do your research before you buy!

  • Top Premiers Crus: Cellier Aux Moines, Clos de la Barraude, Clos Salomon, Clos du Vernoy, Servoisine
  • Top producers:  Jean-Marc Joblot; François Lumpp; Vincent Lumpp; Domaine du Clos Salomon, Domaine du Jardin

 

 

Montagny: With only whites made from Chardonnay, limestone soils are vital to adding minerality in the wines. The wines are generally barrel fermented for depth and complexity. They are rich and full.

 

The challenges with Montagny: 2/3 of the production is from the local co-op in Buxy . Although they make quality wine, they have a strangle-hold on producers and there are fewer independent domaines here.  The other issue: during World War II the appellation was deemed to be ALL Premier Cru and that isn’t really right. Although some producers volunteered to limit the top sites to the best portion of their climat, many didn’t so the proportion of overpriced, improperly classified Premier Cru wine in Montagny is high.

  • Top Premiers Crus: Les Coères, Les Burnins, Les Montcuchots
  • Top producers: Stéphane Aladame, Caves du Buxy, Domaine Feuillat-Juillot

 

Don't forget to order your Wine For Normal People book today!!

_______________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Feb 17, 2020
Ep 312: Filippo Bartolotta explains the Essential Nature of Vintage and Italy's Anteprima System
56:09

Filippo Bartolotta is a teacher, writer, and a wine storyteller. He has had a long career in wine writing for Decanter magazine, helping launch Vinopolis, the largest wine museum in the world, training journalists, experts, and trade on communication, sensory analysis, wine history and anthropology.

Since 2010 he has held a Road Show entitled "The Amazing Italian Wine Journey" which each year, among other places, sees him in the White House kitchens and in the halls of the Metropolitan Museum in New York. He has worked with celebrities and even hosted  Barack and Michelle Obama in Tuscany. Filippo and his wife have a cooking and wine school of cooking, MaMa Florence, in Florence, and he runs and agency that provides premium travel experiences throughout Italy.

Filippo is an excellent communicator and our conversations are always full of ideas that sometimes explain and sometimes question conventional wisdom. Today he joins me to talk about the relatively new movement of Anteprima in Italy, which, as you’ll hear, is a purely Italian take on the famed en Primeur of Bordeaux (which we will also explain). 

We discuss the systems of France and Italy, En Primeur and Anteprima respectively and discuss how each country's approach to futures and vintage somewhat mirrors their cultures, and their orientations. We touch on vintage, the importance of small producers in Italy, and offer some golden nuggets on how to take advantage of good and bad vintages. 

If you've ever wondered about futures or vintage this is a can't miss show! 

 

Don't forget to order your Wine For Normal People book today!!

_______________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Feb 11, 2020
Ep 311: Monty Waldin -- Biodynamics, Organics, Sustainability Expert AND Host of the Italian Wine Podcast
44:47

Monty Waldin is a British broadcaster, author, and winemaker with
a special interest in organics and biodynamics. His first book,  "The Organic Wine Guide”, published in 1999, was voted Britain’s Wine Guide of the Year. He has also written award winning books “Biodynamic Wines” and “Wines of South America.”  

 

Monty has winemaking experiences in both hemispheres, has had a tv show called “Chateau Monty” (2008) in which he chronicled biodynamic winemaking in the Roussillon of France, he is a contributor to the Grape Collective, Decanter, and contributes the entries on organics, biodynamics and sustainability for the Oxford Companion to Wine. He’s also the host of the Italian Wine Podcast and a pretty awesome dude.

 

A busy guy!

In this episode Monty takes us through his journey into wine and clarifies for us the differences between organic and biodynamic wine. He chronicles some of the modern history of biodynamics in Europe and talks about why he sees it as a feasible path for many producers.

 

We then discuss:

  • The challenges for biodynamics (is it just a hippie thing or is it useful?)
  • The differences between organics, biodynamics, and natural wine and the dogma surrounding each. I ask about whether or not bio wine is a real thing or a marketing ploy for most producers
  • We discuss the hard realities of biodynamic and organic farming – the difficulties in marginal climates, the shackles of certification, and the path to better farming and away from “modern” farming

 

We wrap by discussing Monty’s AWESOME podcast, “The Italian Wine Podcast” in conjunction with VinItaly. He talks about how he got into Italian wine, biodynamics in Italy, and ultimately whether we are in a better place in wine than we were when he first started.

