If your June is like ours thus far, you may be dashing betweens wine events, parties, travels and, er, mechanical bull riding. Still, we’ve saved a bit of time for this week’s wine news!
André Lurton, the only Bordeaux winemaker to test out the use of screwcap closures on classified whites, has decided to stop the trial after resistance from French buyers.
Fans of Alsatian wines, there’s an interview with Alsace’s Anne Trimbach on Bottlenotes.
VinePair celebrates the particular beauties of the Viennese urban vineyard and the Austrian heuriger, where winemakers sell their young wines in an atmosphere like no other.
Before you leave the VinePair site, you might also want to take a look at the infographic pairing wine with America’s most famous types of barbecue. I’m trying to imagine some of these flavours together and can’t quite manage it. I must need to eat lots more barbecue and make a thorough study of the issue!
On the subject of wine matching, Fiona Beckett has posted a guide to pairing food with Vermentino — a particularly useful guide in warmer weather.
A trade war may see Canada place huge taxes on imported wine from the U.S. in a dispute over meat products.
Matt Walls offers up a recipe and wine suggestions for oeufs en cocotte. He includes variations with spinach and smoked salmon, and any of them would make a fantastic brunch, lunch or light summer dinner.
World Gin Day is coming up on Saturday. Will you be celebrating?
Here are our picks of this week’s wine news:
This may help you with your summer parties: Punch is offering what it calls House Cocktail hacks, where top bartenders offer recipes for cocktails using only two spirits, two additional elements (vermouth, amaro, etc.) and two simple syrups you can quickly whip up yourself.
If you’re a fan of Madeira, this might interest you: changes to labelling laws will allow a fifth grape variety, Tinta Negra, on the front label, and a new category for 50-year-old Madeira has been introduced.
In this week’s wine crime news, the head of a French wine producer has been accused of illegally blending other white wines into its Chablis.
Over on Matching Food and Wine, Fiona Beckett sings the praises of Vermentino with seafood.
Wednesday I was fortunate enough to attend a staff wine tasting of Hugel wines at the Wine Society. I actually went in on my day off just for the that, which should be an indication of how interested I am in the wines of Alsace and in Famille Hugel wines in particular.
The Hugel family has been producing wine in Riquewihr in Alsace since 1639, which is remarkable continuity when you consider how many times Alsace changed countries and official languages during the same period (six times since 1639, by my count). The Hugel family features prominently in Wine and War by Don and Petie Kladstrup, which, if you haven’t read it, is an collection of accounts of how the French tried to preserve cellars, vines, vineyards and the vintners themselves from the Nazis during World War II. We’ve just finished reading the book ourselves and will post a full review soon, but while many of the stories blur together in the Kladstrups’ descriptions, what happened to the Hugel family really stands out. Two Hugel brothers were conscripted into the German army and one, once he had managed to survive the Russian front and return to liberated Riquewihr, felt he had to go back to Germany and fight again as a soldier in the French army. The two brothers were actually on opposite sides of the fighting at the same time during a battle near Lake Constance. It’s frankly the sort of thing you’d find unbelievable if you saw it in a film. If you’re interested in reading more about the Hugel family during World War II, you can read excerpts on the Hugel website or in Wine and War.
Three generations of the Hugel family were in England this week for wine tastings and to announce the rebranding of the company from Hugel & Fils to the more inclusive Famille Hugel, as well as the launch of the family’s first single-vineyard wine called Schoelhammer. Schoelhammer is made from grapes from just 30 rows of south-facing Riesling vines, and the first release is from the 2007 vintage.
The energetic Etienne Hugel, Directeur General at Famille Hugel, and his son, Jean-Frederic, took charge of the staff tasting at the Wine Society and lead us through the fascinating stories of the family, its vineyards, and the great wines they produce. It’s always a pleasure to talk with producers who are so expressive and in love with their wines and grapes. The father and son team had us nodding and laughing, all the while learning from them in a most pleasant way.
We tasted a variety of Hugel wines, each of them impressive in its own way. The tasting notes below are mine, but the links will take you to the product page on the Hugel website.
Gentil Hugel 2012 (The Society’s Vin de Alsace 2012)
This wine combines noble grapes of Alsace: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Muscat and Sylvaner. The result is a refreshing wine with a crisp, lively aroma and bright, but not biting acidity. It has good length and generous juicy fruit. Blending the qualities of these disparate grapes also makes this wine a good all-rounder with food.
Pinot Gris Tradition, Hugel 2012
This wine is quite dry and the sort of wine I enjoy most when I have it with food. It seemed to me to have a slightly shorter length than the Gentil. The acidity and the aromatic qualities of this wine would pair particularly well with fattier poultry such as duck and pheasant, or with game.
