Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Destination Bilbao in Wine Enthusiast

Anyone heading for Rioja or Basque country should spent a couple of days either going or coming back in Bilbao. For more, see front-of-book piece in Dec. 15 issue of Wine Enthusiast.

Other recent articles include:

- "Pondering Post Robert Parker" in The Drinks Business.

- "Travel Beaujolais" and "Travel New Zealand" in USA Today Travel Magazine.

- "Many Faces of Gamay" in Drinks.

- And check frequent posting at www.thedailymeal.com.

Until next time...

Roger Morris

Friday, November 11, 2011

Winemakers International Hall of Fame Founded

November 10, 2011 -- The Winemakers International Hall of Fame (WIHOF) announced today that it has created a stellar advisory board of winemakers and estate directors from around the world to nominate and choose its first class of inductees – the “Class of 2012: Wine Legends of the Late 20th Century.”

According to WIHOF executive director Roger Morris, the formal announcement and induction ceremonies will be held at a gala winemakers dinner on Feb. 25, 2012, as part of the MidAtlantic Food + Wine Feast at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, DE.

“There has never been an independent, international winemakers hall of fame,” Morris says, “so the challenge was to put together an advisory board of respected winemakers and estate directors from around the world who represent the various branches of winemaking along with a well-known, well-respected trade executive.”

The board members are:

· Robin Kelley O’Connor,VP, Head of Wine, Americas Christie’s
· Emmanuel Cruse, Ch√Ęteau d’Issan, France
· Steve Smith, Craggy Range, New Zealand
· Eileen Crane, Domaine Carneros, United States
· Manuel Louzada, Numanthia, Spain
· Aurelio Montes, Montes, Chile
· Michael Richmond, Bouchaine, California
· Jean-Luc Colombo, Vins Jean-Luc Colombo, France
· Adrian Bridge, The Fladgate Partnership, Portugal
· Alois Lageder, Alois Lageder, Italy

Additionally, Ajit Mathew George, co-chairman of the partner organization MidAtlantic Food + Wine Feast, will serve as an ex-officio and non-voting member of the advisory board.

“We wanted the first class to be a memorable one – the men and women who led the way during the late 20th century when the greatest strides in vineyard management, wine production, wine quality improvement and fine wine consumption in history took place,” Morris says.

Qualifications for nomination and election include: (1) must have consistently produced superior wines, possibly even contributing important winemaking advances, (2) must have by their actions and example enhanced the reputations of their regions, and (3) must have had a notable and positive presence in the international winemaking arena.

“The Winemakers International Hall of Fame is a very new organization, so we are still putting together our Internet presence,” Morris says. “Additionally, we are beginning a search for highly-respected commercial sponsors in addition to our partner, the MidAtlantic Food + Wine Feast, who would like to further our objective to recognize the world’s greatest winemakers on a well-planned, continuing basis.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Back Story: Second Acts

I was getting ready to taste some Lagreins from Alto Adige a couple of days ago with my friend Anthony Vietri, winemaker/owner of Va La Vineyards in Pennsylvania, when he whipped out an almost-yellow newspaper clipping and started talking about how this writer was going on about Zinfandels from Amador County in California. He handed it over to me to take a look.

It was dated Nov. 4, 1979, and was from the Wilmington NewsJournal. It was headlined "California Zinfandels with zing." The byline was by Roger Morris. "My grandmother had saved a recipe from that page," Tony said, "and it fell out of a book she had. She said, 'That's Roger!'"

Despite what Fitzgerald wrote about there being no second acts in American life, I'm having one.

Back in 1978, I started writing a weekly wine column for The Washington Star because I had worked before for the editor, she liked my writing, and she needed a wine columnist. As wine was my passion de jour, I volunteered to write it. An editor for the NewsJournal saw one of the columns in the Star's Sunday magazine and said he could just re-run the Star column three weeks a month if I would write something local one week a month. Although at the time there were no area wineries, I did not let that deter a perfectly good opportunity.

