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New vintages of two old favorites: Syncline and Owen Roe

February 12, 2016 Leave a comment

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From the moment I landed in Seattle, I knew my trip would be cut short due to the impending Snowzilla back home.  That left only one choice for which wines I would try…old favorites.  The 2014 Syncline, Subduction Red, Columbia Valley is a lovely, forward drinking blend full of youthful blue fruit flavors.  The 2012 Owen Roe, Ex Umbris Syrah, Columbia Valley steps things up with fat accenting the deep blue and black fruit flavors.  Fat works well with Syrah and all this wine needs is just a little more time to open up. These wines were purchased at Pete’s of East Lake.

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2014 Syncline, Subduction Red, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of 46% Syrah, 27% Mourvedre, 14% Grenache, 8% Carignan, 3% Cinsault, and 2% Counoise.  Alcohol 14.4%.  There were plenty of young, berry fruit flavors which settled in on rounded blueberries.  The wine showed slight grip, good acidity, and youthful age.  The blue fruit lasts throughout, taking on some baking spiced wood notes and a little heat in the end.  Fun stuff.  **(*) 2016-2020.

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2012 Owen Roe, Ex Umbris Syrah, Columbia Valley
This wine is 100% Syrah.  Alcohol 14.1%.  The hints of fat worked with the deep black and blue fruit.  The wine showed weight and density before black minerals, and some spirit came out in the finish.  There is no need to mature this wine for different flavors, rather it needs just a bit of time so that it can open up.  In that time the oak influences should absorb. Attractive with its slightly rough manner. *** 2017-2019.

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“News of Food: About Wines” An overview of the wine columns of Jane Nickerson 1946 – 1957

February 10, 2016 2 comments

In this post I continue my look at the history of wine journalism in American newspapers by returning to Jane Nickerson of The New York Times.  The history of wine journalism parallels the history of wine cookery books.

Jane Nickerson was the first food editor at The New York Times from 1942 through 1957.  She wrote consistently about wine beginning in the spring of 1946.  This post-Prohibition, post-Depression, and post-War period saw the redevelopment of the American wine industry, resumption of European wine importation, the rise of wine cookery, and development of wine journalism.  Jane Nickerson wrote, not as a single expert in all things wine, rather as an editor shaping a constant stream of information and wine sourced from the authorities in what must have been the wine capital of the country.  In reviewing over 100 wine related articles written by Jane Nickerson for The New York Times it is clear that I cannot relate this body of work in one post.

New York City views. Gottscho-Schleisner. 1950. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

New York City views. Gottscho-Schleisner. 1950. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

As such the vintages are diverse including 1876 Tokay ($8.75 per pint), 1888 Chateau Montrose (“amazingly alive, beautifully balanced, quite dazzling” according to Sam Aaron), the “top” 1947, and “above average” 1953.  As you would expect, she wrote often about Champagne, Burgundy, and Bordeaux.  There are also diverse wines such as the Austrian wine from Vienna, Italian Bardolino, and 1953 Boordy Vineyard, Rosé from Maryland.

This was a time of much needed wine education.  Clearly aimed at apartment living “cliff dwellers” of New York City, where to store one’s wine was of repeated concern.   With a lack of storage and warm summer temperatures, it was felt almost any corner would suffice including under the kitchen sink[1]   but one should avoid locations near steam pipes.[2]  Described as a “cellarette” it was felt that if you stored the wines on their sides they would be suitable to drink for up to six months. Of course wine glasses, corkscrews, and serving temperature was also discussed.  The latter is not as mundane as you might think.  As discussed before, new vinification techniques produced earlier drinking wines.  Known as “wine of the year” these fresh, young wines were only bottled the previous fall.[3]  The red wines were found to taste best at cooler then cellar temperature.  With the increased availability of ice and spread of refrigeration in France, many switched to drinking wines such as Beaujolais at a cooler temperature in the 1950s.

Two issues centered on the price of wine might sound familiar to contemporary discussions.  In 1948 the relative expense of Californian wines compared to French wines was answered in the article “Why U.S. Wines Cost More Than French”?[4]  Two leading long-terms reasons were that French labor costs were 40% of Californian and that shipping from France to New York was 50% that of California to New York.  The post-War American market was also believed to be a dumping ground for stock held in American and European warehouses.  In the short-term, the devalued French Franc meant strong purchasing power for the American Dollar. The result was that “most California wines, including some very good ones, have simply priced themselves out of today’s market.”

