sommelier news july 2011

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  • 8/2/2019 Sommelier News July 2011


    S ommelier

    N ew June 2011The Floating Cellar

    by Roger Morris

    Stand by your Merlotby Katie Kelly Bell

    First Pressby David Wilkening

  • 8/2/2019 Sommelier News July 2011


    3The Floating Cellar

    By Roger Morris

    7Stand by Your Merlot

    By Katie Kelly Bell

    8First PressBy David Wilkening

    N S ommelierew age 2Contents Contributors

    Managing Editor Roger Morris writes about wine, foodand travel for several print and online publications, in-

    cluding Wine Enthusiast, Beverage Media, iSante Maga-zine and The Daily Meal. His blog is at . He lives in ru-

    ral Pennsylvania with his wife, the artist Ella Morris, andtheir six free-range yard cats.

    Katie Kelly Bell is an Atlanta-based food and winewriter. She is a regular contributor to Modern Luxurymagazines and her work has appeared in everything

    from Delta Sky to Southern Living . In between dead-lines, Bell shares her wine musings and insights on her

    blog at

    David Wilkening is a former newspaperman in Chi-cago, Washington, Detroit and Orlando, where he was a

    feature writer and often political editor. He worked inpolitics as a consultant at the national level before be-

    coming a freelance writer. He has contributed to numer-ous publications and often writes about travel. He is also

    a ghost writer who has several books under his ownname, including the latest, "How to Hide."

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    The Floating Cellar Across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2, One Glass at a Time

    By Roger Morris

    N S ommelierew age 3

    Mr. Morris goes tasting

    It is about 3:30 p.m. on a Thursday after-noon in May, and head sommelier Kelley Mi-chael Schaefer is leading an audience of per-haps 70 wine drinkers mostly middle-agedmales, some as wine-green as a Spanish joven, others comfortably at the advanced reserva stage through the last of five wines we aretasting in the Britannia restaurant.

    The first four were full frontal in their iden-tification an older Etienne Sauzet BourgogneBlanc, a Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chard, aDomaine Fontaine-Gagnard Chassangne-

    Montrachet rouge and a Calera Ryan Vine-yard Pinot Noir but the last one is blinded.We start the name-that-wine game with ourfirst deduction: the wine is red, so that elimi-nates perhaps half the categories in the world.Progress made. In spite of the protests of oneover-anxious gentleman, we eliminate the pos-sibility that its a third Pinot Noir. More pro-gress.

    Normally, I dont care for these parlorgames, even if I get to drink the clues. Per-haps for the same reason, I will miss the mas-

    (Continued on page 4)

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    querade ball on Friday night. But Schaefer is an enthusiastic fellow, so I play along.

    Besides, Im part of a captive audience. Sure, we could just get up and walk away at any mo-ment, but what could be a more-interesting diversion than drinking good wines in the middle of theNorth Atlantic on the second day of a six-day crossing from Southampton, UK, to mid-town Manhat-tan aboard the Queen Mary 2?

    Part of the fabled Cunard line of passenger vessels, Queen Mary 2 is a huge ship, a floating hotelcontaining a half-dozen or so floating restaurants and one big floating wine cellar.

    On the voyage out, to England, along with my two brothers for a one-week course in driving onthe wrong-side of the road, I participated in a similar tasting, all known entities, then chatted withfood and beverage manager Bernhard Fischer about the food and wine demands of the voyage. Ac-cording to Fischer, he had on board almost 4,000 souls to feed and water on board 2,516 passen-gers and another 1,311 crew members.

    For the watering part, he carries an inventory of around 400 different wines, and he pours about

    (Continued from page 3)

    (Continued on page 5)

    N S ommelierew age 4

    Floating a selection of wines for tasting

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    8,000 bottles per crossing, mainly during lunch and dinners. Cunard also has its custom brand of low-enders made by Wente, and these are the standard by-the-glass pours. There is no dedicated

    wine bar aboard the vessel, although Veuve Clicquot rents shop space for its own Champagne bar.Fischer says the idea is to carry as little inventory as possible, which requires good planning.

    We poured the last bottle of 87 Petrus last night, he informs me, and, as he cant call the localdistributor to run over a few bottles later this afternoon, Petrussians will have to drink somethingelse for the next few days. There are no ports of call between Southampton and New York City foremergency re-stocking. Petrus aside, there are several selections in the $30 range, and most winelist offerings are under $100. The average markup appears to be somewhat less than in most big-city restaurants.

    Of course, serving the wine needs of 2,500 diverse drinkers calls for more than just a good cel-lar.

