Wine for Normal People

After a trip to this stunning region full of kind people and delicious wines, we can finally report on it! 

To understand this region, you've got to get into a serious dork out mode because the story of how vinifera grapes can grow in this cold place goes all the way back to the glaciers! So briefly, in this podcast we cover:

1. The importance of the Lake Effect and how depth matters to grape growing

2. Weather and what that can do to a vine

3. Grapes and how Riesling is a goddess in the Finger Lakes, and unlike Riesling anywhere else

4. Glaciers, soils, and other nerdy earth-science stuff that relates to grape growing here. 

5. History of the region and preview of the soon-to-be-released podcast with Fred Frank, grandson of the pioneer of east coast vinifera winemaking, Dr. Konstantin Frank

6. How to get these wines

 

After you hear this you're definitely going to want to get your hands on these wines or visit the region. A great story, and a fascinating region! Enjoy! 

Direct download: 138_Ep_138__Finger_Lakes_Region_New_York.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 11:27am EDT

This week we have a complementary podcast to the one we did with Ryan Schmaltz, who did a giant pivot in his career to pursue his winemaking dream. This time we talk to Ian Renwick of Domaine de la Citadelle in the Luberon region of the Rhône Valley. I have "known" Ian virtually for years and have watched his career changes through interactions over email and social media as he moved into wine. Finally, he gives us the whole, fascinating story and then we get into SERIOUS dorkery -- discussing everything from rosé making to the politics of Bordeaux to whether or not ratings matter. Here's a quick outline:

  • First we discuss Ian's life as a corporate HR dude and how he happened upon the WSET and Master of Wine program.
  • Then we talk about Ian's foray into wine importing in Hong Kong
  • We take a side trip to discuss Bordeaux, Southwest France, and the politics of the Bordeaux classification system and the AOP system at large.
  • Ian tells me about how he wound up in Luberon and what he's doing there.
  • The darker commences with tons of info on what Ian learned from his first harvest at the Domaine -- the good, the bad, and the ugly
  • We talk about the Mistral, and what it really feels like
  • We discuss Luberon, Provence, the grapes of the Rhône and the benefits of blending versus using single varieties in wine
  • Then it's all about the business of wine: the balance between commercial success and individuality, our views on whether or not ratings really matter, how wine PR really works and winemaking versus drink making. We also throw in info on rosé winemaking, the characteristics to look for in a great Rhône wine and Ian's work on how rosé could be improved and made better.

A fascinating podcast full of great dork moments and industry stuff, you'll get a lot out of this. 


Saving a wine to enjoy when your kid turns 21 or on your 10th or 20th wedding anniversary is a great idea, but what will last that long? This week we've got a great list of options for you with advice on how to research your best options and storage tips to boot! 

Here's the list: 

1. Vintage Champagne

2. Alsatian Riesling from producers like Zind Humbrecht, Marcel Deiss, or Trimbach. Or German Riesling from producers like Donnhoff or JJ Prüm.

3. The Italians: Barbaresco and Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, or Taurasi from Agliancio

4. White and red Burgundy

5. California Cabernets from specific producers: Ridge, Heitz, Chateau Montelena, Freemark Abbey.

6. Heavier Northern Rhônes of Syrah like Cornas or Hermitage or Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the specific producers in Southern Rhône.

7. Bordeaux from the best producer you can afford

8. High end Rioja

 

Sweet Wines (my top picks for long aging)

1. Sauternes

2. Vintage Port 

3. Tokaji from Hungary

4. Madeira

 

Whatever the occasion you're commemorationg there's a wine for you! Congratulations!

Direct download: 136_Ep_136__Birth_year_Anniversary_Commemoration_Wines.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 12:37am EDT

Yes, there is wine made in Uruguay, a small but mighty country that borders Argentina in the east. In this episode you'll learn about a country we should all have on our list to visit and Tannat, the wine we should all have on the list to buy!

Some of the important stuff we discussed:

  • Uruguay is between the 30 – 35th parallels, so pockets of coolness are needed to keep structure in the wines
  • Most of the wine is made by small producers
  • The area has 22,250 acres of vines (Napa alone has 45K) and 200 wineries (Napa has over 400)
  • Most of the wine is red, and most of that is Tannat with some Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. The biggest white grapes are Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Tannat is a robust, tannic red that has a pivotal role in the country's rising wine status. It's similar to Carmenere in Chile, Malbec in Argentina. Uruguay makes Old World Style Tannat, France makes New World Style Tannat!!! Wines are  rich, full-bodied wines with dark fruit and spice aromas and flavors
  • Top regions include: Montevideo, Canelones, Colonia, San Jose, Maldonado, and Salto

 

You may have a hard time finding these wines, but ask your wine shop to bring a bottle in for you. I promise it's worth the hunt! Great stuff! 

