Daily Wine News: CellarTracker’s Legacy

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-29-2022

CellarTracker’s app logo.

Is CellarTracker the most wholesome place to discuss wine online? Kristen Hawley looks at the site’s importance in VinePair. “Since its 2004 debut, CellarTracker has been used by hundreds of thousands of people to track nearly 150 million bottles of wine. It’s also become the largest database of public tasting notes — close to 10 million — helping anyone that wants to learn a little bit more about what they’re drinking and what they might want to drink in the future. Every year, 10 million people visit the site, generating tens of millions of pageviews.”

“Rollie Heitz is not the first American to move to Todi—a stunner of a medieval hilltop town (pop. 17,000) in Central Italy’s Umbria region that has often been cited as one of the most pleasant towns on earth. Yet from a wine perspective, Heitz, 64, who was raised in Napa and helped grow his family’s legendary Heitz Cellar (now under new ownership), is arguably the town’s most notable resident.” In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto visits the Heitzes in Umbria.

Chardonnay’s chameleon character – the manifold ways in which it changes and adapts to different climates, soil types and winemaking techniques – is a well-worn cliché, says Richard Woodard in the Drinks Business. And, like most clichés, it has a great deal of substance to it, responding to everything from the planet’s changing climate to shifting consumer trends.

Is your wine cellar clogged up with unwanted bottles? It might be time to have a clear out. In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray talks to Jeff Smith, chief wine officer for Vino Vault, about rebalancing your wine portfolio.

In the Drop, Jamie Lafferty looks at how vintners in Wales are finding success among the vines.

In Grape Collective, Christopher Barnes talks with Giuseppe Vaira about the unique family story and the evolution of winemaking in Barolo.

Care to pair horseback riding and wine? Lauren Mowery has some travel tips in Wine Enthusiast.

Daily Wine News: American Cooper

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-28-2022

(Source: Wikimedia)

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Jess Lander profiles Ramiro Herrera, the only cooper in Napa Valley making barrels in-house for two premium Cabernet houses. “Herrera believes he’s the only American master cooper in the world and the first of Mexican heritage to have completed a traditional apprenticeship…An anomaly in the craft, Herrera did not come from a long line of coopers and instead got into the profession because he simply enjoyed working with wood. After answering a newspaper ad for a local Napa cooperage, Seguin Moreau, he was quickly identified as something of a prodigy and the company sent him to France.”

In the New York Times, Alex Williams tells the story of Long Island’s Wölffer Estate, and in the process, tells the story of how rosé became a lifestyle.

Rebecca Toy profiles the world’s oldest grape-bearing vine, located in Slovenia, in Wine Enthusiast.

While it doesn’t command the prices of wines from Burgundy or Bordeaux, cool-climate Syrah and the grape’s use in unexpected international blends could soon change all that, says Sarah Heller in Club Oenologique.

What makes a good wine writer? Peter Pharos ponders the complex answer on Tim Atkin’s site.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague dives into the world of easy-drinking, refreshing, crisp and light wines.

On JancisRobinson.com, Walter Speller reports on the single-vineyard Brunellos that are emerging.

Daily Wine News: Zalto Pt. 2

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-27-2022

Josephine wine glasses designed by Kurt Josef Zalto.

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray profiles Kurt Zalto, the man behind the Zalto wine glass brand, who, after being pushed out of the company he founded, is back with a new line of glasses under the Josephine/Josephinenhütte brand.

When he is not focusing his attention on his invasion of Ukraine, the Russian president and his entourage take a particular interest in wine. Last year, laws allowing domestic wine to be described as shampanskoe on official labels while Champagne could only be called ‘sparkling wine’ hit the headlines. But, as Sergey Panov reveals in Meininger’s, other moves have been far more significant.

Decanter reports that Liv-Ex has branded the Bordeaux 2021 en primeur campaign ‘one of the least successful of recent times’ after gauging feedback from merchants across the globe.

In Wine Enthusiast, Roger Voss reports on the 2021 Bordeaux en Primeur. “aux’s 2021 vintage is not likely to feature among the greats of all time. It breaks the spell of the trilogy of 2018, 2019 and 2020. It is lighter and fresher than those three vintages and will probably mature more quickly.”

In Knowable Magazine, Ula Chrobak and Katarina Zimmer look at how how climate change—and its resulting warming, wildfires, and unpredictable weather—is altering the chemistry of wine.

In the Guardian, David Williams highlights the refreshing appeal of Grenache blanc.

In Forbes, Cathrine Todd explores the variety of wines made in Lodi.

Vicki Denig explores the many faces of Pinot Grigio in the Drop.

