Things are heating up in Europe–not just in Greece. A searing heatwave has the continent in its grasp.
Burgundy, which is known for producing wines more winsome than boxum, will have four days in the 100s (39C+) this week–and the balance in the 90s. Yikes. Searing temperatures are expected in Bordeaux, Barolo, Brunello and Britain as well to name a few places starting with “B.”
Generally, grape vines don’t like excessive heat. The later in the grapes’ ripening process the heat wave comes, the more difficult it can be to manage. This pamphlet (pdf) from Australia–no stranger to heat waves with a monster one in 2009 that pushed temperatures up over 100 for 14 days–states that the main effects are a loss of crop and reduction of quality. Mitigation strategies include irrigating vineyards during heatwaves, which may be an option in Barossa but not in Burgundy.
The last heat wave that had in impact on French wine was 2003, which was the hottest summer since 1540. The wines from that vintage got a lukewarm reception initially (except for the shootout at the St. Emilion Corral over the Pavie 2003) and they have aged poorly. Sadly, the 2003 heat wave also accounted for tens of thousands of deaths across France. Fortunately, that isn’t likely to be the case this time around.
Sadly, such hot summers in Europe are likely to become more frequent, even “commonplace” by the 2040s. In a study released last year, researchers from the Met Office, Britain’s weather service, predicted that once every five years Europe will have “a very hot summer.”
While it is too soon to tell how the 2015 vintage will work out, the vines will be under heat stress the next few days. Bonne chance.
Where is the line between red and rosé? As it all things wine, it’s all up to your palate. I’ve always loved wines that almost cross the line from rosé to red. So many rosé wines these days seem to do their best to avoid any personality at all and their only mission in life is to be pretty in pink.
One of my favorite recent wine discoveries is the Rouge Frais Impérial of Domaine Comte Abbatucci in Corsica, a light red that exudes the freshness of of rosé and enjoys the chill just just as much. Then there is the richly flavored Domaine de la Mordorée Tavel with a depth and complexity many a red only attain in their dreams. These are wines that are deeper in character than they are in hue.
For our first Rocks! Rosé we’ve made a wine inspired by wines like these, not the wimpy, barely pink wines that are flooding the market these days. The 2014 Rosé Rocks! by Cornerstone is a muscular rosé. Richly colored, flavored and dry-as-a-bone our Rosé Rocks! has the guts to take on real food. This vintage’s blend includes sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and syrah.
A muscular rosé like the 2014 Rosé Rocks! by Cornerstone is the ultimate match for grilled steaks, chops ands sausages on hot summer days and you’re unlikely to find a better companion for cheese and sausage pizza. If the meal seems to call for a red wine, but the weather report calls for something chilled our 2014 Rosé Rocks! by Cornerstone is the perfect choice!
Blends are stylish now, but when I learned to love them in the early 1980s they were anything but fashionable. In one region they were controversial newcomers in the other just the way things had always been. The first time I tasted Vintage Tunina with Silvio Jermann it blew me away. Tunina was exciting, new and Silvio was breaking the rules and created something totally new in Italy. However, he was also building on Fruili’s past. Then there were the southern French wines that I was introduced to by Christopher Cannan. Often the exact percentages of these blends were not exactly known even to the producers, who were making the wine that the vineyards gave them. A mix of varieties was a practical thing that helped protect the grower from the vagaries of vintages. Some years there was a little more of that and a little less of this, but the wines tasted good and the local consumers where not obsessed with percentages and pH and just wanted a good glass of wine.
So when I decided I wanted to make a “house wine” that met the standards of our Cornerstone Cellars club members blends were the natural direction for me to go. It sounded like fun to create some wines that were not tied down to varietal labeling restrictions and just let our creativity go wild. So Rocks! was born and we could not be happier or more surprised by the success of what started out as such a small project. If anything the wines are better than ever. As Rocks! grew many more wines became available to us and the blends became more complex, delicious and fun. All are ready to drink tonight and at just $15 these wines are all exceptional values. We wanted to create wines that were good enough to satisfy our demanding Cornerstone Cellars customers for those days and meals when something simpler, yet still delicious was the right choice. We are confident they do indeed rock!
2013 Red Rocks! by Cornerstone - Not your simple, fruity California red, Red Rocks! has backbone, depth and just enough of a earthy touch to give it complexity. This wine will make your friends believe you brought out the expensive stuff for them. Steaks, chops, burgers and sausages are the perfect compliment for a wine with this much breeding. In the blend: cabernet sauvignon, syrah, zinfandel, petite sirah, pinot noir.
