Leojami Founder/Winemaker Ben Spencer on Producing the U.S.' First Single-Vineyard 100% Marselan

IntoWine recently caught up with winemaker -and frequent IntoWine contributing writer- Ben Spencer to discuss his wine brand, Leojami, and his foray into producing the first single-vineyard, 100% Marselan wine. Thanks to Ben for chatting. What inspired the name Leojami? Leojami (pronounced LAY - OHJ - AH - MEE) is a portmanteau of my wife’s first name LEOnarda and mine benJAMIn. The label is a project of passions – her passion for food and my passion for wine. She is a cookbook editor.

Top Burgundy Red Wines

France's Burgundy wine region produces some of the world's truly great wines. This is a region completely dedicated to terroir and tradition. Even the grapes planted in Burgundy are restricted to a few traditional varietals, with pinot noir and chardonnay holding pride of place – as they have for many, many centuries. Burgundy's Winemaking History Burgundy's winemaking history dates back at least to ancient Roman times, possibly earlier, although documentation is scanty prior to the Romans' arrival. Catholic monks cultivated vineyards during the Middle Ages, and the ruling Dukes of Burgundy involved themselves in the grape-growing process in an effort to improve the quality (and, no doubt, export value) of Burgundy wines. It was during this period that pinot noir became the red wine grape of choice in Burgundy. Vineyards shifted from Church ownership to individual owners during the Renaissance, and, in the aftermath of the French Revolution some 300 years later, all remaining Church vineyards were privatized. These privately-owned vineyards were divided and re-divided under Napoleonic law, which forced families to split holdings among heirs instead of willing all inheritable property to one descendant. This division of the vineyards led directly to the system used in Burgundy today; hundreds of growers sell their grapes to négociants , or buyers, who use the grapes to make wine.

Is wine better or worse with a synthetic cork instead of a natural cork?

QUESTION: Is wine better or worse with a synthetic cork instead of a natural cork? I hate synthetic corks and love natural cork or Stelvin screw tops. Synthetic corks are often very difficult to pull out of the bottle. They haven’t yet convinced me that a wine can age as well with a synthetic cork as they can with natural cork or even screw top. To me, synthetic cork indicates cheap wine or a wine that is unlikely to be made in a natural way.

Do screw caps on wine bottles indicate a cheap wine?

QUESTION: Do screw caps on wine bottles indicate a cheap wine? No. Cheap wine indicates cheap wine . There is an issue with corks as a small percentage of them will cause a problem with the wine in the bottle. The most famous of these is TCA which is a bacterium that, while harmless, can cause a wine to smell and taste muted at best or like wet cardboard at worse. Other issues are imperfect seals which cause a wine to age prematurely.

What differentiates old world wines versus new world wines?

QUESTION: What differentiates old world versus new world wines? This is a question that does not have a consensus in the wine business. It used to be that countries like France were old world and New Zealand were new world. In general, these arguments can still stand. New Zealand really is a new wine producing country. However, it gets into murky water. Some people would consider South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Australia, Spain, Lebanon and Portugal as new world producers.

Can you trust wine distributors or are they all driven by relationships with the winemakers?

QUESTION: Can you trust wine distributors or are they all driven by relationships with the winemakers? No to both parts. Distributors are no different than any other aspect of business. There are ones to trust and ones that are only interested in selling their inventory. If you find a distributor whose wines you consistently like, then it may be likely you can trust them. Look to see if they carry the same wines you like every year. If so, support them the way you would any other business.

Top Food & Wine Apps for iPhone

From apps that let you choose the type of wine, so it can choose the best food pairing, to apps that list just about every possible wine pairing for brunch, ethnic, foods and more, the 4 food & wine apps on the following list can do it all. At prices ranging from free up to $3.99, it might be worth it to add all of them to your arsenal.

Top Wine Apps for iPad

iPad lovers spend lots of time reading, reviewing, surfing, and social networking on their iPad’s. With this in mind, some of today’s top apps for iPad go beyond just offering pairings. These versatile apps offer a complete education on wine. If you’re interested in learning a lesson or two about the wine you’re planning to buy or if you’re brand new to the world of wine, the 5 apps listed below will teach you the 5 W’s of wine and exactly what to buy.

Top Wine Apps for iPhone

You don’t have to be a sommelier or cellar master to select the best wines for something as simple as a romantic dinner for two or as elaborate as a seven-course meal for family and friends. With today’s top wine apps for iPhone, wine amateurs, and just below advanced level wine lovers alike, can help you do everything from better understand the complexities of wine to pairing it with dinners and desserts. Whatever your reason for seeking help on the subject of wine, the following 5 apps will do just fine: