Glen Grant Single Malt Speyside 15 Year Old Scotch Whisky – 95 Points – James Melendez

James Grant founded Glen Grant Distillery in 1840 in Rothes in Speyside in the Highlands of Scotland.  They produce 5 Single Malt Whiskeys:

  • Glen Grant The Major’s Reserve (10 Year)
  • Glen Grant Single Malt 10 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  • Glen Grant Single Malt 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  • Glen Grant Single Malt 12 Year NCF Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  • Glen Grant Single Malt 15 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  • Glen Grant Single Malt 18 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky

And a number of limited edition Scotch’s.

I love Scotch and the many that are not just defined by region but by producer make for an array of Whiskies that are superbly complex and near endless discovery.  This Scotch is refined and at 50% ABV stitches together a lyrical Scotch where age mets refinement.  The lingering finish is dynamic and continuous.

Nose of Green apple, clove, underbrush , coriander, lemon peel, green citrus zest; flavour characterization of nutmeg, cardamom, dried fruit, anise, and fennel.

Courtesy of producer.

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 Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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April 2018 Wine Reviews – James Melendez

Just a few wines to share with you for this brief review for April.

Some like to say Rosé season is on the horizon.  I always say Rosé is 365 days a year and 366 on a leap year.  Rosé is too good to just sequester to the warm seasons.  Why wouldn’t you want to have a rose during the cool, rainy and colder seasons – not just brightens the day but a lovely experience.

I remember not that long ago Rosé was so unfashionable—at wine events the wine pouring community had to humbly pour these wines.  Today and actually in the past generation Rosé has certainly dried up.  Though plenty of pallets at the club stores but that is not what many people are seeking.  Soon and someday there will not be no more pallets of the sweet Rosé wines.

 

 

 

 

 

Estate Crush Rosé of Cinsault Bechthold Vineyard Lodi 2016  

A bright and beautiful scent profile; sweet floral bouquet, mountain strawberry, oyster shell and citrus uplift; on the palate a concentration of mountain and field strawberry, Bergamot, sesame, and moist stones.  You don’t see a lot of Cinsault Rosé from California.

***

 

 

 

 

 

Bokisch Terra Alta Vineyard Clement Hills Rosado 2017

80% Garnacha and 20% Tempranillo; clonal selection Rioja and Ribera del Duero.  100% neutral French oak.

Scent of freshly cut flowers, sweet green citrus, plump small strawberries and wet stones. Palate of gold and green citrus zest and peel, high altitude strawberries, hint of white pepper and anise.

SRP: $18 USD

***

Ferraton Père & Fils Samorëns Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2017

A blend of  Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah.

On the nose very slight hint of early season Rainier cherry, fennel, moist granite; on the palate a Rainier cherry, fennel, white pepper and oyster shell.

SRP: $15

***

 

 

 

 

 

M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut “Les Vignes” IGP Pays d’Oc Rosé 2017 

A blend of grenache, syrah and cinsault; nose of Boysenberry, green citrus zest and pulp, and anise; flavour profile of early season cherry, pepper, fennel, and moist stones.

SRP: $15 USD

***

La Petite Marquise Crémant de Loire NV

This wine is a sparkling wine that is ever so Loire it is Chenin blanc 65 %, Chardonnay 20% and Cabernet Franc 15%.  Hand picked grapes and this wine is only $12.99 (in San Francisco).  This wine expresses with a nose of green apple, pear and Lemon preserves, flowers and almonds; the palate is expressing with Granny Smith apples, lemon curd, flowers and fresh almonds.  12.5% ABV

***

 

 

 

 

 

Stella Prosecco NV

Nose of fresh almond, Bergamot, white peach and yellow citrus; palate of white peach, orange and yellow citrus zest and hint of pine nut.

  • 11% ABV
  • $15 USD SRP

***

 

 

 

 

 

Barth René Alsace Pinot Blanc 2014

Pinot Noir needs no introduction nor does Pinot Gris; Pinot Blanc is like the unknown country despite it’s provence is Pinot Noir.  I shouldn’t complain because these wines are glorious and inexpensive.  This wine was only $12.99 (retail price in San Francisco).  12% ABV.  A glorious wine and it is not just because of the price.  Regardless of price it is outstanding and because of it’s price point a dream.  The wine expresses with Cala Lily (many people don’t think they have a smell) to me they smell like a kiss of butter, additionally there are notes of crisp tart green apple, fleshly pear and Adriatic fig; on the palate is a gorgeous and deep connection to mineral – moist stones and oyster shell, green apple and Comice pear and hint of beeswax.  A delight and Pinot Blanc is still an undiscovered wine variety.

***

 

 

 

 

 

Nik Weis Mosel Riesling 2017

A delightful and inexpensive Mosel Riesling–it is a bit off dry–I looked for documentation on sugar content but couldn’t find it.

