A Travellerspoint blog

The ABCs of Wine

From WSJ.com. Click here for the article http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124243538175825889.html

It's time for a new, improved, updated A-Z glossary. What we've done here is include fresh items that we wouldn't have included just a few years ago (our last glossary ran in 2003). In previous glossaries, for instance, P stood for Robert Parker, but, looking forward, D and V are the new P. These are words and people whose names are good to know right now for some reason, if only because they are symbols of something larger. We have made tough choices to get each of these down to a single listing. This sometimes entailed arguments, threats and compromise, and in the long run we just couldn't agree on R, which is why there are two.

Albariño. Signature white wine from Spain -- sunny, peachy, floral and mouthwatering. Spanish wines -- red, white, rosé and its sparkling Cava -- tend to be excellent values these days.

Bronco Wine Co. California-based Bronco grew into one of the biggest wine companies in the U.S. thanks to "Two-Buck Chuck" and other lower-priced brands. Now its CEO, Fred Franzia, has become increasingly visible as an advocate for inexpensive wine that's an everyday pleasure. (Fred Franzia does not produce Franzia boxed wines, which are made by another giant company known for inexpensive wines, the Wine Group.)

Celebrity wines. This replaces critter wines, the fading fad in which the cute animal on the label was a bigger selling point than the wine inside the bottle. Now anybody who's anybody, living or dead, from golfers to rock stars to actors, has his or her own wine label. In tastings, we have preferred celebrity to critter wines, so far, but we're not sure how long that will be true.

Dr. Vino. The world is awash in wine bloggers -- and we figure the more people who read and write about wine the better -- and one good example is drvino.com, which is well-written, well-researched, calm and, dare we use the word, sober.

Extracted. It's hard to avoid this word in any discussion of wines these days. Essentially it means just what it sounds like: a wine that's concentrated and intense. Even normal people these days like to argue about whether various wines are overly extracted.

Flights. Not long ago, only wine geeks talked about "flights" of wine -- that is, several wines tasted against each other because of some common trait, such as Sauvignon Blancs from around the world. Now, because of the explosion of wine bars, flights have taken off.

Grüner Veltliner. Austria's signature white, far more widely available now than just a short time ago. It's so trendy that some people, unfortunately, call it GrünVelt, GrünV, GV or even GrüV, but we'd stick with GROO-ner felt-LEE-ner.

Haw River Valley (North Carolina). New official wine appellation (known as an AVA, or American Viticultural Area), simply one example of the extraordinary growth of wineries all across the U.S. There are now more than 3,000 wineries that are not in California, including about 80 in North Carolina.

Interstate shipping. Thanks to the Internet and a 2005 Supreme Court ruling, the amount of wine moving among states has grown tremendously. While some states still do not allow interstate (or, in some cases, in-state) shipping, most Americans now can order wine from stores and wineries in other states.

Jerk. Because of the increasing confidence and sophistication of wine drinkers all over the world, more and more people hear an insufferable wine bore and say, "Wow, that guy [it's always a guy] is a jerk," instead of saying, "I guess I don't know anything about wine." In terms of wine, we think jerk is a term you will be hearing more in the next few years.

Kabinett. We know it's probably just wishful thinking, but we think maybe Riesling really is about to turn a corner as consumers realize what a beautiful, food-friendly wine it is. If they do, they are sure to discover lighter German Rieslings that are classified as Kabinett.

Languedoc. Productive region in southern France that produces an ocean of wine, some of it good. Producers are working hard to improve quality; there is a new, official Languedoc regional appellation as of 2007; and its solid wines are affordable in a time of economic strain, so Languedoc's profile might rise in the next few years.

Malbec. Argentina's signature red. Earthy yet easy to drink, this is very much the red wine of the moment.

Naked. Unoaked wines, sometimes called naked, have become trendy because the overuse of oak (or oak chips, or oak staves, or oak flavorings) has become epidemic. Our feeling is that oak itself isn't really the villain, that lazy winemaking and inferior grapes are. Still, a little bit of over-reaction isn't a bad thing in this case and some naked wines are tasty.

Organic. All things organic are hot these days and wines made from organically grown grapes are no exception, along with wines grown with biodynamic or sustainable agriculture. They are also improving in quality.

Prosecco. Delightful bubbly from the Veneto region of Italy that has surged in popularity recently because of its charm and low price.

Quincy. White wine made from Sauvignon Blanc in the Loire Valley of France. As consumers look for alternatives to Chardonnay and other big whites, they are increasingly discovering wines like this.

Reduction. Word often used in the heated debate between cork and screw-cap camps, in which some argue that this complex reaction causes off smells (at least briefly) in wines closed with screw caps.

Resveratrol. A compound in red wine that researchers believe has positive health effects, in far larger doses than a single bottle of wine.

"Sideways". The 2004 movie that boosted Pinot Noir and the Santa Barbara County wine industry and helped make a joke of Merlot.

Tannat. Signature red of Uruguay, one example of the many interesting wines now fighting for shelf space from all over the world.