Gewurztraminer Tradition 2012 (The Society’s Exhibition Gewurztraminer 2010)
Etienne Hugel called this the family’s most curry-friendly wine. In fact, anything with any sort of spice will go extremely well with this. This wine has all the characteristics you associate with a fine Gewurztraminer: the aromatic qualities, the hint of spice, the freshness and delicacy. It’s as good an example of a classic Gewurztraminer as you are likely to find.
Riesling Jubilee 2009
This is one of the most expressive Rieslings I’ve had in a while. There is so much on the nose, with a fine flintiness and acidity. It’s well balanced with ample fruit and floral aspects that promise much for years to come.
Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive, Hugel 2007
Etienne Hugel says this sweet wine is perfect with blue cheese. There’s acidity to lift the wine, so it avoids being cloyingly sweet, and while full of perfume and fruit flavours, it shows restraint. The 2007 we tasted was excellent, but we also tasted a 1998 that was divine. It was almost a pity I had to leave and get on with the rest of my day off.
The Hugel family is set to appear in a feature article in Decanter magazine next month, if you’d like to learn more, or the Famille Hugel website is full of additional information and truly beautiful photos. You can also follow Famille Hugel on social media.
We came across some interesting stories in the press this week, so let’s crack on with the wine news!
Will sampling strips make it possible to know exactly what a wine tastes like before buying and opening the bottle? Beringer is giving it a try in a US supermarket chain.
UK wine merchant Majestic has bought Naked Wines for £70 million.
There’s a good article on the Academic Wino, especially if you’re interested in issues related to climate change and its effects on wine production: “Biochar as an Alternative to Irrigation in Extreme Drought Conditions.”
Vinepair featured a guide to the often-overlooked wines of Corsica.
Decanter posted a good wine travel feature on Puglia.
And, finally, we came across a good collection of features on Chablis on the Saveur magazine website. There are articles on the food and people, a travel guide, and a set of recipes.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Winetuned readers!
Or if you fancy something French, Matt Walls has been cooking again. Check out his wine matching suggestions and recipe for classic Daube de Boeuf à la Provençale.
Travel to Austria’s Kamptal region in Niederösterreich and to a wine tasting with winemaker Matthias Warnung over on the blog at Les Caves de Pyrene.
In the Wall Street Journal, Will Lyons muses on 2010 Brunello di Montalcino and whether or not it will take Brunello into the spotlight worldwide.
So you know the differences between an Old World Sauvignon Blanc and a New World one. Can you distinguish between the seven regions of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc? Sauvignon Blanc? Let Wine Folly make the introductions.
Decanter profiles Sancerre, the “French Pinot Noir you should be drinking.”
And finally, want to make a Riesling that tastes like a Sauvignon Blanc? You need to stress out some ladybirds/ladybugs. This was a new one on us, and a little disturbing.
It’s Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday and everything’s coming up pancakes in our neck of the woods. We won’t be flipping ours until this evening, although we were a bit tempted by the idea of a big stack of American pancakes and crispy bacon this morning . . . well, one of us is still tempted, but we’ll go traditional English this evening and save the decadent breakfast for another day.
It’s a busy time for holiday eating, actually, what with Valentine’s Day, today’s pancake extravaganza, and Chinese New Year on Thursday (happy year of the sheep!). We recently tasted some 2012 Moenchreben de Rorschwihr Auxerrois from Rolly Gassmann in Alsace and both of us immediately thought how good it would be with a spicy Chinese stir fry or a curry. Auxerrois may be a new grape for you as it isn’t as well known as Alsatian Riesling and Gewurztraminer generally are. It less of the spice you associate with Alsatian Gewurztraminer and less acidity than you usually get in Alsatian Rieslings, but it still had a taste reminiscent of those wines. It has a slight sweetness that offsets spicy food and a great, food-friendly balance of flavours. We ran across a list of wine recommendations for Chinese New Year from Hong Kong wine merchants too, if you’d like a few more suggestions.
And now for the rest of the wine news!
We’re sad to report that Colette Faller of Domaine Weinbach in Alsace has died at age 85. She took over the estate after the death of her husband in 1979, and was later joined in the family business by her two daughters, Catherine and Laurence. Laurence died unexpectedly in May of last year, so we’re especially sad to hear the Faller family has suffered another loss so soon.
Hubert de Boüard, owner of Château Angelus in St Emilion, is calling the 2014 vintage a fruit-forward vintage for consumers rather than collectors.
Over on the Academic Wino’s site, you can find out what effect fungicides have on Monastrell during the wine-making process.
The discovery of charred grape seeds may help scientists learn more about the “wine of the Negev” that was one of the very finest wines in the Byzantine period.
Decanter offers up a travel guide for France’s Jura region, home of Comté cheese and increasingly popular wines.
Mall Walls gives you both a recipe for Poulet Vallée d’Auge, a creamy chicken and apple dish from Normandy, and suggestions for wines to accompany it.