Scent of quince, pear, apple and hint of cinnamon; palate of mineral, fleshy pear, apple and oyster shell.

***

Lodi Rosé courtesy of each producer and LoCa wines. 

M. Chapoutier, Ferraton, Stella Proseccco and Nik Weis wines from the brands, importers and PR agency.

La Petite Marquise Crémant de Loire NV and Barth René Pinot Blanc is courtesy of me.

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 Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in 9.1, Alsace, Côtes du Rhône, Cinsault, Clement Hills, France, French wines, Garnacha, Germany, Grenache, Mosel, Pinot Blanc, Prosecco, Rosé, Sparkling, Tempranillo | Leave a comment

What QR Code – It’s All About Snapping Photos – James Melendez

In 2011, I wrote an article and recorded a video on QR Code in 2011 and I thought this was a breakthrough in remembering wines, labels and brands.  I thought it was the way of the future.  Not to mention its look very futurie.  I thought people were going to zap the code and voilà – wines remembered.  And it turns it that is not what happened.

Why did this QR revolution not happen?

Here are the reasons–basically a perfect storm of non-movement:

  • There was really no great secret de-coder ring – no one really wanted to turn their phones into code or bar scanners
  • Wine brands for the most part didn’t adopt the QR code
  • Other consumer categories–no one else adopted the QR code for other product lines/categories
  • Instagram – everyone wants to post picture of the object they like, have found or share their ‘social pizza’ slice as they are (not as an abstract symbol)

I was visiting a larger wine retailer in the Bay Area recently and I was fascinating how many people were snapping photos of wine bottles.  Either to recall what they might want to purchase in the future or perhaps ask some a question about the wine they photoed.

I counted the number of customers and the number of people snapping photos and it was 50% — and it was on a busy Saturday.

I was delighted that beyond myself I am not the only wine consumer that snaps photos of wine labels at wine retailers.  I do this because of either outstanding label design or I want to remember to purchase in the future.

While I do think the QR code will not come back in any meaningful way; there will be a technology that is probably either developed or being developed to take both photos and coded with metadata.  The metadata will help to pair the object being photographed with a large array of identifying information.

I was gung-ho for the QR but users wanted the simplest way to communicate or record the object they want to remember versus a treasure trove of data.   The future though is a race of competing technologies and I believe that the most ideal are not always utilised hence alternatives and even fashionable ways of communicating can supersede a technology–social media is dense with both video and photo and abstract looking codes are not desirable.

The one successful code not just on wine bottles is the bar code–though for a commercial purpose it has been used consistently from the 1970s to the present.  Let’s see if there is a need for something beyond photos and scanner codes in the future.

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 Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in QR Quick Recognition | 2 Comments

The Canary in the Coal Mine, YouTube and Complexity – James Melendez

I have written quite a bit about YouTube this year–I have spent so much time developing my channel, my brand and my evergreen content.  I have been a big believer in the power and allure of the video medium.  I was alarmed amongst many about the changes on YouTube especially January of this year (2018) – the daunting requirements especially for niche producers like myself.  It was not just niche producers it has been new producers as well.  A bulk of producers who have been working hard on their channel have been experiencing the random de-monetization of harmless videos and many more surprises that YouTube has been dishing out.

Phil DeFranco is a very accomplished video producer who subject matter is current events with 6.1 million subscribers and 2.2 billion views on YouTube.  I like his show’s format and his reporting on current topics.  I could only think the bigger producers were challenged but no where near smaller producers.   I have heard number one producer on YouTube PewDiePie on his complaints about YouTube as well.  So who is left for those video producers who have not been harmed by YouTube’s Byzantine treatment of it’s own community.

My view point is that YouTube has been hooked on the Paul brothers in particular Logan Paul.  Logan Paul has produced truly tasteless amongst his “best” video but is notorious for his shock video of Suicide forest video and showing a dead body.  Logan Paul’s video was a trending video on YouTube’s main page for 24 hours after posting.

I do blame Logan Paul for YouTube’s terrible decisions against smaller producers and draconian demonetization of many producers for nothing other than being small producers.  YouTube says that have “punished” him for his bad behaviour but ultimately love Logan Paul for his tasteless videos and the short term gain is all the hungry YouTube alogrithm loves.

I digress… back to Phil DeFranco and he caught my attention by this comment (video is below):

“I am tired of trying to deal with the alcoholic negligent stepfather that is YouTube.  At this point it doesn’t really matter if you (YouTube) are swerving this car into a tree or a sleep at the wheel…” 

Well said.  Right after I finished watching the video made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  The canary in the coal mine was this video by Phil DeFranco about the state of YouTube.  YouTube algorithm is failing and has been failing for sometime.  As far as I know YouTube is not profitable and under it’s current state will never be profitable.