Moving from the price of Californian wine is a small series of articles in 1951 concerned with the price of wine in general at restaurants.  Jane Nickerson threw down the gauntlet by quoting Tom Marvel, “American restaurants kill wine drinking”.[5]  In several pieces the wine price markup is described as 3 to 6 times the cost to the restaurant.  Tom Marvel felt that restaurants set the model for wine and food consumption at home.  American continued to favor sweet wines over table wines partially because table wine prices were so high at restaurants.  American could not participate in the European model of drinking table wine with a meal.  In a hold-over from Prohibition, restaurants viewed wine as an intoxicant thus profit driver not as a food like the French.  Not all restaurant prices were exorbitant.  The Bismarck Hotel in Chicago felt they were conservative, simply doubling the price which they felt covered storage, refrigeration, glasses, and everything else related to wine.[6]  A new wine list at the Café Continental in the Barbizon-Plaza Hotel spurred the article “’Impossible’ Found in Midtown Restaurant: Vintage Wines Priced Close to retail Scale”.[7]  Here one could drink 1947 Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc for $3 and 1937 Chateau Cos d’Estournel for $3.25 per bottle.

New Sources

Based in New York City, Jane Nickerson relied on combination of American publications, news from wine importers recently returned from Europe, and visiting winemakers both American and European.  Her exposure to wine came in the form of large-scale wine tastings and more commonly, small tastings with importers and city merchants.

Initial sources of post-war wine information sometimes came in the form of pamphlets.  The Wine Institute, founded in 1934, created the Wine Advisory Board in 1937 with the purpose of marketing Californian wines.  The Wine Advisory Board published such leaflets as “Little Wine Cellar All Your Own” in 1946[8] and “Fish Dishes With Wine” in 1948.[9]  The Italian Swiss Colony employed Gertrude S. Wilkinson, former food editor of The New York Journal-America, to write “Food Is More Fun With Wine.”[10]  National Distillers Products Corporation asked Mrs. Jeanne Owen, secretary of the Wine and Food Society of New York, to promote Chateau Lejon wine in “The Lejon Cook Book.”[11]  Frank Schoonmaker’s company published “News From The Wine Country” which Jane Nickerson described as “one-third promotional, two-thirds informational”.[12]  One informational bit is that red wine should be served at 60 Fahrenheit.  Not only was Information from these pamphlets relayed but wine cookery recipes were also included.

Jane Nickerson attended several tastings held by the Wine and Food Society of New York beginning in 1946.[13]  The first few tastings appear to be domestically focused, including the wines of the National Distillers Products Corporation such as Sweet Valley from Ohio and Chateau Lejon.[14] The Society’s October 1946, tasting was the first of imported wine since the end of the War.[15]

There were also tastings held by importers as well.  Bellows & Co., an import-only subsidiary of the National Distillers Products Corporation, was generous in pouring 1942 Villaine et Chambon, Romanee La Tache, Richebourg, and Grands Echezeaux.[16]  At their 1950 spring tasting, some “700 wine devotees” were invited to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.[17] That the guests “included amateurs and a few members of the trade” show how modest wine journalism was at the time.  Kobrand Corporation was holding tastings in 1950[18] with the Wine and Food Society focusing in on Californian wine that same year.[19]  Macy’s held a German wine tasting in 1953, a region that was “comparatively unfamiliar”.[20]  Due to two World Wars and Prohibition, the availability of German wines had only returned to the levels of nearly 40 years prior in 1914.  The 1954 Ambassador Liquors tasting was the “largest ever held in this country – 4,000 persons were invited”.[21]  Aimed at the general public, rather than the press, the wines offered were meant for daily drinking.  As if to confirm the point Jane Nickerson titled a section of her article “Small Tasting More Enjoyable”.  These large wine tastings never became a significant source of information for Jane Nickerson.  She noted that so many tastings were “huge cocktail parties where wine replaces cocktails, and where the guests come more to be social”.[22]

By the beginning of 1947 Jane Nickerson was regularly conversing with Sam Aaron of Sherry Wine and Spirits.  Sam Aaron was excited by wine and learned all he could from the importer Frank Schoonmaker.  It is perhaps Sam Aaron who introduced Jane Nickerson to Frank Schoonmaker for she was soon recommending the wines he imported.  By 1948 she was regularly conversing with Frank Schoonmaker and his associate Tom Marvel of the wine importing company FS Importing.  Frank Schoonmaker distributed wines too such as those of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and the Kesselstatt wines of the Mosel.[23]  The Kesselstatt wines were imported by Bellows & Co.[24]

James Beard worked at Sherry Wine and Spirits with Sam Aaron.  Around November 1950, Jane Nickerson began discussing wine with James Beard who often related of his most recent trip to Europe.    The wines and knowledge of Michel Dreyfus, importer, first appear in 1950.[25]  Alexis Lichine first appears in 1951, as importer and author, just after his “Wines of France” books was published.[26]  This book remained a work of authority which Jane Nickerson often cited.  Alexis Lichine had previously worked with Frank Schoonmaker.  R.C. Kopf, president of Kobrand Coporation was interviewed once.[27]  She met with Alfred Fromm and Franz W. Sichel who distributed Christian Brothers and Paul Masson wine. Robert Haas, proprietor of Lehmann’s wine shop on Park Avenue, was also consulted.  Lehmann’s wine shop eventually merged with Sherry to form Sherry-Lehmann’s.  Robert Hass left New York to form Tablas Creek Winery in California.

