Wine for Normal People (wine)

The list of wines that are underrated, overlooked, and great values! Some are mainstream, some less so but all fabulous. From Syrah to Chenin Blanc to Sherry and many in between, this should give you some great ideas of what to buy! 

 

And here's the list!

 

 

  1. Dessert wines of any type:
    • Vintage Port, Ruby or Tawny Port, Muscat de Rivesaltes, Banyuls (red), stickies from Australia, sweet Riesling from Germany, Tokaji from Hungary -- all enormous values!
  1. Chenin Blanc: Aromatic, complex, high in acid, great off dry or dry.
    • Vouvray, Saviennieres, and some South African Chenins are outstanding. Napa's Chappellet and Long Island's Paumaunok make great US versions.
  1. Blaüfrankisch (Austria)/Lemberger (Germany): Spicy with black pepper and cinnamon, it makes your mouth feel alive. Medium bodied, cherry-like, interesting, not the same old same old.
  1. GERMAN and ALSACE Riesling and all Alsace whites: Well priced versions for under $20 - $25. Thierry Thiese is always a winning importer in the US.
    • German Riesling: Range of wines for range of cuisines – off dry, dry, semi-sweet – great with spice, great with cheese, great with fish (fuller styles). Dimension, -- floral to citrusy, peachy to minerally, petrol (gasoline) to fruit-bowl like always balanced with acidity
    • ALSACE whites: No secret that I love them. Soft, full, flavorful, great with food. Riesling, Gewurz, Pinot Gris, Muscat – all have an unctuous quality.
  1. Portuguese reds
    • Reds from Douro or Dão: Touriga Nacional is the main grape, they contain the grapes of Port but are dry. Complex, dark and red fruit, earthy, range from medium to full. Versatile and usually CHEAP!
    • Bairrada (Baga):  is amazing when made well and becoming more available.

An honorable mention for the Mencía grape from Bierzo, which is amazing and usually underpriced

  1. White Bordeaux
    • Best are Semillon majority with Sauv Blanc and Muscadelle. Look for top wines from Graves or Pessac-Leognan.
  1. Loire Cabernet Franc
    1. Medium bodied, earthy, tea-like, with red and black fruit. Acidic. Lots of dimension and real depth – even though it’s lighter in style.
    2. Chinon, Bourgueil, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Touraine are top areas (not mentioned but also one to check out: Saumur-Champigny. It can be overpriced but good versions are pleasant)

Another honorable mention: Loire Muscadet, from a single vineyard or great producer is less than $20 and can be floral with a bready quality (when the bottle says sur lie) and when from a great producer.

 

  1. Syrah: Full, spicy, rich, peppery, perfumed, herbal, lavender, savory
    • Northern Rhône, South Africa, Central Coast, Washington State, Australia (Shiraz)
  1. Langhe Nebbiolo: Earthy, tar and roses, can be acidic and tannic, lots of gravitas in the right hands and great with food. 
    • No one knows WTF it is but it can be like a baby Barbaresco or Barolo. Its unpopular because people are unaware of it. Very well priced.
  1. Sherry: A perfect aperitif, underpriced for what it is. Another one to surprise guests with – the nutty factor of an Amontillado will win friends and influence people 
    1. The range is incredible (this is just a sample of the types available -- there are many more!)
      1. Fino: dry and like olives and almonds
      2. Manzanilla: Nutty and salty -- like a richer Fino
      3. Amontillado: Aged 8+ years, almond and walnut character. Rich, dry
      4. Oloroso: Oxidized, richer, complex, like alcohol infused walnuts, dry.
      5. PX/Pedro Ximenez: sweet, raisined, nutty, full, and amazing on top of vanilla ice cream.

 

What do you think? Do you like the list? Have you had any of these? Will you try any? Drop a comment and let us know!

Direct download: 166_Ep_166__Our_List_of_Underrated_Wines.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 11:13am EDT

Txakolina, also called Txakoli (CHOCK-oh-lee) is an acidic, saline, and floral white from the autonomous Basque region between Spain and France. It's a delicious summer wine that you need to get your hands on and I tell you why.

