Jumping (Back) Into the Wine Certification Debate for NVWA

(image: NVWA)

Every so often, the idea of challenging the merit of earning wine certifications becomes de rigueur, and we start to see articles pop up meant to prod that debate.

This is, I think, in part due (unfairly) to the ridiculous modern cultural war against expertise in general (there’s a very interesting book on the topic, if you’re looking for something well-written to dive into). It’s also due (quite fairly) to the recent scandals at the Court of Master Sommeliers, causing all of us to give pause and evaluate what certifications from the wine industry mean in general these days.

I recently jumped back into the fray on this thorny topic over at Napa Valley Wine Academy, arguing that the majority of these certifications do still matter (and why more and more people seem to be coming to the same conclusion).

You could of course consider me either an educated source on the matter (since I have gone the wine certification route several times myself), or as a biased shill, since I get paid to write articles for an educational body that offers wine certification programs. As always, I leave that up to you to decide…

https://napavalleywineacademy.com/why-wine-certifications-are-more-relevant-than-ever/

Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2022. Originally at Jumping (Back) Into the Wine Certification Debate for NVWA from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Wine Reviews: Mini Round-Up for January 30, 2023

I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
 
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2022. Originally at Wine Reviews: Mini Round-Up for January 30, 2023 from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

What We Drank For The Big B-Day

YOWZA! What We Drank For The Big B-DayWhat We Drank For The Big B-Day

My partner Shannon recently celebrated a milestone birthday [ editor’s note: Shannon is quite a bit younger than the Dude ], and so we deemed it necessary to both celebrate a bit early (due to her demanding work schedule, since she is a consummate and dedicated professional) and to dip into the wine sample pool for something appropriately special.

The sample pool, as it usually does, performed admirably. And so I’d thought I should share some thoughts on what we decided to imbibe to celebrate a lovely lady who very much deserves to be celebrated! Incidentally, she has no idea that I am writing and posting this, so I expect to earn serious loverboy points here…

What We Drank For The Big B-Day

What We Drank For The Big B-Day2021 Bortolomiol Ius Naturae Millesimato Brut, Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, $23

Yeah, I decided to branch out from Champers for some reason, live with it. This 100% Organic Glera bubbly from Parco della Filandetta shows why Valdobbiadene Prosecco is totally killing it right now. I’m not saying it’s a mirror image of vintage Champagne—far from it. But that’s in part what makes it awesome in its own right: it’s still Prosecco’s super-friendly self, just more sophisticated. Vintage Valdobbiadene is now consistently hitting the quality of NV Champers for a bit less moolah (kind of like how Franciacorta is hot on Champagne’s heels in the $25-$30 range).

This one is a rambunctious, crowd-pleasing mix of blossom, red and green (and yellow) apples, and pear flavors, all floating on a slight creamy note and a fleshy texture. Great length for the money, too. Apparently, by their own admission, Bortolomiol decided to go Brut style on this to blatantly appeal to the international market. Mission accomplished, friends

What We Drank For The Big B-Day

What We Drank For The Big B-Day2015 Mira Winery Schweizer Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, $233

Coming in at roughly ten times the price of the bubbly is this milestone 2015 vintage of one of Mira’s flagship reds (marking ten years since founders Gustavo Gonzalez of Mondavi fame and entrepreneur Jim Dyke, Jr. formed the idea for Mira after a chance meeting at a DC-area hotel bar). This Cab’s source, the Schweizer Vineyard, is bordering on legendary status, having been planted to grapes in what would become Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District for more than a century (and under the care of the Schweizer family since the 1950s). At just over 40 acres, it’s relatively small, and production of this vintage only hit 500 cases. 

2015 is known as a fruit-driven, high-quality, low-yield (read: power-packed) red vintage in Napa, and this Cab demonstrates all of that to an extreme beauty that’s almost too potent to fully experience. Almost. Everything is dialed up here to the point that it’s 15.5% abv feels impeccably, funambulist-ically balanced. You’ll sense graphite, warming oak spice, cranberry, ripe blackberry, dried sage, cinnamon, black raspberry… there’s just a metric sh*t-ton going on here. With the impressive concentration of the vintage, this one is still really fruity, and very structured despite its silky profile—it’s got time to go if you’re patient. An appropriately gorgeous, sexy wine (for celebrating an incomparably gorgeous, sexy lady).

