Friday, October 26, 2012

Showing Colorado some wine love

It is not often that you see wine regions other than the big four (California, New York, Oregon or Washington) mentioned in the national media spotlight. Combined, those four states make up over 97% of U.S. wine production. The other 92% of states account only 3% of domestic wine production, so it kind of makes sense that they don't get a lot of press. As a result, it is a big deal when states like Colorado share the spotlight with the big states.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

DrinkLocalWine.com celebrates Regional Wine Week in November

DrinkLocalWine will hold its fifth annual Regional Wine Week from Nov. 12 to 16 , where wine writers, bloggers and enthusiasts share information about wine from "The Other 47" states (excluding California, Washington and Oregon) - providing a one-stop shop to see what's cutting edge in regional wine. The non-profit proudly proclaims that the fourth annual regional wine week, held last year in October, was one of the most successful in the group’'s history.

This year, DrinkLocalWine will announce the site and dates for its national DrinkLocalWine Conference during Regional Wine Week for the first time, giving away two pairs of tickets. The annual conference, which spotlights regional wine, was held in Denver this past April and featured the Colorado wine industry and its cool-climate varieties like riesling, gewürztraminer and cabernet franc. Previously, the conference has been held in Missouri, Virginia and Texas.

Writers from across the United States are asked to post stories to their blogs, websites, magazines and newspapers about their favorite regional and local wines, wineries and events. Then, the DrinkLocalWine website aggregates the stories, providing a snapshot of regional wine. Over the past four years, writers from across the country have covered dozens of states' wine industries.

Regional Wine Week is open to anyone – from professional wine writers to wine enthusiasts with Facebook pages or Tumblr sites –to submit stories about wineries, winemakers and wines from the Other 47 states. For information about Regional Wine Week or to submit a story link, contact Jeff Siegel, President and co-founder of the organization, at jeff-siegel@hotmail.com. Let's keep Colorado in the national spotlight!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Of wine writers and idiots

A few days ago, I read something that both puzzled and impressed me. Steve Heimoff wrote a rambling article about the Alma Wine Academy and orange wines. What caught my attention was that Steve professed his ignorance of this rather unusual, and small category of wines. Orange wines actually have a long history, but they have seen an increased awareness in the media (and not just no-name bloggers like me but big hitters like Ray Isle and Eric Asimov) for more than a few years. Sure, these skin-macerated white wines, often aged in clay amphora, are not the next-big-thing in the wine world that even my mother knows about, but they're not a new, unknown phenomenon.

I figured, and so did a lot of other readers, that a "fairly well-known, a big fish" like Steve would be in the know. However, I was even more impressed that Steve was willing to share his ignorance with his readers. It is not too often that the biggest names in the wine writing world admit that they don't know something. It takes a lot of confidence to undermine one's expertise. If only more critics would admit when they get something wrong or don't know something, we'd all trust them a bit more. Well done, Steve.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A classic pairing? Pinot and Salmon...

Pairing food and wine is often a confounding experience. Luckily, there are a lot of people/websites/books out there offering suggestions for perfect pairings. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a perfect food and wine pairing. Sure some pairings might work better than others, but the important thing is to drink what you like and will enjoy. If you're craving a crisp sauvignon blanc while you eat a steak, then by all means don't let some talking head tell you otherwise. If you want a big bold cabernet sauvignon with your Sole Meunière, go for it. Sure, switching those pairings might make more sense flavor and texture-wise in most cases, but not in all cases.

One of the classic pairings is supposedly pinot noir and salmon. Some times it works, but the past few times I've opened a pinot noir with salmon the pairing simply fell short. So, when I cooked salmon recently I decided to switch things up. I didn't go with the other suggested pairings for salmon: chardonnay or riesling. I actually chose pinot. Not pinot noir, but pinot gris. And it worked. So I tried it again a few nights later with a different pinot gris. Lo and behold, it was another great pairing. Don't be beholden to the "best" pairing when a different one might be better. So next time you eat salmon grab a glass of pinot, but make it pinot gris!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Look west, Colorado (think big, act small)

Colorado is not California. That statement shouldn't surprise you. Colorado shouldn't try to be California. Colorado can make equally good, yet different wine. However, Colorado should try to learn from California. California invented the wheel when it comes to the modern wine industry. Colorado shouldn't try to reinvent that wheel. Re-imagine and improve the wheel, sure, but not reinvent it.

Not only should Colorado try to learn from California, Colorado wineries should try to learn from the world's largest wine company: Constellation Brands. Constellation owns over 100 wine, spirit and beer brands across the globe, and yet the average consumer is probably unaware that the wine they love may actually be a part of a large multinational corporation instead of the small family operation they think. No, Colorado wineries are not going to become global powers; I say this because Constellation owns some of the most famous California wine brands. Two of Constellations' wineries are the focus of this post. Through these wineries, Constellation thinks big (real big), but in many cases acts small.

Case in point: Robert Mondavi Winery. Now, Constellation had nothing to do with RMW until they bought out the Mondavi family in 2004. Nevertheless, they sell the story of the winery as if it were their own, as smart marketers should. The story of Robert Mondavi should be of considerable interest to Colorado wineries, yet I wonder how many actually truly understand what he did.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The fiction of cult wine

The word "cult" gets thrown around a lot in the wine industry. The idea of cult wine started in the 1990s with the rise of critically acclaimed, limited production California cabernet sauvignons such as Bryant Family Vineyard, Grace Family Vineyards, Harlan Estate and Screaming Eagle. The initial prices of these wines were high to start with, but not absurdly so. Bryant released at $36, Grace Family at $25, Harlan at $65 and Screaming Eagle an astonishing $50. These big names aside, the first California wine to actually eclipse the triple digit price tag was Diamond Creek with their 1978 Lake Vineyard release. It wasn't until customers began flipping the wines at auction for many times what they paid to the winery after the wines received numerous 99 and 100-point scores from Robert Parker that their prices began their stratospheric rise. The age of cult wine was born.