Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 2/5/23

Hello, and welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren’t Flipboard-inclined, here’s everything I’ve strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.

Ed Woodward’s transfer to wine: ‘Manchester United feels a world away’
Interview by Guy Woodward (no relation).

A drink with… Emily Wines MS
The Decanter US interview.

Black wine professionals in Sonoma County share their stories of grit and grace
Names to know.

‘Every year we sell out’: Why this under-the-radar red wine is suddenly in vogue
Cabernet Franc gets its moment in the spotlight.

Bordeaux court convicts suspects in major wine fraud case
Prison and paying.

Donald Hess, who revolutionized Napa Valley wine tourism with art, dies at 86
Another pioneer gone.

Napa Valley wine pioneer Donald Hess dies aged 86
Decanter obit.

Andy Erickson has been called a “rock star” winemaker, but he’s too busy to listen to the flattery.
Tom Hyland interviews.

Reeze Choi, top Hong Kong sommelier, prepares to take on Paris
The preparation regime.

Welcome to Georgia’s Dahlonega Plateau AVA
No, not THAT Georgia. The one closer to home.

Brazil’s Altos de Pinto Bandeira becomes first DO exclusively for sparkling wines in the New World
First in the New World.

What’s the most useless glass bottle? One that never leaves the winery.
As usual. Jason Haas has it arights.

Switching Ukraine’s Mines to Vines
An important effort.

Jean-Luc Colombo on Cornas, the ‘hidden treasure’ in the Rhône
Hidden may be overstating the case.

Growing together: Rheinhessen wine’s power couple
Great article.

Meet the new grand crew of California wine
An… interesting list.

The bourgeois war on French wine
Tough times in Bordeaux.

Uncovering the hidden gems of Bolgheri
Hard to see for all the glitz and glamour.

Can wineries reuse their glass bottles? This woman thinks so…
A nice profile of Annie le Dneuff

Climate change has already come for this vineyard. But the wines don’t taste like you’d expect
A look at Prima Materia.

Storms are another disaster for Sonoma County farmworkers who call for more aid
We have to take care of the people who farm.

We Need To Talk About Wine Talk
A discussion about language.

How Xige Estate has global ambitions for premium Chinese Ningxia wine
Richard Siddle on Chinese wine.

Giuseppe Benanti, Who Helped Spark Mount Etna’s Wine Renaissance, Dies at 78
A giant of Etna passes.

Do green credentials sell wine?
Barely, says Jamie Goode (albeit with a decidedly UK POV)

‘We’re One of the Very Few Winners in a World Full of Losers’: How English Wine Is Benefiting From Climate Change
Happy until they keep rising.

Tiny wine options find home in B.C.’s market
Tiny packaging, not tiny wineries.

California farmworkers cope with wildfire smoke, pesticides, roaches and rodents, survey says
We can do better than this.

Wildfires in Chile rip through historic vineyards and destroy wineries
Tragic. Please buy Itata and Bio Bio Wines.

The Valuable and Unanticipated Lessons Ballet Taught Me About Wine
Alfonso puts on the tights.

Is Prohibition returning?
New Year, Neo Prohibitionists.

Margins? What Margins? The Big Squeeze in Winegrowing 2023
And this without Europe’s governmental subsidies.

Mexico’s Hot New Wine Region is a History Lover’s Dream
Guanajuato, not Baja.

Wine giant E. & J. Gallo fined after wastewater discharged into California river
Ick.

A luxurious new wine bar hopes to revive a neglected corner of downtown S.F.
Another place to sit and sip.

This fizzy red wine conjures up an Italian vacation
And who doesn’t need an Italian vacation right about now?

Reports Say Young Drinkers Are Over Wine. What Do Winemakers Think?
Ask people in the bubble?

Why ‘Warm Days, Cool Nights, And Special Soils’ Aren’t Attracting Young People To Wine
Messages that matter.

For Chinese Wine Lovers, It’s a Whole New World
A view from the local market.

The post Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 2/5/23 appeared first on Vinography.

The Wines of the Flaming Fields

Without a doubt, there’s something special about volcanic wines. The fruit that grows on vines plunged into the remains of lava and ash has distinctly different qualities to it than fruit grown in other soils. My friend, Master Sommelier John Szabo assigns three key characteristics to volcanic wines in his seminal book Volcanic Wine: salt, grit, and power.

I definitely find those three characteristics in volcanic wines, along with the tendency towards higher acidity, deeper expressions of minerality, and, when you come right down to it, more than their fair share of deliciousness.

So, suffice it to say, I get excited about any opportunity to taste volcanic wines. When the association in charge of promoting the wines of Campania asked me if I wanted to come for a visit this past Autumn, I jumped at the chance.

Everyone’s Favorite Disaster Zone

Forty thousand years ago, the area surrounding what is today Naples, Italy was a mightily inhospitable place. A series of massive volcanic explosions tore the landscape apart, even as lava and pyroclastic flows created entirely new topographies, sometimes overnight.

The resulting caldera, 15 kilometers wide by 12 kilometers long, ejected enough material to cover most of what is today the province of Campania. And some hypothesize that the explosion itself (or really, the subsequent volcanic winter) hastened the demise of the Neanderthal.

Twenty-five thousand years later, two more eruptions covered the region in two additional layers of volcanic material, followed by nearly 70 smaller eruptions that have created the many small craters that characterize the region’s topography today.

Map of the Gulf of Pozzuoli, with a part of the Phlegrean Fields, drawn by Pietro and Francesco La Vega in 1778, printed by Perrier in 1780.

It’s tempting to say that things have quieted down over the millennia in the area known as the Phlegraean Fields (Campi Flegrei, or “burning fields” to locals), but the thriving city of Pompeii (destroyed in the year 79 CE) might still be around if things had truly become more placid.

Indeed, the last major volcanic eruptions in the area were in 1158, as the giant magma chamber that sits 2 miles below the surface roiled up to create the Solfatara Crater (a popular tourist attraction up until a child and his parents died there in 2017), and then most recently in 1538, when an eruption created (in the span of only 10 days) an entirely new volcanic mountain in the area, dubbed appropriately, Monte Nuovo.

