Wine On The Road in Champagne and Burgundy, France

The Wine Campers

The Wine Campers

Last September I led a Wine On The Road tour to Champagne and Burgundy, France (I will relate my experiences on my prior travels through Croatia in another column), with a group of intrepid oenophiles joining me on a vinous exploration of the origins and expressions of the noble chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier grapes.  What follows is my travel log of that tour.  Along the way we had a lot of fun and learned tons about the meaning and importance of terroir, especially in terms of what ends up in the bottle. Continue reading

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Varietally Correct – New World Chardonnay

So much chardonnay in the New World!

So much chardonnay in the New World!

Chardonnays from the New World are great examples of varietal bottlings (wines made primarily from a single grape variety that usually displays the name of that variety on the label).  The grape, which originated in Burgundy, France, is green-skinned and neutrally flavored, which allows specific terroir and winemaking techniques to make their marks on color, aroma, and taste.  Vinified in many different styles, it is now grown wherever wine is produced and is an important component of many sparklers including Champagne. Continue reading

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Wine On The Road at Vino 2015

A vendor at Vino 2015The Italian Trade Commission’s Vino franchise (@Vino2015, #VirtualVino) has long been one of the greatest yearly Italian wine happenings in the United States and the one event where the most sophisticated merchants and buyers meet Italy’s premier vintners and U.S. wine importers.  I have had the pleasure to attend the previous three Vino conferences and 2015’s version, held Sunday, February 1 through Thursday, February 5, 2015, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in mid-town Manhattan, was another great set of lessons on Italian wine, food, and culture.  With today being Valentine’s Day, it made sense to let you know about my recent experiences at this vast conference dedicated to vino amore. Continue reading

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Varietally Correct – New World Cabernet Sauvignon

The best part of wine - drinking it!

The best part of wine – drinking it!

Wine consumers are often confused by wines made primarily from a single grape variety.  The bottles typically display the name of that variety on the label but there are a lot of them and more are created all the time as wine producers realize that such specificity can lead to higher margins and, perhaps, higher quality as well.  Here I focus on New World cabernet sauvignon, an excellent addition to any holiday table. Continue reading

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Thanksgiving Choices – Various Fizz and New World Pinot Noir

Ben WeinbergThanksgiving week begins the holiday season, which to me is all about spending time with family and friends.  So this week’s column is about two types of wine that go exceedingly well with special gatherings.  Today I’ve focused on various bubbly bottles, as well as a bunch of pinot noir recommendations, usually gathered from recent samples or at an industry gathering.  I include my tasting notes at the end of the column in shorthand that goes like this: appearance (if relevant)/aroma/taste/acidity & finish.  If I can find a domestic retail price then I list it (if there is more than one I err on the higher side), with “N/A” meaning that the wine is not generally available in the U.S.

I’d also like to apologize for the long delay between columns.  I’ve been somewhat overwhelmed by our recent move but those obligations seem to be sorting themselves out and I hope to finally be able to devote more time to my writing endeavors.  Onward! Continue reading

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Crazy-Ass Pinks and Ports with Wine On The Road

Ben, a glass of rose wine, and thou...

Ben, a glass of rose wine, and thou…

There are many great wines that don’t have gold-plated pedigrees.  Some may be made from unfamiliar varieties in well-known regions.  Others are produced from familiar grapes in unfamiliar locales.  One commonality they often have is that, because of uncertainty among the wine buying public, the consumer can pay less per bottle as compared to more standard offerings yet receive higher quality in return.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately writing about wine country trips and feel bad that I’ve neglected the basic premise of loving wine and drinking the good stuff.  So this week’s column is about various fun rosé and dessert wines that I’ve had the pleasure to recently taste, usually from samples or at an industry gathering.  I include my tasting notes at the end of the column in shorthand that goes like this: appearance (if relevant)/aroma/taste/acidity & finish.  If I can find a retail U.S. price then I list it, with “N/A” meaning that the wine is not generally available in the U.S.

Continue reading

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Varietally Correct – Bordeaux and BDX-Style Blends

The best part of wine - drinking it!

The best part of wine – drinking it!

Wine consumers are often confused by bottlings that blend varieties.  There are many such wines and more are created all the time as wine producers realize that blending can lead to higher quality and, perhaps, better margins as well.  Here I focus on wines primarily made from at least two of the five most common Bordeaux varieties (cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot, and malbec), which all originated in France but are now grown around the world.

Familiarity and ease of pronunciation have helped to sell Bordeaux varietal wines to consumers, even when the bottles come from unfamiliar wine regions.  There is much to celebrate in the blending of these iconic grapes and they deserve a spot in your cellar. Continue reading

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Celebrate Walla Walla Wine with Wine On The Road

Welcome to Walla Walla!

Welcome to Walla Walla!

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Celebrate Walla Walla Wine Festival from June 17-21, 2014 in beautiful eastern Washington. I was invited by Duane Wollmuth and Heather Bradshaw of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance (www.wallawallawine.com), with this year’s fest specifically focused on the town of the same name as well as syrah, one of the many wine grapes that grow so well within this expansive area. Thanks to all of you who followed along live with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare (I used @WWValleywine and @WinesofWA as handles in addition to my own @WineOnTheROad, and also the hashtags #WAUnfiltered and #WAWine). Continue reading

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Aldo Vacca’s Nebbiolo Tutorial Part II

Aldo Vacca and Ben near the Tower of Barbaresco in Piedmont

Aldo Vacca and Ben near the Tower of Barbaresco in Piedmont

While I’ve already reported extensively on last fall’s Piedmont Unfiltered consumer trip (go to www.wineontheroad.com for details on all of my upcoming wine country tours), the videos I took during our visit with Aldo Vacca, legendary winemaker at Produttori del Barbaresco (to my mind the best wine cooperative in the world), including his musings on the history of Barbaresco in general and Produttori in particular, make for compelling viewing by anyone with a deep interest in the vine. Continue reading

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Varietally Correct – California Chardonnay

So much chardonnay in california

So much chardonnay in california

Chardonnay from California is a great example of a varietal bottling, a wine made primarily from a single grape variety that usually displays the name of that variety on the label. This column focuses on the best Cali chards that I have recently had the pleasure to sample. Continue reading

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