I have heard Susan Wojcicki’s speak in her hyperbolic tone about how great YouTube is at VidCon.  While YouTube like’s to congratulate itself it… “300 hours are uploaded every second….” YouTube has a LOT of problems and it doesn’t know how to deal with them.  YouTube wants to “protect” its revenue stream by demonetizing producers left and right but back at the ranch thousands if not hundreds of thousands of videos are monetized by people who don’t own that content (just randomly search for a music video–super easy to find).

The very favoured and hallowed ALGORITHM in Silicon Valley has fallen down and can’t get up.  Basically the one size fits all algorithm doesn’t work and, in fact, has never worked they way it is suppose to work.

If YouTube or Facebook just wants to be a platform well that train has left the proverbial station years ago and it’s never coming back.  Facebook and YouTube and others are having problems with something simple: Complexity.  Without understanding the rigor that is complexity this will not only NOT solve these business problems it will keep them wildly fermenting.  The foundation of understanding complexity is the key to making progress, making the business work for all stakeholders and to optimise profitability.

The other big problem is Scrum or incremental/iterative to technology development.  The approach is to build to larger more noticeable releases but often they may lack say in the case of Facebook and it’s Cambridge Analytica situation was what did Facebook know happened to the 80 mm users data?  I think that as Facebook and this can go for any other complex site that privacy and security are not always part of either the incremental development or even the larger releases.  Building by requirements is to complete the immediacy of that requirement but not watching out for privacy or security.  There are inherent weakness of not understanding the whole and having that comprehensive knowledge of how a site truly works.

***

YouTube and Google’s way of doing business if folkloric if not very antiquated.  Just because Susan rented out her garage to Larry Page and Serge Brin means a lifetime of employment as a CEO of YouTube?!?   There needs to be a leadership change at YouTube not just of the senior leader but a all senior leaders who cannot evolve the company to current 2018 needs.

I have a lot to say and YouTube has certainly dampened my enthusiasm.  I use to produce a video nearly everyday and it is about a month since my last upload on YouTube.

YouTube cannot continue it’s outstandingly poor relationship with it’s community by which if we are not producing content YouTube would cease to exist.  Gratitude is needed more than ever.

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 Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Top 50 Under Realised Wine Regions/Countries in the World – James Melendez

There are so many wine regions on the planet and many that are either rarely found at wine retailer or a restaurant wine list.  I wanted to create this wine list because there are so many wine countries that are producing fantastic wines; many points of difference and that need to be highlighted.

There are two things that prompted me to start this list.  One was that I write up what I am looking at tasting each year as some wine countries are either hard to find or rarely land on my tasting table.  And secondly I recalled in the past few years listening to a European producer say how hard it is for his wine regions to be a point of difference.  I’d like to add to the conversation of point of difference wine regions around the world that are not always thought about.

Firstly like my top 100 wine list.  Number one doesn’t represent the first amongst all wine regions.  This list is sorted in alphabetical order to avoid any confusion about listing.  Also and equally important is that this doesn’t make these wine regions rise above known wine regions.  Simply it is not to pit this group of wine regions producer against others or to say one is superior to another.  I miss the opportunity when these wine regions are on the road and have the chance to taste at a consumer/trade/media event.

Ultimately, I hope it may be a thought starter for you to think about wines from each of these regions.  Perhaps a request to your wine merchant and to the wine director at your favourite restaurants.  A world of wines from all reaches of the planet is important for not just remembering a wine region but also that you have the most expansive list of wines available to you for your enjoyment.

