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The Spill: Wine news Jan. 12

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Jean Edwards Cellars Comes to Vine Alley

On Jan. 5, wine producers Karen and John Troisi opened a tasting room on the Plaza with the grand opening of Jean Edwards Cellars slated for Feb. 18.

With over two decades of wine making experience behind them, the former corporate New Jersey duo took early retirement to bring eight Napa wines (cabernet sauvignon, cuvee, malbec, merlot and sauvignon blanc) to Sonoma with several Sonoma Valley wines in the production queue. Since 2004, they have been working with seasoned winemaker Kian Tavakoli out of St. Helena who formerly worked for Opus One and Clos Du Val Wineries.

In fact, their first vintage put them on the map with the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Stagecoach Vineyard, recognized by Wine Spectator with a score of 92 points. Since then, the Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon remains their ever-popular flagship wine and the 2014 can be savored today in the tasting room.

Wine enthusiasts, the Troisis display their mantra proudly on the wall above the tasting room bar, which is a contemporary urban loft with red stools, and dark navy tasting bar and leather furniture to match their brand label colors. “You should only make wines you love to drink,” it says. With that philosophy in mind, they keep their eye solely on the wants and wishes of the consumer, and strive to deliver exceptional small production wines from highly regarded fruit sources and growers in the Napa and Sonoma Valley.

They offer three-tiered wine clubs to their members depending on the custom orders desired: Pawprints, Faithful Friends, and Bad to the Bone, in honor of their Labradors. You’ll find a photo of their dogs on the back of the labels.

Four wines of choice can be tasted by the glass for $25. The tasting fee is waived with a $65 purchase or club membership. Starting Feb. 1, they will be open Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday through Thursdays from noon to 6 p.m.

Wine Trends for 2018

Surprise wines

According to the Washington Post, we can anticipate surprise wines from unexpected regions as winemakers strive for unique productions at better values. Most wine enthusiasts recognize New Zealand and Oregon for their pinot noir and sauvignon blanc, or Argentina for its malbec, but few consumers realize they also produce a stellar chardonnay. Chile is known for its cabernet sauvignon and merlot, but did you know it produces an exceptional sauvignon blanc and carignan?

Expect more riesling and pinot noir out of Australia, not just shiraz. Be on the lookout for some unusual chenin blanc and shiraz from South Africa. Lastly, we can also expect some delicious and inexpensive wines from Bulgaria, Turkey, Moldova and Armenia.

Natural wines

Raw wines are growing more popular among millennials, winemakers and sommeliers. What exactly is natural wine? They are considered minimalist wines made without chemical and technological intervention when growing grapes and turning them into wine. Today, the natural scene has gained wide-spread popularity with over 400 natural wine producers in France alone.

Natural wine producers can also be found in the U.S., New Zealand and small regions such as Georgia, Serbia, and Slovenia. Big cities like San Francisco, Paris, New York, Tokyo and London are lovers of the movement, even though natural wines have been around for a long time (first made 8000 years ago).

Given the current media buzz, natural wines are gathering momentum. Are these natural wines a fad? Only time will tell. However, right now natural wines will expand to retail shelves and restaurant wine list menus to test the market beyond the big metropolitan cities.

Expect more wineries in urban areas

This concept began in 2008 with City Winery in New York City by entrepreneur Michael Dorf. Although you can find barrels in the dining room, it’s more a concert venue than winery. Even so, the concept is spreading with locations in Chicago, Atlanta, Nashville and Boston with a new location about to open in the District.

There exist offshoots, such as District Winery in Brooklyn. The urban winery believes wine is to be celebrated during a wedding, night out or, like at the City Winery, during a spectacular musical event.