Insight on the Wine Industry with SommSelect

Insight on the Wine Industry with SommSelect

January 24, 2020 by Luke Himmelsbach

SommSelect is an online wine retailer that provides daily offers, wine clubs, and concierge services with a focus on farm-to-table, small production wines.

We asked the SommSelect's founder and Master Sommelier, Ian Cauble and his right-hand man, David Lynch, who is also an award-winning sommelier and SommSelect's Editorial Director, to give us some insight on the wines of the world. Though they were asked the same questions, both Cauble and Lynch gave some incredibly interesting and juxtaposing answers. Read more to learn a bit about the up and coming wine regions of the world, where the best wine in the U.S. is being produced, a few wine trends and more.

5_Ian_nose_in_glass_with_bottle.jpg

Ian Cauble - Master Sommelier, Founder of SommSelect

Where are the top up and coming wine regions in your opinion, and why?

The first region that comes to mind is the Canary Islands. While technically Spanish, they are located about 60 miles off the southern coast of Morocco in Northwest Africa. Their seven islands are all volcanic in origin and makes singular wines mainly from Listan Negro and Listan Blanco, among numerous other unique grape varieties. When you taste the top wines from the Canary Islands, memories of the world’s great wines come to mind, primarily Burgundy, but these island wines are accented with a saline note from the Atlantic influence, as well as a touch of spiciness and white smoky character from the volcanic soils. Suertes del Marques, Envinate and Tajinaste are all great wineries to try.

Another up-and-coming region which has nearly peaked in popularity in recent years is Beaujolais, a region in southern Burgundy (France) that grows mainly Gamay on granite slopes. For many sommeliers, myself included, Beaujolais represents some of the greatest price-to-quality on earth for serious red wine. These are elegant wines with lots of pristine fruit, but they also have a depth of mineral and savory aspects which make the wines simultaneously thirst-quenching and thought-provoking. Look for “Cru Beaujolais” for great wines from 10 of the best villages to grow Gamay, all located quite close together in the heart of Beaujolais. The top producers to seek out are Foillard, Lapierre, Thevenet, Lapalu and Thivin, although there are many more. Most top examples are $25-$35 per bottle.

If you had to choose one, what is your go-to wine for the holiday season?

Cru Beaujolais, for sure. It is the ultimate Thanksgiving wine, but you can drink it with Prime-Rib, Roast Chicken, Grilled Fish, or even on its own. It is a favorite of every knowledgeable sommelier and a chameleon in terms of being able to pair with different foods.

Where is the best wine from the U.S. being produced right now?

I was born in raised in California and adore wines from all over, but the US region that really excites me at this moment is Oregon. The quality of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay produced in Oregon right now is reaching incredible levels, and the price-points are relatively low for the immense quality. For $35 per bottle you can find some really serious wines. Look for Evesham Wood, Ayres, Walter Scott, Big Table Farm and Beaux Freres.

If you could only drink wine from one region, where would that be and why?

Burgundy, France. Most people grow to love Burgundy after spending decades learning about wine. The best wines from Burgundy (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) can be some of the most incredible sensual experiences in your life. The aromatics, texture and flavors are simply addicting. The challenge is the best wines are very expensive and can top out at over $10,000 per bottle from villages like Vosne-Romanee, Chambolle-Musigny and Morey-Saint-Denis. Fortunately, to start getting into Burgundy, you don’t have to spend much. You can find many solid examples at $25-$50 per bottle. We sell a lot of these on SommSelect with our daily offers and have tasted through dozens to pick exceptional wines so you don’t have to kiss any frogs to find the prince.

How has the U.S. wine industry changed over the last few years?

I think a change in people’s palates has started to shift the industry slightly. It seems more people want to drink wines that are more balanced, versus the very ripe, sweet, oaky, and generally alcoholic wines which became fashionable in the early 2000’s. The palate of the average American generally leans towards sweeter fruit, but this seems to be changing as people learn more and drink more wines from around the world.

What is the largest change/trend that you are seeing in the wine industry as of recently?

