Common Wine Faults: A Brief Overview

Imagine you’re out having a date night with your significant other. You order a bottle of wine, and the sommelier returns to your table with the bottle, unopened. She whips out her wine key, opens the bottle with quickness and ease, pours you a small taste, and offers you the cork. What’s the purpose of this ritual?

The sommelier is offering you the chance to examine your wine and the cork for flaws, not to see whether or not you like the wine you ordered.

You pick up the glass and swirl the scanty bit of wine around. You stick your nose all the way into the glass and breathe in deeply. If the wine is perfectly aged and ready to drink, the bouquet should be intense and pleasant, without any “off” aromas. This is the ideal situation.

Sometimes you might experience an aroma that makes you wonder if there’s something wrong with your wine. Maybe the wine doesn’t smell like anything at all. You don’t want to embarrass yourself or insult the somm by suggesting the wine is flawed, so you tell her it’s acceptable. She pours two full glasses. You try to tell yourself the wine is fine, and go on with your dinner. You leave feeling bad because you just paid 3x retail for a bottle of wine that you didn’t enjoy.

My first bit of advice for the person who is questioning the wine he just ordered is to always trust your gut. If it smells bad, there is probably something wrong with it, and you should politely ask the somm to inspect it.

In this article I will go over some potential causes of off aromas in wine – what they are, how they manifest, and how they present themselves.

  1. TCA, or Cork Taint – This is the chemical compound that causes wine to become “corked” or “corky”. No, it has nothing to do with the bits of cork that might be floating around in your wine. How TCA gets into wine is a long, complicated topic, subject to much controversy and many opinions. Instead of boring you with the details, I’ll get right to the meat. TCA can cause a range of aromas in wine, most commonly described as “wet cardboard” or “damp basement”. TCA is believed to occur in 10% or more of commercial wines. If your wine smells like a pile of wet clothes forgotten in the wash for too long, it’s probably infected with TCA. Like most things, there is a range of TCA that can be present in your wine. In small quantities, it may simply rob your wine of fruit aromas and make it taste subdued. Sometimes the wine may seem “closed”, having no aroma at all, and will taste flat and insipid. There is no cure for TCA, so if you believe your wine is corked, politely ask the somm for his or her opinion.
  2. Reduced wine – Some winemakers make their wine utilizing methods that limit the wine’s exposure to oxygen, to preserve freshness and high-toned fruit aromas. They age the wine in steel or other non-air permeable vats instead of wood. They use inert gasses during racking to reduce the wine’s exposure to oxygen. This is called “reductive winemaking”. Reductive winemaking is gaining popularity, especially amongst natural winemakers because they don’t add as much SO2 (a chemical antioxidant) to their wines. Wines made in a reductive manner are called “reduced”.
    Reduced wines sometimes produce off aromas when they are first opened, but it doesn’t always mean the wine is bad. Reduced aromas are usually sulfurous in nature, and are often described as smelling like a struck match, cabbage, eggs, or smoke. If you open a young wine and initially it smells a bit sulfurous, give it a long and vigorous swirl or a light decanting, and it should sort itself out. In extreme cases, the sulfurous aromas don’t go away, and the wine is considered flawed.
  3. Oxidation – Most wine lovers know that high end Burgundy and Bordeaux can age for decades. The aging occurs because tiny amounts of oxygen are let into the wine through the air-permeable cork over time. Bottle aging softens the wine and gives it complexity when done in a slow, controlled manner. If the wine is stored in an environment without temperature or humidity control, the wine can oxidize because too much oxygen gets into the bottle as the wine inside expands and contracts with the temperature fluctuations, or because the cork has dried out.
    Oxidation is more apparent in white wines than red, and red wines are less sensitive to oxygen. If your bottle had seepage around the cork before you opened it, or if the cork was dry and crumbly, chances are the wine is damaged from improper storage and is flawed. You can confirm this by observing and tasting the wine – it will appear brownish in color and taste metallic.
    Some wines are produced in an “oxidative” style, and are not considered flawed or oxidized, such as sherry and vin jaune. This type of oxidation happens in a slow and controlled manner; it’s a stylistic choice. These wines will taste nutty and savory instead of harsh and metallic. They are some of the rarest, most delicious, and food-friendly wines in the world.
  4. Excessive SO2 – SO2/Sulfur Dioxide/Sulfite is a chemical compound that is often added to wine to protect it from microbal growth and oxidation. It may also occur in wine because of elemental sulfur sprayed in the vineyard to prevent the growth of mold on grapes during a particularly damp growing season, and as a byproduct of the yeast converting sugar to alcohol during fermentation. In small amounts, SO2 is undetectable to most people. In higher amounts, it becomes a sensory flaw. It causes the wine to smell of burnt matches or eggs, and can taste harsh or bitter. Well-made wines should not have excessive amounts of SO2. It’s usually the lower-quality commercial wines that suffer from this. We like to avoid wines high in SO2 as a general rule, as it’s implicated as a cause of hangovers and is generally nasty stuff.
  5. Volatile Acidity – Commonly referred to simply as “VA”, it’s caused by acetic acid, the compound that makes vinegar, well, vinegar-y. VA is sometimes a byproduct of fermentation, or caused by spoilage bacteria (such as acetobacter). A small amount of VA is not necessarily considered a flaw in wine, and is sometimes just part of the je ne sais quoi – it usually blows off with a bit of aeration. Too much VA causes a wine to smell irreversibly like vinegar, and is considered a flaw.
  6. Brettanomyces, or Brett – Brett is a genus of yeast that can create a range of aromas in wine. It’s sometimes, but not always, considered a spoilage yeast and creates sensory flaws. Brett can infect entire wineries, which is why some estates have brett in most, if not all, of their wines. It’s notoriously hard to get rid of, and some people think the only way to be sure is by burning the whole place down.
    Some of the aromas created by brettanomyces include cloves, spice, horse blanket, manure, barnyard, band-aids, and rancidity. In small amounts, brett can increase the complexity and character of a wine. Too much, and it’s almost always considered a flaw. Some people are very sensitive to brett and have a negative reaction, regardless of the amount. I have a friend that, at a Loire Valley tasting, thought all of the bretty wines smelled like “corpses”. She is one of those people.

