E Wine of the Week
By Bruce Cochran
I hope you’ve all enjoyed the holiday season. I’ll spare you the predictable New Year’s Eve champagne information—unless you really want it, in which case you can find my very brief “Sparkling Wine Primer” at www.brucecochran.com. It’s an outline of some of your best options from around the world for different grapes, styles and price ranges.
Our semi-sparkling Rosa di Rosa has quickly become one of the hottest wines in Little Rock. I say ‘ours’ because many of us were buying it and other wines in restaurants in Italy where we discovered them during our food and wine trips.
This week on my Little Rock radio show, Let’s Eat on KABF 88.3 FM we discussed some of the foods and wines of Ukraine and the Crimea, including stories from the days when I used to visit the former Soviet Union’s “Winery of the Czars” in Yalta. That’s when I was interviewed by Wine Spectator. Go to www.bruce cochran.com for information on the foods of the Ukraine and Crimea.
Let’s keep enjoying the holidays,
If you’ve been enjoying California chardonnay for very long, you may have noticed the emergence of a different style. It’s made to accompany today’s lighter menus, which means a lighter wine style.
But lighter doesn’t necessarily mean weak or lacking in flavor or character. An elegant wine can still have intensity of flavor.
How do you make a wine that combines elegance, finesse and intensity? Ask Walter Schug, Napa Valley winemaker for decades.
In the 1970’s he was winemaker for Joseph Phelps Vineyards, in the warmer, northern part of Napa Valley. There he pioneered wines like the now famous and expensive Insignia.
Today he makes a different style of wine at his own winery in the cooler, southern part of Napa Valley, called the Carneros District. Stretching across the southern parts of both Napa and Sonoma valleys, the area is cooled by a nearby offshoot of San Francisco Bay called San Pablo Bay. Being cooler makes this area more like France’s Burgundy region, the native home of both chardonnay grapes and pinot noir.
This ‘Burgundian’ style of chardonnay and pinot noir is captured well by Schug Cellars’ current releases. Combination of intensity of flavor with elegance of style makes the wines better accompaniments for today’s fresher, lighter cooking than many other California wines in these days of warmer weather, riper grapes and bigger styles.
I was selling Jospeh Phelps wines when Walter Schug worked there. I was a fan then and I’m a fan now of the wines he’s making at his Carneros estate, southwest of the town of Sonoma. To experience a Carneros District California wine in the Burgundian style, try Schug Cellars Carneros Chardonnay. I can’t remember which vintage I had, but it’s new to the state so there should be only one out there. By the way, the Carneros pinot noir is the same price, and I’ve been told that it’s just as good. We’ll discuss it next month. Retail price around $25.