 

Thanks to Wine2Wine Verona for inviting me to speak and for allowing me the opportunity to speak with the famous Monty Waldin! 

 

Don't forget to order your Wine For Normal People book today!!

_______________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Feb 03, 2020
Ep 310: The quality revolution of Alto Adige, Italy with Karoline Walch of Elena Walch
44:02

Elena Walch is a winery with an essential role in the quality revolution of Alto Adige, Italy.

 

Alto Adige is in the northeast corner of Italy and has unlimited variety and wines that offer delicate, unique flavor profiles. Located south of the Alps, in the foothills of the Dolomite Mountains (where the ice mummy was found!), vineyards here are planted on steep slopes, river valleys and some warmer plains. The vast differences in microclimates and soils in this sloping terrain make wines that have ample fruit but beautiful acidity that keep them crisp and bright.

 

In the 1980s and early 1990s a very important figure emerged in Alto Adige wine: Elena Walch. Her story is unusual – she doesn’t come from a wine family or background, nor did she plan to get into wine. But in her job as an architect, fate brought her together with the Walch family and she quickly became the head of the Alto Adige quality revolution, gaining local and international esteem for her efforts  around quality and innovation

Now, her daughters, Julia and Karoline Walch, the fifth generation are taking over and today we have Karoline to tell us this amazing story and talk about Alto Adige, the small, gorgeous region in northeast Italy that makes beautiful cool climate wines.

The estate is dedicated to terroir-driven wines.

In this show, Karoline Walch talks with me about Alto Adige and the
Elena Walch story. We discuss:

  • Traditional grapes, the land, and the unique blend of Austrian, Germanic and Italian culture that exists in Alto Adige

  • The long history of Walch family and the modern history of Elena, an architect who saw an opportunity to make a big change in the quality and style of Aldo Adige wine, and took it, despite not knowing anything about viticulture or winemaking. 

 

  • Karoline's and her sister, Giulia's, path to taking over Elena Walch and how they plan to move forward.

 

  • The wines! We discuss grapes from Gewürztraminer to Pinot Blanc to Pinot Grigio, and then reds like Schiava and Lagrein.
    • Karoline gives us detail on Vigna Castel Ringberg in Caldaro and Vigna Kastelaz in Tramin, as well as their Grand Cuvee white, In the Clouds 

 

 

Thanks to Wine2Wine Verona for inviting me to speak and for allowing me the opportunity to meet Karoline Walch and share this show with all of you!

 

Don't forget to order your Wine For Normal People book today!!

_______________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 



 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.

  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.

  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Jan 27, 2020
Ep 309: Tranquil Vale of Hunter Valley, Australia on Boutique Wine, Bushfires, and Climate Change
47:14

Connie Paur Griffiths is winemaker and vigneron at Tranquil Vale Vineyards in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia joins to educate us about this fascinating region, discuss the bushfires that have threatened it, and to talk about the challenges facing wine and climate in Oz's future.

Connie shares how her parents found Tranquil Vale advertised in an Australian paper, while living in London, and took a chance on a total lifestyle change. From there, they moved their lives and two kids, including then 8 year old Connie to the hot Hunter Valley, 2.5 hours from Sydney to begin their adventure. They learned to make wine and grow grapes and have won multiple awards for their Semillon, Chardonnay, and Shiraz.

Tranquil Vale makes 3,000 cases of wine and is a family-owned and run boutique producer. 

 

Connie tells us about this unlikely place, which is the oldest wine region in Australia. Hunter Valley characteristics include:

  • A subtropical climate with maritime breezes in some areas, but also with humidity that can cause rot
  • Temps that get above 40˚C/ 100˚F on a regular basis
  • Great diurnal temperature swings that allow for the three main grapes to maintain good acidity and keep alcohol levels lower
  • Gently sloping hills with lower altitude
  • 3 big subregions: Upper Hunter Valley, Broke Fordwich (we discuss how many producers will not harvest in 2020 due to smoke taint), Pokolbin, which has many of the famed wineries and is in foothills of Brokenback Range.

