1

Petite Sirah,Wine

Important Historical Petite Sirah Update from Plant Geneticist Dr. Carole Meredith about its Crossing

Since 2002, I’ve been gathering information about Petite Sirah, with one item being a bit sketchy; namely, did François Durif know what plant he crossed with Peloursin? The original info given to me came from an old family’s oral history and it now it needs updating. I’m also simultaneously updating the PS I Love You Website, for complete accuracy.

It all began on Facebook… Like lots of things today, right? I had written:

Petite Sirah is on my mind, Facebook. I’ve been learning, traveling, educating, and enjoying being the international rep for this variety, since 2002. In the words of Rich Mauro, recently regarding Petite Sirah… It’s robust.”

Indeed it is. And so I found this image to go with it.

[PHOTO purchased, please do not copy:]

My friend and wine colleague Paul Moe asked:

Why are so many facial pictures of women taken from her nose to her chin? Serious question, thanks.

I answered:

Paul, it’s a good question. As a photographic choice, it’s very useful and can be dramatic, as it significantly alters the compositional choices of the picture. Eyes always pull focus, so not including them can help to bring focus to other elements of the picture.

The remaining facial features are also enhanced, permitting a greater appreciation for the lips or nose, for example. It can also heighten the artistic element of the shot, since the face becomes slightly more abstract.

Then, there is the possibility of maintaining a model’s relative anonymity. Now a counter-question: do you really see it often? In what kinds of photos? I like to think that I pay attention to composition in photos, but I haven’t noticed this kind of photo as being overly common. Nor that it is primarily of women.

So, we got that out of the way, then onto Petite Sirah’s lineage. One person mentioned Carole Meredith, and the door was then opened widely. I tagged her, as she’s always been my “go-to” for updates, and I wanted her to be involved, as she had already been mentioned.

[Jo Diaz PHOTO OF PETITE. It is copy written. If you would like to use, please contact me.]

Co Owner at Lagier Meredith Vineyard, Dr. Carole Meredith is the geneticist, from the University of California at Davis, who discovered the DNA fingerprinting of Petite Sirah. To this point in America’s history, there was one elusive detail for me. The following information simply closed that gap; mystery solved. History continues to be written about this orphaned grape from Montpelier, France, as Carole Meredith has now succinctly clarified Petite Sirah’s history. The following are Dr. Carole Meredith’s words with a couple of questions from others.

Question: Did Francois Durif know both parents of Petite Sirah:

Carole Meredith

If Dr. Durif had deliberately pollinated Peloursin with Syrah, he surely would have mentioned it when he released the new variety, because Syrah was a well-known variety even then, and Peloursin was more obscure. Instead he reported only that his new variety was a seedling of Peloursin. He had a number of varieties growing in close proximity at his nursery, so many natural cross-pollinations would have occurred.

Deliberate crossing of grape varieties did not begin until the 1800’s, so all the old varieties that are known to have existed long before the 1800’s would necessarily have arisen as chance seedlings.

There is no disagreement among researchers as to how these crosses happened.

Mentioned: Early plant breeding dates back 11,000 years…

Carole Meredith

Selection, yes. Hybridization, no…the earliest plant hybridization was in the 1700’s. But, the first grape hybridization was not until the 1800’s, because grape flowers are tiny and difficult to emasculate prior to pollinating. But Francois Durif did not make a deliberate cross, because if he had he would have described his new variety as such. But, he described it only as a seedling of Peloursin, and did not even mention that the pollen parent was Syrah, a fact that we discovered in my lab at U.C. Davis in the 1990’s.

So, there it is… reported only that his new variety was a seedling of Peloursin. Durif most likely didn’t know what he was using to cross Peloursin. Durif had a number of varieties growing in close proximity at his nursery, so many natural cross-pollinations would have occurred. And, he didn’t record that he crossed with Syrah. In 1996 – At the University of California at Davis, Dr. Carole Meredith and her colleagues determined by DNA comparisons that:

  • Almost all (more than 90%) of the vines in Petite Sirah vineyards are Durif and the rest are Peloursin (the mother of Durif).
  • Durif is the offspring of a cross-pollination between Peloursin and Syrah, which means it received half of its genes from each of these varieties.

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Barbera,Castello di Gabiano,Italian Alps,Italy,Italy wines,Piedmont,Wine

Castello di Gabiano of Piedmont ~ Part 2

Piedmont, Italy is a place I’ve never visited; but, I’m headed there, once Covid travel restrictions are lifted. Yesterday’s story began my virtual journey. Briefly:

Covid’s restrictions stopped all travel, as I was supposed to be in Piedmont this past November… I watched each month with hope, before it arrived, throughout the entire year as month after month slipped away. I hung on until October, when I had to truly face reality, heave a huge sigh of despair, and mentally move on. Piedmont, on the northwest of Italy, bordering Switzerland, to the northeast and west of France, just slipped away like a fabulously enigmatic night in Rio. Now, I can only imagine.

[PHOTO property of Castello di Gabiano]

But wait!

A ZOOM meeting was arranged through my friend Michael Yurch, with The Bluest Sky Import Group, which would have me speaking with proprietor Marquis Giacomo Cattaneo Adorno of Castello di Gabiano [Right]. From Piedmont, over time and with grace, Giacomo shared his passions, and now I’m able to share with you.

Giacomo Cattaneo Adorno’s Life Passion

In our Zoom meeting, I began to learn about Giacomo’s amazingly curious world of wine. Giacomo Cattaneo Adorno was born in Italy, and was then raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. That was until he turned 18. At that point, he began going back and forth. Today, Giacomo continues to spend his time between Italy and Brazil. And, as we began to speak, he shared that his wine-world-focus actually begins in his vineyards. That’s one of the best kind of wine stories in my world… a life communing with nature and nurturing its growth. It’s so easy to wax poetic about this.   

[PHOTO CREDIT: Castello di Gabiano, Piedmont, Italy.]

Piedmont Italy, from Castello di Gabiano

POINTS OF REFERENCE

[PHOTO: Wikipedia]

The Piedmont region of Italy is located in the foothills of the Alps. It forms a border with France to the west, and Switzerland to the north. As we think of Italy’s boot shape, Piedmont’s in the top-left cuff of the boot. Here we find Castello di Gabiano in the famous Gabiano region, of the Monferrato DOC and DOCG. This hilly area is located between 400 to 1,150 feet sea level, and lies below the River Po in the southeast corner of, in northwestern Italy, according to Wine Searcher.