    We have a staff of 30 trained sommeliers, Schaefer tells me when we later get together for aone-on- one over coffee. When I was working on the Queen Victoria, we only had 22. All the som-

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    (Continued on page 6)

    N S ommelierew age 5

    The Royal Cocktail

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    meliers received special wine training with continuing education onboard and are encouraged to get

    advanced sommelier degrees.There are two classes of travel on the QM2 categorized by where you eat. If you eat in the multi

    -level Britannia restaurant which is quite elegant then you are essentially in tourist class. TheGrills are for first-class passengers, although some of the elegant suites are probably beyond mortalclassification.

    There is considerable competition among the sommeliers to get into the Grills, says Schaefer,who hails from British Columbia. Although meals are free, wine, beer and liquor are not, and guestscustomarily tip extra in addition to the built-in shared tips. It goes without saying that tips are bet-ter in the Grills and in the reservations-only Todd English restaurant on board.

    Being a sommelier who lives seven days a week on a ship that crosses the ocean between OldWorld and New World two dozen times a season is a lot harder than learning how to walk with theroll of the ship or how to pour a straight arc of red wine when the stormy seas outside are swelling ataround 10 feet.

    Each sommelier is assigned 60 people per seating, which is considerable, and there are twoseatings daily, seven days a week Schaefer says, especially when everyone shows up. A generalperusing of tables at any dinner shows few guests drinking cocktails, more drinking beer (a largecontingent of Germans is going to and from Hamburg on my passages) and most drink wine. Dinersare handed a wine list by the somms as soon as the captain gives out the food menu, which changesdaily. Food service is never hurried, but it is prompt, so a sommelier has to move quickly if wine isto arrive at the table before the food. Sommeliers also work lunches in the restaurants and in the

    buffet cafeterias, although there are fewer demands for alcohol in the latter. They also have to lenda hand during turn-around days when the ship docks in port around 7 a.m. and sails at 5 p.m. with afirst seating at 6.

    One peculiar custom that seems weird to us Americans but which the continentals seem tothink is normal is holding a bottle over for the next evening when a table doesnt finish it. When Iarrived each evening bound for my assignment table, usually in a suit and tie to most peoples tuxes,I would see bedraggled-looking wine bottles with swatches of identification tape awaiting their mas-ters considerably more oxidized than they were the evening before.

    Meanwhile, back at the tasting, I am pretty convinced that we have a Left Bank Bordeaux in ourmouths possibly a Chilean Cab, but probably not but Schaefer is leading some others through a

    consideration of the southern Rhne. The people at my table seem wine-worthy, and they independ-ently are saying Bordeaux as well. Since Ive noted that the Bordeaux 2004s a very nice vintageand a relatively affordable one are prominent on the Queens wine list, and since the red has defi-nitely moved a few vintages toward vinegar, I guess 2004 as the vintage. Which chteau, I haventa clue. When the wrapper comes off the bottle, it is indeed a 2004 Bordeaux a St. Estephe Im notfamiliar with.

    So, feeling on a roll, I toddle down the hall, walking to the sway of the ship in an un-straight linethat would get me arrested in a sobriety field test and treat myself to a flute of Clicquot.

    After all, the Queen is driving tonight, and I dont have to get behind the wheel.

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    N S ommelierew age 6

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    Clarke Swanson, owner of Napas SwansonVineyards, still cuts a dapper figure.

    Clad in a corporate suit (complete with stifflystarched pocket handkerchief), he moves aboutthe room, flashing his warm smile and expres-sively bushy eyebrows at guests assembled for arecent wine dinner. He chats, answers questionsand makes a point of knowing his crowd; and theguests love it. Clearly Swanson is man whoknows how to do business, which is no surprise,as he hails from the mega business of frozenfood and TV dinners yes, that Swanson. In1953, Clarkes father (along with his brother)launched the groundbreaking concept of a TVdinner. (A 1963 ad slogan was Swanson Night everybody wins!)

    Swanson continued the family tradition of groundbreaking in 1985 when he bought a parcel

    of 100 acres in Oakville in the heart of Napa Val-ley, where everyone was growing Cabernet Sau-vignon, and promptly planted Merlot, then usedprimarily as a blending grape to soften Cabernet.Enlisting the services of the legendary AndrTchelistcheff, Swanson was able to cultivate aserious, noteworthy Merlot.

    Swanson is clear about his decision to plantMerlot at the time. It wasnt some inspired gen-ius, or vision, he says. At that time, everyonewas growing Cabernet Sauvignon. It was every-

    where, and I wanted to offer something differ-ent. Then, the 90s arrived with Merlot as themust- have wine. At that time everyone beganproducing Merlot, he remembers, much of itmediocre; it was not good for us and what wewere trying to do. Weve been stalwarts of Merlotproduction for a long time.

