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Thursday, January 21 – 4pm PT/ 7pm ET


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“SHW Founding Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

(Walla Walla Valley, Washington) $50

Just about the best thing a wine can do is taste like it costs twice as much as it does. That’s the case with this beautiful cabernet from Seven Hills with its rich aromas/flavors of cigar box, blackberries, dark chocolate, vanilla bean, espresso, cinnamon and that wonderful “rocky” character often evident in Walla Walla wines. Plus: soft tannin, a sleek body, and a long finish. Seven Hills (a partnership of four pioneers in the region) planted some of the first cabernet in Walla Walla, now considered one of the top wine regions in Washington, and one of the next great U.S. regions for cabernet. And this wine comes from those 30+ year old vines. (14.9% abv)

94 points KM

Available at Seven Hills Winery

The WineSpeed Blog

A. South Africa

B. France

C. United States

D. New Zealand


South Africa accounts for 53% of the world’s total planted acreage of chenin blanc. France grows 28%, primarily in the Loire Valley, and together the U.S. and Argentina split another 15%. For centuries chenin blanc was (and it still remains) South Africa’s most planted grape. Sometimes known there as steen, it was one of the first grapes to arrive on the Cape in the1650s. Historically, far more white grapes than red were grown in South Africa—a reflection of the past importance of cheap South African “sherry” and brandy which were based on white grapes that could be grown at astronomical yields (and consequently little flavor or complexity). Chenin blanc is also able to retain acidity relatively well in hot climates. Lots of South African chenin blanc is pleasant and simple at best. But treasure troves of old chenin blanc vineyards can still be found, and many young winemakers are dedicated to saving these old vineyards and making amazingly delicious wines—both dry and sweet—from them.

Answer: True.

As most wine drinkers know, wine can taste pleasantly salty—even when there’s no actual sodium chloride in it. Certain grape varieties, for example, can taste a bit salty (sangiovese is one), and wines made from grapes growing near a sea coast can, too. So maybe it was only a matter of time, but several winemakers in France and Portugal are now experimenting with adding salt to their wines, a practice that was described in ancient Roman texts. In particular, adding seawater was typical since it helped preserve the perishable beverage, in the same way that salt was used to preserve meat.

Contemporary vintner Hervé Durand’s family estate, Mas des Tourelles, in the southern Rhône Valley, stands atop the remains of a Gallo-Roman winery. Known for his “Archeological Roman Wines,” Durand makes a version of Turriculae, a wine made from an ancient recipe that includes seawater as well as ground fenugreek and iris flowers. In Portugal, Port producer Dirk Niepoort learned of the practice from a traditional wine producer in the Azores and convinced fellow vintners Anna Jorgensen and Anselmo Mendes to join him in experimenting with salt. Filling their fermentation vessels to 1% seawater, they found the results had a tangy, saline flavor that gave “more life” to the wine without overly diluting it. “As it is common with food, a pinch of salt is important to ‘awaken’ other flavors,” says Mendes. He has a point.


A quality that a wine possesses if it is historically typical of its region. Whether or not a wine demonstrates typicity is subjective and has nothing to do with how good the wine tastes. In certain European wine regions, an evaluation of typicity is required by law in order for a wine to obtain appellation status.

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Fantastic Tan-Plastic!

Tannin in wine provides two things: structure and ageability. Found in the grape’s skins, seeds, and stems, tannin is a natural preservative. Red wines, with considerably more tannin than white, can thus age longer. Tannins belong to a class of complex compounds called phenols, powerful antioxidants believed to give red wine its reported health benefits. Some scientists believe that antioxidants offer a way to also slow fresh food spoilage by reacting with chemicals that cause oxidation. Paul Kilmartin, a professor of wine chemistry at New Zealand’s University of Auckland, discovered that plastics impregnated with discarded grape solids during the manufacturing process retained the tannin’s antioxidant benefits. Testing their effect on packaging for various edible oils, Kilmartin was able to extend the oil’s shelf life up to 30%.


Months it takes the world’s first 100% biodegradable spirits bottle to decompose. Developed by Bacardi, the bottle is made of a biopolymer derived from natural plant seeds oils such as palm, canola and soy. The new packaging, expected to debut in 2023 with Bacardi Rum, will replace plastic bottles, each of which takes over 400 years to decompose. The company expects to avoid producing 3,000 tons of plastic annually.


Number of the world’s 50 most expensive wines that come from Burgundy, France. According to wine-searcher.com’s annual ranking, the perennial #1 is DOMAINE de la ROMANÉE-CONTI “Romanée-Conti” Grand Cru, with an average price of $19,378 a bottle. After Burgundy, Germany’s Mosel region had the next most wines on the list with 5. Somewhat shockingly, only 3 wines from Bordeaux were among the top 50. And not surprisingly, the 2 Napa Valley wines on the list were both from Screaming Eagle.


Amount (in millions of U.S.$) that E. & J. Gallo paid Constellation Brands for 30 of its inexpensive wine brands. After two years of negotiations, the deal is one of the biggest wine acquisitions in modern history. What’s more, the agreement originally included brandy and sparkling wine brands, and was priced at $1.7 billion. The Federal Trade Commission objected to that, stating that it would “substantially lessen competition in the U.S.”

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