[PHOTO property of Castello di Gabiano]

It’s Barbera country, where the essence of this grape variety tends to be of cherries and violets, to strawberries, plums, and blackberries… along with some spice and jamminess. Barbera is a flavorful, chameleon-resembling wine; just like great Petite Sirahs, which can be – and are – so radically different. Philosophies of how to deliver the wine, based on the growing and then all of the winemaking conditions and steps, makes a Barbera so attractive as an adventure into this wine grape variety and its regions.

[PHOTO property of Castello di Gabiano]

It’s now the third most planted variety in Italy, enjoying a unique, higher altitude profile… The wines are very expressive, being either lighter in tannins and ready upon release, or full-bodied and much more mature. Castello di Gabiano is known to produce those full-flavored wines with great aging potential.

Given its popularity as a wine variety in Italy, it makes me really curious to taste one right now. Known to be very food friendly, I’m off to locally find a Piedmont Barbera for another aspect of this journey.

CLIMATE

[PHOTO CREDIT: Silvano Ghirardo]

Casetllo di Gabiano is locate in the temperate zone of the 45th parallel. The Alps (1,150 feet) and the seaside (400 feet) makes it perfect wine grape growing weather. From

“During the growing season, the half-circle backdrop, of the highest mountains and glaciers in Europe makes for cold winds and cool nights all trough summer. The temperature excursion, of more than 10° Celsius [50° Fahrenheit] between days and nights, makes the grapes seek protection with thick skins.” Giacomo continues, “This process makes exceptional grapes, which are the sources of aromas and persistent flavors.”

I try to equate this, when teaching how these smaller, flavor dense berries, as what wild Maine blueberries along the coastline. They explode with flavors and this is what is crafting the wines of

[PHOTO: Castello di Gabiano, Piedmont, Italy.]

Usual temperature ranges:

    • Summer in July ~ 75 degrees
    • Winter in January ~ 34 degrees

Driest months:

  • July
  • January

[PHOTO: Castello di Gabiano, Piedmont, Italy.]

TERROIR

I found this fascinating on Prestige Wine Adventures, regarding terroir:

“Although the winemaking regions of the Piedmont and Bordeaux are very close in latitude, only the summertime temperatures are similar: the Piedmont wine region has a colder, continental winter climate (temperature variations day to night, between the seasons) and significantly lower rainfall due to the rain shadow effect of the Alps. Vineyards are typically planted on hillside altitudes between 490–1150 ft. The warmer south facing slopes are mainly used for Nebbiolo or Barbera while the cooler sites are planted with Dolcetto or Moscato.”

It puts quite a bit into perspective, if you’re a terroir lover like many people I know. It’s more defining for the potential flavors of each region. See, that’s the thing about tasting each region, it’s all about its inextricable, character uniqueness.

[PHOTO purchased]

SOIL

LIMESTONE, VOLCANIC, MARLSTONE BASED: Soils are one of the definitions of wine.

  • Limestone creates softer wines, with a less tannic structure.
  • Volcanic, a fine grain, gives a wine minerality. It assists with aromas and acidity.
  • Marlstone, a variable of clays and silt, brings color and a smooth texture.

 

AGING: According to Giacomo Cattaneo Adorno,

In our cellar we have Barberas for the best vintages, starting from 1946.

“The main local grapes are Barbera, Freisa (warmer) Grignolino, Dolcetto (cooler) for reds, and Cortese di Gavi for white. The soil comes from it being from an ancient seabed, with a shallow layer of Clay. This gives way to deeper Limestone, which is broken up at plowing.”

All of these elements combine to produce what’s known as typical gray Monferrato terroir.

CUISINE

[PHOTOS purchased]

According to Giacomo Cattaneo Adorno, the following are two usual foods from Piedmont, to enjoy with their age-worthy wines:

    • ABOVE: Monferrato Agnolotti del Plin: tiny ravioli pasta-parcels, filled with a combination of beef and cabbage, then served in a cheese, sage, and butter sauce; or even in a leftover braising liquid.
    • BELOW: Vitello Tonnato is another typical dish. Wikipedia describes this one perfectly: “Vitello tonnato is a Piedmontese [citation needed] (Italian) dish of cold, sliced veal covered with a creamy, mayonnaise-like sauce that has been flavored with tuna. It is served chilled or at room temperature,[1] generally in the summertime, as the main course of an Italian meal or as “an exceedingly elegant antipasto for an elaborate dinner.”[2] It is also very popular, by inheritance, in Argentina, where it is known by its original name in Piedmontese dialect Vitel tonnè, (spelled Vitel Toné or Thoné in Argentina) and considered a traditional Christmas dish.[3][4]”

The wines are yet to come for writing. Now that we know a whole lot more but Piedmont, I’m already salivating and really looking forward to traveling again…

Thank you to Wine Business for adding this story as a wine blog feature.

 

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Barbera,Italy,Piedmont,Wine

Wine Travels Suspended Due to Covid, Yet the Trip to Castello di Gabiano Still Burns from Within

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us ~ Anonymous

Oh, Covid… you’re such a marplot!

[Images are the property of CASTELLO Di GABIANO, except where noted.]

I could have been right here in November, if life didn’t include you, Covid. I would have left my home base in Sonoma County, flying into Piedmont, Italy; and savoring the adventure, my curiosity continually being piqued.  I’d be taking photos and then finding the right words to match that exact second in time, frozen by my lens for infinite views. Instead, I’m doing it backward; finding the right images worthy of this story.

It’s not hard to do, however, given this location, right? And, I’m still finding a certain satisfaction in this adventure, as well. It it’s not the same as being there, of course; but, this is all so very special. I had a wonderful ZOOM meeting with proprietor Marquis Giacomo Cattaneo Adorno. His humility didn’t want for me to get deeply into his title; yet, given his history, it tells a fascinating recounting of how property, as magnificent as this one, has been handed down for generations, now into his hands.