Many wine producers are becoming conscious to remove chemicals from farming, with roundup in particular being a hot topic, since it is clear it is a cancer-causing chemical. Farmers now understand how important soil health is to the quality of the final wine and many are moving toward organic and biodynamic farming, which has really increased the quality of their wines by bringing more life into the soil.

Name a few up and coming wineries that have impressed you recently.
  • White Rock Vineyards (Napa)
  • RAEN (Sonoma Coast)
  • Tyler (Santa Barbara)
  • Pilcrow (Napa)
  • Eden Rift (San Benito)
  • Graci (Etna)
  • Chateau Sainte Marguerite (Bordeaux)

3_David_Wine_Bottle_Glass_Vineyard.jpg

David Lynch - Editorial Director of SommSelect; Author, “Vino Italiano”; Former Wine Director at Quince in SF; Babbo in NYC

Where are the top up and coming wine regions in your opinion, and why?

My two hot spots right now are Mount Etna, in Sicily, and Galicia, in NW Spain. One cool thing about both regions is that both their reds and whites are excellent.

Etna also happens to be one of the most unique and extreme wine-growing regions in the world: it’s a still-active volcano, where vineyard elevations often climb past 1,000 meters (making them some of the highest-elevation vines in Europe). The reds are made mostly from Nerello Mascalese, a grape which compares very favorably to Pinot Noir. The whites are mostly from Carricante—the best examples remind me of really good, minerally Chablis.

Meanwhile, In Galicia, you have deliciously salty whites from Albariño and Godello, and some deep, meaty, tangy reds from Mencía and other local varieties. It’s a tangle of river valleys up there running toward the Atlantic, and very sparsely populated, with vineyards often terraced because they are so steep. It’s a stunning place to visit.

If you had to choose one, what is your go-to wine for the holiday season?

It’s really hard to choose just one. Italian wine is my first love and, when I think of the holiday season, I think of fallen leaves, brisk temperatures, scents of woodsmoke, that kind of stuff...so I like reds from the Nebbiolo grape, which is grown most famously in the regions of Barolo and Barbaresco, in Piedmont. Generally, though, I go a little lighter than Barolo; the wines of the remote region of Valtellina, along the Swiss border in northern Lombardy, are fantastic, ethereal, ‘autumnal’ Nebbiolos. So, too, are some of the Nebbiolo-based wines from more northern Piedmontese regions like Gattinara, Ghemme, and Lessona.

Where is the best wine from the U.S. being produced right now?

At SommSelect, we’ve been super hot on the Pinot Noirs from Willamette Valley, Oregon, but I want to give a shout-out to the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, too. It’s an important and historic region that does just about everything well—not just Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but some of the most legendary Cabernet-based reds on the planet, like “Monte Bello” from Ridge and the estate Cabernets from Mount Eden.

If you could only drink wine from one region, where would that be and why?

Probably Piedmont, Italy, because it’s basically a little self-contained wine nation: whites, reds, sparklers, sweets...it has it all!

How has the U.S. wine industry changed over the last few years?

I’ve said this a lot lately: Wine appreciation in the US is no longer the exclusive preserve of the wealthy. The “natural wine” movement has had a lot to do with this—what’s valued more now, I think, is authenticity and sustainability over rarity/prestige.

What is the largest change/trend that you are seeing in the wine industry as of recently?

The “lightening” of the American palate, as Ian alluded to above. We’re starting to accept that the “biggest” wines aren’t necessarily the best. (Also a by-product of the popularity of “natural” wines, which tend to be less oaky, less alcoholic, less extracted.)

Name a few up and coming wineries that have impressed you recently.
  • Fattoria La Vialla, Tuscany, Italy
  • Le Pianelle, Piedmont, Italy
  • Guimaro, Galicia, Spain
  • Domaine Arlaud, Burgundy, France
  • Rosi Schuster, Burgenland, Austria
  • Rotie Cellars, Walla Walla, Washington
  • La Clarine Farm, Sierra Foothills, California
  • Vöcal Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains/Monterey, California













Insight on the Wine Industry with SommSelect

January 24, 2020 by Luke Himmelsbach

SommSelect is an online wine retailer that provides daily offers, wine clubs, and concierge services with a focus on farm-to-table, small production wines.