The presence of the city of Naples within the midst of this extremely active volcanic field represents the equanimity that the region’s peoples have seemingly always possessed when it comes to living their lives on top of a ticking time bomb. Despite the devastation at Pompeii, the Phlegraean Fields have been settled, farmed, and enjoyed (think thermal baths) by locals since Roman times.

The Wines of the Flaming Fields
An engraving of life in the Campi Flegrei from Georg Braun & Frans Hogenberg’s “Atlas of the Cities of the World,” published in 1575.

Legends suggest winegrowing might have begun in the Campi Flegrei as far back as 730 BCE when the area was a Greek colony. At the time, the Greek methods of winegrowing kept the plants on or near the ground, but the Romans were able to improve quality by lifting the vines up on vertical wooden stakes and planting the grapes in orderly rows.

Legend has it that these poles resembled “falangae” or a group of spear-carrying warriors we might know by our modern version of the word, phalanx. The phalanxes of the Roman legions, in addition to being spear carriers, were also vine carriers, often taking cuttings with them to plant on their long military journeys of occupation and conquest.

The Wines of the Flaming Fields
The bowl-shaped vineyards of Le Cantine dell’Averno in the Lago di Averno crater.

Variety on the Volcano

The region’s primary native white grape, Falanghina, derives its name from this ancient formation of stakes and has been indelibly linked to the region for as long as records have been kept. Flanghina is widely regarded to be, along with Aglianico, the oldest native grape variety of Campania.

Falanghina is in the midst of a resurgence of popularity in Campania generally, after falling out of favor in the 70s and 80s. The renewed interest in native grape varieties and the grape’s deep history in the region has driven replantings and new plantings, as well as renewed interest in what many people see as its hallowed ground, the vineyards of the Campi Flegrei.

The Wines of the Flaming Fields
Campi Flegrei vineyards overlooking the city of Naples in the distance

Indeed, research has shown that there are in fact two (and some believe several more) distinct clones of Falanghina, one of which is known as Falanghina Flegrea after its homeland. The other, Falanghina Beneventana is derided by growers in the Campi Flegrei as both inauthentic for their region as well as genetically inferior when it comes to wine production.

Thick-skinned and resistant to many common grapevine diseases, Falanghina also retains acidity extremely well, making it quite forgiving when it comes to making palatable wine at various different ripeness levels.

Falanghina has a more finicky red partner named Piedirosso, a slightly rustic red that can nonetheless make wonderfully refined and expressive medium-bodied red wines if treated well. Piedirosso is one of Italy’s oldest known grape varieties and takes its name (“red foot”) from the bright red stalks of its clusters that are said to resemble the similarly colored claws of pigeons.

Its long history has led scientists and experts such as Ian D’Agata (author of the authoritative Native Wine Grapes of Italy) to speculate that there are probably many different biotypes or clones of Piedirosso around this part of Italy. It is the second most planted red grape in Campania after Aglianico and varies greatly in terms of its characteristics in different sites.

Both grapes do fairly well in the hot Mediterranean sun, which is modulated by the influence of the nearby ocean. Depending on the site, growers will sometimes use a spray of water mixed with kaolin clay as a sort of susncreen for the ripening clusters, the remains of which you can see in the Piedirosso photograph above.

As with many wine regions that overlap major population centers, winegrowing happens in the nooks and crannies, tucked in between residential neighborhoods, car dealerships, and low-density commercial buildings.

Indeed, this region can boast the second highest concentration of grapevines in any major world city, second only to Vienna, Austria. Partly, this is a holdover from Medieval times, when the noble families of Naples found it fashionable to have vineyard holdings close by, in addition to whatever lands they might own in the countryside.

Several of the craters in the area, including the most prominent, Astroni, have been designated nature reserves, providing some relief from the pressures of urban sprawl for growers whose vines are next to, or even inside the craters themselves.

The Wines of the Flaming Fields
Vineyards interspersed with homes and apartment blocks on the back side of the Astroni crater.

These craters and the rest of the jumbled topography of the Campi Flegrei offer a dizzying variety of exposures, altitudes, open plateaus, and sheltered nooks and crannies for vines.

The Campi Flegrei DOC was established in 1994, and currently contains a mere 250 acres or so of vineyards.

Brand New Soils

The soils of the Campi Flegrei are a common jumble of primary, pyroclastic volcanic material, ranging from ash and sand to broken-up pumice, along with a denser, compressed tephra rock that has enough strength and integrity to feature as a building material in many older structures in Naples.

Like most young volcanic soils (some merely a few thousand years old), these have relatively low organic content and high amounts of minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, and sulfur, though these minerals are generally not available to plants because they are in their primary mineral forms, not yet broken down by weather and water.

The pH of volcanic soils can vary considerably, depending on the nature of the material that has been deposited, with some being quite acidic, and others being quite alkaline. These conditions can make for particularly varied and challenging conditions for growers as changes in soil pH can affect both susceptibilities to disease as well as the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients.

While it can be difficult to generalize about volcanic soils given their variability, they often possess the ability to hold moisture far below the surface, giving plants access to water even during dry, hot summers.

One of the other significant benefits of primary volcanic soils is their unfriendliness towards the phylloxera louse, allowing many producers to plant vines on their own roots instead of grafting them to American rootstock. While the exact benefits of such an approach are difficult to precisely quantify, growers believe the vines to be better adapted to the local conditions, and to produce wines that are a purer expression of the grape variety and place.

Tiny, Dedicated Producers

The tricky, variegated sites for growing grapes thwart any attempt to develop larger vineyard holdings, not to mention making the overall proposition of winemaking in this area of dubious financial value. The amount of work required to produce what little wine the area makes has meant there are only a handful of small producers in the region.

One of the most dedicated and successful of Campi Flegrei’s small producers today is Cantine Astroni, currently run by the 4th generation of the Varchetta family, Gerardo Vernazzaro, and his wife Emanuela Russo.

