Tasting Blind: Oregon Pinot Noir Steals the Spotlight Once Again

If you’d ask my grandmother to name a country where Pinot Noir is produced, she’d tell you France right off the bat. She doesn’t even drink wine, only rakija. That’s how celebrated Burgundy is with this grape variety. So how did Oregon get into the picture? Or any other reputable US region for that matter? Well, led by pioneers David Lett and Joseph Drouhin, this state started making wine in the early 1980s after figuring out that the conditions were ace for growing grapes (located on the same latitude as Burgundy and New Zealand’s South Island). Continue reading “Tasting Blind: Oregon Pinot Noir Steals the Spotlight Once Again”

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House Pour: Your Guide to Falanghina

If you’re not Italian, you’ve probably never tried Falanghina in your life. And I don’t blame you. Why the hell would ya? There’s an ocean of grapes out there and Falanghina isn’t really hitting any top lists. But I’m here to change that, ha! Welcome to House Pour, a guide that breaks down (not so) famous grapes and gets to the bottom of things by drinking (fo’ real). Continue reading “House Pour: Your Guide to Falanghina”

House Pour: Your Guide to Beaujolais

As 2018 slowly comes to an end, the internet becomes flooded with predictions about “fresh” wine trends in the upcoming year. Usually, these forecasts are based on the revival of well-known or underappreciated regions and/or grapes. Such is Beaujolais, a mid-sized AOC in eastern France known for wines made of Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc (or simply, Gamay). Now, without cheating, write down three things you know about Beaujolais (you can leave a comment below or just write it on a piece of paper). Done? Ok.

I’m guessing you scribbled down – Beaujolais Nouveau, light, fruity. I don’t blame you, because that’s Beaujolais. Well, sort of. Like all underdogs, Gamay was severely underappreciated and overshadowed by Pinot Noir for decades. How dare it want to share the glorious slopes of Cote d’Or with the king?! As it goes, the prices of prestigious wines grew, so more and more people turned to the bistro for comfort. Here, Beaujolais got its spotlight, not just as a quaffable, inexpensive wine, but also as an exquisite expression of the countryside it was produced in. With the birth of France’s appellation system in 1936, things started to pick up and crus appeared. It was obvious that Beaujolais was heading towards significance, which set the scene for the godfather – Georges Dubœuf. In the 1970s, he commercialized the region with his new venture, Beaujolais Nouveau. Was this a good move? Well, yes and no. Yes, because more people started giving one or two fucks about Beaujolais, especially the Americans, who were at the time massively jumping on the French wine bandwagon. No, because Nouveau was heavily degrading the true quality of wines produced here (more on the whys below). Not wanting their beloved region to get lost in the sea of forgotten hopes and dreams, the pillars of natural winemaking assembled. Following mad scientist Jules Chavet, vignerons such as Marcel Lapierre, Jean-Paul Thévenet and Jean Foillard turned to organic farming, high-quality winemaking and most importantly, to sense of place or terroir. They refurbished the image of Beaujolais, setting crus (Morgon, Fleurie, Moulin-a-Vent – to name a few) as foundations of quality. Continue reading “House Pour: Your Guide to Beaujolais”

An Ode to Forgotten Grapes

Coming from a part of Europe which is filled with indigenous varieties such as Blatina, Tribidrag, Prokupac, Pecorino, Xinomavro, Vranac and many, many more, I understand and truly enjoy the biodiversity they create in their habitats. These grapes were cultivated for centuries, through various political and religious reigns, winemaking styles and climatic changes. Planting the same old grapes, doing the same old generic winemaking is all fine and dandy, but how much that will matter 20 years from now is highly questionable. Sure, the classics will always be there, nobody is doubting that, but with the wine world expanding by the hour and new grapes being (re)discovered, I find that classic will be considered solely a safe zone to fall back to when things get too crazy or weird. New frontiers will be challenged and getting the best out of unknown varietals will be inspirational for generations to come. You can thank artisanal producers for that. Continue reading “An Ode to Forgotten Grapes”