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Published by American Wine Society, 2019-09-25 15:25:06

AWS Wine Journal Fall 2019

Fall 2019

Keywords: Franciacorta,Hudson Valley,Cyprus,Loire Valley,Eco Bottles,Holiday Wine Pairings,malolactic

Fall 2019

Loire Valley Franciacorta
Italy’s Answer to Champagne
and Cabernet Franc

It’s Time to Hudson River
Ditch Those Region AVA

Heavy Bottles

I Feel Wine during the
SLOVENIA
in my glass Holidays

HangTime
New theory could revolutionize how hybrid grapes are harvested

Award History
~ Best of Class ~
2012 Pinot Noir Reserve 2016 Gruner Veltliner
2014 Savor NW Wine Comp. 2013 Grenache 2018 SF Chronicle Wine Competition
2017 Syrah 2015 LA Intl. Wine Comp. 91 Points 2015 Gruner Veltliner
2019 San Diego Intl. Wine Comp. 2016 Malbec 2017 SF Chronicle Wine Competition
2013 Syrah 2019 Savor NW Wine Comp. 2017 Dan Berger Intl. Wine Competition
2015 Riverside Intl. Wine Comp. 2018 Dan Berger Intl. Wine Comp. 2015 Gruner Veltliner Reserve
2015 Savor NW Wine Comp. 2015 Malbec 2017 Savor NW Wine Comp.
2015 Syrah Reserve 2017 Savor NW Wine Comp. 2009 Grüner Veltliner Reserve
2018 Dan Berger Intl. Wine Comp. 2012 Malbec 2010 Riverside Int Wine Competition
2015 Tempranillo 2014 Savor NW Wine Comp. 2017 Sauvignon Blanc
2018 Monterey Intl. Wine Comp. 2016 Gruner Veltliner “Smaragd” 2019 American Fine Wine Invitational
2018 Great NW Wine Comp. 2018 Savor NW Wine Comp. 2016 Sauvignon Blanc
2014 Tempranillo 2018 Monterey Intl. Wine Comp. 2017 Great Northwest Wine Comp
2016 Great Northwest Invitational 2015 Gruner Veltliner “Smaragd” 2014 Viognier
2013 Tempranillo 2017 SF Chronicle Wine Competition 2016 Savor NW Wine Comp.
2015 Monterey Intl. Wine Comp. 94 Pts 2017 Monterey Intl. Wine Comp. 2013 Rojo Dulce
2012 Tempranillo 2017 Sunset Intl. Wine Comp. 2016 Dan Berger Intl. Wine Comp.
2014 Savor NW Wine Comp. 2014 Gruner Veltliner “Smaragd”
2016 Monterey Wine Comp.
2014 Pinot Noir Reserve
2016 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging ~ Double Platinum ~ 2013 Grüner Veltliner
2014 Malbec 2014 Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 2015 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging
2016 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2016 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2009 Grüner Veltliner Reserve
2013 Malbec 2015 Gruner Veltliner 2012 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging
2015 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2017 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2016 Sauvignon Blanc
2014 Pinot Noir Reserve 2014 Gruner Veltliner 2017 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging
2017 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2016 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging
2014 Pinot Noir
2016 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging ~ Platinum ~ 2017 Grüner Veltliner
2011 Pinot Noir 2019 Monterey Wine Competition
2013 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2012 San Diego Intl. Wine Comp. 2014 Grüner Veltliner
2016 Syrah 2014 Syrah Reserve 2016 Monterey Wine Competition
2019 Monterey Intl. Wine Comp. 2016 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2010 Grüner Veltliner
2014 Syrah 2013 Syrah Reserve 2011 San Diego Intl. Wine Comp.
2016 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2016 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2015 Gruner Veltliner Reserve
2013 Syrah 2010 Syrah Reserve 2017 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging
2016 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2012 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2014 Gruner Veltliner Reserve
2010 Syrah 2009 Tempranillo 2016 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging
2012 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2011 Critic’s Challenge 2010 Grüner Veltliner Reserve
2016 Pinot Noir 2015 Tempranillo Reserve 2011 Monterey Intl Wine Competition
2018 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2018 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging
2017 2015 Pinot Noir 2018 San Diego Intl. Wine Comp.
2018 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2012 Tempranillo Reserve
Northwest 2014 Pinot Noir 2014 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging
Winery of the 2016 Oregon Wine Awards
2012 Pinot Noir ~ Double Gold ~ 2015 Malbec
Year 2014 Oregon Wine Awards 2013 Syrah 2017 Oregon Wine Experience
2016 Pinot Noir Reserve 2016 SF Chronicle Wine Competition 2013 Malbec
NORTHWEST 2019 American Fine Wine Invitational 2015 Syrah Reserve 2015 Savor NW
2015 Pinot Noir Reserve 2018 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2012 Malbec
apIpanrthet�ehteNtphaaostrttRhfweeweussvtti�l-etaigsae�ssdi,�ii�ptlshyoammsaebkceia�cogsmetseheit�hbcerewseatosrwil�id�g.elsy i� 2018 Oregon Wine Awards 2014 Syrah Reserve 2014 Oregon Wine Awards
~ Andy Perdue, Wi�ePress NW Magazi�e 2014 Pinot Noir Reserve 2017 SF Chronicle Wine Competition 2015 Gruner Veltliner Smaragd
2017 SF Chronicle Wine Competition 2016 Oregon Wine Experience 2017 SF Chronicle Wine Competition
2016 Oregon Wine Awards 2013 Syrah Reserve 2017 Oregon Wine Awards
2013 Pinot Noir Reserve 2016 SF Chronicle Wine Competition 2016 Gruner Veltliner
2015 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2016 American Fine Wine Invitational 2018 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging
2012 Pinot Noir Reserve 2012 Syrah Reserve 2014 Gruner Veltliner
2014 Oregon Wine Awards 2014 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2016 Savor NW Wine Competition
2014 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2014 Oregon Wine Awards 2012 Grüner Veltliner
2011Pinot Noir Reserve 2015 Tempranillo 2014 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging
2013 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2016 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2011 Grüner Veltliner
2013 Oregon Wine Awards 2013 Tempranillo 2012 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging
2016 Syrah WPNW “Best of the Best” Competition 2014 Oregon Wine Awards
2018 Savor NW Wine Comp. 2015 Tempranillo Reserve 2015 Gruner Veltliner
2019 Great NW Wine Comp. 2019 American Fine Wine Invitational 2017 SF Chronicle Wine Competition
2015 Syrah 2013 Tempranillo Reserve 2014 Gruner Veltliner Reserve
2017 Oregon Wine Awards 2015 Oregon Wine Awards 2016 Savor NW Wine Competition
2014 Syrah 2013 Grenache 2016 Riesling
2016 Oregon Wine Awards 2015 Oregon Wine Awards 2018 SF Chronicle Wine Competition
2016 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2015 Merlot 2014 Riesling
2018 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2017 SF Chronicle Wine Competition
2017 Malbec 2016 Sauvignon Blanc
2019 Great NW Wine Comp. 2017 Oregon Wine Awards
2016 Malbec 2014 Rojo Dulce
2018 Oregon Wine Awards 2019 American Fine Wine Invitational
2018 Wine Press NW Platinum Judging 2018 SF Chronicle Wine Competition

plus 136 Gold Medals... and counting!

