Daily Wine News: Winemaking in Utah

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-19-2017

Evan Lewandowski. (Source: Ruth Lewandowski Wines)

Evan Lewandowski. (Source: Ruth Lewandowski Wines)

Winemaking in Salt Lake City? In Wine Enthusiast, Carson Demmond profiles Evan Lewandowski, who trucks California juice to Salt Lake city for wines under the Ruth Lewandowski label, and whose next adventure is planting a vineyard in Utah.

Tucker Higgins looks at how Mi Sueño Winery in Napa is meeting labor challenges head on by hiring and mentoring staff, and boosting retention rates, in SevenFifty Daily.

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford joins Gaia Gaja in the Gaja vineyards in Barolo and Barbaresco.

Does a good restaurant wine list need to be up to date? Yes and no, says Courtney Schiessl in VinePair.

Tom Hyland reports on the challenging harvest Italian winemakers are facing in Wine-Searcher. “Thankfully, some recent rains helped slow things down so, while 2017 may not be an outstanding vintage, it certainly will be better than the disaster some had predicted only a month ago.”

In Meininger’s, Liza B. Zimmerman reports on the growth of the canned wine category. “Portable wine pours are easy to take to the beach and on a hike, which appeals to many active customers, as well as to Millennials who are significantly less beholden to the current wine consumption standard of wine being in a bottle.”

In Forbes, Amber Gibson reports on this weekend’s Sonoma County Wine Auction, which raised a record-breaking $5.2-million for local charities.

According to Larry Olmsted in Forbes, Hurricane Harvey has spared Texas vintners.

Daily Wine News: International Departure

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-18-2017

wine-890371_1280In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre looks at how some Chilean winemakers are researching old varieties and techniques as they move away from the international style.

Lawrence Osborne travels to China and finds the Chinese wine industry is getting its stride, with many wines to be discovered. “Wineries like Grace, Changyu and now Great Wall have begun to carve out segments of the growing Chinese wine culture… The national palate is evolving and Dr Pepper is no longer poured into glasses of Romanée-Conti.”

“It is extraordinary how much champagne has changed in the last 10 years or so,” says Jancis Robinson, who looks at trends of how NV Champagne is labeled, and more.

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Deanna Gonnella talks about wine and how it relates to candy.

On Jordan Winery’s blog, Rob Davis shares how the 2017 California heat wave affected vineyards.

Alfonso Cevola offers a brief harvest update from Umbria and Tuscany.

It’s up to Bordeaux winemakers to curb alcohol in their wines and global warming should not be an excuse for allowing levels to rise too high, argues John Salvi in Decanter, drawing on the historical perspective of alcohol in Bordeaux wine.

In Forbes, Tom Mullen delves into Corsican wine.

Wine Reviews: Moraga

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 09-16-2017

The Moraga Vineyards estate in Bel Air goes for sale including the Winery at $29.5 million

Moraga Vineyards – Bel Air, California

So, there’s this wine, it’s sourced from a vineyard within Los Angeles city limits, and the estate is owned by Rupert Murdoch. If you haven’t tasted Moraga, I can’t blame you for being highly skeptical. But, after tasting these wines, it is clear to me that this is no novelty wine, no vanity endeavor.

The small estate (only six acres combined, planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Sauvignon Blanc) is located within the city limits of Los Angeles, in the Santa Monica Mountains of Bel Air. (As in, “Yo homes, to Bel Air!” – Fresh Prince). This is the sole winery that sources estate grapes from within LA, and it is likely one of the most valuable plots of vineyard land in California. (I’m sure a developer would love to have a crack at this hillside, so I think its great vines are still there.)

Tom Jones, former Northrop Grumman CEO, purchased this property in 1959, and slowly converted the small ranch into a winery and estate vineyards. He first planted vines in 1978, and but 1989 was Moraga’s first vintage. Conservative media titan Rupert Murdoch purchased Moraga in 2013. Murdoch had fallen in love with the property and wine, and, as part of the purchase, he agreed to keep the estate contiguous. He also kept the long-time winemaker, Scott Rich. Today, Moraga produces about 10,000 bottles per year (approximately 70% red, 30% white).

The vines are planted on steep slopes of Santa Monica shale. Yes, this area can get lots of heat, but the Pacific Ocean sits just a few miles away, and cooling influences are pulled inland through a canyon that connects the vineyard to the sea.

The white sells for about $115 and the red sells for about $175, so these wines don’t come cheap. And I am by no means joining Moraga’s wine club. But, if you’re a high roller looking for something unique to add to your California collection, these wines could fit the mold. And their quality and deliciousness should be evident to even the most hardcore skeptics.

