November 28, 2013
From Drinks International News
28th November, 2013 by Gabriel Savage
Laura Catena’s great-grandfather founded the winery in Mendoza in 1902 after emigrating from Italy and her father, Nicolas Catena Zapata, helped to facilitate the ascent of Argentine Malbec onto the world stage. Born in Mendoza, Laura graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and has a Medical Doctor degree from Stanford University. She is currently managing director of Bodega Catena Zapata and her own Luca Wines in Mendoza, as well as a practicing emergency medicine physician in San Francisco.
1. Why have you decided to lend your support to the IWSC* as its 2014 President?
*International Wine & Spirit Competition
Thirty years ago my father, Nicolas Catena Zapata, had the vision to make Argentine wines that could stand with the best of the world. He was inspired by great pioneers such as Robert Mondavi, who dared to challenge the Old World hegemony on fine wine.
Today, the great international wines and spirits compete for the minds and palates of drinkers and collectors around the globe. It is a healthy battle and a constant challenge that keeps the passion of our ancient industry alive. It is this constant challenge that led my father and me to plant vines at extreme altitudes near the Andes, where nobody thought that they would ripen. It is this constant challenge that inspires younger generations to experiment with new methodologies and to rediscover the artisanship of their forefathers.
Thanks to fair and well-run competitions such as the IWSC, the world’s wine and spirits leaders receive international recognition from their peers. It is an honor to be named President of this 45-year-old institution.
2. How do you plan to use your own wine industry experience and perspective in this role?
Wine and spirits are an example of what is good about globalization. Globalization has encouraged each country and each region to champion what is unique and different about it rather than standardize approaches to winemaking. Wine drinkers prize the Malbec from Argentina, Shiraz from Australia, Pinot Noir from Burgundy, Nebbiolo from Piemonte, and Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa among others. They look for Scotch single malt, French Cognac, and Mexican Tequila. Social media and the ease of travel have opened the world’s eyes to the most remote vineyards and regions. Yet to many consumers, the complexity of wine varieties, appellations, and thousands of producers and brands have become daunting.
I started my professional life as a physician and have had the fortune of sharing my winemaking career with teaching medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. I believe that wine education is a key to the survival of the wonderful diversity in our industry. Our greatest challenge today is to help consumers understand this diversity so that they can enjoy discovering new experiences in wine and spirits throughout their lifetimes.
I hope to use my time as IWSC President to champion consumer education, diversity, and quality in our industry.
3. As a winemaker yourself, how important are these wine competitions?
Humans are competitive by nature; we all remember the first medal earned in sports and our first academic honor. Awards play an important role in motivating us to do our best and to never rest on our laurels.
4. How well do you feel Argentina’s wines compete on an international stage?
Argentina’s winemaking started in the 16th century, but the exponential growth of our industry dates back to the mid-19th century following the influx of six million European immigrants, mostly from Italy and Spain. The new immigrants wanted to keep their Old World culinary traditions alive, of which wine was an essential component.
Today, Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world. Although Malbec is our most famous variety, there are also outstanding examples of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Bonarda, Torrontes, and red and white blends. There are over 100 geographical wine regions throughout the country that stretch 1,250 miles from Salta in the north to Patagonia in the far south. Mendoza is where 70% of the country’s wines are made.
The double-digit growth of Argentine wine exports over the last five years, mostly in the ultra-premium price segment, is indicative of our extraordinarily diverse and privileged mountain terroirs. Naturally low yields, ripe and concentrated tannins, and moderate alcohol levels lead to elegant and age-worthy wines that are appreciated around the world.
5. What projects or ambitions are you currently working towards at Catena Zapata?
Our family has been making wine in Argentina for over a century. I am a member of the fourth generation. My father pioneered Argentina’s Malbec revolution and discovered a new wine terroir at high altitude, our Adrianna vineyard in Gualtallary, Mendoza. The Catena Institute of Wine works tirelessly to understand the intricacies of our unique high altitude region and its jewel “Malbec” as well as to make Argentine wines that can compete with the best of the world. Our family’s goal is to advance our region as a whole and to continue our trajectory as a pioneering wine family for another 100 years.
October 21, 2013
Francis Ford Coppola Winery is now a certified member of the Sonoma Green Business Program! To achieve certification, we must be in compliance with all environmental regulations for conserving resources, preventing pollution, and minimizing waste. Running our entire business in an environmentally responsible way is very important to us and we are honored to be participants of this program.
October 21, 2013
On October 6th, Team Trialto Wine Group BC joined thousands of other people from all over the lower mainland to walk or run, the ‘Run for the Cure’ in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
‘Run for the Cure’ is an annual event that Trialto has supported for 7 years. This year we had a team of 16, our biggest team to date, and we raised a total of $5005.00. Trialto proudly matched dollar for dollar our Trialto employee personal donations as well as providing prizes for the raffle. The team also personally donated prizes to the raffle.