The main grapes of the area are:

  • Semillon – which miraculously, with time,  turns into something like Oak aged Chardonnay in spite of the fact that there is no oak and no malolactic fermentation ever done in the winemaking process
  • Chardonnay -- a lightly oaked, lower alcohol versio
  • Shiraz -- which in spite of sometimes punishing heat, still keeps a lighter style, lower alcohol, and a peppery note that is often "baked out" of other styles of Shiraz in regions of Australia

 

The second half of our conversation focuses on the bushfires of 2019-2020 and the havoc they have wreaked, but also on the endemic climate, infrastructure and land management issues that Australia will likely need to deal with to prevent the kind of historic fires we have seen this year. A fascinating perspective, and a thought-provoking conversation!

 

Thanks to Connie for reaching out to us and sharing her story! 

 

Don't forget to order your Wine For Normal People book today!!

_______________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Jan 21, 2020
Ep 308: The Reality of the Australian Fires with Paracombe Wines of Adelaide Hills
40:06

There may be no better representative to speak to us about the devastation of the 2019-2020 bushfires in Australia than Kathy Drogemuller of Paracombe Wines in Adelaide Hills in South Australia.

Started in 1983, Paracombe Wines started after the Ash Wednesday bushfires when Kathy and her husband Paul bought an old dairy farm and began making wine. Today it is truly a family business, making handcrafted wines.

Kathy tells us her story, what is special about the high-altitude vineyards of Adelaide Hills and the diversity of grapes that can grow there and then she gives us great perspective on the large-scale fires that destroyed much of her beautiful region.  She shares what has happened with the fires, why it has happened, and gives us a perspective on how a region copes with fire  we discuss a bit about animal life, and the importance of knowing that there are still people who are open for business.

The show is a great opportunity to discover a quality Australian region and to get an idea of what is really going on in Australian wine regions regarding the most destructive wildfires in Australian history.

 

Kathy gives us the true, somewhat sad picture but gives us great hope with her optimism, her assurance that the wine community is pulling together, and her genuine belief that something good will come from this tragic situation.

The easiest way to help is to request wines from Adelaide Hills,  Australia from your local wine shop or restaurant.

You can also donate to the following causes:

 

Special thanks to Leighton Walker in the UK for helping connect me with Kathy! 

 

Don't forget to order your Wine For Normal People book today!!

_______________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Jan 13, 2020
Ep 307: The Grape Miniseries -- Muscat (the Granddaddy of them all)
42:15

To kick off 2020, we have the original wine grape, the one from which so many were derived: MUSCAT! In the show we discuss the three main types of Muscat and the wines and regions that you need to seek out to get a taste of this ancient, delicious, complex grape. 

As M.C. Ice requests in the middle of the show...here are the notes! 

What is Muscat? Overview

  • A grape from which derives a complicated family of grapes that includes over 200 varieties of all colors
  • It was most likely a Greek grape, brought to the south of France and Sicily by the Phoenicians
  • It's known for its floral perfume and grapey flavor. The grape is spicy with orange notes, and has relatively low acidity
  • Styles range from dry to late harvest to fortified to sparkling
  • Berries are gold, pink, or black and the variation within vines, mean flavors can vary

 

The main types of Muscat:

1. Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains is the oldest grape

  • Needs a long growing season, disease prone, doesn’t like humidity
  • The most refined, classic Muscat, it is small berried, with a delicate but layered aroma
  • Also known as: Moscato Bianco, came to Italy in the 1300s
  • Common grapes derived from Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains: Moscato Giallo, Aleatico (red), Mammolo (red)

 

2.  Muscat of Alexandria

  • Natural cross of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains and Axina de Tres Bias, old black table grape grown on Sardegna, Malta, Greek Islands
  • Not from Alexandria in Egypt! 
  • Mid budding, late ripening, likes heat, big bunches, big berries, great for heat. Susceptible to powdery mildew, bunch rot, bugs, good with drought
  • Less refined than Muscat à Petits Grains: sweet but not complex, less subtle – more geranium notes. Makes sticky sweet wines, rose- or orange-like or like geranium and lily of the valley
  • Also known as Zibbibo in Sicily. 
  • Related grapes:  Catarratto Bianco (Etna), Grillo (Sicily), Bombino Bianco (Sicily, Southern Italy), Schiava Grossa, Malvasia del Lazio, Cereza (Argentina), Torrontés (both clones)

3. Muscat Ottonel: 

  • Bred in Loire in 1852, earliest ripener, planted in Alsace often  paler, with less aroma than the other varieties -- which can produce a softer wine

4. Muscat of Hamburg

  • Black, table grape, low quality in Eastern Europe

 

Muscat in the Vineyard: 

  • Hard to grow: Crops erratically, low acidity, can be a tough blender
  • Pink, black, red mutations exist around the world
  • Early budding, mid ripening, susceptible to powdery mildew, botrytis, mites, small berries
  • Climate: Prefers warm Mediterranean climates – south of France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Australia
  • Soils: Different types will yield different flavors. Limestone or calcareous rock, along with sand make lighter, fresher versions.  Clays, granites, can yield richer versions. 
  • If the grape is overcropped it loses acidity and aroma and is a boring mess. 

 

Muscat by Place: 

France

  • 18,829 acres in France/7620 ha
  • Almost all Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains
  • Rhône: Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (fortified)
  • Roussillon & Languedoc: Vins doux Naturels of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains in Frontignan, Lunel, Mireval, St. Jean de Minervois
    • Rivesaltes: Vin doux Naturel of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains blended with Muscat d'Alexandria in Rivesaltes
    • Clairette de Die Sparkling of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains
  • Corsica: fortified wines
  • Alsace: Muscat Ottonel and Muscat à Petits Grains. Wines are floral, fresh, grapey, and herbal with spice. Dry. 

 

Italy 

  • 32,816 acres/13280 ha – Mostly Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains
  • Piemonte: sweet, Asti Spumante (sparkling), Moscato d’Asti (semi sparkling, sweet, good dessert or cheese wine)
  • Trentino Alto Adige: Use Rosenmuskateller: variation of the Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains -- rose aroma, still wine, Moscato Giallo/Goldmuskateller: orange scented dry or sweet wines
  • Valle d’Aosta: Passito style (grapes dried on mats in the sun, raisined and then pressed)
  • Montalcino:  DOC for dry, sparkling, sweet, late-harvest wines of Muscat
  • Sicily: Zibbibo/Muscat of Alexandria for dry wines, Moscato di Pantelleria – passito style from a small historic island. 

 

Spain 

  • Grown all over Spain as Moscatel –Moscatel d’Alejandria
  • Málaga: sweet speciality of the south
  • Jerez/Sherry:  Moscatel used for color and sweetness, can be made alone as a sweet, passito style wine

 

Portugal

  • Small amount used in white Port and other fortified wines
  • Setúbal makes a fortified wine from it, tasty dry wines 

 

Other Old World places: Germany, Austria, Greece

 

Australia

  • Rutherglen and Glenrowan in northeastern Victoria
  • Rutherglen Muscat: Four tier quality system -- basic, classic, grand, rare. Like figs, coffee, blackberry, chocolate, delicious, with acidity

 

South Africa

  • Vin de Constance from Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains: Late harvest
    • Probably the descendents of the famed vines of  colonial days in the 1600s 
  • Worcester, Olifants River: Muscat of Alexandria/ Hanepoot for bulk, used for dry, sweet, fortified, table grapes

 

US: Central Valley for bulk white. Some Orange Muscat which is a relative of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains

 

Don't forget to order your Wine For Normal People book today!!

_______________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Last Bottle   

I love this service!! Last Bottle Wines finds great wines and offers them at a one time discount. Last Bottle Wines:

  • Is a fun way to discover the best wines at the lowest prices
  • Maintains relationships with producers in the most prestigious wine regions around the world and traveling to Europe several times each year to eat with, stay with, drink with, walk the vineyards with the people who make the wines.
  • Offer a range of prices from low end to high end $9 to $99 and the wines range from the lesser known kinds like Albariño and Bläufrankish to Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Visit: http://lastbottlewines.com/normal and join to get a $10 instant credit to use toward your first order. Invite your wine drinking pals and they’ll get $10 instantly and you get $30 when they make their first buy. 