Urban wineries. Places in cities, from Denver to Brooklyn, N.Y., to Hong Kong, where vintners are making wine far from the actual vineyard.

Vaynerchuk, Gary. Wine geek of the moment. His upbeat, charming commentary at http://tv.winelibrary.com has made him a star and brought him a huge book deal. His many followers are called Vayniacs.

Wine doggy bags. Most states now allow diners to leave a restaurant with an unfinished bottle of wine, though they generally require that the wine be placed in a sealed container, which has inevitably come to be known as a "wine doggy bag." (For a listing of state laws, see http://winedoggybag.com)

Xinomavro. Indigenous red grape of Greece, pronounced Ksee-NO-ma-vro, according to the Web site http://allaboutgreekwine.com, where you can hear it pronounced. Greek wines are interesting, well-made and often bargain priced.

Yarra Valley. Australian wine region known for its cooler climate. Australia produced lakes of bad wine over the past few years -- especially Chardonnay and Shiraz -- and, as a result, saw its industry suffer. But there is too much commitment, too much money and too much history for the bad times to last forever. We'd guess that Australia's quality comeback will be led by lesser-known regions, such as the Yarra Valley, and, separately, by its lesser-known varietals, such as Riesling.

Zweigelt. Austria's most widely planted red grape, sometimes seen as a rosé. The red is fun, charming and a little peppery.

Email wine@wsj.com
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page W6

Posted by HelenaK 10:00 Comments (0)

27th Annual Paso Robles Wine Festival

May 15-17, 2009

If you're in the Central Coast (California) this weekend, make sure you stop by the Paso Robles Wine Festival. The festival features 90+ wineries and over 400 wines. Click here for more details: http://www.pasowine.com/events/winefestival.php

Posted by HelenaK 21:57 Comments (0)

Finding Value in Paso Robles Wines

Wall Street Journal 4/16/2009

Here's a link a friend of mine forwarded and I thought I'd share it with you. The video talks about the quality wines at affordable prices in Paso Robles.

Posted by HelenaK 14:48 Comments (0)

Paso Robles

The region, known for its Zinfandels, did not disappoint. I now have a newfound appreciation for Zins and other wines from this area.

sunny 75 °F

I'm drinking a glass of the 2006 Mourvedre from our recent trip to Paso Robles. We purchased the bottle from Tablas Creek - our last stop on our wine tasting trip to Paso Robles. I'll write a little more about the wine later...


I'm quite surprised I've never explored this region, I've been all over California (Sonoma, Napa, Santa Ynez) to wine taste, but have never stopped by the wineries in Paso Robles. I've heard and tasted many wines from this region, and I finally know what all the hype was about.

According to prcity.com, Paso Robles (PR) is California's fastest growing wine region and now I know why.

How did we choose which wineries to go to? We asked a few friends in the wine industry for their faves and made sure to stop by a few of those wineries. For a good guide, check out http://www.pasowine.com/. If you can, try and get a hold of their brochure. It's comprehensive with winery profiles as well as a visitor's guide.

Our first stop was the fun Four Vines Winery. Their wines have really catchy names (Naked Chardonnay, Loco, Heretic).

We went home with a bottle of their '06 Maverick. Some notes on this particular wine:
2006 "The Maverick" Zinfandel, Amador County; $25
Devious mischief abounds from these dry-farmed, head pruned, old vine vineyards in the Shenendoah Valley. This Sierra Foothill Valley is renowned for its old vine Zin vineyards which produce a wine that is chewy and spicy, rich with blackberry fruit and a hint of velvet vanilla oak. Blended with a touch of Syrah from the Bailey Vineyard. Maverick...The Jam Bomb...mischievous fun! http://www.fourvines.com/images/tasting_maverick_06.pdf


Tasting room:
3750 Highway 46 West
Templeton, CA 93465
Phone: (805) 237.0055
E-mail: whine@fourvines.com
Tasting $7 includes an etched Riedel glass

The next winery we went to was Turley, which specializes in Old Vine Zinfandel ($28). Their tasting consisted of several Zins, all of which were quite delicious. We bought a bottle of their '06 Old Vines Zin and so far (from looking at our purchases) it looks like 2006 was a good year for the varietal.


Tasting room:
2900 Vineyard Drive, Templeton, CA 93465
Phone: (805) 434–1030
Tasting $10 w/ Riedel glass

Lunchtime! And what better way to have lunch than a picnic overlooking the beautiful wineries of PR. A nice couple who we met while tasting at Turley recommended the nearby Croad Vineyards for their fantastic view.


Croad just recently opened and we couldn't have picked a better picnic spot. The vineyard is on the hilltop overlooking the valley, the mission-style architecture was beautiful, and the owner was there to greet us. Overall, this was a great winery to visit and I'd definitely come again. We went with another Zinfandel - their 2005 Zin at $28/bottle.


