Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wanna Know What To Try?

It's trite but true: there really are"So many wines, so little time." Even seasoned wine shoppers can become dazed and confused when faced with all the wines that are out there. And it's not just traditional varieties: now you're faced with varietal bottlings such as "Old Vine Mourvedre" and blends that include a seemingly endless selection of obscure grapes.

Here's a suggestion: go to one of the good wine review websites that are out there on the web. You can google the name of the wine, or better yet, try This site has plenty of helpful, fun to read articles and reviews. A few minutes with this site will make your next trip to the wine store a much more pleasant experience.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Good wine from Arizona??

Don't scoff, guffaw, or snort. Yes, there are good wines being made in Arizona -- wines that you could pour for any wine lover and get at least an approving nod. Or even a Wow!

The trick to making good wine in a state that we all think of as one big desert is that magical concept called Microclimate. Just like in California, where many areas are too hot to grow decent wine grapes, there are small areas where the climate differs from the norm. These regions are usually created by proximity to cool water (like Carneros' San Pablo Bay or the Pacific Ocean), but altitude also has an important moderating effect on temperature. If you remember your 6th grade science, you know that the temperature decreases three degrees for every 1000 feet you ascend. So climb to 5000 feet, like in southern Arizona, and you're way cooler. These high desert areas also have a decently large difference in daytime and nighttime temperatures (experts call this the "diurnal temperature variation"), which is important for creating structure in wine grapes (i.e. well-balanced tannins instead of an overly soft, flabby wine).

But enough of the theory. I've explored only a few Arizona wineries so far, but enjoyed what I tasted. My first excursion was to southern Arizona, where the towns of Sonoita and Elgin are the hub of the state's original wine region. At almost 5,000 feet of elevation, their topography looks more like California than desert Arizona. We visited a winery called Kief-Joshua, which was having a release party for its new Cabernet Franc. They also poured a Tempranillo and a Malbec that were medium-bodied and smooth, but the Reserve Malbec was our favorite. It was a real knock-out, with lots of extraction, rich red berry fruit, and vanilla.

They're very small production and the wines tend to be pricey (everything $20 or more), but there was a good crowd out, enjoying the party and spending money. We hope Kief-Joshua continues to do well.

Stay tuned for the further adventures of Deb and Chuck in AZ wine country. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Great Bubbly from Where??

The first time we met these two guys at a wine trade event in Ohio, we thought they were a little wacky. They were pouring bubbly for anyone they could drag over to their booth, and their bubbly was made in...New Mexico! But their story was good, and their sparkling wine was even better. Since then Gruet has been our favorite domestic sparkler, and the one we now recommend to everyone we can drag in.
Their story goes something like this: they studied winemaking in world-famous Burgundy, and then came back to the U.S. to discover that the climate and soil in one area of New Mexico was eerily similar to France. It needs the elevation, of course, to cool the temperatures, but the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes they grew for their bubbly were world class.
But of course, the wine world told these guys they were nuts. They got no support from anyone, but set out to prove themselves and their wine. And in true Rocky Balboa, American Underdog tradition, they beat the big guys and carved out a niche in the domestic sparkler market.
So the next time you feel like drinking some bubbly, please give Gruet a try. It makes a tremendous aperitif (try it with some Boursin cheese and Smoked Salmon on a crostini), or as a solo sipper. Here's what I recommend:
Gruet Blanc de Noir -- Crisp and clean, with an undertone of delicate strawberry fruit (my favorite)
Gruet Brut -- Very clean and snappy, with a citrus-y undertone
Gruet Demi-Sec -- Semi-sweet but not sugary, for those who can't handle dry wines.
Give them a try, and please leave a comment to let us know what you think!