There are many other flaws that one can find in a wine, but these are the most common and, in my opinion, the most offensive. Reading about these flaws is not necessarily going to teach you how to detect them; the only way to really learn is by drinking a lot of wine and paying close attention. I once thought a corked wine smelled like apple peels, and figured it was the way the wine was supposed to be – we drank the whole bottle. I had the same wine later on and realized that it was totally different. It took me years to recognize that what I experienced was TCA, and only after I’d smelled it about a dozen times.

Do you have any tips or tricks for detecting flawed wine? Let us know in the comments.

Wine of the Week: François Pinon Vouvray Non-Dosé

This wine is SOLD OUT. Thanks for your interest!

Do you love Champagne? Of course you do. Have you ever tried a sparkling Vouvray? No? Well, let me introduce you two. Vouvray is made from the Chenin Blanc grape in a wide variety of styles. It can be still, bubbly, dry, sweet, or somewhere in between. Vouvray can age for decades, or be enjoyed while young and fresh. Sparkling Vouvray has all the opulence of a real Champagne, without the hefty price tag. What’s not to love?

We’ve curated this affordable, delicious bubbly from Vouvray producer François Pinon to share with you. I love Vouvray for it’s affordability – some of the finest examples can be acquired for less than $40. This one in particular, François Pinon NV Vouvray Non-Dosé, is a gorgeous, elegant, minerally, rich, bone-dry example of sparkling Vouvray. Non-dosé means there was no dosage – the sugar that gets added to some sparkling wines after disgorging. Expect notes of brioche, citrus, and crushed rocks. On the palate, it’s lively and pure, with loads of fine bubbles. Not only is it delicious, but it’s made with certified organic grapes and a light hand. It’s hard to find Vouvray of this quality at such a great price.

