Category Archives: WiNews

Product Review: Elertus Wine Protection System

I have recently been approached by a representative of Utah-based consumer electronics company Elertus who loaned me for a few weeks a sample of a newly released product of theirs targeting the wine market for me to test and consider for a review.

The product is called Elertus Wine Protection System and basically revolves around a small (3.1×2.6×1.05″ and 2.5 oz), battery-powered, wireless sensor that monitors and alerts users if anyone opens their wine cellar, wine cooler, or liquor cabinet door. So, the main purpose of the system is to notify users of potential theft or unauthorized access to their wine storage facility.

The system also continuously monitors light levels, temperature (-30 to 150 F) and humidity (0% to 100%) conditions, ensuring wine collections are stored in an optimal environment. It also notifies users if the sensor is moved from its current position.

The system is compatible with any wine or liquor cabinet with or without a locking mechanism. The sensor is designed for simple installation without special tools or permanent cabinet modifications and it connects to your Wi-Fi system.

Elertus AdThe Elertus system comes in a small box complete with the required batteries and visual, simple, easy to follow, step-by-step instructions for connecting the sensor to your local Wi-Fi network. I have to commend Elertus for providing a set of clear and simple instructions that really makes it easy for you to install the sensor, configure it and connect it to your Wi-Fi network in a breeze: I think I got my system up and running in about five minutes.

Once the system is operational, it immediately starts tracking the environmental conditions the sensor is in. Also, through the control panel of the system app, you can configure acceptable ranges of values both for temperature and humidity and then what you want to be notified of (such as temperature and humidity outside of the user-defined ranges of acceptable values, door open, light turned on or off, movement of the unit) and the way you want to be notified in (such as any or a combination of email, text message and smartphone notification alerts).

So, once it is customized, the Elertus app can notify you if any conditions change, such as the cellar door is opened, the light is turned on or the temperature or humidity gets too high or too low. In addition, you receive a weekly system-generated email that provides a snapshot of the conditions recorded by the sensor at the specific date and time the email is generated (i.e., no weekly average, just a read out of the current conditions). The Elertus system can be monitored and configured through a computer or smartphone app (iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch®, and Android™).

The Elertus Wine Protection System is available at www.elertus.com for $199, inclusive of monitoring, alerts and smartphone app.

In a nutshell, these are my conclusions about the Elertus system after using it for a couple of weeks:

PROS:

  • Super easy, quick and trouble-free installation and configuration
  • Nice, clean and user-friendly user interface app
  • Works as advertised (monitors temperature, humidity, light level, movement and door open and notifies you in the way you set the system up for)

CONS:

  • Expensive for personal use, that is other than in a commercial establishment
  • I could not find a way to remotely trigger an instant read out of the current conditions (in the absence of a status notification) through the user interface app
  • Light level sensor is not very sensitive (requires a fairly bright light to be triggered)

Rating: Good to Very Good

Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2013

StefanoA few days ago, Wine Spectator magazine has published the entire list of their Top 100 Wines of 2013… according to them, of course! :-)

Like last year, these are in a nutshell a few comments about their 2013 top 10 wines:

  • CVNE‘s Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva 2004 is Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year 2013 (rated 95 points) as well as the first Spanish wine to date to earn top ranking in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list: congratulations!
  • Five U.S. wines made it to the Top 10 (3 from California, 1 from Oregon and 1 from Washington State), up from three last year
  • Only one Italian wine made it to the Top 10 scoring sixth place and 95 points (Giuseppe Mascarello‘s Barolo “Monprivato” 2008 DOCG), same number as last year but better placement, up three spots
  • France put three of their wines in the Top 10, down from four last year
  • A wine from Bordeaux’s Right Bank was awarded second place (and 96 points) in the Top 10: Chateau Canon-La Gaffeliere 2010, a Saint Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé B (for more information and a photograph of the Chateau, check out our previous post on the Saint Emilion appellations and wine classification)
  • For the presumable happiness of The Drunken Cyclist 😉 a Pinot Noir from Oregon scored third place in the Top 10: Domaine Serene‘s Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, Evenstad Reserve, 2010 (rated 95 points)
  • Just like in 2011 and 2012, 9 of the top 10 wines are red and only one is white, Kongsgaard‘s Chardonnay Napa Valley 2010 (fifth place, rated 95 points)
  • Four out of the top five wines are below the $100 price mark, with the Wine of the Year 2013 being the least expensive at $63 and confirming how much good value for money can be found in a Rioja, even a top of the line one like CVNE’s; on the other hand, all wines in sixth to tenth place are above $100

For more detailed information and access to the full Top 100 list, please refer to Wine Spectator’s Website.

