The State of Wine 2018 – James Melendez

Firstly and importantly, this year (2018) has been challenging…. only a month and week and half in.  I feel like I have lived half a year in those few weeks.

It hasn’t been all negative or all positive but an admixture of both.  My continuous education has been great so far–accomplished more this year so far than previous years in this time frame.  Though I work double hard to keep my skills set sharply focused and the acquisition of knowledge continuous and I make sure I do this early in the year.

I started exercises at beginning of year which was good; had to stop a bit due to a fall on my shoulder –not while exercising but while shopping; it was a superbly rainy day.  I always wear tire-grade shoes with additional grippers.  Note to self: I won’t go out again on a day life than and order things on Instacart.

I have spent way too much time on YouTube’s major changes to smaller producer community (yes, that includes me).  Thank you YouTube and Logan Paul.

***

Now onto wine.

I did visit Temecula for this first time at the beginning of the month.  Some initial thoughts were I was expecting a much larger region.  I thought while looking at a map it seemed larger than it was–not a larger drive like going through Napa, Willamette Valley of other wine regions.

There were fewer producers and often the facilities were larger.  All wineries had tour buses and were packed.  Many of the wineries require customers to pay before going to the tasting bar–maybe it is due to crowds?

I noticed that there were several larger operations with a hotel, restaurant a winery–a very foreign concept when compared with Napa or Sonoma.  Me and my tasting mates did struggle to find sparkling wine–we eventually found some.  Wine varieties tended to be Bordeaux, Rhone and Italian varieties–I counted about 20 varieties and some grapes coming from neighbouring Cucamonga AVA namely Zinfandel from the Lopez Vineyard.

I liked the experience but was not in love with it either.  I am of course open to tasting new wines and new vintages from Temecula.

***

While State of Wine sounds like a large topic and it is I think my article is centered on a few thoughts and potential trends.  Not meant to be a formal address of all wine regions and producers.

  • US wine market will grow modestly this year (Silicon Valley Bank Premium Wine Division – predicting slowing sales)
    • Napa overwhelming proliferation of labels will obviously continue and perhaps some price barriers will be hit for this years release i.e. no continuous runaway price points (higher than inflation or high single digit increases in pricing is not sustainable)
    • Because of Napa’s massive proliferation of labels is concerning because at some point the region’s production becomes more and more commoditized (which is truly the opposite of the desire of many Napa Valley Producers)
    • Please read this is not a criticism of Napa Valley fruit or any specific producer – I have always appreciated Napa Valley wines
    • There are probably more labels in the Napa Valley AVA than any other wine region on the planet (compare that with neighbouring AVAs)
  • The US market for imports will remain healthy and wine promotion of global wines will be as intense as last year
  •  Wine marketing like all marketing objectives is nearly solely obsessed with millennials; and while it is one of many segments there are still lively markets of non-millennials that is often ignored and even under-served; in my thought it represents opportunity
  • I am concerned about a year of drought in the Western US; amazingly dry and warm–if dry and warm now–what will later this year be like.  My neighbourhood in San Francisco was 114 degree Fahrenheit on the hottest day ever last year of 106 (the City’s official high temp) on September 1, 2017
    • Might this year have a higher Growing Degree Days (GDD) (a continuous trend?)–I think this year is a nearly a certain yes
    • Early budding, early picking–Yes.  But if this developing into a long-term trend for higher than average temps how might that be changing in traditionally cooler sclimated
      • In my hamlet of San Francisco fog seems to be so rare when at one time it is was quite common a considerable portion of the year
    • And what about fire condition in the driest areas of California this year?  Is California prepared?  I am very concerned that California is not prepared for another year like last year

In San Francisco wine events are as challenged as ever for space coupled with difficulty from CA ABC on where events can be held and under what circumstances is a huge challenge.  San Francisco’s loss of the Concourse Exhibition Center & Trade Show was a major loss for event and for a civic life in The City.  Was the space perfect or ideal–no not at all but it was space for a city that prides itself on events.  The sunset of event space is upon the City.