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Winemaker: François Pinon
Bio: François Pinon is a retired child psychologist, making some of the best wines in Vouvray since 1987. He aims to maintain typicity of the region in his wines.
Region: France>Loire Valley>Vouvray
Vineyard: Certified Organic, estate-grown. Clay and silica soil on a base of tuffeau (limestone) and silex (flint). Average vine age is 25 years. Vineyards are plowed & hand-harvested, and chemical fertilizers and pesticides are never used.
Blend: 100% Chenin Blanc
Aging: 12 months sur lie
Production Notes: Only certified Organic estate fruit is used in the production of this wine, and the care taken in the vineyard really shines through. Aging occurs in a combination of stainless steel tanks and foudres (old, large-format oak casks) to maintain balance and freshness. Non-Dosé means there was no sugar added during disgorgement, so this wine is very dry. The finished wine is then sterile-filtered instead of heavily dosed with SO2 to provide stability.
Tasting Notes: Have you ever had a sparkling Vouvray? It’s like drinking real Champagne without the deep regret of emptying your bank account. Chenin Blanc lends itself to this Loire Valley specialty, producing a nuanced and delicious sparkling wine. Fresh, savory, bubbly, Chenin Blanc goodness. It’s our favorite sparkling wine from Vouvray.
Food Pairings: Oysters, shellfish, goat cheese, trout, brunch foods, asparagus, salads.

Winery Visit: Two Shepherds

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Remember when Winelandia first got started? One of the first wines we offered was an interesting little Grenache Blanc made by wine blogger & garagiste-turned-pro winemaker William Allen under his label Two Shepherds. William makes a number of wines from Rhone varieties in very small batches – he only makes a half barrel of some of his wines. Many of these wines are classic in style, but William doesn’t shy away from experimentation – he makes a number of skin-fermented white wines and fringe varietal wines. I was fortunate enough to be invited to taste in his winery just this last Friday, and boy did he open a lot of new and exciting wines for me!

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We started with the 2012 Santa Ynez Valley Grenache Blanc – the original wine Winelandia offered from Two Shepherds. It has come along quite a bit since the last time we tasted it – more secondary aromas and mineral notes are emerging, which is a sign of quality in a white wine. One of the key factors in what makes this wine great is that it’s aged on the lees in a combination of neutral oak and stainless steel – giving body to and softening the wine while also preserving it’s freshness. A very rich and complex example of a varietal wine that is typically a simple porch-pounder.

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Next we tasted his 2012 Russian River Valley Pastoral Blanc, a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, and Grenache Blanc from Saralee’s Vineyard – the only vineyard in the Russian River Valley AVA growing Marsanne and Roussanne. It was rich and velvety with notes of stonefruit, white flowers, mineral, and spice, with present and balanced acidity. While it’s showing beautifully now, I’m certain it will continue to increase in complexity for years to come. I loved this wine so much, I picked some up for the shop.

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One of the wines I was most excited to taste was up next, William’s 2012 Fanucchi-Wood Vyd. skin-fermented Trousseau Gris. Perhaps you’ve heard me shout from the rooftop, proclaiming my love for Trousseau Gris. It’s a special and rare variety, originating from the Jura region in France. Trousseau Gris is gray grape, a mutation of the red Trousseau variety, and there’s only 10 or so acres of it planted in California, most of which is owned by the Fanucchi family in the Russian River Valley. That’s the vineyard William got the fruit for this wine from (Wind Gap & Jolie-Laide also make delicious wines from this vineyard) and it was a treat to experience his interpretation of it. The color is a rich coppery-pink, and on the palate it’s full of texture and lovely, juicy fruit and spice. The wine spent a full 10 days fermenting on the skins, where it extracted truckloads of character – this is a geeky wine for sure.

