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What's new(s) in wine and tasting it

I'm not sure I will ever fully understand why some known wines get a make-over largely in name only. A few years ago it was Moet doing away with their White Star Champagne bottling and replacing it with a slightly different iteration (in terms of the style of wine itself) and calling it Moet Imperial Brut. White Star was a really recognized name in the marketplace and today it is still a point of confusion for many looking for the White Star, and being handed the Imperial Brut. Is the wine different? Yes, a bit. But why not roll with the old name? Now it looks like La Mission Haut Brion is making a similar name shift. Check out this brief Decanter article on why the change.  Then tell us, as a consumer, does the reasoning make sense to you? Do you care? Next up we have an article that three different friends sent to me (from two different sources), to ensure I didn't miss it: the latest in wine health news reports suggests that women who drink have a better chance of avoiding obseity. Egad, will these studies ever cease? An entertaining read if you, like me, don't mind another guilt-free reason to keep pouring your nightly glass of wine.

Last but not least, we have a fun Old World vs. New World showdown on The Tasting Docit! On Friday March 19 you and other foodie nerds at WGBH can enjoy the fun for a mere $25. And there will be music to further enrich your tasting experience. Check it out!



This week in wine news (rapid-fire style)!

At the beach!With summer schedules coming into effect and the summer warmth finally landing on our New England shores, it's time to bring wine news to you in a briefer package. Starting this week, we'll be delivering wine news in ~ 200 words or less, offering something to whet your whistle as you daydream about weekend beach adventures ahead, but nothing to keep you from getting out by the early closing bell.  Here goes!

WalMart to resume wine/liquor sales: Tisk, tisk. Don't you prefer to support fine wines shops who provide expertise, find boutique selections you don't see everywhere, and offer these at the best price they can -  all without donning a horrifyingly bright-blue smock?

Gallstones less likely among wine drinkers: The latest in wine/health news suggests a glass of wine or two a day can prevent the formation of gallstones. Another good reason to toast to health!

LATE-BREAKING insider rumor: Gruner Veltliner and Godello are identical twins!

** Can anyone confirm these (verbal) reports? **



Friday wine news: Health, Religion, Technology & Travel

Cow Teeth - Thanks to: few headlines crossing myriad academics, if you will, caught my attention this week. Here's what rose to the top of my reading list: Wine & Health - While this may be a "duh" moment for some readers, I thought it was worth bringing this article from WebMD to your attention: white wine can also be responsible for teeth staining. Grape tannin (or shmutz) leaves its mark on your teeth, whether you are drinking wine made from white or red grapes. Of course, red wine's impact is more direct or immediate. But white can leave a mark too. Click on the link above to discover why! Is this news to you?

Wine & Religion - With Passover coming up, this is the time to be buying your Kosher wines. Gaiter & Brecher break down a few of their favorite Kosher Riesling offerings, a terrific varietal to enjoy with an important meal.  Remember, these wines get a bad rep for being sweet, when more often it is the ripe fruit and florals that require a little mind over matter to appreciate the actual dryness of the wine. Which Kosher wines do you enjoy each year?

Wine & Technology - This article actually bugs me a little because of my ying/yang reaction to new technologies available for wine making. (Of course, I really just don't want to see robots roaming the world doing everything for us.) But anyway, apparently there's a new technology available that will "tell winemakers when their wine has finished aging", reports Sophie Kevany of Decanter. Click on the link to learn more. Does this development irritate you, too?

Wine & Travel - or Wine & Laws, depending on your perspective. France hit the wine headlines multiple times this week, but this one seemed to be the most pertinent as summer vacation approaches. On July 31, 2009, France will ban outdoor consumption. I simply cannot imagine a vacation in France, sitting in their many cafes withOUT a glass of wine, a beer or a cocktail in hand. It is an oxymoron. And it outrages me.  Do you even think this move will ameliorate France's drinking "problem"?

Please comment below! Lots of interesting fodder this week....



Sip from the fountain of youth! Toast Madiran.

Ch. Peyros Vielles VignesHave you discovered a few (more) gray hairs? Have you convinced yourself laugh lines are endearing or add character to your face? For a girl who decided years ago her freckles are really lucky spots (I do have the luck of the Irish, afterall), it makes sense I'm all about an optimistic outlook when it comes to (signs of) aging. Of course, I do my part to stay ahead of the curve: I eat healthfully, exercise regularly, take my vitamins, brush my teeth and drink Madiran wines. Wait... what was the last one? YES! I drink from the fountain of youth, aka Tannat-based wines from the Madiran, France. I had no idea the additional health benefits when I first started enjoying red wines from the Madiran. I mean, we've all read various studies about the benefits associated with an occasional glass of red wine. But Madiran wines are additionally beneficial. Tannat, the primary red grape in these wines, has a ridiculously high level of procyanidins. These bad boys have serious heart-healthy cache: they keep the cells in your arteries in the pink, supply your body with boucoups antioxidants and can even lower your blood pressure and keep cholesterol in check.

And no, drinking these wines is not like being forced to eat spinach when you were a kid (my nemesis). As its name connotes, Tannat grapes are high in tannin, producing structured wines capable of aging. But this grape also can bring intense fruit and lovely spices to the table, not to mention a welcome helping of earthiness. In the Madiran in particular, vintners work their magic to bring the latter component forward and soften the wine's edges by blending in a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc or even Fer.

There are two Madiran red wines in particular that strike my fancy: 2004 Domaine Moureou Madiran; and 2003 Chateau Peyros Ville Vignes Madiran. Both are teeth-stainers, rustic, and filled with dark berry fruits (blackberries, blackcurrants, black cherries, etc.), plums and offer a touch of vanilla given up by the oak barrels they age in. The herbs and spices will tickle you pink as each sip reveals a new flavor. Because it is the offspring of wine innovator Patrick Ducourneau (father of micro-oxygenation), the Moureau has a lovely roudness to it. To my palate, the Peyros is destinct in its own right, offering up a unique, delicious and intriguing earthy/stoney minerality. Both are their own beast, ripe for hearty meats, stews or even a Buffalo burger hot off the grill. Try one, try both or seek out others. Just be sure to tell us what you think!

Fun Fact: The Madiran boasts one of the highest percentages of Centarians  in the world!