Choosing which wine to serve over the holidays is a task one either relishes or fears. For the wine lover, it is a joyous, indulgent treat that begins weeks before and requires hours of research. Websites, merchant catalogs and wine columnists’ tips are all read, choices are circled, calls are made and orders placed. When the day finally arrives, family and friends are in for a thrill as the avid oenophile debates the merits of a Chablis reviewed in the press or a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon recommended by a friend. For the majority, the task can be a complex and overwhelming experience.
Whereas the ingredients for a traditional Christmas lunch have changed very little—turkey, goose, guinea fowl, beef or roast ham—followed by a rich fruit pudding, tart or gingerbread, the landscape for wine has been transformed beyond recognition.
Thirty years ago, our choice was limited to a handful of European wine-producing countries and California. These days, choosing a red wine to pair with your turkey could take you to the foothills of the Andes, the vineyards of Oregon or the sunny valleys of Australia. Such is the swathe of wines on offer that one could be forgiven for asking whether there is a country in the world that doesn’t produce wine. From Chilean Merlot to Tasmanian sparkling wine, the unlimited choice is, in reality, confusing and paralyzing. The good news is that in today’s fiercely competitive wine market, with savvy buyers, improved winemaking techniques and considerable capital investment, buying a bad bottle of wine is surprisingly difficult. For the modern consumer, the challenge isn’t to avoid the undrinkable but to find that interesting bottle that will inspire the taste buds and impress your guests.
Several New Zealand wine brands have been honoured by an international magazine.
Drinks International produces a list of top 50 ‘world’s most admired wine brands’ and this year seven NZ-based names feature.
Brancott Estate, Oyster Bay, Cloudy Bay, Villa Maria, Babich, Wither Hills, and Nobilo are listed alongside international brands such as Penfolds, Michel Chapoutier, and Chateau Margaux as being leading players in the global wine industry.
Chris Yorke, New Zealand Winegrowers’ Global Marketing Director, said he was delighted with the recognition.
“It reconfirms New Zealand’s position as a producer of premium, diverse and sustainable wines,” he said.
Sixty members of the global wine community – including wine masters Peter McCombie, Peter Marks, Tuomas Meriluoto, Kym Milne and Lynne Sherriff -nominated the wine brands they admire most.
Brancott Estate – which was recently rebranded from Montana – and Oyster Bay both featured in the top 20.
Strange Random Wine Quote:
And Noah he often said to his wife when he sat down to dine,
‘I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine’.
G.K. Chesterton, Wine and Water
- Hello sophisticated readers (thelocalfoodie.wordpress.com)
- Michel Chapoutier Rubbishes Natural Wine (goodfoodrevolution.wordpress.com)
- Wine-Searcher Offers Free Online Wine Valuation Tool (prweb.com)
- New NZ fund to replace Sustainable Development Fund for NGOs (devex.com)
- “NZ insurer Pinnacle Life achieves world first” – Kea NZ (pinnaclelife.co.nz)
But what on earth is she going on about before they start?
Strange Random Wine Quote:
[at his first sip of champagne] “Come quickly! I am tasting stars!” – Dom Perignon
- Wine Words Demystified: Wine Diamonds (enofylzwineblog.com)
- Creating Your Own Wine…in Brooklyn | Fox Business (exitbusiness.wordpress.com)
- Wine Words Demystified – Complex (enofylzwineblog.com)
- Wine Words Demystified – Legs (enofylzwineblog.com)
- Wine Words Demystified: Breathe (enofylzwineblog.com)
A wine’s flavour can suggest many things besides grapes: blackberries, vanilla, citrus, chocolate, herbs, even tar or hay. It’s all in the mind and sometimes merely in the crazed craniums of wine critics. But there’s a new style of South African red that leaves little doubt as to what’s on offer. It has been dubbed coffee pinotage and the flavour has Starbucks written all over it.
In fact, the labels on most brands provide the first not-so-subtle clue. There’s Barista, Cappuccino Pinotage, Café Culture, Coffee Pinotage, The Bean and The Grinder, to name a few. The last two even feature images of a coffee bean and an old-fashioned hand-crank grinder, respectively. It’s enough to make you reach for an espresso cup in lieu of fancy stemware.