The Wines of the Flaming Fields
Gerardo Vernazzaro of Cantine Astroni

Vernazzaro takes a low-input approach to his winemaking, operating for all intents and purposes as an organic producer, without bothering with the certification. He uses no commercial herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides in his vineyards, choosing to stick with a short list of natural products that he ticks off on his fingers quickly: “Kaolin, Xyolite, Algae, Bacillus, Sulfur, Copper, Propolis.” In the cellar, he foot treads his grapes and lets them ferment with native yeasts, often accelerated by a pied-de-cuve that he makes in the vineyard.

“Living here you have to think about two things: water and fire,” says Vernazzaro. “These two elements are reflected in our wines. We have the sea and we have the volcano.”

“This is not like Etna,” he continues. “Where you can look up and see the volcano in the distance. We live in fear daily. We live on the volcano. We also enjoy the sea breeze, which deeply influences viticulture. You can taste the salt.”

Unique Wines, Unique Flavors

The saline quality that Vernazzaro speaks about is one of the most compelling characteristics for me in the wines of the Campi Flegrei. Saltiness appears in both red and white wines for me, but especially the Falanghina, which combines flavors of apples and sea air and flowers with a crushed stone or wet chalkboard minerality that is hard to forget.

Interestingly, like a number of other sea-influenced, volcanically grown white wines such as Santorini Assyrtiko or Carricante from Etna, Falanghina puts on weight and saltiness as it ages. The wine darkens in color, and the flavors shift to dried citrus and yellow herbs, as a richness and concentration emerge that can be quite breathtaking.

While it seems hard to make a truly bad wine with Falanghina, Piedirosso seems much tougher to get right from a winemaking perspective. Without careful work in the vineyard, the wine can express rather rough tannins and green vegetal notes that some might call rustic, and others might simply call unpalatable.

For me, the most successful Piedirossos are on the lighter side of extraction, made by winemakers who don’t seem concerned with making a wine of power and have instead opted for finesse. At its finest, Piedirosso offers a wonderful floral and berry perfume mixed with a deeply stony quality that leaves you no doubt that it is a volcanic wine.

A careful student of geology might wander the streets of Naples or Pozzuoli with unease. The paranoid might do so with an even greater degree of anxiety. Occasional whiffs of brimstone on the breeze and an infrequent tremor underfoot leave no doubt that the volcanoes of the Campi Flegrei are still very active.

While scientists suggest that an eruption is unlikely, the fact remains that were one to occur, it would be an utter disaster and likely one of the most deadly in history.

The locals have had centuries to get used to this reality, which may contribute to a certain “devil may care” attitude one finds among the Neopolitans. As long as we have vineyards instead of infernos, we might as well drink up.

Tasting Notes

I tasted all the following wines as part of a really excellent program known as Campania Stories, which brings in journalists and members of the trade for a few days of immersion into the wines of Campania.

Falanghina

2021 Cantine Farro “Terra Casata” Falanghina, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Pale straw in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers and golden apples, and sea air with a hint of honey. In the mouth, a faint struck flint note is wrapped in golden apple and slightly spicy candied lemon peel, and buddha’s hand citron. There’s some warmth in the finish. Excellent acidity, nice saline notes. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20. click to buy.

2021 Cantine Federiciane Monteleone Falanghina, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Palest straw in the glass, this wine smells of lemon pith, white flowers, and Asian pears. In the mouth, lemon pith, golden apples, and yellow herbs mix with wet pavement and seawater. Nice saline notes with citrus pith linger in the finish. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $18.

The Wines of the Flaming Fields

2021 Salvatore MartuscielloSettevulcani” Falanghina, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet chalkboard, lemon pith, and a touch of winter melon. In the mouth, the wine is crisp and bright with winter melon and lemon pith mixing with grapefruit and a wet pavement minerality that is quite bracing when combined with the razor-sharp acidity. On the leaner, savory side, with a distinct saline note in the finish. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $40.

2021 Cantine Dell’Averno Falanghina, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Pale yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of golden apples and yellow herbs. In the mouth, faintly bitter yellow herbs and golden apples mix with wet pavement and a touch of bee pollen. Notes of pollen and chamomile linger in the finish. Excellent acidity. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??

2021 Cantine Astroni “Colle Imperatrice” Falanghina, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of apples and wet chalkboard. In the mouth, green apple, Asian pear, lime, and wet chalkboard flavors have a faint salinity and a hint of chalky texture. Excellent acidity. Sandy volcanic soils. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $18. click to buy.

2021 La Sibillia Falanghina, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet chalkboard and golden apples. In the mouth, yellow herbs, wet chalkboard, and candied lemon peel taste of pink Himalayan salt and a hint of spice. Fantastic minerality, salinity, and acidity. Delicious. Score: around 9. Cost: $17. click to buy.

2020 Cantine Astroni “Tenuta Jossa” Bianco, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
A bright yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of struck flint, yellow herbs, and a touch of golden apple. In the mouth, deeply stony flavors of bee pollen, yellow apples, lemon pith, and wet pavement have a wonderful bright acidity. Notes of grapefruit and chamomile linger in the finish. Ferments with natural yeasts and ages for 6 months in clay amphorae, then ages in bottle for a year. 12.5% alcohol. 2500 bottles made. Score: around 9. Cost: $40.

The Wines of the Flaming Fields

2019 Cantine Carputo “Collina Viticella” Falanghina, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Medium gold in the glass, this wine smells of candied orange peel and a touch of wet leaves. In the mouth, salty notes of orange peel, citrus pith, and cooked apples have a sneaky acidity and length. The wine gets saltier the longer the finish goes on. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $??

2019 Vigne di Parthenope Falanghina, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet chalkboard, honey, and dried citrus peel. In the mouth, salty notes of orange peel, wet chalkboard, and yellow flowers are crystalline and bright and wonderfully deep with minerality. Fantastic acidity and length. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $22.

