About UsWine ReviewsArchivesAdvertiseContact Us

WRO WINE BLOG

Posted by Michael Franz on January 12, 2017 at 12:18 PM

From Best of 2016, Best Glass: Zalto Denk`Art Universal Glass

I first encountered this glass two years ago when tasting in southern France, and it was pretty clearly the most arresting vessel I’d ever been handed for sampling a wine.  It is beautiful to behold and even more amazing to handle, as it seems almost weightless.  Moreover, the balance from the base to the top of the bowl is so perfect that, when loaded with an appropriately-sized pour and swirled, it produces an uncanny sensory impression that the only weight in one’s hand is derived from the rotation of the wine itself.

I deliberately put the glass out of my mind after our first meeting, as it didn’t take a genius to determine that it would be expensive and pretty breakable, as it is an almost impossibly thin, mouth-blown item.  I recall my thought at the moment being something like, “I need another expensive obsession like I need a hole in the head.”

That worked well enough for about 18 months, but then I sat in on a seminar on Austrian Pinot Blancs in Vienna last summer, and 8 of the damned things had me surrounded.  Noted writer David Schildknecht, who conducted the seminar, felt the need to tell the attendees (all journalists) not to walk off with the glasses afterward.  Had he not done so, I’ve no doubt that the count would have been diminished significantly.  That’s how striking this glass is.

Anyway, I finally sprung for a couple of them last fall, with the result that I’ve now officially fallen out of love with every other glass that I own…and I own a lot of them.

Zalto is an Austrian company, and this line is dedicated to a certain priest named Hans Denk, who is apparently a quite influential student of wine in Austria. Regarding the design of the entire line of glasses, Zalto’s website offers the following account, which I quote verbatim:

“The development of the Denk`Art series was as influenced by the earth as by the universe beyond.  The curve of the bowls are tilted at the angles of 24°, 48° and 72°, which are in accordance to the tilt angles of the Earth.  The ancient Romans utilized this triumvirate of angles with their supply repositories, finding that produce stayed fresh for a longer time, and that it also showed improved taste.  Due to these cosmic parallels, we believe that a wine can reach its utmost potential in a Denk`Art glass, developing everything that is possible in the nose as well as on palate, due to these cosmic parallels.”

To be clear, this looks like total mumbo-jumbo to me, and I don’t put a dime’s worth of stock into the business about cosmic parallels.  But with that noted, the design of the glass is undeniably marvelous.  As for the word “Universal” in the name of the glass, that apparently refers not to the cosmos, but rather to its all-purpose design.  Other glasses in the line include stems dedicated to Burgundy, Bordeaux, Sweet Wine, White Wine, Champagne, Digestifs, Beer and Water. 

Have I tried these types?  Absolutely not.  Why not?  Because I need 8 more expensive obsessions like I need 8 holes in my head.

As for expense, the best online prices hover around $60.  Wine Enthusiast will personalize your glass with a single initial for an additional $20, but in my humble opinion, only a jackass would mar this beautiful object with a giant letter.  As for durability, Zalto’s website says the glasses, “…may be washed in a dishwasher,” but that seems like exceedingly bad advice.  After all, dishwashers don’t break glasses; dishwasher loaders break glasses.

Although the reservations I’ve expressed here about Zalto’s usage recommendations and cosmic design principles should make it clear that I haven’t quite drunk the cool-aid, I confess that I’m madly in love with this glass.  Try one at your own risk!

Nielson, Santa Barbara County (California) Pinot Noir 2014 ($18)
This is among the best under-$20 Pinot made anywhere in the world.  By “best,” I most certainly don’t mean “biggest,” but rather most delicate, integrated and pure.  If I want a bigger wine, I’m perfectly capable of ordering Syrah or Cabernet.  If I’m after Pinot, it is because I want a wine that won’t fight with my fish or chicken.  This fits the bill perfectly, showing light-medium body, appropriately pale color, significant (but not overbearing) aroma and flavor, and a finish that is fairly long and very fresh… without any awkward sweetness or hint of cheap oak-chip tricks.  Delicious, and a triumph at this price.
92 Michael Franz

OUR COLUMNISTS
 
Dr. Michael
Apstein
Michael
Franz
Paul
Lukacs
Ed
McCarthy
Linda
Murphy
 
Rebecca
Murphy
Marguerite
Thomas
Robert
Whitley
   
 
 
This Issue's Reviews
 
Rethinking Beaujolais
Robert Whitley

ROMANECHE-THORINS, France - Georges Duboeuf, now 83 years old, is old enough to remember when Beaujolais was the French wine of choice for many, if not most, American wine drinkers. Light, fruity and absent of aggressive tannins, it was the perfect bistro wine. But the American wine scene has shifted substantially since Duboeuf began pedaling Beaujolais in 1964. Sales in the U.S. have slipped as much as 40 percent over the past decade, prompting Duboeuf to switch importers recently. But if the U.S. market has changed, so, too, has the Beaujolais region, where Duboeuf oversees a vast network of small growers and independent winemakers.
Grand Cru Chablis: Burgundy's Best Top-Class Whites
Jim Clarke

When one hears the words 'Grand Cru Burgundy,' it's probably the reds of the Côte de Nuits that spring to mind -- some of the most exciting, age-worthy, and often profound wines in the world. One might also think of Corton, in the Côte de Beaune, so not far away or the white wine Grand Crus of Montrachet or Corton-Charlemagne. But there are seven Grand Crus that seem to cross people's minds less frequently, even though they represent the best values to bear the name Grand Cru Burgundy. I'm talking about Grand Crus of Chablis.
Wine With
WINE WITH…Indian Chicken and Rice


This basic riff on Indian fare has a host of virtues. It's one of those comforting one-dish meals that's simple to prepare and easy to love. It may be prepared ahead of time, there are no extra pots and pans to wash, and the dish really requires no other accompaniment unless you want to serve a vegetable or basic green salad along with it. If you are wedded to chicken breasts rather than thighs, you may of course make that substitution, recognizing that thighs offer significantly more flavor and texture. We found that another great merit of this Indian-inspired dish is that it is tasty with both red and white wines.
On My Table
The Beauty of Merlot
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

These two 2013 Merlots hail from opposite sides of Napa Valley: Mt. Brave Merlot, from Mt. Veeder in western Napa Valley and La Jota Merlot, from Howell Mountain in the east. The two wines are equally impressive, but in fact quite different. Mountain viticulture encompasses several factors that positively influence the quality of Merlot grapes. The cooler temperatures at high altitudes foster a slower, more even ripening of the grapes; sites above the fog line enjoy longer sunshine which enhances ripening; and thin, stony mountain soils result in small crop levels and smaller, more concentrated grape berries. The difficulty and challenge of mountain viticulture is itself another influence, because it demands dedication from the growers and winemakers who work the vines. In 2013, all these factors converged with an ideal growing season that saw temperatures hover in the 85° to 95° range, without heat spikes, and dry conditions throughout.