Cheers (to Shannon)!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2022. Originally at What We Drank For The Big B-Day from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Wine Reviews: Mini Round-Up for January 23, 2023

I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
 
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2022. Originally at Wine Reviews: Mini Round-Up for January 23, 2023 from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Wine In The Time of Coronavirus, Part 65: Stone Cold Crazy Good (Petra Recent Releases)

(images: Petra)

Tuscany is a lot like Napa Valley in that it seems filled with passion project wine endeavors; of which Petra (with whom I did one of those Zoom-y-Zoom-Zoom samples tastings recently) is one. In this case, the passion project is from Terra Moretti, who are known for their presence in Franciacorta with Bellavista, and who also own Sella & Mosca in Sardinia, among other brands in Lombardy and Tuscany). A family-run business, Francesca Moretti is now leading their wine program.

Apparently, the idea for Petra took root (ha ha!) when Francesca fell in love with the property during the close of the `90s, after visiting the Tuscan coast in Maremma’s Val di Cornia, in Suvereto. Aside from the normal stunning Tuscan beauty thing, the estate where Petra (or “stone”) now sits has a lot going for it in terms of premium vine cultivation.

Combine the mitigating climatic influence from the nearby seaside with Cretaceous era soils (orange-brown, well-drained, gravelly, and with calcareous deposits. similar soils to Bordeaux’s Right Bank), as well as posts rich in marine deposits, sodium and magnesium, and are quite alkaline (earning the nickname “the Metal Hills of Maremma”), and you’ve got some serious Super-Tuscan style potential. The decision to plant Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon seemed stone-cold obvious, I suppose.

After tasting Petra’s hand-harvested red gems, I can tell you that no serious student of the vine would mistake them for young Right Bank Bordeaux anytime soon. Thankfully, they speak to much more of a sense of place than that, and are fine examples of French inspiration given a nod in the Tuscan sun…

Wine In The Time of Coronavirus, Part 65: Stone Cold Crazy Good (Petra Recent Releases)2020 Petra ‘Hebo’ Toscana Rosso, $25

Petra’s entry-level red is a blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot, and a bit of Sangiovese, spending 12 months in Slavonian oak (50%). The bottom line: it’s mineral, herbal and spicy, with pleasantly “dusty” tannins. Ripe red fruits, dried herbs, and lots of spice notes continue on the palate. It has heft, but carries it very well and buoyantly. Hints of earth and funk emerge among the tangy currant fruit flavors. Easy to like, hard to put down.

 

Wine In The Time of Coronavirus, Part 65: Stone Cold Crazy Good (Petra Recent Releases)2019 Petra Potenti Rosso Toscana, $38

100% Cabernet Sauvignon, from a single vineyard, aged 12 months in 50% Slavonian oak (30% used). Potenti means “Powerful” – and this red does come on strong. Red plums, blackcurrant, dried violets, funk, dried herbs, graphite, coffee bean, sweet oak, baking spices… you’re getting a lot for the money here, folks. Scrub-brush, balsamic, dark cherry fruit, all on a hefty mouthful of a palate. Good freshness, but you’ll need hearty fare to pair in order to counter all of that focused power.

 

Wine In The Time of Coronavirus, Part 65: Stone Cold Crazy Good (Petra Recent Releases)2019 Petra Quercegobbe Merlot Toscana, $60

100% Merlot here, also single vineyard. “Humpback oaks” is the name, and it’s fermented in 100hl oak vats, then spends 12 months in partially new and used barriques. Earthy, plummy, succulent, and ripe, with raspberry flavors galore. Rosemary and licorice also make appearances. Comes on smooth, but has a focused, powerful edge after a few seconds in the mouth. Nice freshness throughout. Silky, and Sexy AF.