    Now that Pinot Noir is the must-have wine,Swanson feels good about the quality of Merlot inthe market. Its funny, I got a big kick out of the

    N S ommelierew age 7Stand by Your Merlot

    Pioneer producer Clarke Swanson has met the Sideways challenge head-on

    By Katie Kelly Bell movie Sideways, but I had no idea it would havethe impact it did, he says. Thankfully our salesdidnt drop ---but we sure had to work hard at it.And this recession has been no picnic either. Swanson notes that there was a lot of truth tothe movies references to Merlot as crappy wine.

    There were too many marginal Merlots outthere, but the market has been purified, and thevarietal is on the upswing again, he says. Afterall that, we plan to stick with Merlot.

    Its been a smart decision. Despite all thesetbacks, Swanson has emerged as one of thelargest producers of premium Merlot in Napa.Winemaker Chris Phelps (who trained underChristian Moueix at Petrus in Bordeaux), coaxesout layers of fruit in each wine. Taste, enjoy-ment and pleasure are the words the come tomind when sampling the Swanson portfolio. Andwhat a portfolio it is. Swanson might be bestknown for its Merlot, but the rest of the winesmerit a closer look.

    Always intrigued by new possibilities, Swan-son took some more risks in Napa, being one of the first winemakers to plant Sangiovese, PinotGrigio and to blend Cabernet and Syrah (The

    Alexis Red label.). His risks continue to pay off in the form of his cleverly marketed, small-batchSalon Selections.

    During our wine dinner, we started by sam-pling the stunning 2010 Rosato. Made from first-run juice of the Sangiovese grapes, it has a rich,

    deep-salmon hue. The wine literally bursts withnotes of cherry and watermelon, conjuring child-hood memories of cherry Jolly Rancher and wa-termelon popsicles. This is a craveable wine andgorgeous to boot. The 2006 Crepuscule, craftedby Swansons dessert wine maker, Marco Capelli,is one of Americas top -rated late- harvest Semil-lons (who knew?). Golden, honeyed and com-plex, it has notes of peach and a whiff of citrus

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    N S ommelierew age 8First Press

    By David Wilkening

    A product that just flies off the shelves

    Distressed and elated was the response of movie star Dan Aykroyd to the news that thieves stole21,000 bottles of Crystal Head vodka from a California warehouse. The star of the Blues Brothers saidhe was sorry to lose the liquor, but we are happy that some consumers will be afforded the opportunityof tasting it at significantly lower than retail price. He reminded everyone that Crystal Head, which has adistinctive, skull-shaped bottle, is available legally everywhere. It has racked up $5 million in sales sinceit was launched in 2008 by the actor and the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation.

    At least they arent stealing Dans vodka Growth in prestige wines signals better times ahead for the Russian wine market, says a new report fromWin e Intelligence . Around 40 million Russians now drink wine on a regular basis. Rising wealth andspending levels following the global recession are encouraging more trading up to higher priced brands,particularly among the urban elites, according to the Russia Wine Market Landscape Report. Thats thegood news. The bad news: Authors note Russian wine market remains an unpredictable place to do busi-ness and is not for the faint of heart.

    Was that sperm whale or whale.? Oh, forget it!

    Chantal Martineau, writing in Food Republic, raises the interesting question: Can a cocktail be too silly? She quotes Dale DeGroff, who is often credited with pioneering the current cocktail renaissance. Baconis where the line should be drawn, he says. Martineau says personally she thinks ambergris (clottedsperm whale cholesterol), which has been popular with young drinkers, is not something I want swim-ming in my punch. But thats just me. On the other hand, no one is forcing her to drink fishy cocktails.

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    its a perfect ending to a meal.

    Next up for Swanson is a whole new line (available through direct sale from the website) called Mod-ern House Wines. Made from a small batch of 100% Oakville Merlot and blended with other Bordeauxvarietals, consumers can mix and match the playful labels (such as Please Forgive Me, Swell Swill,

    Lucky Night and Just Married). While this appears to be more about marketing than terroirits stilltasty fun.

    Its been a challenging consumer climate for Merlot, but Swanson, with heaps of effort and businesssavvy, has been able to keep wine drinkers interested. And it looks like there is more to come.

    (Swanson Continued from page 7)
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    N S ommelierew age 9

    Those who are ambivalent buy ros

    Why do wine purchasers pick one or another bot-tle? The answers: The simplicity of a label, thewine's color and price are factors which swaymost people to buy. That's the message from apanel of consumers who were put under thespotlight at Consumer Question Time - the firstindustry briefing of the London InternationalWine Fair (LIWF). Color was the first thing14,000 British adults thought about when makingwine decisions. Only four percent said they ask

    for help from a sommelier or serving staff.

