Diverse Areas Now Producing Quality Viognier

August 15, 2007

Chrysalis Viognier

Some Viognier recommendations.

Viognier (vee-own-YAY) was virtually extinct in the 1960s, when it was limited to less than 35 acres in France’s Northern Rhone region. Now quality Viognier is being produced in California, Washington State, Australia, South Africa, Israel, Chile and Virginia. Notoriously difficult to grow, Viognier can be as full-bodied as a Chardonnay and is noted for its low acidity, complex floral aromas and spice. It is the only grape permitted to make white wine in France’s Condrieu region. In the Cote-Rotie and in Australia, Viognier is added to red wines such as Syrah to enhance fragrance and soften flavors. Single varietal white wines are best consumed within a few years after bottling, while those blended into red wines can age longer.

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Paso Robles: California’s Most Promising Wine-Making Region

April 18, 2007

J Lohr Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon

A review of some wines from Paso Robles.

More than 40 different varietals — high-quality Zinfandel, excellent Cabernet blends and first-rate Rhone varietals — are cultivated in Paso Robles, California’s largest American Viticultural Area (AVA). The 24-plus square mile area has 700 to 2,000-foot elevations, with diverse microclimates from the cooling Pacific breezes and multiple canyons.

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Valley Whirl: Napa Winery Worth Long Day’s Journey

September 20, 2006

Terra Valentine

A visit and tasting at Terra Valentine.

The road from St. Helena that ascends Spring Mountain twists and turns past ancient trees and sheer drop-offs. About four-and-a-half miles up, a gated lane leads to the Terra Valentine Winery. Eccentric engineer Fred Aves, the previous owner, designed the winery and guesthouse, located on a bluff overlooking the Napa Valley. He did most of the work by himself. Each structure features massive handmade wooden doors with gargoyles carved into the ceiling beams, stone archways, spiral staircases and stained-glass windows. The balcony affords a magnificent view of the valley’s vineyards, framed by tree-lined mountains and accented by birds swooping around the property. At night, the numerous stars seem close enough to touch.

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Winemaking Beckons Successful Types To Try Their Hand

September 21, 2005

de Lorimier Lace

Winemaking as a second career.

Some say the way to make a small fortune in the wine business is to start with a large one. Subject to the vagaries of weather, insects and capricious consumer tastes, winemaking appears to be a guaranteed way to lose money. Despite these issues, many people who have become successful in other endeavors find the lure of making and selling their own wine irresistible.

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Don’t Cry For Argentina: Winemakers Produce High-Quality Vino

April 20, 2005

Zuccardi Winery

Some wine recommendations from my recent visit to Argentina.

Much like a grapevine that produces its best fruit under “stressful” growing conditions, Argentine winemakers have weathered that country’s significant political and economic upheavals to produce world-class wines. The country’s Mendoza region, where the Andes supply both water and protection from the Pacific winds, has a long history of winemaking. During the past several years, many of these wineries have invested in state-of-the-art equipment and refined their winemaking techniques to take advantage of a unique regional climate. Add to this the current favorable exchange rate and low production costs, and the result is high-quality wines at very good prices.

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