Tag: Lettie Teague

Sep 09 2012

New Zealand Pinot Noir: What Sets it Apart?

Posted on September 09, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

I was intrigued to read Lettie Teague’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled What Happened to New Zealand Pinot Noir? Fortunately, the article was not about a decline in the quality of New Zealand pinot noir, but rather a lament about its disappearance from the shelves of many American wine stores. Teague cited a few reasons that I’m sure would also ring a bell with Australian wineries: not enough distributors, an unfavourable exchange rate and poor brand recognition. (WSJ, 1 September 2012)

Teague also shared Felton Road‘s head winemaker Blair Walter’s comment that “The USA is about the only place where New Zealand Pinot competes directly with the other New World Pinots.” He noted that in other markets New Zealand pinot noir is second only to Burgundy since most U.S. pinot makers don’t export their wines.

Teague interviewed an Oregon wine buyer, Mike Dietrich, who happens to love New Zealand pinot noir and has managed to put together a reasonable selection for the Fred Meyer store in Tualatin, Oregon. He believes that New Zealand and Oregon pinot noir have a lot in common: “Oregon and New Zealand Pinots are less about fruit and more about earth and minerals,” he told Teague. “There’s an earthy complexity to the wines—they’re not just fruit-forward like California Pinots.”

While Teague was less than impressed with lower price point New Zealand pinot noir (around $20 a bottle), she believes that the higher priced wines express a uniquely New Zealand point of view: “The Pinots from producers such as Ata Rangi, Felton Road, Craggy Range and Greywacke were quite good. Some, particularly the Felton Road and Ata Rangi, were truly impressive, marked by dense, dark fruit, firm minerality and a pleasing savory quality. But as Mr. Dietrich had noted, ‘fruit-forward/ they were … Read the rest

Jul 07 2012

Decoding the Language of Wine: A Few Terms Explained!

Posted on July 07, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In my previous post, The 20 Wines with a Perfect 100 Point Robert Parker Score, I suggested that wine scores were useful because, as the Decanter wine critic Andrew Jefford explained, “the language of wine is, of necessity, highly metaphorical and hence puzzling: these are not plain words.”

So going forward, I thought every week I’d have a look at the meaning of key words that are used to describe wine, so both you and I have a better idea of what the critics are talking about when we see words like ‘bouquet’, ‘body’ or ‘big wine’ bandied about!

Aroma or Bouquet

I’m guessing you’ll look pretty smart if you can tell your friends you know the difference between ‘aroma’ and ‘bouquet’ –  key words used in discussions about the ‘nose’ or smell of wine!

Not surprisingly, aroma and bouquet are often used interchangeably, but according to the Wall Street Journal’s wine critic Lettie Teague, only a young wine has an aroma – that is, scents of primary fruit and oak. In contrast, a bouquet is a smell that develops over time as the wine ages. During this period a wine will develop secondary aromas such as truffles, mushrooms and earth, for example. (Educating Peter: How Anybody Can Become an (Almost) Instant Wine Expert by Lettie Teague, New York: Scribner 2007)

Interestingly, according to the Oxford Companion to Wine, Australia has its own take on when and how to use ‘aroma’ to describe how a wine smells. Australian wine critics use the word to refer specifically to varietal characteristics rather than those associated with wine-making! In other words, aroma refers to the fresh and fruity smells that are reminiscent of the grapes used to make the wine.

Body

The Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia describes ‘body’ as “the impression of … Read the rest

Jun 06 2012

Don’t Overlook the ‘Wow Factor’ and Value of Magnums!

Posted on June 06, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Here’s a few interesting facts about magnum size bottles of wines:

1. They are perfect for dinner parties. They contain about 12 glasses of wine and come with that wow factor, as in, ‘you must really know your wine to have the confidence to splash out on a magnum’, or ‘you obviously have enough room in your cellar to accommodate magnum size bottles or, better still, you obviously store your wine in a professional wine storage facility!’ (Yes, I know, a shameless plug!)

2. Experts agree that they are the best format for ageing wines. This has do with the fact that the proportion of wine to air in a magnum is greater than in a regular 750 ml bottle and consequently the wine develops more slowly. Jamie Goode of the Wine Anorak goes so far as to say: “From many discussions with collectors and experts, I’m convinced that the optimal ageing trajectory for top wines is achieved with a combination of a sound cork, a magnum bottle, and horizontal storage at a constant 11 ºC at high humidity. The wineanorak guide to storing wine at home, wineanorak.com)

3. Typically, wine producers only bottle their top drops in magnums, and are inclined to give the bottling another level of oomph by going all out in terms of presentation. Today, for example, I received an email from Clonakilla. They have just released magnums of their flagship Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2010.  Each magnum comes packed in a pine box imprinted with the Clonakilla logo and vintage year!

I’ve often wondered why magnums aren’t more popular. The Wall Street Journal’s Lettie Teague pondered this question in a wonderfully titled article, Magnum Force: Big Bottles for Big Bashes. Here’s a few of her interesting insights:

 

  • Women, in general, don’t buy
Read the rest
Mar 03 2012

Spanish Wine Comes to Australia: Masterclass with Telmo Rodríguez

Posted on March 03, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Last year I heard Telmo Rodríguez speak at a panel discussion on biodynamic wines at the Return to Terroir Grand Tasting in Melbourne. He was passionate about  biodynamic winemaking, indigenous Spanish grapes and returning to the “18th century vineyard style” of bush training the vines to replace the use of 20th century wire trellising systems.

I was thrilled to hear him speak again at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s masterclass, “Fire in the Belly.” Bordeaux trained Rodríguez is one of Spain’s most innovative winemakers. Along with Alvaro Palacios and Domineo de Pingus’s Peter Sisseck, he has raised the reputation of Spanish wines to new heights by combining modern winemaking techniques with a renewed emphasis on native Spanish wine varieties and traditional vineyard practices.

Determined to make wines that truly reflect their sense of place, Rodríguez has spent the past 15 years scouring the country for the very best sites. Today he works with numerous small growers to make relatively small amounts of approximately twenty different wines across a broad price spectrum from almost every wine growing area in Spain, including Toro, Rueda, Valdeorras, Malaga, Alicante and Cigales.

In his quest to create truly Spanish wines, Rodríguez has revived abandoned vineyards and rediscovered native grapes such as godello, verdejo, moscatel and monastrell (mourvedre). He has also enhanced appreciation for the importance of terroir with regard to classic Spanish varietals like tempranillo, garnacha (grenache) and carignan. Rodríguez explained that he uses grapes to show places, and that grapes like tempranillo, for example, will create different styles of wine depending on where they are planted. Indeed, the slides he showed of his various vineyards revealed landscapes of extraordinary diversity, from the rolling hills of Rioja Alavesa at the edge of the Cantabria Mountain range to the flat high altitude plains of Rueda.… Read the rest