Two of the Trialto Wine Group core values are ‘create a culture that is passionate, creative and fun’ and ‘Always strive for personal and team growth’. As a company we take pride in that fact that we can achieve great things together while having fun and growing as a team, especially when it comes to developing social awareness for such an important cause.
We look forward to participating in the ‘Run for the Cure’ next year. We are always proud to support charitable events in our communities across Canada.
September 9, 2013
Lesley Brown joins the Trialto team as of September 9th, 2013.
Lesley brings with her over 12 years’ experience in the BC wine industry. Over the past year and a half she has been working as the Corporate Accounts Manager for Mark Anthony Brands, prior to that she was the Fine Wine Territory Manager on Vancouver Island for Mark Anthony. She is an ISG certified Sommelier, and has been an instructor for the Guild for the past 9 years. Lesley has also completed a Tourism Management Diploma from Camosun College.
Lesley is highly regarded and respected in our industry as a hardworking, humble wine expert, with an unmatchable personality. She is a strong coach and mentor, and exudes positive energy wherever she goes. We are thrilled to have her join the Trialto Team.
August 26, 2013
Sperling Vineyards, along with some neighboring orchards and vineyards have sustained one of the worst hailstorms in recent memory. Our vines have been damaged and our crop severely reduced, to the point that we will have to manage through the effects of this storm for several years.
As a family winery we use only our own grapes. While farming our land for over 125 years we have learned that mother nature is not always predictable, so our long term business plan will enable us to roll with this punch. But, having said that, at this stressful time, we are comforted by the warm response we've had from local Kelowna wineries with their offers of support and help.
With this generous assistance from our friends, and our careful inventory management to date, we are encouraged to report that all but a few of our Sperling wines will remain available for purchase over the coming year. More than ever, we appreciate your ongoing patronage, and look forward to greeting everyone in our winery store.
August 23, 2013
21st August, 2013 by Gabriel Savage
Erwan Faiveley, the seventh generation of his family to head Burgundy’s Domaine Faiveley, on the importance of clay for making great Chardonnay and why we should keep an eye on Germany.
What factors in your view make a Chardonnay great?
Terroir, weather conditions and of course winemaking skills. Chardonnay – just like Merlot and Cabernet – seems to be produced in so many regions, only a few places really outperform. You need clay and moderate temperature for really excellent interpretations. We are very lucky at Domaine Faiveley to have some wonderful sites that really give the wine so much personality such as Clos Rochette, our distinctive monopole in Mercurey, and of course we are very lucky to have an amazing piece of Corton-Charlemagne, very well situated with old vines. I think that the people we have here at the winery, especially my cellar master, are very gifted. Corton-Charlemagne is one of the greatest white wines in Burgundy, maybe in the world.
Which regions of the world, other than your own, have the potential to produce high quality and distinctive Chardonnay?
The most interesting regions are those with a cool climate such as Russian River in California and New Zealand. Considering the impressive work that Germany has done with Pinot Noir, which needs more or less the same conditions as Chardonnay, I guess we can expect some good surprises to come from that country too.
What is it about Chardonnay that means it has such lasting global appeal?
I guess Chardonnay has distinctive aromas that appeal to everyone: it’s a fresh blend of a fruity core – peach, apricot, pear, citrus – with hints of spices – vanilla, liquorice – that evolves over time to more nutty characteristics. When it’s not overpowered nor excessive, it can be the most delicious glass of white wine!
Is there a winemaker or wine whose expression of Chardonnay inspires you?
From the Côte de Beaune area, I am very fond of Pierre-Yves Collin’s wines: he is making wines from great (and often underrated) terroirs that are expressive with a hint of reduction. Moving a little more north, I also really appreciate Raveneau’s expression of Chablis, a blend of precision, purity and volume.
In a more modern and New World style, I really enjoy Chardonnay by David Ramey: juicy, big but still elegant with some finesse.
July 29, 2013
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 2013 HARVEST
By Roberto de la Mota, Mendel Winemaker
The 2013 harvest was characterized by a good general production, especially in the fresh zones of the center and the Uco Valley and other high altitude areas, showing a higher average yield than last year. This year’s harvest was delayed, above all in the red grapes, despite having presented advanced maturity at the beginning of the white harvest. The white wines have good aromatic intensity, medium body and good acidity; while the reds are of good color, intense aroma, fresh and even floral, with medium concentration of tannins and of medium body, with a good acidity, which confers freshness. If we had to compare to previous harvests, I would say it’s more like 2010 than 2011 or 2012.
