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Despite its name, the petite sirah grape is not a small version of syrah. It's actually durif, a grape from southern France, where it produces coarse, rustic wines.
In California, petite sirah is often mixed in vineyard plantings with zinfandel, carignane and other red grapes. It is used in blends to add body and structure. Although a few winemakers bottle it separately (with good results) petite sirah still gets little respect.
Through DNA fingerprinting, it was discovered that petite sirah/durif is the offspring of syrah (considered a noble grape) and peloursin, a minor French grape. The syrah connection gives petite sirah/durif a boost. Devotees of the grape formed a fan club of sorts: P.S. I Love You. (P.S., of course, stands for petite sirah.) The group recently held its seventh annual symposium where there was a tasting of roughly four dozen petite sirahs, mostly from around California (along with one entry from southern Oregon).
Petite sirah acreage in California has more than doubled since 2000, to about 7,300 acres. Much of that planting has been in the Central Valley, but there’s some in cabernet-centric Napa County. There's also been a surge in San Luis Obispo County, which now has more than 1,100 acres of petite sirah, second only to San Joaquin County.
Petite sirah producers still battle to draw more attention to their grape. A survey by Full Glass Research found that many consumers aren't aware of petite sirah and that retailers and restaurants don't push the variety. The grape's fans, however, understand that it produces dark, robust, teeth-staining wines with tannins that range from firm, but manageable to very intense and drying.
Do we have any petite sirah lovers in da house?
McKenzie-Mueller Vineyards and Winery - 2004 Los Carneros Pinot Grigio
We were introduced to this winery several years ago by the late food writer Jane Citron. During a recent visit, the winery owners offered a great deal on their Pinot Grigio - perfect for our wine club.
McKenzie-Mueller is a small, family-run winery committed to making high quality wines. Founded in 1989 by Bob Mueller and Karen McKenzie, their fifty acre estate is tucked away in the enchanting Los Carneros region of southern Napa County. They made their first vintage in 1990, producing 500 cases. The winery now produces 2500 cases a year. They were named Estate Winery of the Year in 2000 by Wine & Spirits magazine.
“Our goal is to have fun, farm in harmony with nature, and make delicious, hand-crafted wine that you will enjoy with family and friends. Our 2004 Pinot Grigio comes from a vintage we can’t imagine improving on. Experience the scent of summer. With aromas of honey suckle, white peach, citrus, honey, and jasmine, the balance is refreshing and crisp. These flavors are delicate but ambitious, leading to a smooth and clean finish that gives the impression of sweetness without being sugary.”
Food pairing suggestions: Tilapia, spareribs, hamburgers, spicy Thai dishes, clams, spicy chicken wings, and meatloaf. Savor in Riedel’s Vinum Extreme, 444/5, Sauvignon Blanc/Riesling - $26.40. Enjoy!
French vineyards are on the brink of disaster unless dramatic measures are taken to reduce global CO2 emissions, Greenpeace has warned.
Leading figures from the French wine and culinary world have teamed up with the environmental group in writing an open letter, which has been published in the influential French newspaper Le Monde:
‘French wines, elegant and refined, the jewels of our common national heritage, are in danger. Climate change is rendering our vineyards ever more vulnerable. Summer heat waves, recent hail storms in the Bordeaux region, new diseases arriving from the South, such irregularities will soon become far worse still. If nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gases, vineyards will be displaced 1,000km beyond their traditional borders between now and the end of the century. Terroirs will not survive.”
They call directly upon President Sarkozy to push for an ‘ambitious’ climate change agreement at the upcoming United Nations’ conference.
According to the letter, the developed nations need to strike a deal to reduce their CO2 emissions by 40% between now and 2020.
Reprinting this blog from servusversus - ’cause it made me chuckle.
Backlabels of wine can sometimes be so misleading and have some of the silliest and most unhelpful winespeak.
Why do people use such strange and bizarre descriptions and what do they mean by them? Are they helpful or are they just one more example of how wine folk try and separate themselves from the common herd?
