October is Merlot Month | Drink Napa and Sonoma Merlot!

October is Merlot Month | Drink Napa and Sonoma Merlot

Merlot Month

As you have probably heard, Northern California has been ravaged by devastating wildfires that began unexpectedly on the evening of October 9, 2017. The combination of extremely dry, hot conditions and the blistering Diablo winds caused widespread sections of wine country to explode with uncontrollable fires.

Since they began, 41 lives, 3,500 structures, 16 wineries and in excess of 245,000 acres have been lost in this region many of us hold near and dear. So many families have lost everything in what has been described as the most deadly wildfire episode the region has ever experienced. The brave, tireless efforts of firefighters, first responders and volunteers will not soon be forgotten.

My next article in queue was originally going to be one highlighting recommended Cabernet Sauvignons from various regions at price points for every budget, but I have decided to briefly postpone that in an effort to bring what attention I can to supporting this hard hit region.

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Zachys Makes a Bold Splash onto the DC Wine Scene

Zachys Makes a Bold Splash onto the DC Wine Scene

Zachys DC

Photo Credit: Zachys

I recently had the opportunity to experience a few exciting firsts: I attended my first auction bidding party as well as my first wine auction. It was a double whammy of oenophilic excitement, as attendees competed for incredible lots while sipping the exalted likes of ’82 Cheval Blanc, ’96 Dom Pérignon Rosé and ’05 Araujo Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

There was an undeniable energy permeating the room as the auction was live-streamed from New York on a pair of big screen flatscreen TV’s, and it all went down at the new Zachys showroom in the NE quadrant of DC, located at 3521 V St NE, Washington, DC 20018. Zachys DC

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Wines ‘Til Sold Out Broadens Appeal | Launches Bonus Offers

Wines ‘Til Sold Out Broadens Appeal | Launches Bonus Offers

Regular readers of The Fermented Fruit are pretty familiar with Wines ‘Til Sold Out, and my affinity for their popular platform where one single wine is offered at a heavily discounted price – until it’s sold out.  It’s a pretty straight forward approach, and a highly successful one for the company, who revolutionized the way wine was sold online when they basically created the flash-sale space.

But this old favorite has just gotten even better, as Wines ‘Til Sold Out has recently expanded their offerings with the first-ever launch of Bonus Offers, giving customers access to not one but nine different wines at once, with the opportunity to mix and match their orders to meet the free shipping minimum.

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Turnbull Winery | A Napa Stalwart Finds Renewed Focus

Turnbull Winery | A Napa Stalwart Finds Renewed Focus

Turnbull Winery

Napa wineries located directly off of Napa’s bustling main artery Highway 29 sometimes get a bad rap – although maybe not for the reason you’d expect. You see the issue typically isn’t the quality of the wine, as some of the most respected wineries in the valley enjoy the level of visibility and prestige afforded by such a location.

But the crowds and overall guest experience can be quite a different story. Let’s just say that tour buses and bachelorette parties are not an uncommon sight, and sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if you found yourself wrangling with some Napa snobbery here and there.

My suggestion? Make your way to one of Highway 29’s most underrated gems: Turnbull Winery, where the only wrangling you’ll have to do will be with yourself when you’re forced to figure out which wines you enjoyed the most!

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Hotel RivaLago Review | Where To Stay in Franciacorta

Hotel RivaLago Review | Where To Stay in Franciacorta

Hotel RivaLago

If you take your visits to wine country as seriously as I do, then you understand the importance of where you stay during your trip. On my recent press trip to the impressive Italian sparkling wine region of Franciacorta I had the pleasure of staying at Hotel RivaLago, located in Sulzano, Italy on the beautiful shores of crystal clear Lake Iseo. After spending 5 nights at this elegant and airy boutique property I can confidently say this its charms undeniably added to my overall experience that week.

Hotel Rivalago

Hotel RivaLago’s large pool swimming pool benefits from an ideal location directly on the lake. Guests can also enjoy an alfresco meal from the full-service restaurant onsite. I highly recommend the duck carpaccio and caprese salad.

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The Best Franciacorta Wines | Italy Gets Serious About Sparkling

The Best Franciacorta Wines | Italy Gets Serious About Sparkling Wine

Franciacorta Wine

When you’re deciding which sparkling wine to purchase, it’s not uncommon to consider the gold standards of Champagne or the similarly reliable, yet significantly more affable Prosecco options from Italy’s Veneto region. Many savor the former, while the latter is often relegated to mimosa duty. But look a little harder and you’ll not only discover Italy’s best kept secret, but one of the best-kept secrets in the world of wine: Franciacorta.

What this relatively young yet fiercely dynamic wine region lacks in sheer size and history it more than makes up for in quality, consistently producing distinctive sparkling wines that rival the quality of those in Champagne, yet are produced in their own unique style. Consider the fact that they’re often less expensive than their expertly-branded French counterparts an added bonus.