Jane Nickerson interviewed people for articles as well.   These interviews typically involved wine lovers in the Wine and Food Society and Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, as well as domestic and foreign proprietors brought to the city through the distributors and importers such at Bellows & Co, FS Importing, Dreyfus, and Sichel.  She even interviewed publisher Alfred A. Knopf who was a director of the Wine and Food Society of New York.[28]

She interviewed Henri Bonnet, French Ambassador and “grand office of the Wine Cup” as the Noble Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin was once translated.  Jane Nickersons’ interviews typically feature a description of the interviewee as well as discussions about food.  Raymond Baudouin, general secretary of the French Wine Academy, was interviewed in the tasting room of Frank Schoonmaker.  Baudouin, a “loosely built man”, found it “impossible even to estimate the number of wines he had tasted”.  He did express a preference for young wines which were “fresh, more perfumed”.[29]  John St. Clair Harvey, chairman of John Harvey & Sons of Bristol, described as a “huge bespectacled man”, was interviewed while drinking a “bracer” of Champagne and orange juice.[30]  Harvey & Sons were known for their sherries and ports.  After his tour of the country he felt there were only a dozen retailers that “really cared for wine”.  Storage was primitive and while wine prices were too high in restaurants, New Orleans lived up to its “gastronomical reputation”.

Diversity of Wines

Jane Nickerson’s early wine writing was simple in nature.  To accompany the almost daily selections of “fish ‘n’ poultry” she recommended enlivening the meal with white wine.[31]  The suggested white wine was Sweet Valley which she described as, “dry and clean and uncorrupted by anything suggesting an even faintly saccharine flavor.”

A great selection of French wines began to appear towards the end of 1946.  During October 1946 the Wine and Food Society held its first imported wine tasting since the war.[32]  The stars of this tasting were the 1937 and 1938 Domaine Grivelet, Chambolle-Musigny and the 1937 Domaine Grivelet, Musigny-Comte George de Vogue.  French wines continued to dominate in the columns typically Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Champagne.  There were other French wines such as the 1947 Clos le Mont, Vouvray with a “flowery boquet” and Hermitage from the Rhone.

American wines appear frequently, usually due to the annual California State Fair.  Early examples include such wines as Wente’s Sauvignon Blanc “pronounced aroma and flavor, true to the variety in all respects”, “heterogeneous, rather nondescript” California burgundy, and “luscious” Cresta Blanca Triple Cream sherry.

Mention of sparkling wine was not solely limited to French Champagne.  There was sparkling Saumur, Asti Spumante, American bubbles from Charles Fournier in New York, Seppelt from Australia, and even President Canadian from Canada.  Over time Alsatian Gewurztraminer, quality Chianti Classico not in a straw covered bottle, Spanish sherry, Californian Zinfandel, sweet wine from Hungary, and high-altitude wine from the Italian Alps made their appearances.

Wine Descriptions

There is a wealth of wine descriptions throughout Jane Nickeron’s articles.  The vast majority of these descriptions are quoted being from Frank Schoonmaker, Sam Aaron, and others.  I suspect this is respect for these sources being considered experts in the subject matter of wine rather than deference because they were male.  Jane Nickerson was very careful to attribute sources for all of her information and frequently quotes all sorts of information, not just tasting notes.  She does provide a handful of wine descriptions of her own from which I have gathered a selection.

Bellows’ Inglenook Napa Valley Navalle Rose: “the color of a deep pink carnation”.[33]

Blondel-Marshal, Blanc-de-Blanc, Champagne: “a particularly light, dry taste, with almost no body or bouquet”.[34]

1948 Chateau du Nozet, Pouilly Fume: “Over and above its pale-gold transparency and its delicate mellow taste is perhaps its bouquet – pronounced, pleasant”.[35]

1947 Wormser Liebfrauenstift Kirchenstuck Riesling: “strange, but delightful quality as ‘earthy.’ It is dry, delicate, with a pleasant, though far from decided, bouquet.”