 

For the transcript and details, go to http://winefornormalpeople.com/blog

 

 

Direct download: 04_Audio_blog_4__Txakolina_A_Basque_Wine_You_Should_Know_About.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 9:24pm EDT

Greece has a long, long history of winemaking, but it's not as popular as some other regions. I explain my theory of why and then talk about grapes to explore.

 

For the transcript and details, go to http://winefornormalpeople.com/blog

Direct download: 03_Audio_blog_3__Geekin_on_Greece.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 12:51pm EDT

Jane Anson, brilliant contributing editor and Bordeaux correspondent for Decanter Magazine (and nominee for Louis Roederer's 2016 Feature's writer and online communicator of the year) returns! She and I take on geopolitics and wine!  If you're confused about why Brexit is such a big deal for Europe and the UK,  listen to this podcast.

We explain the politics of this unprecedented move and how it could affect the global landscape for wine. A must listen if you want to get up to speed on this important issue! 

Here are the notes. We discuss...

1. What exactly IS Brexit?
 
2. What do we know so far about how it is affecting the market for wine? 
 
3. Why this matters for European wine now and in the future in UK, in the US and in other New World places
 
4. What are likely outcomes for the UK and the global wine market?
 
5. Jane's personal perspective and what she thinks is going to happen
 
 
The link to her piece from Decanter that prompted this podcast: http://www.decanter.com/wine-news/anson-brexit-bordeaux-wine-307599/
Direct download: 165_Ep_165__What_Brexit_Means_for_Wine_with_Jane_Anson.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 11:44pm EDT

This time I take up the issue of wine shipping and U.S. wine law in all its convoluted messiness. For the full transcript and details on Free the Grapes, go to http://winefornormalpeople.com/audio-blog-2-the-problem-with-u-s-shipping-law/

 

 

Direct download: 02_Audio_blog_2__The_Problem_with_US_Shipping_Law.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 1:44am EDT

Introducing Simone Madden-Grey, our new "down under" correspondent, who will be helping us explore the world of wines from Australia and New Zealand. After meeting her and learning of her fascinating background we discuss the Yarra Valley, an excellent cool climate region of Australia. 

Simone's Web site, Happy Wine Woman: https://happywinewoman.com 

And a link to her blog, where she discusses her favorites from Yarra:  http://wp.me/p3fxzw-Jt

What did we discuss in this episode?:

1. An introduction: Who is Simone? Our new correspondent for Australia and New Zealand and founder of Happy Wine Woman services/writing

 

2. What is going on in Australia at large? An overview and discussion

 

3. What is the Yarra Valley and why did we choose to do the first podcast on it?

  • We discuss the high wine quality, its differentiation from traditional Australian styles, and the importance of it in the revival of Australia’s global image

4. What is Yarra? Overview

  • 1 hour from Melbourne
  • Some historical details
  • The reputation as a large, diverse area with many wine styles, although known mostly for restrained Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, along w sparkling 
  • 37˚ S latitude -- same as Mendoza in Argentina, southern Bio Bio in Chile. 37˚N -- Santa Cruz, CA, Virginia, Sicily, Peloponnese
  • Coolest part of mainland Australia  
  • Diversity: Valley Floor v Upper Yarra, Mediterranean v continental climate, rainfall levels


5. Grapes/Wine:

  • Chard and Pinot 60% of production, but Cabernet and Shiraz big players too.
  • Simone tells us what to expect from these wines from a flavor perspective. 

 

Here's Simone's full list of Yarra Valley wineries:

Yeringberg http://www.yeringberg.com/

Yering Station http://www.yering.com/

Yarra Yering http://www.yarrayering.com/

Giant Steps http://www.giantstepswine.com.au/

Innocent Bystander http://www.innocentbystander.com.au/

Domaine Chandon http://www.chandon.com.au/

Out of Step http://www.outofstepwineco.com/

Salo http://www.salowines.com.au/

Arfion http://www.arfion.com.au/

Payten and Jones https://paytenandjoneswine.com.au/

Jamsheed http://jamsheed.com.au/

Warramate Wines http://warramatewines.com.au/

De Bortoli http://debortoliyarra.com.au/de-bortoli-yarra-valley.html

Direct download: 164_Ep_164__Yarra_Valley_of_Australia_with_Simone_Madden-Grey.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 7:36am EDT

This is the first of our new weekly audio blog series: short, informative readings of blog posts from winefornormalpeople.com/blog.

