Tasted: New Prosecco from Cava producer Freixenet

Decanter.com

Spain’s Freixenet has broken ranks to launch a ‘premium’ Prosecco, setting out its aim to become the number one sparkling wine brand in the world. See our tasting note below.

News that Freixenet, one of the powerhouses of Spanish Cava, is branching out to Prosecco will likely raise a few eyebrows in Penedès.

‘We want to be the consumer’s first choice for sparkling wine, and in the UK that means….

 

Amy Wislocki June 9, 2017

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Young Britons don’t know what a sommelier is – survey

Decanter.com

Sixty six percent of those surveyed did not know what a sommelier does, although this was more of a problem with the younger respondents.

Whilst two thirds of over 55s correctly identified a sommelier’s role, only 30% of 18- 24 year olds could.

Restaurant bookings site OpenTable surveyed 2,000 UK residents in March 2017. Its results underline the idea that many people enter restaurants with a degree of trepidation over the wine list.

Its survey also…

 

Ellie Douglas June 7, 2017

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The Three Essential Words for Greatness

Winespectator.com

We all say that one or another wine is „great.“ But what are the criteria?

It’s arguably the most commonly used phrase in wine appreciation: “It’s a great wine.” Indeed, the concept of “great” underlies all sorts of wine discussions. The aspiration of many wine producers (and wine drinkers) is to reach the summit of “great.”

But what’s involved? Even the most easygoing wine lovers know that merely liking a wine doesn’t vault it into the category of great. Surely, every wine lover has his or her criteria, whether articulated or just I-know-it-when-I-see-it.

Commenting on….

Matt Kramer Posted: May 16, 2017

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In praise of Prosecco

Jancisrobinson.com

Pierazzo da Feltre, honorably mentioned among the finalists in our wine writing competition, reports on the polarisation that is taking place in Proseccoland, the subject of one of his competition entries. We thought it a suitable antidote to Jancis’s more jaundiced comments on Prosecco on Saturday in Champagne – losing its fizz?

Part 1 – Prosecco then and now

This piece is different. I usually try to be non-technical, because I love amateurs, not technicians. An amateur is someone who ‚passionately loves‘ a thing, a technician is a ‚very skilled worker‘. I hate working, I love passion: welcome to Italy. This time I have to make an exception because I have to convey, as a direct witness, the way Prosecco is changing, so I will be compelled to use some technical words and concepts which I wouldn’t use while relaxing outside the Bar Centrale with friends.

I live in the Asolo DOCG Prosecco Superiore zone. Our territory is, along with the most famous Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore appellation, the premier cru territory inside the greater DOC Prosecco, which covers….

Guest contributor

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Health Topics: Does Your Go-To Hangover Cure Actually Work?

Winespectator.com

Just like your brain after a night of excessive drinking, the science behind hangovers is a little fuzzy

Sometimes there isn’t enough coffee in the world.

Many of us like to believe we’re well past our days of waking up feeling a bit wooly, but the fact is, hangovers can happen to the best of us—and to add injury to insult, they get worse with age. So if you had too much bubbly at a party, or one glass more of Merlot proved to be one glass too many, what do you do to combat the headache, nausea, fatigue and shakiness that might afflict you the following day?

For ancient Romans, the „best“ way to recover after a wild bacchanal was to eat…..

 

 

Lexi Williams

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‘Fatal’ frost hits Champagne vineyards

Decanter.com

Champagne makers fear that they have again lost a significant amount of their potential grape harvest after plunging temperatures caused severe late-spring frosts in France’s premier sparkling wine region, as well as in other vineyard areas of the country.

Temperatures have dropped below zero overnight in most of France this week, causing nerves to fray in the vineyards. Champagne has been no exception, and frost damage seems to be omnipresent in the region.

The worst hit is probably the Côte des Bar in the Aube department, although a full damage report was still being compiled. Last year the region suffered similar losses after the severe frosts of 27 April.

This means that local growers….