1947 Valmur, Chablis: “was greenish-gold, flinty, clean dry, light”

1947 Louis Jadot, Corton Charlemagne: “was dry and well rounded; it filled nostrils and mouth with fragra[n]ce and flavor.” [36]

Paul Masson, Triple Red sparkling red champagne: “It was a bit sweet and fruity” with “pearls – more vulgarly, the bubbles – were very small and lasted a long time; in other words, the champagne had life.”[37]

German Riesling in general: “They hit one’s nose, first of all, for dry or sweet, the best share a distinguishing quality – a  lovely bouquet, almost the fragrance of flowers, that charms before one even sips.”[38]

Randersackerer Hohbug Silvaner Beeren-Auslese, 1950: “was sweet and exceedingly smooth for all its characteristic earthiness.”[39]

Yugoslav wines: “Yugoslav wines is Chipon, dry, full of character, almost harsh, a wine that could be poured as an aperitif”.[40]

Beaujolais in general: “purplish-red, with the fruity aroma and taste of crushed grapes”.[41]

Columns

The wine articles appear as two types of columns, typically a news column under the headline of “News of Food” and occasionally a longer feature column.  The “News of Food” columns that contain pieces about wine often include other news on restaurants, food, and even recipes.  Some “News of Food” columns were dedicated to a single wine feature such as the American tour of Princess Gabrielle de Lichtenstein (Kesselstatt) and Baron Philippe de Rothschild (Chateau Mouton-Rothschild) in 1950.[42]  The longer feature pieces bore such titles as “With Champagne and Burgundy”, “Native and Foreign Wines”, “Piquant Rhines and Moselles”, and in time for Christmas 1952 “A Wine List For Festive Occasions”.  These pieces featured a script title, a graphic drawing, and photographic images.

During 1951 and 1952 a third type of column appeared that was a variation of the news column.  There were four columns dedicated solely to wine titled “News of Food: Wines” (one by June Owen) and one column “News of Food: About Wines”.   This third type of column appeared in addition to pieces on wine in “News of Food” and the long form.  In 1955, single subject “Food News:” appeared with such titles for three column pieces as “Food News: Discourse on Wines” and for two columns “Food: Loire Wines”.

Selected Article Titles

“With Champagne and Burgundy”, May 30, 1948.
“Wines of California”, October 3, 1948.
“News for Wine-Lovers”, February 20, 1949.
“Native and Foreign Wines”, November 14, 1949.
“Notes on California Wine Awards”, September 25, 1949.
“Summer’s Sparkling Wines”, May 21, 1950.
“Wines of the Season”, September 24, 1950.
“From the Vineyards of France”, December 16, 1951.
“Piquant Rhines and Moselles”, August 31, 1952.
“A Wine List For Festive Occasions”, December 7, 1952.
“Exploring the Fine Clarets”, February 8, 1953.
“The Pink Wines For Warm Weather”, April 19, 1953.
“Primer on Italian Wines”, July 5, 1953.
“Weather for White Bordeaux”, June 20, 1954.
“Q. and A. on Wines”, April 17, 1955.
“Wines to Make Friends With”, October 9, 1955.
“Wine List For Fish”, March 24, 1957.
“Wine Cellar on a Budget”, October 6, 1957.

The Chicago Tribune and The New York Times describe Ruth Ellen Church, a food and wine journalist who published in the Chicago Tribune, at “the first American to write a regular wine column”.  Jane Nickerson did not have a regular wine column in The New  York Times. She did, however, write consistently about wine from 1946 through 1957 largely under the frequent column “News of Food” and at least annually in longer, illustrated pieces.  That there was no regular wine-titled column, that most wine writing appeared under a food column, could be due to her earliest observation that wine was “served so often as a part of a meal”.  There were signs that this view was changing in the 1950s when several “News of Food” columns focused solely on wine and column titles changed to include the term wine.  It was just several years later in 1962 that Ruth Ellen Church began her regular wine column in the Chicago Tribune.