San Francisco lack of civic leaders and civil leadership has led the City where it is today.  Great if you work in one of the city’s newly minted skyscrapers or have ultra wealth to the buy the home of your dreams in the sky.  The lack of event space has been by design–condos king and everything else a minor manordom.  The City from above looks fabulous but the ground is cracking and the lack of infrastructure is evident when trying to get around the city in car, foot or public transport

The City has hosted many wine events both trade/media and consumer.  It has been the consumer that have hurt the most–a struggle to find where to hold a consumer event.  It is also about marketing… how to market with less paper and more digital.  I have been to some very vibrant consumer tasting which tells me that consumer wine events are not downtrending but there is quite a market for this type of tasting. So there is considerable opportunity but the holdback on cost of venue and the simple availability is out of reach for many.

The trade/media tasting will go on because they have budgeted for more expensive venues.  I have never been to wine tasting event in San Francisco where it was partially empty.

Twitter tastings–I like them and I think there is a good way to capture impressions with analytics from Twitter or other platforms.

I think the best are where there are hosts like Frank Morgan’s Virginia Wine Chat versus just a Twitter tasting where impressions are recorded tweet by tweet.   I have only seen one cross my desk this year and I do think there may be fewer this year.  But there could also be an uptick in the back half of the year which has happened in the past.

Wine influencers–on the wane?

Firstly, I think ‘wine blogger’ is an antiquated term that describe only one of many things a person might do as opposed to pulling out the spice rack of possibilities for online treatment of wine.

To a small degree Yes but only with those who are have not been writing, Tweeting, Instragramming or YouTubing on wine for a while – I do see a pull back.  But for the established writer, videographer a need from producers to leverage influencers is certainly there and does represent an opportunity.  This is the case with many other industries – beer, fashion, food, technology, travel, etc.  I do see an opportunity to leverage their influencers more.  I see many producers where I get a sample of wine or wines without a simple ‘like’ or retweet.  I know for myself I do ask “why am I doing this” for a specific producer?  Being a wine influencer is a partnership and the both are in a win-win position when either PR, marketing or producer does something simple by acknowledging, liking or even posting to a Facebook like page.

I do get acknowledgements (likes, FB postings, LinkedIn postings etc) from a small majority of producers in the early 50% range.  There is nearly another 50% who do nothing.

I remember I gave a talk in Spain about social media and wine and I asked a simple question how many had a Twitter account over 2/3rds raised their hand and then I asked how many posted weekly and the hands came down dramatically –perhaps that number was 10% of the 2/3rds posted weekly.   Now, this is not unique amongst just Spanish producers, I believe this is the case with all wine producers with social media presence.

One of my closing comments on social media and wine for that presentation is that social media is what we have always dreamed about… a great and FREE tool.  There are truly few nearly free things in life.  And yes social media does cost in terms of time to update, review and analysis but it need not be an overwhelming amount of time devoted especially for a smaller producer.

I hope each year is a spectacular vintage for all wine producers and I do hope for more wines from lesser known regions make it to US shores.  I was so excited when I was in Orange County and found a Crémant de Luxembourg of all things?!   Luxembourg was on my list to taste.   Here is my posting: My Wine Tasting Wish List 2018  In most years I rarely if never get all of the wines I want to taste.  To get a wine this early was remarkable–could be a good sign.

We do live in not just interesting but great wine times–I hope you have a great wine tasting year ahead!

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2018 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine GuyJames the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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YouTube Partner Program (YPP) and Wine – James Melendez

Your support is appreciated and needed. Right now there are many people on YouTube who don’t own the rights to the videos they have posted and yet by YouTube rules are okay to be monetized.

YouTube’s position is overly perfectionist and it doesn’t do anything to make right on their policy as it relates to evergreen and small producers.  YouTube has said they are protecting the ad ecosystem but that is not true.  But keeping monetized videos for people who don’t own them makes no sense.

It is not a brilliant move because so many people who are honest and hardworking original content producers are not only being rewarded for their original work but discouraged to do anything more.

YouTube’s academy is unhelpful and YouTube itself doesn’t understand niche categories.

There is only one thing people have in common is that we are all waiting for YouTube’s other proverbial shoe to drop.  This certainly means that YouTube’s rules are punishing versus rewarding.  I do think that the producer community is being fatigued–it is exhausting and I do believe that there will be a new platform that will take off to be a successor to YouTube.

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2018 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine GuyJames the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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James the Wine Guy

The last thing I expected to be doing was to save my channel to be in the YouTube Partnership Program (YPP) and spending so much time to do so in 2018.

