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WineSpeed | Weingut E. Knoll

Weekly insights from veteran wine writer Karen MacNeil

BY Karen Macneil | Life | Nov 20, 2017
Photo by Alex Tihonov/Getty

WEINGUT E. KNOLL | Grüner Veltliner “Ried Loibenberg” Smaragd 2013

(Wachau, Austria) $50

The best part of wine is time travel. This is Vienna. The old days. Snow falling outside but inside, a dizzying electricity from mouthfuls of vivid wine that twirl around on the palate as if the wine itself were dancing out of control. And yet for all the charm, this is a wine of gravitas. A wine that speaks of a place. A wine that wants to say, You have never tasted peaches and white pepper and mineraly wet stones like this. Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s great white grape. Knoll is a top producer. Smaragd is the highest classification a wine from the Wachau can have. This is a white for winter and a must. (13.5% abv)

92 points KM

Available at JJ Buckley

What winery was the first to plant chardonnay in the Napa Valley?

A. Robert Mondavi Winery

B.  Schramsberg

C. Kendall Jackson

D. Stony Hill

Scroll down for the answer!

Syrah or Shiraz?

In Australia (and sometimes in South Africa), the grape syrah is known as shiraz. Why so? In the 17th century, French Huguenots (many of whom were religious refugees) brought syrah from France to South Africa, and from there it was brought to Australia. By the 1830s, Australian explorers were also bringing syrah in directly from France. In France, syrah is known by a number of colloquial names (serine, serinne, sira, etc.). Most scholars think the name shiraz is a corruption of one of these aliases. Frustratingly, many wine articles continue to reproduce the erroneous legends that syrah/shiraz somehow came from the Iranian city of Shiraz, the Greek island of Syra, or the city of Syracuse in Sicily. All false. Today, of course, shiraz is Australia’s most famous red wine, and it can be a spellbinding rich blockbuster of a wine, although rarely as gamey as syrahs from Washington State or from the northern Rhône.

“Great, complex wines are wonderful, enthralling, life-affirming, soul-stirring, but it’s worth asking whether they are relaxing. Good, simple wines speak to out spirit of play and ease and repose, exactly because they don’t demand our exclusive attention.”

—Terry Theise, wine importer and writer, Reading Between the Wines

Meniscus

The meniscus (men-IS-cuss) is the thin edge of wine at the top. The meniscus forms a kind of ring where the wine touches the inside of a wine glass.  By tilting the glass at a 45-degree angle and looking down at the meniscus, you can get an idea of a wine’s age.  The lighter the meniscus, the older the wine. For example, if a cabernet is young, its deep garnet color will extend from the core of the wine all the way through the meniscus to the inside wall of the glass. If the wine is significantly older, however, the core will be deep in color, but the meniscus will be significantly lighter.

Sheer Deliciousness

I’m guilty (like just about everyone else I know) of drinking Beaujolais once a year: right now in November, when stores all over announce Le Beaujolais Est Arrivé! (The Beaujolais Has Arrived!) What has arrived, to be exact, is the exploit Beaujolais Nouveau, a bubble-gummy young wine made immediately after the harvest. Continue reading…

D. Stony Hill, a small cult winery on Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain, planted chardonnay in 1947 and released its first bottle in 1952 at the then steep price of $1.95. Schramsberg Vineyards planted chardonnay for its famous sparkling wines in 1965. The Robert Mondavi Winery’s first chardonnay was planted in 1970. And Kendall Jackson, which is not located in the Napa Valley, made its first chardonnay in 1982 and now makes several million cases of chardonnay annually.     

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