JOIN THE WINE CLUB & DISCOVER WHY REUSTLE PRAYER ROCK VINEYARDS WAS NAMED
2017 NORTHWEST WINERY OF THE YEAR... VISIT REUSTLEVINEYARDS.COM

CONTENTS

WINEMAKING FEATURE

6 When Malolactic Was a Flaw 20 Hang Time 8
-Roger Morris -Jim Rink
Remember when malolactic fermentation For hybrid grapes, seed ripeness is the 10
was a flaw? Roger Morris does. new hallmark for great wines.
12
FOOD&WINE SIPTALK 16

8 Wine During the Holidays 22 Franciacorta 20
-Kevin Harmon -Gene Spaziani
With the holidays fast approaching, Kevin According to Gene Spaziani, 24
Harmon has some tips on how to eat and Franciacorta is the Italian version of
drink happy and healthy. Champagne. 3

RESEARCH 24 I Feel SLOVENIA in

10 Hudson River Region AVA my Glass
-Joann Degaglia, CSW, CS, CWJ
Once covered by two miles of ice, the -Arlene Mole
Hudson River Region AVA is now a world The wines of Slovenia reflect a
class wine destination. unique terroir that adds minerality
to the wine.
TRAVEL
INDUSTRYNEWS
28 New or Noteworthy

-Jim Rink
Jim Rink delivers the latest happenings
from the wine industry.

12 Wines of Cyprus PERSPECTIVE
-Mike Botwin
Cyprus is a small island with a big It’s Time to Ditch Those
31history and some interesting indigenous Heavy Bottles
wines.

17 Loire Valley and -Tina Caputo
Save the planet, avoid heavy bottles.
Cabernet Franc

-Eric Miller

The Loire Valley and Cabernet Franc are On the Cover
Eric Miller’s muse. Boskydel Vineyard during fall.

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

EDITOR’SLETTER VOLUME 51 NO.3 FALL 2019

JIM RINK Published by

“People pretend not to like grapes when the vines are too high for them to reach.”  The American Wine Society
a non-profit corporation,
-Marguerite de Navarre
PO Box 889, Scranton, PA 18501
Tending wine grapes can be a laborious task, but the end result is never in question.
Sometimes, growers go to great lengths to reap great rewards. In our cover Single copies $5.00
story, Hang Time, we learn how leaving hybrid grapes on the vine for longer periods
eliminates foxiness. Copyright© 2019 by AWS,Inc.
Reproduction or use of the editorial
Longtime contributor Gene Spaziani will tell you that Franciacorta is the Italian or pictorial content without written
version of Champagne, and it is finally gaining international recognition for its high
quality and dedicated producers. Gene provides a brief history of the grape and the permission is prohibited.
region in this issue.
Library of Congress Class Number:
On the travel front, Mike Botwin visits Cyprus, a small island with a big history, once TP544 A46A3 LC Card 76-647900
making wine for European nobility. Now, making world-class Cabernet Sauvignon
and Syrah, as well as wine from indigenous varieties. Publisher

Remember when malolactic fermentation was considered a flaw? Roger Morris does. David Falchek
Fifty years ago, many American winemakers were in the dark about what secondary
fermentation was all about and how to control it. Now, it can be found in every Editor
winemaker’s toolbox.
Jim Rink
Eleven thousand years ago the entire northeast, including New York State, was once
covered by the two mile thick Laurentide ice sheet. Now, it is home to the Hudson Contributing Writers
River Region AVA, established in 1982. JoAnn DeGaglia has the story here.
Mike Botwin, Tina Caputo,
With the holidays fast approaching, Chef Kevin Harmon has some tips on how to JoAnn Degaglia, Kevin Harmon,
limit high-calorie foods and drinks and replace them with something more healthy. Eric Miller, Arlene Mole, Roger Morris,
Eric Miller et fils spent some quality time in the Loire Valley tasting Cabernet Franc,
all very affordable. Read his recommendations. Jim Rink, Gene Spaziani

Last, but not least, during last year’s conference, audiences were privileged to learn Editorial Office
about the wines of Slovenia. In this issue, Arlene Mole details specifics of one session,
“I Feel Slovenia in my Glass,” which reached more than 90 participants. Jim Rink
2800 S. Lake Leelanau Drive

Lake Leelanau, MI 49653
[email protected]

Unsolicited manuscripts or other
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4 AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

ABOUTAWS Founder

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Joseph Broski Joann Degaglia Leanne Wheeler
AWS ACTIVITIES
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AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG 5

When

Malolactic

Was a Flaw
by Roger Morris

Fifty years ago, many American winemakers were in the dark
about what secondary fermentation was all about and how to control it.

Things were not working out well for Eric Miller. As the young of vineyard-designated Chardonnays. “One day in 1984 or 1985,”
winemaker at his father Mark Miller’s new Benmarl Winery Jones remembers, “my winemaker, Bill Bonetti [a pioneer in the
in the Hudson River Valley – launched in the early 1970s by industry], came timidity into my office and said, ‘Brice, I’m sorry,
the elder Miller with considerable investment and publicity fanfare but the wines have gone through malolactic.’ My first thoughts
– he was having complications with his first red wines. were, being sloppy like that can get a winemaker fired.

“There was this weird bubbling action in the wine with the ’71 and But we decided to taste the wines to see if they were ruined. Actually,
’72 vintages that I couldn’t figure out,” says Miller who was later to they tasted pretty good, so later I took a bottle with me to visit a
cofound the pioneering Chaddsford Winery in Pennsylvania and snooty restaurant in Boston, and the buyer loved it. He said, ‘Send
is today a frequent contributor to this publication. “The winemaking me a case.’”
books I had from UC Davis were of no help,” he says.
FROM MALIC TO LACTIC
Finally, his father contracted for Émile Peynaud, the famous
Bordeaux enologist, to travel from France to Marlboro where the Today, even the lowliest wine geek knows something about
winery was located. “Of course, it was malolactic fermentation,” malolactic fermentation. After the first, yeast-driven primary
Miller says, “and Émile taught me how to use chromatography to fermentation turns sugar into alcohol, a secondary bacterial
deal with it.” fermentation often takes place – traditionally in the spring – when
lactic bacteria turns tarter malic acid into rounder lactic acid,
And it wasn’t just a matter of an inexperienced winemaker from the producing a turbulence and CO2 bubbles in the wine. Malolactic,
wine-backward East Coast experiencing difficulties with malolactic. or ML, MLF or malo, “softens” the wines and adds flavors and
Across the country and a few years later, Brice Jones was having aromas, among them the “buttery” taste to Chardonnay that
similar headaches. A former Air Force pilot and Harvard Business drinkers either love in moderation or love to hate.
School graduate, Jones had planted vineyards in Sonoma County,
and soon his Sonoma-Cutrer winery became known for its array

WINEMAKING

thesis was on volatile ester hydrolysis or how aromas evolve in

wine, still a valuable contribution. And he was also fascinated

enough by French winemaking to intern at Château Petrus and

was on the winemaking team at Dominus in Napa Valley when the

Petrus owner Christian Moueix decided to establish a California

estate. In spite of the fact that Peynaud and others in Europe

were working on the problem, Ramey says, “There was a jealousy

of the French at Davis. Rather than work with the University of

David Ramey Bordeaux, they would prefer not to learn. Nature and tradition
didn’t matter. Personally, I thought we should have been analyzing