  1. Alto Adige/Südtirol – I have been to historic city of Trento; gorgeous views of the Alps; I walked to a vineyard and loved putting my foot on ground in a region where I adore the points of differences.  Schiava (Vernatsch) is one that is out there more plentiful than other wines.  Be sure to taste the lovely Lagrein as well as Pinot Bianco and Riesling wines and others from this region.
  2. Abruzzo – Adriatic facing region with dominate grapes of Trebbiano and Montepulciano.
  3. Anderson Valley – gorgeous sparkling wines, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris.  Some of my most favourite California Pinot Noir’s come from Anderson Valley.
  4. Aragon: Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Somontano – gorgeous Garnacha (Grenache) – high quality and distinctive Grenache often at a very approachable price point.  Try the red, white and rosé bottlings.  This regions Garnacha were the first Garnacha I tasted and for me began a love affair of this variety from this region.
  5. Australia – Australia?!?  Yes, Australia wines are out there but not just as plentiful as say a generation ago.  Australia not only does fantastic Shiraz (Syrah) but also Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and lyrical Pinot Noir.  Australia is one of the most prolific wine produces in terms of how many wine varieties are grown.  I have delighted and been in awe of Australian wines and the desire to produce world class wines.
  6. Austria – it is not just the land of Grüner Veltliner though this country producer gorgeous Grüner; the reds are equally wonderful.  When I think of Austria I think of Sankt Laurent wines–a variety thought is hauntingly similar to Pinot Noir just on senses experience but not necessarily on the genetic level.  I am always longing to taste Austrian wines.
  7. Basilicata – the region south of Campania with outstanding Aglianico.  The prized Aglianico del Vulture DOC is in this region.  Aglianico is truly the noble grape of southern Italy. I love this region–so hard to find these wines but truly a treasure to find.
  8. Basque Country – the land of Txakoli; a fantastic low alcohol slightly effeversent white wine from the Hondarrabi Zuri and other grapes as well.  There is a red Txakoli from the Hondarribi Beltza grape–makes a glorious Rosé wine – curious thing about the name of Txakoli is that the name of denominations.  Originally the word was Txakolin as this is consistent with Basque words of liquids end in “n” not in “i”.  A delighted region for wines.  So wonderfully food friendly wines.  A point of departure wines.
  9. Bekaa Valley, Lebanon – an ancient producer of wines; you will find mainly Bordeaux and Rhone varieties.  Handsome wines are coming from Lebanon.
  10. Bierzo – the Mencia grape is king here and produces lovely and memorable wines; Godello is the white grape most associated with this DO.  I have been fortunate to visit this DO.
  11. Calabria – Gaglioppo is the king of red wine and the most planted of both red and white wine.  Last year I found an exciting bottle of a white Calibrian blend called Chora.  This blend is composed of Mantonico Bianco, Garnacha Bianco, and Pecorello.  An Italian region that is easy to get to Rome via train but it is on the other side of the world in terms of finding these wines outside of Calabria in Italy.  Worth seeking.
  12. Campania – this Italian regions produces phenomenal wines.  You will find Falanghina, Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio, Piedirosso, Greco di Tufo and Aglianico.  Gorgeous wines from this region to grace your tasting table.  I love this region and have found good value in these wines.
  13. Canary Islands – I like the Listan wines red and white.  Hard to find but worth the hunt.
  14. Catalunya: Costers del Segre, Empordà, Penedès, Terra Alta – I have been tasting wines from this region for years; they should have a greater presence both on and off premise; fantastic high quality wines at approachable price points.  And I gave Montsant their own point–I tell you more below.  Garnatxa and Carignan represent the region well and create dynamic wines.  Price points are quite approachable.  Do you love Barcelona?  Extend your stay by pouring wines that are easily found in Barcelona on your table–seek this region’s wines out.
  15. Cava – What?!? Cava?!  Yes, Cava – when I was in Spain recently I was reminded about the many wonderful bottles that never hit the North American Shore.  I saw so many Brut Nature–I was in heaven.  Brut Nature in my Hamlet of San Francisco is as rare as spun gold.  Cava has a place at the wine table.  So many are at reasonable price points and definitively a great sparkler from the Iberian peninsula.  I think Cava is not just about price point but high quality and distinctive.  Many people think of sparkling wines and Cava should be thought of as well as a place to source sparkling wines.
  16. Corsica – While a French island it is not quite French and not quite Italian.  Absolutely lovely wines; you’ll find Rhone varieties and native varieties like Nielluccio, and Sciacarello.  And of course Vermentino.  More widely available today but always great to ask your wine merchant if they will bring some in.
  17. Croatia – the birthplace of Zinfandel; there are many grapes that are indigenous to Croatia only and even within the nation very limitedly planted.  Wines to seek out: Pošip, Debit, Babić, Plavac Mali, and Vranec as they are more likely to be distributed.
  18. Czech Republic – I visited Praha only a couple of years ago and expected only to drink Pilsner.  I didn’t expect to find so many wonderful wines that I have never seen a single bottle in the United States.  The quality of wines were excellent and ready for export to any wine appreciating country.  I loved the Svatovavřinecké (St. Laurent), Frankovka (Blaufrankish), Rulandské modré (Pinot Noir), Ryzlink rýnský (Riesling) and Veltlínské zelené (Grüner Veltliner).  Most of the countries wine grapes are grown in the south in Moravia.  So when you are in Prague (Praha) be sure to seek out Czech wines–it may be a long time before they end up in North America.
  19. English Sparkling Wine Country – have finally got acclaim and while easier to find the UK they are not as plentiful as one might think.  The Burgundy varieties that compose English sparkling wine have found a great home for on point sparklers.  On a recent trip through the UK these wines can be found in Duty Free shops.  I have only found one label ever in the US.