[1] News for Wine-Lovers By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Feb 20, 1949; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. SM36
[2] Food: Storage of Wine By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 3, 1956; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 21
[3] News of Food: Young Wine-of-the-Year Coming to Table As Long, Large Meal of Yesteryear Exits. By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Sep 8, 1953; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 28
[4] News of Food: Five Experts Give Their Explanations Why U.S. Wines Cost More Than French By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Dec 11, 1948; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010). pg. 18
[5] News of Food: Restaurants Kill Wine Drinking in America, Says a … By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Jul 9, 1951; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 35
[6] News of Food: First Air Shipment of Scotch Salmon –Alsatian Wines … By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Aug 4, 1951; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 8
[7] News of Food: ‘Impossible’ Found in Midtown Restaurant: Vintage Wines … By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Dec 17, 1951; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 26
[8] News of Food: American Vintners Plan for Resumption Of Pre-War Rise … By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Mar 23, 1946; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 9
[9] News of Food: 11 Recipes on ‘Fish Dishes With Wine’ Are Offered to Readers of This Column By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Mar 6, 1948; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 10
[10] News of Food: Wines Can Transform Tin-Can Dinner Into Fare High-Capped Chefs Produce By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Aug 24, 1948; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 26
[11] 25-Cent Book Written by Food Fancier Gives 77 Ways of Cooking With Wine By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); Jun 25, 1947; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 29
[12] News of Food: Distinguished Vintner From California Off to Tour the Wine Country in Europe By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Jul 18, 1949; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 20
[13] News of Food: Delectable Desserts, Packaged to Last, Will Make This … By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); May 7, 1946; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 18
[14] News of Food: Recipe for Muffins Made With Potatoes Is Given by … By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); May 23, 1946; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 28
[15] News of Food: Puddings More Famous Than Her Books, Maura Laverty, …By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Oct 28, 1946; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 18
[16] Native and Foreign Wines By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 14, 1948; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. SM46
[17] News of Food: Chilled White Wines Presage Warm Days; Blueberries and …By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); May 3, 1950; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 34
[18] News of Food: Europe’s White Wines of 1947 Vintage Are Praised Here …By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); Aug 26, 1950; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 10
[19] Wines of the Season BY JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Sep 24, 1950; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. SM26
[20] News of Food: Wine-Tasting Staged, Introducing German White Varieties. By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 5, 1953; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 39
[21] News of Food: Wine Tasting Here One of Largest Ever Held — 60 Imports Offered By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); May 27, 1954; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 31
[22] News of Food: Dishes From Fine Restaurants and Shops Steal Show at Tasting of French Wines. By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Apr 11, 1953; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010). pg. 20
[23] News of Food: WINE EXPERTS AT START OF TOUR By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Apr 19, 1950; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 33
[24] News of Food: Chilled White Wines Presage Warm Days; Blueberries and … By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); May 3, 1950; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 34
[25] News of Food: Favorite French Wine Is New Arrival Here; Benedictine … By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Aug 14, 1950; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 17
[26] News of Food: Red Burgundies of 1947 Vintage Here From the Domaine de … By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 26, 1951; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 26
[27] News of Food: Price of French Champagne Due to Rise, But Not Before … By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 5, 1951; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 28
[28] News of Food: Bookman, Off for Happy Holiday in France, Says U.S., …By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); Aug 1, 1950; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 20
[29] News of Food: French Wine Expert Favors Young Vintages, Calls 1947 Top Year of Century for Tasting. By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); May 29, 1953;ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 14
[30] News of Food: British Wine Seller Says U. S. Retailers Seldom Go Beyond Price to the Quality. By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); Jun 15, 1953; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 21
[31] News of Food: Delectable Desserts, Packaged to Last, Will Make This …By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); May 7, 1946; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 18
[32] News of Food: Puddings More Famous Than Her Books, Maura Laverty, …By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); Oct 28, 1946; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 18
[33] News of Food: Recipe for Muffins Made With Potatoes Is Given by …By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); May 23, 1946; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 28
[34] News of Food: Blanche Thebom of Metropolitan–Opera, Her Own Cook, … By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); Dec 2, 1946; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 34
[35] News of Food: Favorite French Wine Is New Arrival Here; Benedictine …By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); Aug 14, 1950; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 17
[36] News of Food: Europe’s White Wines of 1947 Vintage Are Praised Here … By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); Aug 26, 1950; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 10
[37] News of Food: Red Champagne Produced in California, Called First of … By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); Jun 7, 1951; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 42
[38] Piquant Rhines and Moselles By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Aug 31, 1952; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. SM22
[39] News of Food: Wine-Tasting Staged, Introducing German White Varieties By JANE NICKERSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); Nov 5, 1953; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 39
[40] Wines to Make Friends With By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Oct 9, 1955; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. SM50
[41] Food: Cookbook Reissued: ‘Stock Reference’ Has Basic Dishes –Authors Discuss Wines of Interest. By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Jan 29, 1957; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 25
[42] News of Food: WINE EXPERTS AT START OF TOUR By JANE NICKERSON New York Times (1923-Current file); Apr 19, 1950; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010) pg. 33

A wide variety of French wines.