In general the buddings of the vineyards were very good, with a calm climate, fresh mornings and sunny days, without rains, strong winds or frost. The spring continued with excellent conditions, despite some “zonda” winds (hot and dry), bringing generally good flowering and fruit setting and resulting in a good quantity of bunches per plant. These, in turn, had a good quantity of grapes.
December and January were warm, as was the first part of February, but March and April were characterized by template days and very chilly nights. Excellent conditions to assure a good quality of grapes and typical of Mendoza fall.
The warmth of the start of summer made “veraison” arrive early, and everything pointed to an early harvest. This was only true in the first white grapes, but not in those destined for tranquil wines and chilly areas (higher altitude). The first weeks of February were also warm, but not the final ones, which were chilly, as was March. In this month there were some important storms, including hail, which affected specific zones of Mendoza, Valle de Uco and also Luján de Cuyo. Although some of them caused grave damage in certain properties, the effects were not generalized enough to diminish the volumes of the harvest.
Maturity measuring devices, such as Dyostem, showed a somewhat delayed “Stop of Charge” (moment in which the plant stops accumulating sugars from photosynthesis in the berry all later increase of sugar is due to loss of water in the berry, with a higher level of potential alcohol than in 2012. This means that the qualitative potential of the grapes was generally very good. (That is to say, grapes with a good richness of components, including color and tannins.)
The white grape harvest started at the end of January, beginning of February for the warm zones and in March for chillier areas with excellent sanitation. The quality was also very good, and though it is difficult to generalize, we could say that the level of concentration and of aromatic intensity was similar or somewhat superior to 2012. Beside a very good freshness, the levels of acidity are higher and the alcohol is somewhat inferior to the last harvest. For Mendel Semillon de Altamira the 2013 was excellent, very fresh, floral with acacia notes together with dried fruits and good volume and structure in mouth, similar alcohol and more acidity than in 2012.
The reds arrived late, despite initial predictions. Depending on the vineyard, between 10 and 15 days late. Although we initially believed that good production might mean a year of less concentration in red wines, we have observed grapes of very good color, aromatic intensity and tannin quantity. Having had the opportunity to taste wines in different parts of Luján and the Uco Valley, I am sure of an excellent wine quality. Fruity and floral Malbecs, quite fresh, with well-present and sufficiently mature tannins, wines of medium to high body and perhaps less meaty than in 2012. Other varieties such as Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon also show great potential. It is possible that because of the year’s characteristics, some very productive vineyards will show some grade of dilution, but those are certainly isolated cases. Comparing this year’s harvest with previous years’, we can say that it is more similar to 2007 or 2008 than 2009 or 2011.
For Mendel it was a great year of higher than average volume, with special quality of fruit in the Malbec and Petit Verdot, similar to the year before for the Cabernet Sauvignon. It is worth mentioning that this year we produced some Merlot and Cabernet Franc for the first time and the results are promising.
July 3, 2013
Martin Dorval is the newest member of our Trialto team. Martin started with us July 2nd as the Liquid Art Specialist for Quebec.
Martin has over 15 years’ experience in the wine industry. His extensive knowledge of wine and customer service are a huge asset that we are excited to add to the team. Prior to owning his own business’s (Sélection Vinalia Wine Agency) as well as being a partner in Restaurant Les Cavistes Bistro-boutique, bar à vins, Martin was a sales rep for Rézin Selection wine agency. In addition, he has completed both a Bachelor of Political Science from the University of Montreal, and his sommelier certification from École hôtelière de Laval.
Martin is energetic, hardworking, and a strong team player, and we're excited to have him on board.
June 27, 2013
From Forbes Magazine, Larry Olmstead - Author
Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola is still best known for his movies, especially his early successes Patton, Apocalypse Now, and the mega-hits, The Godfather and the Godfather Part II, which have become two of the most lauded and popular films in history. All of these critically acclaimed bombshells were made in the 1970s, and while Coppola has continued to make films ever since, he has significantly turned his attention to a host of other commercial ventures, most notably winemaking. He has also opened a few boutique hotels in which he has been heavily involved, from Central America to Italy, and I wrote about his latest Italian property, Palazzo Margherita, here at Forbes.com.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Coppola about wine and his passion for it, and today we get to hear from him in his own words.
There are countless celebrity winemakers, mostly athletes, who have been entranced by the wine business, but it is safe to say none remotely approaches the scope or success Coppola has had. One reason is that he is no newcomer to the wine game – he purchased his first vineyard in Napa in 1975 using proceeds from The Godfather films, just a year after their release. After more than 35 years of winemaking, he has expanded his operations considerably, most recently with the 2010 grand re-opening of one of the most impressive public wine facilities in the world, a sort of oenophile fantasy land, Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley.
I have always been a fan of Coppola’s wines, and actually visited his original Napa winery back in the late eighties. He subsequently purchased the famed Inglenook Chateau in 1995 and renamed his winery the Rubicon Estate. Later he purchased the rights to the Inglenook label and in 2011 renamed the estate again, to Inglenook.