French wines.” And he also found that some of his winemaking
Louis Pasteur in 1866 was the first to observe bacteria in wine and colleagues, post-graduation, also mistrusted the French. “ ‘Just
considered all bacteria to be harmful or spoilage mechanisms. because they do malolactic in Burgundy doesn’t mean we have to
Other observations were made in the intervening years, but do it here’ was their attitude.”
Peynaud was in the late 1930’s one of the first to systematically

study ML. Writing about California, the British journalist, Jamie But Ramey says that in some ways their stance was
Goode, has a fascinating story on the GuildSomm site about how understandable, as the primary winemaking at that time was “in
Hanzell winemaker Brad Webb worked with UC Davis scientist Lodi and Bakersfield where you didn’t need your Chardonnay to go
John Ingraham in the late
1950’s to understand why ML “Food scientists are by nature distrustful of through malolactic.” The desert
heat reduced the acidity in the
occurred, or not, and how the process. To them, bread baking at its ideal is grapes, and hence there was no
process could be predicted
and controlled. The problem Wonder Bread. It’s uniform, and it comes out need to soften the wine further.
was that Webb’s Pinot Noir at the same time after time.” Good winemaking,
Hanzell was not going through by comparison, is like making sourdough bread Richard Arrowood, another
winemaker from this era, has
ML – and he wanted it to. – the risk is there, but so is the reward.” today come full circle. Famous

early on for his vineyard-
But even though researchers at Davis might have been studying ML designated Chardonnays at Chateau St. Jean, Arrowood says that
during this period, they were not yet teaching its winemakers how during this time, his grapes were coming from the warmer regions
to use it. In fact, a few years ago winemaker Ken Deis put it more of Sonoma County. “We sterile filtered to prevent malolactic at St.
strongly when he told me, “Basically, we were taught at Davis that Jean,” he says. Now, at his Amapola Creek winery, Arrowood is
malolactic was a flaw that needed to be controlled.” Winemaker working with cooler-climate grapes that have higher acidity, and
David Ramey, who owns the eponymous Ramey Wine Cellars
in Sonoma County, was also a student at Davis during this era. so he induces the secondary fermentation. “You just have to be
“Davis back then was not a place you went to learn winemaking,” careful not to have too much diacetyl in the process so that the
wines don’t taste too buttery,” he says.
says Ramey, who graduated from the university in 1979. “You

went there to study the science of winemaking and the scientific Although no longer considered a de facto flaw nor the complete
process. We had this crappy old winemaking area that would just mystery it once was, malolactic fermentation still is a closely
produce a few gallons.”
watched process for winemakers who want do use it – or not.

Ramey continues: “Food scientists are by nature distrustful of About the Author
process. To them, bread baking at its ideal is Wonder Bread.
It’s uniform, and it comes out the same time after time.” Good Roger Morris is a Pennsylvania-based writer who contributes articles
winemaking, by comparison, is like making sourdough bread – the to several publications, including Wine Enthusiast, Town & Country,
risk is there, but so is the reward. The Drinks Business, Beverage Media and TheDailyMeal.com. Roger
can be reached at [email protected]
It should be noted that Ramey isn’t anti-science – in fact, his 1979

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG 7

Wine During the

Holidays
by Kevin Harmon

8 AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

FOOD&WINE

Y ou’ve worked hard to get on and stay on a fitness path and
may have legitimate concerns about blowing all that hard work
during the holidays. Family and friends gathering together
towards the end of the year most likely will include high-
calorie foods and drinks, and in many cases, wine.

Add to that a loss in energy levels due to an overabundance of activity: shopping,
family responsibilities, changing weather and stress could result in you having
one too many glasses of Chardonnay with your turkey or duck or Riesling with
your cherry pie.

Fret not, however, as you don’t have to abandon vino altogether, just be mindful
and adhere to these tips to help you enjoy wine without overdoing it or using it
as a crutch or coping mechanism during the holiday season:

Keep Exercising Don’t Have Wine
This will keep your energy
level up and make sure that if You’re Emotional
extra glass or two doesn’t end up on This relates to dealing with stress, anger,
your body where you don’t want it sadness or disappointment, all recipes
to be. for overdoing it. Ever been to a party
when conflict got ugly after too much?
Have Wine with Food
Much better to the system Don’t Take Life
than having it on an empty stomach, Too Seriously
plus it helps both the food and the Laugh, joke, have fun while drinking
wine taste better and aids in digestion. that glass of wine with your friends.

Be Mindful of Portion Control Don’t Stress Out Over Incorporate Wine
A standard portion of wine is about 5-6
ounces. Resist the urge to top off the glass Wine Selection Into Meals
to the rim. Don’t drink more because you think Some people get caught up in the Use reds to marinate pork or beef or for
one wine is less expensive and therefore less process of selecting the proper wine sauces, white to complement ceviche or
potent. Wine in a retail shop can cost more than for food or where the wine is from. desserts or ice wine with a cheese platter.
in a grocery store and just because a wine is aged, Wine comes from more than 90
has a fancy name or comes from a notable region, countries and all 50 states. I’ve had Eat Foods T hat Give
doesn’t mean it’s better or stronger. good wine from Illinois, Wisconsin,
Ohio, Virginia, Texas and Missouri. Your Mood a Boost
Drink Lots of Water Eat foods that aid your mood.
Helps with energy, keeps us hydrated and Take Frequent Sips Salmon, fruits, veggies, seeds that have
can lessen the effect of overindulgence. antioxidants, Omega-3, and magnesium
& Don’t Guzzle help your body deal with stress and boost
About the Author There are some reds with your spirit. Starches and empty calories
a pretty high alcohol content like make us feel sluggish.
Kevin Harmon is a Chicago-based writer, who has Cabernet Sauvignon and taking in
worked as a personal fitness trainer and personal too much too quickly can overwhelm Experiment
chef. He has a degree in health education and the body. Try something you’ve never had
attended culinary school in Chicago. before, like a Carmenine from
Chile, Riojas from Spain or Syrah from
New Zealand.

9

Hudson River

E leven thousand years ago the entire northeast, was planted by William Cornell in 1845 in Ulster County and
including New York State, was once covered by still exists as part of the Benmarl Winery, in Marlboro. The wine
the two mile thick Laurentide ice sheet. As the making industry in the Hudson Valley has survived war, revolution,
glacier melted and receded it reshaped the land blights, extremely challenging weather and prohibition. This AVA
beneath into the beautiful landscape we know today is a survivor and one of the most innovative and diverse areas of
of hills, mountains and the complex and varied soil, viniferous cultivation in the Northeast.

appropriate for fruit and vine cultivation.

The Valley has been known for making great white wines like Seyval

The Hudson River is one of the great waterways Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling as well as

of North America that runs 315 miles from its award winning sparkling wines. Much time

source, Lake Tear in the Clouds, located in and effort has gone into into finding a Hudson

Adirondack Park. It is the river’s moderating Valley signature red grape. Doug and Mary

effect on our continental climate (thanks to Ellen Glorie of Glorie Farm Winery along

tidal flow and winds that sweep upriver from with Linda Piero and Bob Bedford of Hudson

the Atlantic) as well as the “river effect” that Valley Wine Magazine have established the

make it possible to grow grapes at all. The “Hudson Valley Cabernet Franc Coalition”

AVA (established July 1982) covers an area that which is a group of Hudson Valley grape

extends roughly within the confines of the An aerial view of Brotherhood Winery. Photo courtesy of Brotherhood Winery growers, winery owners, winemakers and

river valley proper and it includes all or some of several counties: supporters that are committed to establishing a Cabernet Franc

Columbia, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, brand identity for the Hudson River Region. The wine is loved for its

and Westchester encompassing 224,000 acres but has only about mouthwatering savory, bell pepper like taste and medium to high

450 acres planted to wine grapes among 49 + bonded wineries. acidy. Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon making a

bright pale red wine that adds finesse and lends a peppery perfume

Brotherhood is the oldest winery and the earliest planted vineyard when blended with more robust grapes as it is done in Bordeaux.

10 AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

RESEARCH

Region AVA
by JoAnn DeGaglia, CSW, CS, CWJ

I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise you to know that it was planted in the our colonial period apple orchards were plentiful, making apples
Loire long before Bordeaux made it famous in its high end wine cheap and easily obtainable, grains did not thrive well and were
blends and that DNA analysis indicates that Cabernet Franc is costly to import. As a result, hard cider quickly became one of
actually one of two parents of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and America’s most popular beverages. The beauty, history and great
Carménère. Given the climate and soil here in our Hudson Valley food and beverages abound so come to the Hudson Valley and if
it comes as no surprise that Cabernet Franc has emerged as heir you already live here get out and Uncork New York!
apparent for red wine greatness.