I have three other articles that I had on intended on writing and this article wasn’t one of them.  I got a lovely message from YouTube while I was out exercising last week that they were giving me a 30 day notice.

“Today we are announcing changes to the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). While our goal remains to keep the YPP open to as many channels as possible, we recognize we need more safeguards in place to protect creator revenue across the YouTube ecosystem.

What’s Changing

Under the new eligibility requirements announced today, your YouTube channel, JamesTheWineGuy, is no longer eligible for monetization because it doesn’t meet the new threshold of 4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12…

View original post 892 more words

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My Wine Tasting Wish List 2018 – James Melendez

In the past few years I have been writing about wines on my wish list for this year.

Each year, I start out with nearly a blank slate but I do have some wines left over on my tasting table from the previous year.  But I do attempt EVERY single year to taste wines from all wine regions large, small and the lesser known.

My wine ‘racetrack” motto is to taste wines from all regions and varieties each year.

Here is my list:

Oregon

  • Willamette Valley – All sub-AVAs of course
  • Rogue Valley
  • Columbia Valley
  • Umpqua
  • Applegate Valley

Washington

More than overdue for a ‘foot on ground tour’ – visited the Taste Washington which is fantastic – a must visit if you want a sampling of all wine regions from Washington State.

  • Puget Sound – last year (’17) was my first time to taste wines from this AVA
  • Columbia Gorge
  • Columbia Valley
  • Horse Heaven Hills
  • Lake Chelan
  • Red Mountain
  • Snipes Mountain
  • Red Mountain
  • Walhluke Slope
  • Walla Walla Valley
  • Yakima Valley

Idaho

  • Snake River AVA – it’s a rare year to taste Idaho wines and I have never visited this AVA

Colorado

  • Grand Valley – I have one bottle of Colorado Cabernet Sauvignon – would love the experience of tasting many producers

Arizona 

  • Sonoita AVA

California

  • Santa Cruz Mountains – so close and yet taste very little SCM
  • Mendocino
  • Napa Valley
  • Sonoma 
  • Paso Robles
  • Santa Barbara
  • Ramona Valley – Never tasted a wine from this AVA – a priority this year
  • Sierra Foothills – All AVAs
  • Central Coast – All AVAs
  • Malibu Coast
  • Marin County
  • Livermore Valley
  • Lake County

Texas

  • All wine AVAs – I do hope to taste many this year– I do at least taste a few producers year

North Carolina

  • I hope to taste at least a Petit Manseng this year from NC; last year was the first time I had ever tasted two wines from the state

Virginia

  • All AVAs – I visited briefly last year but would love to tasted latest vintages from all wine regions

New York

  • All AVAs

Michigan

  • All AVAs

Maryland and New Jersey

I have tasted wines from Maryland; never tasted any wines from New Jersey

Canada

  • Wine Country Ontario: I can only find ice wines in US but would love to taste through many Ontario wines this year
  • Quebec and the Maritime
  • British ColumbiaOkanagan Valley – So close but so far away at least in terms of finding any OV wines in my market place
  • Vancouver Island, Similkameen, and Fraser Valley

My second largest audience is Canada for my wine channel on YouTube

Mexico

  • Guadalupe Valley – so difficult to find in California

South America

  • Bolivia – a priority for my South American tastings
  • Uruguay – just tasted only a few last year
  • Brazil
  • Peru

Not a specific call out is Argentina and Chile–I usually get an over assortment yearly and I’ll get plenty to taste this year.

Africa

  • South Africa – each year is a hit or miss year; I want to taste consistently from South Africa
  • Morocco

Asia

  • China – have never tasted any wine from China
  • India – I have tasted but only two producers ever

Middle East

  • Lebanon
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Syria
  • Turkey

Europe

I want to taste from all European wine nation states.  I am very interested in tasting wines from places I have not tasted from before like Belgium, Luxembourg, Andorra, The Netherlands, and all very northerly countries producing wine.

I, of course, always want to be tasting wines from (and all appellations):

  • France
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • UK – Rarely ever get to taste English sparkling wine; in fact only once
  • Switzerland – tasted only one time in my life; even on restaurant wine lists in Switzerland they are rarely on lists
  • Austria
  • Hungary
  • Poland – first time to taste in 2016
  • Czech – first time to taste in 2016
  • Germany
  • Croatia
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia
  • Greece
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Serbia
  • Montenegro
  • Georgia
  • Romania
  • Bulgaria
  • Slovakia
  • Macedonia
  • Armenia
  • Netherlands
  • Luxembourg

Australia

  • All appellations

New Zealand

  • All appellations

So it is to taste and to write about and/or complete video reviews of wine regions I have mentioned above.  If I can taste from most of these regions this means that I am being as balanced as possible to taste wines from all regions around the planet.