    Note to LIWF: He first checked to make sureit was red

    A private U.S. collector paid $123,899 for a 1945Domaine de la Romane-Conti Romane-Conti,beating the highest price ever reached for a 750ml bottle of Burgundy at auction, according tonews reports. Only 600 bottles of this end-of-warBurgundy icon were ever made.

    Their credit cards were maxed out

    A Southern California couple bought a small NapaValley winery paying all cash for the $4.7 millionproperty on Silverado Trail near Calistoga. Morethan just another deal, writes the Press Democ-

    (Continued from page 8) rat . Its the latest indication that lifestyle buy-ers, people who are more focused on creating ahobby business in wine country than making a

    substantial profit, might be returning to the mar-ket after a two- year absence, says the newspa-per.

    They come in Riedel crystal wrappers

    The worlds most expensive tequila popsicle ismade with 24 ct. gold flakes and Tequilas Pre-mium Clase Azul Ultra, which retails around$1,500/bottle, says PR Newswire. Available atthe Marquis Los Cabos resort in Baja California

    Sur where its served poolside, which is regularlylauded as one of the most impressive infinitypools in the world.

    I taste magenta with a soupon of blanca

    Constellation Brands, whose labels include Closdu Bois, Ravenswood, and Robert Mondavi, isusing something called "sensory analytics" tohelp it better understand consumer preferences,according to Bloomberg Business Week. That's a

    fancy term for getting expert tasters to classifywines according to precise descriptions, whichare cross-referenced with consumers' impres-sions to uncover correlations. For example, says

    (Continued on page 10)

    Become a Friend of The International SommeliGuild at
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    First Press

    US ADDRESS4109 NW 88th Ave.,Suite 101Coral Springs, FL33065

    Fax (954) 272-7377

    CANADIAN ADDRESS269-762 Upper JamesHamilton, ONL9C 3A2

    Fax (905) 481-2417

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    U.S.(302) 622-3811Other Countries(905) 858-1217

    E-mail: in[email protected]:

    Its a Matter of Taste

    Constellation's U.S. chief of marketing, Chris Fehrnstrom, "many con-sumers deny they like sweet wines" when they actually do. "There is avery strong segment in sweet wines," he says. That insight helpedlaunch Primal Roots, a "silky, jammy" wine now being shipped to stores.

    South African vintage springs bok

    The 2011 season in South Africa was characterized by considerable cli-matic fluctuations, especially early in the season [and] large-scale flooddamage along the Orange River also impacted on the wine crop, saysVinPro Consultation Service. But the industry is nevertheless pleased

    with the quality of the wines and the fact that the size of the crop will beabout equal to last year. The South African wine industry is able tobuffer large fluctuations in overall crop size and quality thanks to thediversity of the respective cultivation areas, says VinPro.

    But the vineyard workers have steady jobs

    The South African wine industry has oversupplied the market, particu-larly with red grapes and wine and will face a shortage of grapes withinfive years as growers reduce the acreage they cultivate, according toDistell Group Ltd. (DST) , the countrys biggest wine and liquor producer.

    Vineyards are being removed and not renewed, Erhard Wolf, Distellsgeneral manager, told Bloomberg News. But they are not alone. Over-supply is affecting other wine-producing countries, Wolf said. Further,Australia should remove about a quarter of its vineyards to balance sup-ply and demand, he said.

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    Page 10 N S ommelierew

    President Joseph Miller

    Vice President Wayne Gotts

    Dean of EducationRoberta Belfry

    Department HeadsPeter Bodnar Rod

    Catherine RabbMichael Muser

    Michelle Bouffard Erica Landon

    Anuhea Hawkins

    Cellar MastersFranklin Ferguson

    Karim Ladhani
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    S ommelier

    N ew July 2011Today, Its Cariena

    by Roger Morris

    Silvertap Danceby Katie Kelly Bell

    First Pressby David Wilkening

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    13Today, Its Cariena

    By Roger Morris

    18Silvertap Dance

    By Katie Kelly Bell

    21First PressBy David Wilkening

    N S ommelierew age 12Contents Contributors

    Managing Editor Roger Morris writes about wine, foodand travel for several print and online publications, in-

    cluding Wine Enthusiast, Beverage Media, iSante Maga-zine and The Daily Meal. His blog is at . He lives in ru-

    ral Pennsylvania with his wife, the artist Ella Morris, andtheir six free-range yard cats.