Wine Reviews: International Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 06-25-2022

Let’s take a trip this week. From Spain, I’ve got some delicious, grill-friendly reds from Ribera del Duero and Madrid that offer value, fruit and Spanish flair. And to beat the heat, I’ve got some bubbles and zesty whites (Garnacha Blanca and Rias Baixas are always good for that).

I don’t know about you, but I get excited when I first try a wine from a new-to-me country. The most recent example: Kosovo. I don’t know much about the country except for some books I read about wars in the region — but as someone who lived in Ukraine and traveled a lot in eastern and southern Europe, I’m always excited to dig into new cultures and histories. And, clearly, I should look more into the winemaking culture here, as there are two fun, juicy reds from this country’s Rahoveci Valley in this report.

I love me some reds from Central Italy’s Abruzzo region, but I don’t have a lot of experience with their white wines. But I there’s a lot to like here. Known more for ripe reds, this region is also home to some rosés and whites, and I think Pecorino tends to offer a bit more depth and interesting flavors than some other white grapes.

There’s also two delicious tawny Ports from Dow, who always delivers. A summer-friendly Wachau Gruner and a Bourgogne-Aligote round out this report. These wines were received as samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Just Chill

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-24-2022

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Esther Mobley is giving us permission to put ice in our wine. “The basic reason why this is fine is that sometimes, depending on the wine (more on that later), an excessively warm temperature will make it taste worse than a little bit of dilution will. It’s as simple as that.”

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov also talks wine temperature, and announces what’s up next for Wine School: chillable reds. He also offers notes on the previous “class” on Alsatian whites.

An Oregon State University-led research team has discovered a class of compounds that contribute to smoke taint in wine and grapes, according to a university press release. As part of that work, they discovered the new class of sulfur-containing compounds, thiophenols, that in subsequent analysis was found to cause smoke taint when in combination with volatile phenols.

In Wine Enthusiast, Jesica Vargas explores the cool-climate white wines of Chile and Argentina.

In the Philadephia Inquirer, Di Bruno Bros.’ wine manager Sande Friedman dishes on 2022’s wine trends.

Do Bianchi’s Jeremy Parzen reports on the loss of Marco Accordini, 26, beloved son of one of Valpolicella’s leading families. According to reports published by mainstream media, he died this week after being severely injured in a tractor accident.

Club Oenologique highlights new wine books to enjoy this summer.

Daily Wine News: Moves & Mythics

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-23-2022

(Source: Chateau Ste. Michelle)

On Tuesday, Washington Wine Report’s Sean Sullivan broke the news that Chateau Ste. Michelle has put its 118-acre headquarters in Woodinville up for sale, with plans to move all of its winemaking to eastern Washington immediately. 

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray continues looking into the Chateau Ste. Michelle sale. “This is what private equity firms do. New York-based Sycamore Partners bought CSM last year for $1.2 billion. It was Sycamore’s first alcohol business…One quick way to turn around a company that is losing money – Ste Michelle Wine Estates reported a $360 million loss in 2020 – is to sell off assets. Now the Washington wine community is left to wonder what Sycamore’s next move will be.”

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Joshua Greene talks to Pascaline Lepeltier about newcomers from the Loire. “The styles are getting more complex, the terroir expression more refined, the aging potential rising—you can’t get bored.”

In the Oregonian, Michael Alberty explores the “mythically delicious” wines from Jackalope and winemaker Corey Schuster.

On JancisRobinson.com, Walter Speller reports on how drought is threatening vineyards in northern Italy.

The canned wine revolution is here, says Janice Williams in the Drop.

In the Guardian, David Williams looks at the rise of English wines.

Daily Wine News: NFT Craze

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-22-2022

The NFT craze has reached the fine wine trade. But is this is a digital fad or a potentially groundbreaking development? In the World of Fine Wine, Chloe Ashton reports on barrels, bottles and blockchains.

For CNN, Douglas Heye remembers his father Bruce Heye, a relentless advocate for North Carolina’s wine industry, who died in 2016 and left behind a 300+ bottle wine cellar. “…one bottle loomed large: Château Latour 1990…Professional reviews all raved about the Latour, ranging from “one of my favorite wines ever” by Wine Spectator, to Jancis Robinson declaring it “a dream wine.” Steven Tanzer praised the “incredible unfolding peacock tail of a finish.” Vinous called the 1990 Latour “like running into a long-lost friend.” Unlike Tanzer’s take, that I understood. It became his last bottle from his cellar. Opening it this May to celebrate his 80th birthday seemed appropriate.”

In Club Oenologique, David Kermode says it’s high time English rosé came into full bloom.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley looks at the future of self-driving tractors in California vineyards. (Hint: It’s much closer that you might think.)

