Daily Wine News: Michigan’s Future

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-13-2021

A vineyard on the Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan. (Wikimedia)

In Grist, Jena Brooker considers the future of Michigan wine. “The wine industry in Michigan is valued at $5.4 billion dollars and directly creates 28,000 jobs — and it’s getting even bigger, in part due to climate change. Average temperatures in the state have increased by more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 100 years. The onset of spring has shifted forward, extending the growing season for wine grapes by an entire month. But even as Michigan wine producers stand to benefit from rising temperatures, compared to other wine-producing regions, they’ll also face new climate challenges.”

In the New York Times, Jill Cowan talks to Amy Bess Cook of Woman-Owned Wineries about why the wine industry has long been a “boys’ club.”

In Wine Spectator, Tim Fish reports on two California wineries that closed this week. “Two long-established Sonoma County wineries lost their homes this week as the parent companies of Sebastiani and Clos du Bois laid off workers and shifted production to other facilities. The brands will continue, but the wines will be made elsewhere.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Jessica Scott-Reid looks at the progress being made in vegan winemaking.

Trump wine refuses to be cancelled. In Slate, Jordan Wiessmann looks at the curious resiliency of the brand.

Carlo DeVito remembers Howard G. Goldberg. “As a writer for a major newspaper, the “Paper of Record” no less, he was Promethean in his coverage of small, as yet undiscovered regions. He wrote seriously about such burgeoning wine regions as Long Island, the Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia and Texas when few other such established columnists weren’t. He helped put east coast winemaking on the map. His recognition, and his paper’s imperator, were invaluable to their infant regions.”

Esther Mobley explores a curious California white Pinot Noir in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Daily Wine News: Defining Fynbos

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-12-2021

Fynbos in South Africa. (Photo credit: Wikimedia)

In Wine Enthusiast, Angela Lloyd explores the meaning of “fynbos” in wine. “This is fynbos, the Afrikaans word meaning fine-leaved plants. Fynbos is composed of around 8,500 species from several key families… Many types of plants from the fynbos biome can be found in close proximity to vineyards in the Cape Winelands, and can potentially influence a wine’s aromas or flavors due to the spread organic materials like plant oils or pollen.”

In Wine Spectator, Shawn Zylberberg looks at how traditional wine auction houses and retailers see more opportunity as digital currencies like Bitcoin gain traction. “Although auction houses such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s have yet to accept crypto for wine, Kapon sees a bright future for a largely unknown form of payment. And he claims young wine consumers are leading the way.”

What makes a great Barolo vintage? Antonio Galloni shares his thoughts in Vinous.

In Decanter, Jane Anson offers a preview of the Bordeaux 202 en primeur wines. (subscription req.)

In the Buyer, Elizabeth Gabay explains what makes Tavel rosé so different.

In the Drinks Business, drinks branding specialist Rowena Curlewis on the pulling power of celebrity wines and why the industry needs strong brands in order to survive.

In Modern Farmer, Stacey Lastoe reports on how American wineries are working to elevate hybrid grapes.

Daily Wine News: The Ag Preserve

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-11-2021

Overlooking Oakville. Photo by Emma K. Morris via Napa Valley Growers

In Wine Enthusiast, Shea Swenson delves into the history of the Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve, a set of zoning laws enacted in 1968 to protect agricultural areas, and the key players involved in making it happen. “The first legislation of its kind in the U.S., it declared that agricultural use was the best fate for Napa’s fertile foothills… Agriculture is the only commercial activity allowed on the protected lands. The Preserve also prohibits land being broken down to less than 40 acres, which prevents subdivisions and future development… the growers saw the need to strengthen the protection to prevent it from being chipped away over time or challenged by future governments.”

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley looks at what Gallo’s new layoffs at Clos du Bois reveals about the future of California’s cheapest wines. “If investing people and dollars into a brand like Clos du Bois isn’t worth it to Gallo’s bottom line, that should probably be taken as a troubling sign for the many other California wine brands like it.”

