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WineSpeed | Vasse Felix

Weekly insights from veteran wine writer Karen MacNeil

BY Karen Macneil | Life | Oct 31, 2017
Margaret River, Australia. Photo by Nick Rains/Corbis

Vasse Felix | Cabernet Savignon 2014

(Margaret River, Australia) $27

You know when you take rosemary, herbs, cracked pepper, salt and olive oil, make a paste and slather it all over a leg of lamb and roast it? Then when it’s done, there’s that charred bit of lamb-herb crust in the bottom of the pan sitting in warm meat juices, and you pick it up with your fingers and eat it? That’s a perfect savory moment. And it reminds me of the savory deliciousness of this wine. The Margaret River in far western Australia is famous for sleek cabernets with a dark cocoa and foresty character. Vasse Felix makes one of the best. And it tastes like it costs more than it does.

Available at Wine.com

The first winery in the Americas was established in which of the following countries?

A. United States
B. Mexico
C. Argentina
D. Peru
Scroll down for the answer!

Ex-Husbandry

AxR1 was the notorious rootstock that lead to financial disaster in Napa and Sonoma, California, in modern times. The rootstock’s name is an abbreviation of “Aramon crossed with Rupestris Ganzin No. 1.” Aramon is a grape that belongs to the European species Vitis vinifera, and rupestris is a reference to the American species Vitis rupestris. (As an aside, rupestris is also known as St. George after a town in the south of France where it was popular). Ganzin was the man who crossed the two and created the rootstock. Although it was widely recommended in California in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, AxR1 proved to be susceptible to phylloxera, ushering in a devastating second wave of the disease in the state in the 1980s. Today, virtually all California vines are planted on rootstock that is truly phylloxera-resistant.

Potential weight (in pounds) of giant pumpkins (an official classification), according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center. Americans consume about 5 pounds of pumpkin per person per year—most of it in the fall. Some 90 percent of all canned pumpkin is produced by one firm—Libby. More than 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin are grown each year in the U.S. Illinois (who knew?) is the leading state.

The pleasures of the table reside in the mind, not in the mouth.

Charles Spence, Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating

 

Bushvine

A bushvine is a vine that is free-standing with no trellis system. In other words, it looks like a bush. Bushvines are also known as “head-pruned” vines and “goblet-trained” vines. Many of the world’s oldest vines are trained in this manner.

Smoking Blunder

With the fires that have killed nearly 50 and devastated 162,000 acres of wine country not yet fully out, famous San Francisco chef Michael Mina is heralding the opening of his new SF restaurant. Its name? International Smoke. The promo copy talks about how “approaches on fire, grilling and smoke…bring communities together.” (Yeah, no kidding). We’re pretty sure Mina’s cooking is great. His timing? Not so much.

Got a wine question for Karen? Great. She loves questions, and chances are, she’s got an answer. Send your question to AskKaren@winespeed.com.

B. Casa Madero, the first known winery in the Americas, was established in 1597 in the Mexican town of Santa Maria de las Parras (“Holy Mary of the Grapevines”). The winery still exists and today, specializes in chardonnay, chenin blanc and shiraz. In the last decade, the Mexican wine industry has grown significantly even as it has moved closer toward high quality wine. Much of the excitement has been centered on the 1,000-plus-mile-long Baja Peninsula south of California. There are now 100 wineries in Baja. The earliest wine made in what is now the United States was produced between 1562 and 1564 by French Huguenot settlers in northern Florida. The wine was made from local Scuppernong grapes, but it appears the settlers did not build a winery..

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