Some of the silliest and most unhelpful winespeak is found on the back of the bottles themselves. I will concede that it can be tricky to convey the right information to your customers in the very small amount of space available, but why do so many winemakers waste this sales opportunity by writing useless and irrelevant rubbish?
Here are my top five Backlabel Blah Blah Blahs which, in my opinion, could be omitted with no harm whatsoever to the wine.
1. The ‘So what?’ description. Phrases that come under this heading include ‘Perfectly manicured vineyards’, ‘This winery is privately-owned’ and ‘the winemaker is meticulously detailed in his approach.’ Well whoopee do - for the amount of money I am paying, I certainly hope he is, but does any of this have any real relevance for what is going to end up in my glass? No, I don’t think so.
2. The ‘Blind ‘em with science’ description. Here we’re looking at things such as ‘The vineyard is not irrigated’, ‘low-yielding old bushvines’ and ‘maturation on the lees’. I’m not saying that this isn’t interesting if you know something about wine - the problem is that all these phrases were found on inexpensive, everyday wines and to the lay person, these mean absolutely nothing. These may be great features of your wine, but if you don’t say how these sorts of thing benefit the consumer, they are a waste of space.
3. The ‘Euphemistic’ description. As we all know, wine is a business and sometimes you need to do whatever it takes to make a wine sell. My advice is to be wary of any red wine which describes itself as ‘needing food’ because what they really mean is ‘dry, tannic and tough as old boots’. Hey, sue me, but you know I’m right.
4. The ‘Keep ‘em guessing’ description. Many people have an irrational prejudice against oaked white wines - how much longer can teeth-searingly, acidic Sauvignons rule the roost I wonder? No matter, the result has been that many Chenins and Chardonnays try and disguise the fact that they are wooded wines. So here is my shortlist of words which generally mean oak, even if the rest of the label doesn’t say it - ‘buttery, golden, toasty, rich, honeyed, brioche, baked, caramalised, toffee.’ Happy guessing.
5. The ‘Cover all the bases’ description. ‘Serve with seared tuna, smoked salmon, chicken, crayfish, creamy pasta dishes, grilled fish, artichokes, seafood risotto, oysters, white meats or parma ham’. Yep - think that about does it.
Some men like a nice cold glass of Chardonnay - and are man enough to admit it.
But are they the exception?
Judging by some marketing campaigns, you might think so. Take the Super Bowl ad that ran a couple of years back in which men invited to a wine and cheese party ducked into the kitchen to unpack beer hidden in a humongous wheel of cheese.
It was a stereotype played for laughs. And the designator for "average dude" in last year’s presidential campaign was Joe Six-pack, not Mark Merlot.
It’s hard to say for sure exactly who’s drinking what, but a Gallup Poll from last year found that among women who drink, 43 percent say wine is what they drink most often and 28 percent say beer. Among men, 58 percent say beer is what they drink most often and 17 percent say wine.
Wine companies would like to change that. Some have adopted guy-friendly marketing with tie-ins to such red-blooded pastimes as camping and racing. What’s next a Pinot Noir tailgate party?
The Winemakers', the PBS TV Series, announces season 2 casting call in New York City on August 10, 2009.
Doc City Productions, a leading creator of TV wine programming, announced an open call for contestants to participate in Season 2 of The Winemakers, the first reality format television series for PBS TV that will do for the wine world what Top Chef did for food and Project Runway did for fashion.
Contestants will fly to the Rhone Valley in France in September 2009 to compete for the grand prize of creating and launching their own wine brand nationwide.
"We are searching for the most audacious, most passionate, most imaginative, most diverse group of people we can find," said series producer Kevin Whelan. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a dedicated wine enthusiast to become a winemaker, own their own wine label and have their wines distributed nationwide. The competition will be formidable, but the prize will truly be a wine lover's dream come true."
Season 1 starts this September.
You all know the doggy bag - where diners take home food that they enjoyed, couldn’t finish and look forward to eating the next day.
A combination of the economy, changing state laws, and the popularity of wine have created an opportunity for an entrepreneurial company, Wine Doggy Bag to help all of us wine lovers to savor our last drop of wine. According to Wine Doggy Bag it is now legal in all 50 states to take home your unfinished wine from a restaurant with certain restrictions depending on the state.