February 9, 2016 Leave a comment

This post features a number of French wines which we have recently drunk.  My favorite pair are the 2013 Ola Raffault, Les Barnabes, Chinon and the 2011 Domaine Cheveau, Or Rouge, Beaujolais Villages.  The Raffault is a finely scented, fresh, satisfying herbaceous wine from Chinon.  I kept finding myself returning to my glass.  The Cheveau has benefited from a few years of age but still retains lovely cool, dense flavors.   The 2013 Alleno & Chapoutier, Cotes du Rhone is also good with its minerally, black flavors but it will greatly benefit from short-term aging. Of the wines for drinking now the 2014 Chateau Coupe Roses, La Bastide, Minervois offers a tart, red grapefruit profile whereas the 2011 Abbaye Sylva Plana, Les Novices, Faugeres offers forward drinking flavors of raspberry candy.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2014 Chateau Coupe Roses, La Bastide, Minervois – $13
Imported by Vintage 59.  This wine is a blend of old-vine Carignan and Grenache.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose was of raspberry candy.  In the mouth the tart red and black fruit had a slight hint of red grapefruit.  In general there was a beam of tart and ripe fruit, minimal structure which was integrated, and spices in the end.  The tart aspects matched with the developing bitters flavor.  ** Now – 2017.

2014 Damien Coquelet, Cote du Py, Morgon – $22
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Gamay.  Alcohol.  Tasted over a few days the lovely nose eventually took on graphite notes.  This light, bright wine was pure in nature with a lively start, building dry weight, and an ethereal aftertaste.  It had slightly watering acidity and a dry, structured middle.  The dry flavors existed over a layer of stone and mineral.  I suspect this might open up in a year.  It is best to cellar it instead of giving it extended decant time because it developed a Pilsner beer note.  **(*) 2017-2019.

2013 Alleno & Chapoutier, Cotes du Rhone – $15
Imported by Classic Wines.  This wine is mostly Syrah that was fermented and aged on concrete tanks.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The minerally, black fruit flavors left some texture on the gums and juicy acidity on the tongue.  With controlled flavors the gentle ripe spices took on some wood notes and persisted through the aftertaste.  This needs short-term aging.  *** 2017-2020.

2013 Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup, Tour de Pierres, Pic St Loup – $17
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre.   Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose is attractive with delicate floral and graphite aromas. In the mouth the wine has very high-toned, citric red fruit.  With extended air it seemed to deepen up a bit and not fall into Pilsner yeast land.  ** Now – 2017.

2013 Ola Raffault, Les Barnabes, Chinon – $17
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 12.5%.  This fresh, scented wine is attractively herbaceous.  The flavors continue with herbaceous red and black fruit flavors which are dry.  This flavorful wine is mouthfilling yet medium-bodied with an almost gentle finish.  With air sweet dried herbs come out along with very, very fine tannins.  The acidity is indistinguishably integrated.  *** Now – 2018.

2011 Abbaye Sylva Plana, Les Novices, Faugeres – $18
A Franck’s Signature Wines imported by Promex Wines.  This wine is a blend of 55% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre.  Alcohol 14%.  The forward flavors of raspberry candy are rounded with mouthfilling weight.  With air it takes on some darker notes.  Very much a wine to drink right now. ** Now – 2017.

2011 Domaine Cheveau, Or Rouge, Beaujolais Villages – $18
Imported by Rosenthal.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines averaging 50 years of age.   Alcohol 13%.  The nose remained subtle but in the mouth were cool, dense fruit with watery acidity, a fresh middle, and tannins noticeable in the aftertaste.  With air the firm red fruits took on additional flavors of ripe black fruit.  The wine remained a little puckering on the sides of the tongue.  *** Now – 2020.

French2

Though the cork dropped in our bottle of 1970 Cheval Blanc, the NV Peter Lauer, Riesling Brut rocked!

February 8, 2016 1 comment

Lou and I managed to squeeze in a quick tasting last week at his house.  As I had never tried the NV Peter Lauer, Riesling Brut, Saar Lou opened up a bottle. Wow! Wow! Wow!  This was such a lovely bottle so much so I saved none for the next day.  It is a particularly satisfying sparkling wine which already tastes quite complex and mature.  I see no reason to cellar this further.  It is a stunning wine for the price.  As Lou pointed out, you would not mistake it for Champagne but it is far more satisfying than many bottles available in our area at that price.  Also tasting fully mature and still from Germany was a bottle of 2001 Weingut Kurt Darting, Rieslaner Auslese, Durkheimer Nonnengarten, Pfalz.  With a botrytis note, dried apricot flavors, and just enough acidity this is a fully mature Riesling to be drunk now.  I should add that the Peter Lauer overshadowed everything this evening.