    Katie Kelly Bell is an Atlanta-based food and winewriter. She is a regular contributor to Modern Luxurymagazines and her work has appeared in everything

    from Delta Sky to Southern Living . In between dead-lines, Bell shares her wine musings and insights on her

    blog at

    David Wilkening is a former newspaperman in Chi-cago, Washington, Detroit and Orlando, where he was a

    feature writer and often political editor. He worked inpolitics as a consultant at the national level before be-

    coming a freelance writer. He has contributed to numer-ous publications and often writes about travel. He is also

    a ghost writer who has several books under his ownname, including the latest, "How to Hide."

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    Today, Its Cariena A journey through northern Spains Garnacha -rich region

    By Roger Morris

    N S ommelierew age 13

    Downtown Zaragoza

    Wednesday The Road to Zaragoza

    The 10:30 a.m. AVE train to Zaragoza pullsout of Madrids Atocha Station and, once the sub-urbs have been cleared, begins its non-stop slashacross northern Spain, reaching speeds of around 190 miles per hour. It is late May, andthe open countryside is sprinkled with red clus-

    ters of poppies, moving their blooming parade afew miles northward daily.

    We are en route to the Cariena wine regionnear Zaragoza, a city located downstream from

    Rioja and Navarra on the Ebro River, to tastewines and talk with producers. Since the turn of the new century, Spanish winemaking districtsthat once werent listed on wine atlases seem betaking their turns in debuting in the internationalwine market Ras Baixas, Toro, Priorat, Bierzo,Jumilla. Now, it is Carienas time, its winesslowly slipping into the export stream to appearon the worlds retail shelves.

    The book on Cariena is that its D.O. cameearly, in 1932, and it is home to 2,000 grapegrowers and 44 wineries on 36,000 acres of pre-dominantly red-grape vineyards, both indigenous

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    and international.

    Once in Zaragoza a much larger, cos-mopolitan and attractive city than I had ex-pected writers David Rosengarten, MichaelFranz, John Stoker and I are whisked off tolunch at La Bal dOnsera, a Michelin one -starrestaurant near our downtown lodgings, theAlfonso I hotel. Over a delicious lunch thatbegins with a savory tomato water with pis-tachio and works its way through pork steaktartar; lobster with beans, beef and eggyolk, and foie gras and onion ravioli in achick pea broth, we talk with winemakersJos Pablo of Bodega Pablo and Jos Pascualof Gorys.

    The conversation is mainly about Gar-nacha, Carienas most -popular variety, andhow it differs from Garnacha, or Grenache,grown elsewhere. Cariena is the Spanishspelling for Carignane, but, although thegrape and the region share the same name,less and less of it is planted here becauseGarnacha and international red varietals areconsidered both better and more market-able. For variety, we taste a GorysCrespiello, a local grape whose origins dateto the 12 th Century and which is also knownas Vidadilla.

    After lunch, we drive about 30 miles southwest along A23 to Cariena, the small town that gives itsname to the district. Here we visited Prinur, a modern winery made of small blocks of limestone that re-flect the local soil composition and whose wine bottles are a rectangular shape that remind me of eau-de-vie containers. Prinur, we are told, has vineyards in three of the 14 villages that make up the CarienaD.O.

    Dinner back in Zaragoza is at the Aragonia restaurant, where we meet Ignacio Martinez de Albornoz,in charge of promoting the Aragon region and its products abroad, and our winery hosts for the evening,Jorge Navascues of Pago de Ayls and Susana Munilla, representing Victoria Dominio de Longaz. Aylsproduces the somewhat popular El Burro Kickass Garnacha, but of equal interest is its delicious 2010Dorondn Chardonnay, somewhat of an artistic rarity in this red-dominant region.

    I like a French -style white wine made in a foudre, like a Leflaive Montrachet, Navascues says, butthere is no winemaking culture here to produce a different style that can be aged. Macabeo (Virura) isthe local indigenous white grape of preference. The Dominio de Longaz reds are also interesting, but, as

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    N S ommelierew age 14

    Ignacio Martinez de Albornoz

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    yet, it does not have an American importer.

    Thursday The Red Heart of Cariena

    A long day is ahead of us as we caravan the next morning back to Cariena four wineries to visitduring the day and two more dinners. Although there are some prominent hillsides, most of Carienasvineyards are on large plains that sweep up from the river toward the mountains.

    At our first stop, Ignacio Marin, we are greeted by Angela Marin, whose family owns three wineries,this one for production of crianza or wines of the vintage. Part of the ritual at Marin is for visitors to signbarrels heads, not guest books. By the looks of these oak ledgers, the Chinese and Japanese are fre-quent visitors. Marin brings up something that we hear repeated later that the grafting cure for phyl-loxera originated in Cariena, although no one seems to know who or at what vineyard. (Note to self to do more research on this.)

