Every Monday, discover new wines, regions, and ways to understand this fermenting sea.
Munching Vidal Blanc on Keuka Lake, New York
Wayward Wine continues to ply the uncharted wines of Vancouver Island. It has been rough, but we found some decent Pinot Noir (read here). This marginal-in-the-best-of-times climate manages to counter its Northern latitude by bottling any warmth it can from the eastern straights with its western mountains. The best example: the Butchart Gardens utopia that traps tourists with its improbably lush gardens… Continue reading
Ok! Vancouver Island wines have given us challenging results. Maybe, the standard grapes Chardonnay (review here), Gamay (here), even Sparkling pinot (here) provide little more than acidity, edge, reflecting regional limits. Maybe a more climate-friendly hybrid grape might work.
Sauvignette. Continue reading
Check here over the next few weeks, I am touring Vancouver Island’s wines, ciders, and beer.
Wife, kid, and I (sounds like a musical) have driven a day to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. And yes, they grow enough grapes here to claim a Vancouver Island appellation or VQA. Sure, vines only started in 1992, today boasting 432 planted acres and 32 wineries (even Oregon’s tiny Willamette Valley claims 19,000 acres and over 500 wineries). But what that youth and extremely small scale means, however, is focus: most wineries are estate only, often organic, and handled by families from vineyard to bottle. Continue reading
Cold fixes in this side of the hemisphere. Leaves catch fire. Grey and rain dampen the ether. It is not Port season yet. But it is Fall. And I have the perfect wine.
Fly to Valpolicella, valley of many cellars. In the hills overlooking fair Verona grow swaths of vines. The Galli family tend 70 terraced acres near 1,200 feet above sea level: the highest in the region. They bought the abandoned vineyard in 1969. Here, it is dry, above the fog line, cool yet sunny: perfect for appassimento, aka grape-drying. Continue reading
Go to Napa or read the back of a wine label: most wineries will insist that a family owns them. This selling tactic attempts to ground all the Disney-land glamour onto something parochial and familiar. But family ownership is not unique, roughly 80% of wineries in Napa are. Nor does family ownership ensure smallness or quality. Gallo is a family. So are mafias. Heck, corporations are people these days.
Thus, I visit Trefethen with trepidation. They too point to the Trefethen family’s ownership as a defining feature. But is it? Continue reading