Musings on Wine and Spirits by Louis Marmon

As seen in:
Washington Post, Gazette Newspapers, DC Examiner, The Wine Report
Washington Jewish Week, LA Times, Jewish Exponent, Capitol File Magazine and in other cities in the US and Canada

Latest Article

How America Caused – And Cured – A Winemaking Crisis

July 28, 2014

A review of Castel Rosé du Castel 2013 and Isle of Arran 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

Among the plethora of pests that winemakers must contend against, none has been more devastating than a sap-sucking insect named “phylloxera.” This tiny aphid-like bug destroys vines by feeding off the roots, thereby choking off the supply of nutrients to the plant and leaving it susceptible to fungal infections. Initially limited to the United States, the phylloxera menace was inadvertently introduced to Europe in the 1850s by Victorian English botanists returning home with American vine specimens. Phylloxera destroyed nearly 95 percent of the continent’s vineyards.

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Taplin Cellars

July 21, 2014

A look at Napa’s Taplin Cellars Terra 9 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Taplin Cellars is a Napa winery with bicoastal roots. A great-great grandfather of the present-day owners moved his dairy farming family from Vermont to San Francisco in the mid-1800s. They eventually found their way to the Napa Valley where they purchased land to grow fruit and walnuts. Farming was considerably challenging in the late 18 and early 1900s, especially in ground described as “9 parts rock and 1 part dirt.” Yet the family persevered and was able to keep ahold of the property through the Depression, Prohibition and two World Wars. In the mid-1970s they replanted to Cabernet, just in time to ride the growing interest in California wines.

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Out Of Isolation, Chilean Wines Prosper

July 17, 2014

Reviews of the Lanzur Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and The Macallan 18 year old (1996 vintage) Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

Chile is the source of some of the world’s best wine values. The country boasts over a dozen distinctive wine producing regions that extend hundreds of miles from the northern Copiapo valley to the Austral region, the southernmost location where grapes can grow.

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Start Summer With Sangria

July 14, 2014

Summer libation suggestions including various Sangria recipes and some Ruby Port based cocktails.

Sangria is a refreshing accompaniment to summer parties. A mixture of wine, fruit, sugar and traditionally a bit of brandy, Sangria reportedly originated on the Spanish peninsula where it was named after the word for blood-letting, due to its distinctive deep red color. It remains hugely popular in Spain and Portugal, and as of this year is even protected under EU statute so that Sangria from Spain or Portugal will be allowed to be bottled and labeled as such – but why buy it pre-made? So much more fun to make it yourself.

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Summer Wines

July 9, 2014

Reviews of some enjoyable value-priced summer wines.

The US is now the world’s leader in wine consumption. The latest figures show that Americans enjoyed 329 million cases of wine in 2013, an 18% increase over 2005. This easily put the US past the traditional European frontrunners including Italy and France. The US also bettered China which recently was the fastest growing market for wine. There are likely numerous reasons for the steady growth of the US wine market. The growing availability of value-priced, flavorful wines, combined with imaginative marketing which has made wine appear less mysterious and elitist have certainly contributed to the growing wine culture in the US. While there are those who can easily shell out hundreds of dollars for a bottle, nearly 90% of the wine sold in the US costs less than $12. As long as wineries keep making good, inexpensive wines, the outlook for the continuing growth of the US market remains positive.

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Israeli Wines Continue Ancient Tradition

July 7, 2014

Reviews of the Psagot Edom 2011 and the Kilkerran “Work in Progress” 5th release, Sherry Wood Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

Given the importance of wine in ancient times, it is not surprising that the writing on a clay jug fragment found in Jerusalem dating from the time of King Solomon is actually part of a wine label. University of Haifa Professor Gershon Galil believes the inscription indicated the vintage and appellation as well as quality of the wine contained within.

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Wine For The Fourth

June 30, 2014

Reviews of the Joseph River Estate Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz-Merlot 2009, Agua Dulce Winery Zinfandel 2010 and 2 rye whiskies, the Catoctin Creek Organic Roundstone Rye Whisky and Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Old Small Batch Rye.

Celebrating the Fourth of July typically involves fireworks and outdoor grilling or even barbeque (cooking with smoke rather than fire). On the grilling front, one of the great customary summer foods, and one of our favorites, is the hamburger. While many believe that beer is the ideal accompaniment to burgers, we – not surprisingly – recommend cracking open a bottle of red wine as well, if not instead.

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Burgundy’s Long Reach

June 23, 2014

Reviews of Domaine du Castel “C” Chardonnay 2012 and several Glen Grant Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.

Led by the owners of two of the region’s most renowned vineyards, France’s Burgundy region has applied to become a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. This honor is conferred upon locations that have “outstanding universal value from the historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological point of view.” Burgundians believe their specific vineyards are the epitome of “the quest for a relationship between wine and the natural environment where it is produced” and therefore qualified to be designated as a location that UNESCO considers “our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations.”

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Israel’s Developing Wine Culture

June 16, 2014

Reviews of Gamla Syrah 2010 and Balvenie 15 year old Single Barrel Sherry Cask.

A recent visit to Israel has reaffirmed our enthusiasm for the Holy Land’s developing wine culture. Besides the different wineries that seen to be cropping up nearly every week, there is a palpable sense that enjoying wine is becoming as fundamental to Israelis as their love of coffee.

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