When rummaging around for wines to drink I thought of the 1970 Chateau Cheval Blanc, St. Emilion.  With very top shoulder fill it seemed like a good candidate.  Unfortunately, when I looked at the bottle a good length of the cork was visible in the neck, beneath the end of the capsule.  Originally, only a tiny bit of cork was visible.  Every time I looked at the bottle the cork seemed to be lower and lower.  Once I realized this was not an illusion I decided it had to be drunk.  I cut the capsule, gently pushed the cork in then sealed it up.  Though it cleaned up on by the second evening, this was just a robust relic of a curiosity.  Not sure of what to drink next we tried an unknown bottle of 2013 Stephane Montez, Cuvee du Papy, Saint-Joseph.  The wine was completely underwhelming so I saved my part of the bottle and returned to drinking the Peter Lauer.  On the second night the Montez was very attractive on the nose and in the mouth.  It was a complete surprise.  In the end this is a beautiful wine which I think could stand some cellar time so that there is more access to the flavors.  It is not a wine you want to mature into a different spectrum of flavors,  it just needs to open up.

WithLou1

NV Peter Lauer, Riesling Brut, Saar
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports for vom Boden.  Alcohol 12%.  This aromatic wine was very flavorful with floral fruit and a sense of maturity.  The soft bubbles popped immediately leaving a creamy mousse with a firm underlying foundation.  This ripe, flavor wine had some animale flavors before the soft, chalky finish.  **** Now.

WithLou2

2001 Weingut Kurt Darting, Rieslaner Auslese, Durkheimer Nonnengarten, Pfalz
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines.  Alcohol 10.5%.  The amber color matched the sweet and weighty flavors in the mouth.  As Lou pointed out there were notes of botrytis which mixed with dried apricot flavors.  It took on some apple orchard notes with extended air.  There is enough acidity right now but no need for holding on any longer.  *** Now.

WithLou3

1970 Chateau Cheval Blanc, St. Emilion
Shipped by Compass Wine Ltd.  Imported by Direct Import Wine Co.  There were aromas of blood, meat, and medicine that were slightly off putting.  Though the nose eventually cleaned up, it was better in the mouth.  It was only a shell of what it should be with leather, roast, and dust.  Not Rated.

WithLou4

2013 Stephane Montez, Cuvee du Papy, Saint-Joseph
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from old vines.  Alcohol 13%.  On the second day the strong, floral nose revealed pure, purple aromas.  In the mouth were very clean, with a finely ripe and textured core of dense flavor.  The acidity was very tightly bound in along with the very fine tannins.  The wine developed a sense of grapiness and graphite by the finish.  There is a good mouthfeel right now with some ink.  However, this deserves to be cellared so that it opens up not necessarily for the flavors to develop.  ***(*) 2017-2022.

WithLou5

More images from 16th century German wine books

February 8, 2016 Leave a comment

Image from Arnoldus de Villa Nova "Diser Tractat helt yn von bereytung der wein, zu gesundtheit und nützbarkeit der menschen". 1522. [1]

Image from Arnoldus de Villa Nova “Diser Tractat helt yn von bereytung der wein, zu gesundtheit und nützbarkeit der menschen”. 1522. [1]

I have been slowly looking through 16th century German wine books with an eye towards some 17th century research.  I last did so one year ago when I published Two title pages from German wine books of 1580.  Four of the images in today’s post come from three books originally written by Arnaldus de Villa Nova.  He was born in the mid 13th century and died in the very early 14th century.  This Catalan born physician studied medicine in Montpellier and published a number of books relating wine and medicine.  These books were later published in Germany during the 16th century.  These publications typically include one or two engravings which I have selected for this post.

Image from Arnoldus de Villa Nova "Diser Tractat helt yn von bereytung der wein, zu gesundtheit und nützbarkeit der menschen". 1522. [1]

Image from Arnoldus de Villa Nova “Diser Tractat helt yn von bereytung der wein, zu gesundtheit und nützbarkeit der menschen”. 1522. [1]

The first images come from Diser Tractat helt yn von bereytung der wein, zu gesundtheit und nützbarkeit der menschen (1522) or “This treatise contains the making of wine, for health and usefullness of mankind”.  This book includes two lovely images, one of a man and woman harvesting grapes from a trellised vines and another of a man in a wine cellar looking at a glass of wine fresh from barrel, perhaps checking for clarity.

Arnoldus de Villa Nova, "Tractat von bereyttung der Wein". 1529. [2]

Arnoldus de Villa Nova, “Tractat von bereyttung der Wein”. 1529. [2]

From the second book Tractat von bereyttung der Wein (1529) or “Treatise of making of wines” comes another image of a man in a wine cellar.  He is surrounded by the tools, perhaps, to top off wine.  The man is standing next to one cask holding a rod that goes into the bung hole.  Due to his two-handed grip and body position, it looks like he is stirring the lees in one cask.

