Monday, March 25, 2019

Wine Quickie: Beronia Rioja Rosé 2018


I love Spanish rosé and I don't think it's really appreciated as much by consumers as it should be. This one is a blend of Garnacha, which is also known as Grenache and makes the best rosés of France, and Tempranillo. Side note: Tempranillo is probably my favorite grape for rosé. Everything about this wine screams Spring. Flower petals, strawberries, red berries, and cream. Simple and delicious. It's light bodied with a bright, uplifitng acidity, and a tart citrusy finish. This is a rosé that's meant for swinging in a hammock and enjoying the warmer weather. You'll love it.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Wine Review: Altaneve Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore

Altaneve Prosecco Superiore

This is the second of three reviews that I'm doing for Altaneve. I started off with with their Rosé, now I'm on to their Prosecco Superiore, and then I'm finishing up with the Altaneve Z.

Altaneve prides themselves in being one of the very first top quality Prosecco producers to break on in to the United States. The shelves here are loaded with Prosecco, so much so that nobody even knows how the region keeps up because it statistically shouldn't. But how often do you see one that is a top shelf item? A Prosecco that competes with Champagne or higher-tiered American sparklers? Unless you're shopping in the right spots, it's not often until recently.

Altaneve also prides themselves in the history of Prosecco, which goes back thousands of years. I just wrote an article on Pliny the Elder and he loved the wine from the region, even though it didn't become what we know it to be today until the 20th century. As a huge history nerd, I like it when something embraces its roots. Especially when it's wine.

The Prosecco Superiore is 100% Glera from the foothills of Valdobbiadene. It has to be hand selected for harvest because of the steep incline of the vineyards, and the wine sees an extended secondary fermentation (carbonation). It has an 11.5% ABV.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Wine Re-Review: Beronia Rioja Crianza 2015


Back in January I reviewed this wine (click here for the original review) and it was completely out of character and just not good, so it was concluded by myself and Beronia that I had received a faulty bottle. So here is the re-review!

Beronia is named after the ancient Celtic tribe called the Berones that inhabited the land that is now La Rioja in the 3rd century BC. The Beronia winery, however, was established in 1973 CE by a group of Bosque businessmen and founders of a gastronomy society who visited Rioja and decided they wanted to make wine there.

The 2015 Rioja Crianza is 88% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha, and 2% Mazuelo, so there's some percentage differences than the 2014 vintage that I reviewed in December of 2017. After being harvested the grapes undergo a few days of cold maceration, and then fermented at low temperature with periodic pumping. It sees twelve months of aging in barrels of American oak staves and French oak tops, then three months of bottle aging. it has a 13.5% ABV.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Wine Quickie: Masciarelli Trebbiano d'Abruzzo 2016


I've have never actually had this wine and a colleague of mine recently went on and on expressing his love of it so much that I decided to pick up a bottle. I mean, it's a $10 Trebbiano, so at the very least it's going to be a muted easy-downing quaffer. But it turns out this guy was right. There's so much expressive character here. It has explosive apples, lychee, and almonds, with a long lemon finish on a medium body and rich mouthfeel. Delicious. This just became one of my favorite $10 white wines, and I never would have guessed that it could be.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Oh shit! Constellation’s Mondavi Improperly Obtained, Deceptively Use Famed “To Kalon” Designation



Press Release: OAKVILLE, NAPA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA (March 20, 2019) – Perhaps the most prized vineyard designation in American winemaking is Napa Valley’s “To Kalon” (Greek for “the highest beauty’), created by pioneering winemaker H.W. Crabb in the late 19th century.

But the owner of part of the original To Kalon estate says Constellation Brands and its Robert Mondavi Corporation fraudulently obtained a trademark of To Kalon and have for years deceptively marketed it.

In a lawsuit filed today in U.S. District Court in Northern California, The Vineyard House said it must be entitled to fair use of the To Kalon designation.

Constellation owns 188 acres, a fraction of the original 527-acre To Kalon Estate, yet improperly refers to all of its area holdings as “To Kalon,” according to the suit.

The suit also asks that Constellation discontinue the practice of selling wines improperly labeled “To Kalon” that are actually produced from other Constellation properties, to correct misleading information it filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, to conduct an advertising campaign to counteract and correct its false statements to the public, and for unspecified monetary damages.