Now boarding – if you are producer or importer please contact me – james@jamesthewineguy.com

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2018 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine GuyJames the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Argentina, Arizona, Australia, Austria, British Columbia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Eastern Europe, El Dorado, Greece, Guadalupe Valley, Horse Heaven Hills, Idaho, Italy, Mendocino County, Morocco, Napa Valley, New York, Okanagan Valley, Paso Robles, Rep. of Georgia, Rep. of Macedonia, Santa Cruz Mountains, South Africa, Southern Italy, Texas, Wish List | 1 Comment

YouTube Partner Program (YPP) and Wine – James Melendez

The last thing I expected to be doing was to save my channel to be in the YouTube Partnership Program (YPP) and spending so much time to do so in 2018.

I have three other articles that I had on intended on writing and this article wasn’t one of them.  I got a lovely message from YouTube while I was out exercising last week that they were giving me a 30 day notice.

“Today we are announcing changes to the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). While our goal remains to keep the YPP open to as many channels as possible, we recognize we need more safeguards in place to protect creator revenue across the YouTube ecosystem.

What’s Changing

Under the new eligibility requirements announced today, your YouTube channel, JamesTheWineGuy, is no longer eligible for monetization because it doesn’t meet the new threshold of 4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers. As a result, your channel will lose access to all monetization tools and features associated with the YouTube Partner Program on February 20, 2018 unless you surpass this threshold in the next 30 days. Accordingly, this email serves as 30 days notice that your YouTube Partner Program terms are terminated.

One of YouTube’s core values is to provide anyone the opportunity to earn money from a thriving channel. Creators who haven’t yet reached this new threshold can continue to benefit from our Creator Academy, our Help Center, and all the resources on the Creator Site to grow their channels. Once your channel reaches the new threshold, it will be reviewed to make sure it adheres to our policies and guidelines, and if so, monetization will be re-enabled.”

A 30 day notice first is inadequate–a certain to doom you message and that is how I took it.

I have a 1,000 subscribers ✓

But I don’t have 4,000 hours (240,000 minutes) viewed in the past 365.  Well that is a harder thing to do.  Using YouTube analytics I had to reduce the time per video as my audience prefers only a smaller versus a long video.

Wine as I have mentioned Ad Nauseum is a complex category–the most complex consumer category–vintage, region, variety, availability, limited production–voilà.  I could produce only wine glasses, accessories, and power house, large production wine brands to get to 4,000 hours….  Instead of have been balanced–smaller producers, lesser known varieties and regions as it is a challenge to get views.  I think wine as dazzling as it can be–many audience members don’t watch lesser known labels because it can be north of difficult to obtain.  Difficult because of the over 40,000 ABC (alcohol beverage controls) laws in the US that make getting wine easy from smaller producers.

My audience is quite diversified and is not just in US in fact nearly half live outside the US.   But because of wines complexity doesn’t mean that I want to shy away from smaller producers… I find it compelling and interesting.  I do ask viewers to ask their wine merchants to bring in the wine I am reviewing.

In 2014, I looked at ten of what I thought were the largest wine video producers on YouTube: 1) subscribers 2) clicks 3) number of videos.  I was one of them.

Here is the SlideShare where I talked about YouTube and wine.  I decided to see if any of the above beside myself have monetized their videos and watching multiple of videos I was the only one with monetized videos.  While that may seem to be a good thing it is truly not a good thing at all.

Why?

That means that when I get de-monetized (which I hope doesn’t happen) I would have been one of the few if only wine video producer with monetized videos on YouTube?!  There was an ad on one of my videos for The Champagne Opener and while there have been many wine advertisements on my channel before –where will they go?  Maybe to beer or whiskey YouTubers?  And I’ll always say.. why not wine.

I do think there is a united place for wine, beer and spirits on YouTube and I do think that wine producers are perfect for food, wine, lifestyle and travel advertisers.  But I think what will happen is that wine or accessory advertisements will go to channels where there is little or no wine interest.

