Viognier Theme for WBW78

by Tim Elliott on June 7, 2012

Nice theme for summer. Join us June 20th.

I’m delighted to announce that I am hosting Wine Blogging Wednesday #78 on Wednesday, June 20th. WBW78 will mark my second time hosting this monthly virtual wine event. Our theme for this month will be a grape that is near and dear to my palate — Viognier.

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“Lafite is out, Conti is in.”

by Tim Elliott on June 6, 2012

China pivots to Burgundy.

Thankfully, the wine market’s sour turn could also just be a sign of changing tastes. Eighty-six of the 100 bottles Liv-ex tracks are Bordeaux, the traditional king of fine wine. But as the Financial Times wrote in May, recent auctions suggest that Hong Kong buyers, perhaps spurred by the rampant counterfeiting of top Bordeaux, are branching out to wines from other regions, especially Burgundy labels such as Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.

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Almost all of us don’t treat blogging as a business. And those few who do find building a community around a wine blog very, very difficult. Without hundreds of thousands of pageviews a month, advertising on blogs of any topic is not a viable business.

There are are a grand total of 46 real Wine Bloggers listed in the VOCUS media database, one of the largest and heaviest used media databases among publicists in the U.S. Of those, only 4 have a “readership” number attached to the entry, and all four are inaccurate representations of the monthly visitors to the blog.

Now, I know there are more than 46 wine bloggers in the U.S. I know that there are more than 4 that have a decent readership. What this lack of bloggers in the VOCUS Media Database tells me and what the inaccuracy of the readership numbers for those blogs tells me is this: PROFESSIONAL PUBLICISTS CARE VERY LITTLE ABOUT THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF WINE BLOGGERS AND THEIR AUDIENCE.

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WBW 76: Barossa Boomerang

by Tim Elliott on April 25, 2012

Schild Estate Barossa ShirazNot too long ago I drank quite a bit of Australian wine, particularly Shiraz. Given that this grape, also known as Syrah, expresses greatness in the Barossa Valley I could not pass an opportunity to revisit this region for this months’ Wine Blogging Wednesday. Our host, Adam from Wine Zag, proposed we look for any wine from Australia’s Barossa Valley but for me only Shiraz would do, much the same way only Cabernet would do for Napa Valley. One other limitation was to choose a wine for $30 USD or less. I’m well aquatinted with great values from Barossa but have not tasted any lately so I was a little concerned as I entered my local wine store to explore the options available this week.

The main reason for my exile from Barossa and most of the wines of Australia of late has been value. There are many great wines made in Australia but far fewer under $30 than in the past (at least it seems to me). Some of this is due to shipping costs; some of this is due to exchange rates. Today the best bang for the (American) buck comes from the Iberian peninsula or lesser known parts of Italy and France. Even California, Washington State and Oregon are bringing the value in these recessionary times. But there still are some producers who are managing to bring the value from Barossa even today.

One of those is Schild Estate, a family run winery in Barossa that over delivers value if judged by the wine I tasted this evening. Established in 1952, this winery produces a range of wines but with an emphasis on Shiraz. And after tasting their entry level Shiraz today, I can see why they lavish so much attention on the variety. It is because it’s delicious.

Tasting Notes:

Schild Estate Wines, Shiraz, Barossa 2009 ($18) – Dark purple in color with aromas of cherry, plum, bacon, and black licorice. Round in the mouth with concentrated blackberry, plum and black pepper flavors finishing with savory tannins. A very nice expression of Aussie Shiraz at a stunning price.

14.5% ABV
Screw cap closure
Rating: ★★★★☆
Score: 90

Thanks go to Adam for hosting this month and for provoking me to taste a Barossa wine and blog about it. Stay tuned for next months edition of our global virtual tasting to be announced soon.

The Lifestyle of An A-List Wine Critic

by Tim Elliott on February 29, 2012

A-List wine critics are the celebrities of the wine geek but we don’t get a chance to learn much about them. Just Google for interviews of Robert Parker or James Laube and you will see very little outside of promotional stuff.

