Daily Wine News: Reckonings Roll In

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-07-2020

The industry set itself up for a “clean wine” reckoning, says VinePair EIC Erica Duecy. “The wine industry’s opaqueness about its practices has done two things: It has turned many consumers off wine to other categories, like RTDs, that provide adequate product labeling. It also created an information void that dubious marketers exploited, demonizing commercial wine to promote their “clean wine.” This type of marketing relies on customer misinformation about how wine is made to sell its products, and it is snowballing.”

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov reports on recent discussions resulting from accusations involving Valentina Passalacqua, a natural-wine producer whose father was arrested and accused of the systematic and illegal exploitation of migrant workers. “The Italian authorities have not suggested that Ms. Passalacqua was complicit in the crimes they say her father committed. But over the last month, many people in natural-wine circles, using the social justice language of 2020, turned on her, questioning both whether she was operating separately from her father and whether she had benefited from the economic privilege of his actions, regardless of her personal culpability… it should not be forgotten that this is ultimately a story about the vulnerability of agricultural workers and wine’s role in assuring them safe, humane and dignified working conditions.”

Dave McIntyre delves into the clean wine controversy in the Washington Post.

For some lighter news, medieval “wine windows” are reopening in Italy, reviving a plague tradition.

In Wine Enthusiast, Anne Krebiehl says the 2019 Austrian vintage is “glorious.”

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague on why second-label wines are a smart choice. (subscription req.)

Daily Wine News: Natural Wine Clarity

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-06-2020


In SevenFifty Daily, Jim Clarke looks at how a new definition aims to bring clarity and consensus to natural wine, yet it may have the opposite effect. “With a certification process established, it remains to be seen what it will mean to natural wine fans and wine drinkers more generally… Some natural wine supporters are concerned that certification also opens the door to large companies to produce certifiable natural wine that complies with the letter of the specifications but not the spirit of natural wine.”

France’s prime minister has promised to increase emergency funding to €250m to help alleviate a surplus wine crisis across the country in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, reports Chris Mercer in Decanter.

Spain’s tourism sector has been hit hard by Covid-19 and now Rioja is seeing cases continue to rise, James Lawrence reports in Meininger’s.

Can hip hop solve wine’s millennial problem? Janice Williams explores how briding the cultures between wine and hip hop could affect the industry in VinePair.

In Wine Spectator, Shawn Zylberberg talks to Carlton McCoy, CEO of Napa’s Heitz Cellar, about his incredible journey from high-school dropout to star sommelier to the upper crust of California Cabernet, and how the wine industry can become more inclusive.

Wine Enthusiast highlights their favorite canned wine spritzers.

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray remembers Anderson Valley wine pioneer Milla Handley.

Daily Wine News: Rosautoctono

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-05-2020

A new movement, dubbed Rosautoctono, aims to assert Italy’s historic rosa wines as more than just an afterthought. Katherine Cole delves into Italy’s history with rosé wines in PUNCH.

Every year, the number of French vineyards and wineries falls, as people retire or exit the business. In Meininger’s, Robert Joseph asks what can be done to reinvigorate the sector.

Hit harder than most wine regions by rising temperatures and drought, Portugal is emerging as a global leader in responding to the climate threat, reports Sophia McDonald in SevenFifty Daily.

On WineBusiness.com, Liz Thach talks to Black wine executive Stephen Sterling about what is working well, areas for improvement, and his suggestions to make a difference on race relations in the US wine industry.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, wonders what is going to happen to the value of the U.S. dollar as the coronavirus crisis considers to unfold, and considers how that will impact the wine industry.

In Wine Spectator, Emmalyse Brownstein discovers the world’s first and only train-station vineyard in Japan.

Emily Saladino talks to Post Malone about his rosé label in Wine Enthusiast.

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Patrick J. Comiskey reports on the rise of artisanal, site-specific sparkling wines in the US. (subscription req.)

Daily Wine News: Clean Wine Is a Scam

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-04-2020

In the Guardian, Felicity Carter on why clean wine is a scam. “The clean wine companies are chasing a lucrative prize – a piece of the $52.5bn wellness market… Wine is not a wellness potion. It’s a snapshot of time, a manifestation of the place and the people who made it, which works a special magic when paired with friends and food.”

“Milla Handley was the first woman winemaker to open a winery in her own name in California. Through her Handley Cellars, she helped put Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley on the fine-wine region map and inspired a new generation of female wine producers,” reports Esther Mobley in the San Francisco Chronicle. “Handley died on July 25, about two weeks after a COVID-19 diagnosis. She was 68.”