Several brands were recently launched in various provinces across Canada, ramping up the coffee-wine buzz that has been building since the launch of the first such example, Diemersfontein Pinotage, a decade ago.
Based on South Africa’s signature red grape, pinotage, the phenomenon is the accidental brainchild of Bertus Fourie, Diemersfontein’s former winemaker. A master’s graduate in oenology from the University of Stellenbosch, Mr. Fourie had specialized in the effects of wood aging on wine. By lining steel tanks with heavily charred French-oak staves the secret is in the temperature and duration of toasting and fermenting with a special strain of yeast, the wine developed an uncanny essence of espresso as well as chocolate. A similar thing happens with other varieties, but not to the same degree as with pinotage.
Strange Random Wine Quote:
- Pinotage on Tap (POT) comes to the UK (pinotage.org)
- Taste Pinotage Sunshine on 16 Dec (pinotage.org)
- The Power of Pinotage! (cybercellar.wordpress.com)
- Cape Ardor Launches a Dedicated South African Wine Website in the United States (prweb.com)
- The Wines of South Africa (winebookclub.org)
- South African winemaker uncorks award (travelnews.britishairways.com)
- Bokke Wines Portfolio Tasting (gothicepicures.blogspot.com)
- Naked Wines to Host Crowd-powered Online Auction with South African Producers (prweb.com)
- Biodiversity Bombshell (blogs.timeslive.co.za)
- Beyers follows Mao with a new little red book (blogs.timeslive.co.za)
- Black South African tastes success in winemaking (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Great South African Pinot (barrys-wine.blogspot.com)
Despite a slew of astonishing fine-wine sales from the leading auction houses, which saw Bonhams, Christie’s, Sotheby’s and wine auctioneers Acker Merrall & Condit sell more than $300 million £194.4 million worth of wine, 2011 looks to be the year when the boom in Bordeaux‘s finest wines suffered a little indigestion.
Falls were as much as 20% in the last six months of the year, with blue-chip châteaux such as Lafite Rothschild 2008 dropping from around £14,000 for a case last January to around £8,000 today, according to Live-ex’s Fine Wine 100 Index, which tracks the price movement of the world’s 100 most sought-after wines. It’s still a tidy profit for whoever bought it when it was first released in 2009 at around £1,600 a case, but a sharp fall for anyone who purchased last spring.
But a return to pre-2009 vintage prices would be most welcome for the swathe of consumers who have been priced out of the market. It could also have the welcome effect of introducing these spectacular wines to a younger demographic, which hasn’t had the capital or the inclination to explore the classed growths of this fascinating region.
If demand from China and Hong Kong continues, I very much doubt the big names from the glamour appellations such as Pauillac and Margaux, or the communes of Pomerol and Saint-Émilon on the Right Bank will be inclined to drop their prices.
For those looking for that quintessential Bordeaux character of blackcurrant and cedar, which always reminds me of an empty cigar box, and rich, ripe roundness, it is worth casting your net further. Saint-Julien is one appellation that perhaps flounders against the reputation of its neighbors.
Strange Random Wine Quote:
“Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” – Sir Francis Bacon (English Lawyer and Philosopher. 1561-1626)
- Triple A (thunevin.blogspot.com)
- Patience and Fortitude (cellarbook.wordpress.com)
- L’espirit de Bordeaux – affordable,quality French wine, what more could you ask for? (winesleuth.wordpress.com)
- The Bordeaux Wine Experience Bordeaux Wine Tours Magazine December issue is online (bxwinex.com)
- Getting to the Bottom of Bordeaux (bxwinex.com)
- My New Favorite Wine (biggerthanyourhead.net)
- Wines of The Times: 2008 Bordeaux From Médoc – Wine Review (nytimes.com)
- Bordeaux Explained (To Some Extent) (biggerthanyourhead.net)
- Lessons from Bordeaux (sommelierindia.com)