Cellaring Wine: A Personal View

by Jane Garvey

PICT3285Years ago, when I was writing about wine for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a reader called me to complain that I never indicated how long a wine might endure. I assured him that I would only rarely do that, and told him why in some detail. The exercise can be a study in how to “rope a dope,” in my view, and depends on so many factors over which a writer has absolutely zero control. To his credit, he listened.

For many reasons, it’s tough to guess how long a wine will last, and the best source of that information is the producing winery itself. With a library of wines, a winery might be able to give you an idea of how long its wines are likely to last. Maybe. But that’s not much use either if the enterprise is a newbie that wouldn’t have an extensive history yet. And, as you’ll see at the end of this piece, it can be off the mark. Substantially. Continue reading

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Jane Garvey’s Monthly Dozen: Wines for Good Cheer

by Jane Garvey

It is with sadness that we announce this will be the final installment of Jane’s Monthly Dozen.  Jane has treated us all to an amazing selection of wines, described beautifully, every month, for over 7 years.  We hope you have enjoyed learning, and reading up on these reviews, and we are so fortunate here at Atlanta Wine School to have been blessed with such a treasure trove as that which Jane has created over this time.  ~ AWS

To flute or not to flute–that is the question!

Wines for Good Cheer: Holiday Sipping & Suppers
Champagne and all sorts of sparkling wines are paramount choices for holiday celebrations. So I’m going to suggest you resolve to experience them in a new way. For years, I’ve opposed serving them at 45F. That’s just too confounded cold, and the flavors are suppressed at that temperature, in my view. Try serving them at a warmer temperature, around 55F, and watch how they open up in the glass. And that’s another thing: the glass. Let’s reserve those flutes for Mimosas and Bellinis, and serve Champagne and sparkling wines in medium-sized, tulip-shaped white wine glasses. 

A few weeks ago, I did a wine tasting at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel for a gala banquet capping the 2012 Georgia Literary Festival. The dishes served came from Hugh Acheson’s (Empire State South/Five & Ten/The National) award-winning book, “A New Turn in the South.” Given the Southern emphasis, I served all Georgia wines, starting with the Wolf Mountain Blanc de Syrah. And I served it in white wine glasses. It was a teachable moment, as I explained why. You experience the flavors and aromas of the wine so much more when it’s served in a white wine glass and not in a flute, which is too narrow to permit the wine to develop. When I went down to the hotel for the preliminary tasting with the chefs in August, I did the same thing for them, and were they surprised! Most people are, when they compare the same wine served in one vessel vs. the other. Continue reading

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Jane Garvey’s Monthly Dozen: Holiday Wines

by Jane Garvey

At holiday times, we have all kinds of wine needs. We need wines for parties where a buffet is served–thus unnecessary to be expensive or thought-provoking. We need wines for gifts, for both the boss (something really special) and for colleagues and the people who work for us during the year (more modest in price but still outside the box). And we need wines that we enjoy, that will be fine with holiday dinners with families and parties with friends.

So here are a few recommendations that will fit a variety of those scenarios. Any of them would make good gifts, with a few priced well enough to accommodate a lot of friends. Some will please a wide audience while others pamper the sophisticated palate. Continue reading

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Jane Garvey’s Monthly Dozen: New to Atlanta

New brands and new wines from familiar brands are constantly coming into this market. In this season, just before the holidays, distributors are busy with their trade shows, partly designed to introduce new wines into the Atlanta market.

What’s often coming into the market, though, is not just new wines or new labels but also new regions. I just bought a wine from the Republic of Macedonia, at a Lawrenceville retailer, for heaven’s sake: Bovin Vranec (that’s the grape type) 2008. Earthy aromas gave way to juicy dark plumy fruit and soft tannins. For about $17, I and some friends explored another world of wine. I’m going back for more. And the importers operate around the corner from me in Decatur!!!

Still other regions may be new to some wine consumers. Or maybe consumers just haven’t thought about them. At a well-regarded steak house in the northern ‘burbs, my waiter expressed surprise that there was Pinot Noir in New Zealand. (Oh my! Here‘s to Central Otago and Martinborough!). So I guess even people in the business sometimes overlook certain regions. Continue reading

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Jane Garvey’s Monthly Dozen: Classic Italians vs. Super Tuscans

Ornellaia’ bella vigneto

Pioneering Italian winemakers, confronted by life in a box of governmental rules and regulations where winemaking was concerned, wanted to craft wines of a more “international” style, based on the classic “international” varieties, namely Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc especially. So they took matters into their own hands, and began planting these varieties. .
The “Super Tuscan” business (a Robert Parker nomenclature) began in the 1960s on the Tuscan coast at Tenuta San Guido whose founder, Mario Incisa dell Rocchetta, brought in consultants and began planting “international” varieties. The resulting wines were released in the 1970s, beginning with his contribution to the genre: Sassicaia.

Meanwhile, the neighbors at adjacent Tenuta dell’ Ornellaia began producing one, beginning with the 1985 vintage. The blend is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Lelia Bryan and I shared a glass of the 2010 Ornellaia at lunch recently at La Pietra Cucina, and enjoyed its silky fruit and tannin, marvelous balance and seductive texture. Today it’s Bolgheri D.O.C. Superiore.
Continue reading

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Jane Garvey’s Monthly Dozen: Summer Foods & Wines

by Jane Garvey

Well, we’ve turned the corner on summer, but the days are still hot and long, meaning we won’t want heavy wines or heavy foods. Light and cool will be the watchwords for all our dining going forward at least to mid September.

Wild caught grilled salmon never goes out of style either!

This is sock-eye salmon season, so we picked up a pair of beautiful boned sides of salmon ($10/pound at Costco) and cured them. No cooking at all. Here’s how you do it. Take a tweezers and pull out all remaining bones, if any. Take a quarter cup each kosher sea salt and sugar and rub the cut sides with this mixture. Mince about one cup of fresh dill and spread it on top. Cover with plastic wrap, and weight it with a brick or large full coffee cans or tomato cans. Let this cure for 48-72 hours, and slice thinly leaving the skin behind. Serve with this sauce: 1 cup whole milk Greek-style yogurt mixed with a l little sour cream, Mexican cream or crème fraîche. Mince 2-3 Persian cucumbers (unpeeled), 2-3 scallions (trimmed, including some of the green part) and salt. Let it drain over a colander and squeeze out most of the water. Add to the yogurt mixture with some freshly ground white pepper and about 1 cup finely minced fresh dill. No cooking. Elegant. Tasty and light. Serve a side of capers if you want. Leftover sauce is great on a cocktail sized potato that’s been cooked, hollowed out and mixed with the sauce. A sprig of dill or a dab of salmon caviar on top, and it’s cocktail time! Continue reading

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Jane Garvey’s Monthly Dozen: American Icons

by Jane Garvey

Norton vines, sleeping under 8 inches of snow, at Missouri’s Stone Hill Winery, from February 2008.

Winemaking in the United States is evolving at a rapid pace and taking on new challenges as it explodes in new regions. After early phases when everybody planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay (whether it made sense for the region or not but because that’s what customers wanted) vintners seem to be settling down to planting their special grapes that are appropriate to the terroir.  Today, although there are some fine examples of Cabernet Sauvignon in Oregon, the grape is about sixth from the top of the heap in that state. Oregon has hooked its viticultural star to Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, although you can also find well-made wines from other varieties as well, for example: Arneis at Ponzi, Tempranillo at Abacela; Riesling at Argyle, Müller-Thurgau & Gewürztraminer at Henry Estate. Continue reading

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Jane Garvey’s Monthly Dozen: Wines for Grilling & Summerfare

by Jane Garvey

We’re back into the grilling season, with fish, chicken, steak and all manner of vegetables on the grill. We’re smoking meats over slow coals or raiding our favorite barbecue joints for the best in ribs, pulled pork, turkey and chicken to take home. Sometimes we want a cold one to go with all of that, but at other times we wonder if there is wine to be enjoyed with these dishes.  Absolutely!!!

Fear not the pairing of wine with barbecue. Just make sure the fruit is ripe and rich, and the tannins soft. Be careful of the amount of acidity in the barbecue sauce–that Eastern Carolina vinegar/pepper thing is a tough one with wine–and don’t overload the sauce with spice either. You’ll need a high acid wine to handle acidity in the sauce, and I confess to a considerable dislike for sauces that don’t have good acidity. They’re flabby. Hmm, same thing for wines. But just be sure that the acidity in the wine will outweigh whatever acidity is in the sauce. Continue reading

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Jane Garvey’s Monthly Dozen: Southern France

by Jane Garvey

Another wine writer and I packed our bags after Vin-Expo, the biannual wine trade show held in June in Bordeaux, and headed southeast to the area known as Languedoc-Roussillon. We’d made one or two new friends at the show, and had promised to drop by their operations if we got anywhere near them.

We headed for Toulouse, where the magnificent farmer’s market made up for the travails we encountered in wheeling a rented stick shift Mercedes-Benz through streets torn up for construction.  (This project now is completed.) It was the capital of the former province of France called “Lengadoc,” or language of “oc,“ which meant “yes” in that part of the French-speaking world versus “oui” in the north.

Snapping up the makings of a picnic lunch–roast chicken and such–we headed to the walled ancient city of Carcassonne (car-cah-sohn), an experience no one should fail to schedule when traveling in the area.  It’s history and sites will compensate for its touristy tendencies.   Continue reading

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Jane Garvey’s Monthly Dozen: Italian Whites

by Jane Garvey

For many American wine consumers, Italian white wines are summed up in two words: Pinot Grigio. It’s the single most requested varietal-labeled wine in the United States, according to Steven Kolpan, writing for “Salon” July 13, 2010. Kolpan is Professor and Chair of Wine Studies at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Not quite two years later, the same is likely still true.

My Italian friends lament this fact, claiming that it has caused winemaking friends back home to pull up other great vines and plant Pinot Grigio in some cases where it has no business being planted. One example I tasted from Sicily (too hot there!) was absolutely awful, and was very clumsily acid adjusted. Continue reading

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