California Winemakers Reclaiming The Chardonnay Grape

July 20, 2005

Frank Family Vineyard

A look at some recently released California Chardonnays.

It is ironic that Chardonnay is an extremely popular wine while it is also among the most scorned. In California, more acres of Chardonnay are planted than any other varietal. Paradoxically, a large number of consumers subscribe to the “ABC” theory of wine selection: “Anything But Chardonnay.” Chardonnay’s appeal appears to have been its undoing. The surge in consumer demand during the 1980s led to increased production, often without adequate attention to quality. Many producers ascribed to a cookbook approach, twisting the wine to fit biochemical specifications instead of allowing the natural flavors to develop. Others believed that grapes grown in warmer California should be treated in the same fashion as grapes grown in the cooler Burgundy region of France.

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Bright, Refreshing Summer Wines

June 16, 2005

Rodney Strong Chardonnay

Some summer wine recommendations.

Summer is the time to put away the heavy, winter wines and pick up wines appropriate for the warmer weather. Look for white wines that have bright flavors balanced with enough acid to make the wine crisp and refreshing so it pairs well with warm weather foods. Summer red wines should have great fruit flavors without a lot of complexity or power.

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High Quality, Affordable Prices Make Chilean Wine An Excellent Choice

June 15, 2005

Montes Alpha Syrah

Some Chilean wine recommendations.

Boasting breathtaking scenery and friendly people, Chile is a visitor’s paradise. Long and thin, it is more than 2,700 miles long and at most, only 150 miles wide. Its climate varies from desert in the north to snow in the south. In between are some of the world’s most eye-catching grape growing valleys. Cooling breezes from the Pacific Ocean arrive from the west, while the volcanoes of the Andes Mountains lie to the east. The resulting broad variations in climate, soil compositions and altitudes allow Chilean winemakers to experiment with varietals and growing conditions.

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Party Wines

May 26, 2005

Gloria ferrer Brut

Some wine recommendations for your next family gathering.

So, the entire family is coming into town for your simcha and that includes a dinner at your house. Besides figuring out what everyone will eat, you also want to have the right wines to serve without breaking your budget. Fortunately there are a large number of wines from around the world that your guests will enjoy that also are excellent values.

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Wine Writer’s Tour Reveals Choice Chilean Vineyards

May 18, 2005

Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc

Wine recommendations from my recent visit to Chile.

One of the nicest people to share a bottle of wine with is Alfredo Bartholomaus, founder of Billington Imports. His generous nature and depth of knowledge impressed everyone on a recent wine writer’s trip he led to Argentina and Chile. The gregarious poetry lover with a warm smile and an easy manner emigrated from Chile 20 years ago to establish a company dedicated to bringing South American wines to the U.S. market. His portfolio now includes wines from Chile, Argentina, Spain and New Zealand. He searches for high-quality, value-priced wines, and both new and established wineries seek his guidance.

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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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Kosher-For-Passover Wines Are Not Just For Sedarim

April 7, 2005

Dalton Winery

A review of some recently released Kosher Wines.

“Good kosher wine” is no longer an oxymoron. Due to increased demand for alternatives to the traditional sweet wines, the quality and variety of kosher wines has steadily improved. The wines available for this year’s Passover demonstrate that this trend is continuing. For a wine to be designated kosher, the wine-making equipment can only be utilized for kosher wines and only kosher materials can be used during production. Shabbat-observant Jews supervise the entire process and no artificial colorings or preservatives are added. Kosher wine which will be handled by non-Jews is briefly heated to make it meshuval. Using current techniques, this does not affect the quality of the wine. Wines certified “kosher for Passover” do not come into contact with any unleaven materials during production.

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The ‘Sideways’ Effect: Pinot Noir Wines Get A Cinematic Boost

March 16, 2005

Sideways Miles

A look at some recently released .

While it may not have won the Academy Award for Best Picture, “Sideways” has had a profound effect on the way Americans view wine. The film features Pinot Noir wines, of which the lead character says: “Its flavors are the most haunting and brilliant and subtle and thrilling and ancient on the planet.” The result has been a dramatic surge in demand for Pinot Noir with sales increasing as much as 135 percent in some areas.

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Australia’s Clarendon Hills Winery Uses Old Vines, Techniques

February 16, 2005

Clarendon Hills Astralis

A review of recent releases from the Clarendon Hills Winery.

Like Curt Schilling in the World Series, winemaker Roman Bratasiuk is at the top of his game. The owner of the Australian winery Clarendon Hills is a Ukrainian émigré and former biochemist. The winery, located in the McLaren Vale region, was started in 1989. Bratasiuk bases his wines on old — some as old as 75 years — low-yielding vines and even older winemaking techniques. The grapes are grown close to the winery, and the yeasts are indigenous as well. He does not filter or use other techniques to refine the wine, depending instead upon new oak barrels and long maceration times to allow the wines to develop their characteristic flavors. The results are flavorful, complex wines that have subtleties often associated with the finest French wines — which is exactly what Bratasiuk is trying to achieve.

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