Jeremy Parzens @ DoBianchi continues to keep us informed on what has been called “The Nebbiolo Wars.”
“I am trying to make an honest wine, one that reflects all of the qualities of our territory, both its strengths as well as its flaws.“ – Maria Teresa Mascarello. Photo by Tim Atkins on Flick’r.
There is something missing in the world of modern-day winemaking. Or maybe several somethings.
This daughter of legendary winemaker Bartolo Mascarello is not one to mince words or opinions, whether it’s about her refusal to visit New York City or her thoughtful belief that to know a wine, you first must know its vineyard.
Everything she does is in the traditional method, down to the unheated and uncooled cellar where her wines age for years before being released.
And while critics, writers and the rest of the world casually tosses about the word “terroir” without perhaps understanding what it is they are talking about, Moscarello sees a vineyard’s terroir as just the starting point for enjoying her wines.
And, as Dalton points out, she believes that one of the measures of a wine’s success is that people will stick around and work the vineyards that produce it.
But perhaps her most telling statement, at least for me, was her saying that she enjoys the different vintages, and even more when they prove difficult.
“Every year is different,” Mascarello said. “I don’t find the same elegance (in 2013, her latest to be bottled) as I find in the 2010 and the 2012 but I like the difference.”
She said that when she tastes a wine, first she tastes and recognizes the grape variety.
“And second, I recognize the weather,” she said.
“Every year is different, that’s important to me because I like different,” she goes on. “I have more affection for the difficult (vintages).”
Among the samples we receive here at WO International occasionally are wines that are worth mentioning but don’t warrant an entire blog entry. This summer has been particularly good for new whites and rosés and I better catch up while I have time. All prices may vary.
13 Celsius 2015 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (sample) – The name refers to the recommended serving temperature (56 F) and the high-tech label changes to blue when that temperature is reached. Glitzy label aside, this is New Zealand sauvignon blanc at its best: good acidity and structure and flavors of citrus, nectarine and slight vegetal. $12-15 SRP.
Seghesio 2012 Sonoma County Arneis (purchased) –This ia traditional northern Italian white but instead of the 2015 vintage I was looking for, I found this 2012. I was happy I did. A bit of age added some flavors of dried apricots and little nuttiness. $15 SRP.
Puligny Montrachet “Les Enseigneres” 2012 (purchased) – I normally wouldn’t purchase a wine normally priced at $55 but there is lot of this on sale. A knockout white Burgundy with power, balance and the white flowers, pear, apples and minerality (there’s that word) for which the area is known. $45.
Guigal Cote du Rhone 2015 Rosé (sample) $14 SRP. – Is rosé season over already? Not hardly if you are a lover of rosé and looking at the markdowns in the stores, it may be time to stock the pantry. This is a fine food wine to serve year-round, a blend of mostly Grenache with Cinsault and Syrah, with cherry and floral notes. $14 SRP.
Some ideas from Avvinare for those who feel incerto di cosa fare by the earthquake in Italy…
Like most Italophiles and people the world over, I am thinking of what to do to participate in helping the area devastated by the recent earthquake in Italy. While there is no way to repair the loss of life, one can lend economic support. Watching the Rai last night ithey mentioned that that is what is crucial right now.
So in that vein, here is the information for the Red Cross:
The IBAN number is:
Beneficiary: Associazione italiana della Croce Rossa
Subject: Terremoto Centro Italia
Additionally, Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food, has suggested that everyone encourage restaurants to put l’Amatriciana on their menus and then each restaurateur will devolve part of the proceeds from the sale of that dish to those in need. In Rome this is already happening. I think that’s a great idea and one I actually had thought of as well the night…
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The world, at last that part which still hadn’t been shaken awake, awoke Wednesday morning to find parts of central Italy devastated (I can’t think of a better word) by a series of earthquakes.
Tremors of up to 6.2 magnitude still were being reported Thursday across parts of three regions – Umbria, Lazio and Marche – with the greatest damage and most casualties said to be centered in the small mountain town (population about 2,000) of Amatrice, which a report in the New York Times said resembled a “war zone.”
Other jolts were being reported as far away as Rome and Bologna.
“It was Dante’s ‘Inferno,’ it was apocalyptic, I don’t know,” said one survivor in the Times.
Today’s edition of La Repubblica reports at least 250 people have been killed, many of them caught in their beds when the earthquake struck at 3:36 a.m. It’s feared the death toll will reach that of the 2009 earthquake in and around the town of Aquila which claimed an estimated 309 loves.
I’ve been watching and reading with the help of other Italophone bloggers, notably Jeremy Parzens and Susannah Gold, both of who speak fluent Italian and both of who have strong ties with the people and culture of Italy.
Having the opportunity to sit in judgment of Colorado wines, or wines from any region or country, for that matter, is a privilege no one takes lightly.
At least, no one with whom I’ve sat on any judging panel.
My most-recent judging experience came a few weeks ago for the 2016 Colorado Wine Governor’s Cup competition.
I’ve watched and reported on the Colorado wine industry since 1990, when it was a small (like four or five) handful of wineries.
Since then it’s grown to more than 140 wineries across the state and over the years the quality of winemaking continues to improve.
