#TasteWithKaren Live

Schedule for the week of September 28 2020

Chile at the Top: The Wines of Montes
with founder Aurelio Montes Sr.
Thursday, October 1 – 4pm PT/ 7pm ET


Groth—The Classic Napa Producer Unveils an Exciting New Wine
with CEO Suzanne Groth and winemaker Cameron Parry
Friday, October 2 – 4pm PT/ 7pm ET


Chandon—Bubbles Just Right for Right Now
with winemaker Pauline Lhote
Friday, October 2 – 5:30pm PT/ 8:30pm ET


Detailed Info


Verdeca 2019

(Salento, Apulia, Italy) $27

OMG is this white wine delicious. The aromas of a lush garden. Explosively fruity flavors, as though pears and peaches were fireworks being shot off in every direction. Plus a wonderful noble bitterness, like the flavors of lime zest. All encased in a bone-dry, minerally wine. Before tasting this verdeca from southern Italy (from the “heel” of the Italian “boot”), I had never heard of this rare white grape variety. I’d be mad at myself, except that one of Italy’s greatest gifts is being full of scrumptious things none of us have heard of. (14% abv)

93 points KM

Available at Vivino.com

The WineSpeed Blog

A. Sundials

B. Wild boars

C. Alpine horns

D. Wind chimes


The vineyards of the Mosel are the steepest in Germany and among the steepest in the world. Indeed, the expanse of vineyards from the village of Zelting to the village of Bernkastel along the Mosel River, is considered the longest stretch of near-vertical vineyards anywhere on the globe. Many of the top Mosel producers, including the three renowned Sonnenuhr—Sundial—vineyards are clustered in the middle section known as the Mittelmosel (middle Mosel). They are the Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr, and Zeltinger Sonnenuhr.

The Mosel vineyards are also among the most northern vineyards in Germany, meaning that the sun is in contact with the vines for limited, precious hours each day. The total number of sunlight hours during the growing season is also modest (the Mosel gets, in a good year, about a third of the sunlight hours that Provence does). If fine wine is to be made, vineyards must be nothing short of perfectly sited, so that each ray of light and warmth is maximized. As a result, the Mosel’s vineyards hug only south-facing slopes. In addition, the best vineyards are quite close to the river itself, for even the reflection of light off the water becomes one more increment in the quest for ripeness.

The huge sundials that give the Sonnenuhr vineyards their names were built as far back as the early 1600s in the sunniest part of three excellent slopes, so that vineyard workers would know when to stop for lunch or for the day. Because the vines in the vicinity of the sundial also got the most sun (and made the richest wine), the areas around the sundials soon came to be considered separate vineyards. Today the Sonnenuhr vineyards are among the best along the Mosel.

Answer: True.

The sweet fortified wine known as Port, from the Douro region of Portugal, is one of the most complex and ageworthy wines in the world. Of the top five most important styles, aged tawny Port gets my vote for the most sublime style of Port. (So-called young tawny Port, simple and not aged very long, are not often exported). Its flavors—toasted nuts, brown sugar, figs, and vanilla—are like some otherworldly sophisticated version of cookie dough. And the texture of a great tawny is pure silk. The wines used in the blend for an aged tawny are usually wines of the highest quality. Tawny Ports are kept a minimum average of ten years in barrel until they become tawny/auburn in color.

All Ports begin as a sweet wine with about 7 percent residual sugar (70 grams sugar per liter), fortified to about 20 percent alcohol. It is the maturation and aging processes that set the styles of Port apart. Tawny Ports are blends of Ports from different years. Each of those Ports has been kept in barrels for a long period of time. Tawny Ports are labeled as either 10, 20, 30, or 40 years old, and sometimes even more. The age listed on the label is the average age of all the wines used in the blend. And it’s not a rough guess. Port Shippers are required to document the wines in the final blend, and then that final blend is sent to the Port Wine Institute to be taste-tested by an expert panel before the tawny Port can be certified and sold.

A word about sweetness. While Tawny Port is sweet, it does not taste saccharin or candylike. At least the great ones don’t. Indeed, Tawny Port made well should start off tasting sweet but finish tasting dry. That’s because the acidity, alcohol, and tannin in the wine are all carefully calibrated to balance out the sweetness. Tawny Ports are among the best-loved Ports in Portugal, France, and Britain, where they are often drunk (chilled) both as an aperitif, as well as at the close of a meal.


The Italian term for bitter. Many Italian wines, both white and red, have a slight amaro character, which is considered a positive attribute. Amaro (plural amari) also refers collectively to Italian-made liqueurs that are aromatic, bittersweet, and herbal. They are traditionally drunk at the end of the meal as a digestif (or sometimes early in the evening before the meal as an exciting aperitif). Most amari are made from lightly fortified wine that’s been infused with botanicals like quinine bark, wormwood, rhubarb, ginger root, cardamom, gentian, and all manner of spices.

What Makes Wine Sexy?

It’s a WineSpeed tradition on Valentine’s Day to ask winemakers what they think makes wine sexy. Herewith, some fascinating responses from a group of winemakers and vintners we think are pretty special.

As If You Needed One More Reason to Love Wine

Asphalt is ubiquitous in our modern mobile lives, covering roads, parking lots and airport runways. So too, is the pernicious pothole. (Stay with me here; the wine part is coming). A mixture of liquid petroleum byproduct, stones and soil, asphalt undergoes a process of oxidation over time, becoming stiffer and prone to cracking and collapse.

In an effort to address this issue, Chilean engineers at the Pontificia Universidad Católica in Santiago, researched the high antioxidant qualities of the polyphenols in grape skins and discovered that grape skins could, when added to the mix, extend the life of pavements. In fact, they have been able to reduce the fatigue and cracking of asphalt pavement by 14% with the addition of dehydrated and powdered grape marc. (Marc is the mass of solids remaining after the juice is pressed from grapes for wine production). After experimenting with different grape varieties, they concluded that cabernet sauvignon grapes performed best, likely due to the higher content of polyphenols in their thick skins.


Minutes it took for Taco Bell to sell out of the 33 cases produced of “Jalapeño Noir,” its first exclusive house wine. Priced at C$25 (U.S.$19) and released only in Canada, the wine isn’t actually jalapeño-infused. The limited-edition bottling was created in partnership with Queenston Mile Vineyard, in Canada’s Niagara-on-the-Lake region, to pair with the fast food chain’s Toasted Cheesy Chalupa menu item.


Percentage of all wine production in California attributable to E & J Gallo Winery. The Modesto-based company owns 24,000 acres of land, its own glass manufacturing plant, and 80 different wine brands worldwide, including Orin Swift, Louis M. Martini, and Barefoot Cellars. Brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo founded the winery in 1933. Gallo has been the largest winery in the U.S. since 1966 and is currently the largest family-owned winery in the world.


Number of U.S. restaurants (1 in 6) that have closed either permanently or long-term, according to a new survey by the National Restaurant Association. Prior to the pandemic shutdown, the foodservice industry was the nation’s second largest private sector employer. It generated more than $2 trillion and employed 15.6 million people—three million of whom are still without jobs six months into the Covid crisis. Currently the industry is on track to lose $240 billion in sales by the end of the year.

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