I received these wines as trade samples and tasted them sighted.  Read the rest of this entry »

Winemaker Interview: Jill DelaRiva Russell

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 09-15-2017

Jill DelaRiva Russell

Jill DelaRiva Russell

As our regular readers know, we frequently pose a series of questions to a winemaker to probe their winemaking philosophy and to gain insight into how they became who they are. This week, we are featuring Jill Russell, who was recently promoted to be the winemaker at Cambria Winery of the Santa Maria Valley in California’s Central Coast.

(We recently interviewed Jonathan Nagy, the winemaker at Byron Winery, who had previously worked at Cambria.)

Cambria is a part of the Jackson Family Wines portfolio. Following the footsteps of the late Jess Jackson, Barbara Banke and Katie and Julia Jackson manage the estate.

Jill studied winemaking at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. After graduating, she stayed in the area and began her career as assistant winemaker at Stephen Ross Wine Cellars. She then worked harvest in France and joined Paul Lato Wines, before being named Cambria’s new winemaker.

Check out the interview below the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: The Oregon Wine Trail

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-15-2017

Vineyards in Oregon (Wikimedia)

Vineyards in Oregon (Wikimedia)

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov hits the Oregon wine trail. “But after spending 10 days here in late July… I can’t help but conclude that Oregon is right now the single most exciting winemaking area in the United States.”

Has Paris lost its taste for Champagne? Aaron Ayscough explores the answer in the Financial Times. “Even as demand continues to grow for high-end, vintage-dated “prestige cuvée” champagnes in luxury markets in the US and the United Arab Emirates, French consumers are showing interest in low-cost alternatives… In Paris, France’s age-old love affair with champagne goes unrequited for all but the wealthy.”

Drinking Champagne out of a flute is like “going to a concert with ear plugs,” says Krug’s CEO Maggie Henriquez, who shares her disdain for flutes with the Drinks Business.

In Decanter, Jane Anson looks at what’s been happening on the English Pinot Noir scene, and whether Burgundy should be worried.

In Wine Enthusiast, Christina Jackson enjoys the rise of cat cafés that serve wine.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague recommends 15 wines under $15. (subscription req.)

In Vinous, Ian D’Agata shares him impressions of the 2016 Sicilian vintage, and explores Sicily’s terroir.

W. Blake Gray offers an update on the Chinese wine market on his blog.

Daily Wine News: CA’s Next Chapter

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-14-2017

caleraThe sale of Calera Wine Co. to Duckhorn Vineyards signals the end of an era, says Jon Bonné, who explains why the next chapter for California may be a lot messier in Punch. “The problem is that the generational passing of the baton hasn’t yielded nearly enough land that the new guard can afford. And so it seems the landed story of California wine has effectively returned to its 1990s form: a tale told by the rich, signifying their own self-satisfaction.”

The winners of the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards 2017 have been announced.

“Wine transcends borders and bridges cultures, and it can be used to improve lives if we make the right purchases.” In SevenFifty Daily, Peter Weltman explores how wine buyers can be activists, using Château Musar as an example.

In VinePair, Courtney Schiessl delves into Château Musar, and explores how it became the sole Middle Eastern producer to earn a spot on the international stage of wine icons.

Oliver Styles wonders how reliable professional palates are in Wine-Searcher.

In Purple Pages, Richard Hemming ponders what the future holds for wine.

In CNN, Mallika Kapur profiles Sonal Holland, India’s first and only person to hold the Master of Wine qualification.

In the Sacramento Bee, Mike Dunne explains the enduring popularity of Italian wine in the U.S.

Daily Wine News: Driving Strong Sales

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-13-2017

opusoneMerchants in the US and UK have reported strong sales for the recently released Opus One 2014 vintage, priced at over $300 a bottle, reports Decanter. “Liv-ex calculated that the price made it the cheapest of the last 10 Opus One vintages being traded on its platform.”

Wines & Vines offers an update on the harvest in Sonoma County. “The heat sped up the harvest that is being described as slightly less than normal in size and coming to an end in mid-October.”

Susan Kostrzewa considers the many expressions of moschofilero in Wine Enthusiast.

In SevenFifty Daily, Shana Clarke explores how offering in-store tasting opportunities are driving relailers’ sales and building their customer base.

“The last two vintages in Chile have been the most challenging by far in the modern history of Chilean wine,” says Max Weinlaub of Viña Maipo in the Drinks Business.

