The Web’s latest wine buzz, 10/28/07

Tune in to what top wine bloggers and experts are decanting into cyberspace with handpicked highlights of their latest and greatest, ranging from reviews of luscious rosés and a sweet desert wine to the skinny on Montalcino and the care of stemware.

For Master Sommelier Ronn Wiegand at Vino!, Autumn’s deepening signals it’s time to focus on rosés — the dry ones, which are “usually fuller bodied and more complex in flavor than most white wines.” He serves up 16 international recommendations, many of them well within Wine News Review’s fairly frugal affordability index. (Full disclosure: Chalk it up to the seasonal vibes, in advance of reading Wiegand’s paean, I gravitated to a lovely organic rosé the other day, a 2006 Chateau Miraval Cotes de Provence. Lively and dry, as “lip-smacking” as the label promises. No autumnal melancholy states with this baby around!) Anyway, to quote Wiegand…

Dry rosés have improved dramatically in quality in recent years, both because more top wineries are producing them and because the wine type is being treated with “respect” (that is, wines are being produced from quality grapes, by experienced vintners).

Speaking of coincidences, my gaze naturally gravitated to a Wine News cover story on Brunello, after trying a splendid 1998 Rienzi Brunello di Montalcino recently. (Frugality warning: At $65, alert readers will surely note that it’s way beyond the affordability index — but, hey, it was at a tasting event so I had to drink it.) Written by Kerin O’Keefe, this piece offers everything you might want to know about the history and current events of Brunello and its birthplace, Montalcino — an in-depth story with some suspense thrown in.

Montalcino has become an international sensation. Americans, in particular, can’t seem to get enough of what is undoubtedly Tuscany’s most prestigious wine, with one in every four bottles of Brunello made destined for U.S. shores. Yet the elite appellation is facing certain challenges that may require tough remedies to keep quality up and bring what has become the enological pride and joy of all of Italy to new and sustained levels of greatness. 

Dorothy J. Gaiter And John Brecher at The Wall Street Journal provide some delicious instructions on how to cap off a sensational dinner with friends — a “great finishing touch,” courtesy of Muscat, “with its unique aromas and tastes of honeysuckle, apricots, peaches and just-picked grapes.” With reviews of eight bottles, some quite affordable .

It probably will take some effort to find a Muscat Canelli. Many stores won’t have any and it’s unlikely you’ll find a big selection anywhere. But they’re out there— we bought ours from six states. So our advice is that sometime soon, long before your next big dinner party, call around and see if you can find one. Then, after dinner, don’t ask your friends if they want to try a sweet wine— they’ll likely say no. Just open and pour. The wine will do the rest.

An estimated 3 to 5 percent of cork-sealed wines go bad, and the blame often unfairly goes to the winery rather than, say, bad handling on the way to the shop or restaurant. Here’s a Washington Post behind-the-scenes glimpse by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg at the extent to which wineries are trying to fight back. With some wine recommendations thrown in.

Even if a bottle of wine leaves its winery in immaculate condition, the road it travels to your glass is fraught with peril every step of the way. Because wine is a living, breathing substance, it can be mortally wounded by improper handling. A wine that starts out perfect can be ruined by many factors: how it is shipped and stored, when and with what it is poured.

Although a number of those elements are out of the winemaker’s hands, if a bottle disappoints, customers probably will blame the winery whose name is on the label. That is why some wineries increasingly are going to extraordinary lengths to ensure customer satisfaction.

There are times when the reason for having printers attached to computers is crystal clear — that is, bring along this Vinography review of the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wineries for 2007 event next time you’re headed to a wine shop, perhaps in case one of these selections happens to be on sale.

Thankfully the Wine & Spirits list doesn’t actually rank these wineries from 1 to 100, which would be inane to say the least. They just publish an issue with profiles of each and list their high scoring wines (which presumably got them on the list to begin with).

But more to the point, the magazine also happens to put on a tasting where all 100 of these wineries are invited to pour the wines that were rated highly by the magazine, and it ends up being one hell of a tasting.

Speaking of crystal, there’s “no excuse for stemware abuse,” says Wine Enthusiast. A quick and savvy primer on how to wash, dry and otherwise care for glassware so as to avoid unwanted tastes and odors. Stuff you should know.

You’ve gone to so much trouble to select the right wine, purchase the perfect glasses, serve just the right food — it would put a damper on your dinner to serve in cloudy glasses with a faint odor. If you’re guilty of neglecting your stemware, read on. The fact of the matter is that the way in which you wash and care for wine glasses has a direct effect on the taste of wine. Properly caring for your crystal will insure that your wines always taste their best. 

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