Archive for January, 2012

Stories from Italy remind us that winter is everywhere

January 31, 2012 1 comment

It’s largely been a snow-free winter in the high-desert valleys of western Colorado where I spend most of my time. An inch, maybe two at most, of new snow has fallen during any one storm since a larger snow in October, one that remains in memory only. That’s OK if you’re not happy about shoveling snow but it means concern for our summer water supplies, since snowmelt provides water for domestic use as well as irrigation for animals and the many vines and fruit trees across the region.

Even the mountains have seen a dry winter, although some recent storms, perhaps thanks to all sorts of efforts to appease the snow gods, have revived the hopes and spirits of skiers and snowboarders and the resort who cater to those crowds. I sat down last night to read the latest entries from Alfonso Cevola (aka The Italian Wine Guy) on his recent travels through the Langhe and Barbaresco region of Italy’s Piemonte. It’s always fascinating to gain insights into a wine region that otherwise takes years to know, and Alfonso shares his wisdom and experience freely and without dread.

Plus, his art-quality photos reflect the quiet chill that winter brings to northern Italy, and the fog-shrouded vineyards seem like another world from the sun-drenched views and emerald vineyards we see on our spring and summer forays into Italy’s wine country.

Categories: Uncategorized

Oh, wait, here are my resolutions

January 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Surely it’s not too late for a few New Year’s resolutions? It’s seems so soon to be a few days into the New Year. I was busy trying to find last year’s list, just to see what I missed out on procrastinating about. Just say I’m just well-practiced in putting off making (and breaking) those pesky resolutions. So here goes, a partial salute to the New Year and a look ahead to months of swirling, sipping and scribbling.

Taste more Colorado wines – Notice I specifically didn’t say “drink” more Colorado wines.
There are many in-state wineries whose tasting rooms I’ve yet to sully, and this year I plan to sully as many as possible.
That said, there also are some (many? few?) Colorado wineries who wines aren’t worth drinking, sad to say.Over-reaching, under-ripe, too many chemicals and too few years’ experience all add up to undrinkable. I’ll taste as many as possible and steer away from those who deserve steering away from.

Find the hidden gems – Sounds great, too bad it’s already taken by Colorado Ski Country USA.
Those wise marketing folks at Ski Country know a winner when they market it and I hereby resolve to let you in on the better-kept secrets of Colorado winemaking.
You won’t ready anything about the plonk (see No. 1) but each year I find some gems at the Colorado Mountain Winefest.This year, I’ll take you with me when we swing around the state.

Encourage wine drinkers to use better glassware – Sure, you can use a jelly jar for drinking wines, but then you could drive a Yugo to the Indianapolis 500, too. Good stemware, the kind that allows you to hold, swirl and sniff, isn’t expensive and lets you enjoy the flavors, bouquets and beauty of the wine.
If you think it’s chi-chi or stuck-up or fancified, that’s OK, too. Some day you’ll be served a nice wine in a decent glass and you’ll wonder what took you so long.

Drink more sparkling wine – Like, this might be possible only if they add a few days to the calendar. Don’t save sparkling wines only for “special occasions.” There are some fun sparklers out there costing under $10 and some killers in the $20 and under range.
Besides, haven’t you noticed how opening a sparkling wine – a sparkling wine other than Cold Duck, that is – makes any occasion special?
This also is the year to explore grower Champagnes, wines from farmers who once sold their grape to immense wine houses but now are bottling their own labels.

Try more (domestic) chardonnay – I’ll admit it: Domestic chardonnay is getting better. By “better,” I mean it’s trending away from the over-blown, over-oaked, over-ripe, peaches-and-cream flavors that ruined California chardonnay for millions of former fans. Winemakers are starting to rediscover the taut minerality and vibrant acidity that made chardonnay America’s favorite white wine. South America and South Africa also are producing some excellent chardonnays but the finest chardonnays still come from France.

Explore more – Speaking of California chardonnay, did you know some excellent (not chardonnay) white wines come from Spain (viura), Italy (trebbiano), Germany (riesling), New Zealand (sauvignon blanc) and South Africa (chenin blanc), to name a few varieties? Not to mention Bulgaria (traminer),  Portugal (albariño) and Austria (riesling).
Ditto for red wines. There’s really no excuse for falling into a wine-drinking rut.

Stay out of a wine-drinking rut – Enough said.