I HAD A DREAM

[Purchased image]

I had a dream once, it was all in Italian. A discussion was happening, between a child to my right, an interpreter in the middle, and an old man to my left. I was south in the quadrant. The old man was talking to the child, with the banter going back and forth between the old man and the child… all with the help of the interpreter. I was observing. I’ve never studied Italian, but have studied French and Spanish. My dream was all in Italian. I’ve never spoken – in this lifetime – Italian; but, I was understanding e-v-e-r-y  w-o-r-d. This was from the point of the old man beginning the conversation in Italian. I was so startled that I just immediately woke up. Jose… “I just had a dream in Italian, and I understood every word! What does it mean?” He said, “You were Italian in a past life; now, go back to sleep.” I have also always felt that in a past life I was an aging woman in Venice, washing and then hanging clothes on a suspended line, over a canal, and the line was also attached to a house across the canal. We were neighbors, yelling back and forth, in our daily lives.

So, now you know how much I’m still very excited to know where I WOULD have just been, through exploring this destination in a parallel universe.

WELCOME TO CASTELLO Di GABIANO, IN PIEDMONT

Entering a new region is always exciting. I really enjoy the exploration of all things: from history and their artistic cultures; to their people, foods, and to their wines.

It’s always about how did this begin, the important developments, and where are you now? I usually find common ground, due to European roots.

Here I am in Piedmont at Castello di Gabiano, and I know I’ve just had my breath completely taken away, from their extraordinary vistas. The stately Italian Alps in their backyard, somehow makes me feel so inconsequential, yet so alive. Words wouldn’t come easily, because I’d be in such awe.

On a similar trip, a colleague Dan said to me, “Com’mon, Jo.” I was always behind with my camera. I have great shots from a past Italian visit. Somehow I think Castello Di Gabiano would also make me a better photographer, looking for even more money shots.

In a systematic way, my tour would have begun in their vineyard.

FROM THE WINERY: The Vineyards

The vineyards are located entirely in Gabiano, at the ideal height of 300 meters. The privileged position facing the wind arriving directly from the Alps creates a great temperature excursion between day and t night: a characteristic that facilitates the creation of intense and typical aromas, easily recognized during the wine tasting. In those partly ancient vineyards, some going back more than 100 years; the work on the vine is manual, in order to obtain a better quality of the grape. The cultivation of the soil, such as the plant treatment, follows a strict program completely respectful to the environment.

Next, we would segue into their wine cellar.

FROM THE WINERY: The Cellars (minor edits for American reading ease)

Wine aging occurs in the cellars under the Castle, dating back to the 1200s; since that period is destined to also continue to be our wine storage. Our prestigious bottle collection is stored, to be passed down from one generation to another.

Those natural cellars have been created through digging underground, into the local rock on the two sides, to assure a constant temperature all year long. This is the best ambiance for accurate aging.

The room designed for our barriques was, right from the inception, in different sectors. This allows for our winemakers to distinguish the oak fermentation, according to the vintage and the different vineyards.

And, now would be time to taste the wines

But, this has to be separate Part 2. And my curiosity is completely piqued.

The winery proclaims: “The wines of this ‘small land’ differ completely from others produced in other areas from Piemont.”

Let me just say this… I could be there and drink a wine that’s got the date of my birth on it… DATE of my birth. Holy Mother of God… I’d be so ready to taste; alas, I will continue with the wines portion of this story to be written in the next Part 2. It’s definitely and singularly worthy as the end result of this incredible opportunity in life.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES

For the last 400 years, the Marquises Cattaneo Adorno Giustiniani have been committed to producing quality wines. It’s a 642-acre estate, with 52 of those acres being planted to wine vines. The commune’s archives of the thirteenth century first mentioned the quality of the grapes and the wine production of Gabiano.

Today Giacomo Cattaneo Adorno is the last Marquis of Gabiano. He and his wife Emanuela are passionate, determined, and above all else, totally committed to enriching their local terroir and environment. In this way, they’re assured that the winemaking tradition of their family, updated with the current enology knowledge, are keeping their high-quality standards alive and well.

The castle has a mysterious labyrinth. Adventure is now tugging at the core of my existence. I could seriously stay here for a long time, just exploring.

FROM THEIR SITE: The labyrinth of the castle of Gabiano is one of the very few Italian gardens of exceptional importance; not only for its rarity, but also for the historic period in which it was made. It dates back to the thirties of the twentieth century. The labyrinth of Gabiano evokes a return to the past and is part of the restoration project entrusted by Marquise Matilde Giustiniani Parmesan Architect Lamberto Cusani, to whom we owe the present appearance of the neo-medieval castle and outbuildings.

The location of the labyrinth in the heart of the park emphasizes the contrast between the rigid lines and geometric plant and the surrounding, natural park. It recalls the medieval concept of the forest as a natural maze (park); and, the labyrinth is an artificial wilderness, where nature is strictly controlled and manipulated by man.

What would wine be, but if not for food. I looked at their images of the Restaurant 3 Orologi, and shivered… white truffle soup… people.

In the “but wait, there’s still more” category: Luxury Suites. Nuff said… There, I feel a little better, now. I got to share what would have been, and the invitation is still open, so I’ll have my own images, when Covid stops it’s invasion.

This is where Part 1 ends for today, as my ZOOM conversation is worthy of a compete Part 2. Today you met Giacomo Cattaneo Adorno and his world. Next, you’ll meet his wines.

Thank you to Wine Business for adding this story as a wine blog feature.

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Education,France,Italy,Wine,Wine tasting,Wine Travel,Winemaking,Wines

Wine Education Gifts for Wine Loving Family and Friends

This short-list of wine Education Gifts is comprised of some truly great wine gifts I’ve researched, beyond also giving Wine Books. They’re worth sharing. Some are old ideas and some are new ideas; each one brings something very unique to the education of wine, for novice and professional alike.

  • Evan Goldstein
  • Le Nez Du Vin
  • Winemasters Lessons
  • Time Hanni’s Welcome to Wine Business Education

Evan Goldstein: Webinar and Education – Master the World

Mastering the World of Wine Has Never Been Easier. Thanks to Evan Goldstein, an extraordinary educator, Evan Goldstein MS might have exercised his rights to the “gold” in his name; as in, a golden opportunity not only for himself; but also for us, when he created Master the World™; Learn Like a Pro.