  20. Friuli Venezia-Giulia – a fantastic wine region with many smaller regions like Collio, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Isonzo, and Carso.  The entire region has international varieties planted.  Lovely Cabernet Franc.  I am in love with grapes from this region like Schioppettino, Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Verduzzo, Refosco and Tazzelenghe.  So unique and a world apart from many people taste today.  Keep on your radar–ask your wine merchant to bring them in.
  21. Germany – known for Rieslings; but I would say in addition to Riesling try the Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) is not to be missed; these wines rarely ever make US shore.  I love Pinot Noir and these wines are great values and are superb wines.  Germany produces many wines and it’s export identity is known only for Riesling.  Try the Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Lemberger (Blaufrankish)
  22. Grand Valley – I have been to Colorado many times– I have tasted a number of Cabernet’s from this region in Western Colorado.  The wines are promising and I hope to taste a wide array from producers in the future. The wines are truly a representative of high elevation, continental climate of Bordeaux varieties.
  23. Greece – Greek producers have worked so hard to bring their wines to the US and I wish I found them more plentifully.  A great way to enjoy food with the many lovely Greek varieties.  An ancient wine producer.  Don’t think of Greek wine only with Greek food.  Be creative–I enjoy Greek wine with seafood.
  24. Hungary – I think Hungarian wines are a treasure that still needs to be celebrated.  Yes, Furmint has been receiving lots of praise as it should.  I would like to see Furmint on more wine lists… a great opportunity to serve by the glass and of course I want to see many more bottles on wine shelves at wine retailers.  I love love love Furmint and I think there are some other wine varieties that are so special and wish to taste more often:  Ezerjó, Hárslevelű, Irsai Oliver, Cserszegi Fűszeres and Királyleányka, Juhfark–don’t let the names or diacritical worry you about pronunciation.  Sterling varieties and what I have tasted have all been stellar wines.   There is Törley sparkling wines – inexpensive and featuring grapes like Királyleányka, Riesling, and Grüner Veltliner – bring out the oysters.  You will also find red wines like the well known Bull’s Blood (Kekfrancos), Blauer Portugieser, Pinot Noir and other international varieties.
  25. Jura – a wine region in eastern France specialising in the grapes of Poulsard and Trousseau.  Macvin du Jura is a region that specialises in late harvest wines–dazzling wines.  Like spun gold – hard to find but worth finding.
  26. Lazio – Rome so heavily visited yet the wines are lesser known outside the Lazio.  I love the Bellone grape and it may have been what the Roman’s drank 2,000 years ago.  On Wikipedia is says it is a red grape–it is not and clearly in the white camp.  You will also find Vermentino, Cesanese, Grechetto and other varieties.  I have found so approachable and generally inexpensive wines from the Lazio.
  27. Liguria – When I was in Cinque Terre I was dazzled by the charming Italian villages along the Italian Riviera; I was dazzled as well by the Vermentino from this region.   There was no finer moment for me to sit down in Monterosso (one of the five villages in the Cinque Terre) and enjoying Vermentino along with the regions dish Pesto.   Delightful wines–a hint of salinity; gorgeous and I can also imagine this wine with oysters.
  28. Loire Valle – Loire Valley is an outstanding large region with many subregions.  The crémant from the region is wonderful and I think a majority of these wines inexpensive, high quality and reflect this areas character.  Lovely Chinon, Touraine, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.  I think the price points are very approachable.
  29. Macedonia – I have reviewed a number of Macedonia wines.  I have referred to Macedonia as the Republic of Macedonia to not confuse the region in Greece with the same name.  I have tasting several Vranec wines and loved them.  Vranec has a DNA relationship to Primitivo– a very important grape to this region.  Also Rkaciteli (Rkatsiteli) is an important white wine grape. All of these wines are such a great value.
  30. Marin County – just north of San Francisco–across the Golden Gate bridge–while on the map it is a smaller California County and of course land pressures will always keep viticulture as a very small activity. I have tasted several Pinot Noir and so very different from it’s brethren county in Sonoma.  If you get a chance taste a Marin County Pinot Noir.
  31. Mexico/Valle de Guadalupe – just across the border and down the Baja coast highlights most international varieties as well as Iberian and Italian varieties.  I have only tasted wines from this only a handful of times and loved everything I tasted.
  32. Molise – on the Adriatic coast sandwiched between Puglia and Abruzzo it is a region known for it’s Trebbiano and Montepulciano.   There are four DOCs: 1) Biferno 2) Molise 3) Pentro di Isernia 4) Tintilia – I have never tasted wines from Pentro di Isernia and Tintilia and I do ask my favourite wine merchants and wine directors to locate.  The wines I find most often are Molise DOC and have all been lovely wines and a very approachable price point.
  33. Montsant – I could have easily placed Montsant in the Catalunya entry but I specifically call this out because it’s neighbour Priorat gets all the acclaim and Montsant is sometimes referred to as the ‘baby Priorat’. It is not a baby on any level.  Wine grape cultivation has been happened here for at least two millennia – polished and superb wine country.  The grapes mainly in this DO are Garnatxa, Samsó (Carignan), and Garnatxa Blanca.  I was certainly impressed on a recent visit of this region of it’s heritage and excellence in wine making.  Gorgeous wines.
  34. Murcia: Jumilla, Yecla, Bullas – a giant in southeast Spanish wines producing Monastrell (Mourvèdre) – glorious wines and when I tasted years ago loved then and still today.  Such an outstanding wine region and to seek out these wines.
  35. New York – the regions of the Finger Lakes, North Fork of Long Island and Hudson Valley all producing high quality and delightful wines.  Outstanding Cabernet Franc and Merlot from Long Island; Long Island is producing many international variety white and red wines.  I tasted a delightful Albariño and wish there was more planted in New York.  The Grüner Veltliner as I have read “shows promise” but I would posit that it is not just a proof of concept but instead are lovely wines to seek out.  Definitive Grüner Veltliner from the Finger Lakes is something to look out for.  Riesling is of acclaim to Finger Lakes seek out these wines as well… and well be sure to pair with oysters.  I am due back for a visit to New York—I have been in sometime.
