Daily Wine News: What Labor Looks Like

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-21-2022

A worked hand harvesting grapes. (Wikimedia)

In Wine Spectator, Kristen Bieler looks at how crippling worker shortages and rising costs are forcing vintners to reimagine what labor looks like in U.S. vineyards.

After rising to the top of a white-dominated industry, a new generation of Zimbabweans are bringing their talents home. Nyasha Chingono has the story in the Guardian.

Read the full 2022 State of the Wine Industry Report here.

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov offers notes on the most recent Wine School on orange wines, and announces what’s up next: red wines from Spain’s new wave.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague salutes the great wine educator Dewey Markham, Jr., who died in November. Family members and excerpts from Mr. Markham’s own writing reveal how a Black American not fully fluent in French gained access to a notoriously insular region’s great châteaux.

In Wine Enthusiast, Roger Voss remembers Anthony Barton, the “Gentleman of the Médoc,” who died on Wednesday.

The International Wine Review explores the wines of Smith-Madrone.

Daily Wine News: Got Wine?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-20-2022

“One of the wine world’s most watched industry reports just delivered a dire message: If wine can’t attract more Millennial consumers soon, the consequences for California and other wine regions could be insurmountable,” reports Jess Lander in the San Francisco Chronicle.But the report, released Wednesday, aims to offer a solution: A group of wine industry executives are working on a plan to try to give wine its “Got Milk?” moment to ramp up interest.”

In the mid-aughts, the decanter earned a reputation as a symbol of wine’s most opulent proclivities. Can a set of designs aimed at functionality endear it to today’s drinkers? Emily Wilson looks into it in PUNCH.

The pandemic has boosted sales of premium wine for American producers, finds W. Blake Gray in Wine-Searcher, who says that trend is likely to continue.

In SevenFifty Daily, Carolyn B. Heller profiles a new generation Punjabi farmer descendants that are now wine entrepreneurs in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.

In Wine Enthusiast, Christina Pickard explores New Zealand’s natural wine wave.

In the Drop, Janice Williams offers a wine guide to Detroit. “Detroit is still here. And the people there on the ground are resilient, hustling hard to turn lemons into lemonade or — better yet — grapes into wine.”

In Outside Magazine, Monica Prelle looks at how climate change is forcing winemakers to make major adaptions, but also looks at the opportunities being presented for innovation.

Daily Wine News: Crafted in Darkness

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-19-2022

(Flickr: Neil Moralee)

A Slovenian winemaker has made the world’s first sparkling wine made and sold in complete darkness. “What makes [Untouched by Night] unique is its production process. The UBL harvest, bottle rotation and packing require the use of night vision goggles. The wine is left to age for two to three years in Gornja Radgona cave in Slovenia, where it is untouched by the outside world, completely lightproof. In the jargon of Radgonske gorice this is known as the Crafted by Darkness method. Once out of the cave, the wine is protected in a 99% black glass bottle, packed in a vacuum-sealed bag blocking any additional light or air contact.”

After more than a decade at The Wine Advocate, Lisa Perrotti-Brown has taken the plunge and gone out on her own, launching the Wine Independent. In Wine-Searcher, Don Kavanagh talks to her about the new venture.

Christy Frank explores the growing category of no- and low-alcohol wines in SevenFifty Daily. “Consumer interest in the NOLO category isn’t likely to dry up soon, so retailers should look forward to seeing—and selling—an increasing number of options.”

In Wine Enthusiast, John Holl looks at the growing trend of breweries that make wine now, too.

At the start of a new year, do you resolve to expand your vinous horizons or to delve even deeper into what you already know and love? Alice Lascelles ponders the dilemma in Club Oenologique.

Michael Alberty profiles winemaker James Rahn, who takes a “no nonsense” approach to Willamette Valley winemaking, in the Oregonian.

In the Drop, Chasity Cooper explores why Oregon’s cool climate is the perfect place to showcase Pinot Gris.

Daily Wine News: Problems Ahead

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-18-2022

In Wine Industry Advisor, Kathleen Willcox looks at the wine industry problems from 2021 that are predicted to recur this year and how wine business leaders are arming themselves for whatever comes down the pike.

In Wine Enthusiast, Diana Hawkins traces the low number of BIPOC-owned vineyards America back to Manifest Destiny and the Homestead Act of 1862

Once a workhorse variety, Silvaner from Germany’s Franken region is now a star, says Ines Salpico in the Drop.

DO Terra Alta will become the first in all of Spain to have a legal certification for orange wine, reports Miquel Hudin in Decanter. “…it allows certification for a type of wines that in Catalan are called “vins brisats”. The name refers to white wines that are produced in contact with the “brisa” or, the skins, stems, and seeds of the grapes. This is a method of wine production that has gained a good deal of visibility and popularity in recent years and is more commonly known internationally as amber/orange wine.”