Check for the upcoming seminars on his Website, if you become inspired for you or someone else near and dear to you.

I personally walked into the world of wine in early 1993. I’ve had 27 years of studying, lessons, teaching, and enjoying it all. The positive relationships forged along the way have given me insights that are so worth sharing; ergo, we all benefit. Really, the world of wine has to be one of the most enjoyable professions on the face of the planet, especially when you combine great people and food with the wine. Most people have a “happy hour,” after hours. It’s a “happy day,” for those of us in this industry, all due to the end goal… wine.

Advocating for Evan Goldstein is one of my greatest joys, because he’s quite fabulous in my opinion, just for starters. He’s bright, energetic, well-educated, approachable, yet easy-going in his style. His latest project is engaging, thought-provoking, and a blast in the process.

An extraordinary educator, Evan Goldstein MS might have exercised his rights to the “gold” in his name; as in, a golden opportunity not only for himself, but also for us, when he created Master the World™; Learn Like a Pro.

Le Nez Du Vin

Le Nez Du Vin by Jean Lenoir, a fabulous holiday gift for your favorite wine enthusiast

The Le Nez du Vin wine aroma kit is the original of all wine aroma kits on the market. Nobody does it better… It’s the Bentley of wine aromas, discovered by Jean Lenoir some 30 years ago… Often imitated, it can’t possibly be duplicated.

Nor can there exist anything quite like it for a luxurious experience for anyone serious about wine and discovering all that’s possible to explore.

All I know is that I’m now off into the wondrous world of wine aromas, brought to me by aroma genius Jean Lenoir.

You know, the aroma adjectives that writers use when they’re writing about wine; or, how about your friends who can easily wax poetic about the aromas and flavors of wine? They easily come up with all the descriptors for flavors, because they’ve spent a few years exploring and loving wine. And, as Anton explained and I discussed, there are those among us – my children included – who have grown up with parents who love wine and they’ve just been inclusive with their children about wine as a simple way of life. These people have an advantage over people who are still wondering and asking, like so many people at Mondavi asked me, “Does the winemaker add grapefruit to the Sauvignon Blanc to make it taste like grapefruit?” It’s an honest and innocent question, and always allowed for me to explain that wine has the same chemical compounds for flavors that are found in those other objects… that they weren’t infused with flavors. The flavors exist naturally.

The exploration of wine is a sensual journey that begins with sight and hearing…

  • Perhaps seeing and hearing a cork being pulled (or a twist-off, not so romantic by any stretch of the imagination)
  • Then, seeing and hearing wine being poured into a glass
  • The most engaging part of wine comes when we swirl and sniff, before we sip
    • To miss this step means that we’re on a singular journey of drinking and enjoying wine; which I equate with being in a room with a Renoir and enjoying it from afar; but, missing the delicately layered brush stokes that you discover when you get up really closely, like in a museum of art.

Winemasters Lessons

Just Released Second Season of Wine Masters: ITALY

For anyone studying wine for any accreditation in the world of wine, this would be money well spent. I don’t represent this company, but I do appreciate what they’ve produced, so I’m sharing. If you can’t get to any these places, you’ll feel like you were there, learning first hand, from reliable sources. It’s now a great series developing.

The first Wine Masters was about France (trailer is at the end of this posting). This second video, now making this a series, has just been completed and is about certain regions in Italy.

Italy has a very special place in my heart, after my visits to Castello di Meleto in Gaiole, the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany; and, Colonnara Viticultori in Cupramontana, of the Le Marche region. Memories are the best part of travel, and now here’s how I get to enjoy even more, stateside.

I’ve also reviewed their class on France. If you’re a student of wine, these videos are really valuable. If you can’t get to Italy or France, like Covid stopped me from returning to Europe this Covid year, they’ll still give you a better sense of being there.

Tim Hanni’s Welcome to Wine Business Education

Wine Business Education Is Now Very Convenient, Thanks to Tim Hanni ~ Welcome to WineBusinessEducation.com

Brought to you by Tim Hanni – America’s first Master of Wine, keynote speaker, wine educator, and author of the book on wine consumer preferences.

Tim has launched his Business of Wine online/on-demand course and easy-to-use financial calculators.

After 30 years of course development, 10 years of teaching, and a furious final year of development, our workbooks and Business of Wine course is available to the wine trade and public, just launched.

Use our tools to get ahead with a master’s program in the wine business, and use our financial calculators to determine your cost of goods, sales & marketing, production, vineyard and tasting room profitability metrics.

We also have a set of “tutorials” for all of the WBE Financial Calculator.

The financial workbooks enable a thorough examination of costs within a specific segment of a winery’s particular operations including:

  • Winery Cost of Goods Workbook
  • Wine Pricing Calculator
  • Vineyard P&L and Cash Flow Workbook
  • Tasting Room Profitability Calculator
  • Marketing, Sales and Portfolio Management Workbook
  • Blending Profitability Workbook

More information can be found at WineBusinessEducation.com.

Thank you to Wine Industry Insight for featuring this story.

 

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Book Sample,Books,Education,Wine,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine Novel,Wine Writer,Women in Wine

Top Wine Books of 2020 ~ Belonging in Any Great Wine (Book) Library

DISCLAIMER: All of the following books were sent to me as #sample copies for my reviews.

Then there are wine books that are slowly savored, in sound bites. Do you remember the days of getting ready for a book report? Yeah, that’s what it is. Part of my blogging time enjoys reading and reporting on wine books. Book page is my resource for anyone searching for help in choosing wine books for others, or even one’s self. This year was a fun journey, again, with Peter Staford-Bow’s new novel, Firing Blancs. Then it was followed by some serious education:

  •  Mythology of Wine
  • Women Winemakers: Personal Odysseys
  • Professional Drinking

And a great little entry book, everybody needs one when just starting, What Varietal is That? A Beginners Guide

If you love wine, love to read, and love to occasionally embark on a modern-day, non-fiction reality of wine; or, if you choose to embark on a fantasy wine journey (still) based on actual wine facts, wine novels really deliver.