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    N S ommelierew age 15

    Old vine Grenache

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    Here, and at other wineries wevisit, a theme is repeated big Gar-nachas, often from old vines, that havelots of dark red fruit, loads of dustytannins, are approachable young buthaving sufficient leanness and acidityto serve well for making reservas. Wealso taste several enjoyable youngGarnachas during our stay that haverich fruitiness from total or partial car-bonic maceration, yet with surprisinglyhearty, and compatible, tannins.

    Solar de Urbezo, our second stop,is fairly well-known in the U.S., and Iparticularly like the 2010 Vina Urbezo a Garnacha-Tempranillo-Syrah car-bonic maceration blend and the 2005reserva, a 50-50 Cabernet and Gar-nacha blend.

    Next is the first of four regional co-ops we will see on our journey, thevery modern Grandes Vinos y Viedos,

    the largest in Cariena and in all of Aragon. We taste mainly the Coronasde Anayon and Beso de Vino lines,most of which are good values. Beforelunch, we are taken on a tour of vine-yards in the rolling hills overlookingthe town of Cariena. While not ex-actly Chteauneuf-du-Pape, many of the old, head-pruned vines as well asnew plantings are on extensive beds of small gravel. Most of the reservawines come from the hills, winemakerMarcelo Morales tells us. We pick them a little later, and we pay more attention to the phenolic poten-tial than the alcohol potential. Drip irrigation lines are also in evidence in some plots, watering beingpermitted when needed.

    The last stop before our retreat to Zaragoza for the night is the smaller Covinca co-op, where thewines are intense, savory and lean, which I rather like, but my colleagues would prefer more fruit.

    The delight of the day is meeting early that evening Enrique Abad. Abad is a foodie first, the ownerof the tapas bar El Cantlerico in Zaragoza where we nosh and sip, but he has gotten into wines, first as

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    N S ommelierew age 16

    Enrique Abad

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    an amateur and recently as a serious, if small, producer. Unfortunately, his El Diamente de Abarando, acrisp, spicy, dry moscato, is not sold in the U.S. I think Im the only one who makes a dry moscato inCariena, he says.

    Our final stop of the evening is for a tasting of co-op wines under the Virgen de Aguila brand that,frankly, are not on a quality par with wines we have tasted elsewhere.

    Friday Final Thoughts and the Getaway

    This really is a short a wine trip!

    Today we visit our last two wineries Aanas and San Valero. Aanas is a new family winerystarted in 2000, director Nacho Lrdo tells us, and sells its wines under the CARE brand. Its Chardonnay

    is quite nice, though tasting more of lemony cream than do most Chards. The reds are generally blends,and it is interesting that here as elsewhere Syrah is seen as the fast-closing comer among internationalvarieties.

    Like many co-ops, San Valero, our final visit, makes wines under multiple brands, and two that aremost-often seen in the U.S. are Monte Ducay and Carinus. The latter line includes a tinto made of 20percent each of Garnacha, Tempranillo, Merlot, Syrah and Cab, and, somewhat surprisingly, its a prettygood wine for $10. Winemaker Julio Prieto takes us on a tour of vineyards on the plains south of town.

    After our cultural moment (which every wine visit must have) a tour of the impressive, multicul-tural Aljafera palace/castle/barracks restoration we are back on the AVE to Madrid, our heads heavywith Garnacha dreams.

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    N S ommelierew age 17

    The San Valero lineup

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    Wine on tap is a centuries-old concept that is suddenly new.

    Europeans have been serving wines directly from barrels for centuries, and the Romans stored anddispensed wine from amphorae. And yet Silvertap, a sustainably focused Sonoma winery that produces100 percent of its wine on tap, continues to receive rave reviews as a leader of a hot new trend.

    Wine dispensed from barrels has been around a long time, agrees Dan Donahoe, a Silvertap princi-pal and one of its founders. We are definitely version 2.0. But, from a quality -control standpoint, mostplaces dont go the length that we have gone to be sure the wine dispenses as fresh out of tap as it was

    when it went in the barrel. In fact, keg wine (or barrel-to-barrel as Donahoe prefers to call it) enjoyed a brief resurgence in the

    late 70s and early 80s with Anheuser Bushs Master Cellars project. In an effort to reuse their beer kegs

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    N S ommelierew age 18Silvertap Dance

    A funny thing happened on the way from the amphorae

    By Katie Kelly Bell

    Gregg Quinn, Jordan Kivelstadt, Dan Donahoe

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    and leverage existing infrastructure, they filled

    emptied beer kegs with wine. It flopped abys-mally.

    Donahoe says he knows why. Wine andbeer are not created equally, he says.