 

Wine In The Time of Coronavirus, Part 65: Stone Cold Crazy Good (Petra Recent Releases)2018 Petra Toscana Rosso, $53

This is Petra’s icon-level, Bordeaux-style blend (Cab Sauv, Merlot, and Cab Franc), now in its 21st vintage. This is also classy stuff – big, but in a very well put-together way. Rich, tangy, dark, spicy, mineral, with wild berry fruit action, minty notes, hints of balsamic, tobacco leaf, pepper, and vanilla. Sweet incense, too. Excellent length. Mouth-filling, mouth-coating, and soul-pleasing.
 

Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2022. Originally at Wine In The Time of Coronavirus, Part 65: Stone Cold Crazy Good (Petra Recent Releases) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Wine Reviews: Mini Round-Up for January 9, 2023

I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
 
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2022. Originally at Wine Reviews: Mini Round-Up for January 9, 2023 from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Wine In The Time of Coronavirus, Part 64: Biggie Smalls (Costa Arènte Recent Releases)

(image: Costa Arènte)

I often feel that 1WD is in danger of being perceived as an Italian-specific wine site, given the proliferation of Italian wine coverage on here over the last 24 or so months. While that’s certainly not the case, one thing has become very clear to me after two-plus years of a global pandemic: Italian wine PR is running circles around just about everyone else in the industry.

From media jaunts, events, and virtual tastings like this one I’m about to recap with Veneto producer Costa Arènte, Italy turned up the heat early when it comes to engaging wine media in interesting and inventive ways during the last several months, and they are reaping the benefits of increased coverage as a result. A tip of the hat and a twirl of the well-groomed mustache to them.

Wine In The Time of Coronavirus, Part 64: Biggie Smalls (Costa Arènte Recent Releases)
(image: Costa Arènte)

In that vein, I was invited some months ago to attend Costa Arènte’s first-even virtual tasting. Costa Arènte is owned by one of the biggest agricultural groups in Italy, and was spun off as an individual project entailing just 17 ha of vines, all hand-harvested/selected. So… a Biggie that’s doing a lineup of Smalls, basically.

Production (including drying their grapes for Amarone-style red wine production) takes place in the winery, which is in Valpantena, pretty much smack-dab in the middle of Valpolicella in Grezzana (and close to Verona itself, in the western end of the Veneto). Valpantena enjoys breezes that help keep the vines/grapes healthy, along with getting plenty of sunshine. The winery is located in the middle of the vineyards, which are divided into plantings of Corvina, Corinone, Rondinella and Molinara (both Pergola Veronese and Guyot training are used—the pergola provides light exposure, while protecting bunches from rain and hail, and helps the grapes stay dry in the breezes). The soil there is poor in fertility, promoting deep root growth according to Costa Arènte head winemaker Giovanni Casati.

The results are powerhouses that border on Port-like strength but, for the most part, exude balance and harmony. If you like your wines (particularly your reds) more Biggie then Smalls, then read on…

Wine In The Time of Coronavirus, Part 64: Biggie Smalls (Costa Arènte Recent Releases)NV Costa Arènte Molinara Rosè Spumante Brut 2021, $NA

The Molinara grape has largely gone out of fashion for reds in Valpolicella, in favor of varieties that offer up more concentration. Costa Arènte described this bubbly as a “novelty” for both the winery and the region itself: “We decided to make it into a sparkling wine in the Charmat method [with 5 months sur lie aging],” explained Giovanni Casati. With a quite pale rose color, this is fresh, floral, and fruity. Delightful notes of fresh red berries, pomegranate, hints of red plum, and salinity all bounce around on the palate, all ending on a long finish that’s fresh as a daisy.

 

Wine In The Time of Coronavirus, Part 64: Biggie Smalls (Costa Arènte Recent Releases)Costa Arènte Valpolicella Superiore Valpantena 2020, $20

Their “base wine” hails from 10-25 year old vines, and has been produced just since 2016. Casati considers the 2020 vintage “almost perfect.” Quite fresh, fruit-forward and mineral, the raspberry and plums are on fine display here, along with notes of raisins, black pepper, and baking spices. With minimal barrel fermentation, and just 1 year aging in stainless steel, it’s meant to show off the vintage’s easy-to-like quality, which it does admirably. 

