Time to pour a different varietal in your glass | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Time to pour a different varietal in your glass

Happy New Year — 2003 looks to be another great year for enjoying wine. Last year was one of great abundance and for the most part a banner vintage.

While the economy may have caused some people to choose lower priced wine, the quality of these wines often surprised even the most discerning palate. New technology has made it possible for even the smallest winery to eliminate much of the guesswork of winemaking and the results show in the finished product.

The downside to technology is that many wines are loosing some of their varietal characteristics but are nonetheless easy drinking and quite enjoyable. Let’s face it, not all of us can afford to pop the cork on a bottle of Chateau Petrus every night! If you are one who does, please contact us immediately and we would be happy to help.

Let 2003 be the year you throw caution to the wind and hop on the good cork and do the wine thing. Many people have a favorite wine and that is all they drink. Monogamy is great for relationships but there are too many great wines on the market to stay true to only one. Some of the current hot wines to try are syrah/shiraz, pinot gris/grigio and sangiovese. These traditional European varieties are finding great success throughout the New World and are being enjoyed not only for their taste, but also their value.

The wine industry is currently experiencing a surplus of grapes and finished wine. Now may be the best time in history to look for new adventures in wine and play the field a bit.

Wineries are scrambling to find new markets for their products. California last year harvested approximately 3.3 million tons of wine grapes — up nearly 8 percent from last year. This combined with a flat economy and competition from foreign producers such as Australia, Chile, Argentina and Italy is putting pressure on many winemakers to lower prices. These imports are giving California a run for its money, literally, and you should begin to see more of them on the store shelves and restaurant wine list.

If you have a chance, try an Australian shiraz, a Chilean carmenere, an Argentinean torrontes, or an Italian pinot grigio.

The 2002 vintage should prove to be one of the best vintages in 10 years for many areas of the United States. Recent barrel samples from Napa, Sonoma and the California coast are showing nicely and should continue to develop into great wines.

Oregon experienced nearly perfect growing and harvest conditions and 2002 is being compared with the classic 1985 vintage. We will report further following a research trip to the Willamette Valley. (We hope the IRS buys that one!)

One of the best new year’s resolutions we have heard comes from John Paul at Cameron Winery in Dundee, Ore.: “In the new year, for better health, I plan to consume the recommended five different servings of fruits or vegetables every day, only four of which will be wine.”

Our picks of the month:

Silkwood, 2000 California Syrah: This wine rocks! Loaded with raspberry, blackberry jam, pepper and vanilla. The wine has a pleasing mouth feel with soft tannins and a long finish, $20.

Milliaire Vineyard, Murphy’s 1999 Ghirardelli Vineyard Zinfandel: Luscious fruit and finesse describe this red zin loaded with blackberry, pepper and dark cherry, $18.

King Estate 2001, Oregon, Pinot Gris: Vibrant white wine with notes of peach, passion fruit, apple, and a hint of floral. Great balance and acidity, $15.

Roger and Colleen Stockton are wine educators and consultants based in Northern Nevada. They may be reached at (775) 882-7324 or WineCouple@InnovativeWine.com

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