Complex, With A Complex (Vinas del Vero Somontano Recent Releases)

Old Vines Somontano

What do you do when your identity, your story, and even your best efforts are only seen through the contextual lens of your more famous cousins?

Besides developing an inferiority complex, I mean? After all, major characters in Greek tragedies were written with this stuff in mind; and it happens to be the defining lucha of Northern Spain’s Somontano wine region. That’s not the entire Somontano story, of course; as it happens, the region just might be the home of your next favorite Garnacha or Cabernet. While the DO is probably more familiar to WSET students than to American consumers, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot have been grown in Somontano for over one hundred and twenty years.

Viñas del Vero old vines

Viñas del Vero’s old hillside vines

Somontano is a place that’s relatively high on quality fine wine and winemaking prowess, but low on the ohhhhh-producing items (think indigenous grapes, or trendy stylistic techniques) that make for easy feature article material in the wine trade. The area largely produces wines from international varieties, in some cases from vines with significant age on them, done up in styles that are clean, fresh, and modern enough to all but dilute any defining sense of place.

But a sense of place does exist in Somontano, albeit courtesy of more famous wine regions. When the phylloxera epidemic spread throughout France, Somontano’s proximity and favorable climate made it an attractive spot for planting French vitis vinifera; which was later followed by declining demand and the abandonment of vineyard sites that were promising but difficult to farm. Sites like Viñas del Vero‘s “rediscovered” high-elevation plantings.

Situated at the northeastern slopes of the Somontano DO, along the edges of the European plate, these vineyards had dwindled down to 5 hectares by the time that Viñas del Vero rescued them (they’re now up to about 55 hectares). The oldest of the field-blended vines along those 800-meter-high, calcareous hills are in excess of 100 years in age. As Viñas del Vero’s vineyard manager José María Ayuso put it (during a media tour of the region), “you can get maybe one bottle per vine” from those old souls…

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For July 17, 2017

Vinted on July 17, 2017 binned in wine mini-reviews

So, like, what is this stuff, anyway?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes with you via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be quirky, fun, and easily-digestible reviews of currently available wines. Below is a wrap-up of those twitter wine reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find these wines, so that you can try them for yourself. Cheers!

  • 15 Nicolas Jay Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley): Planting violets in potting soil, eating snacks of ripe black cherries & smoked meat. $65 A- >>find this wine<<
  • NV Gloria Ferrer Brut Rose (Carneros): Finely grained, full of finesse, and probably fabulous with just about any Asian fare. $28 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Cadaretta Windthrow (Columbia Valley): Oak haters gonna hate, but in a few years even they will have love for this brawny SMG. $50 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 14 McCay Cellars Lodi Native Lot 13 The Estate Vineyard Zinfandel (Mokelumne River): It's soul is blackberry, its spicy heart is pure $35 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 16 Zocker Paragon Vineyard Gruner Veltliner (Edna Valley): It's not just a game, Zocker! It's a seriously fruity, zesty enterprise! $18 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 16 Concha y Toro Terrunyo Los Boldos Vineyard Block 5 Sauvignon Blanc (Casablanca Valley): The grass is greener – & prettier – here. $27 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Odfjell Orzada Carignan (Maule Valley): Well-weathered vines are setting a course for licorice shores and truffle-laden lands. $22 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 16 Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough): The spice is strong with this one. Very, very, *very* strong. Bring Mexican food. $22 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 15 Schild Estate Shiraz (Barossa Valley): Look at this overachiever go; just enough added depth to make you give it a double-take. $20 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • NV Le Grand Courtage Grand Cuvee Brut Rose (France): Lofty label titles, but this is all basically simple, down-to-earth perkiness. $18 B >>find this wine<<
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Stay On Message (Talking Wine And PR At Boozehoundz)

Vinted on July 12, 2017 binned in commentary

Earlier this week, I was quoted by author, veteran wine competition judge, and personal friend Michael Cervin on his big, Boozehoundz. In that article, Michael included my now-exceedingly-repetitive advice on wine PR, along with much more helpful words from others far more versed in the wine PR field, regarding the value of public relations in helping wine brands to get their message out to their perspective customers/fans/consumers/etc.

Michael’s article has immensely insightful information on the how and why of communicating wine brands messages; what that article doesn’t discuss is how few wine brands have actually crafted a viable message in the first place, and therefore aren’t even in a position to use the helpful information therein.

I have become more acutely aware of this issue during 2016 and 2017, specifically and most vicerally during my travels to regional wine events and subsequent tours of those wine areas. It’s astounding how few of those regions have crafted anything close to resembling a message tailored to the markets that they wish to penetrate. In most cases, they don’t seem to have actually identified the specific markets to which they’d deliver a message if they even had one.

In more than one instance this year, I’ve attended regional panel discussions targeted to the press in which representatives from across the silos of those wine regions – farming, production, oversight, marketing – not only do not have a message about their region to pass on to the press, but use the platform to either engage in internecine arguments, or to ask people like me “what do YOU think our message should be?…”

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For July 10, 2017

Vinted on July 10, 2017 binned in wine mini-reviews

So, like, what is this stuff, anyway?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes with you via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be quirky, fun, and easily-digestible reviews of currently available wines. Below is a wrap-up of those twitter wine reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find these wines, so that you can try them for yourself. Cheers!

  • 14 Colome Estate Malbec (Salta): Witness another mineral-laden exhibit of how well this rowdy grape adjusts to high altitude living. $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 16 Colome Torrontes (Salta): It's on the viscous side, but the jasmine-&-peaches combo hits the spot poolside on a hot Summer's day. $16 B >>find this wine<<
  • 15 Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc (North Canterbury): Once again, we find these guys delivering bouquets that live up to their name. $16 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Franz Keller Schwarzer Adler Pinot Blanc (Baden): Need a pick-me-up? Grab this gorgeous lil' thang, & everything will be peachy. $27 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • NV Louis Pommery California Brut (California): Crisp green apples, shiny wet stones, a slice of fresh lemon, & a promising beginning. $27 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 15 Siduri Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir (Yamhill-Carlton): A bargain demonstration of loveliness juxtaposing focused, stern seriousness. $36 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Artesa Estate Reserve Carneros Pinot Noir (Napa Valley): Lofty, wild red berries, grounded in the solid, dark, and dense earth. $40 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 16 Martin Ray Rose of Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley): Delightful is the name of the game being played here; and well-played it is. $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Jack Winery Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Here witness the Valley in all of its juicy, irresistible glory. $100 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Jack Winery Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley): A serious effort that gets weighted down by its attempts to get a bit too serious. $50 B+ >>find this wine<<
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