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    Blog

    February is still a relatively quiet time in the vineyard.  Pruning continues in warm climates while in cold climates it may not begin until March or later.  This is primarily due to the risk of winter bud kill.  Different varieties have different tolerances for cold. February, in the northern hemisphere, has historically been the coldest month in the calendar year and a cause for worry.

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    Bourgogne Goes Green

    One of the most significant trends happening in Bourgogne today, is a movement towards sustainable, organic and biodynamic viticulture. Due to the warming of temperatures, increase in sunlight and shift in rainy season, there has been less vineyard mildew pressure, drier soil and earlier harvests. This change in climate, combined with the desire for a more ecologically sustainable growing model by Bourgogne producers, has led to the recent trend towards Green Farming.

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    Andrew Jefford, award-winning author and columnist in every issue of Decanter and World of Fine Wine, Co-Chair Decanter World Wine Awards; Vice-Chair Decanter Asia Wine Awards as well as Wine Scholar Guild Academic Advisor, gives us his insight about the 2019 vintage in France.

    The beat goes on. The 2019 vintage in France marked five continuous years (since 2015) of warmer-than-average weather. Global warming is with us and accelerating – but so far, for the wine growers of France, it has been merciful.

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    WSG launches “Vine to Wine,” an exciting, new blog series that will chronicle what is happening in the vineyard and in the winery each and every month of the calendar year. Nova Cadamatre, MW and winemaker, will author these authoritative and detailed posts drawing upon her studies (Cornell Viticulture and Enology graduate) as well as her winemaking experience in California, China and the Finger Lakes.

    Each “Vine to Wine” installment will detail that month’s vineyard and winery tasks with deep dives into a particular grape growing or wine making topic such as pruning methods and training systems or barrel aging and fermentation vessels.

    The series is designed to give wine students and educators an opportunity to develop or hone their technical savvy.

    January is a very quiet time for the winery in the northern hemisphere. It is the in between time when the last vintage is quietly waiting in maturation and the next vintage has yet to start. In cold climates, all eyes are still on the weather to ensure that the depths of winter do not bring damage to the dormant buds. The buds hold the entire shoot and cluster primordia (more on this in February’s post) for the new vintage and each variety has a different tolerance to the cold… so monitoring the risk of damage is very important.

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    Few consumer products in the world are more steadfastly focused on origin than wine. Think of the last great bottle of wine you enjoyed and, odds are, its place of origin featured prominently on the label.

    Known as appellations, these defined areas of wine production have fostered a fanatical faithfulness to origin across the industry. Whether it is a Chianti Classico or a Chambolle-Musigny, a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon or a Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch, how we interpret wine often comes down to how we interpret the place of origin.

    While the general concept around the world is the same, the approach certainly is not. In the European sense, appellations define not only the boundaries of a region but the permissible production of wine (including grape varieties, yields, winemaking techniques and more).

    “It is better to call non-European systems of this sort ‘Geographical Indications,’ since outside Europe it is generally only a producing zone which is defined,” says wine writer and Wine Scholar Guild Academic Advisor, Andrew Jefford. “Grape varieties and production methods are left up to the producer, and are a matter of free choice.”

    Studying the differences and similarities among appellations, as well as their traditions and modifications, can lead to a lifetime of enjoyment — or frustration.

    “The tail is vigorously wagging the dog,” says wine writer Robert Joseph, who is also a producer and wine analyst. He notes that too many places lack the distinction required to make appellations practical, useful and relevant to today’s consumer. Add in the not-so-little wrinkle of climate change, and the very purpose of appellations going forward becomes a rousing debate.

    So: are appellations too “rooted to the spot” to be useful in a changing world? Or do they still offer producers the best chance to market their wines on a crowded global marketplace? We sat down with Andrew Jefford and Robert Joseph and hashed it out.

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    Where are we headed? This is a question which all of us have probably asked ourselves at some point during 2020, as a global pandemic unfolds chaotically across a planet experiencing runaway climate change. Both challenges have directly affected French wine growers, with trade tariffs imposed by the USA on European winegrowers forming a third stress-inducing headwind.

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    Author of Inside Bordeaux, a book that has been described as the 'bible' by Le Figaro newspaper and a 'category buster' by Jamie Goode, Jane Anson has lived in Bordeaux since 2003. Here she takes a look at the wine trends that are shaping the region, its economy, its climate, the industry and its winemakers.