Jan 06, 2020
Ep 306: Planeta and the story of modern Sicilian wine with Alessio Planeta
54:46

While I was in Verona at Wine2Wine, I had the chance to speak with Alessio Planeta, President at Assovini Sicilia and Owner at Planeta Winery.

For five centuries and through seventeen generations, Planeta has been active in changing and improving agriculture in Sicily. Alessio Planeta has spent his life dedicated to the study of Sicily and figuring out how to make it a significant force in world wine. With his family, Alessio now has six wineries around Sicily, and they have almost single-handedly put Sicily on the map as a quality player.

 

Planeta continues its mission to show what Sicily can do and what it’s forgotten varietals can bring to the world of wine. They are one of the big reasons we have access to excellent Sicilian wine today.

 

Here are the notes:

  • Alessio tells us about Sicily, the history of his family, and how Planeta evolved to become a significant force in the wine world, putting Sicily on the world wine map of quality
  • We discuss the quality revolution in Sicily, begun, in part by Diego Planeta, Alessio's uncle
  • Alessio tells us about the amazing conditions of Sicily  -- the diverse terrain, vast number of native grapes, the skilled workers, the excellent climate, that makes it a garden ideal for viticulture
  • We learn about how the innovative nature of the Planeta family. Alessio discusses their desire to find talent from outside the island (including Giacomo Tachis, Carlo Corino, Giampaolo Fabris and Attilio Scienza) the openness to using "international" grapes, and then the slow introduction of the indigenous wines of Sicily created a category for Nero d'Avola, Grillo, Carricante, Nerello Mascalese and others that is booming! 
  • Alessio addresses the fact that people may still underestimate Sicily and talks about the bright future of Sicilian wine

 

Thanks to Wine2Wine Verona for inviting me to speak and for allowing me the opportunity to meet Gaia Gaja and share this show with all of you!

 

Don't forget to order your Wine For Normal People book today!!

_______________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Last Bottle   

I love this service!! Last Bottle Wines finds great wines and offers them at a one time discount. Last Bottle Wines:

  • Is a fun way to discover the best wines at the lowest prices
  • Maintains relationships with producers in the most prestigious wine regions around the world and traveling to Europe several times each year to eat with, stay with, drink with, walk the vineyards with the people who make the wines.
  • Offer a range of prices from low end to high end $9 to $99 and the wines range from the lesser known kinds like Albariño and Bläufrankish to Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Visit: http://lastbottlewines.com/normal and join to get a $10 instant credit to use toward your first order. Invite your wine drinking pals and they’ll get $10 instantly and you get $30 when they make their first buy. 

 

      

Dec 18, 2019
Ep 305: Gaia Gaja on the Past and Future of Barbaresco and Piedmont, Italy
42:04

This week, one of the most famous wine producers in the world joins us -- Gaia Gaja from Gaja in Barbaresco in Piedmont, Italy. We discuss the history of her famed family, why their wines are like liquid velvet, and how climate change is forcing new ways of thinking.

Her philosophy, outlook, and class show why Gaja has earned its place at the top of the wine world.

We discuss:

  • The history of the Gaja family and how they became so important in Barbaresco

  • We discuss Angelo Gaja, his philosophies and how he wound up changing the face of Italian wine by doubting everything, and always looking forward

  • Gaia gives us some insight into how Gaja does things so differently and yield such different, and amazing results 

  • We talk about Barbaresco and Barolo, the nuances of the land, and how those in Piedmont may be best suited to take on climate change. Gaia tells us a bit about Gaja's philosophy of optimism and change helps them take a different outlook on climate change and why biodiversity may be the key to helping things

 

Thanks to Wine2Wine Verona for inviting me to speak and for allowing me the opportunity to meet Gaia Gaja and share this show with all of you!

 

Don't forget to order your Wine For Normal People book today!!