Wine App Review: Winery Passport

Last week, Scott, the developer of a brand new wine-related app, reached out to me to let me know about the roll out and to ask me whether I would download it and give it a spin and, if I liked it, whether I would write a review.

So, as you are reading this, you may already guess that I did download it and I did like it 😉

But let’s start from the beginning: the app is called Winery Passport (WP).

Screenshot5

Before we get more into it, note that you may have an interest in this app provided that you (i) are into wine (of course!), (ii) live in or plan a wine-focused trip to the USA, and (iii) at least for now, are iOS based.

Now, what exactly does WP do? Essentially, WP is (or will soon be) a database of all the wineries in the US coupled with a cool GPS feature that shows the wineries that are closest to wherever you are, ordering them from closest to farthest away and showing you how far you are from each of them. Alternatively, you can also browse or search the entire winery archive, that is broken down by State.

Either way, whenever you select a winery, WP shows you its address and gives you a few options, including taking you to the winery’s Web site, connecting to Google Maps so you can get driving directions from wherever you are to the winery with one click, or even call the winery directly from within the app.

Screenshot1Thanks to these two different modes, WP’s features come in handy whether you have a sudden urge to discover and visit a winery near you, regardless of where in the US you are, or you are planning a trip to a US wine region and want to chart your route based on where the various wineries of the area are located or their average rating. Pretty cool, and all at your fingertip.

But there’s more. WP also a “passport” part that keeps track of the wineries that you visit, lets you rate them and take notes and even syncs with Facebook and Twitter so you can share your experience with other WP users. Neat idea.

And in case you are wondering how much downloading WP is going to set you back, well no sweat and click that download button as it is a free app!

Screenshot3Now, although WP is fully functioning and sleek looking, here are a few things to bear in mind:

1. The winery database is still a work in progress: to date, there’s almost 1000 wineries in 17 States, all on the East Coast so far (so, no California yet), that have been uploaded already, but they are quite obviously not all. Scott is working to add more and eventually map all 50 States out, but it is a huge task and it is going to take a while. Scott anticipates getting to 25 States by August.

2. So far, WP is only for the iPhone or iPod Touch. I asked Scott whether he planned to also develop a version for the iPad and he said that it would be rolled out later on, as right now completing the winery census is understandably his priority.

Screenshot4

3. Regarding Android: I asked and Scott said once the iOS version is completed, with all the wineries uploaded, he would look into making an Android version, so Android users sit tight and hold on as no hope is lost! 🙂

Wrapping things up: I really like the idea behind WP and its implementation: the app is sleek, simple and yet very effective… and it’s free! I can’t wait for the full-screen version for the iPad to be released!

Rating: Very Good and recommended

Thank you, Scott, for developing such a cool app, making it available for free and giving me heads up about it!

For more information about WP, visit the developer’s Web site. You can download WP from Apple’s App Store or by clicking here.

WiNews: Elena Walch's Pinot Noir "Ludwig" 2010 Wins XII Italian Domestic Pinot Noir Competition

StefanoJust a quick flash to alert you about a piece of news that an Italian producer that I am fond of has been kind enough to share with me.

The 2010 vintage of the “Ludwig” Pinot Noir made by Elena Walch (the Alto Adige winery whose Riesling Castel Ringberg we have recently reviewed) is the fresh winner of the XII Italian Domestic Pinot Noir Competition, which is really exciting news as well as a tangible recognition for Walch’s commitment to quality production.

I hope I will be able to lay my hands on a bottle of the 2010 Ludwig soon so I can publish a full review!

European Wine Wars: after Tocai, it is the time of Prosek… and Teran

StefanoThe international press, Dr Vino and several other sources all recently reported that, as a result of Croatia’s imminent accession to the European Union at the end of a 10-year long process, Croatian wineries will be required to stop using the name “Prosek” to identify a traditional local sweet raisin wine that has been made for centuries mainly in the Dalmatia region from local grape varieties such as Bogdanuša, Maraština, Plavac mali and Pošip.