To Kalon’s Fame and Value

By the end of the 1870s, Crabb transformed what ultimately became a 527-acre estate into one of the most productive wineries in California.  Along with venerated winemakers like Charles Krug and Jacob Schram, Crabb helped transform the Napa Valley into a premier wine region and To Kalon into a national brand.  Crabb established an extensive distribution network that allowed him to ship products to the East Coast and Midwest, helping stimulate demand for Napa Valley wines as early as the 1880s.

In the years since Crabb’s death in 1899, property comprising his estate underwent a series of ownership changes and divisions.  Today, 17 acres of the original To Kalon Estate – land Crabb owned at the time of his death – is owned by The Vineyard House, part of TVH’s total 43-acre parcel in Oakville. TVH’s property clearly dates back to Crabb.

Mondavi and Constellation’s Improper Exclusive Use of To Kalon

To Kalon’s value and mystique continued to grow in the 20th century.  Robert Mondavi acquired much of the historic To Kalon estate in the 1960s and aggressively marketed its connection to the famed property to sell super-premium wines.

In 1987, Mondavi requested and received a trademark for To Kalon from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  While the company had for years labeled its wines “To Kalon”, it claimed the designation had “no current meaning or significance in the wine industry” as support for its exclusive use, even though it had numerous studies to document To Kalon’s enormous value. Mondavi sought exclusive rights to use the vineyard’s name even though it did not own all of the original property and, strikingly, began using “To Kalon” to describe wines produced from other Mondavi properties. Mondavi further marketed the To Kalon connection in the Opus One venture launched with Baron Philippe de Rothschild in 1984.

The lawsuit claims these actions constitute false advertising and false designation of origin as described in federal law and demands that Constellation stop this deceptive practice immediately.

Further, because To Kalon describes a specific geographic place, federal regulations prohibit its exclusive use. TVH must be entitled to fair use.  Constellation’s trademarks, which were improperly obtained, must be cancelled, according to the suit.

Wine Review: Altaneve (Sparkling) Rosé


This is the first of three reviews that I'm going for Altaneve. We're starting off with their Rosé, then going on to their Prosecco Superioire, and finishing up with the Altaneve Z.

Altaneve prides themselves in being one of the very first top quality Prosecco producers to break on in to the United States. The shelves here are loaded with Prosecco, so much so that nobody even knows how the region keeps up because it statistically shouldn't. But how often do you see one that is a top shelf item? A Prosecco that competes with Champagne or higher-tiered American sparklers? Unless you're shopping in the right spots, it's not often until recently.

Altaneve also prides themselves in the history of Prosecco, which goes back thousands of years. I just wrote an article on Pliny the Elder and he loved the wine from the region, even though it didn't become what we know it to be today until the 20th century. As a huge history nerd, I like it when something embraces its roots. Especially when it's wine.

Their Sparkling Rosé is sustainably farmed and made of 70% Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) from the Oltrepò Pavese region in the hills of northwestern Italy, and 30% Glera (the grape used for Prosecco) from the Valdobbiadene hills in northeastern Italy. It has a 12% ABV.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wine Reviews: Best of Winter 2018/19!

Today is the first day of Spring, so here's the best wines that I reviewed for this Winter season!

#5. Corvezzo Terre di Marca Rosé "Sur lie" Frizzante

Region: Veneto, Italy
Review Release: December 23rd, 2018


I freaking love this. I love its personality. It's so very interesting on the nose and so fun and thirst quenching on the palate. That tart acidity on the finish is just begging for some food, too. Suddenly I really want fish tacos to pair with this. Unfortunately it doesn't look like this is available in United States right now, but it's sold for roughly $13 in the European Union. So I'm running with that. And I'm giving a damn good score.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $23
Rating: 4.5/5 = Recommended / Highly Recommended(what does that mean?)


#4. Emilio Hidalgo Fino Sherry

Region: Jerez, Spain
Review Release: February 1st, 2019 (Wine Pick of the Month)


This is 100% Palamino. The color of the wine is a golden yellow. Caramel leads the charge of aromas, followed by dried apricots, prunes, brown sugar, and almonds. Fantastic nose. On the palate it's a lighter bodied Sherry, as it should be, with a nice salinity to its mouthfeel and bright acidity. There's flavors of apricots, almonds, Greek olives, and yeast. It feels and tastes so good on the finish that there's no rush to take another sip. Which is a good thing because it has a 15% ABV. Take your time and enjoy.