YouTube’s care less attitude, at this point, to develop this special community but all is not lost.  I do think it takes not a village but a town to create wine content and to support each other in a vitalized video wine communty.  I should not be one of the few if only wine content producers with wine videos that is monetized.  More importantly because of an event where Logan Paul runs unfettered and the wine community and all small niche content producers should not be punished.  After all, wine content producer will be producing free content for other YouTubers to gain from our hard work.  We should capture and benefit from our hard work too.

We can help each other—support one another:

  • Subscribe to each other
  • Watch each others videos
  • Promote our community on social
  • Collaborate with one another; AND
  • Ask those that ask us to review their wines to support by doing simple things like Liking, posting on website, retweeting, etc.

YouTube is myopic and needs to look at the larger picture.  A half generation from today Logan Paul will not be the vlogger he is today and even other vloggers.  Wine YouTubers like wine can vintage and be relevant not just today but also tomorrow and much further out.

Let’s help one another.

Additional information:

YouTube’s Offense of Wine and Small Videos Producer – James Melendez

YouTube’s small creators pay price of policy changes after Logan Paul scandal – The Guardian

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2018 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine GuyJames the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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YouTube’s Offense of Wine and Small Videos Producer – James Melendez

My YouTube channel

Many playlists but probably the most complete is my Liked Playlist please do me a favour and watch some of my videos.

YouTube is making a change to the YPP (YouTube Partner Program) to punish small producers who exercise good judgement unlike Logan Paul who uses  superbly poor judgement.  His poor judgement only garnered him more video views.  And YouTube is doing this protect advertisers?!?! Just because one doesn’t have millions of hits doesn’t mean that one is producing controversial material.  There are certainly ways to flag that by the user community.  I am in a niche category and I do have a community–a small one but a community nonetheless.  I have been increasing my subscription base and as I have always been–in continuous improvement mode–better videos, more subscribers and viewing hours ahead.

YouTube should come to a better understanding of the advertisers, creator and viewing community.  Wine has been underserved on YouTube and I am determined to meet the 4,000 hour viewing threshold.

Seriously what analysis could come up with that sloppy “answer”

And YouTube has been relatively unsupportive of wine since it’s inception.  I have been an absolute supporter of wine content and video and by that extension of YouTube.  YouTube has a requirement to be in their YouTube Creator Community which is the platform that allows monetization is 4,000 hours of video viewing of your content and over 1,000 subscribers.  (You cannot have monetization without being in the YouTube Creator Community).  I am over 1,000 subscribers but lacking on hours viewed in the past 12 months.

I am not just in support of my channel but all wine video content producers.

I remember watching an iJustine video and she talked about her baking videos and upcoming cooking videos and hinted how she is looking to create the topical matter for the long-term.  While vlogs and some vloggers are amazingly popular.  YouTube makes a priority and it is these traffic drivers.  Are each of the vloggers in for the long-term?  I do not believe so.

What I took away was that (iJustine) Justine Ezarik needed something more concrete to talk about in her longer term video strategy.  General vloggers may have high production value but a long term shelf stability is not a long one.  The long term is having a subject matter one can speak on for a something longer than the short term.  Wine content like wine has an ability to age…. to vintage.

When YouTube doesn’t support it’s wine video producer community is to discourage the investment in being a creator and thus the vicious cycle begins.

If beer and spirits can be a success –why not wine?  This is something I have been talking about for a while.  Wine is a complex consumer category–it is the the most complex category.

The complexity is vintage–how many consumer products might have a 1982 Coonawarra Shiraz…or a 1980 Brut Champagne… you get the idea.  Wine also has in addition to vintage: variety, cuvee, region, many producers, production, availability, etc..  I can say with certainty that wine has a much more built in complexity than brethren product like beer and spirits.  And I am always going to support beer and spirits and never negate while I uplift wine–I will uplift both.  Scotch and Beer have some very popular YouTube producers and they have been the model to look up to for the wine category.

YouTube may not be discouraging wine video content producers but it is certainly not encouraging people to get involved.  Certainly criteria in terms of minimum number of subscribers or hours viewed is prohibitive.  My 325k views is showing a historic investment on my part and the longer term should be taken into account at YouTube.

