Monday, September 26, 2011

This and That

I guess this kind of post was inevitable. Its about observations and tying up loose ends.

The Spanish Circles Red (August 19th blog) was a major hit this past summer due to its appealing lighter style during our torrid season. The Circles White was largely Viura grape which is often blended modestly into Spanish reds to lighten them in the same way Australia and France blend Viognier into Shiraz (Syrah). While the label doesn't say so, I'm betting Circles has 2%-3% Viura.

California Chardonnay is really a "style" unto itself. Chardonnay from Europe and elsewhere is usually lighter, drier, and simpler. As we tasted Mersoleil and Charles Krug this past weekend I glanced across the table to the stack of unoaked chardonnay three feet away and thought "hm-m-m...".

As I shared my research on wine screw caps (August 26th blog) with David Harris of Blackstock Vineyards recently, he very quickly rebutted what I thought I knew. Wine breathing through the liner of a screw cap may or may not be true but the long and short of it is that the cap is a closure and for all practical purposes, a sealer. End of issue.

Gene Azurmundi of Catamarca Imports does not represent the Lugana white wine made by Lovatti of Italy. I know because I tried to order some from him recently. What a shame. I still remember the Lugana we sold here earlier this summer. Bummer...

I told my daughter, Katie, about my brilliant article on Verdicchio (September 20th blog). Katie studies Italian at Georgia State. She volunteered that I mispronounce "Cavaliere", "Marches", and many other Italian words. Punk.

I read an article this summer about how Italian wines are a good "go to" if you don't know what your guests like. I have noticed that here at our tastings. To expand on that idea I think any wine that everyone likes here at a tasting is one we should keep in mind for our holiday tables.

Some wine grapes are really versatile in their style applications: Zinfandel, Syrah, Torrontes, Malbec. Anyone want to offer others?

Winery websites are mostly vacuous by necessity. They can't be challenging or too informative because they are supposed to be a high tech door mat. Segura Viudas has a good one though (

Extreme styles of wine like Australian Shiraz or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc seem to have short commercial lives, relatively speaking. But certain California wines that seem extreme in style go on for decades. It must be credited to business research.

I was going to finish with a paragraph each on mass marketing of wine and the obvious popularity of reds over whites but I think those two subjects deserve an entire article on each. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Maurizio Marchetti Verdicchio

This is an exciting time for wine lovers. The more I study the modern era, the more I see how modernization in production worldwide and educational efforts in oenology at UC Davis and elsewhere have led to an evolution in the tastes of the American wine buying populace. Gone are the days of White Zinfandel and the acceptance of the "popular palate" as a commercial goal over and opposed to the production of better quality wines. In all honesty America has grown up in its wine appreciation and wants more now than earlier generations would have.

So we have stated previously that Europe was devastated by World War II and that this modern era in winemaking began around 1960. Italian efforts are said to have begun in earnest in the 1970's with experimentation and innovation blossoming in the 1980's. The 1990's saw an increase in consistency and the further development of lesser wine regions. We have also said that America likes ripeness in grapes to the point that hangtime in vineyards is extended so the water in the grapes evaporates somewhat leaving a concentrated sugar content. America is the world's largest wine market and producers around the world do try to satisfy its palate.

Now we enter into the discussion the Maurizio Marchetti family, Verdicchio makers for generations in the classico (central) region of Marches, and the producers of Castelli di Jesi, the most popular white table wine in this store in the $15 range. This effort is a pale straw in color with a delicate and persistent nose and fresh harmonic, slightly bitter flavor. It is intended for seafood but is so much more than just a seafood wine. Its most striking feature may be the opulent fruit component sheathed within its dry dinner wine format.

Marchetti has now released Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Cavaliere... Reserve Verdicchio, if you will. It follows in the tradition of German Spatlese Trocken wines first introduced to America in the 1980's and unfortunately doomed to commercial failure. We were not ready at that time for such flavorful rich dry white wines, being all too consumed with our own California Chardonnays. Riesling of this quality also conflicted with the popular perceptions of the time; Blue Nun, Black Tower, etc.

Cavaliere, being a dry late harvest wine, is again straw in color but with more green and yellow hues. Its apricot/buttered toast flavors are intense and invigorating with fineness (finesse) being what separates it from others. Again this wine is intended for seafood and salads but, because it is so fine, hors d'oeuvres would showcase it well.

So why are Maurizio Marchetti's Verdichios so special? The fruit is all "free run". The grapes are not crushed. Maurizio believes crushing reduces the sweetness of the fruit in Verdicchio so the whole grapes in the fermentation tank crush themselves by their weight. Maurizio then crushes what is left, about 50% of his produce, and sells it to fortified wine makers so it will not be labeled as Verdicchio.

If you read this and would like to try Cavaliere call 770-287-WINE(9463) or email to order. The wine is not presently in the store. Mention this article and claim 10% off the suggested $21.99 retail. We really want you all to try this one!