Aaron Romano also pays tribute to Milla Handley in Wine Spectator. “Handley was more than just a visionary for the remote and rural Anderson Valley, which she helped put on the map. She was a trailblazer for women interested in wine… Handley was a dedicated land steward, and in 2005, her estate vineyard became the first California Certified Organic vineyard in Anderson Valley. She influenced generations of local vintners while promoting Anderson Valley as one of California’s most dynamic wine regions.”

In Wine Spectator, Augustus Weed looks reports on the booming canned wine scene. “In less than a decade, sales of wine in cans have jumped from just $2 million in 2012 to $183.6 million over the 52-week period ending July 11. Representing nearly 1.8 million cases of wine, the past year’s sales vaulted 68 percent higher than those of the previous 52 weeks, according to Nielsen data.”

Tom Hyland rediscovers Vino Nobile di Montepulciano in Wine-Searcher.

In Wine Enthusiast, Sarah E. Daniels offers tips on how to drink and cook with verjus, made from unripe (green) grapes harvested early-on in the growing season.

And in New Jersey Monthly, I explore the rise of piquette.

Daily Wine News: Northeastern Bubbly

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-03-2020

(Flickr: ajroder)

Unbound by preconception, the Northeast’s embrace of hybrid grapes has introduced a fearless new frontier in American wine, says Zachary Sussman in PUNCH. “From New York’s Finger Lakes and Hudson Valley regions to Maryland, Vermont and even Maine, a small but growing band of winemakers has embraced hybrids with the respect traditionally reserved for vinifera grapes. In the process, they’re adding a whole new frontier to the U.S. wine scene that pulls from every page of the postmodern playbook.”

In Decanter, Elin McCoy reflects on lockdown and ponders the many ways wine is woven into the lives and memories of so many people. “Every wine is a wider story of workers and owners, labor and vision, sustainability and the environment, soil and geology, and the state of society, and puts us in touch with nature and the earth, reminding us that we are responsible for preserving it.”

Evan Rail delves into the media’s love affair with “healthy” alcohol in Wine Enthusiast.

“Deciding what to drink when you eat needs to be less about precision and more about pleasure,” says Alder Yarrow. “More about you and who you are eating with, and less about what someone else says is the right pairing or a set of principles about acidity and sweetness that you read in a book.”

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague looks at how sommeliers are considering their options and in some cases changing careers as the world of fine dining undergoes seismic shifts in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. (subscription req.)

Joseph V. Micallef consider’s Viognier’s future in Oregon in Forbes.

In the Financial Times, Alice Lascelles highlights a handful of California winemakers.

“Winemaking hasn’t been on the radar for national policies addressing global warming, and I can’t imagine it will be a driver for new economic relief now, either,” says Tom Natan on the blog for First Vine. But if it was, here’s the wish list of what he’d ask for as part of a Covid-19 crisis response plan for wine businesses.

In Wine Spectator, Suzanne Mustacich reports on the couple of Bordeaux winemakers who are looking to Provence for their next projects.

Wine Reviews: International Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-01-2020

Happy Saturday, folks. I’m back this week with a mix of wines from around the world, a lot of which are great options for summertime.

One of my favorite German producers, Peter Lauer, makes an appearance with a serious value of a Riesling. Domaine Wachau comes out swinging with a fun and inexpensive Gruner that is definitely worth checking out. And a smattering of different Rioja offers up a lot of quality and value that would be great with summer grill-outs.

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

Daily Wine News: Painful Evolution

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-31-2020

On WineBusiness.com, Andrew Adams reports on how Covid is bringing a painful evolution to the wine business. “The current challenges represent a period of “accelerated evolution” for the industry that will trigger a natural selection of wineries and wine brands.”

In Grape Collective, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher talk to sommelier and author Victoria James about what she calls the “pale, male and stale” wine community, how the restaurant industry can recover from the pandemic and more.

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov offers notes on the most recent Wine School, Verdicchio di Matelica, and announces what’s up next: Zinfandel.

In Wine Spectator, Robert Comuto on how Italian master pruner Marco Simonit changed viticulture. “Now the wine world’s foremost pruning guru and vine whisperer, his rise has come from his stunningly simple observation: that severe pruning used in modern, high-density vineyards weakens vines by blocking the flow of their life-giving sap, thereby making them susceptible to disease and premature death.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Lauren Mowery explains what “meaty” means in wine.

“Piquette is basically White Claw for wine lovers,” says Marissa A. Ross in Bon Appétit.

In Decanter, Jane Anson tastes through 21 vintages of Château Haut-Bailly. (subscription req.)

In PUNCH, 10 sommeliers and retailers pick their go-to wine of the season.