 

Caroline Henry, April 21, 2017

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Angry French winemakers wreck Spanish bag-in-box wines

Decanter.com

Frustration over cheap Spanish imports spilled into supermarket aisles in southern France after local winemakers wrecked bag-in-box wines brought across the border.

Winemakers staged a protest by destroying Spanish bag-in-box wines at a branch of the Carrefour supermarket near to Montpellier in France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region, according to French media reports.

Tension over cheap Spanish wine imports has reached boiling point in Languedoc as the French presidential election approaches.

Thousands of winemakers marched through the streets of Narbonne in the region earlier this month to complain at the unfair competition that they face from Spain and about the lack of government support for their industry.

Militant winemaker group CAV – or CRAV as it is sometimes known – has attacked lorries carrying Spanish wines and set fire to importers’ offices in the past year.

Languedoc-Roussillon remains France’s largest wine producing region. It continues to produce large amounts of table wine, even if a new generation of producers has also demonstrated some of the area’s high quality potential on certain sites in the past decade.

French supermarkets were not doing enough to inform drinkers about the origins of the wines on their shelves, according to local unions, including the trade body for young farmers and the independent winemakers’ group.

Samuel Masse, president of the youg farmers’ union for the Hérault region, was quote by Agence France Presse as saying that more protests like this one would follow.

 

 

Chris Mercer, April 18, 2017

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Italian police remove Crimean wines from Vinitaly show Read

Decanter.com

The Vinitaly trade show found itself unintentionally and briefly in the eye a political storm this week after Italian police removed wines from the Crimea region due to be exhibited by Russian companies.

Italian police confiscated wines from Crimea that were due to appear at the Verona-based show as part of an exhibition by Russian wine firms. The move reportedly came following a complaint by Ukrainian officials.

Decanter.com understands that Vinitaly, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors from all over the globe, was in no way held responsible for the situation. Italian police removed the wines in accordance with EU rules relating to goods from Crimea and Sevastopol.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has claimed the area is now an independent republic. But the European Union last month said that it refused to recognise the Russian Federation’s attempts to hold elections in the Crimean peninsula.

Ukrainian officials this week claimed victory after forcing Crimean wines off the stands at Vinitaly.

But Russia’s state-owned Sputnik International drew attention to a pair of local government officials in Italy’s Veneto region, who released a statement saying there were ‘ashamed’ of their own country’s actions. Verona lies inside the Veneto jurisdiction.

‘We are ashamed for the seizure of the Crimean wines at Vinitaly,’ said Stefano Valdegamberi and Luciano Sandonà in a statement published on the Council of Veneto’s website. ‘Is this the Italy of rights and freedom?’

Several Veneto entrepreneurs and officials were due to attend the Russian-organised Yalta International Economic Forum on the Crimean peninsula next week. It is being held from 20 to 22 April.

The two Veneto officials said that ‘absurd sanctions imposed by the European Union against Russia’ have harmed the Venetian economy.

However, their stance was not publicly supported by the Council as a whole.

Italy is part of the G7 group of nations, which have repeatedly criticised Russia’s actions in Crimea – and did so again after a meeting in Lucca, Tuscany, this week.

Vinitaly said that it did not wish to comment further on the matter.

Vinitaly 2017 took place between the 9 and 12 April and attracted 128,000 visitors from 142 countries, according to organisers. Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of China’s Alibaba online retailer, is among previous guests at the show.

 

Chris Mercer April 13, 2017

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The 10 rules of food and wine pairing by Karen MacNeil

Decanter.com

 

Wine writer Karen MacNeil has laid out her guide to food and wine pairing in 10 easy principles to help you navigate what can often seem like a maze full of false avenues. This copy is an excerpt from her new book, The Wine Bible.

The 10 most important principles of food and wine pairing:

  1. ‘Great with great, humble with humble’

    This might seem like the most elemental of ideas, but for me, the first important principle is simply: Pair great with great, humble with humble. A hot turkey sandwich doesn’t need a pricey Merlot to accompany it. On the other hand, an expensive crown rib roast may just present the perfect moment for opening that powerful, opulent Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon you’ve been saving.