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Next up was the 2013 Mendocino County Grenache Gris Rosé. A very special wine made from a rare grape, Grenache Gris, a mutation of the well-known Grenache Noir. The vineyard is a unique site, where the vines are dry-farmed, head trained, and over 100 years old. This brand-new 2013 rosé was simply beautiful – rich and herbal, with loads of texture from 7 days of skin contact. Although it’s a fuller-bodied rosé, it retains tons of brightness and energy – it’s absolutely lively and juicy on the palate. It’s showing beautifully now, and will only get better by Thanksgiving. Just 33 cases were made, and I picked up just a few bottles for the shop, which you can buy here.

All of these lovely white, pink, and orange wines aside, William also makes extraordinary red wines from Rhone varietals. There’s a cool-climate 2012 Grenache Noir from the Russian River Valley; a 2011 Syrah/Mourvedre from the Russian River Valley & El Dorado AVA; and his flagship red blend, the 2011 Pastoral Rouge – a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah. All of the red wines are rich and textural, without being heavy or over-extracted, while showing grace, finesse, and restraint. Two Shepherds is a winery to keep an eye on – it hasn’t been around for long but William is already making wines that rival those of the rockstars of the region.

Big thanks to William for hosting me at his winery and opening so many of his treasures to share – I am very excited to see how these wines age and what he’s up to next.

 

 

Expand your palate with these great new wines

Radikon 2010 S Pinot Grigio – Friuli
From the legendary Radikon – the benchmark producer of orange wines – we present you with this delicious orange Pinot Grigio. Fermented on the skins for 2-3 weeks, this wine is incredibly complex, copper-hued, food-friendly, and will change the way you think about wine.

Francois Pinon NV Vouvray Brut Non-Dose
Sparkling Vouvray is our favorite sparkling wine, second only to Champagne. Chenin Blanc lends itself to this rich, bubbly, refreshing, food-friendly, bone-dry, affordable sparkler. Pick up a few of these for celebrations or any Tuesday night.

Knebel 2012 Riesling von den Terrassen, Mosel
Slightly off-dry riesling is the perfect pairing for spicy foods. This perfectly yummy and fresh German riesling from the Mosel would be perfect with our Honey-Sriracha chicken wings, or any spicy Asian takeout for dinner at home. What grows together doesn’t necessarily have to go together.

Goisot 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Saint-Bris
You spoke, we listened. The people wanted Sauvignon Blanc, so here it is. However, this one is from Burgundy, and not your typical Loire. The vineyard is located just a few kilometers south of Chablis, and this wine screams both Chablis and Sancerre at the same time. Confusing? Yes. Delicious? Also yes.

Domaine de la Bel Air 2012 Cabernet Franc, Bourgueil
One of our first heart throbs was Cabernet Franc from the Loire. Always a bargain and super delicious, this is the perfect everyday wine for vegetarian foods and barbecue. Pick some of this up for your springtime dinner parties.

All of these wines are available now in our Online Shop! Buy 6 bottles or more and save on shipping or delivery.

Wine of the Week: 2010 Radikon S Pinot Grigio

Radikon is the benchmark for “orange” wine production in the natural wine world. What’s orange wine, you ask? Generally, it’s made from “white” grapes, like Pinot gris – a variety which isn’t actually white, it’s more of grayish-blue in color (hence the “gris”). In Italy, Pinot Gris is referred to as Pinot Grigio. Pinot Grigio makes a white wine when sent directly to the press, or a copper-colored wine when left on the skins for some time. This is how orange wine is made – grapes traditionally used for white wine are macerated on the skins like a red wine, instead of going directly to the press after harvest. Not all of them are orange in color, but Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio is.

Colleen and I were fortunate enough to get to meet one of the proprietors of Radikon last week at a trade tasting – Saša Radikon. He has huge hands, which I noticed were rough and calloused when I shook one – he is a farmer, after all. We tasted through Radikon’s entire lineup, all of which were orange wines. The first few were the “S” line – vinified by Saša – which spend the least amount of time on the skins (2-3 weeks) and the shortest duration aging in barrels (12 months). The 2010 S Pinot Grigio, our featured Wine of the Week, was our hands-down favorite, so we picked up a case of it to share with you.