_______________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Last Bottle   

I love this service!! Last Bottle Wines finds great wines and offers them at a one time discount. Last Bottle Wines:

  • Is a fun way to discover the best wines at the lowest prices
  • Maintains relationships with producers in the most prestigious wine regions around the world and traveling to Europe several times each year to eat with, stay with, drink with, walk the vineyards with the people who make the wines.
  • Offer a range of prices from low end to high end $9 to $99 and the wines range from the lesser known kinds like Albariño and Bläufrankish to Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Visit: http://lastbottlewines.com/normal and join to get a $10 instant credit to use toward your first order. Invite your wine drinking pals and they’ll get $10 instantly and you get $30 when they make their first buy. 

Dec 09, 2019
Ep 304: Hightower Cellars, Red Mountain, Washington, and an Honest Look at WA Wine
59:18

Tim and Kelly Hightower of Hightower Cellars have been making beautiful wine in Washington State (in the northwest of the US) specifically Red Mountain, for about 2.5 decades. They tell us about the evolution of Washington State wine, their path to owning a boutique winery, and then we discuss some of the reasons Washington wine can and should be so much more popular. This is a real insightful look into the challenges and opportunities of Washington State wine! 

Map Courtesy Wine for Normal People Book

Map (C) "Wine for Normal People" book

Here are some of the points we hit:

  • Kelly and Tim tell us how they each got into wine at fairly young ages, and what the early years of Washington wine were like 
  • The Hightowers talk about their drive to relocate to Red Mountain. We talk about the terroir of the area -- climate, soils, and terrain and why they are unique.
  • Tim and Kelly tell us the profile of Red Mountain wine and why it is so striking
  • We discuss the business model of many Washington producers and the disconnect between the tasting rooms of the town of Woodinville and the wineries located in the vineyards. 
  • We discuss the role of small and large wineries in Washington State 
  • Tim and Kelly tell us how the market for Washington wine has changed and grown, and how they see great things on the horizon for the state.

 

   

 

 

 

Don't forget to order your Wine For Normal People book today!!

_______________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Last Bottle   

I love this service!! Last Bottle Wines finds great wines and offers them at a one time discount. Last Bottle Wines:

  • Is a fun way to discover the best wines at the lowest prices
  • Maintains relationships with producers in the most prestigious wine regions around the world and traveling to Europe several times each year to eat with, stay with, drink with, walk the vineyards with the people who make the wines.
  • Offer a range of prices from low end to high end $9 to $99 and the wines range from the lesser known kinds like Albariño and Bläufrankish to Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Visit: http://lastbottlewines.com/normal and join to get a $10 instant credit to use toward your first order. Invite your wine drinking pals and they’ll get $10 instantly and you get $30 when they make their first buy.

 

 

  1.  
Dec 02, 2019
Ep 303: Alternative Wines For Thanksgiving Pairing
35:42

We have much to be grateful for this year – Patrons, the release of the , and all of you listeners! This is our yearly TG episode. This time we take the traditional pairings and offer some alternatives. You can stick with what you know based on our recommendations or go out on a limb. Either way, we are truly grateful for you, for your tolerance of our Beastie Boys and Hobbit references and for your continued support! Thank you!

 

Traditional Whites:

  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Chardonnay
  • Gewurztraminer

 

Alternative whites:

  • Off-dry Riesling or Chenin Blanc
  • Grüner Veltliner or Verdejo from Rueda Spain
  • Fiano di Avellino, Falanghina, or Soave from Italy
  • White Rhône blends with Roussanne, white Priorat (Spain), or pure Roussanne from a winery like Truchard in Napa or from Savoie (Chignin Bergeron)

 

If you want…

Rosé:

  • Go for something New World with more fruit character. The Provence styles are unpredictable so unless you have a producer you love, go New World

 

Sparkling:

  • I prefer Champagne but Crémant (which we don’t mention but is a great option), Cava or American Sparkling will work, as will Cap Classique from South Africa. I’m less of a fan of Prosecco. I’m a big fan of drinking the bubbly with food rather than enjoying it just on its own.