    Everything from the gas to the seal to thetubing can have a significant adverse effect onwine. As wine flows through a normal tap, thehigher acidity can strip the stainless and rub-ber parts that it encounters, and it emergetasting like plastic and steel. So Silvertap didits homework with MicroMatic equipment, amajor keg and tap producer, and together theycrafted wine-specific dispensing equipment.

    Donahoe cites four specific elements thatmust be in place to produce good tap wine andnotes the terrible consequences if purveyorsskimp on quality control at any level:

    The keg must be crafted with a spe-cific grade of steel, as beer kegs are not

    durable enough, and wine will erodethem.

    The tubing must be flavor lock tubing,comprised of high-quality, dense plasticthat prevents oxidation. A keg is her-metically sealed, and that tubing is thekey to the wine not going bad over-night.

    A gas blend of nitrogen and CO2 (commonly known as Guinness gas) is preferable because thatsmall about of CO2 will never dissolve into the wine and will help keep it fresher in the keg overlonger period of time.

    Cleanliness is next to goodliness. We are probably cleaner at our winery then they are at amicrochip factory, Donahoe says.

    Keg wine is not without its complexity, agrees Matt Licklider, owner of Lioco wines, which is one of about 20 wineries that also use Silvertaps kegging services. Most facilities are not set up to retrievethe kegs you send out bottles and youre done. With kegs, you need logistics to get them back. But,he admits, Silvertap is doing a great job of making it easy for us, and we far underestimated demand

    (Continued from page 18)

    (Continued on page 20)

    N S ommelierew age 19

    Filling the kegs

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    for it. All of my distributors are

    asking me for kegs. Renowned Paul Hobbs win-

    ery recently retained Silvertap tokeg some of its Crossfire Char-donnay. The decision to kegsome wine was one they care-fully considered, as Jenifer Free-bairn, director of sales and mar-keting for the winery explains.

    The demand (for keg wine) isthere, but we are a very highmaintenance winery, she says.

    We expect quality control atevery level, and Silvertap wasable to answer all of our con-cerns about quality. The greenaspects are also very appealingto us.

    One reusable keg is equal to26 bottles a lot of glass, corks,labels, foils and boxes wineries arent paying for. For on premise sales, keg wine eliminates oxidation,and hence fewer bottles get tossed out. Well fill and keg wine for wineries and deliver the product tothem to distribute as they wish, says Donahoe.

    Silvertaps own wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon andMerlot, all mostly sourced from the Russian River and Dry Creek valleys, with the Sauvignon sustainablyfarmed at Woods Vineyard. Silvertaps own wines are sold in several of countrys top restaurants in Phoe-nix, San Francisco, Atlanta and New York.

    Donahoe is currently spending most of his time addressing Silvertaps biggest issue simplifying re-trieval of empty kegs. Our big vision is to have the big brewers offer filling stations around the country

    where the kegs can be refilled, which will enable us to import wines in from Argentina, he says. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of wine are shipped all over the world in giant bladders. Why not shipto a filling station at various regional centers?

    Indeed, a variation of the filling station is still practiced in Argentina, at coops in France and else-where, with the locals bringing their own empty jugs to a winery or off-premise store, paying theirmoney and opening a tap, then driving away with their own generic reds and whites.

    Donahue is now working on his first international venture with Italy at a much-larger scale. Servingwine from a barrel is an idea that is not yet tapped out.

    (Continued from page 19)

    N S ommelierew age 20

    Dan Donahoe plays taps

  • 8/2/2019 Sommelier News July 2011


    N S ommelierew age 21First Press

    By David Wilkening

    Whispers words of wisdom, Lettie Teague

    Carl Sandberg called Chicago hog butcher for the world and city with big shoulders, but todayCarl might have added city of the big zinfandels. With access to some of the biggest wines in theworld, and some first- rate restaurants (and funky wine bars), Chicagos wine scene is so vibrant,Im willing to call it the second most - important wine city in the country right now, writes LettieTeague in The Wall Street Journal . No, I think Chicago is the first -best wine city, responds PaulHart, a partner in the wine auction house Hart Davis Hart. Proof: In 2010, the Hart Davis Hart teamsold more wine at auction in the US than any other auction house in America, including New York

    which is generally regarded as the No. 1 wine market.

    For Aussies, China is the next U.S.

