An abundance of beauty ushered in the new year in Northern California.
The winning wines at this year’s competition are memorable for several reasons: The whites were fresher, the rosés crisper, and the red wines seemingly more elegant than I recall them being in 2015.
In her role as head winemaker at Markham, Kimberlee Nicholls directs an all-female team that includes assistant winemaker Abigail Horstman, enologist Patricia Sciacca and viticulturist Taylor Abudi. The collaborative culture that thrives at Markham is a direct result of how she prioritizes the professional growth of her team.
Wine culture in Itata Valley, the northernmost of Chile’s three southern wine regions, exemplifies what is known as “evolution in isolation.” Experiencing no phylloxera and only a modest incursion of international grape varieties, this isolated region has held on to its heritage grapes and ancestral winemaking practices seldom found beyond its borders.
Of the California wineries celebrating their 50th birth year in 2022, six gathered to mark the occasion with a retrospective tasting at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena. Each dazzled us with three wines while reflecting on five decades of harvests and providing a snapshot of their current vintages.
In an effort to expand my perception beyond my daily work with beverage alcohol, I tackle the evaluation of chocolate and fragrance a few times each year by judging hundreds of products as part of an unpaid panel.
The San Francisco Bay Area has long been a destination for the wine world’s movers and shakers; you can read about those I meet in my new column, Date by the Gate. This cycle, winemakers and authors made their way to the the area with tastings and book signings that were nothing less than awe-inspiring.
By now, most informed wine consumers have accepted the fact that sulfur isn’t the root cause of wine-derived headaches and instead place most of the blame on alcohol. Meanwhile, what has been identified as a source of adverse reactions to no- and low-sulfur red wines, particularly by histamine-sensitive consumers, are biogenic amines. What are they and why can they be a problem?
While perceptual learning plays an important role in evaluating wine, there’s another phenomenon related to perception that arises from the wine itself: perceptual interaction. When our olfactory system
is confronted with complex aromas, we often perceive them as a single aroma due to odor blending in a process known as
configural perception (our perception of the smell of coffee as a single aroma is just one of many examples).
After tasting the Piper-Heidsieck Hors-Série 1971 ($499), a rare, late disgorged Champagne that spent 49 years resting peacefully on its lees, I was inspired to delve deeper into the role yeast autolysis plays in the flavor development of sparkling wine.