  36. Portugal – the top of mind for some people is the fortified wines from Portugal–I appreciate Ports and I also look to the non-fortified of Portugal to appreciate.  Portugal has many styles and varieties make for a unique bottle—all approachable and appreciable.  I have always found Portuguese wines very approachable in terms of price point.
  37. Okanagan Valley – British Columbia’s wine region.  Scenically gorgeous wiht the very giant and deep and life giving Lake Okanagan; it is region that has very beautiful international varieties.  The dominance and share of mind is the Vitis vinifera grape in the region.  With a car it is an easy and friendly place to visit–no dramatic lines.  I love for example Tantulus Rieslings (I still have a bottle) I will only open when I know I will be going back to Okanagan Valley.  I have tasted lovely Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Tempranillo, and Petit Verdot to name a few.  While the ice wines make their way down to California the still and sparkling wines don’t.  You will find these wines readily available in Vancouver–so when you visit be sure to taste.
  38. Paso Robles – in San Francisco my base; I can go through many a wine store and wine list and never find a Paso Robles wine.  Paso Robles is only 204 miles away but it might as well be on the far side of the moon as it relates to on-off premise availability in the Bay Area.   Known most often for the Rhone wines.  There is such a great plethora of varieties and they all do well in this area.  Most people I know in the Bay Area do repeats of Napa and Sonoma through the year without ever giving Paso a passing thought.  While 3 hours each way is a deterrent for some.  I do think it is a great weekend getaway.  And even if I don’t have time to visit-I still seek these wines out.
  39. Puglia – a region I fell fond for many years ago.  Having been fortunate to visit several times.  The alluring and unusual Negroamaro is a representative wine of this region; Negroamaro means (negro) black/dark and (amaro) sour/bitter.  Primitivo and Nero di Troia are also grown here and are important grapes to the region.
  40. Santa Barbara – A lot of people pay attention to Sta Rita Hills and yet there is so much more in this vast county of Bordeaux and Rhone varieties.   You do see Santa Barbara wines on wine lists in California–I would say more often in Southern California than in Northern California.  A wine country that certainly deserves more attention.
  41. Santa Cruz Mountains – just south of San Francisco and boarding the Bay Area and some might argue it is part of the Bay Area.  A very large AVA with small amounts of wine grapes planted.  Rugged, pristine and beautiful.  Great examples of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and other varieties.  So many outstanding wines and these wines are unfortunately not plentiful at any wine retailer in San Francisco or wine list.  I know that is the case across the US.
  42. Savoy – I love the wines from this small French region–near Switzerland.  The wine varieties are Altesse AKA Roussette, Pinot Gris, Mondeuse, and Pinot Noir.
  43. Sicily – the Italian Island of intrigue and beauty; a lot of attention goes to Etna wines which are sterling of course.  Sicily has so many wonderful wines to offer and I recommend to try if you haven’t ever or even recently: Nero d’Avola, Frappato, Grillo, Cataratto, Inzolia and Perricone.  Also not to be missed are the Passito de Pantelleria.   You can also find wines that are also blended with international varieties – a very lovely origin for wines.  And very nice price points I might add.
  44. Sierra Foothills – I only taste at media/trade or consumer events and yet these wines in my home base of California of course are not easy to find.  This region produces delightful Bordeaux and Rhone varieties but also Iberian and Italian varieties and all at reasonable price points.
  45. Slovenia – a wine world that produces mainly white wines; consumes most of them domestically and exports some precious bottles around the world.  I love wines like Ribolla, Vitovska, Zelen, Laški Rizling, and Ravenec and also international varieties.  Lovely food and stand alone wines.
  46. South Africa – while South Africa has gotten a lot of attention in the past decade it would be great to see that translate to wine lists.  I have rarely seen a South African wine on a restaurant wine list.  Wine retailers may have a few bottles but a full spectrum of what South Africa has to offer would be ideal.  I love so many wines from South Africa–I have tasted outstanding Rhone varieties, red and white blends.  Seek out South African wine not to be served just with Bobotie but anything you might be serving.
  47. Southern Oregon – Umpqua Valley, Applegate Valley –  Oregon is often thought of as Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris state which of course produces outstanding Pinot Noir and Gris wines.  To the south is Oregon’s region where Bordeaux, Rhone, Italian and Iberian varieties grow nicely and sculpted into beautiful wines.  These wines deserve a lot of spotlight and of course a taste.
  48. Valle d’Aosta – this Italian DOC in far northwest with unique varieties of Petit Rouge – bright and earthy and Petite Arvine a lovely white wine for seafood and cheeses
  49. Virginia – The Commonwealth of Virginia and producers have worked hard to promote the states wines.  It is a state known for it’s Cabernet Franc and Viognier.  I would point out that there is considerable variation–Petit Verdot, Vermentino, Verdejo, Chadonnay, Pinot Noir and Petit Manseng to name a few.
  50. Washington State: Wahluke Slope, Red Mountain, Columbia Gorge (Oregon/Washington), Puget Sound – Washington is known in many areas of producing acclaimed Bordeaux and Rhone varieties and other variety sets as well.  I wanted to look at smaller and lesser known AVAs.  I went to a wine merchant here in San Francisco and asked for a Syrah from Wahluke Slope.  I got a response of “where’s Wahluke Slope.”  So I do want to highlight these regions and the entire state as well.  From my San Francisco home base Washington State is just up the coast but from the on and off premise side it might as well be on the opposite side of the planet.  I remember I was at Pullman Wine Bar in Montreal and found an amazing Wahluke Slope Syrah.

