Sherry isn’t for grandma

Forget cream sherry. And please forget Dr. Frazier Crane sniffing it with his brother, Niles. Sherry is not cream sherry. It’s a crisp, light, slightly oxidized white wine, and it’s great. It goes with almost everything you could want to eat. There are other types of sherry as well – manzanilla, amontillado, oloroso, for example – offer deep, rich, aged flavors you will not find in any other wine. If you need a new challenge and a new learning experience, sherry is where it’s at.

Its high acid content lends a crispness that cuts through meats and cheeses, and it can easily stand up to spicy food. Sherry is made in Jerez, Spain and other small, surrounding towns. There are entire books written on the subject (see below), so I dare not go into much detail here. But just think of the best tapas you’ve ever had. Each dish different, but flavorful, typically spicy, and many times rich. Sherry is born to go with these dishes. Any tapas bar in Spain will be serving this with some of the best tapas you’ve had (dream trip).

Decanter.com recently attested to sherry’s unsung role these days as well. Probably no thanks to grandma’s cream sherry, much of the US – and probably much of the world – has forgotten what real sherry is.

sherry

I cannot recommend Talia Baiocchi’s recent book, Sherry, enough. It’s impressive how one can make a book on sherry easy to understand, fun to read, and not remotely boring in any way. Talia somehow manages to hit on sherry basics, history, personal anecdotes, important sherry produces to know, and even cocktail recipes. It’s a wonder she got it all in one book without losing anything on each topic. If you’re a true wine lover, I beg you – please add this book to your collection. I won’t ever recommend a wine book on this blog more than Sherry.

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Bubbly New Year

It has been a while, hasn’t it? Apologies for going AWOL, but 2014 was a busier year than expected. Job changes, a move, a few trips, you name it. Perhaps the biggest change in my life that relates to this blog is that I now work in the wine industry (insert cheer here)! I also took an unforgettable trip to Sicily, specifically the Etna region, where I had some of the greatest tastings of my life. I owe an entire post to this trip, and hope to update you more on that soon.

But 2015 is upon us, and that means wine resolutions. I’m attempting to keep things fun and simple this year. And let’s be honest, obtainable. I set my sights on Burgundy last year, and it was fun. But expensive. Reading about Burgundy proved to be far cheaper, and I’ve found some great tomes on the subject (perhaps another post?). So this year, let’s keep it fun. Here are my resolutions:

1. Blog more. Hey, it’s the elephant in this electronic room, right? I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been slacking.

2. Bubbles! That’s right. This will be the main focus for 2015. Not just Champagne. Sparkling wine from all over the world. What better was to keep 2015 fun than to be drinking bubbly all year long? I encourage you all to join me. Let’s make bubbly an everyday thing, not just for special occasions.

3. Hipster wines. I touched on this in the past, and it’s one I want to keep hammering away at. There are too many dark corners of the wine world that deserve more light. Let’s find some really great stuff and let the world know about it.

4. Wine and Coke. I’ve been meaning to attempt this for years. Rumor has it that the Chinese sometimes mix red wine with Coca Cola. Not true? Maybe, but where is the fun in that? Let’s try it. It’ll make for a good story.

So here’s to a new year, a fresh start, and lots of fun ahead. I hope you all will join me. Cheers.

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Bordeaux in trouble

Bordeaux has been a funny financial beast the past decade. With wealthy buyers around the world increasing (looking at you, China), the price per bottle bottle of Bordeaux went through the roof in the ought’s. Even throughout The Great Recession, people called for the bubble to burst, but it seemingly continued to grow. But perhaps it’s not a burst we’ve been waiting for. Maybe it’s more of a slow leak.

CNBC published an article this week stating that Bordeaux market “…is down a full 33 percent from its peak.” It seems the focus has shifted from Bordeaux to Burgundy. I don’t’ hear any young people talking about buying Bordeaux. It’s all about finding new, interesting, off the beaten path bottles. I have no doubt attention will return to Bordeaux in the future, but the market is clearly tired of these wines and their prices. When they come back down to earth, maybe Bordeaux will be a nouveau-hipster wine. A real retro purchase in five to ten years.

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Burgundy for 2014

photo

In the past, I’ve made a handful of wine resolutions for the new year. I keep some of them, I fail at others, but it’s always fun. Still being January, it’s not too late to make one for 2014. I typically go for heavier bodied red wines, preferably Old World in style, without too much extraction (Bordeaux, Brunellos, certain California Cabs that aren’t overdone, etc.). I love them, but it’s time I expanded my horizons again.

This year, I’m keeping it simple: drink more Burgundy. Subhead of said resolution: “How quickly can Austin go broke?” Burgundy ain’t cheap, but there are great bottles to be found without (hopefully) breaking the bank.

So why Burgundy? Why not pinot noir in general? I’ve found that I have typically shied away from pinot noir in the past because I haven’t liked the overtly fruity characteristics of the wine. Over time though, I’ve realized a lot of this stems from pinots made in warmer climates, like California. I like the more subtle, earthy, minerality that I notice in Burgundy pinot noirs.

That said, I’m keeping an open mind. My focus is on Burgundy, but I’ll be trying as many pinot noirs as I can this year. If they’re anything like the one in the photo above, this is going to be a great year. Santé, 2014.

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Rhymes with orange wine

White wine, red wine, rosé wine…orange wine? My eyebrows raised. A lot. If you haven’t heard of it either, don’t feel bad. Part novelty, part legitimately tasty, orange wine is hot and new.

So what is Orange Wine? In short, it’s white wine made in a specific manner by wineries in NY state. The white wine that you and I have come to know takes white grapes, crushes/presses them, and instantly drains the juice away from the pulp, seeds, etc. Orange wine keeps the juices on the grapes while it ferments, allowing it to pick up far different flavors and complexities. Or so they say.

Winemag.com describes it thusly: “Rather than being orange, these skin-fermented white wines range from bright gold to tawny brown. On the palate, they often possess the texture, body and tannins of red wines and the fruit and minerality of white wines. Stylistically unique, many offer earthiness, funk and a savory, richly textured mouthfeel.

For some more information on it, check out imbibemagazine.com’s article on orange wine right here. It doesn’t look like these wines are cheap, but I’d like to go through a tasting of a few. Finding them may be the most difficult task, unless you live in New York state, right at the source.

 

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In Italy, times they are a’changing

Newsweek (now online only, weird!) posted an article this week reporting Italy’s changing wine tastes, and I found it fascinating.  The title, Vino? No thanks. We’re Italian. pretty much says it all. Seems Italian youth are choosing drinks other thank wine.

The craft beer and mixologist cocktail-culture, along with a really rough economy has hit the wine industry hard. Fortunately, countries like the USA are keeping the industry going, but it seems really odd to think of Italy as anything but a wine-drinking society. Wine times, they are a-changing. Check out that article. Good info, and some good charts for you. Cheers.

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Insane vineyard prices

What would you pay for an acre of vineyard land? Ten, twenty, thirty grand? Don’t forget you’ll have to buy and plant the vines, trellis systems, etc. etc. It adds up. How about $200,000 per acre? $1 million? If you’ve got the cash, you can find the land for that.

Dr. Vino (a good blog and Twitter account, if you’re interested) posted an interesting article today on vineyard prices and economics, specifically related to Burgundy vineyards. There’s a good (short) video to watch too. As Dr. Vino quoted from the video:

It’s a way to preserve capital…You’re buying Treasury bonds today at 2%. What would you rather buy, US treasury bonds or a piece of grand cru in Burgundy where you’re getting 1%–and the dividend is bottles of wine! So it’s not a bad deal!

Pretty interesting to think of vineyard acreage strictly as investment material. Maybe one day.

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