    China has developed a big taste for wine, with production there now exceeding Australia, says theAustralian Broadcasting Corporation. Improved living standards have led to the increase in demandand opened up a massive market, it says. Australia is among countries trying to slake the newthirst after it saturated the

    Wine for those who give a Puck

    In what Huffpost Food calls his "continued quest for food world domination," Wolfgang Puck haslaunched his own wine label. Two Buck Puck remarked wine blogger Talia Baiocchi. The wine willbe sold at most of Pucks dining, bistro and catering restaurants nationwide. Its also available on

    (Continued on page 22)

    Become a Friend of The International SommeliGuild at

  • 8/2/2019 Sommelier News July 2011


    N S ommelierew age 22the Home Shopping Network in a nine-piece

    set. Produced by Californias Delicato FamilyVineyard, it is available in four varietals andretails for about $8 a glass or $32 a bottle

    Next comes sippy bottles

    Nothing new about the search for the perfectwine container, but now at least three U.S.wineries are offering high-tech foil pouchesthat look like childrens drink containers.Glenora Winery in New York, Clif [correct] Family Winery and Farm in Napa Valley and

    Indulge in Santa Barbara all sell wines in thecontainers, says Reuters Life, adding thepouches flew off shelves when they appearedlast summer. The pouches, made in South Af-rica by AstraPouch, take half as long to chill asa bottle, weigh much less and will keep the 1.5liters, the equivalent of two regular-size bot-tles, fresh for a month after they've beenopen, according to Glendora winemaker SteveDiFrancsco.

    Next comes Ralph Laurens Polo wines

    Up until a decade ago, wine was seen as old-fashioned and outmoded, but now its emerg-ing as a fashion statement. So says RobertBeynat, chief executive of the recently heldVinexpo. This is perhaps nowhere truer thanin Asia, where holding a glass of red wine aloftat a glitzy wine bar or restaurant is consideredthe height of sophistication, says The Inde-

    pendent . According to Beynat, wine is experi-encing a global revival, especially among theyounger demographic who have embraced itas a chic status symbol.

    Tweeps twitter for winery twip

    A New Zealand winemaker has found a way toentice social drinkers: a Twitter contest invit-ing Tweeps to provide a 140-character feed-

    (Continued from page 21) back in return for a free trip. Brancott Estate isasking for creativity and judicious care increating the award-winning tweet about their

    Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Noirs or Pinot Grigios.This is not entirely new. In 2009, Chateau desCharmes, a vintner in the Niagara region of Canada, brought "twasters" or Twitter follow-ers together in a wine tasting for the launch of its newest bottle, Generation Seven.

    Smart horns in on biodynamics debate

    His verdict: nonsense! Thats the opinion Aus-tralian viticulturalist and leading global con-sultant on viticultural methods, Dr. RichardSmart, has about organics and biodynamicsbeing better for the environment. He made hisremarks at the Wineries for Climate Protectionconference in Barcelona. When people buyfood, they dont mind choosing products thathave been grown on land treated with chemi-cals, so why should they care about how awine has been treated?

    He thought mixologist was a fightingword

    Dan Dunns writing of The Imbiber columnon Food Republic requires him to spend timearound folks who make cocktails for a living,prompting him to ask what they should becalled. Mixologist is the current term, attimes replacing bartender. But heres a betterdescription that avoids a single term:

    Mixologist is a term that I believe refers to aPART of the complete bartender, says AlexStraus of Hemingways Lounge in Hollywood.

    A complete bartender knows and uses mixol-ogy, along with his knowledge of the weather,politics, sports, maintenance, plumbing andhow to make someone end up outside beforethey start a fight.

    (Continued on page 23)

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    First Press

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    Its a Matter of Taste

    Johnnie Walker runs a victory lapJohnnie Walker Scotch whisky was the fastest-growing internationalspirit drink in 2010, according to Reuters. Seventy percent of itsgrowth was from three markets - Brazil, Mexico and duty free. Itslargest market is still the U.S.

    Texas becoming Australia of spirits

    Titos is gobbling up market share of the vodka business nationwide.

    And it's hardly the only Texas -made spirit making a name for itself, says NBC. More and more, everything from vodka to rum is made inTexas, it says. Every time I turn around, they have a new one, says liquor store owner Packy Watson.

    Vino wins out over vin in 2010

    Italy surpassed France in total wine production last year, accordingto recent data from the European Commission . The two countrieshave long sparred over the top slot, with the winner's mantle switch-ing back and forth from year to year , says Huffpost Food. Most of the variability can be attributed to changes in growing conditionsfrom year to year, the source says. Both Italy and France consis-tently produce far more than the third-biggest producer, Spain, whoin turn produces far more than the fourth- biggest, the U.S., saysHuffpost.

    (Continued from page 22)

    Page 23 N S ommelierew

    President Joseph Miller

    Vice President Wayne Gotts

    Dean of EducationRoberta Belfry

    Department HeadsPeter Bodnar Rod

    Catherine RabbMichael Muser

    Michelle Bouffard Erica Landon

    Anuhea Hawkins

    Cellar MastersFranklin Ferguson

    Karim Ladhani