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thomas matthews' blog archive

Photo by: David Yellen
Thomas Matthews

January 2016

A Snapshot of Virginia Wines
The 12 winners of the 2015 Governor’s Cup competition show diverse character and some impressive quality
Posted: Jan 26, 2016 3:00pm ET

The wine industry is thriving in Virginia. Although post-Prohibition pioneers who planted vinifera grapes in the 1970s saw mixed results, they set the stage for the boom to come; by 2015, more than 250 wineries—more than double the number a decade earlier—were farming more than 3,500 acres of grapes.

To check on the progress, I recently tasted a dozen wines from the state's Governor's Cup wine competition. Here are some of my non-blind scores and notes.

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A Priorat Producer's Unique Blend
At Clos de l’Obac, philosophy comes first
Posted: Jan 19, 2016 3:00pm ET

Today, Priorat's vineyards overall make up a diverse mosaic. According to the board that oversees the Priorat Denominación de Origen Qalificada (DOQ, the Catalan dialect equivalent of DOC), the appellation has nearly 4,500 acres of red grapes, of which Garnacha accounts for around 40 percent, Cariñena for just under 30 percent and the rest is divided among Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot, with a tiny amount of other grapes.

Carles Pastrana was an early leader of Priorat’s renaissance, arriving in the 1970s. He takes a unique approach at his winery, Costers del Siurana. Each wine he makes follows a strict blend of grapes in every vintage.

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Life Lessons from Harry Mariani
Wine lovers can gain from heeding Banfi president's business tips
Posted: Jan 8, 2016 4:00pm ET

Harry Mariani died this week, at 78. As former president of Banfi Vintners, he had a long, successful career and made a significant impact on the U.S. wine business. But he was a quiet man, happy to let his charismatic older brother, John, take the spotlight. What were the keys to Harry's success? When his son James called me to tell me about his passing, I asked him what lessons he had learned from his father.

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Christmas Spirit
A wine shared at a holiday dinner becomes a gift across time
Posted: Jan 6, 2016 2:00pm ET

For me, the true Christmas spirit lives at a dinner table sharing food, conversation and love among friends and family.

This Christmas just past, we invited Dan and Anne, who have been friends of mine since college, and their two children, now themselves in their twenties. The menu began with oyster chowder, followed by a standing rib roast with popovers and Brussels sprouts, and closed with Anne's gingerbread for dessert.

There were many delicious wines, of course—all, as it happened, French. The pièce de résistance, though, was a surprising survivor.

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