In Imbibe Magazine, Chasity Cooper looks at how the pandemic has proven the importance of local, independent wine shops.

Wine Business reports that two growers are suing Anderson’s Conn Valley for allegedly breaching grape contracts. “In 2019, the winery Anderson’s Conn Valley agreed to buy fruit from 2019 through 2022 from Dan and Jerry Linstad’s vineyard… Anderson’s Conn Valley accepted the Linstads’ grapes in 2019 but allegedly did not pay for the fruit, according to the court filing. The winery then refused to accept the fruit from the 2020 vintage.”

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov explores the boom in wine clubs. “For me, this is a great dividing line in wine clubs. Can you trace the wine to a specific place and to an identifiable producer?”

Restaurant wine jobs are coming back. But does anybody want them? Sommelier Alaina Dyne shares her complicated feelings about returning to the industry in SevenFifty Daily. “Despite the significant investment of time and money to advance our expertise as wine professionals, somms were the first to be shaved off the payroll last spring.”

Daily Wine News: Bordeaux Is A-Changin’

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-10-2021

“…the most exciting aspect of Bordeaux today is, as usual, not commercial but what is happening in vineyards and cellars. It could truly be described as a revolution. For long there was a certain complacency. Top bordeaux sold out every year. Critics, particularly American critics, reliably handed out rave reviews to wines that in some ways resembled Napa Valley Cabernets. And the region continued to be one of the heaviest users of agrochemicals in the vineyard, using the excuse of the maritime climate’s high humidity, which leaves vines exposed to the fungal diseases to which they are particularly prone.” Jancis Robinson ponders the change brewing in Bordeaux.

Gallo lays off majority of Clos du Bois employees after acquisition, reports SFGATE.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre looks at how winemakers are hoping to attract younger consumers with a less fussy approach to wine with low-alcohol pours, skin-contact bottles and crisp, chilled reds.

Brunello di Montalcino was created by Tuscan estate Biondi-Santi. In Club Oenologique, Adam Lechmere takes a look at what goes into making the cult wine, and how it’s stayed true to its origins throughout the years

Jacy Topps highlights mother-daughter winemaking teams in Wine Enthusiast.

In Wine-Searcher, Natalie Sellers charts “the remarkable rise of Château Valandraud.”

In Vinous, Joaquín Hidalgo explores the range of wines Chile offers.

Wine Reviews: Troon Vineyard

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 05-08-2021

I’ve had the pleasure of following Oregon’s Troon Vineyard since 2017, when I first tasted their wines. Since then, the hits just keep coming.

Troon is a biodynamic producer from Oregon’s Applegate Valley, an area in the south of the state that boast diverse geology, warm days, cool nights, and some exciting wineries. Troon, in my opinion, of course, has been consistently slinging out focused, unique wines from a large mix of grape varieties. Over the years, they’ve experimented with different styles, blends, adding things like Pet-Nat and Piquette to the mix, but also focusing on deep, juicy reds made from grapes like Tannat.

I recently tasted four of their releases from 2020, and I’m excited to share them. These wines sport new labels this year, tastefully designed and incorporating images of their biodynamic preparations. (I only point this out because, well, like record album artwork, I think labels matter — and this aesthetic is really working.)

Their Kubli Bench line is composed of really interesting blends, two of which are featured in this week’s report. There’s a delicious Vermentino (definitely a specialty of the winery) and a new, Beaujolais-inspired Grenache that is perfect for warmer weather.

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

Daily Wine News: Natural Wine’s Exclusionary Nature

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-07-2021

In Wine Enthusiast, Margot Mazur explores what makes natural wine exclusionary to some. “Not all winemakers can jump right into organic or biodynamic agriculture, use only wild yeast for fermentation and not add sulfur to stabilize their wines, they claim. Each region has its own climactic difficulties, and winemakers often buy grapes from individual growers. For those winemakers and others, a transition to minimal-intervention or “natural” winemaking is a process. Such barriers can do more to exclude them than to preserve the natural wine vision.”