True, a few wines of the 250 or so wines we tasted this year should not have been bottled, but that can be said of any wine competition, and each year the unremarkable wines are fewer and fewer.
More importantly, the judges had opportunities to taste some amazing, beautiful and fascinating wines, sometimes all at once, in the same bottle.
Many of the red wines made from Grand Valley AVA grapes, particularly the Cabernet Sauvignons, were lauded as “Gorgeous, with completeness at all levels, beginning, middle and end,” by the esteemed Warren Winiarski, winner of the 1976 Judgment of Paris and a winemaker who knows a thing or a million about red wines.
Not as many white wines won double-gold medals as in years past but much of that had to do with some of the whites we might have tasted would have had to come from 2014, the second of two consecutive very poor harvests due to extraordinary winters.
And just when most of us totally were confused by the intense and multi-layered flavors of mead, it took Glenn Exline, director of the Mazer Cup International Mead Competition, to tell us that these “were (some of) the best examples I’ve ever tasted.”
But what struck me is that so many Colorado winemakers again sat out the only wine competition dedicated solely to Colorado wines.
Of the state’s 140-plus wineries, only 35 sent entries to the Governor’s Cup.
That’s about the same number as last year, and the year before, so while each year the number of Colorado wineries continues to increase, the number of wineries entering the Gov’s Cup stays about the same.
The reasons vary: some wineries didn’t have their wine bottled at the time entries were requested, others forget to sent their entries on time, and some winemakers simply don’t like contests.
And at least one winemaker has passed on the Colorado contest in favor of larger competitions with a national or international focus.
“Why would I want a gold medal from Colorado when I can get one from San Francisco?” she said. “It has more marketing value.”
As more than one winemaker has said, customers like to see bling, and it’s arguable if the casual customer differentiates between the Governors Cup, the Eastern International or the San Francisco International.
Participating in the state’s namesake wine competition allows you to see where you and your winemaking skills are in relation to other Colorado winemakers.
And if you’re already an established and well-respected winemaker but feel the Colorado competition isn’t up to your level of winemaking, it may be that your participation and the wines you bring would be enough to raise the level of accomplishment in everyone’s wines.
A “rising tide” pertains to an ocean of wine, as well.
This year’s Colorado Wine Governor’s Cup Competition, sponsored by the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, wound up Aug. 4 with Meadery of the Rockies in Palisade and Bookcliff Vineyards of Boulder sharing Best of Show in their respective divisions.
A Strawberry Honey wine from the Meadery won the cider, fruit wine and mead division while Bookcliff took the traditional grape wine division with its 2013 Ensemble, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.
Additionally, Bookcliff and Whitewater Hill Vineyards of Grand Junction both had three wines included in the Governor’s Cup Case, which this year holds 18 bottles instead of the 12 usually found in a case of wine.
The other six are ciders, fruit wines and meads. Meadery of the Rockies and Colorado Cellars both have two fruit wines selected for the case.
The complete list of winners can be found on the Colorado Wine Industry Development website here.
This year’s Governor’s Cup, the only wine competition exclusively for Colorado wines, featured 250 wines from 35 Colorado wineries and continues as a much-awaited display of the state’s steadily improving wine industry.
An observer might expect, given the state has 140-plus wineries, to see more than one-quarter of those wineries entering the state’s namesake competition.
The reasons for the lack of entrants are several, including some wineries don’t open their email to see the invitation or forget to send their entries on time.
Some wineries enter other competitions and say they can’t afford to enter another contest, although at $25 per entry, Colorado charges only a fraction of that charged by national or international wine contests.
But in truth, some winemakers simply don’t hold the state competition in high esteem.
One winemaker I recently talked to, a talented vigneron who in the past has done quite well at competitions at various levels, has quit entering the state contest.
She said it’s worth more from a marketing standpoint to enter the better-known San Francisco International Wine Competition, the largest in the U.S.
“Why waste the money to get a medal here when I can get a gold or double-gold from San Francisco?” she asked, not expecting an answer.
There are a couple of good reasons why winemakers enter competition. One is to see where they stand in relation to current levels of winemaking, an effort at making sure they “aren’t standing still,” as Parker Carlson once told me.
Another is to see if their taste still is true. One recognized danger facing winemakers (and wine writers) is “cellar palate,” which may happen by drinking only one’s own local wine and not picking up on incremental changes, usually bad, taking place in your wine.
A badly made wine surely will be noticed, you would think, but what if that’s how your wines taste all the time and you don’t have any comparison?
But perhaps the leading reason to enter competitions is to give customers what they want, and they want bling.
“People like to see medals,” Carlson also said, and every winery you’ll ever visit displays a shelf or two stacked with their collection of ribbons, medallions and trophies.
Who can blame them? Not only is it impressive looking but it also makes great copy for your blog or FaceBook page.
However, I doubt most casual tourists – to whom go a majority of Colorado wine sales – have the time, knowledge or eyesight to differentiate between the San Francisco competition, the International Eastern and the Colorado Governor’s Cup.
I’m not saying there aren’t people who know the difference, but there also are people who can tell a Pinot Gris from a Pinot Blanc.
There’s much more to this story.