In VinePair, Amber Gibson looks at how some California winemakers are finding success with growing sangiovese.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, says there’s a lot to celebrate at Chateau Ste Michelle this year.

Elin McCoy suggests six wine regions to escape to in 2018 in Bloomberg.

And in Forbes, Amber Gibson advocates for heading to Canada for your next wine vacation.

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Daily Wine News: Artisanal Co-operative

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-12-2017

(Source: CastelBarry Co-operative)

(Source: CastelBarry Co-operative)

Decanter’s Andrew Jefford visits CastelBarry, an “artisanal co-operative” in Languedoc and learns how it saved its village. “It taught the villagers that they could not only work successfully together, but that modest prosperity could even beckon via communal action.”

In Wine-Searcher, Tom Jarvis tackles “the thorny subject” of natural wine, and explains why the category is nearly impossible to automatically include in the Wine-Searcher database.

In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto visits with one of Corsica’s trailblazers, winegrower Yves Leccia, who separated from his family to pursue his dream next door.

In Forbes, Eric Annino shares how blockchain technology can restore trust in the wine industry.

Laura Feinstein looks at the rise of the winery bachelorette party in VinePair.

In SevenFifty Daily, Julie H. Case talks to three new Masters of Wine about how they studied, what they wish they had known, and how they celebrated.

“Wine has been growing on the slopes of Mount Etna for over 2,000 years and only now is it catching the eye of investors…But for Cornelissen, it’s more than an investment opportunity.” CNBC profiles Frank Cornelissen.

In Grape Collective, Edward Marchese thinks about weird wine names.

In Punch, Zachary Sussman goes behind the scenes at Babbo, the restaurant that effectively invented the regional Italian wine list as we know it today.

Daily Wine News: Hurricane Irma Hits

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-11-2017

Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma.

In Reuters, Barbara Goldberg reports on the rescue missions underway for rare wine collections in Hurricane Irma’s path. “In Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, a storage facility with wine lockers built to withstand 157-mile-per-hour (253-km-per-hour) winds has turned away 10 potential new customers in recent days because it is filled to capacity

Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group, rode out Hurricane Irma in his wine cellar on his private Caribbean island.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley looks at how the Bay Area’s Labor Day weekend heat spike is affecting this year’s harvest. “Grapes that were harvested before the heat spike, already on their way to becoming wine, are looking beautiful, vintners report. Many wines unharvested yet may turn out fine. A lot depends on sorting out the raisins…”

In Cahors, Eric Asimov finds a younger generation of winemakers has created reasons to care about the region. “Those producers include people like Julien Ilbert of Château Combel-la-Serre and Fabien Jouves of Mas del Périé, who are upending the image of Cahors as heavy and rustic by making distinctive wines of elegance and grace.”

Jancis Robinson says “the bronze medal for growing Pinot Noir nowadays goes to Germany.”

Hugh Johnson’s advice for drinking in France? Go for lesser-known wines.

In Grape Collective, Valerie Kathawala makes the case for verdicchio as being Italy’s greatest native white grape.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre reports on Zachys, a premier New York retailer that has just opened a location in D.C. “The cost of real estate and shifting market dynamics led Zachys to risk a different model: Instead of luring us into a store with displays of wine bottles, the store will try to bring the wine experience to us.”

Book Review: Italian Wine Unplugged – Grape by Grape

Posted by | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 09-10-2017

gI_152111_Book e Tablet fullWhen I began studying wine as an overzealous 22-year-old, I bought a copy of “Italian Wine for Dummies.” It’s actually a good overview of Italian wines, and I sometimes reference it when I forget grape names or legal blending requirements.

But for serious students of wine, and those in the trade who work closely with Italian wines, “Italian Wine Unplugged: Grape by Grape” has everything you could possibly need.

Italian wines, grapes and laws are a labyrinth for wine-loving mortals (like myself), and this book is a master key. It’s written by Stevie Kim, director of the massive trade event Vinitaly, and a lineup of other Italian wine pros. The beta version is now available in e-book for $10, and they’ve set a December 2017 date for the launch of the paperback version.

Basically, this is an encyclopedia of Italian wine grapes (more than 430 of them), which is broken into three sections. The “Must-Know Grapes” section will challenge most serious Italian wine fans. Sure Nebbiolo and Sangiovese are in there, but don’t forget Ciliegiolo and Schioppettino. “Lesser-Known Grapes” gets even more in-depth, with grape names that could cause any Italian wine student to scratch their head — Susumaniello, Tazzelenghe, Uva Rara. Read the rest of this entry »