How was this determined you might ask? In Highland New York About the Author
there is the Hudson Valley Research Lab, a non-profit organization
dedicated to supporting research and development for growers in JoAnn is a Certified Specialist of Wine and a member of the Society of Wine
the HV. In 2008 Senator Larkin helped secure funds for the lab Educators, as well as a Certified Adv. Sommelier earning both an American
to plant a one acre vineyard with 27 varieties of grapes to help and Italian Wine Specialist Degree from the North American Sommelier
growers and winemakers learn what really grows best in the HV. Association with honors. She is a wine educator at the Westchester Wine
In these trials Peter Jentsch a Research Entomologist who is a School in New York and the North American Sommelier Association in
Cornell Cooperative Extension Educator found that Cabernet Los Angeles. Earning her wine judge certification from the American Wine
Franc kept emerging as the stand out variety.  Society, she has judged at many international and local competitions. She
works part time at two of the Hudson Valley’s great wine destinations:
Cab Franc has a significant number of clones which gives grower’s Brotherhood America’s oldest winery and the Wine Spectator’s award-
choices and winemakers the ability to blend these grapes from winning Glenmere Mansion in Chester, New York. She recently joined
these field blends of Cab Franc to add complexity to their finished the ranks of the American Wine Society Regional Vice Presidents for the
wine and each winemaker can truly create their own style of wine. Hudson Valley/New York City area.
The Hudson Valley has also exploded with not only distilleries
and breweries but with the production of (Hard) Apple Ciders. In

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG 11

Wines of

Cyprus
by Mike Botwin

Cyprus is a small island—roughly 3,500 square miles, making it larger than
Delaware but smaller than Connecticut,— in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It
lies 60 miles west of the Syrian coast and 283 miles south of Turkey’s southern
shores. Athens is over 500 miles to the northwest.
_______
_______

ith its strategic position in the ___TRAVEL
Mediterranean, the island has, over ___
the centuries seen many players 13
and occupiers: the Phoenicians, the
Hellenistic dynasty of Alexander

W the Great and  the Romans. The
Byzantines had their short stay in
the 10th century. And, of course, there were the  Crusaders
(11th century). Richard the Lionheart captured the island then
turned it over to the Knights Templar who in turn sold it to the
French noble family of the Lusignans (a 300 year reign). Then
came the Genovese and Venetians. The Ottomans had a 300-
year hold before Britain took administrative rights to Cyprus
in 1878. This hold lasted until 1960 when Cyprus established
independence. However, animosity between the Greek Cypriots
and the Turkish Cypriots  soon surfaced and in 1974 the Turkish
government sent troops to Cyprus to put down a coup d’état — a
coup that was encouraged  by Athens.  Since that time the island
has been partitioned into the ethnically Greek south Republic
of Cyprus  and the  northern Turkish Republic of North Cyprus
(recognized  only by Turkey). A “Green Zone” buffer border
separates the two — a 112 mile border with only 5 vehicular
crossing points plus two more pedestrian crossings in the walled
city of Nicosia, the capital of both “counties.” One island, two
cultures, two languages, two currencies (Euros, south/ Turkish
Lira, north). After over 40 years the island is still resolutely divided!

The lion’s share of Cyprus’ vineyards are in the southwestern
part of the island and posed on the slopes and foothills of the
Troodos Mountains at altitudes ranging from 800 feet to 4,900
feet. The island’s climate is typical of Mediterranean regions with
mild winters and hot summers. Rainfall, limited to the winters,
varies with altitude — an average of 19” in lower altitudes to an
average of 35” in the higher ranges. Few vineyards are irrigated.
Temperatures also align with altitude: mean summer high of 95
F along the coast (mean winter high of 61 F) to 77 F mean summer
high in the mountains (50 F winter).  The mountain vineyards also
experience a diurnal temperature drop from daytime to evening of
over 30 F in the summers —an important aspect for the retention
of grape acidity.

While agriculture, including grape growing and winemaking, are
important aspects of the Cypriot economy, tourism, particularly
in the South, is the driving force. The beaches and the climate of
the South, plus the plethora of cultural and archeological sites,
are magnets for Northern Europeans sun seekers, especially Brits
and Russians. Much of the local wine is made in an easy drinking,
friendly style to  quench the thirst of these vacationers. The North
is less affected by tourism.

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

A WINE FOR EUROPEAN NOBILITY _______dominate the winemaking. The fermentation stops naturally before
_______all the sugars can be converted to alcohol leaving a wine with high
Archeological explorations have dated Cypriot winemaking to before residual sugar and alcohol in the 10%  to 15%  range. 
3,500 BCE. Most likely viticulture descended from the Caucasus
Mountains, today’s Armenia and Georgia, through Turkey and Traditionally  the wines were moved from the co-ops to the Big
Levant to the Mediterranean — first Cyprus then onto Greece and Four facilities in Limassol for aging in underground cellars for a
Italy. During the Middle Ages Cypriot wine was the most important minimum of two years (but usually longer) and), if needed), fortified
wine of the Middle East and had great impact in Western Europe to bring the alcohols to a minimum of 15%.  A modification of the
as well, particularly the sweet, dessert wine Commanderia. The solera process of fractional blending is frequently used making
name Commanderia came into play in 1191 when the Knights of those wines non-vintage. The de-facto monopoly of Commanderia
St. John established a headquarters, called a Commanderie, in by the Big Four has been tweaked by the advent of the boutiques,
Limassol. They planted vineyards near by and produced this dessert starting in the 1990s. These folks have entered the Commanderia
wine that soon became a favorite of European nobility. It is often arena by either buying already fermented wine from the co-ops,
referred to as “one of the oldest wines in the world”. No doubt there and aging/blending outside the AOC in their own cellars, or by
was a similar dessert wine produced in this area even before the establishing a secondary production facility within the Commanderia
arrival of the Knights. AOC. Now almost all the boutiques have a Commanderia on their
wine list. While Commanderia production makes up a very small
But, wine consumption is relatively low — beer being the adult percentage of the Cypriot wine scene it is a very important player. 
beverage of choice — exports are important. Britain and the USSR When  well made, this unctuous dessert wine can be glorious.
became the receivers of low end bulk wine and wine “products,”
mostly semi-sweet or sweet, including so-called “British wine” (not The two varieties that that are combined in the making of
to be confused with “English wine”). British wine is made from Commanderia are also the most planted in Cyprus as well. Together
imported grape concentrate that is re-constituted, fermented and they account for about 70% of the vineyard acreage--Mavro at 46%;
bottled in England. This market was dominated by the “Big Four” — Xynisteri at 24%. Mavro (which simply means “black”) is a low acid
the public companies KEO, ETKO, Loel and the co-op SODAP.  The grape that makes for rather bland table wines. However, it’s easy
implosion of the USSR and the Eastern Bloc resulted in a precipitous to grow and produces relatively high yields for this dry climate —
drop in  wine exports. Further, when Cyprus joined the EU in 2004 growers are happy with it but winemakers are not. Consequently
EU regulations forced the elimination of  government subsidies for in the move for quality over quantity Mavro acreage is in a sharp
bulk wine. A major re-evaluation of the wine industry then took decline. On the other hand Xynisteri is a winner all the way around. It
place. Quality replaced quantity. The Big Four were pushed to generally produces clean and crisp, low alcohol whites, particularly
concentrate on quality by the start-up boutique wineries. Currently when grown in the higher altitudes. In the lower altitudes balance
there are over 60 boutique wineries — plus the Big Four — in the is maintained by early picking or acid adjustment ( a 2 g/l acid
South producing modern, quality wines at international standards. adjustment is allowed in Cyrus).
Keep in mind this small island’s production is tiny by world standards
— ranking 50th worldwide.

