Category Archives: News
Today’s post is more of an inquiry, as we are finishing up some updates on decantedwines.com for a site relaunch (shhh!), I’m working on a new section to be announced to help individuals weed through the information about wine and beer. So I ask, what confuses you about wine? I’m looking for honest questions which will be kept completely anonymous. There is really truly no stupid question, especially when it comes to such a confusing topic.
The Food & Wine Classic kicks off in Aspen, Colorado today. As Food & Wine festivals go, this is pretty much ‘the’ festival to attend. However, after living in Aspen for two years and not attending one festival…I ponder what’s so special about it? The Food & Wine Classic began in Aspen started in 1982 on a much smaller scale – and no magazine involvement – then it is today.
If you’ve ever craved a good bottle of wine in Aspen, you’ve probably ended up at Grape & Grain just off the corner of East Hopkins & Monarch, angled slightly below Jimmy’s Restaurant (get the mac n’cheese, better know as Jimmymac). When you enter the small wine shop, you are greeted – often by name – by one of the four men that rotate time recommending wine to the store’s loyal following. Often the shop is filled with younger shopkeeps, but the store’s owner and founder – Gary Plumley – is the key to the boutique’s success…and Food and Wine’s. In the early 80′s, Aspen’s food and wine scene was just starting to explode and Mr. Plumley had a vision of a ‘wine tasting on the side of a mountain’ which was held in nearby Snowmass Village. After a few years, the publisher of Food & Wine Magazine (an avid wine collector) got involved and the festival officially changed names and was moved to Aspen.
Since the move, the festival has evolved – but not grown in terms of size that much. If you’ve ever visited Aspen, you’ll know that part of its allure is the privacy and small town feel. There are a finite amount of hotel rooms and flights to accommodate travelers, which dictates often an overwhelmingly high travel cost to access the city during the winter and big summer weekends. When it comes to big summer weekends nothing tops Food & Wine. Hotels and restaurants are booked far in advance often for double the rate you will see the rest of the summer. The Aspen Chamber Resort Association estimates the festival alone brings in well over $3 million in direct economic impact to the city, a boost that is surely appreciated in the summer. Add the increased travel, lodging and food costs to a ticket of about $1500 and you are talking about one expensive weekend. A weekend that is completely sold out.
So, I return to my question…what’s so special about it? I have a feeling that mostly it’s the location. Aspen is, in my humble opinion, one of the most beautiful and truly magical places in the world. It’s my second love (behind my husband). Add a superior food and wine festival to that town and it’s really an event that is hard to pass up. Food & Wine has done an unbelievable job recruiting some of the top chefs and wineries while being able to also feature hot new-comers year after year. With the added publicity from the top-rated show, “Top Chef” and there’s probably not a similar festival that comes close to it. To give you an idea, here are just some of the chefs/speakers featured this year: Lidia Bastianch, Mario Batali, Richard Blais, Michael Chicarello, Thomas Keller, Mark Oldman. And tastings? Try these: Champagne Salon, Colgin Cellars, Sassacaia, Hundred Acre.
So what’s so special about the festival? Just about everything, so start saving now.
James Beard Announces Final 2011 Nominees
The James Beard Foundation has released their final nominees for the 2011 awards. The “Oscars” of the food and beverage industry, the James Beard award is the most prestigious award an individual in this industry can receive. We’d like to go ahead and congratulate some of our favorite individuals & groups in the industry just for the nomination….
- Vetri, Philadelphia, PA; Outstanding Restaurant Nominee
- Per Se, New York, NY; Outstanding Service Nominee
- Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head; Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional Nominee
- Merry Edwards, Merry Edwards; Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional Nominee
- Wylie Dufresne, wd-50; Best Chef: NYC Nominee
- Ryan Hardy, Montagna at the Little Nell (Aspen, CO); Best Chef: Southwest Nominee (we’re pulling for our second home here!!!!)
And of course congratulations to Kevin Zraly, winner of the 2011 James Beard Lifetime Achievement award. Much deserved, Mr. Zraly has made arguably the biggest impact on wine education to date.
To view the full list of nominees, click here.
Decanted Welcomes New Blogger
We are excited to welcome our co-owner & wine buyer for Decanted, Al Fialkovich, to our ever growing blog! Al will be keeping a micro-blog, “Big Al’s Wine Blog,” to keep us all up to date on what he’s tasting and what’s new and exciting in the world of wine as it applies to our store. This blog will be slightly uncensored with brutally honest reviews…but for those who know Al personally, know that this is the only way we’ll be able to keep him interested!
According to a new study by Cornell University, wine grapes have abstained from sex for nearly 8,000 years. As many of 75% of current grape varietals are as closely related as ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ or ‘parent’ and ‘child’ (for example, Cabernet Franc & Sauvignon Blanc are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon). Now especially many grape vines are identical to each other (clones), much up France (some estimate 90%!) is made up of specific clones of vines.
This lack of diversity has lead to increased risk of the vines being infected with pests or disease, which has lead to increased use of pesticides. Many of domestic and European wineries know that it only a matter of time before judicial bodies step in to regulate the use of pesticides and with no disease resistant vine strains they may be out of luck.
