WBW #22 Announced

Wine Blogging Wednesday LogoNext months theme for the popular virtual wine tasting event, Wine Blog Wednesday, will be Lite Alcohol Reds, hosted by Tim from Winecast on June 14th. Modern methods of winemaking have pushed the envelope on high alcohol wines. Some point the finger at wine critics, whose palates favor concentrated ripe fruit flavors that are the result of leaving fruit on the vine longer. Because the sugar levels in the grapes hit high levels at harvest, during fermentation, these sugars are converted into alcohol, and If the wines aren’t balanced with the right acidity, the high alcohol level can be very noticeable. Nowadays, most wines are easily in the 15% range. Tim is urging us to find red wines that don’t exceed a 12.5% ABV.

I might have to leave California for this one.

Independant Survey On Screwcaps

What are your thoughts on Screwcaps? I received an email from Paul Tudor, a wine writer out of New Zealand, who is conducting a little research on market acceptance of these closures. If you are in the trade, or just a wine enthusiast, take the survey, which can be found here. By taking the survey, you are eligible to win a pack of 3 books valued at $90 USD:

Understanding Wine Technology (2nd ed) by David Bird MW
Wine Science: the application of science in winemaking by Jamie Goode
Wine Label Language by Peter Saunders

Take the survey here.

Judgment of Paris II: Results

Round No.2 of France vs. Californian wines, has gone to the Americans. The first “Judgment of Paris” [Wikipedia] put on by Steven Spurrier in 1976 produced the same result. Now, 30 years later, the tasting has been repeated, and the American wines took 1st through 5th place, while the wines from Bordeaux garnered the next 4 spots, followed by a Cabernet from the U.S.

Two panels of 9 expert tasters each convened in London, and Napa Valley, to analyze 6 cabernets from California and 4 from Bordeaux from the original tasting, blind. The experts could look at a list of the 10 wines being served, but did not know which wine was in each glass. The panel was joined by 31 other tasters at each location, and tasted California Chardonnay, White Burgundy, young Bordeaux from the 2000 Vintage, and young California Cabernet from 2000 – 2002. These wines were tasted against their peers only, not against the other country. Jancis Robinson was on the expert panel, and has the results available in excel format on her website.

The Final Combined U.S. / U.K. Panel Results for the original 10 wines:

1- Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 1971
2- Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973
3- Heitz Cellar Martha’s Vineyard 1970 tied with Mayacamas Vineyards 1971
5- Clos Du Val 1972
6- Château Mouton Rothschild 1970
7- Château Montrose 1970
8- Château Haut-Brion 1970
9- Château Léoville Las Cases 1971
10- Freemark Abbey 1969

More coverage via Decanter, Copia, The Napa Valley Register and The San Francisco Chronicle as well as interesting comments on the erobertparker forum.

New Wine Blog: Real World Winers

Take eight passionate people, mix in a bunch of wine, sprinkle in a simple rating system, and what do you get? A whole lotta fun. Bill, Chris, Ed, John, Rich, Ssezi, Stef, and Steve have been getting together every week for 10 years to taste wine, and in December, they started a blog to track their findings. I haven’t seen an update since April, but so far they seem to have been pretty consistent.

So how does the rating system work? The group employs simple graphics. On the low end a toilet bowl, which is self explanatory, to a glass that is empty, one half full, and the last being completely full, which implies that the drinker would actually purchase the wine again. Their tagline?

Real People, Real Wine. The straight story on what’s worth drinking, and what tastes like ass.

From a wine getting a the top rating from everyone, the 2004 Terrazas de los Andes Malbec – Argentina, to a toilet wine, the 2002 Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon which received the comment, “If you are going to a dinner party with people you don’t like, then you should bring this wine”, the site doesn’t fail to entertain.

Check out Real World Winers.

Mikasa Announces “Open Up”: The Unbreakable Wine Glass

kwarxIt took ARC International two years of development, but they did it, releasing an unbreakable crystal wine glass this week at Vinexpo in Hong Kong under the Mikasa brand. The glass is made from a proprietary material called Kwarx, a transparent glass that relies on a unique manufacturing process that transforms the raw materials into a shock resistant surface. Mikasa is the first company to adopt the ARC Internationals Kwarx technology in a wine glass, releasing stemware under the “Open Up” line.

I have a feeling I will manage to somehow break one of these.
Read [Decanter.com]

WBW #21 2004 Andrew Lane Gamay Noir, Napa Valley

2004 Andrew Lane Gamay Noir, Napa Valley, CaliforniaThere’s nothing better than Gamay Noir, a.k.a. Beaujolais. What a sec, did I just type that? The truth of the matter is, I’ve never had Gamay Noir, (or Beaujolais for that matter), before trying this bottle. After trying it, I will tell you that it isn’t my favorite, and I don’t think that it’s meant to be a “favorite”. What it is meant to be is a food friendly, daily drinking wine, and it delivers. At Andrew Lane, proprietor Drew Lane and crew are trying to put this varietal on a few dinner tables as an alternative to the Cabernet that is so ubiquitous with the area. The only problem is, there are only a few acres of it produced in all of California, so hopefully demand doesn’t out pace supply.