2018 Cantine Astroni “Vigna Astroni” Falanghina, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
A bright yellow gold in color, this wine smells of honey, wax, and lemon curd. In the mouth, wonderful lemon curd flavors mix with honey and candied citrus peel. There’s a faint smoky paraffin note to the wine along with a deep wet pavement minerality. Great acidity and fantastic salinity. Only free-run juice ages for 6 months on the lees in steel tanks, and then for 2 years in the bottle before release. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $27. click to buy.

2018 Contrada Salandra Falanghina, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of chestnut honey. In the mouth, wet chalkboard, citrus pith, and dried honey flavors are wonderfully salty with fantastic acidity and a nice herbal note that lingers with the salinity in the finish. Score: around 9. Cost: $22. click to buy.

2015 Cantine Del Mare Falanghina, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
An intense medium yellow-gold in the glass with a hint of green, this wine smells of honeyed chamomile and bee pollen, and candied citrus. In the mouth, quite salty notes of candle wax, chamomile and pollen, yellow flowers, and a touch of vegemite have a beautiful stony minerality. Savory and saline and delicious. Score: around 9. Cost: $28.

2015 Cantine Astroni “Vigna Astroni” Falanghina, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Light to medium yellow-gold in color, this wine smells of candied citrus rind, yellow melon, and a touch of papaya. In the mouth, fantastically bright acidity keeps lemon rind, chamomile, and a touch of papaya flavors lean and juicy. Salinity builds through the finish. Still tastes quite young. Score: around 9. Cost: $27. click to buy.

2015 Cantine Astroni “Colle Imperatrice” Falanghina, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Light greenish yellow in the glass, this wine smells of yellow herbs and wet chalkboard. In the mouth, bright bee pollen and yellow herbs are welded to a liquid stone minerality that has a wonderful salty savoriness. Clean, crisp, salty, and fantastic. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $18. click to buy.

2012 Agnanum Falanghina, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of gunpowder, sea air, and citrus pith. In the mouth, savory notes of citrus pith, dried yellow herbs, and pink Himalayan salt are bright and very tasty. Notes of bee pollen and a hint of sulfur linger in the finish. Excellent acidity and length. Score: around 9. Cost: $19. click to buy.

2012 Cantine dell’Averno “Vigna del Canneto” Falanghina, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
An amazing medium yellow with hints of chartreuse in the glass, this wine smells of wet stones, candied citrus peel, bee pollen, and yellow herbs. In the mouth, yellow flowers and herbs mix with dried citrus and a wonderful saline stony quality that lingers with dried buddha’s hand citrus in the finish. This wine spent 6 months in old barrique before bottling with weekly battonage. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??.

Piedirosso

2021 Le Cantine dell’Averno Piedirosso, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dried flowers and red berries and wet pavement, with just a hint of bruised fruit. In the mouth, juicy forest berry flavors mix with sour cherry as wispy, powdery tannins hang ghostlike in the corners of the mouth. Excellent acidity, and wonderful stony minerality that leaves a faintly saline note in the finish. Delicious. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??

The Wines of the Flaming Fields

2021 Cantine Carputo “Per e Palummo” Piedirosso, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dark fruit with a hint of balsamic. In the mouth, dark cherry and huckleberry flavors have a wonderful dried floral, aromatic sweetness, with thick fleecy tannins that coat the mouth with the sensation of powdered rock. There’s a tangy acidophilus note that lingers in the finish. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??

2021 Astroni “Colle Rotondella” Piedirosso, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of dried flowers and berries. In the mouth, boysenberry and sour cherry fruit flavors are wrapped in a gauzy haze of tannins, as fantastic acidity keeps the fruit juicy, and a crushed stone texture and sensation pervades the palate. Very tasty. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.

2021 Martusciello Salvatore “Settevulcani” Piedirosso, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Medium to dark ruby in the glass, with garnet highlights, this wine smells of berries, dried flowers, and a hint of soy sauce. In the mouth, hints of brown sugar, boysenberry, and sour cherry flavors are wrapped in fleecy tannins and are bright with juicy acidity. Deeply stony, with the texture of pulverized rock. This wine tastes a bit developed for being only the 2021 vintage. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $25.

2021 Agnanum “Per’ e’ Palummo” Piedirosso, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of wet chalkboard, dried flowers, and huckleberries. In the mouth, faintly smoky flavors of huckleberry, dried flowers, and dried herbs are shot through with pulverized rock, as chalk-dust tannins coat the mouth. Excellent acidity keeps things juicy and bright, as a hint of licorice and sour cherry linger in the finish. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $26. click to buy.

2020 Farro Piedirosso, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of dried herbs, flowers, and unripe blackberries. In the mouth, powdery tannins waft around flavors of unripe blackberries, sour cherry, and dried flowers all shot through with pulverized stone. Excellent acidity and length. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $18. click to buy.

2017 Cantine Astroni “Tenuta Camaldoli” Piedirosso, Campi Flegrei, Campania, Italy
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and huckleberry and dried flowers with a hint of sulfur. In the mouth, slightly saline flavors of sour cherry, huckleberry, and dried flowers are wrapped in cotton-ball tannins that bring with them the sensation of pulverized rock. Nicely stony and tasty, though headed away from fruit and towards herbs at this point. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30.

The post The Wines of the Flaming Fields appeared first on Vinography.

Vinography Images: Dawning of Spring

The rows of vineyards glow an emerald green in the light of dawn in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley. A heavy dose of rain this winter will ensure lots of new growth on, and around, the vines as Spring unfolds.

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Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 1/29/23

Hello, and welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren’t Flipboard-inclined, here’s everything I’ve strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.

The American Wine Industry Has an Old People Problem
What happens when your old customers die and young ones don’t want you?

Does Sound Affect Our Perception of Taste? These Wine Experts Think So
Everything does.

How a master sommelier couple built a wine bar with a diverse following
A very pleasant place to drink.

The politics of Zin
Zinfandel Birthers!

Money, profit and financial sustainability
A thoughtful piece, as usual, from Pauline Vicard.