We asked the SommSelect's founder and Master Sommelier, Ian Cauble and his right-hand man, David Lynch, who is also an award-winning sommelier and SommSelect's Editorial Director, to give us some insight on the wines of the world. Though they were asked the same questions, both Cauble and Lynch gave some incredibly interesting and juxtaposing answers. Read more to learn a bit about the up and coming wine regions of the world, where the best wine in the U.S. is being produced, a few wine trends and more.

5_Ian_nose_in_glass_with_bottle.jpg

Ian Cauble - Master Sommelier, Founder of SommSelect

Where are the top up and coming wine regions in your opinion, and why?

The first region that comes to mind is the Canary Islands. While technically Spanish, they are located about 60 miles off the southern coast of Morocco in Northwest Africa. Their seven islands are all volcanic in origin and makes singular wines mainly from Listan Negro and Listan Blanco, among numerous other unique grape varieties. When you taste the top wines from the Canary Islands, memories of the world’s great wines come to mind, primarily Burgundy, but these island wines are accented with a saline note from the Atlantic influence, as well as a touch of spiciness and white smoky character from the volcanic soils. Suertes del Marques, Envinate and Tajinaste are all great wineries to try.

Another up-and-coming region which has nearly peaked in popularity in recent years is Beaujolais, a region in southern Burgundy (France) that grows mainly Gamay on granite slopes. For many sommeliers, myself included, Beaujolais represents some of the greatest price-to-quality on earth for serious red wine. These are elegant wines with lots of pristine fruit, but they also have a depth of mineral and savory aspects which make the wines simultaneously thirst-quenching and thought-provoking. Look for “Cru Beaujolais” for great wines from 10 of the best villages to grow Gamay, all located quite close together in the heart of Beaujolais. The top producers to seek out are Foillard, Lapierre, Thevenet, Lapalu and Thivin, although there are many more. Most top examples are $25-$35 per bottle.

If you had to choose one, what is your go-to wine for the holiday season?

Cru Beaujolais, for sure. It is the ultimate Thanksgiving wine, but you can drink it with Prime-Rib, Roast Chicken, Grilled Fish, or even on its own. It is a favorite of every knowledgeable sommelier and a chameleon in terms of being able to pair with different foods.

Where is the best wine from the U.S. being produced right now?

I was born in raised in California and adore wines from all over, but the US region that really excites me at this moment is Oregon. The quality of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay produced in Oregon right now is reaching incredible levels, and the price-points are relatively low for the immense quality. For $35 per bottle you can find some really serious wines. Look for Evesham Wood, Ayres, Walter Scott, Big Table Farm and Beaux Freres.

If you could only drink wine from one region, where would that be and why?

Burgundy, France. Most people grow to love Burgundy after spending decades learning about wine. The best wines from Burgundy (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) can be some of the most incredible sensual experiences in your life. The aromatics, texture and flavors are simply addicting. The challenge is the best wines are very expensive and can top out at over $10,000 per bottle from villages like Vosne-Romanee, Chambolle-Musigny and Morey-Saint-Denis. Fortunately, to start getting into Burgundy, you don’t have to spend much. You can find many solid examples at $25-$50 per bottle. We sell a lot of these on SommSelect with our daily offers and have tasted through dozens to pick exceptional wines so you don’t have to kiss any frogs to find the prince.

How has the U.S. wine industry changed over the last few years?

I think a change in people’s palates has started to shift the industry slightly. It seems more people want to drink wines that are more balanced, versus the very ripe, sweet, oaky, and generally alcoholic wines which became fashionable in the early 2000’s. The palate of the average American generally leans towards sweeter fruit, but this seems to be changing as people learn more and drink more wines from around the world.

What is the largest change/trend that you are seeing in the wine industry as of recently?