The reason for the requirement is that, according to EU officials, the name of the Croatian wine is too similar to Italy’s Prosecco and therefore it might be confusing to consumers. And this in spite of Prosek and Prosecco being two very different wines, made out of different grapes (Glera for Prosecco and the Croatian grape varieties mentioned above for Prosek) and in different styles (Prosecco is mostly sparkling and is not a sweet wine, while Prosek is a still, sweet raisin wine).

Unsurprisingly, the EU requirement has caused considerable commotion in the Croatian wine world and some producers indicated that the Croatian authorities are even considering initiating a legal dispute to challenge the EU requirement.

However, the chances that Croatia be allowed to retain its right to use the name “Prosek” for their wine after joining the EU are very slim, as the case is virtually identical to the one that a few years ago prevented Italian winemakers (mostly in Veneto and Friuli) from using the word “Tocai” to identify a local dry wine that had been made for centuries from the homonymous grape variety because the name was too similar to Hungary’s Tokaji, a famous local sweet raisin wine made from Furmint grapes (for more information about the Tokaji/Tocai dispute, please refer to my previous post that dealt with it).

But, as the saying goes, bad news never comes alone, at least for Croatia, that is. Beside the Prosek debacle, Croatia has to face a claim made by neighboring Slovenia that Croatia should also be prevented from using the word “Teran” to identify a red wine that is made in Italy’s region of Friuli, in Slovenia and in Croatia from the grape variety known as Terrano or Teran in Croatia. Slovenia’s claim is based on the fact that the EU granted Slovenia a protected designation of origin for Terrano grapes grown in the Slovenian region of Kras. The European Commission very recently decided the Teran dispute in favor of Slovenia, with a decision that will likely also negatively affect Italian Terrano producers.

Even in this case, the decision gives rise to many doubts, as Terrano is a very ancient variety (the oldest references date back to 1340 in Slovenia) which originated from the Karst plateau, an area that is shared among Italy (Friuli), Slovenia and Croatia (Istria). DNA profiling has also proved that Terrano is identical to Refosco d’Istria (a Croatian variety) and Refosk in Slovenia (information on the Terrano grape variety, cit. Wine Grapes, by Robinson-Harding-Vouillamoz, HarperCollins 2012).

Given the above, which side of the fray are you on?

Winevent – Gambero Rosso's Tre Bicchieri USA Tour: February 7-15, 2013

Gambero Rosso's Tre Bicchieri USA Tour 2013It appears that a wave of Italian wine is about to wash the shores of the U.S.: beside the Vinitaly International/Slow Wine event that is scheduled for January 28 in New York (for more information and other dates/cities, see our previous Winevent post), Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri World Tour will make three stops in the U.S., as follows:

  • February 7: San Francisco, CA
  • February 12: Chicago, IL
  • February 15: New York, NY

This event is open to media, trade and “Italian wine collectors” (sic) only – links to register for any of the three locations above are available on Gambero Rosso’s Web site. Tre Bicchieri USA 2013 is an event that is not to be missed for those who qualify and are into Italian wine, as the organizers will showcase a selection of only those Italian wines and producers that have been awarded the coveted top “tre bicchieri” (i.e., three glasses) recognition by reputable Gambero Rosso wine guide.

Just to give you an idea,  in an imaginary tour of Italy from North to South, the list of the wines that won the prestigious tre bicchieri includes, limiting ourselves to just one wine per region and trying to avoid the most obvious among the “usual suspects”:

  • Northern Italy: Les Crêtes‘ Chardonnay Cuvée Bois (Valle d’Aosta); Cogno‘s Barolo Vigna Elena Riserva (Piemonte); Bio Vio‘s Riviera Ligure di Ponente Vermentino Aimone (Liguria); Berlucchi‘s Franciacorta Brut Cellarius (Lombardia); Ferrari‘s Trento Extra Brut Perlé Nero (Trentino); Muri Gries‘s Alto Adige Lagrein Abtei Muri Riserva (Alto Adige); Masi‘s Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Mazzano (Veneto); Vie di Romans‘s Isonzo Sauvignon Piere (Friuli); Chiarli‘s Lambrusco di Sorbara Del Fondatore (Emilia Romagna);
    *
  • Central Italy: Fonterutoli‘s Mix 36 (Toscana); Oasi degli Angeli‘s Kurni (Marche); Caprai‘s Sagrantino di Montefalco 25 Anni (Umbria); Cataldi Madonna‘s Pecorino (Abruzzo);
    *
  • Southern Italy: Mastroberardino‘s Taurasi Radici (Campania); Basilisco‘s Aglianico del Vulture Basilisco (Basilicata); Planeta‘s Chardonnay (Sicilia); Argiolas‘s Turriga (Sardegna).