Next time you are looking for something different give one of these regions a taste.  Do you taste wines from these regions?  What are your thoughts on this list?  What region might you add or even remove?

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 Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Current Trade War Tensions and Wine – James Melendez

I, of course, am against tariffs and boycotts on products like wine and all products where it is targeted ‘just because.’  The current environment and China’s latest Tariff’s on US products affects people producing these products.  And yes it is not just out of the blue it is in response to the US’s tariffs on steel and now 1,300 Chinese produced products.  As I write this I am sure this is not going to suddenly get better.

I think when wine is targeted it is not thought of as people who produce it versus an emotional tug to get a reaction.   While 15% tariff may not seem to be high but it can currently shift other wine producing countries wines ahead.  According to the Wine Institute of California the current tax on a bottle of US wine in China is 48.7% and a 15% tariff would increase to 67.7%.

If US wine is perceived as expensive and there is an alternative for a lower price/high quality wines from Australia and Europe then consumers will do that.  For US producers and that is mainly west coast wine state producers of California, Oregon and Washington accounts for most of the wine exported to not just China but around the world.  There have been many US wine producers who have worked exceptionally hard to cultivate their market in China and if this prolonged tit for tat continues US producers have their work cut out for them.  Again when specific products are targeted there are always people behind them that depend on their livelihood.

I was watching NBR (Nightly Business Report) and a banker thought the trade war tensions wouldn’t last long and the harm would be minor.  But for many products not just wine; items are sold with great effort and promotion.  Getting people to re-engage is of course an almost re-starting position for US wine producers.

I also reported recently on the wine ban of BC wines in the province of Alberta (Alberta’s Two Week Boycott of BC Wines).  The issue was not about wine at all it was to gain leverage on an energy pipeline.  Luckily this “ban” didn’t last long.  And this ban had nothing to do with wine–so sad this happens within a country.

I am against all bans and trade wars–no one truly wins them.  Negotiation and trade deals are important and benefit all participants.  Also a trade deal or treaty is not just a singular event but negotiation and active management is required over time.

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 Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Bans, Trade, Treaty | Leave a comment

DO Montsant – A Catalunya Gem – Part I – James Melendez

This is part I of a III part series on DO Montsant. The intention of the three part series is to get a before, during and after reporting of the experience.   Also in this article I am attempting to showing a majority of pictures or maps that I found online to share what I utilised to orient my understanding of DO Montsant.

DO Montsant Encircles DOQ Priorat

This is a map of Priorat County which encompasses both DOQ Priorat and DO Montsant

I was invited on a tour of the DO Montsant with several of my wine writing friends early March 2018.

I was excited to be around people that I like to spend time with as well as uncover and discover DO Montsant with a ‘Foot-on-Ground’ tour.

DO Montsant is in the same county of DOQ Priorat (Denominació d’Origen Qualificada) one of only two of Spain’s highest quality designation, in fact, the county where Priorat and Monstant exist share Falset as it’s capital.  But DO Montsant is it’s own appellation and in writing and I do chagrin when I see people write that DO Montsant is a baby “Priorat.”  While the Vitis vinifera variety sets are essential the same ones—one region is overwhelmingly well known and the other an undiscovered wine country that is being discovered.  DO Montsant is relatively new as a DO since 2001 but plantings are not just a few generations old but has been producing wines for millennia since the Romans–so to diminish Montsant as a “baby” region fails to acknowledge the long wine making tradition in Montsant.