Wine Doggy Bag has created bags just for this purpose. These one time use bags are made in both 750 mL and 1.5L sizes for the purpose of sealing wine up (in order to meet some state requirements).
According to their website, “The use of a Wine Doggy Bag is recommended in Pennsylvania. Act 59 of 2003 allows a patron, in conjunction with a meal, to remove the unfinished portion of the bottle of wine from a hotel or restaurant. The hotel or restaurant must reseal the bottle. Resealing is not defined.”
So, will you start doggy bagging your leftover wine? Maybe the better question is: what leftover wine?
Everyone has an opinion about pairing wine with briny bivalves. This week, we asked our wine panel (those same wine geeks who help us choose our wine-of-the-month selections) for their pick on what to drink.
Raw oysters all share a bright, salty character and rich, often creamy texture. The aftertaste can include greater or lesser amounts of mineral, melon and smokiness.
Although their specific recommendations vary, our professionals were unanimous in saying a dry, high-acid wine is needed to refresh the palate after a rich oyster. On a recent visit to Napa, people were raving about pairing sparkling wines with oysters.
Personally I like the classic partnering of oysters with Chablis. My favorite, although a little pricey, is the Verget Chablis Grand Cru “Bougros” from Dreadnought’s very own list.
We pride ourselves on having assembled the largest and quirkiest inventory of wine accessories in Pittsburgh. We’ve got the classics and the most recent trends. From Riedel stemware to the most technologically innovative gadgets.
To make it simple and easy for you, our entire collection is under one roof. No matter what you are looking for - we have it - or something even better.
Not only do we know accessories, but we are All Things Wine.
Thought this blog from Douglas Green should be shared in its entirety.
Rarely do two people agree completely over a glass of wine. What is the difference between a “good” wine and a “bad” wine? This is tougher than one might think.
Wine is a very subjective art in which we see people waxing eloquent over wines or those who spit the same wines out with a look of utter despair. This might be the strangest part of the wine business: Rarely do two people agree completely over a glass of wine! I know why this happens but it does not answer completely the difference between the good and the bad in vino.
Here are a few items to consider:
Frame of mind — This is a biggie when it comes to evaluating a glass of wine. We know that emotions play a big part in the physiological make up of people. A stressed-out wine drinker creates bitterness on the palate, as well as bitterness in the mind and soul.
A simple cold — Nasal congestion, clotted palate or coated tongue can be real killers as to deciding the good, bad or ugly of a bottle of wine. Hay fever, allergies and colds can greatly affect the sensations on the palate. What is needed is a strong sense of smell and taste and a clear mind and heart when judging a wine or simply deciding the good or bad of the bottle.
Food — One of the more overlooked aspects of deciding the worth of a bottle of wine is what preceded the wine on the palate. Greasy foods, foods with hot spice, foods with a lot of milk-based items can really put the nix on a pretty nice bottle of wine. This is why wine is rarely served in Mexican restaurants, Indian restaurants or Thai restaurants, where the cuisine might be really spicy or hot. Heat and spice can tear the heart or delicacy from the middle of a wine and make the experience less-than-great. This is why we have beer!
Ego — This is a big one. Some folks, if the wine is less costly than they think merits a nice wine, will dismiss the wine completely and never try it again. I have seen this happen more times than I wish to say. I have seen really nice wines under R40 get shunned from the table simply because of their low price point. I know it sounds nuts, but it’s true. Conversely, I have seen really expensive wine get all kinds of acclaim because of the reverse reaction.
Temperature — Nothing is worse than a warm bottle of Chardonnay! Equally bad is a cold bottle of Syrah. Wine must be in line with what accents its goodness as far as temperature is considered. I have also seen really over-chilled Champagne and white wines where the wines are so cold nothing hits the palate but ice cubes. This is not a good thing and tends to really knock an otherwise really nice bottle of wine on its butt.
Moderation is the ticket — Chill slightly, eat judiciously and try not to be anxious or upset when evaluating that glass of wine. Don’t let the price fool you either. Let it go and let the wine speak for itself and (try) don’t get in the way of what really might be out there.