FICTION

FIRING BLANCS

Where does one begin, once the story ends? After Corkscrew and Brut Force, I wondered where it would go next. The answer is Firing Blancs, written by Peter Staford-Bow.

Always, the book’s outrageous covers are revealed within the body of the book. This one is so outrageous, but this is might just be my white privilege talking. People do do the darndest things… Something very primal is an understatement for Peter’s latest novel Firing Blancs. A (disgusting) rite-of-passage opens up a whirlpool of adventures, sucking our naughty hero Felix Hart into a cultural vortex of subprimal essence. As a result of his wine sales and marketing job, Felix Hart is transported into a world of South African, female dominance. In many ways, it’s so dark with raw ethnicity and the sense of being on the other side of the coin. To be the only one who is on the outside looking in is very curious and cool at the same time for Felix.

Felix Hart, in this novel, is the head of wine at Gatesave Supermarketing in the UK. Early on he accidentally chokes his CEO to death during a board presentation. Next, he is sent to South Africa to subdue bad publicity, a novel idea evolves.

NON FICTION

The Mythology of Wine

The Mythology of Wine, by Arthur George, is one delightfully serious body of work. You must pay attention, as it’s fast-moving over the last 6,000 years, yet very well documented, with listed sources, while very mindful of then and now. It’s also a divinely, engaging read, as it goes through history, with a relevant “now” comment from Arthur George.

It’s a valuable resource for anyone studying, enjoying wine culture, and wanting more enrichment; or, even for writers, scribing their own journeys and needing solid, fascinating resources. It also belongs in a wine section in any library… Great for those of us where we have a dedicated wine section in our own book libraries. In this enological, history is the guiding path to a bright future for enjoying even more about wine, than its acid, pH, alcohol levels, and what of the hundreds of flavors does wine have, for the exact same compounds as other fruit. Nothing wrong with that, seriously; now add the sunshine, the music, and the skill of who, what, when, and where, in bringing forth “why?” This book is loaded with whys and hows.

In the world’s history, is there anything else with as much history and intrigue as wine? For the curious, there are more facts in this one book, to keep you occupied and inspired for a very long time. The depths of storytelling is so intricate and so well researched. Personal moment, it made me shake my head, when I read “King Scorpion I,” from around 3150 BCE.” Who knew? Certainly not me, at this point in time, until now. Not sure I’d even want to meet King Scorpion I.

Women Winemakers: Personal Odysseys

Women Winemakers was written by wife and husband team Lucia Albino Gilbert & John C. Gilbert.

Here’s what you really need to know and remember ~ Well acclaimed history professors, writing about female winemaking history with in-person interviews, facts, figures, and from around places in this world. Each woman was interviewed and telling it like it was and still is, through having conducted what must have been some of the most tedious and extensive, albeit enjoyable, moments of the authors’ lives.

The foreword was written by Zelma Long. From there, it’s very focused, purposeful, and an important resource for any research related to the world of wine, as it cohesively and historically begins each odyssey for each woman; the who, what, when, and where of it all, into the emergence of women into a traditionally male-dominated world. The farmers grew it and the farmers’ wives stood at the ready to sell it at the end-of-the-driveway farm stand. That’s as close as they got to having some control. For the world of wine; get educated, but expect to stay in the lab as an enologist. Once in, many women wanted more and they managed to have it their way. Following each story, there are similarities and some differences.

After each introduction, bios were revealed, then how they emerged into their chosen field, and that burning question: Each woman was asked about working in a male-dominated field. The character of each woman seems to be just about the same, but not always for the reasons. That’s broken down into unique entries.

Professional Drinking

Professional Drinking, by Jim Schleckser, is an excellent cornucopia of new insights, chocked full of idiosyncratic nuggets… I really highly recommend it for anyone; from a beginner to anyone studying for a wine certification.

This book isn’t just about wine knowledge. Being a host, which is why this book has been written… Listen up you techie guys with a bank account for entertaining, this is your Cliff Notes book.

There’s more to beverages than just wine, and if you get ahead of the curve, by being well versed in more than wine, and you have a client you’ve taken to dinner, imagine offering an opening cocktail, and knowing just the right one to please everyone. Or, you’re off into a pub, leave the wine behind and know the difference between a lager, an English ale, a wheat beer, or stouts porters. I’m not a beer drinker (allergies), but it’s still fun helping someone make a choice, based on what you know about differing beer characteristics. (I know more than one dry wine pro.)

  • The chapter on Champagne… I’ll never be allergic to any sparkling wine, even if I ever am. When wine sparkles, I feel like dancing. Nuf said… Choosing the right one is well documented in Professional Drinking.
  • How many times are we asked, “how many bottles should we have for each person at a dinner party?” There are rules of thumb, and this book takes all of the stress away.
  • Where are we supposed to cut the foil? I didn’t know this one, either, but I do now. I’ve been thinking I was so chic… Naw, I haven’t been. And now I’ll have no more dripping. Who knew?

 

What Varietal is That? A Beginners Guide

What Varietal is That? A Beginners Guide to the Most Important Grape Varieties, written by Darby Higgs, is a great little reference book… something you take with you on trips into wine land places, to keep check of seeing the grape leaves, clusters, and vines, while reading about them and taking notes right then and there. If you still love books, like I do, and you have your own wine library, this book is great to have for any beginners’ adventures, for taking more notes.

Lots of basics here, grape breeding and production, clones and varieties, and critical selection of grape varieties can make or break with what a grape grower is trying to achieve. Why do those varieties matter and what are their styles? Answered within…

Then, Darby Higgs goes into his 40 white wine variety descriptions and his 46 red wine choices. In this text is where you can be standing in a vineyard, and begin your wine education trajectory, with your handy dandy wine guide for “What Varietal is That?” and make forward gains.

Starting out? I do recommend this book… Go for it! The book just might be your new best friend in wine.

Thank you to Wine Industry Insight for featuring this story.

