Daily Wine News: Confronting Questions

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-09-2017

Veeder Peak, Mount Veeder, Napa. (Source: Jackson Family Wines)

Veeder Peak, Mount Veeder, Napa. (Source: Jackson Family Wines)

In the New York Times, David Gelles looks at how Jackson Family Wines is battling climate change with both high-tech and old-school techniques. “Climate change is forcing the Jacksons to confront questions both practical and existential: Can you make fine wine with less water? Will good grapes still grow here in 20 years? What will become of an industry central to California’s identity…”

In a recent biodynamic tasting calendar study, researchers concluded that “the findings reported in the present study provide no evidence in support of the notion that how a wine tastes is associated with the lunar cycle.”

Meininger reports on how various people in the wine industry reacted to the results of the above biodynamic tasting calendar study.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre on the importance of knowing how to read a vintage chart.

Grape Collective talks to artisan producer Fabio Altariva and his son Alessio from Fattoria Moretto about the evolution of Lambrusco.

Wine Spectator reports that Lewis Cellars’ Debbie Lewis has died after a yearlong battle with various forms of cancer. She was 72.

MarketWatch considers how food and wine costs are going to rise when Donald Trump takes office.

In Punch, Jon Bonné lays out the wine stories he thinks will make a difference this year. “2017 is going to be a complicated—but potentially really great—year for wine.”

Wine Reviews: Bordeaux

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 01-08-2017

About a decade ago, when I was a struggling newspaper reporter with a flashy new ID to purchase wine and a measly budget with which to purchase it, I cut my teeth on inexpensive Bordeaux. These wines didn’t need years in the cellar (which I didn’t have) — these were cheap, zesty Sauv Blancs for salads and fish and fresh and Merlot-tinged reds for everything else. I found a lot of fun wines, but even as a wine newb, I was turned off by some of the acidic, weak, and stemmy wines. Flash forward to today, and I think it’s fair to say the overall quality of entry-level Bordeaux has made an impressive leap.

While I still taste some wines I’d much rather avoid, those wines seem fewer and farther between. There is plenty of juicy and fresh blanc and rouge out there. If you’re dropping cash on some grand vin from a respected Chateau, it’s probably a good idea to give your palate a primer on the vintage. 2013 is widely disparaged as a vintage, but some of the wines have a fresh and tangy, early-drinking presence that I find attractive. And the 2014s are overshadowed by the hype of 2015, there are some really good wines that you may be able to snag for less. And wines from less prestigious appellations can give you an idea on what to expect from the serious stuff.

A few weeks ago I pointed out a few bargain-heavy, tasty, accessible Bordeaux reds from the Cotes de Bordeaux appellations. I’m back this week with a case of Bordeaux (white, red and sweet) from Vins de Bordeaux, the region’s trade group.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: Pinot Noir Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 01-07-2017

It’s time for a whole lot of Pinot Noir. Well, it’s always time for Pinot, but I recently tasted through a bunch of them from all over the world, most of which are not very expensive.

This report features a few leaner, zestier versions from Alsace, most of which I think over-deliver for the price. Speaking of good prices, we’ve also got some value-driven Pinots from lesser heralded villages in Burgundy. While not exactly thrilling, some of these $20-$25 bottles are seriously good for the money. Lastly, I’ve included a Pinot from Italy and a few from California that I received after I’d already conducted my California Pinot single-blind tastings for the fall.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Interview: Michel Fauconnet

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 01-06-2017

Michel Fauconnet

Michel Fauconnet

Each week, as our regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we are featuring Michel Fauconnet, the winemaker, or chef de cave, at the famed Champagne house, Laurent-Perrier.

Michel Fauconnet began his winemaking career right where he is now — at Laurent-Perrier – and he has always worked there. He began as a trainee in 1973. Throughout the years, he steadily rose through the ranks and became the winemaker, the chef de cave, in 2004.

The story of Laurent-Perrier, of course, far precedes Michel’s time. Founded in 1812 by André Michel Pierlot, the estate changed hands several times, before Bernard de Nonancourt opened the new era of Laurent-Perrier after World War II.

Check out the interview below the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Soil Health Declining

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-06-2017

In Decantersoil, Jane Anson on why a decline in soil health should worry all wine lovers. “‘When we started out, no wineries were willing to spend the money on something so invisible as the soil. They preferred to invest in big name flying winemakers. But the proof comes through in the wine’.”

American billionaire Stan Kroenke, owner of Screaming Eagle and majority shareholder in Arsenal football club, has bought historic Burgundy estate Bonneau du Martray.