YouTube should look towards a longer horizon and work towards a different POV on wine video content.  It is not just good business but it is to gain from that openness and fairness to wine video content producers.

Wine videos and my analytics support it is that the unlike general swash buckling producers–viewing behaviour is very different. For popular vloggers like Casey Neistat their videos perform well after release and don’t have the shelf life of say wine.   Wine content and I lean heavily on my analytics perform over time.  I am hardly the first YouTube video producer to say this… it is a common topic at VidCon.

There are not enough higher quality wine video content producers and there has to be more to give adequate coverage of the many wine and producers out.

I am advocate for wine content on YouTube and perhaps the only way of getting there is to support one another.

My action is to subscribe and view your wine videos.  Please reach out to me and let me know your channel name so I can subscribe.  I will also subscribe not just to wine video producers but all small high quality producers with integrity.

Creating a more integrated wine community can support our subscribers but we can collaborate with each other as well.

Thank you and I appreciate your support!

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2018 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine GuyJames the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Another Undiscovered Country: Wine and Indian Food Pairing

Dosa – Valencia Street

I was recently at Dosa on Valencia Street in San Francisco.  First Dosa is a favourite–and fantastic food experience always.  They offer a very nice and tidy wine and drinks list.  Dosa is a great example of a restaurant to pair Indian food with wine.  There are many Indian cuisines and I don’t think that wine is a centre point for the cuisine.  I think when it comes to European cuisines most everyone expects excellent food and wine pairings.  And I recently wrote a piece similarly titled The Undiscovered Country: Mexican Food & Wine Pairings the central point of the article is that Mexican food does not have the wine offerings the cuisine deserves.

I think similarly about Indian food with the exception of Dosa in San Francisco that the cuisine deserve thoughtful wine lists.  Many of the Indian restaurants not just in San Francisco but throughout the US and beyond have mediocre wine lists or the wine offering is a singular glass of house red or white wine.

So on my last visit to Dosa I ordered a Dosa with white truffle potato and I wanted a white wine.  I ordered the house label Sujata white wine which is an imaginative blend of Grenache Blanc and Albariño.  When I attend master classes I might hear something where a narrow offering of wines can pair with a specific cuisine.  Instead the reality of Indian cuisine is that can pair with almost the full spectrum of wine varieties.

I do think and I believe Dosa does this by offering a small offering but a wide net of possibilities to pair with the food they serve.  Indian food is not just about spice and heat but a wide range of possibilities.  I cannot think where Indian food cannot pair with any regions wines or wine varieties.  Indian food like almost any other cuisine can comfortably pair with wine nicely.

A wine knowledgeable wine director or Sommelier can offer an Indian restaurant with great wine offerings.   So I haven’t had all major wine varieties with Indian food but have enjoyed the following:

  • Syrah
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Albariño
  • Grenache
  • Sangiovese
  • Tempranillo
  • Cava
  • Champagne
  • Merlot
  • Petit Verdot
  • Rkatsiteli
  • Blaufrankisch

Each of the above varieties paired handsomely with the Indian fare that I was enjoyed at specific dinners.

I am sure you get the idea of a wide net and the friendliness and accessibility the cuisine offers for food and wine.  So while your favourite restaurant might not have the wines you want to enjoy–ask the restaurant before you go if they have a corkage programme.  It is another way to bring wines that you enjoy the most to your favourite Indian restaurant.

Indian food like Mexican food cuisine should be open to enjoy and experience with a wine array of wines.  A great cuisine deserves great wine.

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2018 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine GuyJames the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Sicilia en Primeur II – James Melendez

Radicipura Gardens in Giarre, Sicilia north of Catania. The Godfather II was filmed here.

My experience in Sicilia was extensive in a very short trip.

Did I see each region and each producer?

No.

But I got to this mythical yet very real land and saw a lot in a short period.  When I look at the wondrous wines–a generation ago when I first started tasting Sicilian wines I had conjured up what Sicily is and was…  And on top of being obsessed with great food and wine I was also in love with history–Sicily history is vast, simple and yet outstandingly complex.  Complexity is the interweaving of beauty.

I also looked at Sicily as a centre of foods of the sea and citrus.  Sicilian citrus looms large in my mind.  Citrus for me is a sacred point for me–the smell, the vitality, the beauty and the delicateness.