It’s important to think of orange wine more like a red wine – it’s rich, viscous, tannic, and complex – although it does retain a lot of it’s freshness from acidity, like a white wine. These wines show best when paired with food, so be sure to cook up something delicious to enjoy with it. This is a very special bottle that is incredibly hard to find outside of a handful of natural wine shops, and we are very excited to offer it to you.

Click here to buy now on Winelandia.com

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Winemaker: Stanko and Saša Radikon
Bio: The Radikon family includes several generations of winemakers and grape growers. Stanko took a cue from his grandfather’s winemaking style in the 1930’s and when he took over the family business, started to produce skin-fermented, so-called “orange wines.”
Region: Italy>Friuli-Venezia Giulia>Isonzo>Oslavia
Vineyard: After a devastating mudslide in 1994, the vineyards were replanted starting in 1997. The soil is heavy clay with shale. All grapes are estate grown, and hand-harvested. The Radikons use horse manure for fertilizer, as well as small amounts of copper and sulfur to treat pests and diseases. They’re also experimenting with propolis, a bee-based resinous product that they find to be effective against mildew. They use no synthetic chemicals in the vineyard or the winery.
Blend: 100% Pinot Grigio
Aging: 12 months in neutral barrel
Production Notes: Saša Radikon is the maker of the “S” line at Radikon. Saša and his father have not certified their vineyard or winery as organic or biodynamic, in part because they don’t feel it reflects their commitment to the land and the product – the certifications are too easy to get. All Radikon grapes are de-stemmed. Sasa’s Pinot Grigio, among other white grapes they work with, is fermented on the skins for 2-3 weeks. Aged in barrique for one year, bottled with a small dose of SO2, aged in bottle for 2 years, and then released.
Tasting Notes: Let’s start with the end. The finish on this wine is among the most outstanding we have ever experienced – long, and utterly fascinating. The color is a beautiful shimmering apricot, a treat to admire in the glass. When you see this wine, you can finally see the “gris” in Pinot Gris – the coppery color on the skins translates directly to the glass here. The wine is bright with acid and a bit tense, full of strawberry, resin (think pine trees, or IPAs), and honey flavors. It has a surprising amount of tannin, and a ton of complexity, but don’t be afraid! It’s totally rewarding. A thinker’s wine.
Food Pairings: Anything with mushrooms – a mushroom toast, or mushroom pizza. Vegetable dishes such as roasted vegetables, or dishes with herbs like a veggie quiche with thyme.

Click here to buy now on Winelandia.com

The Great “Natural” Wine Debate

Winelandia prides itself on it’s dedication to natural wine. What does “natural wine” mean, anyway? You will likely get a different answer from every wine professional you ask, along with alternating smugness and exuberance about the term. Our definition of natural wine is our own, and not everyone is going to agree with our stance on the topic.

Most people do agree on the fact that the term “natural wine” has no official definition. Many will describe it as a wine with “nothing added, nothing taken away”. A truly natural wine will be farmed organically, fermented with indigenous yeasts that occur naturally on the skins of the grapes, go through spontaneous malolactic fermentation, have no SO2 added at any stage in the winemaking process, be un-fined, and bottled without filtration. Grapes can make themselves into wine without much intervening from the winemaker, or in this case, the wine shepherd.

We, however, are a little more practical about the term. While we would always prefer to have wines made with nothing added and nothing taken away, most commercial winemakers choose to add or take away something at some point in the winemaking process. The more you manipulate a wine, the less natural it becomes, so one might imagine there’s a gradient for “natural wine” rather than it being an absolute. Here’s a list of manipulations we feel are relatively acceptable, when done conscientiously and with a light hand:

  • Small doses of SO2 at bottling to prevent oxidation and microbal growth
  • Sterile filtration of the wine to inhibit malolactic fermentation (as a stylistic choice) in white and rosé wines, rather than adding large doses of SO2
  • Occasional spraying of elemental sulfur in the vineyard during an unusually cold, wet season to prevent the growth of mold on the fruit
  • Natural cold-stabilization of wine from the ambient temperatures in the cellar

What would make a wine non-natural, in our opinion?

