Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Pocket Index of French Wine is 44% off!

My reference guide to French appellations, The Pocket Index of French Wine, is on sale at Amazon!  It's usually $7.25, but on sale for $4.08 for a limited time!  And it does count toward Super Saver Shipping.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Wine Infographic: Pinot Noir Cheat Sheet

Here is the third in the series of grape profiles - Pinot Noir.  (See the full collection of wine cheat sheets here.)  It covers the typical Pinot Noir characteristics and the main growing regions.  Use this to learn more about a grape you love or to explore a new one!  (Click on the graphic for a larger view.)

To see the Cheat Sheet in full size…
…in Internet Explorer, right click on it and select “open in new tab.”
…in Chrome, right click on it and select “open link in new tab.”
…in Firefox, right click on it and select “view image.”   

Sunday, May 19, 2013

An Infographic from Wild Grapes

Wild Grapes, a company offering custom wine cellars and wine racks, has sent me an infographic to share with you.  It has some interesting statistics on global wine consumption.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Where Art and Infographics Collide

I first encountered the concept of an infographic when I attended Edward Tufte's seminar "Presenting Data and Information."  Tufte is an expert in "the graphical display of quantitative information" and also an artist.  This seminar introduced me to the idea that data should not only be accurate, clearly communicated, and useful, but it should also be beautiful.  It seems that idea stuck with me... 

Tufte's favorite example of a great infographic is "Napoleon's March to Moscow" from 1869.  It's a map showing Napoleon's route to Moscow and his subsequent retreat.  It is not only beautifully designed but also includes data on the weather (it was very cold) and the casualties in his ranks.  It looks like this: 

(larger view here)

I love beautiful art that communicates interesting data.  Next month, Christie's will be auctioning bottles of port alongside a map of the Douro Valley in Portugal.  This map by artist David Eley illustrates all the primary winemaking estates and "flora and fauna" of the area.  It's beautiful and educational and communicates lots of information.  You can see a larger version of it at the link above, but here's a preview:

I think Tufte would approve.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Getting to Know Sartori di Verona

“Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene…”

I was fortunate to be invited to lunch this week with Italian winemakers Andrea Sartori and Franco Bernabei who create the wines of Sartori di Verona.  Over lunch they discussed their philosophy of winemaking and shared 7 of their lovely wines. 

The Sartori family has been making wine for 4 generations, and Franco Bernabei has been a consulting winemaker with Sartori di Verona for 11 years.  They want their wines to reflect the character of the grapes as well as the uniqueness of the region (its terroir).  They minimize the use of pesticides and fertilizers to keep the soil healthy and produce high quality fruit.  Bernabei says that when you drink the wine “you should feel like you’re chewing a grape.”  They focus on elegance and balance, and it shows in their wine!

The biggest surprise for me was the Pinot Grigio.  I’m usually not a fan of these, since many of them have so little flavor.  Not this one!  This is quite possibly the best Pinot Grigio I’ve ever had.  It retains its crisp freshness while having a lot of juicy fruit on the palate.  So yummy.  (Update:  I'm told the Pinot Grigio is available at certain HEB locations in the Houston area.)

The most unusual wine we tasted, called “Ferdi,” is made from dried Garganega grapes and fermented on the skins (very unusual for a white).  The inspiration for this wine was to make a “white Amarone.”  Amarones are made from dried grapes and very concentrated in flavor.  As a result, Ferdi is a full-bodied white wine that can hold its own when paired with heavier foods that would normally require a red wine.  This is a “super white” – a white wine that can do nearly everything a red can.  And it’s delicious.

The only wine we tasted that I know for certain is available in Houston is the Sartori Amarone della Valpolicella.  Amarones can be overpowering because of their intensity and sometimes high alcohol; they often need to breathe for a long time or to be served with very hearty food.  This one was rich in flavor, but easy to drink.  It maintained its fresh, crisp fruitiness along with the signature earthy flavors of an Amarone.  Spec’s in Houston sells the 2008 vintage for $42.  It is also available by the glass or bottle at Sorrento Ristorante on Westheimer just east of Montrose.

drying grapes for Amarone

We also tasted a Pinot Noir, a Valpolicella, and 2 other Amarones.  All the wines had a lovely balance of fresh fruit and earthiness, with good acidity.  These are incredibly tasty wines, food-friendly, and a great value for the price.  If you run across a Sartori wine, get it!  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  And if I learn more about where to get them I will post the information here. 

Here are the details on all the wines we tasted: