Daily Wine News: Napa Nixing Weddings

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-30-2020

“People are frequently shocked to discover that of the hundreds of Napa Valley wineries, just five are allowed to hold weddings on-site. The five, Beringer Vineyards, Merryvale Vineyards, V. Sattui Winery, Charles Krug Winery and Brasswood Estate, all in St. Helena, were grandfathered in to what some call an antiquated rule that regulates winery events.” Jennifer Billock delves into the history of the restrictions in Wine Enthusiast.

A severe thunderstorm that struck a wine warehouse and shipping company last week in North Bergen, NJ disrupted deliveries to stores in the New York metropolitan area at one of the year’s busiest times for wine sales. Eric Asimov reports on the details in the New York Times.

WineBusiness.com looks at how the pandemic is forcing wineries to change how they recruit, screen and hire new employees.

Airlines were already cutting back on the quality of their wine offerings. And then the pandemic hit. Robert Joseph looks at how airline wines have changed this year in Meininger’s.

The BBC reports that China started imposing taxes on Australian wine of up to 212% this past Saturday.

In response, Treasury Wine Estates Ltd. unveiled an emergency plan to find new markets for its best-known labels after China imposed crippling anti-dumping duties of 169% on its wine, reports Bloomberg.

In VinePair, Ashlie Hughes looks at the history behind the birth of the Champagne bottle.

Wine Reviews: Alentejo

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 11-28-2020

I’m thankful and privileged to be healthy and safe during these pandemic times. But, like many millions of people, my travel plans for this year have evaporated.

For my five-year-old daughter’s birthday this spring, I was thrilled to bring my family to Portugal. It is a country whose culture, wine, waves, food and natural bounty fascinate me to no end. When I’m there, I often think, more than any other place I’ve visited: I should have been born here. While that trip is dashed, I can’t wait to get back when it’s safe to do so.

When I visited the region of Alentejo three years ago, I found an overwhelming amount of diverse and high-quality wines and producers. It was such a treat to dig deep into the region’s tradition of wines fermented in amphora, explore the history and diversity of the region’s adopted red grape Alicante Bouschet, and I was impressed to learn about the exciting white wines produced there as well.

 As an outdoors, nature and wildlife enthusiast, it was sometimes hard to think about wine while I was traveling through Alentejo — there was just so many rolling hills, forests, fields, and natural beauty going by outside my window. With relatively low population density, large amounts of uncultivated land, and ever presence of the famous cork forests, the region offers a lot of unspoiled natural beauty and thriving wildlife. Among the group I traveled with was Wines of Alentejo’s U.S. director Tiago Caravana, who, in addition to his wine career, is an incredible wildlife photographer, and was always on point with my random questions about the region’s diverse mammals and birds of prey.

So, I hopped at the chance to attend a webinar with Tiago and others in the region’s trade group this summer. We tasted what I consider to be some really solid examples of what the region can produce, and we spent a lot of time discussing the sustainability efforts of the regional winegrowing commission. Lots of Alentejo producers have been taking sustainable vineyard and winery practices serious for many years, but in 2014, the regional winegrowing commission created a voluntary program called Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Program.

This program is designed to improve environmental, social and economic welfare in the region, specifically focusing on issues like water control, pest management, energy conservation, and packaging. Several of the wineries represented in the tasting focused on their attempts at improving sustainability by using sheep to reduce cover crops, utilizing bat boxes to fight pesky insects, increasing use of solar power, reducing bottle weight, etc.

But the proof is in the bottle, and these wines offer a good window into Alentejo’s ancient and thriving wine culture. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

  Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Extraordinary Wines

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-27-2020

In Wine Enthusiast, Lauren Buzzeo makes the case for drinking extraordinary wine on ordinary days. “Build your cellar, collect what you love and mature it to your preference, but for goodness sake, avoid hoarding for all the what ifs and one days. Break free from the stigmas and compulsions that so many wine lovers possess and realize that you always deserve to enjoy the best of your collection, any time you like.”

“How big a crisis will the wine industry have faced in 2020 and 2021? Time will tell, but, remembering my experiences in Burgundy during the very real crisis of the 1970s, I’m betting that it will bring some interesting opportunities for vinous entrepreneurs,” says Robert Joseph in Meininger’s.

There will be no Auction Napa Valley 2021. Instead, organizers will be using next year to “dream up and create a completely new platform for giving.”

Does your sense of taste and smell improve with practice? Jamie Goode explores the answer.

Tom Wark looks at the “catastrophic” state of restaurant wine sales.

In VinePair, Ari Bendersky reports on the high-quality vinifera wines coming out of Michigan.

In Grape Collective, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher explore the complexities of rosé Champagne.

Off-premise domestic wine sales rose 17% in October, according to WineBusiness.com.

In Vinous, Eric Guido offers notes on the 2016 Brunello di Montalcino wines.

Daily Wine News: Silvaner’s Moment

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-25-2020

Bottle of German Silvaner. (Wikimedia)

Silvaner’s moment is now, says Christoph Raffelt in TRINK. “If Riesling, together with the Pinot varieties, is the award-winning showjumper of German viticulture, Silvaner, by contrast, spends its life as a draft horse. Too few take the time to properly appreciate him, groom him, braid his mane. Yet Silvaner has become the new darling of Germany’s young winemakers, who view it as a national counterpoint to Burgundian Chardonnay or Saumur Chenin Blanc.”

Meg Maker recently surveyed wine communicators to find out what most delighted and annoyed them about winery websites. In Meininger’s, she highlights six simple changes to websites.

And it’s that time of year when the “Best of” end-of-year lists come back around. VinePair shares their staff’s favorite wines of 2020.

Wine Enthusiast also highlights their 100 top wines of 2020. Virgine Boone explores the making of the Number 1 wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa.

In Grape Collective, Jonathan Bomberg looks at the current state of California sparkling wine.

Blake Gray offers his Thanksgiving wine advice in Wine-Searcher.

Now is the time to try nouveau wines, says Esther Mobley.

In Quench, Tod Stewart explores the potential of Argentina’s white wines.

Daily Wine News: Ruchè’s Return

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-24-2020

In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto profiles Luca Ferraris, owner of Vigna del Parroco vineyard in Piedmont, who was inspired by Randall Grahm to revive Ruchè.

In Wine-Searcher, Oliver Styles considers the world of wine kegs. “It’s astonishing how much importance we invest in tradition when it comes to wine… When you talk to people about alternatives to wine bottles, you’re either a fringe revolutionary or some sort of prehensile luddite. Put wine…in a keg? Shakes head, walks away.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Céline Bossart remembers and honors her late father, who died from lymphoma at the height of the pandemic, with a touching essay about drinking and learning about wine together.

On JancisRobinson.com, Alder Yarrow looks at the growing number of Latinx-owned wineries. (subscription req.)

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Joshua Green remembers legendary port producer, James Symington. J’nai Gaither also reflects on Symington’s impact in Wine Enthusiast.

Emily Campeau wants Müller-Thurgau to get more love in TRINK. “As Germany’s most planted variety once upon a time and its second-most planted today, it is statistically improbable that all wines made of Müller-Thurgau are terrible. The variety’s ubiquity alone, then and now, speaks volumes.”

VinePair shares an excerpt from Wildsam’s latest book about Napa & Sonoma, featuring guidance from trusted locals and wine experts.

The Drinks Business looks at Covid-19 cases in the world’s top wine producing countries. The U.S., unsurprisingly, leads the way with the highest number of cases.

Daily Wine News: Noble Grapes

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-23-2020

It’s time to put the noble grapes in their place, says Eric Asimov in the New York Times. “Even as societies have become more socially mobile, the popular idea of nobility among grapes has hung on stubbornly… Wine is so much more than simply the grapes that form its basis. What is poured from the bottle is ultimately a combination of the grapes, the site in which the grapes were grown, the farming, the winemaking, the vintage character, and the intent and skill of the people who oversaw the production.”

In the San Francisco Chronicle, wine writer Jess Lander writes about the wines she chose to save when they had to evacuate their home, which she lost in the Glass Fire this summer.

In Wine-Searcher, James Lawrence reports on how Bordeaux is embracing new grape varieties. “In June 2019, Bordeaux became the first French region to allow hitherto forbidden varieties to be planted in its soils. These included Petit Manseng, Marselan and Touriga Nacional – warmer conditions will be conducive to new varieties, was the general rationale.”

Once the quintessential bang-for-your-buck option on a wine list, Beaujolais has recently priced itself out of the $60 slot. In PUNCH, Megan Krigbaum looks at what’s taken its place.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre surveys the expanding world of nouveau wines beyond Beaujolais.

Jancis Robinson offers advice on what to buy from the 2019 Burgundy vintage.

In Club Oenologique, Robert Joseph says English wine’s growth is unsustainable.

Book Review: Exploring Wine Regions: Bordeaux

Posted by | Posted in Book Reviews | Posted on 11-22-2020

I wish I were exploring wine regions right now. But, with an out of control pandemic, especially here in the States, I’m not going anywhere. Luckily, I’ve enjoyed some new wine books to satiate my desire to travel again.

One of my last big wine trips was to Bordeaux. It was actually my first time visiting, and I was finally able to explore the beautiful city and a bunch of different appellations. It was a much overdue time spent immersing myself in the wine, food and culture, and I met a lot of interesting people and visited some beautiful chateaux. Everyone knows Bordeaux, but a new book “Exploring Wine Regions: Bordeaux” offers anyone a chance to plan their own Bordeaux getaway in post-pandemic times.