In the Sonoma County Gazette, Caren McNamera explains why she founded Conscious Container, which his launching a bottle-washing business in Sonoma County to bring better opportunities for the refillable bottle market.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, explores stagflation and shrinking wine margins. “So far wine prices have not risen as fast as consumer prices generally, which have been up more than 8% on an annual basis in recent months. Wine prices (and beer prices, too) have risen less than half that, which means they have fallen in real (inflation adjusted) terms.”

Eden Rift remembers winemaker Josh Jensen.

In the Manual, Mark Stock reports on America’s first queer wine festival, to be held on June 24 in the Willamette Valley.

Daily Wine News: The Half-Bottle Hero

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-21-2022

Is it the half bottle’s time to shine? Madison Kircher says so in VinePair. “There’s also none of the self-imposed guilt I often feel when opening a bottle half the contents of which will end up later running down my sink drain. Similarly, I don’t feel the pressure to drink more than I would otherwise want to in an attempt to curb waste. The humble vessel is as functional as it is cute.”

On his blog Alder Yarrow explores the “simply delicious” Savoie wines of Bruno Lupin. “While simplicity is clearly a guiding principle, that doesn’t mean Lupin doesn’t like to experiment.”

On JancisRobinson.com, Elaine Chukan Brown says to seek out 2019 Anderson Valley Pinots.

The time to buy and drink Chinon is now, says Wink Lorch in the Drop.

California vintner Bill Foley is bolstering his company’s presence in Napa Valley with a deal to purchase Silverado Vineyards from the Disney Miller family, reports Wine Spectator. The purchase price is estimated to be north of $150 million.

In Wine Enthusiast, Carrie Honaker pens a short essay about how breast cancer changed her relationship with wine.

Elsewhere in Wine Enthusiast, Matt Kettmann talks to California winemakers about their dedication to surfing and balance.

Daily Wine News: Energetic Generation

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-20-2022


Savigny-lès-Beaune has long been dismissed, but longtime producers and an energetic newer generation is leading a quality revolution, reports Eric Asimov in the New York Times.

While tasting a range of sparkling wine in the Prosecco Hills, Club Oenologique contributor David Kermode gets better acquainted with the drier styles that are emerging triumphant among the top tier of the Italian fizz, Prosecco Superiore.

“Jim Clendenen, founder of Au Bon Climat, died in 2021. What has happened since, and what is the future direction of the winery?” asks Margaret Rand in Wine-Searcher. “It turns out that nothing has changed, and things will go on the same way. Move along, now. Nothing to see here.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Jim Gordon explores Anderson Valley. “This 15-mile-long valley and its surrounding hills, just 2.5 hours north of San Francisco, are both a paradise for growing wine grapes and a quiet, counter-culture community in which to live.”

Dave McIntyre highlights the natural wine boom in New York’s Lower East Side in the Washington Post.

In Grape Collective, Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher experience “the world’s largest all-Texas wine list.”

Wall Street Journal’s Lettie Teague talks with Shelley Lindgren, the sommelier who championed southern Italian wines before they were on the radar stateside.

Daily Wine News: Ukrainian Wine’s Future

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 06-17-2022

In Wine Enthusiast, Evan Rail reports on how Russia’s war on Ukraine is threatening decades of winemaking process. “In recent years, Ukrainian winemakers have looked both outward and inward. They’ve embraced Georgia’s Saperavi grape and others that do well in the Black Sea region, had success with Riesling, Zweigelt, Muscat Ottonel and similar Old World classics, and explored the possibilities of autochthonous varieties like Odessa Black and Telti Kuruk…Such wines will be hard to find in the near future. Local winemakers will need plenty of hard work and assistance to get back to where they were before the invasion started.”

Savigny-lès-Beaune has long been dismissed, but longtime producers and an energetic newer generation is leading a quality revolution. Eric Asimov has the story in the New York Times.

In Wine-Searcher, Oliver Styles reports on claims of sexual harassment against a French winemaker—and the peers who have come to his defense.

Last year’s frosts were a “wake-up call” for Burgundy producers, reports the Drinks Business.

Vines which have spent more than a year growing in zero gravity conditions on board the International Space Station have shown signs of increased resistance to mildew and phylloxera. Scientists hope the research will provide “organic solutions for the future of agriculture on earth.”

On his blog, Alfonso Cevola says it’s time to reconsider the wine press trip. “I am not against press trips or junkets, per se. I do believe though, that the current structure of press trips/junkets is sorely in need of an overhaul…Does this really work anymore? Did it ever?”

Zach Geballe explores multi-fruit wines in VinePair.