  • Farming with chemical fertilizers or chemical herbicides and pesticides
  • Chaptalization of unfermented juice to increase the alcohol content of the finished wine
  • Using laboratory-isolated commercial yeasts for primary fermentation
  • Using laboratory-isolated strains of malolactic bacteria to induce malolactic fermentation
  • Large, unnecessary doses of SO2 during the winemaking or aging process
  • The addition of enzymes to break down the skins of the grapes during fermentation
  • The addition of tannins, acids, or other “natural” compounds to alter the taste or texture of the wine
  • Any chemical additives that alter the taste, color, texture, or otherwise natural character of the wine
  • Unnecessary filtration or fining of wine to make it more visually appealing

Why is it that Winelandia prefers to sell wine that fits into our interpretation of “natural”? To start, we feel that every time you add or take something away from a wine, you are robbing it of nuance. If a winemaker adds tartaric acid to his wine because it was unusually hot that summer and the grapes were acid-deficient, then the wine is falsely representing the weather of it’s vintage. If he runs his red wine through a filter to try and make it a little more clear and visually appealing, he’s by-catching compounds that give it texture and complexity. If he uses commercial yeasts to make the wine taste a certain way, rather than using the natural yeasts that live in the vineyard or winery, the wine loses it’s sense of place. If he doses it heavily with SO2 for the sake of “playing it safe”, he is unnecessarily poisoning the wine and the consumer.

We also feel that it’s irresponsible to dump chemicals into our natural environment, whether it’s down the drain, through our bodies, or into the soil. Why use unnecessary chemicals or additives at all? Why not let the wine be as it is – sometimes more austere and bright, others a little fatter and round? Wine is a living, breathing, natural thing. I find it unnatural when a winemaker tries to manipulate it so that it pleases the palate of a particular critic, or to make it more “marketable”.

Sure, there are tons of conventional wines out there that people love and will continue to drink. Those are not the wines I chose to get into the wine business for. It was natural wine that tugged at my heart-strings, connected with my soul, and enamored me so fully that I left my comfortable career to pursue it. There aren’t many things in this world that move me so profoundly as a glass of wine that tastes like where it came from, a half a world away – or just an hour north on Highway 101.

Winelandia’s core business is a wine club featuring natural wines from all over the world at a reasonable price-point. For more information and to sign up, visit our Wine Club Signup Page.

Winelandia now accepts Bitcoin

Are you a big nerd? Did you make your millions by investing in the magic internet currency known as Bitcoin? Are you a big proponent of the rise of cryptocurrency? Do you also love wine? If so, you’re in luck!

Winelandia now accepts Bitcoin as payment for all of the products in our online shop. The checkout process applies the current exchange rate for Bitcoin and performs the calculations to USD. Use your Bitcoin the same way you would use a credit card.

We are big supporters of technology and innovation, and we are proud to be one of the many merchants accepting payment in the form of Bitcoin. Let us know if you have any questions by emailing info@winelandia.com!

Wine of the Week: Forlorn Hope “Mil Amores”

This delicious wine is SOLD OUT. Check out Forlorn Hope’s Ghanima Napa Valley Merlot in the shop if you want to try one of Matthew Rorick’s fantastic wines. Thanks for the interest!

What delicious rare creatures lurk in the deep recesses of Winelandia? Here’s one from Matthew Rorick – an old school red field blend (a menagerie of different grapes grown in the same vineyard, picked at the same time, and fermented together) from the DeWitt Vineyard in Amador County, near the Sierra Foothills of California. The decomposed granite soils of this unique vineyard are perfect for grape-growing, and some of the most interesting wines we’ve had lately have come from this soil type.