 

Wine In The Time of Coronavirus, Part 64: Biggie Smalls (Costa Arènte Recent Releases)Costa Arènte Ripasso della Valpolicella Superiore Valpantena 2019, $26

Kicking off with a somewhat reserved nose of black raspberry, plum, and raisin, this ripasso soon starts kicking ass with great leathery and peppery spice action and smoky hints. It definitely hits with ample structure, heat, cherry fruit, and plenty of acidity; basically, after a slow entry, it comes out punching on the palate. Sourced from 10-25 year old vines, it’s aged 1 year in barriques. Since this is the result of passing over the Amarone pomace, it lets you know that you’re in for some Amarone powerhouses from these guys. Speaking of which…

 

Wine In The Time of Coronavirus, Part 64: Biggie Smalls (Costa Arènte Recent Releases)Costa Arènte Amarone della Valpolicella Valpantena 2017, $85

“A difficult year” mused Giovanni Casati, “very warm and dry. During the first few days of September, there was a hail storm that ruined part of the harvest, the harvest was actually quite low. The warmth of that year produced quite powerful wines.” Yeah – this one clocks in at a hefty 17% abv., and was aged 2 years in tonneaux, followed by 1 year in larger Slavonian oak barrels, and then 1 year in bottle. Black raspberry, prune, Xmas spices, leather, pepper, dried roses on the nose. In the mouth… BOOM. Booze-soaked cherries. This one feels hot, but not unbalanced, and could still link up well with heartier foods. Definitely fresh, potent, and striking in its leathery structure (which lingers looooong on the finish). It’s like an Olympic weight-lifting competition up in here, muscles are being flexed all over the place.

 

Wine In The Time of Coronavirus, Part 64: Biggie Smalls (Costa Arènte Recent Releases)Costa Arènte Amarone della Valpolicella Valpantena DOCG Riserva 2016, $NA

Another 17% abv monster, the Riserva is a double-selection of “the best of the best” of 2016’s grape production and spent 3 years in tonneaux, 1 year in Slavonian botte, and 1 year in bottle. This was their first Riserva vintage, and it was a rainy one, with cool September evenings that helped the grapes preserve acidity. Tight, spicy, and clean, with stewed plums, dried black berry and raspberry, this is packed with baking spice action, dark chocolate, dried fig, balsamic, and rum-soaked cherries. Again, things are amped up and hot here, but not really unbalanced. It’s like a smooth brandy – yeah, it burns a bit, but not enough to make you want to stop enjoying it. And it has plenty of life left ahead of it in bottle. But you had better like ’em very, very beefy.

 

Wine In The Time of Coronavirus, Part 64: Biggie Smalls (Costa Arènte Recent Releases)Costa Arènte Recioto della Valpolicella Valpantena DOCG 2020, $NA

I’m a sucker for a good Recioto (ever have it with flourless chocolate tort? insanely good), and this is a good one. From dried and hung grapes that are part of the Riserva selection process, it’s aged 1 year in 2nd-use French oak. While this one isn’t jumping aromatically, what’s there is very, very nice. Raisin, prune, Xmas spices… the works. The palate is lovely, balancing sweet plum and raisin flavors with a brightness of tone and lively acidity, while staying silky-smooth throughout.

Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2022. Originally at Wine In The Time of Coronavirus, Part 64: Biggie Smalls (Costa Arènte Recent Releases) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

“And Proud We Are Of All Of Them” (The Most Popular 1WD Posts Of 2022)

Yep… another cheesy “best of the year” round-up style post… Look, I’ve got a toddler at home, I don’t have the time or the energy to be creative for you adults who can entertain yourselves!!

Anyway, here’s a look back on the most popular posts here on 1WineDude.com over the course of 2022. You know, in case you missed any of these little ditties that got people reading. And proud we are of all of them!

10) Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 57: Pregnant With More Than Just Possibilities (Antonella Corda Recent Releases)

9) Wine in the Time of Coronavirus, Part 63: Coasting (A Coastal Chilean Sauv Blanc Roundup)

It’s nice to see that these virtual tasting recaps are getting some traction among wine lovers, and even nicer to see that they are doing so even when the themes are trending towards the more obscure. I’m proud of you people [commence tear wiping]…

8) On the Road Again! (CO Governor’s Cup Wine Competition 2022)

Speaking of trending towards the obscure, you lushes seemed to take a lot more interest in the wines of Colorado than I ever would’ve guessed. Seeing this in the 1WD top 10 was a nice surprise. The CO wine industry needs—and deserves—your support and respect.

7) Staying Strong (More Rodney Strong Recent Releases)

Does venerable Sonoma producer Rodney Strong really need any more media attention these days?? Turns out the answer was “Yes.” Their top-shelf experiments are yielding some fantastic juice, folks.

6) Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 56: Happy Holidays? (Wine Spoken Here Virtual Happy Hour)

The fine fellows behind Wine Spoken Here aren’t just knowledgeable PR mavens; they’re also good people who know both how to pick great drinks, and how to have a great time.

5) Cheap Wine Day Return (Talking Affordable Summer Wines on Good Day Philadelphia)

So I got to go on TV again. And drink on TV again. Let’s just say that the Fox29 Philly crew are never unhappy to see a wine guy show up with bottles and glasses…

4) Wine In the Time of Coronavirus, Part 59: Rule Breakers (Bellenda Valdobbiadene Recent Releases)

Prosecco being popular I can understand, but it’s refreshing as a bottle of said Prosecco to see Valdobbiadene getting serious love. I continue to be more and more impressed with where the top-end of Prosecco production is headed these days.

3) Joe Vs. the Volcano (Exploring Etna Wines for NVWA)

It’s not often that I travel “on assignment,” but that was the case for this piece I penned for Napa Valley Wine Academy on the volcanic wine craze and Etna’s wines in particular. I never turn down media jaunt invites to Sicily, but at least this one had an official purpose! And the wines of Etna? They’ve arguably never been better.

2) Wine Product Reviews: Friends Will Be Friends (New Books by Randy Caparoso & Brian Freedman)

Wait… WHAT?!?? Book reviews took the NUMBER 2 slot??!?? The only thing greater than my shock at seeing that was my happiness at thinking that just maybe we got to help generate additional sales for some fine wine books penned by two friends of mine.

1) Pix’s Troubles Are Yet Another Warning to the U.S. Wine Industry

Easily the least shocking item on this list, and would’ve been my guess for the #1 slot. Most days I adoe the wine business. This was NOT one of those days.

Cheers! And Happy New Year!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2022. Originally at “And Proud We Are Of All Of Them” (The Most Popular 1WD Posts Of 2022) from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Getting You Hungry For Hungary at NVWA

My latest piece for the Pouring Points section over at Napa Valley Wine Academy had me reminiscing about one of the most formative experiences of my professional career in wine: namely, my stint working in Hungary as part of the Furmint USA program.

It carries the not-so-subtle title of The Wine School Trip of a Lifetime, and it shamelessly encourages anyone reading it to jump at the chance to attend NVWA’s upcoming 2023 educational jaunt to Hungary. For which, I should add, I have zero regrets and make zero apologies.

Hungary’s woes as a theoretically democratic state notwithstanding, I can tell you from deep personal experience that from the wine perspective, there is nowhere else like it on planet earth. My emotional ties to Hungary still run strong from my multiple visits there, and from my perspective, the NVWA 2023 trip itinerary looks STACKED.

At the time of this writing, there are only a few spots left on that trip, so if you’re up for engaging with one of the world’s oldest and greatest wine cultures, as well as one of its most exciting (with bonus points for it all being filled with a lot of warm, kind hearted, and talented people), this is THE 2023 wine trip for you.

More details are waiting for you at https://napavalleywineacademy.com/the-wine-school-trip-of-a-lifetime/ .

Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2022. Originally at Getting You Hungry For Hungary at NVWA from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Wine Reviews: Mini Round-Up for December 12, 2022

I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
 
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2022. Originally at Wine Reviews: Mini Round-Up for December 12, 2022 from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!