Sicily indigenous varieties are special and sacred for me.  They represent a series of exchanges, trades, and even the unintended. In fact, all of non-human crossed varieties are a product of unintended consequences.  But where the accident ends is when a society, a culture, a nation decides what their variety set is… this is what happened in Sicilia–the Nero d’Avola, Carricante, Grillo, Cattarrato, Inzolia, Grecanico, Frapatto, Perricone, Nerello Cappuccio, Nerello Mascalese and sometimes the indigenous are blended with international varieties for another unique take on Sicilian wines.

My first visit on this particular sojourn was to producers in western Sicilia.

I first visited Baglio di Pianetto which is south of Palermo and east of the Lago di Piano degli Albanese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tasted through quite a number of wines while there and appreciated tasting several vintages of the same wine and I always love tasting natural wines (Inzolia and Petit Verdot):

Baglio di Pianetto Ficiligno 2015 91 Points (70% Viognier, 30% Inzolia)

Baglio di Pianetto Ficiligno 2011 91 Points (50% Viognier, 50% Inzolia)

Baglio di Pianetto Ficiligno 2003 90 Points (50% Viognier, 50% Inzolia) 

Baglio di Pianetto Raimone 2012 91 Points (50% Nero d’Avola, 50% Merlot)

Baglio di Pianetto Raimone 2013 93 Points  (50% Nero d’Avola, 50% Merlot)

Baglio di Pianetto Raimone 2015 92 Points  (50% Nero d’Avola, 50% Merlot)

Baglio di Pianetto Natyr Petit Verdot 92 Points – a natural wine– I have never tasted a natural Petit Verdot wine.

Baglio di Pianetto Natyr Inzolia 93 Points

Baglio di Pianetto Carduni Petit Verdot 2006 93 Points

Baglio di Pianetto Carduni Petit Verdot 2010 92 Points

Baglio di Pianetto Cembali Nero d’Avola 2007 93 Points

Baglio di Pianetto Cembali Nero d’Avola 2009 92 Points

Baglio di Pianetto Cembali Nero d’Avola 2010 92 Points

Baglio di Pianetto Shymer Syrah-Merlot 2013 92 Points

Dinner at the Agrirelais paired with Baglio di Pianetto wines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

******

Alessandro di Camporeale is 45 km / 27 m southwest of Palermo and east of the town of Camporeale

Winemaker for Alessandro di Camporeale – Bendetto Alessandro

 

 

 

 

 

Alessandro di Camporeale Sicilia Benede Catarratto – 2016 92 Points

Alessandro di Camporeale Sicilia Grillo 2016 – 91 Points

Alessandro di Camporeale Sicilia Catarratto 2016 – 92 Points

Alessandro di Camporeale Donnata Sicilia Nero d’Avola 2015 – 92 Points

Alessandro di Camporeale Kaid Sicilia Syrah 2014 93 Points

Alessandro di Camporeale Kaid Late Harvest Wine 94 Points

***

Dei Principali di Spadaforda

Spadaforda is located in Contrada Virzì which is a site with considerable elevation changes and a beautiful depth of terrain.  A perfectly sunny day for the visit and very appreciable temperature on a breezy day in western Sicily.

Francesco Spadafora is the owner of Dei Principali di Spadaforda and also an amazing chef–he made an stellar lunch for me and my fellow journalists and plated all of the food so beautifully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dei Principali di Spadaforda Enrica Spadaforda Terre Siciliane Brut Nature NV – 100% Grillo; 0 Dosage and a very forward label design with braille 93 Points

Dei Principali di Spadaforda Rosato di Nero d’Avola 2016 91 Points

Dei Principali di Spadaforda Grillo 2009 91 Points

Dei Principali di Spadaforda Schietto Chardonnay 2012 92 Points

Dei Principali di Spadaforda Schietto Chardonnay 2009 93 Points

Dei Principali di Spadaforda Sole dei Padri Syrah 2005 94 Points

***

Then the next producer we visited was Tenuta Rapitalà

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before this trip I had tasted Tenuta Rapitalà wines.  The producer has a very large

