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The soul of Indian Soil Carefully Crafted into our Boutique wines
Courtesy http://pyramidvalley.co.nz California native Mike Weersing focuses on organic and biodynamic techniques at Pyramid Valley vineyards on New Zealand’s South Island.

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I don’t think there is a delicate way of putting this, so I’m just going to come right out and say it: An American makes the best wines coming out of New Zealand. Californian Mike Weersing arrived in New Zealand in 1996 by way of enology school in Dijon, France, and several stints at some of France’s best wineries, including De Montille in Burgundy and Kreydenweiss in Alsace. In New Zealand, he initially went to work as the winemaker at Neudorf Vineyards in Nelson, and in 2000, he purchased an old farm in North Canterbury with his wife on the South Island.

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Weersing’s vision was to make wine biodynamically, but it would take a few years before he would be able to work with the fruit from his land.

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addition of sulfites, wine (and grape juice, for that matter) would quickly turn to vinegar. Organic wines are not necessarily without sulfites, but often have lower levels which are closely regulated. Because of this, organic wine is made for immediate consumption, and since the sulfite levels are lower they won’t last longer than a couple years.

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Unfortunately, obtaining organic certification for a farm or winery is a challenging, expensive, and arduous process. For some winemakers, the organic label or “certified” status is meaningless compared to the sustainable and healthy growing practices they adopt in an effort to improve the land and create a thriving ecosystem.

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Another option is biodynamic farming, a spiritual, ethical, and ecological approach to agriculture, food production, and nutrition. The concept was developed in the 1920s by Austrian educator and social activist Dr. Rudolf Steiner, and the biodynamic movement encompasses thousands of gardens, farms, vineyards, and agricultural organizations around the world. Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diverse, balanced ecosystem. They use preparations, or teas, made from fermented manure, minerals, and herbs like dandelions, nettles, and valerian to help restore and harmonize natural resources, while also improving the quality and flavor of the grapes.

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The days of alcohol-heavy wine might be numbered as new research and market demand point towards lighter wines.

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A new wine yeast can produce wines with lower alcohol levels, according to the research team that developed it.

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The result of collaborative research by Lallemand Oenology and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), in Montpellier, France, the new, non-GMO Saccharomyces cerevisiae  yeast is capable of producing lower alcohol levels in wine and with no undesirable compounds.

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, the stunningly beautiful, premium sparkling wine region in the Lombardy region of Italy. My recent trip, and love of all things Italian, has got me drinking a lot of Italian wines lately, many of which are perfectly suited for warm weather. Here are a few to include in your summertime enjoyment, a few selections were sent for editorial consideration.

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, middle daughter of famed Italian producer, Marquis Antinori, attending as her guest, delving into the wines of the Antinori Guado al Tasso Estate from the Tuscan coast of Bolgheri DOC. With a close proximity to the sea, the winery benefits from constant breezes blowing in from the water creating consistent temperatures and a mild maritime climate year round, producing ripe, balanced fruit with briny influences from the sea air and minerality from the limestone filled, alluvial soils. Allegra is involved with many of the Antinori wineries, as are her two sisters, but this estate carries additional attention and passion for Allegra, as it includes several of her other passions besides wine, like a dedicated culinary center growing grains and vegetables, creating house-cured prosciutto from free-range Tuscan Cinta Senese pigs grazing on their property, and maintaining extensive olive groves for producing oil.

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2009 Guado al Tasso , the premier wine of the estate, blending Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc for a robust, yet elegant wine that shows the power and ability to age of these well-made Italian wines. Filled with fresh herbs, like sage and rosemary, with floral, black fruit and black licorice notes, the hearty wine paired perfectly with a slightly gamey, perfectly grilled lamb loin, highlighting the earthiness of the wine. Wines range from $15-$95, selections available at Jimmy’s, Sigel’s and Spec’s.

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Being a wine writer, I’ve had the opportunity to try some truly fabulous wines from all over the globe. But no matter how many great new wines or new regions I explore, I love coming back to France.

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The first wines I ever appreciated were French, while working my way through college waitressing at a small café in Massachusetts. I remember sipping on our house whites after the last customers left and beginning to differentiate the crisper style of a white Bordeaux from the roundness of white Burgundy.

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My palate has developed since then, but I’ve never forgotten my roots. I will always love French wine. Here are a few that I’ve enjoyed lately.

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