Franciacorta is the only region in Italy where all of the wines are made in the costly and significantly more time consuming Méthode Traditionelle, whereby the wines undergo their secondary fermentation and aging in bottle, resulting in more complex, finessed sparklers.

If you’re wondering why you might not be familiar with Franciacorta’s wines, the numbers offer an explanation. Champagne boasts a towering production of roughly 300 million bottles per year from 75,000 vineyard acres, while Franciacorta spans merely 10% of that size, measuring just 7,800 acres.

Champagne has also been in the business since as early as the 17th century, while Franciacorta has only been producing wine since 1961. But such a stark contrast highlights what might just be most impressive about this little region in Northern Italy: how far and how quickly it has come in barely 50 years.

Franciacorta Wine

Understanding Franciacorta | An Area, Production Method and a Wine

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American Rosé? | In Defense of Drinking our Pink

American Rosé? | In Defense of Drinking our Pink

American Rosé

Photo credit: iStock

A recent article published by The Telegraph caught my attention when they bashed California rosé, swiftly and unapologetically admonishing the entire category in one fell swoop. The article advises readers to “steer clear of over-confected Californians”, while recommending examples from nearly every other prominent wine-producing region throughout the world, including France, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, and Italy to name a handful.

Some might argue that California deserves this reputation, and I’ll concede that there is a valid point to be made there. When winemakers figured out that they could bottle, ferment and sell the juice that they were bleeding from their fermentation tanks (to concentrate their red wines) and sell it as rosé (as opposed to discarding it), this process of rosé production (called the saignée method) quickly became popular because it provided a quick infusion of capital for cash-strapped wineries.

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The New Lokoya Estate | Lokoya Finds The Home Its Always Deserved

The New Lokoya Estate | Lokoya Finds The Home Its Always Deserved

Lokoya Estate

Visiting Napa’s New Lokoya Estate

Lokoya needs little introduction to avid collectors. For over twenty years, these highly-acclaimed wines have found themselves right at home in the cellars of discerning enthusiasts throughout the world. Yet the brand itself never really had a place to call home, until now.

While existing fans and collectors could taste the wines at Cardinale’s Oakville estate on the Napa Valley floor, it was always more of an accommodation for loyal supporters rather than a complete Lokoya experience.

While Cardinale aspires to be the perfect blend of benchland and mountain vineyards, Lokoya is always 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from a single mountain AVA (Veeder, Spring, Howell and Diamond) vinified in the same exact way to communicate the purest singular expression of mountain terroir possible. As Winemaker Chris Carpenter’s sees it, Lokoya is a study of the mountain through the lens of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Commanding Wines Deserve a Commanding View

Lokoya Estate

The terrace at the new Lokoya Estate

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Big Cork Vineyards | A BIG Reason To Take MD Wine Seriously

Big Cork Vineyards | A BIG Reason To Take MD Wine Seriously

Big Cork Vineyards

Wine lovers residing in the Washington metropolitan area have witnessed tremendous progress in the local wine scene, with quality up significantly across the board. And sure, not every winery is making great wine… Naturally, being locals, we’ve wanted to like them so badly – yet we’ve all poured out our share of thin, lifeless wine in mournful disappointment. But major advances in viticultural practices have been paying off in a big way, and the proof is in the pudding.

Regrettably even I don’t take the time to explore the local wine scene as much as I probably should, but a recent invitation from the folks at Big Cork Vineyards in Rohresville, Maryland piqued my interest. Located roughly one hour northwest of DC or thirty minutes east of Frederick, the country chic winery and tasting room offer a stunning contrast to the bucolic setting, with fresh country breezes and endless views of rolling hills making you feel right at home – or blissfully away from it.

Big Cork Vineyards

Estate vineyards surrounding Big Cork’s winery and tasting room

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Soos Creek Ciel du Cheval Red | Red Mountain To The Rescue

Soos Creek Ciel du Cheval Red 2013 | Red Mountain To The Rescue

Soos Creek

Every once in a while I come across the type of wine that inspired me to start this blog in the first place. A wine that’s truly distinctive, with the elusive ability to convey sense of place and the depth, structure and finesse to keep your interest for years to come.

And sure, such wines capable of captivating the senses are readily available to those who not only know where to look but have the financial wherewithal to be able to afford them. And therein lies the problem, as the affordability component makes many of these compelling pours easily out of reach for most consumers, often myself included. For example, consider one of the gold standards for classic, elegant, terroir-driven Napa Cabernet’s: Heitzs’ Martha’s Vineyard.

It was the first single-vineyard wine in Napa to boldly wear the name of the vineyard from which its fruit was sourced on the label. Today, it is widely-recognized and celebrated as an immediately identifiable and utterly classic expression of Napa Cabernet, but the current release will run you a cool $225.

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