  2. ‘Delicate to delicate, bold to bold’

    Second, match delicate to delicate, bold to bold. It only makes sense that a delicate wine like a red Burgundy will end up tasting like water if you serve it with a dramatically bold dish like curry. Dishes with bold, piquant, spicy, and hot flavors are perfectly cut out for bold, spicy, big-flavored wines. Which is why various shirazes are terrific with many “hot and spicy” cuisines.

  3. ‘To mirror or to contrast?’

    Decide if you want to mirror a given flavor, or set up a contrast. Chardonnay with lobster in cream sauce would be an example of mirroring. Both the lobster and the Chardonnay are opulent, rich, and creamy. But delicious matches also happen when you go in exactly the opposite direction and create contrast and juxtaposition. That lobster in cream sauce would also be fascinating with Champagne, which is sleek, crisp, and sharply tingling because of the bubbles.

  4. ‘Choose a flexible wine’

    Think about a wine’s flexibility. Although Chardonnay is wildly popular in many parts of the world, it’s one of the least flexible white wines with food. Chardonnays often have so much toasty oak and high alcohol that they taste hard and dull when accompanied by food.

    For maximum flexibility, go with a Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Riesling, both of which have cleansing acidity. Wines with high acidity leave you wanting to take a bite of food, and after taking a bite of food, you’ll want a sip of wine. The perfect seesaw.

    The most flexible red wines either have good acidity, such as Chianti, red Burgundy, and California and Oregon Pinot Noir, or they have loads of fruit and not a lot of tannin. For the latter reason, zinfandel, lots of simple Italian reds, and southern Rhône wines, such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, are naturals with a wide range of dishes, from such simple comfort foods as grilled chicken to more complex dishes like pasta Bolognese.

  5. ‘Fruity wines for fruity dishes’

    Not surprisingly, dishes with fruit in them or a fruit component to them—pork with sautéed apples, roasted chicken with apricot glaze, duck with figs, and so forth—often pair beautifully with very fruit-driven wines that have super-fruity aromas. Gewürztraminer, muscat, viognier, and riesling are in this camp.

  6. ‘Salt versus acidity’

    Saltiness in food is a great contrast to acidity in wine. Think about smoked salmon and Champagne, or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and Chianti. Asian dishes that have soy sauce in them often pair well with high-acid wines like riesling.

  7. ‘Salt versus sweet’

    Saltiness is also a stunningly delicious contrast to sweetness. Try that Asian dish seasoned with soy sauce with an American riesling that’s slightly sweet, and watch both the food and the wine pull together in a new way. This is the principle behind that great old European custom of serving Stilton cheese (something salty) with Port (something sweet).

  8. ‘High-fat food and high-powered wines’

    A high-fat food, something with a lot of animal fat, butter, or cream, usually calls out for an equally rich, intense, structured, and concentrated wine. Here’s where a well-balanced red wine with tannin, such as a good-quality Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, works wonders. The immense structure of the wine stands up to the formidableness of the meat. And at the same time, the meat’s richness and fat serves to soften the impact of the wine’s tannin.

    A powerful California Cabernet Sauvignon with a grilled steak is pretty hard to beat. This same principle is at work when a Bordeaux wine (made primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) is served with roasted lamb. And pairing richness with richness is also the principle behind what is perhaps the most decadent French wine and food marriage of all: Sauternes and foie gras.

  9. ‘Consider umami…’

    Consider umami (see The Wine Bible, page 105), the fifth taste, which is responsible for a sense of deliciousness in foods. Chefs increasingly use foods high in umami, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, soy sauce, wild mushrooms, and most red meats, to build a dish, and potentially make it sensational with wine. When wine and food are paired well together, adding an umami component to the food often serves to heighten the overall experience. So, for example, we know steak and cabernet sauvignon to be a successful match. Topping the steak with grilled mushrooms gives the overall combination even more punch.