“The most accessible type of wine language, even when it’s just in the realm of “this wine tastes like lemons,” is already asking a lot of our brains. It requires us to think in abstractions, connecting the taste of a wine in a glass to the memory of what an actual lemon tasted like. Once you add “a classic and modern concept” to the mix, forget it.” In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley on why wine language drives her nuts.

The way wine is served at restaurants is changing, wine educator Kyla Peal tells Bon Appétit. “Like many of my colleagues since the pandemic, I’ve had to reimagine how I fit in the current landscape of an industry to which I’ve dedicated many years.”

Once the undisputed darlings of the fine wine scene, the ultra-expensive, ultra-polished Super-Tuscans face a new challenge as the wine world’s focus shifts to authenticity, says Walter Speller in Club Oenologique.

On the blog for First Vine, Tom Natan ponders the future of wine retail. “Pre-covid, the general rule was that most decisions about food and wine were made within an hour of people having a meal… But we’re almost certainly headed into a summer of reopening and more people going to the office. People will also eat out more, and buy their wine there to have with dinner at restaurants. Will there also be more last-minute shopping for wine and groceries, tipping back to less online wine sales?”

In the Drinks Business, Colin Hay defends the use of itinerant en primeur tasting samples, with one or two caveats, arguing that the practice should now be normalized.

In VinePair, Betsy Andrews explores the new category of rosé proseccos.

Daily Wine News: Influencers + Sexism

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-06-2021

https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2016/11/23/15/00/picnic-1853380__340.jpg“The wave of disparagement has exposed some disturbingly sexist dynamics that have long existed in wine. The contempt for influencers… feels particularly ironic coming within an industry where women sommeliers report that customers repeatedly sexualize them.” Esther Mobley looks at the wine influencer backlash in the San Francisco Chronicle. “There’s good reason that the social media influencer market hasn’t been as robust for wine as for fashion or beauty. Few wineries invested in digital sales before the pandemic, relying mostly on sales to restaurants and through tasting rooms… But some California wineries have been increasing their investment in influencer marketing anyway, largely in response to a lingering problem: Wine has struggled to gain traction with younger drinkers.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Nicole MacKay looks at how some modern wineries are designed in ways that reflect the company’s values, particularly as they coincide with organic and ecologically conscious winemaking.

In Wine Spectator, Tim Fish reports that David Bruce, a pioneer in winemaking in the Santa Cruz Mountains and an early advocate of California Pinot Noir, died April 28. He was 89.

Marie Gallo, the daughter-in-law of a co-founder of E.&J. Gallo Winery, the world’s biggest winery and Modesto’s largest private employer, has died. She was 86.

Lettie Teague explores how contentious the word “hate” is when talking about wine in the Wall Street Journal. (subscription req.)

In Bon Appétit, Alex Beggs offers tips for wines to drink during post-vax hangouts.

In the Robb Report, Sara L. Schneider highlights Brughelli Wine.

Daily Wine News: $1 Million Space-Aged Pétrus

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-05-2021

“Christie’s said Tuesday it is selling a bottle of French wine that spent more than a year in orbit aboard the International Space Station. The auction house thinks a wine connoisseur might pay as much as $1 million to own it,” reports the New York Post.

Alder Yarrow explores what’s new in Napa. “Of the 122 wineries that had joined the [Napa Valley Vintners Association] since 2015, roughly 85 names were entirely new to me, and another dozen I had heard of but never tasted. As you might expect, some of these wineries were, in fact, brand new, while others had only recently gotten around to becoming members.”

“What is wine worth to you?” asks Alfonso Cevola, who has an epiphany about wine’s value. “In my experience, some of the unlikeliest of wines have been most memorable. Over a period of 50 years, 40 of which I have been accumulating wine to store and age (and bring out when the moment calls for it), I have to say I’ve been going through a metamorphosis in regards to my thinking about the value of wine.”

