Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's on the Internet, so it must be true!

One of the stories making the rounds in the digital winesphere is about a recent segment on the Canadian radio show This is That. The segment featured two Canadian wine producers from the Okanagan Valley and the Niagara region. The host began by asking his guests what makes Canadian wine so good. From that point on, the two guests attacked and disparaged each other (and denounced innocent New Hampshire's wine industry in the process). The Sean Connery-esque Daniel Semple even quipped that the Okanagan pinot noir brought by the other guest "may have just been some garbage." At that point, physical violence ensued.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Crossing the Border Guards

Wine appellations fascinate me because my of my interest and background in geography. I often feel like the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding because I think almost everything has its roots in geography (I mean, describing the phenomena of the Earth is what geography is...). In particular, American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs for short, really intrigue me. Not because they are great in and of themselves, but that they reveal the cultural and political aspects of wine appellations more readily than those in Europe. And yes, culture and politics are just as geographical at heart as soil and climate.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Taste of Vail preview...

Wine festivals aren't my favorite events. They are usually crowded and impersonal. I have gone to a few Colorado specific festivals for pleasure and for work in the past. I have not had the pleasure of attending either of the two big ones in Colorado, Aspen Food & Wine and Taste of Vail. Sadly, I usually think of them as they are happening, and in the case of Aspen cannot afford the high entry fee. I was invited as media to Taste of Vail last year, but was not able to attend. I will put it on my calendar because it seems to offer a variety of wine events that don't seem to encourage the drunk fest of just a big tasting.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Colorado wineries earn two prestigious Jefferson Cup awards (yet again...)

For the sixth year in a row, a Colorado wine earned a Jefferson Cup. The Jefferson Cup Invitational competition honors the best of the best among wineries from all of America’s wine regions. Each year Doug Frost, one of only four people on the planet to hold both the Master Sommelier and Master of Wine credentials, invites wines from across America to enter, whereas most other wine competitions are dominated by entries from California. Jefferson Cups were awarded to wines made from both Vitis vinifera grapes (a European species responsible for most famous wines such as Chardonnay and Cabernet) and non-vinifera varieties, which flourish in the more extreme climates in the center portion of the U.S. I am hopeful that the frontenac and vignoles (non-vinifera hybrids) vines in my backyard survive the record cold temperatures we experienced, yet again, a few weeks ago along the Front Range of Colorado! I actually had a crop of frontenac this past fall, but waited one day too long to harvest because the birds got to them before I did.

This year, seven Colorado wineries earned a total of 28 medals from the fifteenth annual competition. Bookcliff Vineyards took home their fourth Jefferson Cup for their 2013 Malbec and repeated the honor they earned the previous two years! The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey's 2012 Merlot Reserve was also a Jefferson Cup Winner for the first time. Other Colorado wineries that were invited and garnered awards in 2014 were Anemoi Wines, Boulder Creek Winery, Canyon Wind Cellars, and Grande River Vineyards. Colorado's past Jefferson Cup winning wines include Boulder Creek Winery's VIP Reserve (2010), Bookcliff Vineyards' 2009 Petite Sirah (2010), Canyon Wind Cellars' 2009 Petit Verdot (2011), Bookcliff Vineyards' 2010 Ensemble (2012), and Bookcliff Vineyards' 2011 Cabernet Franc Reserve (2013).

In total, thirty-eight prestigious Jefferson Cups were awarded. The competition had representation of the best of what every quality wine producing region in the country is offering right now, including representation from California, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Washington. States that won Jefferson Cups included Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota (yes, North Dakota makes wine...), Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.

Monday, November 17, 2014

What you say in advertising is more important than how you say it, unless...

...you sell wine in California. A few weeks ago, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) cracked down on a few small wine and beer producers because they tweeted (well, actually retweeted) information about a retailer's (Save Mart) event that featured their products. What's wrong with that, you might ask? Don't most businesses want to inform their customers where their products can be purchased?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Matt Kramer got it wrong about bullies who put down wine

Without wine lore, and wine tasting, and wine talk, and wine labels, and, yes, wine writing and rating—the whole elaborate idea of wine—we would still get drunk, but we would be merely drunk. The language of wine appreciation is there not because wine is such a special subtle challenge to our discernment but because without the elaborate language—without the idea of wine, held up and regularly polished—it would all be about the same, or taste that way. —Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

Two days ago, in Wine Spectator, Matt Kramer penned a polemic against nameless skeptics of the sensory value of wine. In Kramer's defense, he attempted to use an article by Adam Gopnik (yes, I misspelled his name (twice) in a comment over on the Jackson Family Wines blog, and for that I apologize) in the The New Yorker as evidence this anti-intellectualism bullying. The problems with him basing his condemnation on Gopnik's article are twofold. First, the article is more than ten years old. If you haven't read it, I strongly suggest that you do so. Yes, it reads as if it were written yesterday (or maybe tomorrow) and that is the sign of a good writer. But nevertheless it was written at a different point along the wine industry continuum and was actually an editorial on the 2004 state of wine prompted by William Echikson's book, Noble Rot. Second, and more important, Kramer completely missed the point of Gopnik's article. Kramer chose to quote Gopnik out of context. He should have started his article with the full quote that I've provided above. Gopnik actually accomplished what Kramer was attempting to do by making the case that wine talk and wine description are an integral "part of what lets the experience happen."

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Great American Beer Fest Kicks off

Tonight is a big night in the alcohol beverage world: The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) kicks off this evening in Denver, CO. I don't limit my description to just the beer industry because the wine and spirits industries should be taking note of what the Brewers Association accomplishes this week. GABF represents the largest public tasting of U.S. beer, and an actually meaningful competition.