Price fixing in the UK
A very detailed look at subtle inequalities in the playing field.

Is South African Sauvignon Blanc on the Precipice of Global Demand?
Since CA can’t make enough…

Bourbon, Biodiversity, and the Quest to Save America’s Oak Forests
Barrel shortage looming?

Apprehension abounds in U.S. wine industry
Troubled times ahead, many think.

2023 update on Lodi vineyards finally getting their due by being recognized by Historic Vineyard Society
Excellent news.

The Changing Landscape of Wine Education
A survey of the offerings.

Mexican Wine? Bien sûr!
Jay McInerney goes Baja.

Natural Wine From the “California Alps”?
A cool project. Literally.

Is Fine Wine in Sustainable Packaging A Contradiction?
Let’s hope not.

Is It Time to Re-Think Fine Wine?
Thinking about the thought piece.

Why old vines matter
Lots of reasons.

Winemakers Are Poised to Lose Another Vital Tool to Climate Change
Climate change isn’t just about hotter days.

Seven Wine Trends to Watch
Felicity Carter picks them.

Fifth-generation winemaker and his wife part ways with Vietti
Not really a surprise to anyone.

COVID-19’s Lasting Impact on the Wine Industry Sets the Stage for 2023 Opportunities
4 Brief takes.

These BIPOC Wine Podcasts Are Changing the Narrative
More diverse voices.

How insulated is the fine wine market to macro-trends?
All the people who profit from it say it’s going well.

Why Vinho Verde Is the Up-and-Coming Portugal Wine Region to Know
Says Vogue.

Burgundy wine fans queue weeks ahead for new releases
Wait. You can stand on line to buy DRC?

The wine industry has a new healer. She fixes ‘the way things flow’ in vineyards
Yes, but can she stop red blotch?

These Wineries Are Embracing the Spiritual Power of Crystals
Maybe the crystals can?

California’s largest wine company is laying off 355 employees
Not quite the same reason as Google’s layoffs.

As Climate Change Drives Up Temperatures, Winemakers Climb Higher
Take me higher.

Austria finally fell in love with red wine. It wants you to do the same
I heart Blaufränkisch.

Sicilia Vineyards a Yuba City oasis for wine
Yuba City!

The ‘bugs, microbes and wild yeast’ of Japan’s umami wine master
Love the headline. The wine sounds interesting.

Up and coming wines from Samaria and the Jordan Valley
Israeli wines can be excellent.

Why one of Sonoma’s best wineries hired a winemaker who’d never made wine before
A nice profile of Jasmine Hirsch.

Millennials and Zoomers Aren’t Drinking Wine. A New Report Says the Industry Needs to Do More to Attract Them.
The Robb Report weighs in.

The post Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 1/29/23 appeared first on Vinography.

Vinography Unboxed: Week of 1/22/23

Hello and welcome to my weekly dig through the pile of wine samples that show up asking to be tasted. I’m pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.

We can start this week with a bang, which is sort of what your nose and tastebuds feel when you get your hands on the first of four wines I’ve got for you this week from a tiny, tiny family producer in the Tokaj region of Hungary. It’s impossible not to be charmed by these wines, from the arrestingly aromatic Muscat to the deeply ethereal and complex dry Furmint produced from one of the regions most famous vineyards.

Charming is among the first words that come to mind when speaking of Erzsébet Pince, a winery established by Erzsébet (Elizabeth) Prácser and her husband Miklós in 1989 when the fall of Communism meant such things were once again possible. From their magical 17th-century stone cellar, the Prácser family makes a mere 1000 cases of wine each year with a level of care and attention that is rare in a region where most of the wine is made by larger companies. The aging Prácsers continue to manage the vineyards, while their son, Miklós Jr., and daughter Hajnalka (or Hajni to her friends) handle winemaking and marketing/operations respectively. Hajni’s husband, American MW+MS Ronn Weigand pitches in with tasting, blending, and hospitality.

One of Erzsébet’s most unique products is their Betsek Dülö Kabar, an unbelievably rare grape (only a couple of acres planted in the world) from one of the most historically famous vineyards in the Tokaj region. If you’re like me and enjoy tasting new and different things, I highly recommend it. Of course, pretty much anything you can get your hands on from this little producer is worth your time, and if you ever find yourself in the town of Tokaj itself, make sure to stop by their coffee shop for one of the country’s best cups of coffee.

Closer to home, I’ve got a couple of newer releases to share with you from superstar winemaker Katy Wilson, who apprenticed with and then partnered with Ross Cobb before launching her own small label LaRue Wines in 2009. Katy’s primary day job is making wine for Anaba Wines, a Sonoma-based brand that began as a Rhône-focused winery but now produces some pretty stellar Pinot Noirs with Wilson at the wheel.

For her own label, Wilson sticks with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, making small batches of exquisite wines from some of the Sonoma Coast’s top vineyards, including Ross Cobb’s Coastlands and the Klopp Vineyard which Wilson helped plant. That’s the Chardonnay I have to share with you this week, along with her Sonoma Coast blend of Pinot Noir fruit from various sources. The Chardonnay is a knockout, easily one of the best I’ve tasted in many months, and the humble Sonoma Coast blend Pinot Noir is better than many people’s single vineyard efforts.

While we’re on the topic of talented lady winemakers, I’ve been watching (and tasting) with anticipation as Priyanka French settles into her position as head winemaker and winegrower at Signorello Estate (assisted by consulting winemaker Celia Welch). After tasting it in barrel with her last year, French sent along the recently released new wine they have decided to call Signori.

French has decided to make 2 flagship Cabernets from the property. Their Padrone wine has always been a “best barrel” blend off of the entire estate, but with Signori, French has decided to focus on their coolest vineyard parcels on the back side of the hill above the winery, as well as to pull back a little on the extraction and oak program to focus more on finesse. It’s early days for this wine, but I’d say she’s headed in the right direction.