But it is his Coppola branded wines that have always had my attention, because they have consistently delivered great value, especially in the mid-range price points, a step up from entry-level, with many quality wines in the high teens and twenties, which have delivered great bang for the buck year in and year out. He also makes scarcer wines selling for as much as $50. In particular I have been a consumer of his Diamond Label series, which sell for around $20 per bottle and are consistently delicious. I’ve bought the cabernet sauvignon, merlot and especially the claret, a traditional Bordeaux-style blend that goes great with food.
Until recently I had only tried his wines as one-offs when I bought them, but the winery recently sent me a sampling of the excellent labels being produced in Sonoma. Coppola makes a wide range, dozens of bottles, and I haven’t had a chance to taste them all, but I did sample some of the varietals in his flagship Director’s and Director’s Cut series, and they were standouts for both taste and value, offering a top tier small production craft experience at under $30. The Director’s Cut features limited production wines (Cabernet, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and a red blend called Cinema) from grapes grown in designated sub-appellations of Sonoma. The Director’s series features four popular varietals (Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir) using grapes grown all across Sonoma County. By blending from different micro-climates, the winery strives to create wines with lush fruit and soft tannins, and based on the ones I have tried, they have greatly succeeded.
After opening some critically acclaimed boutique hotels, Coppola applied his showmanship background to the wine business, and his Sonoma facility, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, features elaborate wine tasting bars and tours, two restaurants, a swimming pool, movie gallery (with Academy Awards, costumes and props on display), performing arts pavilion and park with game tables and bocce courts. Coppola decided to pattern it on Copenhagen’s famed Tivoli Gardens and brought on Academy Award-winning production designer Dean Tavoularis – who worked on The Godfather – to design the place. In a release about the facility, Coppola called it “a wine wonderland, a park of pleasure where people of all ages can enjoy all the best things in life – food, wine, music, dancing, games, swimming and performances of all types. A place to celebrate the love of life.”
The elaborate pool includes a poolside café and 28 day cabins for rent. The main restaurant, Rustic, focuses on Italian specialties and Neapolitan pizza, while the adjacent Parilla offers Argentinean-style grilled meats over wood flames. The family-centric winery has a wide variety of children’s games and experiences and the actual winery tours include unusual options such as a guided hike, while wine tasting options are equally varied, with about 40 different bottles to choose from. Concerts and special events are held throughout the year. Just as there is no filmmaker quite like Coppola, there is no winery experience quite like his Sonoma winery.
Where does all this passion for wine and the wine lifestyle come from? I asked him and here is what he had to say:
Q: What led you to begin making wine? Was it something you always wanted to do or a passion you discovered later in life?
A: As a child I never saw a dinner table without wine. I heard about Prohibition, when families were allowed to make two barrels of wine, from my many uncles – who told me how much fun it was to steal the grapes. So living in San Francisco I thought it would be a good idea to have a summer house with an acre or two of grapes. That eventually led to my purchasing the ‘Niebaum Estate,’ which had been part of the legendary Inglenook.
Q: You are best known as a great filmmaker. Does that experience factor into your wine? Are there similarities between your approaches to film and winemaking?
A: Yes, each is an art form, and in this case they divide into three segments: gathering of the source material (Grapes or Shots), fashioning the work (Winemaking or Editing) and finishing it (Post Production, Music, etc. or Fining and Putting into the final package). I am not a winemaker, our winemaker for Francis Coppola Wines is Corey Beck.
Q: How would you like people to think of Coppola wines?
A: I feel people understand that if I have my name on something, it’s a personal decision and one I don’t take likely. They can trust that our wines will be of the best quality and authenticity for that price point.
Q: You have also become a hotelier. Is there a connection between that and wine? What drives your forays into these businesses?
A: Usually when I was younger whenever I embarked on an idea to make money, the opposite happened. These later businesses evolved out of things that I loved or was interested in – and that made all the difference.
June 26, 2013
We are very excited to announce the appointment of Crystal Whittaker to BC Marketing Coordinator as of June 24th, 2013.
Crystal has completed both a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a focus of Public Relations from SFU, and a Diploma in Communication with a focus on Social Media from Capilano University. Throughout university she worked in concert venues and restaurants, most notably she was the marketing manager at La Terrazza Restaurant. This is also where her passion for wine was sparked!
Most recently Crystal was a Partner Marketing Specialist for Absolute Software responsible for events, conferences, social media, and sales team training. Prior to that she was an Account Manager for Fully Managed where she was responsible for maintaining brand consistency and customer satisfaction.
Crystal brings with her a ton of enthusiasm, determination, and professionalism. WELCOME Crystal to the Trialto team!