In advance of National Cassoulet Day (Jan. 9), Tom Natan delves into the history of the dish, and its connection to the wines from the Languedoc on the blog for First Vine.

Dwight Furrow considers the role of creativity in winemaking in Three Quarks Daily. “It has become popular among winemakers to be modest about their contribution to the final product…basically their idea is just don’t screw up the grapes and let them express themselves. But I’m not at all persuaded…”

Master Sommelier Damon Ornowski, who lives in Colorado, suffered severe injuries while on a cross-country adventure. If you can, please consider donating to help cover his medical expenses on his GoFundMe page.

“Emirates has invested $500 million to build a ‘Fort Knox’ of wine,” reports Bloomberg.

In Grape Collective, Dorothy Gaiter chats with Rosemary Cakebread.

Wine Enthusiast rounds up recommendations for a mixed case of low alcohol wines.

Daily Wine News: Clos Rougeard Sold

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-05-2017

(Source: Clos Rougeard)

(Source: Clos Rougeard)

Martin Bouygues, French telecom billionaire and the owner of Château Montrose in Bordeaux — has acquired the Loire property Clos Rougeard, reports the Drinks Business.

Tyler Colman reacts to the news that the “481st richest person in the world” has purchased Clos Rougeard: “In a way it is kind of surprising that a billionaire is attracted to the Loire, which is generally a region that favors low-key wines and hasn’t attracted big fortunes to be tossed around since the day of Francois I. Perhaps that is changing? Doubtful.”

Is it time to leave the biodynamic calendar behind? Jamie Goode considers whether lunar effects really affect the way that wine tastes or not.

“As an ethnic woman, I can’t help but notice that whenever I’m at a restaurant or a beverage retailer, I am immediately directed toward the sweeter, lighter-bodied beverages.” In VinePair, Kimberly Marie Ousley says it’s time to stop gender and racial profiling in the beverage industry. “The bottom line is that wines, liqueurs and spirits have no gender, nor do they see color.”

It’s a good time to be buying Bordeaux, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Bertrand Celce rounds up wonderful photos of “anonymous wine scenes” — treasures he found in flea markets and sidewalk sales.

In Vinous, Josh Raynolds goes beyond Pinot Noir in Oregon, and explores the states “outlier varieties.”

In Forbes, Nick Passmore gets a taste of the $300 Chinese wine, Ao Yun, which is now available in the U.S.

Daily Wine News: Donation to UC Davis

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-04-2017

(Source: JancisRobinson.com)

(Source: JancisRobinson.com)

Jancis Robinson has donated her archive — including papers, notebooks, tasting notes, and professional photographs — from over four decades of wine writing to the library at the University of California, Davis.

Mike Cherney considers the success of gender-based marketing in wine in the Wall Street Journal. “Marketing wine in this fashion could help increase sales in an environment where wine has lagged behind beer and spirits, as craft breweries and distilleries boost demand.”

Aaron Menenberg is impressed with the wines from Old Westminster Winery in Maryland, which he says “if tasted blind, would likely be assumed to be from elsewhere while standing out for their quality and unique profiles.”

In Wine-Searcher, Liza B. Zimmerman looks at the rising trend of Garnacha in Spain, and wonders if it can replace Tempranillo as the country’s star grape.

Paul Bonarrigo of the Messina Hof winery in Texas fears a new herbicide could wipe out part of the wine-growing industry in Texas.

In Wine Spectator, Matt Kramer suggests ways to break out of your wine rut.

Elsewhere in Wine Spectator, Emma Balter says the long-term consequences of Brexit on the wine industry “are still hazy.”

VinePair maps out the over 9,000 U.S. wineries.

WineFolly delves into how color affects your perception of taste of wine.

Book Review: Slave to the Vine: Confessions of a Vagabond Cellarhand, by Darren Delmore

Posted by | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 01-03-2017

Book-CoverTo judge a book by its cover, Darren Delmore’s Slave to the Vine is yet another tale of wine, drugs, and sex.

That was my impression, even once I started reading.

But at some point in the book’s 196 pages Delmore’s direct, flowerless prose won me. I began to look forward to my daily read and marveled at the ease with which I could escape into his Sonoman world.

Slave to the Vine is a work of nonfiction, with Delmore as first person narrator and protagonist. It chronicles, in truth and self-deprecation, his experience working the harvest at Hirsch Vineyards on the extreme Sonoma coast. Supporting Delmore is a dynamic cast featuring David Hirsch, the Zen-like proprietor, Mick, the irascible winemaker, Barbara, the kind-hearted coworker, and a lineup of Delmore’s various friends and ladies.