Arnoldus de Villa Nova. "Ein Schöns buchlein von bereytung der wein und bier zu gesundheit und nutzbarkeit der menschen". 1532. [3]

Arnoldus de Villa Nova. “Ein Schöns buchlein von bereytung der wein und bier zu gesundheit und nutzbarkeit der menschen”. 1532. [3]

The third book Ein Schöns buchlein von bereytung der wein und bier zu gesundheit und nutzbarkeit der menschen (c. 1532) or “Of making and using of the wines for the Health and usefulness for mankind” illustrates yet another man in a wine cellar.  He is inspecting a glass of wine he poured from a faucet in a cask.  All three wine cellars have windows for light or ventilation.

"Kellermaysterey : Gründtlicher bericht, wie man alle wein Teutscher vnd Welscher landen, vor allen Zufällen bewaren, die besthafften widerbringen". 1559. [4]

“Kellermaysterey : Gründtlicher bericht, wie man alle wein Teutscher vnd Welscher landen, vor allen Zufällen bewaren, die besthafften widerbringen”. 1559. [4]

The final images comes from Kellermaysterey : Gründtlicher bericht, wie man alle wein Teutscher vnd Welscher landen, vor allen Zufällen bewaren, die besthafften widerbringen (1559) or “Winemaker: Thorough reporting on all wine Teutonic and Celtish, beware all coincidences that best resist”.  In this image the man is topping off a cask.  In the cask behind him a rod is sticking out of the bung hole.  It is possible that he is gauging the cask but given the previous image, it is also possible the rod is for stirring the lees. Thoughts?


[1] – Arnoldus <de Villa Nova> / Wilhelm <von Hirnkofen>: Diser Tractat helt yn von bereytung der wein, zu gesundtheit und nützbarkeit der menschen, Straßburg, 1522 [VD16 A 3665]. Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. URL: http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/0002/bsb00025687/images/
[2] Arnoldus <de Villa Nova>: Tractat von bereyttung der Wein …, Augspurg, 1529 [VD16 A 3666]. Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. URL: http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/bsb00007500/images/
[3] Arnoldus <de Villa Nova>: Ein Schöns buchlein von bereytung der wein und bier zu gesundheit und nutzbarkeit der menschen, Zwickau, [ca. 1532] [VD16 A 3673] Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. URL: http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/0003/bsb00034053/images/
[4] Kellermaysterey : Gründtlicher bericht, wie man alle wein Teutscher vnd Welscher landen, vor allen Zufällen bewaren, die besthafften widerbringen …, Augspurg 1559. Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.  http://www.mdz-nbn-resolving.de/urn/resolver.pl?urn=urn:nbn:de:bvb:12-bsb11217801-0

I find all of the right flavors in the 2014 La Garrigue, Cuvee Romaine

February 5, 2016 Leave a comment

Philippe Cambie and Eric Solomon continue to highlight their joint efforts with the latest vintage of the 2014 Domaine La Garrigue, Cuvee Romaine, Cotes du Rhone.  The 2014 vintage has produced an early drinking wine which still bears all of the familiar dark flavors of the cuvee.  This is in essence declassified Vacqueyras at an attractive price.  If concrete tanks and red Rhone wine make you excited then buy this by the case. I know that I will.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

LaGarrigue1

2014 Domaine La Garrigue, Cuvee Romaine, Cotes du Rhone – $16
Imported by Eric Solomon.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah sourced from 60-90 year old vines.  It was aged for 12 months in concrete tanks.  Alcohol 14%.  The aromas precede the flavors which bear the unmistakable low-note of Vacqueyras.  There are good flavors, akin to previous vintages, along with a bit of watery acidity.  There is a sense of lightness but the wine has the right amount of textured and ripe tannins.  *** Now – 2018.

LaGarrigue2

19th century map showing vineyards surrounding Herat, Afghanistan

February 3, 2016 Leave a comment

This late 19th century map of Herat, Afghanistan is centered on the citadel of Herat which dates back to 330 BC.  The map also details plots of cultivated land surrounding the citadel.  These plots are divided between vineyards and gardens.  If you look closely at the map you’ll see that there are many vineyards surrounding all four sides of the citadel.

Herat, Afghanistan. Wyld, James. c. 1880. [1]

Herat, Afghanistan. Wyld, James. c. 1880. [1]

The vines at Herat were typically trained for climbing.[2]  The grapes were, according to some, considered the “finest”. While they were largely used to produce raisins and treacle, some wine and spirits were produced as well.


[1] Herat, Afghanistan. Wyld, James. c. 1880. American Geographical Society Library, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries. World Digital Library. URL: http://collections.lib.uwm.edu/cdm/ref/collection/agdm/id/499
[2] A Dictionary of the Economic Products of India, Volume 6, Part 4. 1893. URL: https://books.google.com/books?id=dd10bZS6IDsC&pg=PA2#v=onepage&q&f=false

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