“Mil Amores” (Portuguese for “a thousand loves”)  is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinto Roriz, and Trincadeira – all grapes with Portuguese heritage. It’s lush, sexy, supple, highly aromatic, fresh, pure… everything we look for in both wine and a lover. This is a beautiful and unusual wine with it’s high-toned blue and black fruit aromas, peppered with earth and spice. We know you’ll love it as much as we do – it’s weird enough to satiate our inner wine geek, while being approachable enough for anyone to enjoy. Only 427 cases made, and Forlorn Hope is quickly becoming a household name – it won’t be around for long!

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Winemaker: Matthew Rorick
Bio: Matthew Rorick is a surfer and Gulf war veteran. After the war, he returned to southern California where his grandfather encouraged him to study enology. Forlorn Hope was started in the mid-2000′s. His focus is lost and forgotten varieties, age-worthy white wines, and easy drinking reds. Rorick employs minimalist winemaking methods; he ferments with indigenous yeasts, leaves the grape clusters whole, and only uses small additions of SO2. He was the SF Chronicle’s 2013 Winemaker to Watch, and yes, we are watching!
Region: US>California>Sierra Foothills>Amador County
Vineyard: DeWitt Vineyard. Sustainably farmed. Decomposed granite & quartz soils. 1300′ elevation.
Blend: Touriga Nacional, Tinto Roriz, Trincadeira
Aging: 12 months neutral oak.
Production Notes: A blend of Portugese grape varieties planted in a single block. The grapes were all picked at the same time and co-fermented. Indigenous yeast fermentation took 3 days to get going and lasted for about 2 weeks. Pressed at dryness into used oak barrels and completed malolactic fermentation in the barrel. 427 cases made.
Tasting Notes: A beautiful, complex wine at an unbeatable price. Loaded with black and blue fruit, with earthy and spicy undertones. Medium acidity, medium bodied, with unmatched suppleness and intrigue.
Food Pairings: Duck breast with sour cherry sauce, char-siu glazed pork, grilled beef

Recipe: Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings

honeysrirachawingsI’ll tell you a secret – I love a good chicken wing. Love isn’t a strong enough word to describe how I feel about a succulent, crispy, perfectly seasoned wing. So many places get them right, and I’m not ashamed to say I love the wings at Hooters and Buffalo Wild Wings. One problem with those places, however, is the quality of the meat they are using. I’m sure those chickens did not come with their papers – chances are they are mass produced, factory-farmed, miserable little creatures. Winelandia believes in eating locally and sustainably, so we try our best to eat responsibly-farmed meat. Pasture-raised chicken tastes better, is healthier for you, and better for the environment. The other issue is that wings in restaurants are almost always deep-fried. It’s bad enough wings are full of fat – frying them isn’t helping the situation.

Leave it to me to try and health up and green-wash a chicken wing party platter. They may not technically fall into the “health foods” category, but they are certainly better than what you get at Hooters. After several attempts at getting these wings just right, I’ve finally found enough success to share the recipe and technique with you. First of all, these wings are baked – not fried. We roast them at a high temperature on a wire rack over a cookie sheet with only salt and pepper on them – no oil. They have enough fat in the skin to baste themselves, and we want to render all of that fat out so they aren’t getting soggy in a pool of their own fat while they cook. The elevated dry-roasting at a high temperature also breaks down the connective tissue so that the meat just falls off the bone, making them easier to eat.

We finish them off with a yummy honey-sriracha glaze, adapted from a FoodNetwork.com recipe. If you’ve never heard of Sriracha sauce, it’s a Thai chili-garlic sauce originating from Thailand (but lots of it is produced in California). I cut back on the butter in the glaze and changed up the cooking method, so it’s not quite the same recipe. I left the proportions of honey and sriracha the same, though, because I felt it was already perfectly balanced between spicy and sweet.