Lastly, I’ve got an interesting Australian Shiraz to recommend from Mt. Yengo, a wine that has a nice freshness to it, with excellent acidity. Mt. Yengo bills itself as Australia’s “first indigenous wine company.” That’s something I greatly applaud, but I wish it sounded a little less like a corporate brand and that they told more of a personal story on their web site. As it is, all I can see is that they use artwork from an Aboriginal artist and give 50 cents from every bottle sold to indigenous causes, both of which are laudable, but don’t exactly make it feel like an indigenous winery. The wine, in any case, is tasty.

Notes on all these below.

Tasting Notes

2019 Erzsébet Pince “Lunée” Muscat Blanc, Tokaj, Hungary
Near colorless in the glass with a hint of a greenish tinge, this wine smells alluringly of white flowers and ripe honeydew. In the mouth, faintly sweet flavors of jasmine, honeydew, candied green apples, and a touch of lime juice are juicy and bright and quite refreshing. Despite the initial sweetness, by the time the wine finishes, it has lost that sweetness and leaves just a citrusy, melony tang on the palate. Fermented and aged in steek, with 11 g/l residual sugar. 11.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.

2019 Erzsébet Pince “Betsek Dülö – Histrical Grand Cru Barrel Selection” Kabar, Tokaj, Hungary
Palest gold in color, this wine smells of chamomile, toasted sesame, and bee pollen. In the mouth, citrus zest, bee pollen, and yellow herbs mix with a faint citrusy twang, as bright acidity and lovely minerality make for a crisp mouthwatering experience. There’s a faint waxy salinity in the finish that is quite tasty. An extremely rare grape, Kabar is a cross between the local Harslevelu grape and the Bouvier variety. It was created in the 1970s and is permitted for use in Tokaj, but almost never is, as there are only a handful of acres of the grape planted in the entire region. Contains 20% Furmint. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??

2018 Erzsébet Pince “Zafir Dülö – Historical Premier Cru Dry” Furmint, Tokaj, Hungary
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of pears, white flowers, and ginger. In the mouth, pears and gorgeous white floral flavors are shot through with a crystalline minerality that is quite compelling. Silky and aromatically sweet, this wine is sensual, ethereal, and delicious. Contains 10% Harslevelu. 13% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $28. click to buy.

2017 Erzsébet Pince “Tokaji Szamorodni” Furmint, Tokaj, Hungary
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of honeysuckle and ripe apricots. In the mouth, moderate to very sweet flavors of apricots, honey, and white flowers have a nice bright acidity that keeps the wine from being cloying, and instead leaves the saliva glands pumping. Very delicious. This style of sweet wine is made with whole bunches of grapes, some of which have been affected by the botrytis “noble” rot. It comes from one of the most famous vineyards in the region, Kiraly Dülö. Fermented in new Hungarian oak and then aged for 12 months in used oak. 149 g/l residual sugar, which more than three times the minimum and standard concentration of Szamorodoni. 11.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $36. click to buy.

2019 LaRue “H. Klopp” Chardonnay, Sonoma, California
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers and cold cream. In the mouth, fantastic flavors of stony white flowers, citrus pith (lemon and grapefruit), and just a touch of linalool swirl and shimmer. Fantastic acidity and a pithy zesty finish. Mouthwatering. Goes through malolactic conversion completely, but is picked at a ripeness that allows it to still have a bright laser-like edge even after the loss of some acidity in malolactic conversion. A stunner. 12.4% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $60. click to buy.

Vinography Unboxed: Week of 1/22/23

2019 LaRue Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of dried flowers, raspberries, and sour cherry. In the mouth, gorgeous and bright raspberry and sour cherry flavors have an intense crystalline quality and hint of stoniness. Dried herbs and citrus peel flavors linger in the finish. Incredible acidity, brightness, and a sensual silky texture. 13.2% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $60. click to buy.

2020 Mt. Yengo Shiraz, Adelaide Hills, Mt. Lofty Ranges, South Australia
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry and black pepper with a hint of green herbs. In the mouth, the wine has a minty freshness as cool flavors of blackberry and blackberry leaf mix with a touch of green herbs. Excellent acidity and the faintest wispy tannins that hang ghostlike at the edges of the palate. 14% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $24. click to buy.

2019 Signorello Vineyard “Signori” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry, camphor, and violets. In the mouth, beautifully fresh flavors of black cherry, violets, pipe tobacco, and blackcurrant have a juicy brightness thanks to excellent acidity. There’s only the whisper of sweet oak and a touch of bourbon that emerges in the finish. Very fine-grained, restrained tannins. 14.8% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $TBD.

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The Wine Industry is Headed For Self-Inflicted Decrepitude

They say that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. It seems like we’re in need of a corollary these days: you can show the wine industry signs of its demise year after year, but you can’t make people believe it.

Each year, Rob McMillan, head of the Wine Division of Silicon Valley Bank releases his State of the Wine Industry Report. It’s chock full of interesting data points about how the American wine industry feels, how business has been for the past year, and how the fundamentals of the wine economy have been performing.

The latest version of the report was released last week, and simply put, the news is not great. There are plenty of other commentators out there who have spent time picking apart the extremely detailed analysis that McMillan and his colleagues have done.

Here’s the bottom line for those without the time to read much, or who were just excited to click on an image featuring wine and zombies: two worrying trends continue unabated in the American wine industry.

The first is the trajectory of negative volume growth. While some (small) parts of the industry are growing, other (much, much larger) parts of the industry are shrinking, averaging out to fewer sales last year than the year before, and fewer sales next year than this year.

The continued weakness of wine at lower price points adds a particularly distressing edge to this trend. Wines between $8 and $15 are typically the wines a) most readily available and b) what many entry-level drinkers can afford to buy.

The second, even more terrifying trend is the stated lack of interest in wine by younger adults that are about to enter their prime drinking and buying years. Given the opportunity, younger adults of drinking age say they are more likely to reach for alcoholic drinks that they believe are more fun, less expensive, and healthier for them (think White Claw).

The writing on the wall. Courtesy of the Silicon Valley Bank 2023 State of the Wine Industry Report

It doesn’t matter what you’re selling. If the graph of your customers’ inclination to buy your product looks like the one above, you can only come to one logical conclusion: your product isn’t relevant to younger generations.