The production of Commanderia is, by all measures, a curious What makes up the other 30% of the vineyard acreage? Mostly
process. The only grapes allowed by the regulations of the Appellation “imported” varieties. Since Cyprus is one of only three counties
d’Origine Controlee, established in 1990, are the two indigenous not afflicted by phylloxera the government has been very cautious
varieties Mavro (red) and Xynisteri (white); the grapes must come to keep it that way. Not until the 1990s were cuttings of foreign
from the 14 villages that constitute the AOC. The region lies in the varieties allowed into the country. Of course, rigorous inspection
Troodos foothills) about 20 miles north of the port city of Limassol for the aphid was engaged. Since their introduction the mostly
(aka Lemesos). The soils are primarily volcanic in nature; rainfall French cultivars have radically changed the scope and breath of
is not high but no irrigation is permitted, contributing to low yields Cypriot wines.
— regulated at 1 ton/acre —for both varieties. The extremely low
yields have caused many of the small scale farmers, who prevail in the On the red side, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah have shown a
region, to abandon their holdings. After the grapes are picked they liking to their new home and have been shown to produce wines
are open-air dried  for a week or two thus concentrating  the  grape of class — wines with firm, old world  structure and new world
sugars to upwards of 40 brix. The vinification, again by regulation, fruit.  Wines that can favorably compete on the international field.
must take place with the Commanderia region.  Here co-ops Mataro (aka Mourvedre), Carignan, Cabernet Franc, Grenache

14 AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

View of the Troodos mountains from Zambartas Winery. Snapshot of Marleen Zambartas and children, Emilia and Sebastian

Photo courtesy of Caroline Botwin Photo courtesy of Caroline Botwin

_______

_______
_______
“These growers had heard stories from their grandfathers about interesting varieties that had faded by the
time their own fathers had taken over the family farms. By carefully seeking the “odd man out” in their
vineyards, Zambartas and the growers were able to find 12 “lost” varieties —some better than others.”

and Alicante Bouschet also pop up on their own but more likely as THE INDIGENOUS VARIETIES
blenders. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc lead the international
white  brigade with Semillon along side. All seem to be happy in Like other Mediterranean countries Cyprus had a plethora
Cyprus; “happy grapes make good wine.” of indigenous varieties—many waiting to see the light of day. 
The story here centers around Akis Zambartas and his quixotic
There are two indigenous red cultivars that barely make the colleagues. His vast contact with local growers as the chief
top 15 of planted varieties  but are of increasing interest to the winemaker with KEO allowed Zambartas to scratch the itch for
modern industry: Maratheftiko and Leftada. Maratheftiko makes rooting (pun intended) out heritage cultivars. These growers had
wines with structure and flavor similar to Cabernet Sauvignon heard stories from their grandfathers about interesting varieties
— deeply colored and tannic wines with herbal overtones. While that had faded by the time their own fathers had taken over the
promising, Maratheftiko has viticulture difficulties. It is one of the family farms. By carefully seeking the “odd man out” in their
few varieties worldwide that is not self-pollinating and has to be vineyards, Zambartas and the growers were able to find 12 “lost”
planted among other varieties. varieties —some better than others. The keepers seem to be
the whites Morokanella, Spourtiko and Promara and the red
Most Cypriot growers consider Leftada a native variety but this is Yiannoudi. Only time will tell.
really a stretch. It came to Cyprus, before the phylloxera scare, from
the western Greek island of Leftada (where it’s known as Vertzami).  From our base in the charming mountain resort of Platres my
It’s planted no where else than these two islands.  This deeply wife Caroline and I were able to visit 7 wineries (well, actually,
colored and very tannic variety is seen both as a varietal wine and only I did the winery touring) in the Troodos Mountain in late
a blender with the French varieties Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. September, 2018.

Platres was a cool climate retreat for British administrators during
the colonial days in the 20s  and 30s.  Our hotel, the New Helvetia,
was a favorite for them and for us. Leaving the hot and humid coast
for the cool and dry mountains was  a great relief.

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG 15

An aerial view of the historic harbor in Kyrenia, North Cyprus.

Four of the wineries visited stick out. The KEO-owned Malia Winery Just finding the Tsiakkas winery was an adventure in itself.  Being
gave me a good insight into how the boutiques pushed the Big Four way off the beaten path, Costas Tsiakkas said insures that visitors
into a new and modern wine reality. Malia, founded in 1927, makes are truly serious about wine. His small winery is in the Pitsilia AOC
about 250,000 cases per year of mostly friendly, easy-drinking within the Lemesos district at a 3,000-foot elevation. The site is
wines from both indigenous and international varieties,  most spectacular. The bowled shape, terraced vineyards overlook a deep
part of which are brought in. In 1996 the firm planted 125 acres wooded valley. The winery produces a range of focused wines from
adjacent to the restored  and modernized  winery. This estate forms both international and indigenous varieties. His Yiannoudi is a spicy
the backbone of a line of dry, food-oriented  “serious” wines. My red with the structure of Pinot Noir — delightful.
host, the head winemaker, lead me through the winery while we
tasted tank samples along the way. We ended the tour in a special The last few days of our vacation we spent in Turkish North Cyprus
tasting room with a beautiful Commanderia that was perfectly home to, at present, a whopping two wineries. We visited the  Etel
matched with dry cheeses and walnuts. A great ending. Winery which is in the foothills just a few miles southwest of the
historic port of Kyrenia. It’s a joint venture of British and Israeli
After visiting three hospitable wineries but with  less than owners. This spanking new complex consists of the winery, a
distinguished wines, Domaine Vlassides was indeed eye-opening and restaurant and a hotel. Their winemaker is a young Israeli woman
not just because of the intriguing, modern, architecturally  significant who studied in Adelaide, Australia (Marcos Zambartas was a fellow
building but also because of their approach to wine making. Their student). Since Etel’s first estate harvest wasn’t until 2017 their
focus is on full-bodied reds and elegant whites from  French current release of wines is actually from Israeli fruit but made in
varieties. Wines for wine aficionados. The Cabernet Sauvignon Israel by their own winemaker. The hope of Etel is that their
and Syrah can hold their own with the best — firmly structured enterprise will ignite others to join the winery scene and create a
and beautifully balanced. The winery and vineyards are within wine destination for the area. In fact, the is another winery nearby,
the  AOC “Villages of Lemesos” but their wines fall under a boarder but I couldn’t coordinate a visit there. We did find one of their wines
district category of “Lemesos” since AOC regulations are geared at a restaurant in Kyrenia — a work in progress.
towards wines made predominately from the indigenous varieties
Mavro and Xynisteri. When asked about other quality wineries  I From North Cyprus we were able to find our way (no help with
was directed to Zambartas, Tsiakkas and Kyperounda. Nothing like signage) through the Green Zone border and onto the airport in
peer recommendations Larnaca. Then onto Lebanon and the wineries of the Bekaa Valley
— perhaps another story.
Akis Zambartas, the champion of  “lost” indigenous varieties,
founded his own winery in 2006 after retiring from KEO but, About the Author
unfortunately, died a few years later. His son Marcos and daughter-
in-law Marleen have continued his quest for high quality wines made Mike Botwin is a longtime AWS member and  director of the San Luis
from international and native varieties — including, naturally, Akis’ Obispo Chapter. He has taught wine appreciation courses since 1973. His
favorites in the re-discovered category.  visits to wineries in all U.S. states and 50 countries are described in his
recently self-published memoir: A Wine Traveler’s Addiction. He can reached
at [email protected]

16 AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

SIPTALK

Loire Valley
and Cabernet Franc
by Eric Miller

The choice was a no brainer. An expensive dinner in Chicago with a fancy hotel. Free! Or dinner-on-me and bunking with
my son in his hotel room. It had been many years since we had shared a tent and I prayed I would not snore too much; but
his hotel was in Tour, Loire Valley, France, home of the greatest Chenin Blanc in the world (bring it on South Africa!) and
my favorite Cabernet Franc.