 

Traditional Reds:

  • Pinot Noir
  • Zinfandel
  • Syrah
  • Beaujolais

 

Alternative Reds:

  • Lighter Garnacha, Bobal, or Mencîa from Spain
  • Austrian reds: St. Laurent, Zweigelt, Blaüfrankisch (as long as they are lighter and not too spicy)
  • Lighter styles of Zinfandel like those from the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma (we mention Nalle and Peterson as favorites) or Primitivo (still Zin!) from Puglia
  • Pinot Noir but New World styles from Oregon, Santa Barbara, and New Zealand
  • Cabernet Franc from Virginia, New York, and Loire
  • Merlot, especially Merlot from the Right Bank of Bordeaux

 

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

 

Last Bottle   

I love this service!! Last Bottle Wines finds great wines and offers them at a one time discount. Last Bottle Wines is a fun way to discover the best wines at the lowest prices. They offer a range of prices from low end to high end $9 to $99 and the wines range from the lesser known kinds like Albariño and Bläufrankish to Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Visit: http://lastbottlewines.com/normal and join to get a $10 instant credit to use toward your first order. Invite your wine drinking pals and they’ll get $10 instantly and you get $30 when they make their first buy.

 

Nov 19, 2019
Ep 302: The Insider View of Long Island Wine with Lieb Cellars and Bridge Lane Wine
01:08:45

Long Island has 3,000 acres planted with grapes and at least 60 wineries. Lieb Cellars has been around for nearly 30 years and this week Russell Hearn, winemaker for Lieb Cellars and Bridge Lane Wines  (who has been there since the start), and Ami Opisso, General Manager and Long Island native, tell us about why Long Island is special, why Lieb is different, and how Bridge Lane is the king of quality wine in alternative packaging (yes, we cover this in detail!). 

After discussing all the various accents on this show (yeah, I'm from the 'Island so you'll hear me get mine back when Ami and I tawk!), we dig deep into Long Island.

  • We discuss the history of the region, beginning in the 1970s

  • Russell tells us how bodies of water, well draining soil, and sun exposure create a great environment for grapes

  • We discuss the weather and climate. Long Island is not known for stable, easy climate. With humidity, frost, and sometimes ridiculous quantities of rain, it seems like it couldn't work -- Russell gives us insight into drainage, why it is so important here, and Ami tells us about the true meaning of Sustainability on Long Island, where everything you spray goes directly into your drinking water.

  • Long Island has received some bad press regarding the local government's inability to provide a good environment for wineries. Ami annd Russell tell us the fascinating, insider deal on all of that. 

We move on to wine! We talk about...

  • The top reds and top whites of Long Island and what makes them special

  • We talk about why Long Island lacks some of the recognition other emerging East Coast regions often get 

  • Russell talks about the history of Lieb Cellars , since he's been the winemaker since its inception. He tells us why Pinot Blanc is so special to the property

  • Ami discusses Bridge Lane and how the idea to become the first winery on Long Island to produce wine in several alternative formats, including bottles, boxes, kegs and cans came about

  • Russell and Ami tell us, in detail, about different formats (box, can, keg) and the extensive research they did to ensure that neither corrosion from acid nor corruption of flavor would occur in things other than glass bottles. 

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

 

Last Bottle   

I love this service!! Last Bottle Wines finds great wines and offers them at a one time discount. Last Bottle Wines is a fun way to discover the best wines at the lowest prices. They offer a range of prices from low end to high end $9 to $99 and the wines range from the lesser known kinds like Albariño and Bläufrankish to Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Visit: http://lastbottlewines.com/normal and join to get a $10 instant credit to use toward your first order. Invite your wine drinking pals and they’ll get $10 instantly and you get $30 when they make their first buy.

 

Zola

Zola, the wedding company that will do anything for love, is reinventing the wedding planning and registry experience to make the happiest moment in couples' lives even happier. From engagement to wedding and decorating your first home, Zola is there, combining compassionate customer service with modern tools and technology. All in the service of love.

To start your free wedding website or registry on Zola, go to www.ZOLA.com/wine

 

Nov 13, 2019
Ep 301: Sheldrake Point Winery -- Refreshing Candor (and wine) in the Finger Lakes
39:27

Sheldrake Point Winery in the Finger Lakes began in 1997. For most of that time, Dave Wieman, vineyard manager, and Dave Breeden, winemaker, have been with the winery. They dish on what it's really like it is to make wine in this ever-changing, awesome region.

