So many good things: North Fork wines, Colorado Mountain Winefest tickets on sale

NF Uncorked 2015

Some of the happy celebrants at Black Bridge Winery in Paonia during the 2015 North Fork Uncorked.This year’s event takes place June 18-19. Photo courtesy Jim Brett.

Tickets now are on sale for the 25th edition of the Colorado Mountain Winefest, once again presented by Alpine Bank.

This year’s four-day Winefest (Thursday, Sept. 15 through Sunday, Sept. 18) includes special wine-and-food pairings at participating local restaurants; four different Colorado Wine Country bus tours; and the 25th Colorado Mountain Winefest Festival in the Park on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Tickets to all events are limited and last year was the first time all tickets for all events were sold. Many people, eager to attend the popular Festival in the Park and accustomed to purchasing a ticket at the gate on the day of the event, were turned away.

Tickets for the Festival in the Park are $50 general admission, $190 for VIP and $25 for the non-drinker. These tickets are limited and likely will sell out. Fewer than 100 of the VIP tickets were remaining as of Friday.

More information, tickets and a complete list of events are available at info@coloradowinefest.com and by calling 464-0111.

North Fork Uncorked June 18-19 – Join winemakers in Hotchkiss and Paonia celebrating Father’s Day weekend in style with their annual North Fork Uncorked, featuring wine and food pairings, winemakers dinners and special offers at participating wineries, open 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Winemakers dinners, Saturday, June 18 – Lee and Kathy Bradley, Black Bridge Winery, dinner by the river. Tickets are $55. Reservations: 970-270-7733 or 527-6838.

Brent and Karen Helleckson, Stone Cottage Cellars, four course, locally grown. Tickets $65. Information and reservations: 970-527-3444.

Sunday, June 19 ­– Alfred Eames Cellars, Sunday Brunch, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. For menu and information on this and weekly brunches, call Pam Petersen at 970-527-6290.

More information on these and other North Fork Uncorked offers and activities is available at www.westelksava.com and at 527-3444.

 

This post was updated on June 9 to correct the dates for the 2016 Colorado Mountain Winefest (Sept. 15-18) and Pam Petersen’s phone number (527-6290).

 

Francesco Drusian: Preserving the heritage of Prosecco DOCG

Prosecco DOCG hills

The steep hills of the unique Valdobbiadene-Conegliano Prosecco Superiore DOCG rise abruptly from the Venetian plain. The border separating the DOCG from Prosecco DOC lies at the base the hills. Story and photos by Dave Buchanan

BIGOLINO di Valdobbiadene (TV) – Standing amidst rows of spring-fresh vines climbing the razorback hills rising steeply to of the pre-Alps of northeast Italy, Francesco Drusian smiles at the thought of this region becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site.

“We did everything we could to preserve our heritage,” Drusian says, reaching out to a light-green shoot just opening to the April sun. “Now, it’s up to others to decide if we did enough.”

It’s only a few days past VinItaly and I’ve called on Francesco Drusian in hopes of learning more about Prosecco and Drusian’s place in the narrative of Italy’s popular yet oft-underappreciated sparkling wine.

I’ll post more about our discussions in the future.

Few people would argue Francesco Drusian has done as much as anyone to preserve his heritage and that of Prosecco.

Drusian Brut

Born in the hills of Valdobbiadene-Conegliano and 100-percent Glera grapes. Photo courtesy Drusian FaceBook

According to Francesco, he’s the fourth generation of his family (the fifth, his daughter Marika, already is producing Prosecco DOCG under her own label) to make wine from these geometrically perfect vineyards overlooking the village of Bigolino, which itself lies on the north bank of the Fiume Piave near where the river cuts through the famed Valdobbiadene hills.

The winery began in the mid-19th Century with grandfather Giuseppe Drusian and then his son Rino making still wines. Francesco took over in 1984 and today the name Drusian connotes Prosecco Superiore DOCG, one of the best versions of the iconic Italian sparkling wine now soaring on a crest of popularity.

Francesco introduced sparkling wine to his winery in 1986, shortly after the autoclave afforded a way to control the secondary fermentation that gives Prosecco its sparkle and shortly before the world’s love affair with everything Italian became the tsunami we see today.

The advantages of the pressurized autoclave – including preserving bubbles and fresh flavors and reducing the labor and cost involved with metodo classico – suddenly made it possible for lovers of sparkling wine worldwide to enjoy a wine that is light, refreshing, food-friendly and surprisingly affordable.

“Prosecco DOC is the ultimate simple but sophisticated wine which personifies the unique Italian lifestyle” says the Prosecco DOC Consorzio website.

However, the international rush to adopt elements of the “Italian lifestyle” had its expected result: a flood of Prosecco, much of it poorly made and of dubious background (google “Paris Hilton prosecco”), hitting the market.

Even the very existence of a Prosecco DOC gives voice to the expansion, some say uncontrolled, of Prosecco as an industrial product.

