The WineSpeed Blog

RAÚL PÉREZ “Ultreia St. Jacques” Mencia 2016

(Bierzo, Spain) $18

If you’ve never tried the red grape variety mencia, take your first plunge with Ultreia (pronounced as ul-TRAY-ya) St. Jacques from Raúl Pérez. It’s a fascinating wine—sleek yet rustic, fruity yet sophisticated, vivid in flavor, but not ponderous. Plus, the best mencias, like this one, have a whoosh of spice. Finding such full-throttle deliciousness in a wine that costs less than $25 is, well, a gift. Ultreia comes from 75-year-old vines in Bierzo, a mountainous part of northern Spain. It’s a perfect summer red.

Bloody Hell, College Was Brutal

Alas, it wasn’t this way for me (or you either probably) but in England historically, wine—and especially Port—played a notable part in college life. According to the Rare Wine Company (an importer/retailer specializing in Port and Madeira) in the early part of the nineteenth century, important universities like Cambridge and Oxford had breathtakingly enormous wine cellars, and there was ten times as much Port in those cellars than any other wine. Far from being a mere hedonistic indulgence, Port was “currency”—often used by students to pay off wages, bets, and fines.

A. On the north island of New Zealand

B. In western Virginia

C. On the “downs” of southern England

D. In the southeast corner of Arizona


Willcox, in Cochise County (Cochise was an Apache warrior chief), is an AVA (American Viticultural Area) in Arizona, and part of that state’s emerging wine country. The town itself, near the border with Mexico, has a population of about 3700. Numerous grape varieties are grown including petite syrah, sangiovese, syrah, grenache, tempranillo, and cabernet sauvignon. Approximately 70% of Arizona’s wine grapes are grown there.

“Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures.”

— Michael Broadbent, English Critic (pictured on the right with me and Kevin Zraly)

— Michael Broadbent, English Critic (pictured on the right with me and Kevin Zraly)


The science of identifying and classifying grapevines according to their physical properties, such as the size, shape, and contours of their leaves, petioles, shoots, and grape clusters, as well as the color, size, seed content, and flavor of their grapes. French scientist Pierre Galet introduced modern ampelography in the 1950s and it remained the main system for identifying grapevines until the advent of DNA typing in the 1990s.

Nose at Your Own Risk

Ok all you English majors who love wine, this is for you. The next time you find yourself sniffing a wine that smells like a goat, you can oh-so-casually toss off one of the following which, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, are all synonyms for unpleasant odors. And yes, one of these bad smell words does mean “bad goaty” as opposed to “bad garlicky” which is also in this list: outstink, nidor, noisome, mephitic, alliaceous, stinkeroo, hircine, malodorous, reekingly, kakidrosis.


Number of billions of people worldwide who rely on rice as their primary food. According to new study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, increasing levels of carbon dioxide are not only warming the planet, but also severely lowering the nutritional value of key crops like rice. CO2-exposed rice has dramatically less iron, zinc, and B vitamins.


Percentage of bartenders in the U.S. who are women according to a current population survey. In 1970, women made up only 21 percent of bartenders. By 1990, that number rose to 52 percent. A thriving cocktail culture in the U.S. and mixology’s newly elevated status may be factors in bartending’s professional appeal to women.


Cost (in U.S. dollars) per bottle of Walmart’s new private label wines now debuting in 1,100 Walmarts nationally. The ten wines in the group (a “Chianti,” red blend, rosé, and others) are sourced from wineries in California, France, and Italy. Walmart’s motivation? Wine is known to attract higher-spending grocery customers.

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