So what is a winery to do? There are a few options, one being developing disease resistant grapes, however that may require cross breeding specific varietals with each other (for example Chardonnay a ‘new’ resistant varietal) which would cause the type of grape (and wine made from that grape) to change. Under current regulations in most of the winemaking world, a wine can only be called a ‘Chardonnay’ if it is made from at least a certain percentage of the Chardonnay grape. While cross breeding may be the most logic and successful way of beating vine disease, it definitely will disrupt and confuse consumers and affect the pockets of everyone involved…so I don’t see this as happening anytime soon.
The second option is to move towards organic or biodynamic farming, fighting disease with sustatinable practices rather than pesticides and chemicals. We’ve seen many wineries move to this method of farming for many different reasons, and I think this will be the continuing trend.
The third would require adding a resistance gene to the current varietals in use. However, this would come with an increased risk of consumer resistance and allergy developed to to genetically modified crops.
For right this is unlikely to majorly affect grape growers, however definitely one that requires more research.
To read the full story from the New York Times including a varietal ‘family chart,’ CLICK HERE.
An international research team published an article in the Journal of Archaeological Science claiming they had found the oldest winery in the world, in Armenia.
“It’s the oldest proven case of documented and dedicated wine production, stretching back the horizons of this important development by thousands of years,” Gregory Areshian, co-director of the excavation and assistant director of the University of California Los Angeles’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, told CNN.
It appears that clay pots, vats and a sprawling cave system was used for wine production over 6,000 years ago (known as the Copper Age). The vats appear very similar to the foot-stomping pieces of the equipment popular in winemaking during the 1800′s.
The cave system was discovered under mulitple layers of rock that appeared to have sealed and preserved the remnants of the winery after a collapse of the cave roof many years ago.
CNN states, “The wine might have tasted similar to modern vintages as well. Botanists examining the find say it was the species Vitis vinifera, the same one used to produce the vast majority of wine today.”
But what did the wine taste like? A modern, unfiltered red wine much show similar characteristics as many of these are produced in similar manners today as the could have been 6,000 years ago (just might have been a bit more tedious).
So the question is, what to do with France? It was deemed ‘the birthplace of wine’ but with this discovery…do we now pass that title to Armenia?
Read the full CNN article here –>Scientists discover ‘oldest’ winery in Armenian cave – CNN.com.
Ever since the idea of a Decanted retail store even entered our minds, Al and I have were consistently evaluating the market conditions not only in Naples, Florida but the entire wine world. Who would we cater to? In Naples, it is almost expected that you cater to the old generations like the Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation (prior to the Baby Boomers). However more and more we read and experience a strong interest in wine from the younger generations…namely the Millennials (1980 – 2000).
As W. Blake Gray aptly describes in his latest post, this Generation’s growing interest and excitement for wine, he also identifies how wineries have begun catering to this crowd more than ever.
What’s the secret? They’ve ‘de-mystified’ wine if you will. The belief that you have to have a Sommelier’s palette in order to enjoy a good bottle of Bordeaux no longer exists. Consumers like what they like, no questions asked. Wine tastings are like a day occurrence in most towns now (including Naples…just visit localwineevents.com to get the full list) and allow a fun atmosphere for this new generation to learn and develop their palettes and knowledge.
I look forward to this generation growing in their wine development and continuing to explore new varietals and regions. They are refreshingly laid back, admittedly still learning and willing to try virtually anything.
The UK recently held their annual International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC), the UK’s most prestigious wine competition. In a competition dominated typically by ‘old world’ – French, Italian, and Spanish – producers, some of the winners of this years competition surprised the judges, competitors and spectators alike.
China was awarded two silver medals and a bronze for both Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Japan, who won a few medals in 2009, added to their collection with six silvers and twenty-five bronze medals – quiet impressive for a new wine region. While some of the newest surprises was a bronze going to a Welsh winery and bronze and silver going to English wineries.
The recognition going to these up and coming wineries shows promise that we can continue to expect wine regions to grow, giving us ‘winos’ hope that in the near future we can try even more wines from regions of all corners of the earth.
To read about the International Wine & Spirits Competition and few the full results, click here.
With the increasing popularity of wine over the last twenty years or so we’ve seen prices rising and rising and rising. Wineries have responded to buying anxiety by reducing the case size of wine from twelve to six to even three and four in some cases. The question is as a wine buyer does this reduce my anxiety? Well, yes for that brief millisecond when I see the ‘case’ price…but I’m immediately brought back to reality when I see in big bold letters ’4 PK.’
In the newest issue of Wine Spectator, James Laube (one of the oldest contributors and my favorite) discusses the Ever Shrinking Case Size of wine. He explores that this shrinking case size is influencing consumer behavior and increasing reluctance t0 a case of wine. With the number of options in the wine world, it is hard to commit yourself to buy twelve bottles of the same wine. What if you don’t like it? Better question what if your wife/husband doesn’t like it? Al and I used to struggle with these questions before the opening of Decanted and still have an occasional dispute when we bring home our weekly case (yes, I said weekly) and he has it loaded up wine I’m not thrilled about.