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    Barolo Communes

    Apart from the Côte d’Or in Burgundy, perhaps no other wine territory has been dissected in greater detail than the Barolo zone. This makes perfect sense, as these are arguably the two most ideal representations of the concept of terroir; just as Pinot Noir from one village in Burgundy reveals different flavors than that of another nearby hamlet, so too offerings of Barolo from various communes often display diverse characteristics, despite the fact that every wine here is made exclusively from Nebbiolo.

    There are 11 approved communes in the Barolo production zone. For this article, we will deal primarily with the five largest: La Morra, Serralunga d’Alba, Monforte d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto and Barolo itself. The remaining six are Cherasco, Diano d’Alba (interestingly, planted more to Dolcetto than Nebbiolo), Grinzane Cavour, Roddi, Verduno and Novello; these last two are home to two of the most in-demand vineyards in the entire zone: Monvigliero in Verduno and Ravera in Novello.

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    Every wine appellation in France has a cahier des charges, a set of regulations that delineates the production zone and specifies viticultural practices and production standards.

    In many instances, a single cahier des charges references one zone of production and multiple wine styles within it (e.g. Lirac red, white, and rosé; Rasteau dry red, plus red, white and rosé Vins Doux Naturels). Some single cahiers also incorporate complementary geographic denominations or dénominations géographiques complémentaires (DGCs) such as Languedoc Montpeyroux or Bourgogne Hautes Côte de Nuits. Other times, very different wines can be grouped under one single cahier as is the case for Beaujolais, Beaujolais Supérieur, Beaujolais + Named Commune, and Beaujolais-Villages.

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    The Italian wine world is full of wine-related terminology that many consumers struggle to understand. Learning the meaning of a few key terms can increase your confidence level and help you make informed decisions when selecting your next glass, or bottle, of vino. We have compiled a list of 25 common terms and phrases that we know will help you navigate the delicious world of vino Italiano!

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    As part of a partnership between Wine Scholar Guild and Decanter, we are pleased to share with our readers this article pulled from Decanter Premium
    Try Decanter Premium for 4 weeks for just $1! More information HERE

    Robert Parker says a 100-point wine should be ‘as exceptional as a particular wine can be: a perfect blend of power, richness, texture, depth, length, balance, freshness, and of course a reflection of its vintage and terroir or origin’.

    Here are Parker’s most memorable 100-point wines.

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    Whether it is in the bilingual wine labels of Alto Adige, or the occasional Slavic grape name in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italian wine often reveals the duality of culture present in some of the country’s border regions. Tucked into Italy’s northwestern corner, Valle d’Aosta certainly demonstrates this, as its language, cuisine and wine seem to have one foot in Italy and another in France.

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    Wine is full of spirited debates, but few can argue that any subject matter generates more intensity these days than natural wine. Should sulphur be allowed or not? Do natural wines reveal terroir better than conventional wines? Has natural wine changed our notion of flaws?

    Perhaps most controversial of all is the definition of natural wine in the first place.

    These questions are constantly challenging everyone from wine critics and sommeliers to casual students of wine. We decided to bridge the topic with Wine Scholar Guild’s Academic Advisor and long-time columnist for Decanter and World of Fine Wine, Andrew Jefford, as well as Simon J Woolf, the noted natural-wine writer and author of Amber Revolution: How the World Learned to Love Orange Wine.

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    Cosecha. Joven. Viejo. And the list goes on. Many wine-producing countries use local-language wine-related terminology without realizing their consumers are unaware of their meaning. Even native language speakers are sometimes confused by these terms as they are technical and/or relate to wine law.

    No need to worry! Below is your very own Spanish Wine Glossary (in alphabetical order) providing the top 25 wine terms you need-to-know to navigate Spanish wine.

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    Italy’s wealth of grape varieties presents wine connoisseurs with many tantalizing prospects, particularly on the red wine spectrum. While Sangiovese and Nebbiolo still reign supreme, numerous grape varieties have re-emerged from hiding in recent years to spellbind wine lovers around the world. In Italy, the story of how some of these grapes transitioned from obscurity to fashionably cool can be just as compelling as the wines themselves. In many cases, the wines from these grapes are shining in a way they never have before, thanks to more informed decisions in the vineyard and winery.

    Here are five up-and-coming Italian red grapes to pay attention to. While all of these grapes have been around for centuries, their resurgence has meant a quality revolution and increased interest from the international marketplace.

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