If there’s anything we know about Chardonnay, it’s that it is highly adaptable to its environment. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Oregon—heck even Canada—all have areas that produce premium Chardonnays. Yet all are so distinctly different, all so uniquely dependent on both environmental (soil, climate, altitude and latitude) and human factors (grape grower, winemaker).
In California, Chardonnay is our most-planted white wine grape variety. It’s produced all over the state and, given the size of the state and the amount of wine producers, it can be expressed in a number of different styles. Today I’m zeroing in on three specific AVAs: Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, and Dry Creek Valley—all part of the Northern Sonoma AVA in Sonoma County, Calif.
Puglia is hot Mediterranean with moderating sea breezes, low rainfall, fertile soils, and permitted irrigation—most suitable for high volume production
INTERESTING FACTOID: “Its name derives from the Roman a-pluvia or ‘lack of rain.'” ——Oxford Companion to Wine (Fourth Edition). Pretty much confirms the above description. —me (First Edition)
Puglia key grapes:
Primitivo (Primitivo di Manduira DOC; Gioia del Colle DOC) INTERESTING ANECDOTE: Gioia translates to “joy” in Italian; Colle translates to “glue” in French. Interestingly, Gioia del Colle DOC, despite its reputation for the higher quality grapes grown at elevation, is the one that requires the least amount of Primitivo, allowing blending of other grapes such as Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Negroamara, and even the white wine grape, Malvasia (as well as other local and international varieties)—or “gluing” together to create the “joy” that is the region’s red wines. However, the region was so-named before some monk guy brought over the primitivo grape, which he named prima-tivo because of its early-ripening-ness (prima meaning first or early). —me and my remedial Italian and French (First Edition)
Negroamaro“Makes sweet-tasting, early-drinking reds and some good rosés on the heel of Italy.” “Wine Grapes” (Robinson, Harding, Vouilamoz) (Salice Salentino Rosso/Riserva DOC)
Nero di Troia/Uva di Troia“High-quality, flavorful, firm northern Puglian that has declined considerably in the last 40 years.” “Wine Grapes” (Robinson, Harding, Vouilamoz) (Castel del Monte/Riserva DOC/G)
While the WSET has us focusing on Puglian red wine production, I was provided the opportunity to taste through some rosés of the region as well as participate in a master class educating us on these wines and Puglia as a wine producing region in general. I wanted to share with you some of my tasting notes, as well as some of the things I learned from the Italian industry pros.
A note about the wines: According to the winemakers present, all wines are created in a style intended for immediate consumption—light, easy, fruitful. They’re looking to appeal to a broad range of consumers, but are also very keen on introducing non, new, or infrequent wine drinkers into the wine-drinking culture. Unfortunately, none of these wines are available in the US at the moment. All are within a 2 to 5 Euro price point.
It’s time for another fun episode of Hey Briscoe, What Else you Drinking? Yes, believe it or not I do find time to taste wines not associated with my exam preparations. I do several virtual wine tastings, belong to my own set of wine clubs and *gasp* purchase wine for the pure random pleasure of it. Here’s a list of a few recommendations from recent sips…
No tasting grid necessary, these are off the cuff tasting notes, so please don’t mind the slam poetry and leave wine-snobbery at the door. You’ve been warned.
While I’m rigorously working on all my WSET study materials and gathering my accompanying tasting notes encompassing the quality standards of the WSET grid, you should know…I still drink wine for fun.
Not every bottle I enjoy is as meticulously examined as others. (Although, admittedly, most are just so I can keep practicing my tasting/tasting note-taking.) In fact, probably like many of you, there are a few bottles in my cellar that are household staples—wines we’ve enjoyed in the past and continue to enjoy on a quasi-regular basis.
So, I thought it would be fun to show a few bottles I’ve been enjoying lately that aren’t associated with any work event or school study. Cheers!
Did you know: Tablas Creek Vineyard is certified both organic and biodynamic? I think it’s a testament to the integrity of both certifications that they don’t flaunt these facts. Indeed, many folks I speak to who are familiar with the name and wines don’t realize these amazing efforts. Fun Fact: In February of 2019, Tablas Creek began taking part part in a pilot program of yet another, new farming practice called Regenerative Organic.