 

To kick it off, Carmenère, a grape with the most dramatic backstory in the wine world! 

 

Find the full transcript here: http://winefornormalpeople.com/audio-blog-1-car…-story-ever-told/

Direct download: 01_Audio_blog_1__Carmenere_The_Greatest_Grape_Story_Ever_Told.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 11:35am EDT

Jason Haas was the 2015 Paso Robles Wine Industry Person of the Year. As the GM and a partner in the Tablas Creek joint venture with the Perrin family of Rhône fame (Château de Beaucastel is one of the most famed properties in Châteauneuf du Pape and the family own several other ventures through out Rhône and Provence), Jason has had an enormous impact on the Paso Robles region and the wine style there. In addition, he is one of the most talented writers in the industry  – his Tablas Creek blog has won multiple Wine Blog Awards and is up for another one in 2016.

 

This conversation was a culmination of years of admiration from afar -- I am a huge fan of the Tablas Creek wines and style. Here are some notes from the show:  

  • First we talk about the history of Tablas Creek and how the partnership between the Haas and Perrin families happened.

 

  • We talk about the factors involved in finding a perfect site for the project – soil types, microclimates, altitudes, etc. and the process they went through to find it.

 

  • We discuss the process Tablas Creek went through to import the vines from Beaucastel.  

 

  • We cover how and when Jason got involved with Tablas Creek and his hand in carving up Paso Robles into 11 appellations which happened in 2015. 

 

  • We answer the questions: what did and does make Tablas Creek’s vineyards so unique? and... It is possible anywhere with the right people and the right winemaking and growing, or is this a characteristic unique to certain sites that not all people are cognizant of in CA winemaking?

 

  • We discuss farming: organics, biodynamics, and dry farming and why Tablas Creek uses all three.

 

  • We talk about blends, and about the various tiers of Tablas Creek wine and how Jason and his team benchmark his brands against California and Rhône wines, and how they usually stack up.

 

A great conversation with a California legend in the making! This is a fascinating look at an up-and-coming area of California, and it's star player. 

 

Direct download: EEp_162__Jason_Haas_of_Tablas_Creek_in_Paso_Robles_CA_RM.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 4:20pm EDT

One of the most common questions I get is about random stuff floating in wine and what to do with it. In this episode we cover it all -- wine diamonds, sediment, spritz, clouds, and cork -- and explain what they are and what to do when you encounter them!

Direct download: Ep_161_Whats_that_floating_in_your_wine_.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 11:32am EDT

You want to know more about rosé? Ian Renwick, our regular contributor from the Luberon on the border of Rhone and Provence with Domaine de la Citadelle has been studying the ins and outs of rosé for years now. As his apprenticeship comes to a close, his "dissertation" is all about rosé and he shares much of what he knows. 

 

Here are the show notes. We discuss...

  • The history of rosé and overcoming the bad reputation of pink
  • Rosé's new found Popularity -- Brangelina, seasonality, and trendiness
  • How to make rose -- first how to make red and white, then the challenges of rosé
    • What grapes go into rose and why a lot of rose is crap
    • What people SHOULD do to make great rose -- DORK OUT
    • Why rose is the "most technological of wine" -- and whether or not it's drink making or wine making (my new favorite question)
    • The importance of maintaining aromatics in rose
  • Color differences, flavor differences and what to look for when shopping (hint, why color should NOT be a factor)
  • The question of age..
  • Food and wine pairing ideas
And then we end of the rosé rant! 
 
An excellent podcast that will give you new appreciation for rosé.
Direct download: 160_Ep_160__The_Ros_Story_with_Ian_Renwick.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 11:42pm EDT