By the mid-2000s, Prosecco, as with many other great things, had to be saved from its own success. Read more…

Wines to make the weekend festivities memorable

Sorelle Branca

This steeply pitched vineyard in Valdobbiadene is the site where Sorelle Branca grows its eponymous Prosecco Superiore DOCG. Story and photo by Dave Buchanan

Spring 2016 began rather hesitantly, the past month being dominated with extended periods of cool and rainy weather.

However, the approach of Memorial Day brought distinct changes, including daytime temperatures nearing seasonal norms and plenty of blue skies.

And this to me indicates the long holiday weekend will see many outdoor gatherings, and there is nothing that fits the festive mood more than entertaining with sparkling wines, rosés and white wines.I opened a few boxes to come up with suggestions for your plein aire pairings to make the weekend truly memorable.

I admit to being a huge fan of great Prosecco and that was illustrated again this spring when I spent a few days after VinItaly exploring the heart of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG.

When I returned home, stuffed into my bag were two bottles of winemaker Graziano Merotto’s best: his Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut Rive di Col San Martino “Cuvée del Fondatore Graziano Merotto” Millesimato 2015 and his Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Dry Rive di Col San Martin “La Primavera du Barbara” Millesimato 2015.

Had I more room, the third bottle would have been the non-vintage Sorelle Bronca, Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut “Particella 68”.

Much of the U.S. market is flooded with lower-tier Proseccos (mostly DOC and not the top DOCG) and most Americans still haven’t discovered what a great value Prosecco DOCG offers, both in price and stylistically.

That situation should change as Prosecco DOCG makers continue to expand their American markets. The above wines can be found for around $20.

Merotto’s Rive di Col San Martino, made from grapes grown on a steep hill just behind the winery, has such a fine perlage the feeling is one of a floral creaminess rather than exploding bubbles. Complex and multi-layered minerality.

The “La Primavera du Barbara” (90 percent Glera, 10 percent Perera) is dry and bit softer than the brut Cuvée del Fondatore but still offers the steely clean lines and floral aromatics found in Merotto’s wines.

Sorelle Bronca, Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut “Particella 68” – This well-structured wine comes from a low-yielding, steeply angled site and is made to show more of the pure grape flavor and minerality than sweet fruit.

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

Another big year? Mild spring produces crop of speculation

052516 FD wine new growth

Grape vines in the Grand Valley have benefited from the mild, wet spring and some growers are predicting another large harvest.

While this spring, with its abundant moisture and cool temperatures, has presented several challenges to Colorado grape growers, including a slow start to the growing season, it also has set off speculation this year’s yield might top 2015’s record-setting harvest.

“Last fall’s harvest was the our largest on record and this one may be even bigger, depending on how people adjust their crop load,” said state enologist Stephen Menke at Colorado State University’s Orchard Mesa Research Center. “We really had no winter damage to speak of, so everything looks pretty promising right now.”

The 2015 harvest was a much-needed boost to winemakers around the state after two harsh winter years (2013 and 2014) cut production to about 50 percent of normal.

“Last year’s harvest was the biggest we ever had, both in terms of state-wide production and on a per-acre basis,” said Horst Caspari, state viticulturist at the Orchard Mesa Research Center. “Things look really good right now and I think 2016 could go past 2015 in terms of crop production.”

One factor, said Caspari, is that many acres of cold-hearty varieties planted to resist Colorado’s cold winters finally are old enough to be producing grapes.

“Because we have more acres now than we had before, we could end up with more grapes than we had last year,” Caspari said. “Not necessarily a higher yield per acre, although that’s possible, just more acreage producing grapes.”

052516 FD wine grape berries

These grape berries are the result of a healthy primary bud. Each bud on a grape shoot consists of a primary, secondary and tertiary bud. Primary buds produce the most fruit but also are the most susceptible to frost damage.

An example is Whitewater Hill Vineyards on Orchard Mesa, where owners Nancy Janes and John Behr pulled out an acre of underproducing vines and planted St. Vincent’s, a French-American cold-hearty hybrid from Missouri.

“We didn’t get very much last year, just enough to make a couple of bottles,” Nancy said. “But this year the vines look great and I think we might get a whole lot more.”

She also said the mild spring means more buds, especially the productive primary buds, survive to produce fruit.

“Some of the newer growers have never had primary fruit before,” Nancy said. “They won’t believe how much fruit they can get.”

But the season hasn’t been without its downside.

A hailstorm ripped through the Palisade area a week ago, reminding Bennett Price of DeBeque Canyon Winery of a similar although more-extensive storm last spring.

“I looked at some vineyards (last year) that were shredded, every leaf ripped off and no fruit left,” Price recalled. “I don’t think this recent one was that bad, but that’s what spring can bring us.”

Price also voiced some concern about powdery mildew, a fungal disease that’s common in more-humid growing regions and is particularly damaging to vinifera grape vines, which include such favorites as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay.

“It’s been such a wet and humid spring, I hope folks are thinking about spraying,” Price said.

Powdery mildew makes plant leaves look as if they are dusted with flour and robs the plant’s nutrients. If serious enough, the disease can kill a plant.

DeBeque Canyon Winery moves – Bennett and Davy Price recently moved their winery and tasting room in Palisade from its former location on South Kluge Street to 381 West 8th Ave. (U.S. Highway 6), the building formerly occupied by the Packing Shed Restaurant.