Tenuta Rapitalà Grillo 2016 92 Points

Tenuta Rapitalà Vigna Casalj Alcamo Bianco 2015 92 Points – 100% Catarratto

Tenuta Rapitalà Grand Cru Chardonnay 2015 91 Points 

Tenuta Rapitalà Nuhar Pinot Nero/Nero d’Avola 2015 91 Points

Tenuta Rapitalà Alto Nero d’Avola 2015 92 Points

Tenuta Rapitalà Solinero 2013 92 Points

****

Feudo Disisa

Feudo Disisa Terre Siciliane Chara 2015 93 Points – 60% Catarratto and 40% Inzolia

Feudo Disisa Granmassenti Terre Siciliane Perricone 2015 94 Points

Feudo Disisa Terre Siciliane Grillo 2015 93 Points

Feudo Disisa Vuaria Terre Siciliane  Nero d’Avola 2013 92 Points

***

The final cantine on this trek was visiting Rallo 

The Cantine is situated on upslope and almost only vineyards with few obstructions.  I was glad to put foot on ground and feel the soil of this site–I remember the distinct breeze and the whistling pine tree which are just a few.  I was transported to my familiar view of pine forests and yet reminded I was in Sicilia.

Making Cannoli

The beauty of the site is outstanding–almost felt like dream like state

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I never thought I would ever make a Cannoli!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drawing from my journal of the Rallo site

Only in Italia do you get this delightful substance known as Spremuta Arancia Rossa (blood orange juice)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rallo Sicilia Beleda Catarratto 2015 – 93 Points

Rallo Sicilia Beleda Catarratto 2013 – 93 Points 

Rallo Sicilia Beleda Catarratto 2012 – 93 Points

Rallo Sicilia Beleda Catarratto 2011 – 92 Points

Rallo Sicilia La Cuba Grillo 2014 – 93 Points

***

This quick tour of a few of western Sicilia’s cantine was just a toe tip of the many more I have to visit but provided an outstanding view of more wines and sites to experience in person.  We then made our way to our hotel in Santa Tecla which is north of Catania and south of Radicipura (site of Sicilia en Primeur event).

First I visit Catania – I had an opportunity to several years ago.  I couldn’t make that portion of the trip and had to miss it and yet made to Catania.  I was on a guided tour and saw Sant’Agata Duomo, Teatro Romano, the farmers and fish market–the fish market was boisterous and I loved it.  I was enchanted by the farmers market–a lovely ensemble of fresh produce and I especially like the roasted vegetables.

Piazza Duomo

Roasted Cipollini, peppers and other vegetables; I would love to see this everywhere

View of the Duomo Sant’Agata

Visiting the Teatro Romano in Catania

I love seeing the whimsical – this is the Teatro Nievski in Catania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radiciepura is a meeting centre and garden north of Catania.  The gardens have guest gardener exhibits and it is enchanting.  Look west and you will see the smoke billowing off of Mt. Etna.  This was also the site of the second Godfather movie which of course has it’s beginning story take place in western Sicilia in Corleone. You can look at the patio set and realize this was in the film.

The Godfather II was filmed here.

Mt. Etna in the background–you can see smoke from the volcano.

Italy as a garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gardens are pristine and imaginative and on seeing water nearby you know this was a popular route of many people passing around Sicilia.  The setting was tranquil and perfect for the Sicilia in Primeur.  While I couldn’t go on all tours–I could regroup and taste wines from other producers.

These are the wine I tasted at Radiciepura.

And the finale was a very special evening at the Palazzo Biscari a 17th century Palazzo.  A jazz band greeting participants.  This special experience was truly memorable and helped me to always remember Sicilia en Primeur.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My experience with Sicilian wines grew considerably on this tour.  Foot-on-ground tours is essential to get a feel for the culture, food, wine and history.

While I have read about Sicilia’s history in my textbooks in college–the depth of understanding comes when you visit a place.  You know it when you land but the immersion in experience fills in the blanks for the beauty of a place.  Knowing the data points is not enough, getting to meet people from the place you are visiting.  Experiencing the weather–asking more questions and truly getting that experience in person helps to inform oneself not just of the wine but the place in it’s totality.  I have rarely visited a place and said: “done, don’t need to come back.”  I think coming back again and again will inform me on the ever flowing and evolving Sicilia.  A beautiful land, a beautiful experience of food, wine, culture and people is a rare gift.  I hope you get to experience this as a gift as well.

My first article on my journey to Siclia: A Love for Sicilia – Wine, Food, People and The Land – Part I – Palermo

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

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Posted in Italy, Sicilia en Primeur, Sicily | 1 Comment