But I’m under the belief that you really need to have four bottles of a particular wine in order to truly appreciate it and understand it. Does that mean you need four bottles of every wine you come across…no. I’m speaking specifically towards building a collection or appreciating a premium wine. One of the things I love about wine is its adaptability. Not only does it change over time, but it changes in regards to its place, company, and food pairings. There are so many factors that go into whether a wine is ‘good’ or not beyond just the grapes and winemaking process. I’ve had my recent favorite bottle of wine…Moschioni Rosso Celtico…twice now. I loved it once, but also loved the people I was drinking it with. The second time it didn’t taste as great…but the people weren’t exactly tons of fun either.
So here’s my case for the case…a top three of reasons why I still believe in buying by the dozen.
1. Um case discount? I may be frugal but I’m always looking for a discount. Best part about this is it allows me to buy wines that might have been out of my price range. For example, if my budget is $20 a bottle on average, a 10% discount allows me to increase that to $22…doesn’t sound like a lot, but it could be the difference between a good wine and a great wine.
2. How long will this bottle age? I get this question all the time, and to be honest I’m not sure. Neither is Robert Parker, Wine Spectator, or even the winery. Unfortunately there is no science to discovering the perfect maturity of a wine. It’s influenced by a number of different factors including transportation and storing conditions, bottling procedures, temperature and a whole lot of other stuff I don’t understand. So here’s our answer to that question and our case for at least four bottles of any wine you plan on cellaring. Open one bottle up five years after release…see how it is. Still tight? Age it for another five. Open it up and its perfect…great drink the other two bottles, if not cellar again and keep testing.
*Special Note* Do read up on the expected maturity of the wine first, certain wines age longer than others and you may need to adjust the above timeline. The winery the best resource, but if you can’t get an answer there – we like www.erobertparker.com.
3. Going Green. Is buying a case of wine vs. one bottle better for the environment? It might not seem to make a difference, but when you add up all the factors that go into that case…like driving to and from the wine store twelve times vs. one….I seem to think this might be an earth friendly approach for us winos. Would I like to see my customers smiling faces twelve times a month? Of course, but consolidating your trip not only saves gas and unfriendly emissions but helps me save on bags, paper, energy and lets me consolidate my orders passing those earth saving activities on to my suppliers.
So is this the demise of the case as James Laube predicts? I think not, I believe in the case and know it will rebound. If you are interested in Laube’s article, please click here or read it in the April issue of Wine Spectator (page 35).
Lloyd Flatt had accumulated a distinguished collection of wine before his death in January 2008. He began collecting in the 1960′s and amassed over 15,000 bottles, a good number of them being first-growth Bordeaux.
A number of his wines were recently sold at auction at Sotheby’s New York at more than double the presale estimate. 1,500 bottles of Flatt’s wine sold for a total of $1.8 million, the highest bidder being a six-liter Methuselah of Romanee Conti 1976 which sold for $42,350.
Flatt was not afraid of uncorking a bottle of wine. He stressed that wine was a consumable product to be enjoyed and he was never shy about opening wine from his collection.
Florida has always been one of the biggest wine markets in the United States. And in Naples, we are in the height of that large market. We have plenty of excellent restaurants, with very high-quality and high-priced wine lists. But in today’s economy many of us can’t afford to enjoy these excellent wines at the higher price points that restaurants are charging. The restaurants have realized this, and many have begun offering (yet not actively marketing) a bring your own wine program.
Bringing your own bottle of wine can lower your restaurant bill while also allowing you to open the world of possibilities of the wines available to you. However, there is an etiquette to bringing your own wine, some of the most important aspects are highlighted below.
1. Restaurants will charge a corkage fee. Let’s face it, when you are at a restaurant you are paying for two things: food and service. Opening your bottle is a service so many restaurants will and should charge a corkage fee for bringing your own wine. Corkage fees can range anywhere from $5 to $25 per bottle.
2. Do not bring a wine on the restaurant’s list. This is just a plain, large insult. Call ahead or have your local wine shop call the restaurant to make sure that there is not crossover with the bottle you plan on bringing and anything on their list. Safe bets are small production wines, unique varietals or blends, and older vintages.
3. Call ahead. Not every restaurant in town allows you to bring in a bottle, make sure you call ahead and get the details on their policy, corkage fees, and potential crossover on their wine list. So go ahead, break out that 1997 Brunello or Albarino that you’ve been dying to drink, venture down to one of Naples’ fabulous restaurants and enjoy your new found freedom from the restaurant wine list.
Here’s a couple places we highly recommend and some ideas for wines to pair with their cuisine:
Blue Fish Sushi and Japanese Buffet Pine Ridge & Airport Pulling Roads (Bed, Bath & Beyond Plaza) $5 corkage fee (they also offer a fantastic $18 sushi buffet!) Suggested pairings: Elena Walch Gewurztraminer ($25), Kung Fu Girl Riesling ($17)
Miramare Ristorante Venetian Village $15 corkage fee Suggested pairings: William Fevre Chablis ($25), Benton Lane Pinot Noir ($23)