Now is the time to buy prime vineyard land, says Tom Wark. “The belief is that Napa Valley vineyards is a rich man’s game. That’s true. But in thirty years we will look back at the millions paid for Napa vineyard land and think, “what a bargain.””

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov offers a guide for aspiring wine lovers—what to invest in, what to avoid, and how to learn more about what you like.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, takes a look at China’s wine market strategy. “The Chinese economy is booming, recovering from the pandemic sooner and stronger than any other country, although the pace of recovery seems to have slowed. The wine economy in China is still struggling, however, with high inventory levels remaining due to last year’s lockdowns.”

Food & Wine highlights five great American wine regions to explore on a road trip.

Daily Wine News: Minerality & Salinity

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-04-2021

In the New Yorker, Adam Leith Gollner ponders the meaning of minerality in wine. “Lately, you can find a wine characterized, in all seriousness, as having “mineral flavors sexed up by a flinty nuance on the end,” offering “a granite quarry’s worth of minerality,” or compared to “sucking on a pebble.” The term’s popularity has likely been aided by its ambiguity.”

And in Wine Enthusiast, Amy Beth Wright explores the meaning of salinity in wine. “Salinity in a wine is often associated with the proximity of vineyards to sea, sand and salt air. Many such wines originate from grapes grown near or within coastal regions. But salinity doesn’t necessarily rely upon exposure to sea breezes or reflect the presence of salt in the wine or soil.”

Pushed along by the pandemic, the new wine-buying experience is hospitable, democratic and even cool. In PUNCH, Hannah Selinger explores wine retail’s great awakening. “As the concept and shape of retail shifts, so too does the power dynamic of access. Traditionally reserved for high-performing restaurants, allocated wines have begun appearing in retail shops in unprecedented numbers.”

In Club Oenologique, Panos Kakaviatos offers the first reviews of Bordeaux 2020 from en primeur tastings.

Lettie Teague offers a primer on the rosé prosecco category, and highlights the ones worth buying in the Wall Street Journal. (subscription req.)

In SevenFifty Daily, Caroline Shin explores the “overwhelmingly white image of alcohol culture” and highlights 12 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders whose influence rings through all three tiers of the system.

Vermentino is now the most-bottled grape variety in Maremma.

Daily Wine News: Tasting Notes and Other Fallacies

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 05-03-2021

(Photo source: clappstar on Flickr)

“’We don’t have the equivalent of eye glasses or hearing aids for taste buds,” says Virginia Utermohlen Lovelace, PhD, a taste researcher who worked for many years at Cornell University’s Division of Nutritional Sciences. But Lovelace’s research, and the research of her colleagues, “shows that there are significant differences in the way the general population tastes and perceives different flavors”. There are essentially four different kinds of tasters, and some flavors that are perceived by certain groups of tasters completely elude others.” In Wine-Searcher, Kathleen Willcox takes a look at the science of taste and tasting notes.

Are subscriptions the new wine clubs? Erin Kirschenmann explores how wineries are considering new ways of providing wine to customers in Wine Business. “Overall, that study showed 15 percent of U.S. adults have joined a new subscription service in the last year…In a COVID era, subscription boxes can be an interesting way to bring in new customers who wouldn’t be able to visit your tasting room in person.”

An Australian company has launched what is claimed to be the world’s first “purple wine.” Called Purple Reign, the wine is a Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend infused with organic, plant-based botanicals. Richard Woodard has more details about the concotion in Decanter.

In Wine Enthusiast, Chadner Navarro looks at how adventurous beer drinkiers have helped the natural wine scene flourish in Denver.

Also in Wine Enthusiast, Stacy Briscoe reports on how northern California winemakers are shifting their practices amid the drought emergency.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre explores the importance of the “epiphany bottle.”

Expect prices of coffee, wine, toilet paper and other grocery items to rise in the post-Covid-19 era, says Soo Kim in Newsweek.