Unfortunately, the Star was an evening newspaper six days a week, and evening newspapers were even then an endangered species as network news was eating their dinners. When the Star folded in the early '80s, I was without an outlet in the days when there were no blogs. But I was able to transfer allegiance to a weird new national newspaper called USA Today and became their first wine columnist. Alas, we had a friendly parting of the ways a year later because their Wednesday sections were often cut to 4 pages, and my column was on the other four pages.

Although I had a healthy day job throughout all this, I soon realized I wanted to get back into wine writing. But it was not until 1998 - more than 25 years later - that I again began writing a weekly column for the NewsJournal. Then came an opportunity to also write for Colman Andrews at Saveur magazine. Year by year since then, I've added print and online magazines for which I write chiefly about wine, food and travel.

Today, my byline appears in more than 15 publications, including international print outlets such Wine Enthusiast, Robb Report, Beverage Media, Drinks Business, Town & Country, Sommelier Journal, Intermezzo and - yes - USA Today magazines. Then there are online publications such as iSante, Sommelier Journal and The Daily Meal (again with Colman) and a handful of regional magazines, although I no longer write for the NewsJournal.

It's been a good Second Act. I hope there is no necessity for a third one.

Until next time...

Roger Morris

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wines & Foods of Greece's Macedonia

In the new issue of Intermezzo, I report on the food and wine, mountains and seasides, people and culture of the north of Greece.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back Story: Cotes du Bordeaux

Age and experience may not give you wisdom, but they do give you a bookshelf full of trip journals. Some time ago, I started using a separate journal for each reporting sojourn I've gone on, which means that dozens of them now line the back bar opposite my desk. Each one is a collection of facts, interviews, observations, contact info and tasting notes. Although most of this information is related to assignments I have before getting on the airplane, many of the articles that they later generated resulted from pitches I made after returning. My favorite part of the flight home is sipping a handful of Jack Damiels on the rocks while evaluating new article ideas that had come up during the trip and which editors might want them.

So any time I have a new assignment - even if it entails a new reporting trip - I'm always combing through the old journals to see what information is relevant to the new assignment. Of course, I just use this material as a starting point before I start making new calls and firing off new e-mails, but the notebooks provide me a perspective which, I hope, gives the new article some depth, insight and richness. Thus was the case with the Cotes du Bordeaux story below, recently printed in Sommelier Journal. Some of the people I quote were folks I first interviewed a dozen or so years ago. Not that there weren't last-minutes back and forths with sources in Bordeaux for updates and fact checks.

In the past couple of weeks, I've received assignments for articles on Beaujolais (two), France's South West, Toro, New Zealand, Gimblet Gravels and parts of Australia. A couple are mainly travel. Most are mainly wine-related.

It's time to hit the notebooks again.

Until next time...

Roger Morris

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cotes de Bordeaux Heads New Pubs

The last week of Summer before Labor Day has been a good one for harvesting publications:

1. A colorful piece on the new Cotes de Bordeaux appellation for Sommelier Journal (see below).

2. A heady drink of Xtabentun for the Daily Meal at www.thedailymeal.com/xtabent-n-marks-spot.

3. Running the tab at regional breweries in Delaware Today.

4. Putting the Brandywine wineries under the microscope for Sommelier News (http://www.internationalsommelier.com/).

5. A defense of big-*** California wines on my blog at iSante' Magazine (http://www.isantemagazine.com/).

Until the next time....

Roger Morris

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Serving Up Wine by the Glass

Beverage Media is the official beverage journal in more than 30 states (including New York), and the editorial material - including the article below on wine-by-the-glass programs - appears in all of them.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Porto as Viewed from the Yeatman

The opening of the luxury hotel, The Yeatman, draws attention to the city that gave its name to one of the world's most-noted wines. Below, a poolside view.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Life after Red: Going into the White Lights

When I'm tasting accumulated wine samples assembled by chance and for no particular article, I usually taste in ones and twos, keeping good notes so that I will have plenty of ammunition if I'm called upon to write about 10 fantastic barbecue wines or great wine pairings for Arbor Day (what really goes best with oak, not just in it?)