Daily Wine News: Italy’s Reckoning

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-30-2020

On his Do Bianchi blog, Jeremy Parzen considers the issue of racism in the Italian wine industry. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the overwhelming majority — and let me just repeat that — the overwhelming majority of Italian winemakers I know personally is on the right side of the racism and anti-racism dialectic. They, like us, are reckoning with their personal and national attitudes on race as they, like us, continue to evolve as anti-racists. But sadly, if we dig a little bit deeper and scratch below the surface, we often discover that the wines we love are raised by people whose attitudes on race may diverge significantly from our own. And of course, there are also racists among us who continue to embrace those wines and the winemakers who produce them.”

“I will not easily forget the time, in 2019, I saw the cellar of Josko Gravner, the iconic Friulian winemaker famous for being the first to use qvevri, the then exotic Georgian clay vessels.” Walter Speller falls under Gravner’s spell on JancisRobinson.com. (subscription req.)

How do organics and biodynamics affect a vineyard’s carbon footprint? Julie Sheppard looks delves into the science in Decanter.

In Meininger’s, Robert Joseph explores the psychology of wine pricing.

Amber LeBeau ponders the future of virtual wine tastings.

Matthew Luczy offers a profile of Arnot-Roberts in Decanter. (subscription req.)

Joon Park explores Liguria’s wines in Grape Collective.

In Wine Spectator, James Molesworth visits Joseph Phelps Vineyards for a tour of the Backus vineyard and a tasting of recent Backus and Insignia Cabernets. (subscription req.)

Daily Wine News: Inevitable, Problematic

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-29-2020

“In many cases, these “clean wine” brands are peddling false narratives, advertising low calorie counts when the wines have perfectly average-for-wine calorie counts, or implying that they’re sourced from artisanal family winegrowers when they’re actually industrially produced.” In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley considers natural wine’s inevitable, problematic entry into the wellness industry. “But the truth is, natural wine has been vulnerable to these sorts of copycat attacks for a long time. In fact, natural wine may have even invited them.”

Mobley also reports that Napa’s Foley-Johnson Winery has closed temporarily after a worker tested positive for coronavirus.

Rémy Charest considers the future of trade tastings in SevenFifty Daily. “Until there is a vaccine for COVID-19, large drinks industry tastings are fraught with public health risk. It’s actually hard to imagine a less safe activity than hundreds or even thousands of people talking loudly to each other in close proximity in enclosed spaces, after swirling and spitting liquids into shared spittoons.”

With traditional sales channels hit by Covid, Bordeaux producers are thinking the unthinkable— direct to consumer sales, reports James Lawrence in Wine-Searcher.

This summer, Bordeaux wine mecca Cité du Vin is promoting wine education with free passes to under-18s, and smaller wineries are welcoming “enfant somms” as well. In Wine Spectator, Emmalyse Brownstein reports on how the museum is working to cultivate young oenophiles.

In Meininger’s, Ilka Lindemann delves into the history of Schloss Johannisberg, “the birthplace of Riesling.”

In VinePair, Shana Clarke explores why Cabernet Franc is on the rise in Napa.

Daily Wine News: French Wine Market

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 07-28-2020

Between the coronavirus and the Trump tariffs, the French wine market has collapsed. Winemakers are—sadly—sending their excess product off to distillers, where it will be transformed into hand sanitizer, learns Adam Nossiter in the New York Times. “In Alsace alone, over six million liters of wine, or about 1.5 million gallons, will end up like this.”

In Mother Jones, Will Peischel reports on how the George Floyd protests have catalyzed a racial reckoning in California’s vineyards. “Even UC Davis, the most diverse of the schools offering notable wine programs, is only 4 percent African American. Those universities host a greater share of Latinx students… The whiteness of these programs is not surprising when you consider the racially biased history of wine advertising. Wine is seen as a luxury product, which means the primary focus for marketers are the white and wealthy.”

California sparkling wine innovator Barry Sterling of Iron Horse Vineyards has died at 90. Esther Mobley shares an obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle, and Aaron Romano looks back on Sterling’s impact in Wine Spectator.

A study has revealed the genome sequence for phylloxera and records how the aphid-like insect, which caused widespread devastation in vineyards in the 19th century, spread from the US to Europe and further afield.

Deborah Parker Wong explores the alpine Sauvignon Blancs of Austria’s Styria region.

In Wine-Searcher, Kathleen Willcox explores how restaurants, stores and producers need to pivot from short- to long-term thinking to survive during the Covid era.

Will coronavirus kill of South Africa’s wine industry? Susan Low considers the answer in Forbes.