Wine for Normal People

Stellenbosch is the most prestigious, oldest wine growing region in South Africa. It's beautiful, diverse, and a bridge between Old World and New World styles. We talk about the details of the region and why it's much more obscure than it should be. 

 

 

South African Wine Map

Direct download: Ep_180__Stellenbosch_South_Africa.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 12:41pm EDT

You know I'm a sucker for history, and this was a fascinating one to research. Through Thomas Jefferson's detailed records, we're able to learn so much about wine during the late 1700s and early 1800s in France, Spain, and northern Italy. Turns out, as much as we think things have changed, much of it has stayed the same. We need to thank the folks at Monticello in Virginia for making such awesome records available! Here are some notes:

 

  • Pre-Revolution wine was made up of Madeira, light red Claret, Sherry, and Port. The British dictated tastes and discouraged trade in French wine so Portugal and Spain dominated

 

  • Jefferson began his love of wine while at William & Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia and developed more of an interest when he interacted with German prisoners during and after the Revolution

 

  • in 1784, Jefferson was newly widowed and moved to France to serve as an ambassador alongside John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. 

 

  • Adams loved Bordeaux and helped school Jefferson in wine, but Jefferson took his passion further, combining "public service with private gratification" on a number of long trips through Burgundy, Rhône, Piedmont, Loire, and Bordeaux. He toured Rheingau, Mosel, and Champagne later on. Burgundy was his passion.

 

  • Jefferson didn't want to leave Paris in 1789 but left and became Washington's Secretary of State, and he never returned to the continent. He became an advocate for French and Italian wines in America. 

 

  • While  president, he drank sherry Hermitage blanc, what appears to be Bandol, and a Roussillon wine that seems like a modern day vin doux natural and racked up personal wine debts that would be several million dollars in today's world.

 

  • Throughout his life, Jefferson kept immaculate records of his drinking, coming up with a tasting lexicon and a method for getting people more interested in trying these fine wines. We know that the best wines of the world remain so -- terroir is terroir -- and that the more things have changed, the more they have stayed the same in many regards. No amount of technology can make a better wine than a Montrachet from Burgundy or a first growth from Bordeaux. 

 

Hope you enjoy this bit of international wine history! Thanks to Monticello, Jane Anson and John Hallman's Thomas Jefferson On Wine for so much great info on which to draw! 

Direct download: Ep_179__Thomas_Jefferson_-_Americas_First_Wine_Nerd.mp3
Category:Wine history -- posted at: 11:19pm EDT

 

Slovenia is small but it's up and coming! It's a fascinating place with a long winemaking tradition that should pique your interest.

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Before you read on, a great thanks to our sponsor: The Great Courses Plus!

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Go to www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/wine to get a free trial (the special URL lets them know you heard about it here!). As I mentioned, The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking is mandatory for you wine education!!! Watch and get back to me!!

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Slovenia's Wine Stats:

  • Population of two million people, who drink a LOT: 5th highest wine consumption per capita in the world
  • About 75% of the country's production is white wine
  • 55K Planted acres makes it the size of Sonoma County, in California
  • Small portion of the wine is exported
  • 70% of the wine is premium, most is made in the clean modern style 
    • Some using ancient techniques (clay amphorae) to give the texture a tannic rasp and the wine a rosy, sometimes amber, hue (orange wines)

Slovenia's Wine History

  • Of Celts, Romans, Christians, and Napoleon
  • By the end of the WWII, co-ops controlled nearly all of the region's wine production: Sucky bulk wine production with a few small private wineries in the Drava Valley region
  • In 1967, the government established the PSVVS (Business Association for Viticulture and Wine Production)
  • In 1991, Slovenia was the first to declare independence from Yugoslavia
  • Dictatorship/Socialism/Communism separated countries from centuries of winemaking traditions but they are catching up now

Geography 

  • At crossroad of eastern and central Europe bordered by Hungary, Italy, Croatia, and Austria 
  • Important Rivers: Drava and Sava connect to the Danube
  • Dynamic regions on borders

3 Main Regions

  • Primorska: 
    • Near Italian region of Fruili Venezia Giulia, high quality whites and reds
    • Sub regions: Vipava Valley, Goriska Brda (gore-ISH-KA BURR-DA), Koper (pr. Coper), Karst plateau district
    • Grapes: Ribolla Gialla, Pinot Grigio, other whites, Refosco other reds
    • Experimentation and blending of old and new: Orange wines, clay amphora, and long, long aging
  • Drava (Podravje) 
    • Botrytis affected whites, Welschriesling, Furmin
    • Nearly 97% of the wine made in the Drava Valley region is white wine
    • Seven sub-regions
  • Lower Sava (Posavje) 
    • Only Slovenian wine region that produces more red wine than white, though not by a large margin
    • Three districts, you may see Lower Carniola on a bottle
    • Lower Sava Valley region is dominated by bulk wine, rather than premium wine, production
    • Use of many native grapes

Hope you enjoy this off-the-beaten trail podcast. 

 

Direct download: Ep_178__Slovenia.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 6:53am EDT

Ok, we've done it. We did the primary research with unhealthy, kinda nasty bar food. Our findings were pretty simplistic but we figured it out through trial and error.

Here's a hint: our MVP is a wine we don't recommend often: lightly oaked Chardonnay!

Direct download: 177_Ep_177__Bar_Food_Pairings.mp3
Category:Food and wine -- posted at: 5:09pm EDT

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