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Book Sample,Books,History,History Wine,Wine,Wine Culture,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine HIstory

BOOK REVIEW ~ The Mythology of Wine, by Arthur George

The most fascinating books, for me, seem to be those that explore the past. It took me years to appreciate the history of anything, but Puritans and the Catholic Church. Perhaps it was because of my high school, history classes. Miss Murphy was about 100-years old (I thought), and she always mumbled her way through whatever we were supposed to be learning. But, perhaps it was she who really inspired me (in the opposite way) to be the best teacher I could possibly be, as a result… That would be someone who would guarantee that no-one would fall asleep (as I had) in any of the classes I was teaching. Infused with humor and initialized words created from a list of words that made memorizing very easy, also with the use of expressive body language, I was told that I ins[pired students, but the student, repetitively. (Very satisfying.) No one ever fell asleep in any class I taught… And, at first, I was just 19 years old, teaching anatomy and physiology. Not exactly the most exciting class to take, until they entered mine. That’s how I feel about Arthur George as a writer.

It was getting into the wine industry that really began to make me curious, about where and how all of this wine stuff actually did begin. Scholars of ancient wine activities would probably disagree with my hypothesis of “the first profession wasn’t prostitution, it was a guy who kept wine grapes long enough for them to ferment; and, for his female partners it was, ‘I’ll give you this, if you give me that.'”

I bring this up because in this latest book I’ve reviewed, I found a Biblical reference to Noah being the first winemaker… Well, in this hypothesis, I did get the guy part right. All the while, I’ve been thinking it was a caveman, now Noah is competently competing for the title.

The Mythology of Wine, by Arthur George

Who is Arthur George? Back book cover: ARTHUR GEORGE is a mythologist, cultural historian, and author who writes, teaches, lectures, and blogs about mythology, why it is important in our modern world, and how it can enrich our lives. He is also a home winemaker with his own vineyard. Arthur has previously authored The Mythology of Eden and The Mythology of America’s Seasonal Holidays; so now, The Mythology of Wine. Full bio below:

I am a cultural historian, mythologist, and author. I grew up in the Northeast and in Colorado, studied and worked in Europe for many years, and now live near Chicago. I almost became a history professor, but ended up working as an international lawyer for over 30 years and traveling the world, and all that time also pursued my scholarly interests and learned the ancient languages relevant to my research. I’m now retired (young) from the law and follow my bliss full-time. So far I’ve written two major books (listed below) in addition to many articles and papers, and I also like to give talks and lectures both formal scholarly contexts and informal settings to the public. I am passionate about deepening my and my audience’s understanding of the interrelationship between cultural history, mythology, religion, and depth psychology in a way that will enrich and benefit our society and our personal knowledge and spirituality. When I’m not pursuing my above interests, I enjoy downhill skiing, running, dancing, films, reading, world travel, cooking, and wine.

The Mythology of Wine  

The Mythology of Wine is one delightfully serious body of work. You must pay attention, as it’s fast-moving over the last 6,000 years, yet very well documented, with listed sources, while very mindful of then and now. It’s also a divinely, engaging read, as it goes through history, with a relevant “now” comment from Arthur George.

It’s a valuable resource for anyone studying, enjoying wine culture, and wanting more enrichment; or, even for writers, scribing their own journeys and needing solid, fascinating resources. It also belongs in a wine section in any library… Great for those of us where we have a dedicated wine section in our own book libraries. In this enological, history is the guiding path to a bright future for enjoying even more about wine, than its acid, pH, alcohol levels, and what of the hundreds of flavors does wine have, for the exact same compounds as other fruit. Nothing wrong with that, seriously; now add the sunshine, the music, and the skill of who, what, when, and where, in bringing forth “why?” This book is loaded with whys and hows.

In the world’s history, is there anything else with as much history and intrigue as wine? For the curious, there are more facts in this one book, to keep you occupied and inspired for a very long time. The depths of storytelling is so intricate and so well researched. Personal moment, it made me shake my head, when I read “King Scorpion I,” from around 3150 BCE.” Who knew? Certainly not me, at this point in time, until now. Not sure I’d even want to meet King Scorpion I.

Lots of Bible references, the greatest mythology handed down from generation to generation with some revised edits, like King James’ version, for instance. Arthur George also brings in silently brilliant points and humor. I like his style. So much, so much, so much… You’ve just got to read it to believe it, and be prepared to take notes; if, you’re a student of wine. You will never forget it.

 

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Books,Entertainment,Research,Wine,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine Etiquette,Wine Hospitality

BOOK REVIEW ~ “Professional Drinking,” by Jim Schleckser

Jim Schleckser is a Certified Sommelier, and he’s also a best-selling author. Borrowed from his Website: He is an energetic and popular speaker at national business conferences and corporate events, focusing on the leverage points to improve your business performance.

What he’s not is in the wine business. He is, however, so passionate about wine and so curious, he’s found himself taking one certification after another just for the fun of it, and proving his wine acumen worthy enough to write a book, with quite a unique and clever angle, with quite a unique and clever angle, with his wine accreditations.

Professional Drinking is for beverage nerds; and, I know more than my share who would love his new book, both in and outside of the wine world.

I’m thinking of holiday gift-giving here. But, I’m ahead of myself…

This book is your invaluable Professional Drinking Cliff Notes, if ever there was one… And, this goes for both pros and enthusiasts alike; it’s so clever and methodically written.

Let’s just say, from now on before wine tasting again, I’ll have nibbled apples. If you’re a SOMM, you’re just nodding in agreement, while many of my wine pals and I haven’t heard about this one, yet.

Being a wine publicist, my area of expertise is writing; about people, places, and wine. My college studies were all about wine sales and marketing, and then I got on the road as a district sales manager for a few years. That was quite an education. Then I was really off and into a PR career, my preferred field. While I know some things with 30 years of experience in the wine business (another 11 in radio broadcasting for PR), I’m still having daily wine epiphanies.  Nothing so swiftly and thoroughly, however, as I’ve been having, while sitting with this wine book and diving in for continued nuances. I’ve savored my time reading it, because it’s like a Louis XIII Magnum cognac. It deserves savoring every single drop made in its subtitle: A Spirited Guide to Wine, Cocktails, and Confident Business Entertaining.

It’s the confident business entertaining aspect that truly makes this book invaluable if you love wine, regardless of your profession. If you conduct business and spirits are part of your entertaining, just read one nugget before going off to that important meeting and you’ll be surprised how well you’ll be received.