Sagrantino is one of the most tannic wines there is, but that’s not all there is to know about this increasingly popular Italian grape variety. Get the scoop from Alfonso Cevola on Wine-Searcher.com.
Biodynamic winemaker Nicolas Joly of Coulée de Serrant has split from the Loire’s promotional body over unpaid mandatory membership fees and plans to set up his own appellation.
And, finally, Wine Enthusiast posted their list of nine dog-friendly U.S. wineries. Be sure to take a look at the comments section for additional suggestions.
Welcome back to the weekly wine news! We’ll keep the introductions short and sweet this time and let the wine do the talking.
Wine Enthusiast offers up ten perfect dishes to pair with Cabernet Sauvignon, from port-braised beef short ribs to roast duck with pecan purée, and you even get the recipes.
Students of wine and fans of good infographics, check out VinePair’s intro to the wines of France. It includes the major regions and their grapes and famous blends, as well as other useful facts.
Want to try something new? Check out this list of 30 great, offbeat wines on Decanter. You’ll almost certainly find something you haven’t tried before.
No matter your plans for Valentine’s Day, you may find Eric Asimov’s article on pairing wine and chocolate useful.
To be frank, we have not recovered from the Superbowl. Staying up until almost 4am to watch a live American sporting event in England is not as easy as it used to be. By 2 or 3, we were actually brewing cups of tea to keep us awake, in a terribly un-American turn of events. The Superbowl cuppa.
And on with a bit of wine news!
What’s the big deal about Blaufränkisch, Austria’s signature grape? Wine-Searcher can tell you. “Wow-fränkisch” indeed.
Mark Morford gives you all you need to know about the Fifty Shades of Grey wines. Warning: May cause laughter.
We are gutted to hear of the demise of SkyMall (or its bankruptcy, which probably heralds its end). Ten times more interesting than the in-flight magazine waiting in the back of the seat in front of you on an airplane, the SkyMall catalogue entertained me through many a trans-Atlantic flight. I hope I haven’t read my last copy. Dr. Vino blogged about his favourite mad wine-related items from SkyMall.
Remember all that expensive wine stolen from French Laundry in California? Most of it has been found across country in Greensboro, North Carolina. There must be a road movie in that somewhere.
Decanter posted a slideshow of the results of its Cahors tasting panel. Malbec fans should take a look.
Gearing up for Superbowl Sunday? You might find VinePair’s tool for pairing Superbowl foods with wine useful. And for the rest of the world, the pairings would work just as well for your football or Six Nations nibbles in upcoming weekends.
Need help understanding Bordeaux labels? Wine Enthusiast has you covered.
Over on Wine-Searcher, Tim Atkin has written a quick-and-dirty guide to DRC — no, not the Democratic Republic of Congo, but Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
Chilean producer Ignacio Recabarren says when he says Carmenère is “more than jam in the sandwich,” (i.e. more than something to add fruitiness to a blend), and we definitely agree that Chilean Carmenère deserve a second look — and glass.
And finally, are we the last ones to discover this Silly Tasting Notes Generator? Want a sample? “A firm,full textured but equally oily Dessert wine. Detecable american oak, freakishly evil raisin and bashful cardboard. Drink now through 2020.” We have got to find a way to use “freakishly evil raisin” and “bashful cardboard” in tasting notes. Via Dr. Vino.
January always feels like the longest month of the year — the coldest too, at least where we are. Put on another jumper, grab a mug of something warm, and settle in for this week’s wine news.
Three of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in Paris were also designers of outrageous wine labels. Wine Spectator reminds us of some of their work.
Did you miss all the wassailing events this month in England? We found one taking place in London at the end of February. A strange date for it, and a strangely urban location, but looks like it could be fun. Get the details here, and a tip of the hat to Matching Food and Wine site for bringing it to our attention.
With all the weird pseudo-scientific detox and diet stories making the news, as they always do in January, we are feeling the need for some science. Check out the physics of singing wine glasses, the (lack of) science behind those red wine baths you’ve heard about, and more over on the Academic Wino.
For anyone more interested in comfort food than counting calories this January, there some wine suggestions for macaroni cheese on Fiona Beckett’s website, including a link to a recipe for crab macaroni and cheese from Fiona Sims’s The Boat Cookbook (sneak preview: she pairs that one with Sancerre).
An expert believes he now knows how to win at the ancient drinking game kottabos. Want to know the secret?
And finally, we were incensed to read a headline about someone marketing a dog-calming potion full of alcohol — and then we read the whole article. It’s actually a bit of hand-wringing and attention-seeking over alcohol as a preservative in a remedy intended to be watered down. It’s veterinarian approved and properly diluted should not harm an animal. Now, whether these “flower essences” are likely to help is another question entirely . . . .
Did we miss a wine story you found interesting this week? Let us know!