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Tag Archives: terroir

The Beard Awards and regional wine

James_beard_foundation_awardsThe Wine Curmudgeon has always had a middle of the country perspective when it comes to the Beard Awards, the food business' version of the Academy Awards. That is, the winners always seem to be from either coast, and especially from the East Coast, and especially from New York City. Right, Sharon Hage?

So it's not surprising that restaurants that usually win a Beard award, wine or otherwise, have very little do with wine that doesn't come from an established region. That logic, if depressing, is understandable. Beard award-winning restaurants cater to people who want big wines that get big scores. Or, as a top-name chef who has a Beard on his resume told me, "my customers expect the Wine Spectator top 100 on my wine list. I lose business if those wines aren't there."

So when a restaurant with regional wine wins a Beard award, I'm practically typeless. Seriously. It has taken me longer to write this four-paragraph post than others that were twice as long.

But there it is: Terroir, a wine bar in Manhattan, winning for best wine professional this year — and Terroir serves New York wine at each of its three locations. Some of it is even featured on the epic wine list. Thank you, Paul Grieco (who won the award). It's a pleasure to find someone who understands that wine is not about what we're told to drink, but about finding something we like — regardless of where it is from.

My lunch with Randall, part I

My lunch with Randall, part IThis is the first of a two-part series detailing my recent chat with Bonny Doon winemaker Randall Grahm. Part II — a look at some of Bonny Doon’s wines — is here.

The last thing Randall Grahm looks like is the California winemaker that he is. Instead, he looks more like the one-time liberal arts major at the University of California that he was.

That contradiction goes a long way toward explaining why Grahm is one of the Wine Curmudgeon’s favorite winemakers, and why his Bonny Doon wines are some of the most interesting made in California. Grahm understands that not only is the wine business about making enough money to stay in business, but about making wine that people want to drink — and not necessarily wine that they’re told to drink, More, after the jump.

Winebits 104: Daniel Rogov, winery financing, terroir

Daniel Rogov dies: A couple of years ago, I got an email from a Israeli wine writer who had seen the blog and thought we had much in common. As he put it: “Perhaps the formation of a ‘club’ might be in the works? Our motto could be something to the effect of ‘Curmudgeons of the World, Unite!’ That man was Daniel Rogov, who died last week. Rogov was not only the leading wine writer in Israel, but one of the world’s most interesting wine writers and a self-professed wine curmudgeon. It’s not so much that Rogov was passionate about wine or that he wrote well, but that he wanted to share that passion and knowledge with as many people as possible. Wine, to Rogov, was not something reserved for an elite, but something everyone should enjoy. Which, in the wine world, made him one hell of a curmudgeon.

Buy wine, own the winery: One winery may have figured out a way around the silliness that is the wine business — distributors, critics, restaurants and retailers. Mondo Cellars in Paso Robles is selling 50 percent of the winery’s land and 30 percent of its buildings to members of its wine club to raise $2.68 million for renovations. Which is a brilliant idea. If your wine club members are part-owners, you’ve multiplied their incentive to buy your wine, visit your tasting room, and stay in your bed and breakfast. In fact, your new minority shareholders could well buy all the wine themselves, in order to increase the value of their investment, and you wouldn’t have to sell any wine to stores or restaurants or worry about what those pesky critics thought. I wonder: Can I sell 50 percent of the blog and get in on the same forever upward cycle, forcing my visitors to visit ever more often to protect their investment?

Terroir or not — that is the question: Mike Veseth at the Wine Economist blog offers a thoughtful look about whether wine can only be taken seriously if it has terroir — that is, if there is a sense of place to to it. His remarks come a in review of a book that proclaims the terroir theory, by Jamie Goode and Sam Harrop. Writes Veseth: “Wine is not a single thing, it is many things and I think it that monolithic thinking is the wrong approach. Wine travels many roads and I don’t really see the harm if some wines are industrialized so long as that doesn’t stop other wines from taking a more arts and crafts approach.” What makes this particularly interesting is that Veseth is a terroir-ist (like the Wine Curmudgeon), and mostly agrees with the authors that the best wines are those with a sense of place.

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