What is it? Climate and Soils

The Loire Valley wine region is situated along the The area has a cool continental climate that is dilutes the wine. In the broader Muscadet AOC
Loire River from the Muscadet area near the city moderated by the Loire River and several smaller the soil is predominantly silt and sand while the
of Nantes on the Atlantic Ocean to Sancerre and rivers, plus the mighty Atlantic. In spite of that soil of the Muscadet-Coteaux de la Loire has high
Pouilly-Fume, southeast of the city of Orleans. it can be very cool with spring frost a potential concentration of schist and the Muscadet-Côtes
It has homes and restaurants in its limestone hazard. It can be a challenge for sugars to de Grandlieu sub-appellation has a mixture of
cliffs, broad fields of wheat, tree fruit and produce meet desired alcohol and flavor development. granite and schist based soils
that would makes their chefs joyful. With over Occasionally harvest months can be rainy and
185,000 acres of grapes, 2/3 the size of Bordeaux, cause Botrytis Cinerea, the “noble rot” responsible Vineyards south of the city of Tours are planted
it is comprised of almost 90 AOC’s (officially for off-flavors and breath-taking dessert wines. on the slopes of the Loire and Cher Rivers. Soils
recognized sub-wine districts) and is second in Take home: Use your AWS vintage chart. range from chalk, sand, gravel, clay and limestone
volume to Champagne in French sparkling wine pebbles. The most notable soil type is tuffeau,
production and Provence for Rosé. Serious stuff. On the Atlantic end of the Loire, the soil is rich a porous limestone soil that contributes to the
in magnesium and potassium, made up of clay, zesty acidity found in the grapes of Touraine.
gravel and sand above gneiss, schist, granite and
volcanic rock. Throughout this Muscadet region The vineyards furthest east you find the famed
the soils drain well, which is critical because excess Pouilly Fumés and some very nice Pinot Noir,
moisture spurs rampant growth and ultimately typically in limestone soils. 

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG 17

Dynamic and Flexible Tastes Like Sauvignon Blanc is the slightly lower alcohol
version from the Touraine Appellation. That there
Wine growers have been willing to experiment It’s safe to say that these wines are not bruisers. is not enough Chenin Blanc growing in Vouvray
and evolve. For example Joly was probably the It is not too great a generalization of Loire and Montlouis, pretty much where we were
first in the region to take on the challenge of bio- wines, white rose and red, to say they are light to staying in Tours, to slake my thirst for it. As one
dynamic farming but has joined by producers like medium body with delicate flavors, fresh acidity, would expect in France, Atlantic mussels, oysters
Domaine Huet over 25 years ago. occasional tannin or astringency noticeable in the and acidic Muscadet was one big happy. Warning
finish with an affinity for French bistro cuisine.  If Will Rogers! Many of the better restaurants are
Planting intensity is becoming tighter with some you are taking a break from blockbuster Cabs closed in August and on Sundays.
vineyards having up to 2,500 vines per acre in and thick rich Chardonnays, Loire Valley wines
order to cause competition between vines and will go easy on your wallet and entertain your But I drink far more red wine than white, so when
reduce over-cropping. Grape variety-wise the adventurous tongue. things got lunchy, I dove into Cabernet Franc. My
Loire is liberal. It’s legal to grow Chenin Blanc, greatest revelation was that although Cabernet
Sauvignon Blanc (my favorites), Romorantin Ostensibly I was there to give my son a break from Franc is notorious for its pyrazines (green pepper)
(think Aligote), Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, speaking French. But my real goals were to jam smell and taste, in the vintages and appellations I
Tressallier, Gros Plant, Menu Pineau, Melon de in as many meals as possible, find Sandy Calder’s tasted growers have learned to open the canopy,
Bourgogne – all whites by these and other names. studio (where as an eight year old I had stayed and expose the fruit to sun and ripen to inviting cherry
And reds, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Malbec, played with his mobiles one summer) and visit the and floral characteristics. Alcohols were about
Groslot , Pineau d’Aunis, Pinot Noir and Cabernet cellar and vineyard of My Hero of Cabernet Franc, 12.5% given a spread of 1.5%.
Franc, the featured grape of this article. Charles Jouget. I also planned to visit as many of
the magnificent Chateaux that grace the rivers as Following are some notes about Cabernet
could be fit around some serious wine tasting… Franc wines recently tasted, and available in
which ultimately left them for another trip. the USA, all but one in the $20 price range.

I was too busy confirming that my favorite

18 AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

A Tasting © Vins de Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil

2017 Domaine de Clayou Anjou– Grown closest 2017 Domaine de la Chanteleuserie Bourgeuil About the Author
to the Atlantic, where the challenging vintage met – This wine may reflect that the 2017 vintage was
its match in the well-drained soils, this neat clean, challenging further from the coast in that it showed Eric Miller has been an east coast American
ripe red cherry-vanilla and earth smelling charmer some bell pepper and was not as forward with its winemaker for more than 40 years, first at his
is medium body, ending with a tobacco leaf, delicate fruit character and wilted flowers. Still, it was clean, family’s Benmarl Vineyards in New York State
acidity and fine tannins. Classic Loire Cab Franc. nicely balanced with its lighter tannin and body and and then at Chaddsford Winery in Pennsylvania,
had a long finish. which he founded and co-owned from 1982
2016 Domaine des Ruettes, Saumur Champigny – through 2012. He has spent all of his adult
Moving inland and east along the river this wine was 2017 Domaine Gasnier Vielles Vignes Chinon life growing, conceiving and producing wines,
similar to the previous in terms of fruit and tannin, – Across the river from Bourgeuil, same difficult learning and teaching about wine, traveling
a little softer with less acid, slight burnt wood and vintage, this winery did not have as good control of its to wine regions around the world, and, most
tobacco leaf, reflecting a different vintage. Medium fermentation and allowed a wild yeast, Brettanomyces importantly, tasting and drinking wine. He can
body. Classic. to become dominantly barnyard-like. be reached at [email protected]

2016 Domaine Les Pins St Nicolas de Bourgeuil – 2011 Domaine Charles Jouet, La Varennes du
Bourgeuil is further east than the two previous and Grand Clos, Chinon – About $32 per the web. One
had a longer warmer season than 2017. Intriguing of the great vintages of the decade. It shows that a fine
smell of wilted flowers, nose and mouth of cedar and wine from the region can develops into perfection.
pencil lead joined by red cherry and a slight vanilla. Slight mint in the nose with chocolate, salt sea air and
Finished a little watery but clean. tobacco. Medium body tasting much like the delicious
nose with a little cherry pie. Tannins resolved and
pleasantly tickling the inside of my cheeks. An
outstanding wine.

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG 19

HangTime
New theory could revolutionize how hybrid grapes are harvested

by Jim Rink

In the fall of 2018, Nathaniel Rose was faced with a challenge. As the new owner of Nathaniel Rose Wine (formerly Raftshol
Vineyard in Suttons Bay, MI), he was anticipating delivery of vinifera grapes, but the grapes never arrived. Luckily, Boskydel
Vineyard had a large quantity of hybrid grapes available, but it was late in the season. Seizing the opportunity, Rose and
his small team endured November’s worst to harvest the grapes. As they say, it was a good kind of pain and the silver lining
could be a lesson for winegrowers everywhere.

Foxy Wine AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

Now, in winemaking circles, there’s a term called “foxiness.” Foxiness
is most apparent in grapes like Concord or Niagara (think Welch’s
grape juice). It’s a very strong “grapey” flavor that many winemakers
like to avoid. It’s very common in wines make from native American
varieties and, to some extent, wines made from hybrids, depending on
the variety. It is not present in vinifera.

“The compound we describe in wine as ‘foxiness’ is methyl anthranilate,
which is the compound that they use for artificial grape flavoring,”
said Rose. “It’s used for things like fizzy pops or jolly ranchers. It’s also
used — many people don’t know this — to spray on the grapes as a
bird deterrent. Birds hate the flavor of methyl anthranilate.”

