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WineSpeed with Karen MacNeil | Two Vintners

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


(Walla Walla Valley, Washington State) $50 (750ml)

If you need something new and spectacular to accompany the Christmas prime rib, this is it. Walla Walla has become the syrah capital of the U.S. and the sheer number of delicious, opulent, flavor-packed, loaded-with-personality syrahs is stunning. This one is wild and vivid, with arcs of spice, forest, stones, woodland smoke and roasted meat juices. It’s a carnivore’s red. It’s also powerful, sensual and tempestuous. (You’ll see.) Splash it into a decanter to give it air before serving.

94 points KM

Available at Two Vintners

“Old vines”—a common description on some wine labels—is an ambiguous term, sometimes applied to vines no more than 10 years old. However, there is an old vine that is certified by Guinness World Records. In which of the following countries can the oldest living grapevine be found?

  • A.Mexico
  • B.Slovenia
  • C.Israel
  • D.Greece

Scroll down for the answer!

“I only drink Champagne on two occasions: when I’m in love and when I’m not.”

—Coco Chanel, Fashion Designer (1883-1971)


You’d think all grape names were known by now, given that 5,000 to 10,000 grape varieties are thought to exist. Of course, some varieties exist only as part of scientific collections, and some are always going extinct (sadly). But new varieties are also always being created—either in nature or by plant breeders. In fact, a large group of grape breeders in the East and Midwest have been coming up with a slew of new varieties breed to be tolerant of extremely cold winters. The names of those grapes must be approved by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau before they can be used on wine bottles. If approved by the TTB, here are some wine names you may see in the future: Aromella, Valjohn, Southern Cross, Jupiter, Bluebell, King of the North, Diana, and our favorite, By George (invented by a backyard breeder named George Girouard).


The raised glass logo or emblem embossed on a bottle of wine, most often found on the wines from the region of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a cartouche is added to a wine bottle by pressing a mold filled with molten glass to the already-finished bottle. The word cartouche comes from the oval symbol used in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics to indicate that the name written within the oval was a royal name.

If it’s a question of deservingness, let us assure you. You deserve one of these. It’s been a tough year.

Gosset – Grand Blanc de Blancs non-vintage Champagne, $90
Spring-loaded with freshness and superb flavor; sensational chalkiness. 94 points KM
Louis Roederer – Brut Premier non-vintage Champagne, $54
Refined and mouth filling. Very persistent; very precise. 93 points KM
Collet – Blanc de Blancs non-vintage Champagne, $57
The chalkiness of limestone; the softness of silk. 91 points KM
Veuve Clicquot – Brut non-vintage, $56
Round, citrusy; generous and classic. 90 points KM

D.The wine region of Maribor, Slovenia, is home to the world’s oldest living grapevine. The vine was certified by Guinness World Records in 2004 and is the native red variety žametovka. At over 400 years old, the vine currently produces less than a gallon of wine per year. This small yield of wine is put into tiny bottles and given each year to presidents and other important world figures.


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