  10. ‘Beware of sweet on sweet’

    With desserts, consider sweetness carefully. Desserts that are sweeter than the wine they accompany make the wine taste dull and blank. In effect, the sweetness of the dessert can knock out the character of the wine. Wedding cake, for example, can ruin just about anything in a glass, although happily, no one’s paying attention anyway. The best dessert and dessert wine marriages are usually based on pairing a not-too-sweet dessert, such as a fruit or nut tart, with a sweeter wine.

So there they are, a group of pretty simple principles, meant only as a guide. The real excitement is in the experimentation, and only you can do that.

Extracted from The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil (Workman). Copyright © 2015

 

Decanter Staff, January 27, 2016

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In the restaurant: The wine tasting ritual — how to handle it like an expert

Decanter.com

Whether it’s a party of friends, clients or even a date — the wine presentation ritual can be a nerve-wracking point in the meal. As the waiter approaches with your chosen bottle, the table chatter dies away and all wait in anticipation for your verdict. Learn how to handle it with the poise and assurance of an expert, with tips Decanter columnist Andrew Jefford, chief restaurant critic Fiona Beckett and wine writer and sommelier Emily O’Hare.

The wine presentation ritual

Once you’ve navigated the wine list and chosen the perfect bottle, one final challenge awaits — the wine presentation ritual. Why are you being shown the bottle label? Should you sniff the cork? And what are you looking for in that all-important first taste? See below for our step-by-step guide.

The bottle arrives…

It might sound obvious, but many people don’t look properly at the bottle’s label — even when the waiter puts it right under their noses. If you don’t check the producer, style and vintage you run the risk of forking out for a different, possibly inferior, wine.

‘When it is presented to you, check the wine is the correct wine. Different vintages may have different prices, and you could get quite a fright when the bill arrives after you’ve gotten through four bottles,’ advises Emily O’Hare, former head sommelier and wine buyer at London’s River Café.

‘The blame is on the restaurant for serving you the wrong wine, but on you too for confirming it to be the right wine.’

A word of warning…

‘If you chose a nice vintage,’ said Andrew JeffordDecanter.com weekly columnist and DWWA Regional Chair for France, ‘but the restaurant finds they’ve run out, it can be common for them to try to fob you off with the following year without telling you.’

If served correctly, the waiter or sommelier should keep the bottle facing you throughout the presentation and opening of the wine, to give you plenty of chance to get a good look. They may offer you the cork for inspection, see if it appears too sodden, or equally too dry and crumbly. Sniffing the cork is an option, but it’s generally thought not much can be detected from doing so.

The first taste

If you are the host, the waiter will pour a little of the wine into your glass for you to taste. Look at the appearance of the wine against a white background, like the tablecloth. Inspect the colour of the wine, and check there is nothing suspect floating in it (sediment is to be expected in some styles).

Swirl the glass a few times to aerate the wine and release its aromas, this is most smoothly done by keeping the glass on the table. Then swiftly bring the glass to your nose, and concentrate on the wine’s fragrance — you may have to repeat this a few times as your perception of the different scents fatigues quickly. Then take a small sip and roll it around your mouth, focusing on anything that seems at all unexpected or unpleasant.


Remember: This is the point at which you should raise any concerns with the sommelier — not once your guests have wincingly drunk half a glass of faulty wine.


‘The wine is offered for tasting so you can check it’s not corked but some people’s sensitivity to cork taint is greater than others,’ said Decanter’s chief restaurant wine critic Fiona Beckett.

‘If you think it’s smelling musty, mouldy or simply unaccountably flat — ask for it to be replaced. Insist politely but firmly if the restaurant says “it’s supposed to be like that”.’

 

Final golden rule

The solemnity of this routine can be off-putting, but keep in mind that the wine is usually the most expensive part of the meal — so it’s important to give it ample time and attention, to make sure you’re drinking what you’re paying for.

Written by Laura Seal for Decanter.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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