Which means you have a marketing problem.

Of course, Rob McMillan has been telling that to the wine industry for several years.

The Wine Industry is Headed For Self-Inflicted Decrepitude
The once and future customers of the American wine Industry.

But for all the facts and figures, all the stone-cold numbers pointing to the fact that the US wine industry is headed towards an unhappy future, one thing in particular in this year’s State of the Wine Industry report scared me more than any other, and truly seemed like the first dreadful knell announcing a future that none of us want to see.

You see, McMillan hasn’t been merely content to shout at the wine industry each year about how they weren’t connecting with new generations of wine drinkers. He actually tried to do something about it.

McMillan and a bunch of other industry heavyweights got together, solicited pledges of $1 million and built a plan to create a national wine marketing board using the same kind of government funding that brought us the “Got Milk?,” or “Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner” campaigns.

In order for that plan to go forward, McMillan needed producers representing more than 67% of the wine industry to raise their hands and agree to pay a small tax in order to fund the effort on an ongoing basis.

But some of the wine industry’s biggest players said no. And after a year of lobbying, cajoling, arguing, and pleading, McMillan and his colleagues have given up.

That, my wine loving friends, is the most terrible news I have heard about the wine industry in a very long time.

The guy with the boat and the life preserver was sitting right there, and the swimmer, barely keeping his head up, between choking on gulps of seawater, said, “Nah, I’m fine,” and waved him off.

It’s hard to wrap my head aroun how the wine industry believes things are going to turn out when it seems content to do the same things it’s always been doing even as the market for wine weakens, sales drop, and a whole generation of drinkers builds loyalty with other beverages.

The biggest buyers of wine right now, the Baby Boomers, are dying. And those that aren’t dying are busy asking themselves whether they really need to buy any more wine, because they’re not entirely sure they’re going to be able to drink all the bottles they have in the time they have left.

If the wine industry can’t figure out how to appeal to the generation that’s going to replace them, then there’s really only one thing they can hope for. But who in their right mind wants to actually wish for a zombie apocalypse?

The Wine Industry is Headed For Self-Inflicted Decrepitude

If it doesn’t wake up and smell which way the wind is blowing, the American Wine Industry is soon going to get the customers it deserves.

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Vinography Images: Around the Bend

The road into Santa Barbara’s Happy Canyon snakes around vineyards and a majestic oak, as vines show their winter silhouettes against the new growth of green below. Santa Barbara’s Happy Canyon is an unusual part of the Santa Ynez Valley that, by virtue of its topography, can ripen Bordeaux grape varieties in a traditionally cool-climate region better known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

INSTRUCTIONS:
Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting “save link as” or “save target as.” Then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full-size view and drag that to their desktop.

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PRINTS:
Fine art prints of this image and others are available on George Rose’s website.

EDITORIAL USE:
To purchase copies of George’s photos for editorial, web, or advertising use, please contact Getty Images.

ABOUT VINOGRAPHY IMAGES:
Vinography regularly features images by photographer George Rose for readers’ personal use as desktop backgrounds or screen savers. We hope you enjoy them. Please respect the copyright on these images. These images are not to be reposted on any website or blog without the express permission of the photographer.

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Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 1/22/23

Hello, and welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren’t Flipboard-inclined, here’s everything I’ve strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.

Napa wine may cost more in 2023, as 71% of wineries plan to raise prices
Sigh.

Four Faces of Alto Adige’s Iconic Vorberg
Mmmmm. Weissburgunder.

SVB Report: 2023 Challenges Include Consumer Drop-off and Rising Prices
Jeff Siegel reports.

What are the pros and cons of rain during the life of a vine?
Mostly, but not always, good.

California wineries can’t make enough of this suddenly popular grape
Head scratcher, after years of disinterest.

Wine Cultures
Peter Pharos analogizes.

Wine’s Most Inspiring People 2023: Emily Wines — Leaning in Amid Court of Master Sommeliers Crisis
Kathleen Wilcox interviews.

Foil to be scrapped on English sparkling wine?
Bravo. Better for the planet.

To Kalon: Napa Valley’s star vineyard gets organic certification
Excellent news.

Moldova – land of horses, carts and spaceships
Jancis makes some surprising discoveries.

The biggest threat to the wine industry? Irrelevance with younger people.
Yep.

Wine’s Most Inspiring People 2023: Warren Winiarski — Viticulturist, Preservationist, Philanthropist
And one helluva nice guy.

We Tasted a Spanish Wine Made During the American Civil War, and It Didn’t Disappoint
Old bottles are an adventure.

The Bordeaux Business Opening Doors to the Nigerian Wine Market
A major market, apparently.

The Bots Are Here. Time for the Wine Industry To Wake Up To Artificial Intelligence
Robert Joseph pontificates.

In New Zealand, Sauvignon Wishes and Sashimi Dreams
Yum.

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Vinography Unboxed: Week of 1/15/23

Hello and welcome to my weekly dig through the pile of wine samples that show up asking to be tasted. I’m pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This past week included a few of the latest releases from long-time sparkling wine producer Argyle Winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Their long history producing bubbly has allowed them to offer some special wines that have been aging for quite a long time in the bottle, the latest of which is their 2012 Extended Tirage Brut, which spent 10 years on the lees in the bottle. It’s my favorite of the three wines I tasted this week, with its salty, bready goodness.

La Folette Wines, a winery started by but no longer associated with its namesake, winemaker Greg La Folette, sent along a few of its latest wines for me to try: an entry-level Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (both excellent values at $25 a bottle) and one of their slightly more complex single vineyard Chardonnays. It’s quite odd and confusing to me that the winery continues to bear La Folette’s name, but maybe its owners are banking on that confusion.

Sticking with Sonoma Pinot Noir for the moment, I also received a bottle of the latest from Kathleen Inman, of Inman Family Wines, who has been making Russian River Pinot Noir for nearly two decades now in her Olivet Grange Vineyard. This latest effort is lush and bright.