20

The Silver Lining FEATURE

Unless they’re making late-harvest dessert-style Nathaniel Rose. Photo by Madeleine Vedel
wines or ice wines, most winemakers shun late-
season harvests. It is too labor-intensive and it is
easier to pick grapes that are slightly underripe
and add sugar to bring alcohol levels up, etc.
However, with hybrids, a magical change seems
to take place the longer they remain on the vine.

“I’ve discovered with the ripening of hybrids,
that the methyl anthranilate levels go up as the
grapes continue to ripen, to a certain point,” said
Rose, “and when the seeds become mature, the
methyl anthranilate levels disappear. Just gone.”

Rose’s theory is that, since French-American
hybrids are part native American, from an
evolutionary standpoint, the hybrids produce
methyl anthranilate as a bird deterrent until
they can have more mature seeds, so they can
fully reproduce. He said: “The whole point of a
grape vine is the birds eat the grapes, poop them
out somewhere and then there’s another grape
vine, but if flocks of birds come and eat all the
grapes before the seeds are mature, the whole
cycle is destroyed. No reproduction.”

Basically, according to Rose, hybrids have
developed a natural bird deterrent until they
have reached physiological ripeness, which,
unfortunately, is very late in the growing season.

“Even those hybrids we consider to be early
ripeners (may not be physiologically ripe),” he
said. “Even if the sugar is high and acid is low,
they still tend to have greener seeds at that point
compared with some vinifera varieties.”

Editor’s note: For those of you wondering, about the
appearance of the grape at such a late stage in its
development, it may appear to look like a raisin or
have shriveled skin, but that is OK. It is not a sign
of rot. The two are not one and the same.

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

Franciacorta
Italy’s Answer to Champagne
by Gene Spaziani

Franciacorta is the Italian WHAT’S IN A NAME? 140 percent over the last decade. Demand for
version of Champagne, Franciacorta led to sales of almost 11 million
and it is finally gaining In addition to ancient writings, the name bottles last year. Yields have been reduced in
international recognition Franzacurta appeared in a 1277 city order Francicorta to the lowest for any traditionally
for its high quality and form the province of Brescia in northern Italy. produced sparkling wine in Europe, including
dedicated producers. The story behind the name remains a mystery Champagne. The allowable yield is 60
Located in the northern and subject to dispute. Some say the name hectoliters (26.4 gallons per hectoliter) of
province of Lombardia between Piedmont derives from “free courts” since the main wine per hectare (2.4 acres per hectare).
and Veneto at the base of the Alps, the region medieval towns of the regions came under
around the ancient industrial city of Brescia is the auspices of the Benedictines and were Grapes are harvested exclusively by hand.
where this sparkling wine is being made. declared tax-exempt (franchae curtes). Under a new Italian law used for the first time
in Franciacorta in 2011, the region was allowed
Franciacorta or Franzacurta, as it was Others say the name is attributed to to pick 10 more quintals of grapes over the
mentioned in the writings of both Virgil and Charlemagne. He conquered Franciacorta’s allowable 100 quintals per hectare, and hold
Pliny the Elder, started out as a still wine — main province, Brescia, in 774 on the saint’s the wine in reserve. The practice of reserves,
until its winemakers realized that the region’s day of Denis. Wishing he was celebrating the which also takes place in Champagne, allows
cool temperatures were a great indicator that holiday in Paris instead, the Emperor decreed producers this right in officially announced
sparkling wine could be produced there. that the area would be called “Little France” quality years.
For the last 70 years, the producers have — loosely translated as Franciacorta.
worked together to build an internationally The additional wine will be used in subsequent
recognized sparkling wine region. Another tale involves the countrymen of vintages where production is low due to
Franciacorta driving out occupying French exceptional circumstances, such as weather
Franciacorta is the first Italian wine produced troops in 1265 with cries of “French get out!” conditions or hail, or a lowering of stock in
exclusively by the traditional method of re- Here France will be brief!” — translated as the cellar due to unplanned sales increases.
fermentation in the same bottle, and the first Francia SARacorta.
wine to obtain Italy’s highest appellation The wines are produced using Chardonnay
award of DOCG (Demoninazione di Origine The historian Gabriele Rosa thinks the or Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) grapes, and Pinot
Controllata e Garanitia). name is from the short (corta) occupation of Bianco can be used to a certain extent — up
the king of France (Francia). Whatever the to 50 percent.
Prior to receiving DOCG status, Franciacorta true origins of the name, starting in 1277,
sparkling wine producers put self-imposed Franzacurta or Franzia Curta started to be AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG
regulations on themselves in order to produce used in official papers and the wines of the
sparkling wines of the highest quality. They region were already being supplied to the
knew that conditions for making world-class province of Brescia.
sparkling wines existing in their region.
There are approximately 7,000 acres of vines
22 planted in Franciacorta today, an increase of

SIPTALK

Vineyard looking towards the city of Brescia, Lombardia, Italy.

WINE STYLES FRANCIACORTA & FOOD

Non-vintage: Aged at least 18 months. Sparkling wine in general is one of the Every producer was a family-run business,
All flavor categories: Undosed, Extra Brut, most food-versatile wines in the world. all located in former monasteries, churches,
Brut, Extra Dry, Sec, and Demi-Sec. Its freshness makes it a great choice for a schools or other types of large, historical
simple salad, light pasta, or fresh seafood. buildings.
Franciacorta Saten: Blanc de Alternatively, its crisp acidity can cut
Blancs. Generally 100 percent Chardonnay. through richer versions such as scallops We were treated royally and had all of our
Non-vintage, aged at least 24 months. All or crab meat salad, pasta in a rich cream meals with these great families and we
flavor categories. sauce, roast chicken, duck and rabbit dishes. learned all about Franciacorta and tasted
Sparkling wines are also great with fried food many, many wines from all of the categories.
Rosé: A minimum of 25 percent Pinot such as popcorn shrimp and chicken strips. It was a remarkable experience.
Nero must be used. Non-vintage, aged at
least 24 months. All flavor categories. My personal experience with Franciacorta After the week in Franciacorta, we went
included a trip to Verona to be a wine judge back to Verona and attended Vinitaly at
Millesimato: A vintage wine with at at the Vinitaly annual International Wine the international fair grounds in Verona.
least 85 percent of the wine from the stated Competition, which took 70 international The annual wine fair has some 3,000 wine
vintage. Aged at least 30 months. Undosed, judges four days to complete and then seven producers from all over the world pouring
Extra Brut, Brut, and Extra Dry flavor of us (all international journalists) later were their wines. It was indeed spettacolare.
categories. escorted to Franciacorta with an interpreter
for a week.
Reserve: A Millesimato, Saten or Rosé,
which has stayed on its lees for a minimum We were housed at a lovely hotel at the foot About the Author
of 60 months. Undosed, Extra Brut, Brut of the Alps near Lake Iseo and every day
flavor categories. after breakfast at the hotel we visited with Gene Spaziani is the author of The Home
Franciacorta producers throughout the Winemaker’s Companion, a retired college
region near Brescia. professor and administrator and an award-
winning home winemaker. He can be reached
via email at: [email protected]

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG 23

I Feel

Sloveinnimay Glass
by arlene mole

he American Wine Society (AWS), a national organization that fosters wine education, wine appreciation and amateur
wine-making, conducted its 51st annual conference November 1-3, 2018. The event was held in Buffalo, New York at the Hyatt
Regency Hotel/Buffalo Convention Center. AWS boasts chapters in every state across the country with a robust membership

Tof almost 8,000.