But sometimes I'm faced with a Fedex-borne tsunami of bottles, which happens when wine publicists suddenly wake up one Monday morning and all individually make mental notes to themselves as they brush their teeth - "Today is the day to get out those samples!" And just when I've cleared my entry hall of the first wave of fortified boxes, here comes UPS with the second wave.

So early this week, I woke up and suddenly proclaimed as I brushed my teeth, "Today is the day to taste all those summer white samples." In fairness, I waited until my teeth were properly dirty again and absent any taint of the dreaded "minty mouth" before I started tasting, around 11. I get up at 4, so seven hours without wine is a long time.

I combined for the tasting (1) Pinot Grigios from northeast Italy, (2) Assyrtikos from Santorini, (3) Rieslings from Germany and (4) three Pacific Rim Rieslings from the Columbia Valley. Overall, the wines were all reasonably well-made, none were fantastic and a few stood out in a positive manner.

My favorite among the PGs was the 2009 Bollin Trentino, which I found to be juicy and rich, a touch bready as PGs from that area tend to be, but with more zesty and minerally than the others. Fruit flavors? Most of the Grigios had a pleasant but not snappy flavor of plum pulp.

On to the Assyrtikos. Assyrtiko is one of the most popular white grapes in Greece, and much that we drink in the U.S, comes from the isle of Santorini, although a crisper version from northern Macedonia is coming into its own. The two that appealed to me most were the 2009 Argyros, which iss big, juicy, fruity, well-balanced with good acidity and just begging to be taken to the table, and the 2010 Sigalas, which is juicy, spritzy, with a slight Sauvignon-like vegetal note. Neither was particularly complex, but both are good drinking for now.

The Rieslings - 10 of them - are all from P.J. Valkenberg, known especially for its value wines. I did find the very dry, very basic ones left something to be desired, but I've always felt that trockens faced an uphill battle against the contradictions of Riesling being at once demure and opulent. But there were five Rieslings that I though particularly stood out.

Although my wife, who did a walk-by sipping of my top 5, disagrees on this one, I was most taken by the 2009 Baron zu Knyphausen Erbacher Michelmark Rheingau Riesling Erste Lage. [Where are those damned diacritical marks in this program?] It has a lovely, clean nose that doesn't foreshadow the complexity that lay beneath, which is marked by brulee and apricot essence. There is excellent firmness, great minerality and light tannins. It is the kind of drink that shows its presence without being aggressive.

The 2009 Johannishof "Charta" Rheingau Riseling has nice stone fruit flavors with tastes of pear and apricot skins, is slightly juicy, well-balnaced and long on the palate. The 2010 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Piesporter Goldtropfchen Piesporter Riesling is rich and rounded with good balance, stone-fruit nectars with good minerality and light tannins. The light-alcohol (9.5%) 2010 Schloss Saarstein Riesling Kabinett reminds me of an apricot cider - juicy, tangy fruit skins, good minerality. Finally, the 2010 Graff Graacher Himmelreich Mosel Riesling Spatlese (8%) is very focused, high on the palate and having a combo of tart apples and light apricot flavors.

As for the Pacific Rim Rieslings are concerned, the brand has always provided the pleasant, basic fruitiness of American Riesling as an attractive price, but they won't take you much beyond that. They make a dry, an off-dry and a sweet.

Until next time,

Roger Morris

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cognac & Bordeaux: The Tesseron Touch

How lucky can one man be - to own a respected Bordeaux chateau and a Cognac maison? My interview with Alfred Tesseron in the July issue of Wine Enthusiast.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Brandywineries Promote Local Food

From the July issue of Delaware Today.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Next Big Destination: Pan-a-ma!

You've done Costa Rica. But have you tried Panama? My overview below in USA Today's new travel magazine.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Whatever Happened to the Garagistes?

Ten years ago, garagiste winemakers were all the rage - especially in Bordeaux. Where are they now? Has Bordeaux mainstreamed them, or have the garagistes radicalized Bordeaux? I report on this in the June issue of Drinks Business, reprinted below.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Touring & Dining along the Brandywine

Copies of Intermezzo are available at Borders and Barnes & Noble. A more-recent restaurant that should be added to the list is Twelves in West Grove, a great place to dine for lunch and dinner.