READ THE FULL REVIEW

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $16
Rating: 4.5/5 = Recommended / Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


Region: Colchagua Valley, Chile
Review Release: January 17th, 2019

The wine is purple in color. On the nose there's aromas of cherries, strawberry jelly, black olives, cinnamon, and burnt toast. The nose is freakin' awesome. In the mouth it's light to medium bodied with a slippery mouthfeel, a pep to its acidity, and sweet tannins. It's got a smokey and savory profile surrounding fruity flavors of cherries and strawberries, and spice flavors of vanilla and cinnamon. Then it finishes savory with flavors of tangy strawberries and gritty leather.

This is absolutely delicious and I couldn't recommend it more for a $20 Grenache blend. The way the savoriness of the midpalate and finish plays with the flavors really make this wine highly enjoyable, and I can't wait to try it with some cheese. With that said, it gets a perfect score in price vs. quality.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $20
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)



Region: Alentejo, Portugal
Review Release: March 1st, 2019 (Wine Pick of the Month)


The wine is a dark and inky ruby red in color. The nose is stellar with aromas of black cherries, rose pedals, cloves, vanilla and cracked pepper. True to previous vintages, it’s bold and hedonistic in the mouth with big dark fruit, rosemary and cedar. The tannin is soft but the ethanol shows its strength on the minty, cleansing finish.

Outstanding. Just outstanding. Pair with beef stew, pot roast, or barbecue.

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $16
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


#1. Matchbook Estate Bottled Petite Sirah 2016

Region:  Dunnigan Hills, California
Review Release: January 3rd, 2019


The color of the wine is a gorgeous ruby red. There's aromas of plums, vanilla, black pepper, and bay leaf. On the palate it's medium to full bodied with a rich mouthfeel that becomes a cloud of lushness when swirled around in the mouth. The tannins are both sweet and grippy, and the acidity is present but takes a seat in the back. There's flavors of blackberries, red apple, black pepper, and vanilla. Then it finishes juicy with the tannins tightening their grip.

For $17 this is a freakin' dream, and a run-away perfect score for a $20 Petite Sirah. The Giguiere's did a hell of a job with this one. It's an absolute joy to drink!

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $17
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Retsina


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Heroes of Wine: Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE)

Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE)
Pliny the Elder has been mentioned more times on this blog than anybody else. I even made a meme about him. So when it was time for me to finally get back to writing monthly articles on the blog, it was a no-brainer that a biography on this guy would be the perfect return into the swing of things.

Pliny's entrance into this world is not well documented. Historians have pieced it together through fragments of secondary sources. He could have born Gaius Plinius Secundus, the son of equestrian Gaius Plinius Celer and his wife Marcella (Equestrians were the middle-ranking nobility in ancient Rome). He could have been born in Verona, Italy. The evidence is much more solid that he was born 140 miles away in Como, however. We can assume his birth year was 23 CE because his nephew, Pliny the Younger, mentioned his age when he died tragically in 79 CE. Do we all know our uncle's exact age? Hell no!
"The only certainty is that nothing is certain." - Pliny the Elder
Although nearly all of his works have been lost, Pliny still made sure that future generations would know about him. Sadly, no contemporary description, sculpture, or image of him survives, so we don't actually know anything about his appearance. He wasn't one of the most prolific of the great Roman authors, but he is a key part of our understanding for life as a Roman of his time. Also, the man loved wine and beer and wrote about the making and consumption of both.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Wine Quickie: Crux Russian River GSM 2014


Crux is a small winery that focuses on small lots of Rhone varietals within Russian River Valley. Their GSM is 58% Grenache, 22% Mourvedre, 18% Syrah, and 2% Petite Sirah. It's garnet in color with aromas of raspberries, prunes, anise, and black table pepper. On the palate it's medium bodied with a sweet-ish fruit forward profile of raspberry sauce, cherry cola, vanilla, and tobacco. It's a bigger and juicier GSM than I expected, but you can hand it to me with some BBQ any day of the week. Yum! Thank you to Lin (@boozychef) for the hook up!

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