Direct download: 135_Ep_135__Wines_of_Uruguay.mp3
Category:wine, Uruguay -- posted at: 12:26pm EDT

From hot dogs to burgers to potato salad and corn on the cob, we've got you covered. A mini-cast that you can listen to on the way to the wine store so you make sure you grab the right bottle!  Have a safe 4th and drink well!

Direct download: Mini_Podcast__4th_of_July_Wine_Pairings.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 2:55pm EDT

This week, we have a great story for you! Ryan Schmaltz, podcast listener and chemistry Ph.D turned winemaker at Bella Winery and Wine Caves in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma shares his fascinating transformation.

Ryan contacted me a few years ago, telling me about his plan to switch careers from the life of a chemist to that of a winemaker. Fast forward a couple of years and he made his dream a reality. 

In this podcast, Ryan shares his story of tenacity, hard work, and risk taking, which paid off. You'll love hearing about his path and then the dork outs about working with Zinfandel, Syrah, and Grenache and the challenges of each grape.

A fascinating conversation, we hope you enjoy and learn!

Direct download: 134_Ep_134__How_to_Become_a_Winemaker_with_Ryan_Schmaltz_from_Bella_Winery.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 12:15am EDT

This is a podcast to accompany the 9 wines we have posted on the Vinport.com/WFNP page. It details the wines and wine types and serves as a tasting guide for you to decide what to order and then what to look for when you are drinking the wines. It's a great one to listen to even if you can't order since you can probably find many of the wines types and taste along with the podcast!

 

Wines are available at www.vinport.com/wfnp 

Free shipping on 6 bottles or more! 

 

Enjoy! 

Direct download: 133_Ep_133__Vinport.com_WFNP_Wines_June.mp3
Category:wine, wine shopping -- posted at: 11:59am EDT

This week we have a special guest, Eric S, a wine sales executive in Shanghai, who gives us an overview of what's going on with wine in China. We cover things like:

  • What types of wines are people drinking in China?
  • Is wine consumption growing or has it hit a wall?
  • What's the deal with the gifting culture, anti-corruption, and the crackdown (A.K.A, why the top growth Burgundy and Bordeaux need to pay attention to the UK, US, and Canada again)? 
  • Has the wine bubble burst?
  • Do Chinese drink domestic wine or imported wine most often? Is it any good? What are emerging areas?
  • What's the deal with counterfeiting?
  • What's the predicted future for China's wine market?

A truly fascinating conversation -- we learned a ton and hope you do too! 

Direct download: 132_Ep_132__Wine_in_China.mp3
Category:wine, China -- posted at: 11:43pm EDT

After a recent trip to Sonoma, we reflect on how things have improved in the past few years. The maturity of the region, including the quality of the wine and creativity of the producers, the family legacy of farming, & some great travel tips are covered. In more detail...

1. First we discuss how Sonoma has entered young adulthood– it’s grown up We saw more maturity in producers, less exhuberence and more balance in both wine and attitude.

2.  We saw a change in the risks people are willing to take too. There was more creativity, more awareness about the environment and far better articulation around why certain farming practices are used – we heard about concrete benefits, not just marketing BS on biodynamics, organics, and sustainability.

3. M.C. Ice observed found there was more under the radar to discover, and liked what he found when he looked a little closer. 

4. As we've observed before, the family stories of these Sonoma properties are interesting – there seems to be more emphasis on farming and connection to the land, especially now that many smaller properties are getting sucked up by big hulking wineries. We saw strong pride at every small winery we visited, especially at Mayo Family Vineyards, from whom you'll hear a clip near the end of the podcast. 

5. We discuss our crazy barrel tasting with Bill of ACORN (and promise more to come)

6 We wrap up with some key travel tips, like:  keep the itinerary tight by planning well, consider renting an Air BnB, drink plenty of water, and make sure there is food in the car. We covered a bunch more too!

 

Hope you like this episode. And thanks to our sponsor:

 audible.com.

Get a FREE audiobook download at www.audibletrial.com/winefornormalpeople. There are more than 100,000 titles to choose from, including some great wine books, for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or mp3 player.

 

Direct download: 131_Ep_131__Observations_From_A_Trip_To_Sonoma_CA.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 12:05am EDT

In this episode we talk with Jim Morris of MacPhail Family Wines. We discuss a lot of stuff with our old friend and one of the nicest guys in Sonoma. Topics range from:

  • The CA wine industry and trends that we are less than excited about (yes, we name names!)
  • The history of Sebastapol, Gravenstein apples, and the Barlow -- the latest hotspot in Sonoma where MacPhail's tasting lounge is located
  • The world of Pinot-philes: Labeling, wagons, vineyards, and soils
  • And most importantly -- Pinot styles and the differences from Oregon down to Santa Barbara

A great enrichment to previous CA podcasts and fun conversation with a great, smart guy! 

Direct download: Ep_130__CA_Pinot_with_Jim_Morris_of_MacPhail_Family_Wines.mp3
Category:wine -- posted at: 12:28am EDT