Dear Dr. Vino,
If you had to take a bottle of American wine to Bulgaria that reflects the most recent trend in American winemaking, what would that bottle be? I want to take a bottle to my key participant in my academic study (who is one of the best winemakers in Bulgaria) when I head out next month to the wild Balkans. If this is an impossible question to answer, forgive my boldness (& ignorance) and please ignore it!
Impossible–never! It’s a great question, actually. I thought about American wines recently for a piece that I contributed to on Forbes.com about ten independent wines from the good ole US of A. I’d probably take one of those. Many of them actually run counter to the trend in higher alcohol levels so I’d point out that they are, in fact, anti-trendy, or the beginning of a new trend, perhaps. And then maybe bring a Turley that I’m trying to get rid of just for laffs.
What about you? Which wine would you bring if you were in this reader’s shoes?
Last February, after some time in Napa and Sonoma, I checked my bag and a case of wine at Oakland airport. The nice guy who helped me at JetBlue asked me if I wanted a “fragile” sticker on my box o’ wine. I asked, “Does it really make a difference?”
“Nah,” he replied. I appreciated the honesty!
It turns out that trip was the last of a golden era, the era of “free” checked luggage. Now almost all airlines charge $25 for a second bag and American Airlines continues the Ryanairification of American air travel by imposing a $15 fee on the first bag. (Southwest, of all airlines, still allows two checked bags at no additional charge!)
As travel season kicks off with $4-a-gallon gas this Memorial Day, many wine enthusiasts might be giving thought to how we’ll bring wine home from our travels. UPS certainly looks better with these new airline surcharges (no schlepping!). But then there’s the heat of summer to contend with and it’s withering effect on wine–at least the short airline trip would minimize that.
If your travel takes you to a domestic winery this summer, how will you bring the loot home?
Poll now closed
Related: Bringing wine home from overseas
“We make a red wine.”
Normally that’s not the sort of statement that raises an eyebrow in Napa Valley. But when one vintner told me that at dinner one night last week, I had to taste it for myself.
The vintner in question was Peter McCrea who owns Stony Hill. While most Chardonnay in the region receives lavish oak treatments and has high alcohol levels, Stony Hill Chardonnay is aged in 40-year-old (and therefore neutral) barrels and has 13 percent alcohol. His other two wines, a Gewurztraminer and a Riesling, roll in at 11.24 and 11.65 percent alcohol respectively. And at $21 a bottle, the wines stood out for another reason from the Napa wines.
Not your average California whites. Which is why I jumped in a car with another wine writer and drove up to the winery the next day in pursuit of the red nobody has ever tasted outside of the winery: Stony Hill Syrah. Read more…
Even though I wondered briefly which wine goes with Kettle chips, I managed to make it through my stay for a wine writers’ conference last week without opening a bottle in my room. But I was tempted since the wines were some top examples of local offerings at incredible prices. Consider the Joseph Phelps Insignia 2001 for $145 in the room when it can’t be found for less than $130 in a store (find this wine), if at all! While they are not all steals (the Sinskey Carneros Pinot Noir was $55 in room compared to $25 in a store) there were other, lower priced wines too: Plumpjack Chardonnay for $65 in room and about $50 in a store (find this wine) and the sparkling Schramsberg blanc de blanc is $35 in the room and about $25 in a store (find this wine). And free in-room wi-fi to run your own price check!
I asked the affable Gilles de Chambure, Master Sommelier and Director of Wine Education at Meadowood about the pricing and quality of the wine in the rooms, he said “we want people to pull the corks.” Indeed!
One negative about the beverages at Meadowood, however, was the abundant pouring in the dining room of one-liter glass bottles of Acqua Panna, a water imported from Tuscany. With bottled water available from five miles away in Calistoga I was tempted to break out my carbon calculator…
As we are in a busy travel time of year, some wine enthusiasts may be wanting to travel with the juice (no, Barry Bonds, fermented grape juice) and most will be frustrated. But it is possible!
The puzzle of the day is thus: where (and how) can you bring your own wine into the cabin with you on a commercial flight in the US?
Comments are open.
Where was the small man with the big hat? Or was it a big man with a small hat–and even bigger vines?
I stopped by the Cavas Wine Lodge in Mendoza, Argentina last spring after it had just opened. Proprietor Cecilia Diaz was showing us around the new lodges interspersed among the vines with breathtaking views of the Andes. This guy rode out and started doing his thing but posed for me to take a picture. Cecilia said that he had worked there forever so they kept him on when they bought the property and gave him a new bike. And, no, he wasn’t very tall, in fact.
Nice guess, Luiz, with Zuccardi in Mendoza! In fact, I took another photo of Jose Zuccardi gesticulating wildly under his similar trellis system. They grow them vines big there!
It was a wide range of guesses that emerged in the comments including: Golan Heights; Bekka, Lebanon; Brazil; Rias Baixas, Spain; Greece; Portugal; California; the Swan and Barossa Valleys of Australia; Thailand; and “the outback region of Mukwonago, Wisconsin” (thanks, Gary!).
There were good captions for the photo too, including “Frodo Baggins better destroy that damn ring or I’m going to be making wine for that sulky serpent Saruman!”
So without further ado, thanks to a roll of the dice at random.org, the winner of The Emperor of Wine is: Philippe Newlin! Congratulations, Philippe! And thanks to all for the participation and humor.
Are you in Paris today during the 24-hr public sector strike and wondering what to do? Why, set up a wine-drenched itinerary of local wine shops! Check out my brand new map of Paris wine stores–and wine bars that sell wines to go!
I give you the scoop on over 40 places including my faves, ranging from neighborhood places to super-luxury stops. If you’re a local looking for “natural” wines or a tourist looking for wines you can’t find at home, click through to start setting up your own itinerary for your next visit!
Is one of yours not on the map? Drop me a line with the address and why you think it should be included.