I discovered another bottle from Terrazas de los Andes that I hadn’t managed to taste a couple of weeks ago, and lo-and-behold it was one of their flagship single site Malbecs from a high-elevation vineyard. All stony blueberry and earth, this is a worthy wine if you can find it, though my initial online searches didn’t turn up anywhere to buy it.

Finally, I tasted through a few of the latest releases from Linne Calodo, a stylish, boutique winery in Paso Robles. Of the three wines, all of which are brawny and rich, my favorite was the ‘SGM’ blend called The Problem Child, which had great acidity and carried its alcohol level very well.

Notes on all these below.

Tasting Notes

2018 Argyle “Brut” Champagne Blend, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light gold in the glass with medium bubbles, this wine smells of apple and white flowers and just a whiff of toasted sourdough. In the mouth, a moderately coarse mousse delivers flavors of apple and pear flavors mix with a hint of berries that linger in the finish with a bit of citrus peel and a nice wet chalkboard minerality. A blend of 52% Chardonnay, 43% Pinot Noir, and 5% Pinot Meunier. 3 g/l dosage. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.

2019 Argyle “Blanc de Blancs” Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Palest gold in the glass with medium-fine bubbles, this wine smells of lemon pith and unripe apples. In the mouth, a soft mousse delivers bright lemon pith and lemon peel flavors, which have a stony, savory quality. Just a hint of salinity lingers with the orange peel, apple, and pomelo pith in the finish. 1.5 g/l dosage. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.

2012 Argyle “Extended Tirage Brut” Champagne Blend, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Pale gold in the glass with medium-fine bubbles, this wine smells of warm bread and lemon pith. In the mouth, salty, mouthwatering flavors of lemon pith and dashi are delivered on a soft mousse. There’s a wonderful saline lemon flavor that lingers for a long time in the finish with just the barest hint of acerola. A blend of 40% Pinot Noir and 60% Chardonnay. 2.5 g/l dosage. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $85. click to buy.

2021 La Folette “Los Primeros” Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of white flowers and lemon pith. In the mouth, nicely lean flavors of lemon and honeysuckle mix with a touch of golden apple and wet chalkboard. Excellent acidity. 13.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.

2020 La Folette “Zephyr Farms” Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of vanilla and lemon pith, lemon curd, and a hint of toasted oak. In the mouth, bright lemon curd flavors are scented with a touch of toasted oak, vanilla, and hazelnuts. Excellent acidity, and nice underlying minerality. 13.4% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $60.

2020 La Folette “Los Primeros” Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and raspberry, with raspberry leaf and dried herbs. In the mouth, flavors of raspberry, raspberry leaf, and cranberry mix with a hint of toasted sesame. There’s a touch of woody, stemmy quality to the wine, though I believe it was 100% destemmed. 13.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $25. click to buy.

2019 Inman Family “OGV Estate” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of cranberry and cherry compote. In the mouth, ripe cherry compote has a faint blueberry note to it, along with bright citrus peel acidity. Faint tannins. On the richer, riper side of Pinot, but tasty. 14.1% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $75. click to buy.

2018 Terrazas de los Andes “Parcel No. 1E – El Espinillo – Parcel Collection” Malbec, Gualtallary, Mendoza, Argentina
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of faintly smoky blueberry pie and earth. In the mouth, stony flavors of blueberry, struck match, and potting soil have a nice black cherry aroma that lingers through the finish along with hints of toasted oak. Very fine tannins sit gauzily on the edges of the palate, letting the stony fruit take center stage. Having said that, the oak somewhat upstages the fruit at a certain point in the finish. Grown at 5413 feet of elevation. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $99.

Vinography Unboxed: Week of 1/15/23

2020 Linne Calodo “Problem Child” Red Blend, Willow Creek District, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of blackberry and licorice. In the mouth, rich blackberry, licorice, and black cherry flavors are wrapped in a muscular blanket of tannins that stiffens as the wine heads to the finish. Notes of black pepper linger in the finish, along with some distinctly alcoholic heat. Just a bit too ripe for my tastes, but the flavors are good. A blend of 79% Zinfandel, 14% Syrah, and 7% Carignan. 15.7% alcohol. Comes in an unnecessarily heavy bottle, weighing 1.59kg when full. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $105. click to buy.

2020 Linne Calodo “Sticks and Stones” Red Blend, Willow Creek District, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of strawberry jam and flowers. In the mouth, surprisingly muscular tannins wrap around a core of sweet strawberry jam, boysenberry, and floral scents. Big, brawny, and with some distinct heat in the finish. The flavors are nice but it just feels a bit too ripe for my taste. A blend of 77% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 3% Mourvedre. 15.7% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $105. click to buy.

2019 Linne Calodo “Overthinker” Red Blend, Willow Creek District, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich blackberry and cherry aromas. In the mouth, muscular blackberry, cherry, and strawberry jam flavors are rich and ripe, and faintly sweet. Good acidity, though, and surprisingly little hint of the 15.4% alcohol. A blend of 51% Syrah, 39% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre. Score: around 9. Cost: $150. click to buy.

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Vinography Images: Mustard and Lime

The bright yellow of mustard flowers and the bright white of calcareous earth brighten a vineyard in Santa Barbara County. Uncommon in California, calcareous earth is rich in calcium carbonate, the primary mineral in limestone, which many believe to offer an ideal set of growing conditions for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

INSTRUCTIONS:
Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting “save link as” or “save target as.” Then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full-size view and drag that to their desktop.

To set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these.

PRINTS:
Fine art prints of this image and others are available on George Rose’s website.

EDITORIAL USE:
To purchase copies of George’s photos for editorial, web, or advertising use, please contact Getty Images.

ABOUT VINOGRAPHY IMAGES:
Vinography regularly features images by photographer George Rose for readers’ personal use as desktop backgrounds or screen savers. We hope you enjoy them. Please respect the copyright on these images. These images are not to be reposted on any website or blog without the express permission of the photographer.

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