This bottle worked perfect for this 21st edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, hosted by Lenn of Lenndevours, where we a challenged to pair a wine with our favorite food, or Vice Versa. We paired it with broiled Salmon and asparagus, and it seemed to work perfectly. I think Salmon is my favorite fish. The texture, buttery flavor, and simplicity are accentuated when grilled or broiled in my humble opinion. I like to make a little aluminum foil boat to keep all the juices close to the fish when cooking, and hit is with a little S & P, Butter, and a squeeze of lemon, or give it a teriyaki bath 30 minutes before cooking (we used the former method this time). The fish mellowed hints of tar and tobacco in the wine, and the fruity cherry character came through following each succulent bite. Overall, this is a good wine, and a good value at $18. Just make sure you enjoy it with a meal (which some would argue, is the only way to drink wine).

Wine: 2004 Andrew Lane Gamay Noir (a.k.a. Gamay, Gamay Noir a Jus Blanc, Beaujolais)
Price: $18
Notes: Light purple with a light-medium bodied palate, notes of Cherries, Tar, Tobacco, a nice finish with minimal tannins. Enhanced by food, and meant to be enjoyed over the next 2-3 years.
Score: 86 pts JAT
Website: www.alwines.com
Full disclosure: This wine was a press sample.

The London International Wine Challenge 2006 Results

International Wine Challenge 2006 LondonThe results are in from the 2006 International Wine Challenge held in London. Over 9000 Wines were submitted, 288 received a Gold award, 1058 Silver, and 1456 Bronze. The IWC is considered the biggest blind tasting competition in the world.

About the Judging:

The International Wine Challenge brings together many of the most important people in the wine world. Co-chaired by Charles Metcalfe, Derek Smedley MW, Tim Atkin MW and Sam Harrop MW, the judging process takes over the London Barbican Centre for three weeks in the Spring each year. The co-chairs oversee the judging process and assist the judges with any tough decisions. It is their task to guarantee the integrity of the competition….

At all stages, wines are marked out of 100, with the following points corresponding to the relevant award:

Gold 95 – 100

Silver 90 – 94

Bronze 85 – 89

More here.

A large part of the IWC’s reputation is down to the quality and experience of its judges. This year, more than 465 winemakers, merchants and writers from around the world will take part, including the likes of Oz Clarke and Jancis Robinson MW alongside a panel of at least 42 Masters of Wine.

Visit the website to check out the medal winners from around the world. After clicking the link below, click to sign in as a guest to view the results. The best way to navigate this site is by means of the search function.
Click Here [Webexone.com]

What???Wine prevents hearing loss?

According to New Scientist, moderate consumption of wine could delay the onset of age-related deafness and reduce hearing loss caused by loud noise and certain antibiotics. Delicate hair in the inner ear is the target of oxygen free radicals produced when you are exposed to loud noise, different antibiotics, and simply because of ageing. Resveratrol, the polyphenol found in grape skins, green tea, etc., helps to neutralize these free radicals, protecting your ear from damage.

Jochen Schacht of the University of Michigan Medical School, tested a compound found in aspirin, salicylate, against a powerful antibiotic known to cause damage in hair cells. The antibiotic, Gentamicin, is ironically used to treat severe ear infections. Salicylate successfully minimized damage from gentamicin. Both resveratrol and salicylate appear to be effective.

Read [newscientist.com]

USA Today Started A Wine Blog: Cheers

Last week, USA Today entered the crowded space of wine blogging with Cheers, written by Jerry Shriver. The aim of the blog is to investigate 10,000 case production, $15 and under wines, and report on the segments winners Monday through Friday. Prediction: This column will run out of wines to recommend by the end of the year, and will have to tweak the format. USA Today follows other papers, like the New York Times, who’s blog “The Pour,” written by Eric Asimov, is also an experiment with Wine Blogging, and seems to be an extension of Eric’s regular wine column.

Visit Cheers here. (Merci Oenoline.com)

Analyzing Wine: Man vs. Machine

It appears that European students have gotten a little jump on Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation CSIRO, who have also been working on a virtual nose to identify specifics in wine; region, varietal, age, flavors, and even price. About 50 students from 7 universities in Europe competed in the FOSS challenge, a competition to reprogram the FOSS winescan analyzer, normally used during winemaking, to provide details about any wine. The winning team comprised of Kim Houng Ngo and Martin Andersen from Aalborg University, Denmark, put the product up against a team of wine experts and came up with almost identical results regarding the region, quality, and price level. The experts came closer on price, but the students produced results much faster.

Read [Chemie.DE] via Spittoon.