Who doesn’t love a good wine-themed grammar question? In our Name That Wine mailbox, we recently received just such a question from one of our viewers. A certain Thom Heil asked us about the difference between the words “variety” and “varietal.”
I was very excited to receive this question, because goodness knows, I see the word “varietal” misused time and time again, even by highly respected wine writers. Many people feel free to use the words “variety” and “varietal” interchangeably, but no such freedom exists. The words mean two different things, and they are two different parts of speech.
Alas, the incorrect use of “varietal” has become quite common, and it’s likely only a matter of time before dictionaries capitulate and accept the change. I know I’m fighting a losing battle against varietal abuse. But I keep praying to St. Jude in the hope that he will come to my aid.
To find out what the difference between a variety and a varietal is, check out our short and mostly non-judgmental video on the subject:
Instead of shooting Name That Wine episodes about whatever we felt like, as was long our habit, we decided to find out what our viewers wanted to know. What were the questions about wine they were burning to know the answers to?
We shot short videos answering three questions that we loved and that suited the season, regarding rosé in winter, bringing wine to a party and choosing the perfect wine with the help of an app. Liz and I give our well-considered (if perhaps not entirely sober) advice.
Look for more Viewer Question episodes soon, with our thoughts about things like wine and migraines, and how to decipher wine labels. In the meantime, we tackle these three topics:
“Rosé is for summer only?”
“When you want to bring wine as a gift for the host but don’t know if they prefer red/white/sparkling, what are some great go-to’s?”
“Total novice stands in wine section of market. (Costco or Trader Joe’s, let’s say.) iPhone in hand. What internet site will help me choose well? Um. Asking for a friend.”
Do YOU have a wine question you would like us to answer in an upcoming episode of Name That Wine? Send it to us! You can click on one of the videos above and write it in the comments section, or send it via email to [email protected]
Comments Off on A Forgotten Style Of Champagne, Resurrected
I love it when someone reaches back into history for inspiration, and resurrects a wine or spirit that has been “lost” for years. A while back I wrote about how Robert Cooper of Charles Jacquin et Cie reintroduced Crème Yvette, and I’m proud to say that my article about some sparkling red Gevery-Chambertin, made in the style of a long-forgotten Burgundian AOC, won me a Millésima Blog Award.
So it was with no small measure of delight that I sat down, with my cohost Liz Barrett, to interview Champagne maker Delphine Vesselle of Champagne Jean Vesselle. First, she produces Grower Champagne, which means that she makes Champagne from grapes grown in her own vineyards. Most Champagne labels, including almost all the famous ones like Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Krug, blend grapes from across the region to make their sparkling wines. Vesselle has full control of her grapes, from spring pruning through to harvest, pressing and fermentation.
Second, Vesselle produces a now-unusual style of Champagne called Oeil de Perdrix. Once common in and around the Pinot Noir-rich town of Bouzy, home to Champagne Jean Vesselle, Oeil de Perdrix translates as “eye of a partridge,” the color of which this amber Champagne apparently resembles. What makes Oeil de Perdrix different from a standard rosé is that the latter results from purposeful skin contact at the time of pressing in the winery. Oeil de Perdrix happens more en route from the vineyard. Bouzy’s warmer sites can really ripen Pinot Noir, and if the grapes are ripe enough when picked, they gently press themselves and start to macerate before they even make it to the winery. Hence the orangey tinge that’s not quite a rosé.
Early in the 20th century, big Champagne houses decided they wanted Champagne that was either rosé or not, not something in between, and so Oeil de Perdrix fell out of favor. It was Delphine Vesselle’s father who resurrected the style, as she relates in the interview. And my word, it is absolutely delicious.
You can watch our interview with the charming and very funny Delphine Vesselle here, filmed at the headquarters of Chicago importer and distributor H2Vino:
And to learn more about Grower Champagne, check out my articles about it here and here. If you want to impress a wine lover this season, Grower Champagne is a perfect gift!
Move over, Google Maps. Yes, you got me through my Croatian road trip, but another app has stolen my heart. I discovered Wine Game when I checked into this year’s Wine Bloggers Conference. My cursory glance at the promotional materials on the sign-in table turned to keen interest when I saw the words “blind tasting” and “game.” Blind tasting is one of my favorite challenges, so much so that my friend Liz and I started a web series about it.
Fortunately, Wine Game investor Dorian Patchin was also attending the conference. We took time to film a quick round of Wine Game with him, in order to learn about the app and show off our blind-tasting talents (I’m afraid I accomplished the former goal more so than the latter.) He selected two bottles for us to try, and my goodness, he did seem to enjoy it when we struggled. But in spite of the struggles, or perhaps because of them, we had a sensational time playing Wine Game.
The app is free, so it’s a great way to organize a blind-tasting party with your friends. Who doesn’t love a good drinking game? And for you Luddites without smart phones, you can use a web-based version as well. Here’s how it works!