Michael Higgins’ new book, which came out last month, seems like it has plenty of helpful information for Bordeaux novices and experts alike. An author, publisher and photojournalist, he also took the photographs for this book. And — wow — his talent shows. The book is packed with photographs, quite tastefully shot and arranged, with excellent clarity and depth. From classic vineyard views, to winemaking in action, food porn and architecture, Higgins’ hundreds of photos are a real star of the show.

This is not a Bordeaux wine history book. There are no detailed maps of appellations or soils, and there are plenty of books for that. Rather, this is a hefty number full of detailed information on specific chateaux and places to visit in Bordeaux, broken down region by region. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Old vs. New vs. ?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-20-2020

(Source: Wikimedia)

The binary of “old” and “new” world has always been fraught. What would happen if we dispelled with this framework altogether? James Sligh considers the possibilities in PUNCH. “These myths are braided tightly into wine’s history, perpetuating the concept of its heritage as exclusively European, European culture as exclusively white and history itself as immutable… Wine, in this telling, has an ancestral home, and one can taste the difference. Old World wines are more mineral, more complex, lower in alcohol, higher in acid, have a sense of place. “New World” wines are defined mostly by their lack—of history, of minerality, of tradition.”

Following accusations of sexual misconduct Devon Broglie, former chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas (CMS–A), has been placed on administrative leave from his position as Global Beverage Buyer for Whole Foods Market, a spokesperson told VinePair on Monday evening.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley highlights Vinca Minor’s 2020 nouveau wines, which winemaker Jason Charles co-fermented with pears after losing most of his 2020 red wines to smoke taint.

The definition of luxury is changing, but Champagne is forever, says Marvina Robinson in Wine Enthusiast.

In Vinous, Antonio Galloni offers his impression of the Champagne new releases.

“Wine farmers generally are ahead of the sustainability curve—and American farmers seem to be even further ahead.” In SevenFifty Daily, Jancis Robinson on why American wineries lead on sustainability.

In Well + Good, Emily Laurence highlights 11 BIPOC-owned wine brands to support.

Daily Wine News: Considering “Clean”

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-19-2020

Avaline, one of the so-called “clean” wines to pop up this year. (Credit: Avaline Wines)

The clean wine trend seems to have sprung up from nowhere but, says Felicity Carter in Meininger’s, it needs to be taken seriously. “The best antidote to the opportunists flocking to the clean wine market is ingredients labeling, not only to reassure customers that their wines are not really full of additives, but also because it will reveal how conventional the “clean wines” winemaking is. Ingredient labeling is due to be introduced in Europe by the end of 2022, which will ultimately push New World countries to introduce it as well. But by then it might be too late.”

As restaurant shutdowns return, restaurants are grappling with the new, new normal. In Wine Spectator, Gillian Sciaretta talks to sommeliers and beverage directors across the country. “Restaurateurs that have survived the pandemic thus far are worried that their already-struggling businesses won’t make it through the winter.”

In Wine Enthusiast, L.M. Archer talks to winemakers still reeling from a historic wildfire season about what’s next. “Winemakers hope the changes they’ve made to their properties and workflows in response to this year’s emergencies will have long-term benefits.”

Also in Wine Enthusiast, I highlight the natural side of cider with a small collection of pét-nat ciders.

In VinePair, Tim McKirdy explores the forgotten history of American canned wine.

In Decanter, Jane Anson gets an exclusive look at the winemaking project taking shape at Chanel’s new Provence rosé estate, on Porquerolles island off France’s Mediterranean coast. (subscription req.)

In Wine-Searcher, Vicki Denig charts the rise of Aligoté in Burgundy.

Daily Wine News: Fine Rioja?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-17-2020

Rioja terroir.

Why isn’t Rioja considered a fine wine? It’s one of the world’s most rewarding wine regions, capable of profound, ageworthy bottlings. Yet too many people dismiss it as a good-value glugger, argues Tim Atkin in Club Oenologique.

On Tim Atkin’s site, John Atkinson explores what climate change means for Pinot Noir and Burgundy. “If Burgundy’s immense influence belies its size – the framing and separation of vineyards; small production; the use of ‘Burgundian’ as an endorsement; terroirs composed entirely of externalities – then it is because desire seeks to reproduce the conditions (and language) it most closely associates with sublime experience, even if these conditions guarantee nothing. Not even good copies.

In Meininger’s, Rebecca Gibb looks at the issue of cultural appropriation in wine marketing in New Zealand.

In Wine Enthusiast, Sean P. Sullivan highlights the handful of producers redefining Washington wine.

In VinePair, Sophia Bennett checks in on Idaho wine. “Idaho produces a relatively small quantity of wine — around 160,000 cases a year — which is less than some Napa Valley wineries crank out. And there’s a long-held belief that the quality of Idaho’s wine isn’t up to par. But all of that is starting to change.”

Rootstocks are an integral and influential part of grape vines, so why don’t we hear more about them? In Decanter, professor Alex Maltman delves into their history and looks at worrying future trends.

In Vinous, David Schildknecht explores the “revelatory Rieslings” from Rheinhessen’s 2018 vintage.