City Wine

July 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

cobenzlGemischter Satz is not just yet another consonant-heavy term you can use to show people how much you know about wine. It is one of the most thrilling white wine categories there out there, and the cultural history behind it is fascinating. Gemischter Satz means “mixed set” in German, and it refers to the unique field-blend whites of Austria. The ones from Vienna, designated “Wiener Gemischter Satz”, are the best.

I’ve been excited about gemischter satz for a long time now, ever since I tasted my first (you always remember your first) in 2010. It was the Cobenzl Wiener Gemischter Satz Classic (pictured at left). I got so excited about this wine and others from Vienna that I flew there, and wrote about gemischter satz for Saveur Magazine

Now (well, a few weeks back, but I’m only blogging about it now) I’ve written about it again, in my Portland Press Herald wine column. Neither of those spaces offered enough room for me to tell the full story, alas. But The World of Fine Wine does and did offer enough space: to Alder Yarrow, a terrific writer and full-bore devotée of gemischter satz (there are more of us out there than you’d think!). His article — not readable at the magazine’s website, but  here’s a teaser link — is terrific. Mine are fine. Read them all, and make these wines a big part of your life.

Q: When is a Zinfandel more than a Zinfandel? A: in an Acorn Wines’ field blends

February 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today’s Portland Press Herald column attempts to convince of the glories of field blends. Acorn Winery in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley is producing great blends of all sorts of grapes, in vineyards that hold vines going back to 1890. All of their vineyards are “mixed sets” (that’s the English translation of the German/Austrian “gemischter satz”, because Austria is king of the field blend): lots of different grape varieties planted together in a single vineyard.

Field blends are wines made from all these different grapes, harvested, crushed, fermented and vinified together. Usual blends (for instance, in the southern Rhône or Bordeaux), called cuvées, mix grapes that are grown and harvested separately. With field blends, you get the call of the wild! Less control, more surprise, more life. The wines live. They can’t be pinpointed. They’re terrific, and will expand your ideas about what a wine actually is.

You think you’re so smart? Wine geek would give it all up to be ignorant like baby, and drink Austrian Gemischter Satz Wine

May 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

My latest Press Herald column is out. Ignorance = Bliss. Kinda not about wine. But of course it is. It’s about staying open to the present moment, and not letting what you know get in the way of what is. And of what is — or should be — a good time. No more cranky, grim wine geeks!

I also mention there one of my favorite current everyday wines, Cobenzl Wien Classic, the gemischter satz from Vienna. Gemischter satz means, roughly, “field blend”. Multiple varietals grown in one field, and harvested and crushed on a single day. The wine won Slow Food International’s Presidia and Ark of Taste awards. It’s a very ancient process for making wine, and new Viennese winemakers are bringing back the quality. More later…if I go on you’ll feel informed, and that inevitably ruins for you part of the majesty inherent in the experience of tasting and loving the thing!

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