A new deck greets customers to the tasting room and wine shop. Winemaking facilities will occupy the adjacent building.

Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturday through Monday, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Information at 464-0550.

Categories: Uncategorized

It’s the weather – Late freeze hits Europe’s wine regions

SCHWEIZ FROSTKERZEN

 Anti-frost candles burn April 28 in a vineyard in Flaesch, in the Swiss canton of Grisons. The candles provide some protection to young grape shoots from unseasonably usual low temperatures. (Photo: KEYSTONE/Gian Ehrenzeller) Article by Dave Buchanan

Spring brings constant change to Colorado wine country.

We’ve already seen temperatures ranging from the 30s to the 80s, high winds, and daily weather ranging from scorching sun to rainy stretches reminiscent of winegrowing in the Northwest.

One thing we’ve dodged so far is temperatures below freezing affecting grape buds.

Orchardists haven’t been so lucky and several times this spring they’ve been rousted out of bed by the frost alarm going off.

Up to now winemakers count themselves lucky, and if things continue this way we may see a repeat of last year’s bountiful harvest, which was the largest so far seen and came at a time many winemakers’ reserves were running bony following several lean years.

One of the global impacts of climate change seen in fruit- and grape-growing regions from western Colorado to the Rhine and Burgundy is earlier bud breaks, which puts most stone fruits at a severe disadvantage because their young flowers are susceptible to late frosts.

Grapes break bud later than tree fruit, which normally puts grape buds still tightly wrapped and mostly unaffected during late frosts.

This year, however, the shoe dropped in some of the world’s most-famous wine regions, including Burgundy and elsewhere in Europe where a late frost on April 26-27 brought temperature below freezing.

A report issued by the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB) said the “extremely rare” frost affected vineyards across Burgundy.

Among the vineyards most affected were the higher vineyards in Chablis and the Grand Auxerrois, the north of the Côte de Beaune (Savigny, Chorey and down to Meursault, Pommard and Volnay) and the Côte de Nuits.

Early reports came too early to provide detailed analysis of the damage but this week its was reported nearly half (46percent) of the vineyards – covering 13,453 hectares (33,234 acres) – suffered damage to at least 30-percent of the young buds with 23 percent of the vineyards reporting losses of more than 70 percent.

The remaining 54% – 15,797 hectares– received less than 30% damage.

There also have been reports of equally severe frosts in the Loire and Languedoc regions of France and in the Abruzzo in Italy.

It’s not like Abruzzo, which borders the Adriatic Sea about midway along the east side of the Italian “boot” and perhaps more remembered for the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake, hasn’t suffered setbacks before.

But like many of the smaller wine regions in Italy, the last 40-50 years have seen a renaissance in Abruzzo, where winemaking dates back to the sixth century B.C.

Large cooperative wineries concentrated in the Chieti province produce vast amounts of wine, which then is sold in bulk to other Italian wine regions such as Tuscany, Piedmont and the Veneto for blending.

The region is famed for its Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, which in the late 20th and early 21st centuries became one of Italy’s most-exported wines.

 

 

 

Going natural: ViniVeri offers the best of the unexpected

April 28, 2016 Leave a comment
Vinveri Gianluca

Gianluca Piernera of Cantina Ninni in Spoleto was one of many “natural” winemakers sharing their products during the ViniVeri fair in Cerea, Italy. Story and photos by Dave Buchanan

Just pour, don’t filter.

You should never expect whatever you might consider “the normal” when exploring Italy’s wine country.

That “suspension of expectations” was reinforced earlier this month during ViniVeri, a wine fair and tasting at La Fabbrica, an immense and tastefully repurposed brick building in Cerea, Italy, an half-hour or so south of Verona.

The Consorzio ViniVeri promotes the annual event as featuring “wines as nature intended them,” this year’s theme emphasizing diversity and authenticity.

Maybe that should include a bit of audacity, as well.

That this wasn’t an ordinary wine tasting was cemented when one of the first tables poured a cloudy wine from a bottle bearing an imposing handprint and the words “Shake before use.” Read more…

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Vino 2016: Italian winemakers looking to increase share in U.S. market

April 23, 2016 Leave a comment
Vino 2016 crowd shot

Vino 2016 in New York City offered a two-day immersion into the world of Italian wine. Article and photos by Dave Buchanan

NEW YORK – Romano Baruzzi took a breath and looked out at the sea of faces in front of him.
“Buona sera a tutti, welcome everyone,” said Baruzzi, deputy trade commissioner for the Italian Trade Commission in New York City. “Welcome to the biggest event promoting Italian wines in the U.S.”
It’s opening night for Italian Wine Week/Vino 2016 and the featured panel discussion is titled “On the Bright Side: What’s Ahead for 2016.”
This first-night talk offers the attending producers, importers and the occasional journalist insights into what lies ahead for the next two days of concentrated immersion into Italian wine.
More than 160 Italian wine makers and their representatives are here, some of them plying their wares to almost that many importers and buyers while other winemakers, nearly one-third of those present, simply are seeking someone trustworthy in whom to entrust their wines. Read more…

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