Professional Drinking, by Jim Schleckser, is an excellent cornucopia of new insights, chocked full of idiosyncratic nuggets… I really highly recommend it for anyone; from a beginner to anyone studying for a wine certification.

This book isn’t just about wine knowledge. Being a host, which is why this book has been written… Listen up you techie guys with a bank account for entertaining, this is your Cliff Notes book.

There’s more to beverages than just wine, and if you get ahead of the curve, by being well versed in more than wine, and you have a client you’ve taken to dinner, imagine offering an opening cocktail, and knowing just the right one to please everyone. Or, you’re off into a pub, leave the wine behind and know the difference between a lager, an English ale, a wheat beer, or stouts porters. I’m not a beer drinker (allergies), but it’s still fun helping someone make a choice, based on what you know about differing beer characteristics. (I know more than one dry wine pro.)

  • The chapter on Champagne… I’ll never be allergic to any sparkling wine, even if I ever am. When wine sparkles, I feel like dancing. Nuf said… Choosing the right one is well documented in Professional Drinking.
  • How many times are we asked, “how many bottles should we have for each person at a dinner party?” There are rules of thumb, and this book takes all of the stress away.
  • Where are we supposed to cut the foil? I didn’t know this one, either, but I do now. I’ve been thinking I was so chic… Naw, I haven’t been. And now I’ll have no more dripping. Who knew?

Each chapter has PRO TIPS and/or PRO STORIES. I’m going to share this one. If you’re entertaining or being entertained by others, and any alcohol’s involved, side stories are always fun and open the door to more storytelling.

PRO STORY: Why do we call alcohol content “proof?”

Proof comes from sailors that had a daily ration of rum. To ensure the captain didn’t dilute the rum to make it go further, they would make the doctor (who usually doled out the rum rations) light it on fire. The minimum to light it is around 80 proof, but higher-alcohol contents will as well. Once the doctor lit the rum, it had been “proofed.”

If you get the book, you’ll never regret it. I’m delighted to be adding it to my own (book) wine library, and quickly refer to it before each wine meeting. It’s a book filled with fun facts and I love sharing fun facts, do you? If so, it’s got your name on it.

 

3

Champagne,France,French Wine,Terroir,Wine,Wine Making

The Most Special Time for Champagne ~ That’s a joke, right?

When is there never a special, or non-special, time for Champagne?

Winesellars Ltd. just sent this to me, “It’s time to start drinking Champagne—all the time.”  I left them in the dust on this one a l-o-n-g time ago, like any of our 365 days in the year, I’m on it. But, I do know that I’m not the usual wine enjoyer, so let’s have a go at it, Winesellars Ltd. style.

In their words: “With more than 16,000 growers spread out over three towns divided into five regions (Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, and the Aube in the Côte des Bar), in a region 90 miles northeast of Paris, some 320 Champagne houses are producing a mesmerizing array of styles and formats from relatively cheap to the preposterously high-priced.”

And, some Champagne history : “For centuries, Champagne has been synonymous with celebration. It was Christmas Day, 496 CE, when Clovis, King of the Franks, was baptized in the Reims Cathedral using consecrated wine from Champagne, to celebrate the Eucharist; thus securing its position as the wine of celebration among French royalty. By 1790, Champagne was served at the Fête de la Fédération to toast the outcome of the French Revolution, solidifying its place in history as the celebratory wine of all people.

The wine they’re representing: Besserat de Bellefon Champagne

“Besserat de Bellefon, based in Epernay, is most known for its “Cuvee des Moines” line of Champagne Brut. These carefully crafted Champagnes are produced with less atmospheric pressure than more traditional styles. The result is a Champagne with a softer creamy mouse and ideal for consumption with food. The current offering of Besserat de Bellefon includes Brut, Brut Rose, Blancs de Blanc, and Vintage 2002.”

Sounds delicious, let’s look at this map of the Champagne region and their winery.

Paris and Champagne

 

[IMAGE: Wikipedia]

In the small insert, notice how close Paris is to the Champagne Region. It makes sense that the two are symbiotic, isn’t it?

Winesellers was reminding me about Besserat de Bellefon, so I took a tour on Winesellers’ Website, because each wine has and is its own character, and I want to get to know more. From the winery:

  • Edmond Besserat founded Besserat Champagne in 1843. After Edmond, his grandsons continued to build the reputation of the house. In 1927, Edmond Besserat, a grandson of the founder, married Yvonne de Meric de Bellefon, who came from another prestigious Champagne family, and the house of Besserat de Bellefon Champagne was born. The historic Bellefon Château is world-renowned, in Épernay, in the heart of the Champagne region. Besserat de Bellefon has continued to be a leading European Champagne brand for over 150 years. Today, Besserat de Bellefon is part of the Lanson-BCC Group’s portfolio of prestigious Champagnes and produces about 40,000 cases of the Cuvée des Moines range.
  • Cuvée des Moines or “Blend of the Monks,” was named in honor of the early Benedictine monks who were instrumental in developing the Champagne method. The crémant winemaking technique employs a reduced dosage, which lowers the bottle pressure about one atmosphere, so that the Champagne is soft, creamy, and packed with tiny bubbles. Unlike most traditional brut non-vintage Champagne, Cuvée des Moines is designed to be enjoyed throughout a meal. This classic (non-vintage) Champagne is produced from wines from a combination of the current vintage and previous vintages (reserve wines), rather than a single year. The art of blending wines from several vintage years ensures that there is consistently a high-quality, elegant wine in every bottle. Cuvée des Moines is skillfully blended by Besserat de Bellefon’s Wine Maker Cedric Thiebault. Besserat de Bellefon is available in several expressions of the crémant style: Brut, Brut Rosé, Blanc de Blancs Gran Cru, Blanc de Noir Gran Cru, Extra Brut and Vintage Brut.