Tasting room directions: http://www.croadvineyards.com/department.asp/csasp/DepartmentID.792/csasp.html
Phone: (805) 226-9899
Email: wine@croadvineyards.com
Tasting $5

On our way back down to the 46 West, we saw the Red Soles Winery and had to stop. The winery was beautiful. We chatted with one of the ladies in the tasting room and she talked about how the owners farmed on the land for years and just fairly recently opened the winery. For more history on Red Soles, click here: http://www.redsoleswinery.com/about_us.php

Fun fact - the owners named the winery after the fact that your soles turn red after crushing grapes with your feet. Speaking of stomping on grapes, I couldn't resist and had to add this hilarious clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMS0O3kknvk

Tasting room:
3230 Oakdale Road
Paso Robles
Phone: (805) 226-9898
Email: info@redsoleswinery.com

Next stop: Linne Calodo Cellars. The friends I asked raved about the wines here and it definitely lived up to the hype. Here's an excerpt from their home page:
... a family-owned and operated winery, focused on the production of unique and exceptional, hand-crafted wines. Our name, Linne Calodo, describes the distinctive limestone soils of the west side of Paso Robles where our vineyards are located. We are proud to be creating unfined and unfiltered wines balanced through the blending of Rhone and Zinfandel varietals.

The ambiance wasn't much, it was basically a big warehouse with wine barrels and the tasting room. It looked like the winery was still under construction, but nonetheless, the wines were simply divine. The wines were pretty expensive but that didn't stop the 2 couples that were in the tasting room - they filled the back of their suv with multiple cases of their wines.


Tasting room:
3030 Vineyard Drive
Paso Robles
Phone: (805) 227.0797
Email: maureen@lineecalodo.com

Our last stop for the day was Tablas Creek Vineyard, which you hit when you drive north from the 46W up Vineyard Drive. This was definitely the most commercial of the wineries we visited. It reminded me of being in Napa where there's often a line of people waiting for their next pour. It got pretty rowdy here as well, people were dropping glasses, etc....this was probably because we got there late in the afternoon.

We got a bottle of their Cotes de Tablas 2006 ($25) which is 72% Grenache Noir, 11% Syrah, 9% Mourvedre, 8% Counoise. Easy to drink and tasty.


Tasting room:
9339 Adelaida Road
Paso Robles
Phone: (805) 237-1231
Email: info@tablascreek.com


Posted by HelenaK 21:33 Archived in USA Tagged wineries wine_tasting paso_robles Comments (0)

Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez/Solvang

There are a couple of amazing wineries just north of Santa Barbara, California. Here are my notes from my latest visit...

sunny 87 °F

Friday. October 17, 2008
068.jpg Gainey Vineyard

We had a short break from grad school, so some friends and I decided to drive north to Santa Barbara county to wine taste. We left LA at 9:30 am, made a quick stop in Montecito to pick up a friend, and proceeded to Santa Ynez. Our first stop was Solvang's El Rancho Market where we picked up some goodies for our picnic. They had a great selection of cheeses, meats, and pasta salads. Here's what we ended up with in our picnic basket: tortellini salad, insalata caprese, tri-tip sandwiches, brie, crackers, and ribs.


We decided to start our wine tasting trip at Bridlewood Winery. It was a beautiful drive to the winery and since it was Fall, we drove up to a driveway full of autumn leaves. Here's what our handy wineries guide said about Bridlewood: Large mission-style winery majestically sitting on 105 acres, surrounded by vineyards, trees, lakes, gardens, horses and picnic areas.

Overall, I thought the wines were okay. I liked their Reserve Syrah but I was not a huge fan of their Dusty Trails Syrah, which was a bit too "dusty" for my liking. The grounds at Bridlewood were beautiful and we enjoyed our picnic and stroll around the vineyard.


Bridlewood Winery
3555 Roblar Avenue, Santa Ynez; Open 10 am - 5 pm daily
805-688-9000; www.bridlewoodwinery.com

Next stop: Buttonwood. This is my friends favorite winery and I can see why. It was not only quaint but they also had 8 delicious wines to taste, an entertaining and knowledgeable pourer (Caroline), and the wines were organic. Some of our favorites from their tasting include:

Buttonwood's Sibling Revelry - My friend got a case of this for just $60, which is a steal! It was very smooth and easy to drink.
2007 Buttonwood Syrah Rosé - Rose. Perfect for picnics.
2002 Buttonwood Trevin - Well balanced. I really liked this one!
2007 Buttonwood Zingy - It tastes like it sounds. Crisp and light with a slight zing.

Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard
1500 Alamo Pintado Road; Open 11 am - 5 pm daily
805-688-3032; www.buttonwoodwinery.com

Our last winery for the day was Artiste, which is located in Historic Old Santa Ynez. Artiste wines are labeled with impressionist art and are named after the title of the painting that graces its bottle. I thought the wines were a little expensive and it wasn't that impressive. I did enjoy looking at the paintings in the tasting room, but I was not a huge fan of their wines.


Artiste Winery & Tasting Studio
3569 Sagunto Street, Santa Ynez; Open 11 am - 5 pm daily
805-686-2626; www.artiste.com

Here's a map of the region:

A few more photos:
080.jpg Driving down Cabrillo Street, Santa Barbara
065.jpg Santa Ynez

Posted by HelenaK 13:41 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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