Here are the show notes:

  • After our weekly plug of the Wine For Normal People Book (if you like the podcast, you will love the book and it's a perfect companion guide to the show!) we break the news that the audio got messed up. Aliens took over the audio for the first quarter of the recording and so M.C. Ice and I step in to do the re-cap!
    • We talk about the history of Sheldrake Point Winery, it's unique location, the importance of Cornell University, and warn you of the hilarity that ensues in this show

  • The Daves talk about how challenging it can be to manage a vineyard in the Finger Lakes and how moisture, drainage, slope, and microclimate make all the difference in making great wine in the Finger Lakes. Dave Wieman talks about whether he ever thinks about what it would be like to make wine in Napa, where things aren't quite so hard. 

 

  • We discuss the viability of sustainable agriculture in the Finger
    Lakes and what that looks like in a climate with humidity and rain

 

  • Dave Breeden, winemaker (and self-proclaimed "inside Dave") talks about his job as the guy whose job it is not to mess up what nature gave him! He serves all his answers straight up -- from talking about why it makes sense to use once used oak (it's better for the wine AND cheaper), to questioning why Gewurztraminer isn't more popular, to why he loves to dance the tango with Pinot Gris each year. 

 

  • We discuss the different styles of Riesling, how they are achieved and how Dave Breeden came around to liking the Gamay he works with. 

 

  • After many laughs, lots of honesty, and some stuff we just had to edit out (sorry), we talk about the bright future of the Finger Lakes and how things are only just beginning. 

Sheldrake Point will be at Underground Wine Events on 11/9/19! 

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Last Bottle   

I love this service!! Last Bottle Wines finds great wines and offers them at a one time discount. Last Bottle Wines:

  • Is a fun way to discover the best wines at the lowest prices
  • Maintains relationships with producers in the most prestigious wine regions around the world and traveling to Europe several times each year to eat with, stay with, drink with, walk the vineyards with the people who make the wines.
  • Offer a range of prices from low end to high end $9 to $99 and the wines range from the lesser known kinds like Albariño and Bläufrankish to Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Visit: http://lastbottlewines.com/normal and join to get a $10 instant credit to use toward your first order. Invite your wine drinking pals and they’ll get $10 instantly and you get $30 when they make their first buy.

Nov 05, 2019
Ep 300: A Past, Present, and Future look at Wine, for Normal People
49:45

As we always do when we hit a milestone, for episode 300 we reflect on three things we each have learned in the last 8 years.

We talk about the process of planning, writing, and publishing the book and possible future wine trends.

We thank you for all your support over the years!

 

 

Don't forget to order your Wine For Normal People book today!!

_______________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Last Bottle   

I love this service!! Last Bottle Wines finds great wines and offers them at a one time discount. Last Bottle Wines:

  • Is a fun way to discover the best wines at the lowest prices
  • Maintains relationships with producers in the most prestigious wine regions around the world and traveling to Europe several times each year to eat with, stay with, drink with, walk the vineyards with the people who make the wines.
  • Offer a range of prices from low end to high end $9 to $99 and the wines range from the lesser known kinds like Albariño and Bläufrankish to Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Visit: http://lastbottlewines.com/normal and join to get a $10 instant credit to use toward your first order. Invite your wine drinking pals and they’ll get $10 instantly and you get $30 when they make their first buy.

 

Oct 29, 2019
Ep 299: Texas Wine Country with the Wineries of Texas Fine Wine
58:04

Texas is one of the oldest winegrowing states in the US, with vines predating California by 100+ years. The first vineyard in North America was by Franciscan priests circa 1660 in Texas and the industry grew throughout the 1800s. Texas is important in another way, as horticulturist Thomas Munson contributed greatly to finding the solution to  the phylloxera epidemic, which effectively saved the European wine industry from total ruin. After Prohibition decimated the industry in the 1920s, Texas jump started it's wine industry in the 1970s and today it's roaring back. Texas has 400 producers and it is growing and growing.

 

Jennifer McEnnis, General Manager of Bending Branch and Ron Yates, the owner and President of Spicewood Vineyards, are part of a marketing consortium representing five of Texas’ most distinguished wineries: Bending Branch WineryBrennan VineyardsDuchman Family WineryPedernales Cellars and Spicewood Vineyards. Member wineries produce wines from Texas grapes, that try to express the terroir of Texas Hill County and the Texas High Plains.