To pair wine with your chicken wings, look for an off-dry Riesling, off-dry Gewurtztraminer, off-dry Chenin Blanc, or an inexpensive sparkling wine with a little bit of residual sugar. You could also pair an aromatic dry white wine, because the wings have enough sugar on them already to temper the heat. A slightly sweet wine will pair better, but a dry wine would be just fine as well. I paired a delicious Blanc de Blanc Champagne from Jacques Lassaigne, which was totally uncalled for and absolutely perfect. If you want to splurge and enjoy your wings with a bottle of real Champagne, go for it – you won’t regret it.

Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings
Author: Tala Drzewiecki
adapted from FoodNetwork.com

Ingredients:
2 lbs. pasture-raised chicken wings, tips removed, cut into two pieces (wings & drumettes)
1/3 cup local honey
1/4 cup sriracha chili sauce
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. lime juice
salt & pepper

Special Tools:
Baking sheet
Wire rack (about the same size as the baking sheet)
Non-stick cooking spray
Aluminum foil

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Spray your wire rack with non-stick cooking spray and set on top of the foil-lined baking sheet.
  4. Pat your wings dry, and toss them in a bowl with plenty of salt and pepper.
  5. Put the wings on the wire rack and bake at 400F for 40 minutes, turning once halfway through.
  6. While the wings are roasting, prepare the sauce. Combine the sriracha, honey, butter, and soy sauce in the pan over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Turn the heat off, add the lime juice, and stir. Set aside.
  7. Remove the wings from the oven and toss them in a bowl with half of the sauce. Put them back on the wire rack over the baking sheet and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the wings from the oven and toss again in the same bowl with the other half of the wing sauce.
  9. Garnish with parsley or sliced green onions, and serve with your favorite sparkling or off-dry white wine.

 

Winelandia’s Official Press Release

Now that Winelandia is out of BETA mode and the online shop has been battle tested, we are smashing into the local wine scene like the Kool-Aid man with our official Press Release!


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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 10th, 2014
BAY AREA STARTUP LAUNCHES ARTISAN WINE DELIVERY SERVICE

San Francisco, CA – Winelandia is a new kind of wine retailer. It’s targeting busy, tech-savvy Bay Area wine lovers and startup office kitchens by delivering sustainably produced wines to their homes and offices. With no brick-and-mortar storefront and only an online presence, Winelandia is able to focus on customer service, product transparency, and convenience.

Initially launched in February of 2013 as a food and wine blog, Winelandia added a subscription-based wine club in November of 2013. In mid-February of 2014, Winelandia expanded its website and launched an online store that allows consumers to browse and purchase wines by the bottle. Within San Francisco and surrounding areas, delivery is done by hand – by the company’s founder.

The wines offered by Winelandia are curated by founder Tala Drzewiecki and blog co-author Colleen McGarry. Their selections are responsibly farmed, fermented with indigenous yeasts, and minimally manipulated in the winery. Tala & Colleen’s tastes showcase honest wines with elegance, texture, balance, affordability, and food friendliness.

Winelandia’s foundation is its wine club, which has grown to nearly 40 members since its launch. Winelandia develops recipes for each wine club shipment, along with food pairing recommendations and detailed production data for all of the included wines. Winelandia believes that food and wine go hand-in hand, and that they should be enjoyed together.

Whether consumers are just seeking to explore their palates, or if they are seasoned wine lovers that just want high-quality wine without any fuss, Winelandia is there to deliver.

ABOUT WINELANDIA
Winelandia was founded in 2013 by SF Bay Area native, tech escapee, and natural wine enthusiast, Tala Drzewiecki. Winelandia provides a curated wine delivery service to customers throughout California, focusing on small-production wines grown and produced as responsibly as possible. Winelandia is privately held and based out of Brisbane, CA and San Francsico, CA. Visit: https://winelandia.com/

Media Contact: Tala Drzewiecki
tala@winelandia.com
415-572-2493
Visit: https://winelandia.com