Monday, January 30, 2012

False Bay Wines

One-way ticket, please!

We are thrilled to announce the recent addition of South Africa's False Bay Wines to Wizards' offerings. A portfolio from the Waterkloof Estate, False Bay Wines are the product of biodynamic farming principles and a winemaking process driven by the creed that character is defined by terroir, quality by people, and personality by the weather. Management of the estate's Stellenbosch vineyards goes hand in hand with wine making. Winemaker Werner Engelbrecht interferes with natural processes as little as possible, relying on naturally present, wild yeasts throughout fermentation.

We have incorporated three wines into our book.

False Bay Chenin Blanc '10
Paardeberg and Riebeek Vineyard Sites
Bright acidity with apple and tropical fruit notes. Natural fermentation lent the wine's great complexity and length. 

False Bay Shiraz '10
Swartland and Paarl Vineyard Sites
Dark berry and spicy flavors with silky tannins and great length. Fermented in stainless before spending six months in wooden vats prior to bottling.

False Bay Pinotage '10
Low yielding, old, un-trellised bush vines at Schapenberg
Spicy berry aromas and hints of chocolate transition to blackberry and plum flavors. Fermented in stainless before spending eight months in large oak vats, which tempers the wine's tannins and adds complexity. 

False Bay Wines are now available at several Rhode Island wine shops at a very good value. If you have any questions regarding False Bay or South African wines, please do not hesitate to send us a message.

False Bay, South Africa. Anyone for a field trip?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Out in the Field: Terry Theise Portfolio Tasting

The crowd at City Winery
On Tuesday, January 17th, our team hit the road to New York City for the annual Terry Theise portfolio tasting. Hosted by Michael Skurnik Wines at City Winery on Varick Street in Lower Manhattan, the tasting featured over twenty-five producers from Austria and Germany. We are fortunate to represent Theise's portfolio within Rhode Island and were thrilled to taste the most recent releases while meeting many of the winemakers.

Theise Manifesto

Beauty is more important than impact.

Harmony is more important than intensity.

The whole of any wine must always be more than the sum of its parts.

Distinctiveness is more important than conventional prettiness.

Soul is more important than anything, and soul is expressed as a trinity of family, soil, and artisanality.

Lots of wines, many of them good wines, let you taste the noise. But only the best let you taste the silence.

With Theise's manifesto in our back pockets, we spent nearly four hours tasting both new vintages of wines in our book and wines by new or unfamiliar producers. We shared this experience with a strong representation of Rhode Island store owners and buyers as well as a hundred + other national wine industry colleagues. Sharp elbows and stores of patience were generously utilized throughout the afternoon, but what's a tasting without at least one spit bucket mishap?
The crowd's better side at City Winery

Highlights from the tasting included meeting...
Johannes Leitz and tasting the 2011 Leitz "Leitz Out" Riesling
Johannes Selbach and tasting the 2011 Selbach Saar Riesling Spatlese
Bernhard Ecker and tasting the 2011 Ecker Gruner Veltliner.

Other highlights included the...
Hofer Riesling 2010
Berger Gruner Veltliner 2011
Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner "Gobelsburger" 2011
Nigl's single vineyard Gruner Veltliner "Herzstuck vom Kirchenberg" 2010
Glatzer Zweigelt "Riedencuvee" 2010 and Glatzer Blaufrankisch 2009
Ecker Zweigelt 2010.
Cornelius Donnhoff and Johannes Leitz hang out behind the table

Wizard Nick and Johannes Leitz

One of our more challenging decisions following the tasting will be to select a rose from one of the tasted producers for the upcoming season. Last year, we featured Schloss Gobelsburg in our book and received very positive feedback from our accounts. We all found the Gobelsburg Rose 2011 to be very appealing: strawberry, a bit of spice, and touch of sweetness with nice acidity. However, we were also fans of the Brundlmayer Zweigelt Rose 2011, which was a very well balanced wine. We will keep you posted on our decision!

With tired palates and mouths abused by all of the acidity, we ended our day at Frank Pepe's in New Haven. Two large pizzas--one with cheese and the other with sausage and roasted red peppers--and a pitcher of Genesee were just what the doctor ordered (well, not exactly) after our excursion out into the field.

Monday, January 16, 2012

In the News: Corison Wines

We are delighted to share that Cathy Corison has been named San Francisco Chronicle's 2011 Winemaker of the Year. This exciting news was announced on the first of the year.
Image courtesy Corison Wines
Cathy has made 25 vintages of her heralded Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Her tastes and techniques set her apart from her neighbors and colleagues soon after her move to Napa in 1975. As the SFC article explains, Cathy Corison is "Napa valley's unofficial voice of restraint.... After three decades of making wine, she shows that it's still possible to make a complex, restrained Cabernet that honors California's best traditions." With pronounced depth, fruit flavors, and smooth tannins, Corison Wines possess a modest alcohol level compared to the 14%+ levels of most Napa Cabs. As Cathy puts it, "A wine that just jumps out of the glass and punches you in the nose often doesn't have much more to say."

Cathy in her St. Helena winery. Image by John Storey, Courtesy SFChronicle

Cathy is a proponent of organic farming and has practiced organic techniques since acquiring her Kronos vineyard in 1995. She also recognized the impact and significance of terroir quite early in her career. As she explains, "Everyone was running over to France and coming back with a beret on, and trying to do exactly what they did in France. In Europe, riper was better. Here we have the opposite issues. We have sunshine and heat."

No berets here! Image by John Storey, Courtesy SFChronicle
In a statement on the Corison Wines website, Cathy explains, "My philosophy is to make complex wines that walk the fine line between power and elegance. I employ time-honored winemaking techniques, using only small French oak barrels sourced from several forests for complexity. Mine is a hands-off approach to winemaking; it is my job to let the vineyards speak."

Image courtesy Corison Wines
Cathy has held true to her tastes and visions in her vineyards and winery. She persevered not only as a woman in a male-dominated winemaking industry but as a skeptic of popular outlooks, opinions, and techniques assumed by her classmates, colleagues, and peers. She truly deserves the Chronicle's (and others') accolades. We wish her our congratulations!

Please contact your Wizards rep regarding the Corison Wines currently represented in our portfolio, including the Corison Cabernet Sauvignon "Kronos" from 2005 and Corison Cabernet Sauvignon from 2007.