But Antonio Galloni of The Wine Advocate seems to be more open and has been interviewed by Grape Radio and now Steve Heimoff. Steve is himself a noted critic from The Wine Enthusiast so he knows the questions to ask. And his three part interview with Mr. Galloni goes deeper into the lifestyle of a wine critic than anything else I have seen to date. Everything from blind tasting to dental cleaning schedules are covered and I was surprised more than once while reading the series.

The link below goes to the first part. I would suggest you carve out a half hour and read all three parts together. Really fascinating stuff that I will pick up again in a future post.

It was a real treat to run into Antonio Galloni at last Friday’s Vintage Retrospective Tasting at the Rudd Center of the Culinary Institute of America, in St. Helena. I asked Antonio if he wouldn’t mind my interviewing him, and he kindly agreed, for which I am grateful.

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OTBN 13: A Night of Regret & Discovery

by Tim Elliott on February 27, 2012

Although I was an avid and longtime reader of Dottie Gaiter and John Brecher’s weekly Wall Street Journal wine column, I never have participated in Open That Bottle Night (OTBN). Started in 2000, the event was created as an excuse to open a special wine that remains for whatever reason languishing in your cellar. I have had several candidates for such treatment but when the last Saturday in February arrived I never thought to actually open one of these long forgotten bottles.

Acacia Carneros Brut 1989That was until this past weekend when I saw someone mention the event on Twitter and decided to take action. The bottle in question is a 1989 Acacia Vineyard Carneros Brut sparkling wine “recently disgorged”. The recently disgorged style was developed by Bollenger in 1961 for their 1952 Bollinger Grande Année. The extra bottle age before the yeast is removed and the final dosage is added gives the wine additional flavor and complexity. And by disgorging the yeast late, the wine also retains more freshness and fruit than if the bottle was aged after disgorgement. Since I received the bottle of Acacia as part of their wine club shipment in 2005 or 2006, I assume the wine was left for a decade or more on the lees in bottle.

Since 1989 is the year of my daughter’s birth, I assumed we would open the bottle a couple years ago as part of her 21st birthday celebration. For one reason or another the bottle remained in the cellar and so I naturally assumed the worst as I plucked the bottle from the rack. I’ve had my share of over the hill wines. Most of the time those blasted plastic corks are to blame but other times it’s simply a bottle left far past it’s proper drinking window. For those of us with collections, this happens more often than you might expect but the Great Recession has greatly depleted my cellar and so these bottles are now much easier to spot. This particular Acacia Brut was a perfect choice for OTBN as there was the chance of magic. I’ve had their sparkling wines before after extended aging and enjoyed them and the promise of a wine disgorged only 8 years ago or so made me optimistic as I eased the cork from the bottle with a satisfying pop.

Pouring the wine in the flute showed a still vigorous bead of fine bubbles through a rich golden yellow color. Since it was still on the light golden side, somewhat like apple juice, I thought that perhaps there might be something left to this wine. All of these hopes were dashed when I lifted the flute to my nose and got the unmistakable whiff of oxidized wine. But there was still some yeasty bread notes, citrus and almond  there so I took a sip over my sink thinking it would most likely be immediately spit out. But the flavors are still actually pretty nice. Some Sherry-like oxidative elements to be sure but also lemon and some green apple flavors that finish clean with bright acidity. The yeast had certainly left it’s mark in palate weight and complexity, as well, with a pleasant nuttiness on the long finish. Overall, the wine has clearly seen better days but is still interesting even with the somewhat off-putting aromas.

Three days later I have another glass siting in front of me as I finish this post. No, this is not a great wine but enjoyable none the less, and I’m quite happy Open That Bottle Night presented an excuse to try it. Otherwise, I’m sure it would have just gone down the drain in 5 or 6 more years. So if you have a long forgotten bottle collecting dust, get a corkscrew and see what you have there. You might just get lucky and discover something interesting.

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