Of the 49 sessions, one entitled, “I Feel Slovenia in My Glass” Wines presented and tasted at the session, spanned western
was presented to more than 90 participants. It was conducted Slovenia such as those from the coast to include Vipavska dolina
by Sommelier Andrejka Gazovic, Sommelier, wine judge and (valley) and Goriška Brda ranging northeast across Slovenia
various winemakers of the Slovenian Wine Board. Ms. Gazovic to Maribor along the Drava River. Ms. Gazovic highlighted
shared the history of viticulture in Slovenia, dating back to Slovenia’s treasure, the 400-year-old vine in Maribor’s city
the 4th century B.C. She discussed the various microclimates, center, still producing grapes that are harvested every year with
terroir and diverse geography of Slovenia that contribute to the special bottlings, shared only with select luminaries. Individuals
production of fine wines. An interesting fact is that Slovenia, with in receipt of this special wine include Pope John Paul II, Pope
a population of 2 million people, has over 28,000 wineries across Benedict XVI, Bill Clinton, Japanese Emperor Akihito, Czech
its land mass. She showed the video, “Slovenia in One Minute.” President Vaclav Havel, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brad Pitt,
She also spoke of soil types such as ‘flysch” that includes maul, Michel Platini, and former Presidents of Slovenia, Milan Kučan
calcite, sand, sandstone, all of which add components of flint and and Dr. Janez Drnovšek.
minerality to white wines.

Photo courtesy of www.slovenia.info. Photo by Kamnik Tourist Board archive. Picture, city of Kamnik.

Wines at the session included:

Klet Radgona, Sparkling Rose Selection, brut, 2013, Drava River
Valley, light and refreshing, flavors in the nose, finish of strawberry.

SISI Wines, Pinot Grigio, (white) 2017, apples and citrus in the nose
with a dry finish.

ŠČurek Wines, Rumeni (yellow) Rebula (white), 2013, Goriška Brda,
notes of vanilla, oak, fruit in the nose and taste along with minerality

with a long dry finish.

Rebula Winery, Br’stovska Sparkling, Malavazija (white, AKA
Malavasia), 2009, Goriška Brda, aromatic, fruity nose, mineral

components, dry.

Winehouse Emino, Modrja (blue) Frankinja, (red, AKA Blaufrankisch,
Lemberger), 2015, Šmarje-Virštanj wine along the south east border,

cherry color and aromas, also in the taste with a dry, long fruit finish

and soft, pleasant mouth feel.

JNK Merlot, (red), 2011, (medal winner Finger Lakes International A selection of wines poured during an afternoon tasting session.
Wine Competition), Vipavska Dolina, robust, inky color, cherries,

dark fruits in the nose/taste, long smooth fruit finish.

26 AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG

Ambassador Stanislav, Vidovič, Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia, Washington D. C. speaks during the Awards Luncheon.

Slovenia sponsored wines per table, at the Awards Luncheon to
include some of the wines noted above and also such varietals as
Riesling, Šipon (Furmint), Jakot.é (Tokaj), and others.

A special surprise was the appearance of the Ambassador Stanislav
Vidovič, Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia, Washington D. C.
He spoke during the wine education/tasting session and was one of
the speakers at the Awards Luncheon. He was welcomed into the
ballroom of 550+ attendees by the playing of the national Anthem
of Slovenia. Everyone rose in honor to greet him with respect and
applause. In the history of AWS conferences, Ambassador Vidovič
was the first international government official to attend and address
attendees. It was an exciting and proud moment for this writer, a
Slovenian American, Cleveland native, AWS member since 1983,
Certified AWS Wine Judge, St. Mary’s Collinwood parishioner/
Slovenian language choir member, and overall cheerleader for
Slovenia and my rich American cultural heritage.

About the Author I Feel SLOVENIA pouring some of their best wines during the walk
around Showcase Tasting.
Arlene Mole is an American of Slovenian descent, born, raised and living in Cleveland,
Ohio which has the largest concentration of Slovenians outside of Slovenia. She
has been a member of AWS since 1983, certified as an AWS wine judge in 1989, and
Amateur Wine National Competition Chair in 2000. She has also been an AWS
Cleveland chapter presenter of the NTP for the past 15 years, NTP committee
member for 3 years, and conference presenter on Slovenian wines in 2013.

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG 27

28

Deborah Brenner, Founder & CEO of WOTVS. Photo courtesy of WOTVS

29



It’s Time to Ditch Those PERSPECTIVE

Heav I’ve heard plenty of complaints about oversized
Bottles bottles from fellow wine writers, who—like
me—feel that they fly in face of environmental
responsibility and sustainability. A decade ago,
UK wine writer Jancis Robinson launched a “name
and shame” campaign on her website to call out
vintners that package their wines in ridiculously
heavy bottles. More recently, New York Times wine
columnist Eric Asimov pointed the finger at heavy
bottles as contributors to climate change.

By Tina Caputo For a while there it seemed like wineries were

listening. Not long after I received that impossibly

Several years ago, just as I thought the ultra-heavy heavy bottle of Zin, glass companies got into a sort of arms race to
bottle trend was on its way out, I received a sample see who could create the lightest-weight wine bottle, and wineries
of high-end Zinfandel from a Sonoma County sent out press releases bragging about their featherweight, puntless
winery. As I hoisted the bottle from its shipping vessels. But after a few years, the trend fizzled out. Wineries went
box, I realized that it was easily the heaviest bottle back to their muscle-busting bottles, and it was as if the “lite”
of wine I’d ever encountered. Just to be sure, I versions never existed.

weighed it on a postage meter. The verdict: 4.5 pounds—a whopper,
considering that a standard full bottle of wine usually clocks in This was confirmed by a recent article in Spirited magazine,
a publication for drinks professionals, which trumpeted
at less than 3 pounds.
“premiumization” as the latest trend in wine bottles. Today’s

What’s the reason behind such massive bottles? It’s simple: Some wineries want their packaging to exude quality—and there’s
people equate them with expensive (and therefore great) wine, nothing that says quality like a heavy-ass bottle. Ironically, many
thinking that the wineries wouldn’t spend the money to package of the wineries embracing this trend are the same ones that tout
a crappy wine in such a nice container. But that’s not necessarily their use of sustainable farming and business practices.

true. Pricey packaging is not a guarantee of wine quality. In fact,
it might even be trying to compensate for something, like a guy It’s time to stop the madness. As long as consumers continue to
buy wines in those five-pound bottles without uttering a word
driving a conspicuously expensive sports car.
of complaint, vintners will keep right on using them. But if wine

While heavy bottles may be aesthetically impressive, they’ve drinkers who care about the planet speak up, the offending
developed a reputation for being environmentally reckless. How producers might just change their ways.

are the beefy bottles eco-unfriendly? Let us count the ways: Lighter-weight bottles may not be as sexy from an aesthetic

1. More raw materials and energy are needed to make them. standpoint, but is that extra heft really worth the additional cost
to the environment -- and to your wallet, in subsidizing the more-

2. The bottles produce more glass waste. expensive packaging? Wine bottles are for holding fermented grape

3. Because of the added weight, they require more fuel to transport juice, not for bench pressing.
them to their destinations – from the bottle production facility to

ABOUT THE AUTHORthe winery; from the winery to the distributor; from the distributor

to the retailer; from the retailer to the consumer’s home. Tina Caputo is a writer based in Northern California who covers wine, beer,

4. The increased girth of heavy bottles means that fewer bottles food, and travel. Formerly the editor-in-chief of Vineyard & Winery Management
magazine, her work has appeared in Wine Enthusiast, SevenFifty Daily, Spirited,
will fit in a truck. That means more trucks on the road, using even Visit California, Sonoma magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and many other
more fuel. publications. She also produces the podcast “Winemakers Drinking Beer.”

AMERICANWINESOCIETY.ORG 31



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When you advertise in the Wine Journal, you align your brand with The Wine Journal reaches a targeted
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The American Wine Society Wine Journal
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organization dedicated to the education of
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