For the entire list of awarded wines, check out Gambero Rosso’s Web site.

Much like in the case of Vinitaly International/Slow Wine NYC 2013, we plan on attending the Gambero Rosso event in New York City and reporting on Flora’s Table thereafter.

Winevent – January 28, 2013: Vinitaly International & Slow Wine 2013 in NYC

VinitalyWe are happy to report some pretty exciting news for Italian wine lovers and those who would just like to know more about it first-hand: for the first time ever, Slow Food Editore (the publisher of the Slow Wine Guide, a guide in English to Italian wines) and Vinitaly (the largest Italian wine fair in the world) join forces to showcase an impressive selection of Italian wine labels and to offer American wine trade a broad array of events, including Italian wine tastings (some of which will apparently be conducted through an interactive iPad app – sounds pretty cool!), educational sessions as well as B2B and B2C events. In this context, Slow Food will also present the 2013 edition of its English-language Italian wine guide, Slow Wine.

Vinitaly International & Slow Wine 2013 USA will be held on January 28, 2013 in New York City at Three Sixty°, 10 Desbrosses Street (between Hudson & Greenwich). The program will include:

  • 12:00 noon: Opening press conference
  • 1:00 to 5:00 pm: Walk-around wine tasting open to trade and press
  • 6:30 to 9:00 pm: Wine tasting open to consumers

I am glad to report that Flora’s Table will participate in this event and will cover it on this blog, so if you plan on attending, make sure to let me know, but if you cannot make it to the Big Apple to take part in it, do not despair and just stay tuned: we will tell you the good, the bad and the ugly about it! 😉

To register for the Vinitaly International NYC event, go to Vinitaly International’s Web site and for purchasing tickets to the Slow Food NYC event, check out Slow Food’s Web site. Lists of participating wineries are available here (Slow Food) and here (Vinitaly International).

Finally, a repeat of this joint event will be held on January 30, 2013 in Miami, FL, at the Miami Beach Resort and Spa, while Slow Wine USA 2013 will make one last stop on February 4, 2013 in San Francisco, CA, at the Terra Gallery: for more information, refer to Slow Food’s Web site and to Vinitaly International’s Save the Date card or Web site.

Slow Wine

WineNews from Planeta Vino ;-)

I am glad to share with you a few interesting pieces of news that I have received from the guys at Planeta, one of the truly outstanding Sicilian producers who have marked the rebirth of quality winemaking in Sicily since the Nineties. Planeta has quite a differentiated offering of wines, with traditional peaks of excellence in their Sicilia IGT Chardonnay and Cometa wines (the latter being made out of 100% Fiano white-berried grapes) and very solid performers in their Noto Nero d’Avola “Santa Cecilia” DOC (on which, see our Veal Skewers – Recommended Wine Pairing post) and Syrah “Maroccoli” Sicilia IGT, to name a few.

Well, on to the news:

  1. Planeta’s latest addition to its array of wineries just became fully operational this year: it is called Feudo di Mezzo and is located on the slopes of Mount Etna (Sicily’s notoriously active volcano). This latest property complements Planeta’s four pre-existing Sicilian wineries: Ulmo in Sambuca (1995), Dispensa in Menfi and Dorilli in Vittoria (2001), Buonivini in Noto (2003).
  2. The 2012 harvest from Planeta’s Mount Etna vineyards is the first one to be processed at the new Feudo di Mezzo winery, where four of Planeta’s wines will be produced: (i) two Sicilia IGT wines, a Carricante IGT and a Nerello Mascalese IGT, from the Sciara Nuova vineyard (which features an excellent density of 5,000 to 10,000 vines/HA and lies outside of the Etna DOC area), in which Planeta’s enologists have been experimenting by adding small quantities of Riesling and Pinot Noir (respectively) to the base grapes; as well as (ii) an Etna Bianco DOC wine made from white-berried Carricante grapes and an Etna Rosso DOC wine made from black-berried Nerello Mascalese grapes.
  3. A first “pilot” batch of just 6,000 bottles of the 2010 Nerello Mascalese Sicilia IGT, the first vintage from the Sciara Nuova vineyard, has recently been released. It is made out of 100% Nerello Mascalese grapes (unlike future releases which might be blended with Pinot Noir), it has 13.5% VOL and it is supposed to have an “intense and elegant aroma” coupled with well-defined tannins: I hope I will be able to lay my hands on a bottle of it and get to try it for myself next year, when hopefully volumes will be greater.
  4. The first vintage of Planeta’s first Spumante Metodo Classico has also been recently relased: Planeta’s first attempt at a Classic Method sparkling wine is a Sicilia IGT wine made out 100% Carricante white-berried grapes from their Montelaguardia vineyard on Mount Etna, rests on its lees for 15 to 18 months and is available only in the Brut variety. It is supposed to give out fine pear, grass and mineral aromas and to be “vibrant and lean on the palate“: I would certainly be interested in giving this very peculiar wine a try, if I can get hold of a bottle.
  5. The guys at Planeta reported that the recently completed 2012 harvest had peaks of excellence in the Menfi and Sambuca vineyards, yielding amazing quality in their red wines, especially Nero d’Avola, Syrah and Cabernet Franc, which are rich and varietal with an excellent tannic structure. In the Noto and Vittoria vineyards the harvest was also memorable for Nero d’Avola, thanks to the dry and cool month of September. Planeta’s 2012 Nero d’Avola is said to exhibit structure, balance, bright colors and exuberant nose accompanied by high alcohol, which makes them “expect unique Cerasuolo and Santa Cecilia wines.” Definitely something to be looking forward to!

For more information, please refer to Planeta’s Web site or contacts.

As always, let me know if you get to try any of these wines and want to share your views on them. Cheers!

Just Out: Wine Spectator's Top 10 Wines of 2012

So, it’s that time of the year once again: today venerable Wine Spectator magazine published their Top 10 Wines of 2012… according to them, of course! 🙂

In a nutshell, these are the comments I would like to share with you about this year’s top rankings:

  • Shafer Vineyard‘s Relentless Napa Valley 2008 (a blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah grapes) is Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year 2012
  • Only 3 U.S. wines made it to the top 10 (2 from California and 1 from Oregon), down from 4 last year, although one of them was picked as Wine of the Year 2012
  • Only 1 Italian wine made it to the top 10 scoring the ninth place and 94 points (Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona‘s Brunello di Montalcino 2007 DOCG) compared to 2 last year
  • France put 4 of their wines in the top 10, up from 3 last year
  • Just like in 2011, 9 of the top wines are red and only one is white (and, just like last year, the only white wine in the top 10 is a sweet wine)
  • Syrah is present in variable percentages ranging from 100% down to 10% in all of the top 4 wines, with the Wine of the Year being a blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah (note that, despite the name, the latter is a separate grape variety from Syrah, which comes from a cross between Syrah and Peloursin vines) and in the third place there being an Australian Shiraz (100% Syrah grapes)

For more detailed information, please refer to Wine Spectator’s Website. I hope you are fortunate enough to get to enjoy one of the top 10 wines of this year!

Winevent – November 17-19, 2012: Golosaria, Milan (Italy)

If you happen to be in Milan, Italy, in November, consider stopping by Golosaria Milano 2012, a food and wine fair organized by Club Papillon featuring 100 Italian food producers and 100 Italian winemakers.

With regard to wine, Golosaria will host both a tasting table and individual booths for all the 100 wineries that have been selected by the organizers of the event through their “Top One Hundred Wines” awards. Unsurprisingly, if you browse the list of the wineries that participate in the event, you will note that it includes many excellent winemakers that are definitely worth stopping by if you make it there. Some of my personal favorites, in no particular order, include:

Golosaria Milano 2012 will be at Palazzo del Ghiaccio e Frigoriferi Milanesi, Via G.B. Piranesi, 14, Milan (Italy) on November 17 to 19. Please refer to Golosaria’s Web site for more information and to download an invitation or register for a workshop. Unfortunately, their Web site is only in Italian: should you need help getting the information you need to get there or register, feel free to let us know by leaving a comment below or just drop us an email: we will be glad to help you out.

As always, if you make it there, please leave a comment on this page to let us all know how you liked it!