Many wine producers are becoming conscious to remove chemicals from farming, with roundup in particular being a hot topic, since it is clear it is a cancer-causing chemical. Farmers now understand how important soil health is to the quality of the final wine and many are moving toward organic and biodynamic farming, which has really increased the quality of their wines by bringing more life into the soil.

Name a few up and coming wineries that have impressed you recently.
  • White Rock Vineyards (Napa)
  • RAEN (Sonoma Coast)
  • Tyler (Santa Barbara)
  • Pilcrow (Napa)
  • Eden Rift (San Benito)
  • Graci (Etna)
  • Chateau Sainte Marguerite (Bordeaux)

3_David_Wine_Bottle_Glass_Vineyard.jpg

David Lynch - Editorial Director of SommSelect; Author, “Vino Italiano”; Former Wine Director at Quince in SF; Babbo in NYC

Where are the top up and coming wine regions in your opinion, and why?

My two hot spots right now are Mount Etna, in Sicily, and Galicia, in NW Spain. One cool thing about both regions is that both their reds and whites are excellent.

Etna also happens to be one of the most unique and extreme wine-growing regions in the world: it’s a still-active volcano, where vineyard elevations often climb past 1,000 meters (making them some of the highest-elevation vines in Europe). The reds are made mostly from Nerello Mascalese, a grape which compares very favorably to Pinot Noir. The whites are mostly from Carricante—the best examples remind me of really good, minerally Chablis.

Meanwhile, In Galicia, you have deliciously salty whites from Albariño and Godello, and some deep, meaty, tangy reds from Mencía and other local varieties. It’s a tangle of river valleys up there running toward the Atlantic, and very sparsely populated, with vineyards often terraced because they are so steep. It’s a stunning place to visit.

If you had to choose one, what is your go-to wine for the holiday season?

It’s really hard to choose just one. Italian wine is my first love and, when I think of the holiday season, I think of fallen leaves, brisk temperatures, scents of woodsmoke, that kind of stuff...so I like reds from the Nebbiolo grape, which is grown most famously in the regions of Barolo and Barbaresco, in Piedmont. Generally, though, I go a little lighter than Barolo; the wines of the remote region of Valtellina, along the Swiss border in northern Lombardy, are fantastic, ethereal, ‘autumnal’ Nebbiolos. So, too, are some of the Nebbiolo-based wines from more northern Piedmontese regions like Gattinara, Ghemme, and Lessona.

Where is the best wine from the U.S. being produced right now?

At SommSelect, we’ve been super hot on the Pinot Noirs from Willamette Valley, Oregon, but I want to give a shout-out to the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, too. It’s an important and historic region that does just about everything well—not just Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but some of the most legendary Cabernet-based reds on the planet, like “Monte Bello” from Ridge and the estate Cabernets from Mount Eden.

If you could only drink wine from one region, where would that be and why?

Probably Piedmont, Italy, because it’s basically a little self-contained wine nation: whites, reds, sparklers, sweets...it has it all!

How has the U.S. wine industry changed over the last few years?

I’ve said this a lot lately: Wine appreciation in the US is no longer the exclusive preserve of the wealthy. The “natural wine” movement has had a lot to do with this—what’s valued more now, I think, is authenticity and sustainability over rarity/prestige.

What is the largest change/trend that you are seeing in the wine industry as of recently?

The “lightening” of the American palate, as Ian alluded to above. We’re starting to accept that the “biggest” wines aren’t necessarily the best. (Also a by-product of the popularity of “natural” wines, which tend to be less oaky, less alcoholic, less extracted.)

Name a few up and coming wineries that have impressed you recently.
  • Fattoria La Vialla, Tuscany, Italy
  • Le Pianelle, Piedmont, Italy
  • Guimaro, Galicia, Spain
  • Domaine Arlaud, Burgundy, France
  • Rosi Schuster, Burgenland, Austria
  • Rotie Cellars, Walla Walla, Washington
  • La Clarine Farm, Sierra Foothills, California
  • Vöcal Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains/Monterey, California





image.png