2014 Rosé Rocks! by Cornerstone - A very dark rosé that almost touches being a light red. Unlike almost any rosé in this price range it is bone dry. Ideal for those nights that are too warm or just too relaxed for a big red, Rocks! Rosé is the most versatile of wines matching perfectly with steaks, pizza or salmon. In the blend: sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and syrah.
2014 White Rocks! by Cornerstone - Lifted, bright, zesty and exploding with aromatic fruitiness, White Rocks! was crafted with picnics and parties in mind. With just the right amount of refreshing fruitiness to enjoy on its own as an aperitif it is also the perfect compliment to those dishes with just a bit of heat. Ideal with Asian dishes, BBQs and chips for that matter, White Rocks! is a refreshing quaffer! In the blend: chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, viognier, orange muscat.
Last year, one of Australia’s leading wineries, Henschke Vineyards, branched out. The Henschkes opened Hill of Grace, a fine dining restaurant in downtown Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval, a place filled with tradition and lore as cricket test matches are played among various national teams. The restaurant’s wine list is centered on a Henschke wines but includes other Australian and imported wines. Wines from Henschke Hill of Grace, arguably Australia’s finest single-vineyard wine, are currently available back to 1990 and a glass of the 2010 can be yours for $125 US. When I spoke with Stephen Henschke recently in New York, he said the restaurant was doing very well and they were thrilled with the reception.
While that’s great for locals and tourists to Adelaide, it does leave the American wine mind wondering…why are there no winery restaurants away from wineries in America? Where’s the Screaming Eagle Nest at SF’s AT&T Park? Harlan Estates on Houston in Lower Manhattan? Franzia on Freeways?
The simple reason is that vertical integration is not allowed in the wine industry. In the aftermath of Prohibition, various state and federal authorities passed various regulations that split the industry into three tiers (producer, wholesaler, and retailer–or restaurant) and banned them from overlapping (with some exceptions that allow for one company to straddle two tiers). Tied-house laws, as they are called, go so far as prohibiting wineries from even providing incentives to retailers. On a related note, given that AB InBev seems intent on siphoning many beer brands–and even spirits with Diageo rumored as a target–into one giant keg, tied-house laws have thus far prevented the emergence of the Bud bar, Stella saloons, etc.
So, if you want a dine at a winery restaurant that’s not at a winery, you’re out of luck in America. Better hop on the plane(s) to Adelaide.
I'm just sick of mouse taint. Sick of it I tell you. Mouse taint is (to me) that awful, noxious rodent breath at the finish of a wine. It's a taste that is actually a smell, and to me it is a big fault of natural winemaking and one that is hard for me to swallow. The French call it goût de souris. It mostly shows up in sulfur free wines where something has gone wrong. And you know what? It is showing up more and more. Last week I found a mine field of them, and though I escaped unscathed, it wasn't pretty. The whole explosion of wines, (perhaps, but not always) sloppily made is driving me crazy and making me very careful in my selections for the newsletter, which I want to be a sulfur and mouse-free environment.
What is it? What's to be done with it? I ran a three-part series in The Feiring Line with some of my favorite experts on the subject (like Eric Texier) chiming in. Here's a snippet from the series.
Enologist Maya Salee drinking some Bordeaux that surely don't have mouse!
I have a hard time explaining what mouse is to people who haven’t thought about it. how do you handle it?
It’s a little bit like trying to listen to someone in the distance on a very windy day. If the person is very far away and the wind is blowing towards him/her, you won't hear anything. The person will have to come closer (a small amount of wine) and change directions so the wind comes to you with the sound (change the pH of that small amount of wine) in order to hear what he/ she is shouting.
Do we know what causes it?
Brettanomyces has been accused of being responsible for the mousy off-flavor for a long time. Nowadays some research has proved that ...
François Chidaine in one of his cellars Montlouis-Husseau, east of Tours (Loire) François Chidaine is the vigneron in Montlouis who did a lot along several decades to get the Montlouis appellation out of oblivion. He now farms 40 hectares split...
Contrasting colors Walking along the vineyards of mainstream, commercial estates I had the idea to make this visual story when driving through the Bordeaux region a couple months ago : I didn't take pictures there alas outside of my visits,...