Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Wines From McFadden: A Dessert Riesling and a SuperBrut! On Sale Friday Only!

Sneak Preview of New Wines from McFadden - And Everything Is 20% Off This Friday Night

I'm happy to pass along news of the McFadden Wines Toys for Tots event this Friday from 4-7 pm at their Hopland tasting room. The winery will be collecting toys and offering raffle tickets for toy donors for a great assortment of their wines. Best of all - they will be pouring 2011 wines not yet on the market, and two brand new wines.

The two new wines are a Late Harvest Dessert Riesling and a Reserve Brut - which differs from their regular award-winning Brut (my regular go-to bubbly! We drink it by the case here) in that it sits on yeast for 18 extra months. As a diehard sparkling lover, I am looking forward to trying it! Alas, the price is not the same incredibly affordable deal for the regular Brut. The "SuperBrut" will retail for $40 and the dessert wine for $24, with the usual wine club discounts applying for wine club members.

This is one winery where I definitely recommend becoming a wine club member. If you ask nicely, it's very likely you can pick which wines you want in your club membership if you want to opt out of the winery's picks. But the best reason to join are the fabulous price points for members on what is already very affordable wine. And you're supporting a vineyard that has been organically certified for 40 years, making it one of the oldest in the country.

Their famous grass fed beef and herb products as well as all tasting room merchandise will also be on sale during the event for 20% off. If I were you, I would hotfoot it over there or see if you can place an order on the phone.

Organics on the Wine Spectator Top 100 List

Wine Spectator has just released its list of the best wines of 2012...click here for the full list...and the organics among them include:

#14 Maysara Pinot Noir McMinnville Estate Cuvee, $32

#63 Neyers Chardonnay Carneros (in transition), $29

#80 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon, $145

The list is international. I have not listed any wines from outside the U.S. as I am not familiar with the organic producers.

Wine of the Year went to a Syrah grown in Napa - Shafer Vineyard's Relentless, a $60 bottle grown just beyond the Stag's Leap boundaries.

The Shafer's story is available in a new book from U.C. Press - A Vineyard in Napa. I'm looking forward to reading it as soon as it arrives.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Santorini Wines Make Jancis Robinson's Top Ten Undersung Varietals List

If you're not yet ready (like me) to fork out $110 for Jancis Robinson's new wine tomb, Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours, you may enjoy reading her latest Decanter article on "The 10 Grapes Every Wine Love Should Try" (subscribers only - in print) which lists grapes from Europe - and surprisingly, Japan and Turkey - that are definitely in the lesser known category. Some are a little known - Vermintino, for instance - and others are obscure. 

(None are from the U.S.)

Just being back from a 10 week trip to Southern Italy, Sicily and Greece, including Santorini, I was happy to see Assyrtiko make the list. This Santorini varietal was one of the few to survive the phylloxera epidemic at the turn of the century. Grown in the volcanic soils of this island - in the deep waters of the middle of the Mediterranean - it's hardy enough to survive high winds. It's also dry farmed as there is no water source on the island.

There are only a few organic producers on the island - one of them, Hatzidakis is among the two producers Robinson features in her article, calling it "great stuff and great value."

You can find this wine for less than $20 in the U.S. from the following suppliers:

I had some while I was on the island - and it's a lovely white, fresh and crisp.

You can also get the Sigalas (which I dearly love now) from KLWines.com. It rated a 93 pt. rating from Robert Parker - and it's not often that that happens with a bottle that costs $19.99!

Inventing Wine - Author Paul Lukacs Featured on Fresh Air

The 8,000 year old history of wine is full of surprises, but until now, it was pretty much a necessity to slog through the brilliant but big book The Story of Wine by Hugh Johnson to get the download.

Now wine book author Paul Lukacs (author of American Vintage, and an English language professor at Loyola University) has written a new book on our favorite fascinating beverage, and tells us about it today on NPR's Fresh Air show with Terry Gross. The title is Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World's Most Ancient Pleasures."

 Says Publisher's Weekly, "Lukacs combines an erudite, raptly appreciative connoisseurship of fine wines with lucid analyses of the prosaics of wine production, marketing, and consumption . . . His absorbing treatise shows just how much the grape’s bounty owes to human ingenuity and imagination.”

A few quotes from the show's web site give us a sense of what's in store. I ordered the book online from Amazon today, so will be diving in as soon as it arrives. It is also available in a Kindle edition for those of you who can't wait or prefer the digital version.

From the NPR web site"Pharaohs have been buried beside jugs of it. The Quran promises baths of wine in the afterlife because here on Earth, humans are too weak not to succumb to its temptations. In World War I, France sent bottles of wine to its troops to help fortify them against the horrors they were experiencing in the trenches."

Excerpt from the Interview:

"You've got to remember [that] for thousands of years, if you lived in a town or a village, the water was pretty undrinkable. ... [I]f you lived in ancient Athens or if you lived in ancient Babylon or Alexandria, you couldn't drink the water, so wine was something that people drank from morning to night. Babies drank it; old people drank it; soldiers drank it; everybody drank wine all the time, and in order for them not to be falling down drunk by 10 in the morning, they mixed it with water and used it to sanitize or purify the water."

Listen to the 45 minute audio program here.

For more about the book, see the book's web site at www.inventingwine.com - you can read a short excerpt there and see advance praise for the books.

Might just be the perfect gift for the wine lover in your life.