That must have been some spectacular wedding, seriously, with all of the bubbles. One can only imagine…

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Education,Enology,Environment,Understand the Impact on Grape Growing,Vineyards,Viticulture,Wine,Wine Making

Global Climate is Shifting: UC Davis Discussion Invites You to Understand the Impact on Grape Growing

One of the best places in California for studying and scientifically understanding the wine industry is UC Davis. I’m not sure when you realized that global warming was a true warning. I heard it in the 60s and began to do my part. It’s been a somewhat lonely road, quite honestly, but I am thankful that a few of us took t seriously. It’s hard to even imagine the pile of crap I would have created, had I not stopped buying cans with chlorofluorocarbons, recycled everything and anything that’s plastic (paper bags line my garbage and recycling containers), heck – I’ve even found bamboo TP.  Then, there was an entire school I trained not to leave school and leave their garbage on our front lawn, with a “Give a Hoot; Don’t Pollute” campaign. It worked not only for those students, but the concept was handed down to all the next generations. (I know, because we lived at that house for 17 years, and never had to bend over again.)

And, here we are, icecaps melting, and the population of the world has doubled since the 60s… doubled! And, I have a nine-year-old grandson I’m home-schooling. We’re deeply engrossed in the Netflix series “Our World.” It’s a great dose of Flora, Fauna, and how he can also help by adapting his life to the changes of our planet. The power of one is one. The power of each successive number is squared…

  • 2 = 4
  • 3= 9
  • 1,000 = 1,000, 000

We CAN  do this!

So… UC Davis for you and yours in viticulture and enology…

Impact of Climate Change on California Wine Regions Focus of UC Davis Discussion
Free Online Panel Is November 10, 2020

By Jessica Nusbaum on October 30, 2020, in Environment

The impact of climate change on the ability of California’s premier wine regions to grow grape varieties like chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, and the need to plan — and plant — for the future, will be the topic of a public online panel discussion hosted by the University of California, Davis, at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

The panel will include Esther Mobley, who writes about wine for the San Francisco Chronicle and has covered the effects of climate change on the Napa Valley; Dan Petroski, winemaker for Larkmead Vineyards, who is at the forefront of the discussion about the need for Napa Valley winemakers to identify solutions to rising temperatures; and UC Davis Assistant Professor Elisabeth Forrestel, who researches how wild and cultivated grapevines adapt to drought and heat stress.

Petroski and Forrestel will both also share their experiences on the ground. Forrestel has started an international initiative focused on the adaptation of vineyards to changing climates, with initial plantings of cultivars with wine-making potential under warmer and drier conditions already underway in Napa and Davis. Petroski planted a new experimental vineyard at Larkmead last year to test grape varieties from the Southern Hemisphere and the southern Mediterranean.

The public is invited to join the Zoom discussion; register by 3:00 p.m., November 10, 2020, to receive the link. The hourlong lecture will include a question-and-answer session with the audience.

The discussion is part of the Savor series, which explores some of the biggest food and beverage topics being studied today at UC Davis. The series is presented by the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and the UC Davis Library, which has been called the greatest wine library in the world.

Media contact(s)

Jessica Nusbaum, UC Davis Library, 530-752-4145, cell 415-548-5377, jlnusbaum@ucdavis.edu

Karen Nikos-Rose, News and Media Relations, 530-219-5472, kmnikos@ucdavis.edu

To see more UC Davis news, visit their online newsroom: https://www.ucdavis.edu/news.

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Event,Geyserville,Geyserville Community Foundation,Photographers,Sonoma,Sonoma County,Wine,Wine Business Innovation,Wine Country,Wine Culture,Wine Distribution

Wine Country Adapting to a Pandemic and Fires ~ Geyserville says Happy Halloween to That!

The invite to the citizens of Geyserville read:

Geyserville.com ~ Feeling Creative? Paint wine barrels for the fall and spring seasons to brighten up Geyserville. Fun for the whole family.

And so they came. The barrels have now been placed throughout the town of Geyserville. Very down-home, and r-e-a-l-l-y well done. Halloween wine lovers are up for a deliciously ghouling Halloween day. The art is truly amazing, for such a tiny town to have so much local art talent. I’m inspired to paint when Easter comes along next spring. I did notice them last Easter. And this has mushroomed, seriously. Blame it on some “good Covid news.” Wine country artists are adapting solitude times right into creation.

 

Imaginations were taken to heart and so was the art. It could have been a fall theme, Halloween, Day of the Dead, or anything else anyone wanted to paint, and so they did. No artistic talent was required. It was suggested that painted barrels will cheer this holiday for everyone. The outdoor exhibit was sponsored by the Geyserville Community Foundation and Bryce Jones. A big thank you to Munsel Vineyards, Pedroncelli Vineyards, and Topel Winery for donating the barrels.

 

SUPER NANA SCHOOL

Along with our wine industry clients at Diaz Communications, I’ve taken on another joyous assignment, due to Covid-19; home-schooling my nine-year old grandson for this school year. The following became a self-guided field trip for us. It was important to photograph as much we could, because we’re going to make this into another self-published school assignment. (Our first book is already published: Le Grotte di Fransassi, a cave of stalactites and stalagmites, in the Le Marche region of Italy, which I took on an Italian wine writing adventure.)

The following are some very artful images, intended to inspire an outside Halloween experience for anyone wanting to be in wine country, most especially on Saturday, October 31… this year’s Halloween. This is not only a kid and family’s Halloween fun time come true, it’s also a really cool adult Día De Los Muertos! For you big guys, sip some delicious wines located in downtown Geyserville.

List of Local Wineries Downtown

Four physical locations, all within one tiny blog of each other. And…  some outside dining at (everyone’s favorite) Diavola Pizzeria.

Please call EACH ONE ahead to make an APPOINTMENT.

1. Locals Tasting Room, featuring wines from the following:

2. Mercury Geyserville

3. Pech Merle Winery

4. Ramazzotti Wines

Enjoy being outside, finally some fresh air, and please wear a mask so we can all have a worry-free, fun day. My grandson and I had one of the best field trips ever, seriously. Come to see this live, with barrels now placed all over the tiny town of Geyserville. In total, there may be as many as 50 barrels to find. This exhibit is for families and people who love wine country, combined with holiday art. Some of these barrels have been done by already accomplished, local artists and some by aspiring artists (of all ages). Definitely winederful (please forgive the pun)…  Enjoy the images.

WELCOME TO GEYSERVILLE’S HALLOWEEN 2020

And, remember this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. About 40 barrels were delivered to people’s homes in Geyserville, and so I haven’t even photographed them yet…. but I will be doing just that.