I was anticipating what would I find, what would it look like, feel like, sound like, taste and smell like—yes the senses experience is not just an investigation but the course of falling in love with place.  I had seen many pictures prior to landing my foot on the ground in DO Montsant.  What struck me was the mesmerizing landscape of rugged mountains, crisp ridge lines and jutting mountain peaks.   There is patchwork quilt of woven textures of green trees (both evergreen and deciduous), exposed mineral and rocks and the pulse rises seeing the evening sun play with the folds of shadow and texture.  When I saw the images of the mountains and exposed rock it lend me to research some top line notes on the geology.  Montsant is in this red block (in map below) where the Catalan Coastal Range from the Paleozoic meets with the Ebro Basin from the Cenozoic period.

The soils are a gift of time and particular intersections of time.  The three main soil composition are 1) Calcareous (Limestone) where material is a result of erosion and the reddish content is from clay; 2) Granitic Soil – when conglomerates erode and 3) Slate.

Montsant sank quickly with me just from a photo survey.  How might I understand the wines and the influences which is decidedly a Mediterranean relationship for the prizes of Garnacha/Garnatxa and Carginan/Carinyena.  The answers were notions I had based on my experience with Priorat and I knew that I could not compare to other Garnacha producing regions like Aragon, Terra Alta, and Empordà.   I have a great love Garnaxta and find this variety in the Iberian Peninsula to be that which I long for.  A beautiful expression of an original and ancient variety stemming from as it has long been assumed to be from Aragon (spread by the old Kingdom)–two distinct thoughts–it came from Aragon and spread east and another school that says it came from Sardegna and spread west.  Regardless of where it originates it has a long heritage in Montsant, Priorat, Terra Alta, Empordà and all of the Aragon appellations.  But a defining point in say Aragon and Montsant is that the weather is quite different.  Montsant is much closer to the Mediterranean has a cool touch especially during summer evening than say the Aragon DOs which is very hot during summer and a more continental climate.  What is true about Iberian and Italian Garnacha is that it is significantly older than Grenache in France which arrived later much later (the 17th century).  There is no doubt that Garnacha is much older and had been part of this world much longer than France.

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Here is what I do when I embark on a visit to wine region – I lean on online research as well as books in my collection to understand a place and I look at each source to build my minds impression of place:

I looked at Google Maps and Google Earth to look at the DO Montsant

  • What will I learn about the topography?
  • What are the fundamentals and uniquely features of geography of place
  • How are the vineyards placed?
    • A massive floor of vineyards or rarer placement of vineyards?
    • What other vegetation/agriculture is around the vineyards – (the image below shows a section of trees either Olive, Almond or Hazelnut trees or all of them)

I viewed Instagram and Pinterest for a pictorial framing of landscape, vineyards, fruit, harvest, winery facilities and the communities in that region and anything I could locate.

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Also, I looked at a text like Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd Edition) and there was no entry for ‘Montsant’ (I did search ‘Priorat’ to see if by chance there might be a mention and there was not).  I also leaned on the Wine Grapes book by Robinson, Harding and Vouillamoz to see how much in depth there is a conversation about Montsant or at least Catalunya about Garnatxa (Garnacha) and Carinyena (Carignan) – the flagship red wine grapes of Montstant.  The only mention was that in Catalunya, Carinyena (Carignan) also goes by the name of Samsó.

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There are approximately 1,906 Hectares /4,709 Acres of vines planted; a majority of this is planted to red wine grapes 1,803 Hectares and 65% of this is devoted to Garnaxta and Carinyena; and remaining grape varieties include Ull de llebre (Tempranillo), Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Peluda “Hairy Grenache”, Garnacha Roja, Monastrell, and Picapoul Negre.

White wine grape varieties are planted at 103 Hectares and 54% are planted with Garnaxta Blanca and remainder is Macabeu, Chadonnay, Moscatell de Gra Petit, Xarel-lo, and Parellada.

My snapshot is to get a cornerstone of where a wine countries story begins and I am carried forward to tell more of this story once my heel first sets foot on the ground.  DO Montsant is not just a story of about variety, history, people or cultural context but all of them. I have more to tell as wines from each wine growing region represents a unique story that can only come from a particular place.  I am a huge proponent of individuality of region and the beauty they offer.

Without the opportunity of place/terroir wine grapes would not show their uniqueness of where they are cultivated.  Weather, geology, viticulture, and viniculture each help to craft what wine will taste like and in DO Montsant’s case – a region with compelling soil content, weather and winemakers who bring it all together to create memorable wines.

Please stay tuned for my second article about DO Montsant (will be published sometime in April 2018).

Alegres,

James

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

Resources:

The Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd Edition) – Jancis Robinson
Wine Grapes – Robinson, Harding and Vouillamoz
Dossier Montsant – DO Montsant
Geology of Spain: A history of Six Hundred Million Years – I. Melendez Havia

© 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 Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Images courtesy of DO Montsant and Wikipedia Creative Commons PePeEfe and Google Earth/Maps.

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Posted in Carignan, Catalunya, Garnacha, Montsant, Spain | 2 Comments