I am often asked which wineries mailing lists I should sign up for. Before I answer that question, let’s back up a bit. What are mailing lists? They are different than wine clubs. A mailing list is an offering from a winery to buy their wines. Many wineries offer their wines to allow a consumer to buy directly from the winery. Typically, the prices are not any lower than one would find at retail and at times, they are even priced a bit higher. For the wineries, it’s a great deal as they can avoid the middleman and capture more profits from the sale of a bottle of wine. But, why would a consumer want to do this?
It's nice to be a celebrity - people treat you well, you get what you want, you own nice things, and you drink expensive wines. Beyond that you usually have the money to do most anything you would like, say, starting a winery for instance, so you can drink your own expensive wines. Though we have a handful of celebrity-wineries here in Santa Barbara, it is Sonoma that seems to have a lock on celebrities-turned-vignerons. A visit to the bewitching wine country of Sonoma shows the diversity of celebrity styles and their wineries, offering diverse experiences from theatrical to tranquil amid the still rural setting of the Sonoma countryside.
Mention Chianti to some people and the last thing they think of is a great quality wine. They remember the cheap wines in college that came in the straw basket that was better as a candle holder than a wine. Or worse, that Hannibal Lecter drank Chianti with a man’s liver and fava beans. There are, however, some really great Chianti’s. For a brief synopsis of Chianti, here is the first article I ever wrote for IntoWine.
There is a saying that when people think of Oregon, they think of the three “Ps” - Portland, Precipitation and Pinot. Yes, there is rain; yes, Portland is a the largest city in the state, and yes the Willamette Valley, south of Portland, is known for Pinot Noir. But Oregon, specifically Southern Oregon, also excels at under-the-radar grape varieties and has an advantage that no other wine region could ever possess – a climate scientist who knows the best possible sites to plant the right varieties on the right soil under the right conditions.
We all know the standard wine varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc, but there are an astounding 10,000 grape varieties here on Planet Earth. The majority of California vineyard acreage is planted to just eight grape varietals and less than 10 percent is home to grapes few people care about, and even fewer understand, let alone can pronounce. But an accomplished assemblage of odd-ball varietals and their winemaker shepherds champion these grapes. These winemakers are the first and only line of defense against the abyss of sameness. Here in alphabetical order are just 25 (there are more) of the most odd-ball grapes turned into wine in the Golden State, followed by their producer, and location.
Chardonnay is one of the most popular white grapes in the world. A lot of people dismiss the grape as producing wines that are over oaked, too buttery, or boring, yet it remains one of the most planted grapes in California and is grown throughout the world. The truth is, when done right, it can achieve a greatness that few varietals can reach. The trick is finding those wines worth drinking in the mass of wines on the store shelves. Of course, the first step is determining what one likes. Different people have different preferences. In addition, the circumstances matter. Is the wine intended for a dinner or to be drunk on the back patio as a cocktail? Or perhaps, is it to be cellared for a decade in the hopes that patience will be rewarded. Even the buttery, oaky styles of Chardonnay can be delicious under the right circumstances. With summer in full tilt, here is a list of some of my favorite Chardonnays over the last year or so.
The celebration for the Fourth of July is one of two holidays in which I advocate limiting ones wine choices to wines of the USA (Thanksgiving being the other). It’s a time to celebrate America. Perhaps that is a bit jingoistic, but there it is. And, in keeping with the spirit of the holiday, the wines consumed should offer fireworks! Sometimes that means spending a bit more on the wine, but it’s a time with friends and family and spending a bit more is worth it. With that in mind, here are ten wines that are on my list for this year’s celebrations (it is after all a three day weekend). All of these wines will work on their own, with food hot off the grill or watching fireworks.
With the start of summer, there is a desire for red wines that are not heavy, but refreshing and work with BBQ and other summer foods. At the same time, summer often means parties and larger gatherings, so wines need to be affordable when buying in quantity. Here is a list of some wines that fit...
The long winter has ended; summer is coming. For your drinking pleasure, here are my top ten Rosés to drink this summer. I know, I know. For the last decade it seems everyone touts rosés as the next big thing, but no one really drinks them. They look too much like that sweet white Zinfandel. I get that, but the best of the roses are delicious wines that work by themselves or with food. I am not putting down any vintages. My advice is to buy them from the prior year, maybe two years old, but, never buy anything older than that (with only a few exceptions).
The spring holidays are coming. Easter, Passover and the big one: Opening Day. These are all great occasions to open a nice bottle of wine with friends and family. Easter often features Brunch. What could be more classic than a Mimosa cocktail? The easiest way to make them, is to pour some sparkling wine into a glass and top it with an equal part (or maybe a bit more) or orange juice. Certainly, the better quality ingredients the better drink experience. A Mimosa with vintage Champagne and fresh squeezed orange juice is likely to be delicious. Most of us cannot really afford the time or money for that. Still, it’s a good idea to use good quality sparkling wine. Here are five that won’t break the bank.