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Articles & Commentary Archive


What's a Good Price for a 'New' Wine?

A few weeks ago, Lettie Teague wrote an article for her "On Wine" column in The Wall Street Journal, and asked what had happened to New Zealand Pinot Noir? Teague noted that the presence of New Zealand Pinot Noir in American wine shops, and on restaurant wine lists had become markedly diminished over the last few years, and explored the genesis of New Zealand Pinot Noir's rise to (and fall from) popularity over the course of her column. Teague's article mentioned several reasons that New Zealand Pinot Noir had become less ubiquitous in the United States in recent years, and among the most notable contributing factors were the following:

  • The Sideways phenomenon that sent the United States into a frenzy for Pinot Noir, and caused Pinot Noir production to skyrocket in both California and Oregon, leading to a highly competitive market for New Zealand Pinot Noir to enter into
  • The economic crisis of 2008-09, which caused several distributors to go bankrupt, and limited or eliminated the distribution of many New Zealand Pinot Noirs in the American market
  • Price - The article mentioned that it is difficult to find a good New Zealand Pinot Noir for less than $20, and cautioned that in general, consumers could expect to spend $30-$40 for a "good" New Zealand Pinot Noir


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A Taste of Fall: Porcini Crusted Pork Tenderloin and Nebbiolo

Although the summer weather is fighting to hang on through the final few official days of the season, the low 40-degree nights earlier this week were a definite reminder that fall isn't too far away. While it's always sad to see summertime slipping away, I love the change of the seasons, and they're one of the primary reasons I live in Vermont. Aside from the gorgeous fall foliage, and the reminder that ski season isn't too far away, I love fall because it marks a return to heartier cooking.

The crisp, cool air that crept in earlier this week certainly gave me a chill, but it also reawakened my seasonal craving for mushrooms and truffle oil. To me, no fall season would be complete without copious numbers of dinners that featured these flavors, and since the cooler weather offered a sneak preview of fall, I decided to capitalize on the change in temperatures by sneaking in an extra mushroom and truffle oil dinner before fall's official arrival on Saturday, September 22nd.

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Vermont's Emerging Wine Scene: Wednesday Wine Down

Vemont isn't likely to be at the top of anyone's list when it comes to wine destinations. The vast majority of wine consumers aren't likely to be familiar with any of the state's wineries (although there are several good ones to be sure). Similarly, the state's signature red grape, Marquette, isn't a varietal that has lodged itself in the vocabulary of most wine conoisseurs. On top of that, Vermont has only six wine distributors, and some top wines do not have distribution in the state. With all this being said, some might write off the state of Vermont as a lost cause when it comes to wine appreciation. Yet this isn't the case. While Vermont might not have a wine scene comparable to New York, California, Oregon, or Washington, there is a vibrant wine culture within the state. The Killington Wine Festival draws crowds of wine enthusiasts every summer. Trapp Family Lodge holds weekly wine tastings, often with a focus on improving the wine lists at their restaurant. Finally, there are other annual wine festivals like those in Burlington and Stowe, that provide evidence of an emerging wine scene.

Sadly, the one area in which Vermont is sorely lacking, when compared to food and wine meccas like New York and California, is that of the wine bar. While there are frequent festivals and special events designed to draw wine enthusiasts together across the state, there is little in the way of wine bars to provide a place for wine enthusiasts to congregate, and explore new wines outside of the comfort of their homes. Part of the problem is the lack of an urban environment in Vermont. That's not to say that we Vermonters are complaining. Part of the reason many of us live here is the lack of traffic, and the natural beauty that pervades the state. However, unlike New York, there isn't a bustling urban metropolis in which to situate a wine bar, and unlike California and other major wine producing regions, Vermont's wineries aren't concentrated enough to make a wine bar a feasible proposition. This isn't to say it can't be done. Cork Wine Bar & Market recently opened in Waterbury, VT, and based on the initial response, looks like it will be fairly successful. The Blue Cat Cafe and Wine Bar in Burlington offers a 300 bottle wine list, but it straddles the line between restaurant and wine bar. The food is really good, and the wines are carefully chosen, but with tables full of diners surrounding the bar, it's hard to escape the feeling that you are in a restaurant. Perhaps soon, other entrepreneurs will look to open wine bars in Vermont, and this dilemma will be resolved. However, in the mean time, Vermonters are stuck in a situation in which the state's largest metropolitan area, Burlington, is virtually devoid of wine bars. 

One bright spot in Burlington's almost wine bar free landscape exists on St. Paul Street, at a bar called Drink, on Wednesday nights. It is here that Brad Kelley, owner of Burlington Wine Shop, has established  the Wednesday Wine Down,

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Fall Tastings Beginning: A Time for New Wines

I'm always excited when I get the opportunity to try a new wine, whether it's trying a new grape varietal, or wines from a producer that I haven't experienced before. Although it's always a little bittersweet to see summertime slip into fall, I comfort myself each year with the reminder that ski season is coming, and that fall is wine tasting season. Starting in August, producers generally begin to release new vintages of their wines, and tasting events run aplenty as distributors and wine retailers look for opportunities to showcase these new wines.

I'm excited to be kicking off my fall tasting season tonight, as Burlington Wine Shop is hosting a tasting featuring the wines of Peju, along with small selection of close out wines. I haven't tasted Peju's wines before, as the wines only recently began to be distributed in Vermont. However, I'm looking forward to making a new discovery, and hopefully finding a wine or two among the selection of close out wines that I can enjoy as an everyday drinking wine for the fall.

I'll report back soon with tasting notes. Enjoy the weekend!


Dornfelder? Ja, bitte.

In follow-up to my most recent article, where I called for wine writers to expose readers to a broad variety of wines, I wanted to alert readers to a phenomenal red wine that I experienced last evening, from a most unexpected source. While I was on my way to Nantucket for vacation last week, I stopped in Boston to visit BRIX Wine Shop. It was great to visit old friends, and also a fantastic opportunity to pick up some wines for the trip. As it was a family vacation, and the majority of our time was going to be spent at the beach, I made sure to stock up on larger format bottles wherever I could, and focused my selections on rosés, whites, and lighter bodied reds.

One of the bottles I selected was a 2010 Dornfelder from Weingut Diehl, in Germany's Pfalz region. I was vaguely familiar with the grape, and remembered it as being slightly similar to Pinot Noir. This recollection, along with the fact that it was packaged in a 1L bottle for $15.99 was enough to convince me to add it to my vacation wine list. Last night, as I was counting down the last few hours of vacation, I finally got around to trying the wine, and could not have been more impressed. 

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