Friday, August 7, 2015
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Thursday, April 16, 2015
I met Dr. José Vouillamoz at lunch...in the Republic of Georgia. An international gathering of wine professionals sat in the autumn sunshine eating roasted meats and drinking Rkatsiteli fermented in qvevri. When I turned to make conversation with my table mate, he modestly revealed he was working on a book with the tremendous ambition of cataloguing the world’s grapes under production. “Wow!” was all I could muster.
José, ampelographer (an expert in the study and classification of cultivated grapes) and vine geneticist, hosted a Swiss wine tasting at the conference with collaborator Jancis Robinson. I tasted many Swiss wines for the first time, including Chasselas, also called Fendant and Gutedel, the country’s best known variety. When sourced from over-productive vineyards, it’s a rather watery-tasting white, but today there are many well made Chasselas. Jose described them as “like Muscadet on the nose and honey on the mid-palate.”
Tasting with José at the conference was educational, but only when our press trip took to the countryside did we see, smell, and taste the wonder of the Valais. This is Switzerland’s largest wine region where wine grapes are harvested more than 1000 meters high. We spent three days steeped in this alpine wine culture and tasted rare wine varities including Arvine, Amigne, Cornalin, Rèze, and more.
We zig-zagged down a rocky slope that had vineyards cutting across its face. We concentrated on our balance as we snapped photos of magnificent vistas and repeatedly stopped in awe. This vineyard was as incredible for its remote location and height as its beauty. At a slight flattening in the ground, lunch and a tasting had been prepared. Pumpkin soup from a brass cauldron, and a world of savory Swiss cheeses and dried meats awaited us. We were spoiled with a fine selection of white wine, including sweet and dry Amigne and Arvine, and red wine including Humagne Rouge and a range of savory, bold Syrahs. The wines were from the recently restored vineyards of Jean-René Germanier, whose wines have been recognized as among the best in Switzerland. He and enologist and co-owner Gilles Bess have devoted efforts to native varieties and working with the unique terroir of the Valais.
Provins Arvine 1971 – This wine also had strong apricot flavor as well as orange marmalade and blood orange. It had great balance and huge length. José’s comment on this: “It has become a meditation wine.”
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Sunday, June 8, 2014
I met Oscar Quevedo Jr. in 2009 at the European Wine Bloggers Conference in Lisbon, and he still writes his family's winery blog. He is a prime example of how wineries can benefit from a likable brand ambassador who is adept at social media - and an all-around nice guy. Along with his winemaker sister, Claudia, Oscar is one of the more youthful members of a family that has made wine in the Douro Valley for generations. Quevedo's extensive line up of Ports includes lovely ruby, tawny, white, rose, and vintage ports.
Yesterday Oscar was at Columbia Wine Company - which boasts quality wine from around the globe - located way uptown at 170th and Broadway in Washington Heights. The store was hosting a tasting with over a dozen bottles from Portugal, South Africa, and more. Those who know me well know I adore Port, and I did buy both Quevedo tawny and rose Ports straight off the tasting table. However, I'm often more excited about the Douro's dry wines, because most people are unaware of them. So I was eager to present these wines, made from blends of native Portuguese grapes, at last evening's intimate dinner party.
Oscar white was from 2012, and it was a medium bodied white wine with a nose of green apple. It had refreshing acidity and crisp, bright fruit flavors. It was a perfect pairing with crab cakes served on arugula with hazelnut oil and a roasted red pepper coulis.