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WineSpeed with Karen MacNeil | Donnafugata

Veteran wine writer Karen MacNeil shares insights with subscribers in her weekly newsletter, WineSpeed

DONNAFUGATA | “BEN RYÉ” PASSITO DI PANTELLERIA 2014

(Pantelleria, Italy) $40 (375ml)


A masterpiece of beauty, Ben Ryé (the name means “son of the wind”) is one of the most exquisite, artisanal and rare wines in the world—a wine that isn’t so much sweet as it is rich (and devastatingly delicious with hard cheese). It’s made from zibibbo grapes on the windswept volcanic island of Pantelleria off the coast of Tunisia. Half of the grapes are laid out by hand on mats to dry in the sun for several weeks. The resulting wine—langorous and almost neon orange—must be tasted to be believed.

95 points.

Available at hitimewine.net

Wine was served at an official White House event for the first time during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln in 1861. One of the locally made bottlings was crafted from a native North American grape. What grape was it?

  • A.Concord
  • B.Norton
  • C.Marechal Foch
  • D.Scuppernong

Scroll down for the answer!


“Wine needs to have life—both aliveness in the glass, and a long life ahead of it.”

-Cathy Corison, Corison Winery

MYTH #1: CAB AND CHOCOLATE

It may sound inspired—even heavenly–but as marriages go, cabernet and chocolate are a match made in hell (or in the depths of the marketing department). Chocolate is an extremely powerful, profound, and complex flavor. Its deep bitterness accentuates the tannin in cabernet sauvignon, making the wine taste severe and angular. Chocolate’s rich fruitiness blows away cabernet’s graceful fruity nuances, making the wine taste drab and hollow. In short, chocolate needs a sweeter partner more powerful than herself. Which is one of the reasons luscious, opulent Port is a life necessity.

DIACETYL

Diacetyl is a buttery-tasting compound that is a by-product of malolactic fermentation, the process in which beneficial bacteria turn sharp-tasting malic acid in wine to softer lactic acid. Chardonnays that have gone through malolactic fermentation often have noticeable diacetyl. Butteriness in chardonnay does not come from oak, although many wine drinkers assume this is the case.

WILLIAMS SELYEM – DEEP INTO PINOT NOIR’S HEART OF DARKNESS

“The morning I saw it, I bought it. It was beautiful; it was unique; and it cost less than one million dollars.”

It took two hours to get there in the soft, heavy rain. After years of drought, the rusted-shut sky split open and down came dark raindrops the size of saucers. It could not have been a better day to taste most of the 26 current pinot noirs from Williams Selyem. Even the air smelled right—damp, rich, savory. Continue reading…

The latest device from the tech company Cambridge Consultants is Vinfusion—a machine and accompanying app designed to let you blend a glass of wine according to your palate’s preferences. For just a couple of thousand dollars, you can slide some buttons and watch as different amounts of pinot noir, shiraz, merlot and red muscat are swirled together depending on whether you like your wine light or full-bodied, soft or spicy, dry or sweet. Another set of buttons will filter the wine through various types of soils to pick up your preferred kind of terroir. (Ok, I made up the last sentence, but everything else is real).

B. Indigenous to North America, Norton is named for Dr. Daniel Norton who cultivated the grape for the first time in Virginia. Today Norton is the official grape of the state of Missouri and is considered the cornerstone of the Missouri wine industry

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