What are your wine predictions for 2014?
First, this year we will see the evolution of California chardonnay and pinot noir come full circle. Consumers are leaning toward pinot noir and chardonnay made with a judicious amount of oak and with no major manipulation in the winery. So the days of chardonnay tasting like tree bark and of pinot noir being made like cabernet are fading fast.
Spearheaded by Jasmin Hirsch of Hirsch Vineyards and famed sommelier Rajat Parr in 2011, In Pursuit of Balance has been uniting believers who share the view of California’s potential to produce profoundly balanced pinot noir and chardonnay. Here in Las Vegas, Marche Bacchus Wine Shop carries several In Pursuit of Balance producers, including Flowers Sonoma Coast chardonnay 2011 ($50, pictured) and Ant Hill Farms’ 2010 Tina Marie Vineyard Russian River Valley pinot noir ($52).
Second, South African wines are on the rise because of the weak South African rand. Similar to Australia’s wine industry 10 years ago, the U.S. is going to see an increase in value imports of boutique South African wine, especially from the region of Swartland, where Rhône styles are on the rise. This trend is so new it may be some time before we see any of these wines available for retail in Las Vegas. The first restaurant to embrace this trend is Chada Thai & Wine. There try the AA Badenhorst Family Rhône Red from Swartland ($50). And Chada also has a few In Pursuit of Balance wines on its list.
Finally, the overwhelming expense of California cabernet sauvignon has driven buyers to look elsewhere for high quality red wines, specifically the state of Washington. Long overshadowed by Napa Valley, Washington’s Columbia Valley is about to have its breakout year. Seek out one of Washington’s famed vineyards established in 1975, Cadence’s 2006 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard from Red Mountain, at Total Wine & More ($45).
My wine collection is growing. Should I start looking into getting a wine refrigerator?
Wine is like a vampire: It needs a cool, damp space with no light. And it hates to be moved. The ideal wine cellar temperature is between 55 and 58 degrees. However, any temperature between 40–65 degrees will suffice as long as it remains constant. So a wine fridge is a great investment for a growing wine collection.
The first place to look is the Internet. Seek out brands such as Danby or New Air on Amazon—both have various sizes and styles, and at better prices than in the store! And remember to always ask about the warranty. My $1,000, 75-bottle Danby wine fridge is 8 years old, and I have only replaced the circuit board, costing me $100, which is a whole lot cheaper than buying a new fridge.
Keep your wine fridge in the darkest, coldest spot in the house. Smaller cellars can be placed in sight, but the wine in it should be consumed regularly. Wine fridges need to be kept fully stocked or they will not hold temperature properly. (Buy some Two-Buck Chuck if you can’t fill your cooler all the way.)
Also, have a backup plan in case your cooler malfunctions or your power goes out temporarily. The crisper in the refrigerator is usually set at 40 degrees, perfect for whites. Under the bed or the back of a closet is safe for reds and whites. Otherwise, it would be sad to see your investment go down the drain.