The book’s success rests squarely on Delmore and his ability to carry the story forward. Likeable, with enough shortcomings to be believable, his shoulders prove broad enough. As Delmore tells it, he married young, got separated, and dove into winemaking. He surfs, plays a mean guitar, smokes weed, drinks good labels as often as he can, and tries his best to work hard and endear himself to the crew at Hirsch.

Delmore’s vices are relatively mild, but I’ll admit I was repeatedly confronted with the urge to get judgmental. His relationships with women, however mutually cavalier, and episodes of stoned driving were frustrating. But then I realized that my visceral reaction as a reader is actually to Delmore’s credit as a writer. He got me invested in the story and its characters—enough to care. I grew to respect his raw candor, like when he confesses to accidentally slicing into his scrotum with buzzing clippers. Damn!

Slave to the Vine is a relatively even tale, with few peaks and valleys. The stakes never get as high as Delmore does when he hotboxes the Hirsch’s guesthouse. But that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book’s many characters, or from simply going along with Delmore on his journey to find meaning and purpose—or at least his next gig.

In the vein of works like Eric Arnold’s First Big Crush, Delmore’s Slave to the Vine is a look at winemaking in all its gritty glory—another dent in the romantic façade.

My Recommendation
Slave to the Vine reads like fiction. It draws you in. I’d recommend it to anyone who prefers Sonoma to Napa, has read Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, or needs a primer on how wine is really made.

Daily Wine News: France’s Wine Giant

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-03-2017

Harvest in Pays d'Oc. (Source: Pays d'Oc IGP Wines)

Harvest in Pays d’Oc. (Source: Pays d’Oc IGP Wines)

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford on France’s IGP Pays d’Oc, which accounts for 14% of all French wine, and produces more wine each year than New Zealand. “Colossal volumes will of course mean modest ambitions (83 per cent of all Pays d’Oc leaves its birth cellar as bulk wine), but at its best the varietal wines of Vins de Pays d’Oc have a subtlety and restraint to them which gives them truly durable commercial appeal within this category.”

In Vinous, Antonio Galloni covers the 2015, 2015, and 2016 vintages from Napa Valley, and shares what he liked and disliked about the region this year.

“A three-bottle lot of Romanee-Conti 2012 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti from the grand cru Burgundy vineyard sold for $33,460 at a Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. auction,” reports Guy Collins in Bloomberg.

Tom Jarvis profiles seven influential wine industry figures who left us in 2016 in Wine-Searcher.

In the Mercury News, Mary Orlin features Sonoma’s Ravenswood Winery, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Grape Collective talks with Benoît Tarlant about grower versus large scale industrially made Champagne.

Jackie Bryant explores Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe wine region in Roads & Kingdoms.

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, master sommelier Evan Goldstein highlights his favorite wines from Chile’s Secano Interior.

Daily Wine News: AVAs and Labels

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-02-2017

Wind and the fog are the Petaluma Gap’s trademark. (Source: Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance)

Wind and the fog are the Petaluma Gap’s trademark. (Source: Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance)

Esther Mobley considers what the passage of the Petaluma Gap AVA could mean for the area’s wineries in the San Francisco Chronicle. “An AVA can provide an identity for individual wineries…It can also provide credibility to lesser-known vineyards. An under-the-radar enterprise gets a big boost from associating with world-famous Gap’s Crown.”

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre explores U.S. wine labeling laws, and explains why American wine labels aren’t as specific as they could be.

Wine Spectator reports that Livio Felluga, the founder of one of the largest wineries in Italy’s Friuli–Venezia-Giulia region, died on the night of Dec. 21, at the age of 102. Felluga, “the widely esteemed ‘patriarch’” of Friuli helped bring the region’s wines to the world.

In Wine Enthusiast, Matt Kettmann talks with Stefano and Maddalena Riboli of San Antonio Winery, a downtown Los Angeles winery (and the nation’s first urban winery) that has survived for 100 years.

In Edible East End, Eileen M. Duffy writes about how national media attention is forcing Long Island to define what a winery is and how to regulate them.

Alfonso Cevola addresses a few challenges, and some opportunities as well, for the Italian wine business in 2017.

Wines & Vines offers an analysis of 2016 wine sales, including which grape varieties and brands saw the most growth.

Jamie Goode shares his Champagne highlights from 2016, and resolves to drink more fizz in the new year.