Henkell-Freixenet, the world’s biggest sparkling wine company, has acquired Bolney Wine Estate, an English wine producer located in Sussex, southern England, reports Barnaby Eales in Wine-Searcher.

After a two-year break, the major wine trade fairs are all reopening their doors. How will exhibitors and visitors react? Meininger’s explores their return.

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) has announced Michelle Brampton as its new CEO.

Wine Reviews: Montecucco Sangiovese

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 01-15-2022

Oh, to be travelling to Tuscany right now! Unfortunately, it’s not in the cards for me anytime soon, but tasting through some delightful Sangiovese-based wines recently, I was transported, at least briefly, from my home office.

Between Brunello di Montalcino and Morellino di Scansano, I have less experience with the wines from this area compared to some of neighbors. But that needs to change, as these wines offer their own unique signature on Sangiovese, and a lot of value.

Grown in vineyards on the southwest slopes of Monte Amiata (opposite the Brunello slopes), and the region shares a similar climate. The wines are between 60-90% Sangiovese, depending on the DOC or DOCG. Last year, the region’s consortium released a study showing 85% of the Montecucco Sangiovese DOCG production was certified organic, higher than other neighboring regions. President of the consortium and winemaker Giovan Battista Basile says the goal is to increase organic production in the future.

In the glass, these wines really deliver some depth, vibrancy and personality. If you haven’t checked out Montecucco wines before, and can find some, they’re worth investigation for sure. Especially when compared to some of their neighbors, the value to be found out here is really exciting. Dig in!

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

Daily Wine News: Progress Report

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-14-2022

“In 2020, several critical events caused the wine industry to reckon with the underrepresentation and mistreatment of marginalized groups in all sectors of the trade. The industry found itself under intense scrutiny from within and without. Pledges were made, black boxes were posted and money was donated. After nearly two years, have “we”—the collective wine industry—made any significant changes?” Stacy Briscoe investigates the industry’s progress in Wine Enthusiast. 

On JancisRobinson.com, Elaine Chukan Brown argues the case for increased human diversity in wine and has also written a much more comprehensive guide for wine professionals on how to achieve it.

In the World of Fine Wine, Sarah Marsh offers notes on the 2020 Burgundy vintage, “characterized by “joyously” fresh, vibrant, classically styled wines, with consistent quality in the whites and many fine reds.”

“The history of Sicily’s wine industry — and the role of cooperatives within it — is a roller-coaster tale and such sagas in wine do not always have happy endings.” Mike Veseth, the wine economist, explores the region’s wines.

According to the Drinks Business, Cheval Blanc has published a manifesto for a more sustainable agroecology. “Published in both French and English, its 85 pages provide a very crisp and clear, cogent and eloquent statement of the philosophy underpinning Cheval Blanc’s approach to the environment in general, and its nurturing of the biodiversity of its own terroirs more specifically. It is a subtle, sophisticated and, in the end, unique call for a turn to the principles of agroecology (and not just in viticulture). It also contains an impressively detailed account of the putting into practice of all of this at Cheval Blanc over the last decade or so – along with much of the underlying science. It warrants close attention and rewards a close reading.”

Food & Wine’s Editor Ray Isle shares his formula for building the perfect case of wine, and saving some cash while you’re at it.

In the Drop, Jeff Siegel explores the Mission grape’s new role in fortified dessert wines.

Daily Wine News: Influenced

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-13-2022

In Refinery29, Sadhbh O’Sullivan explores how Instagram contributed to making wine an aspirational lifestyle choice. “The way many people see wine has shifted. Funky, natural wines have risen in popularity and orange wine has gone from curiosity to mainstay. The bottle is as much a feature as the wine itself and your mates who previously drank solely IPAs have started talking seriously about maceration and sulphur dioxide. The old image of wine on social media is still there – in Instagram stories and wine mum memes on Facebook – but a new, aesthetically and environmentally conscious wine consumer has taken hold. Their birthplace, more than anywhere else, was Instagram.”

According to winemakers in New Zealand’s Marlborough region, stocks of Sauvignon Blanc are running precariously low, due to a pitiful harvest in 2021, coupled with rising global demand, reports James Lawrence, who recommends from alternatives in the Drop.

A wine made from soybeans has arrived. “Taste-wise, it felt like a diluted amontillado – very supple on the palate, with subtle nutty and doughy flavors. For oenophiles, it may be too much of a stretch to accept Sachi as a wine, given its lack of body structure and tannins; a characteristic that also makes it very challenging to pair with heavy or rich food. However, it seems to work very well with all kinds of cheeses – as demonstrated during a pairing – as its gentle umami notes accentuate the taste of the dairy snacks.”

In Wine-Searcher, Kathleen Willcox looks at the ways in which growers are using “weird but effective” approaches to beat vineyard pests without chemical poisons.

Wine Spectator remembers longtime senior editor Kim Marcus, who died unexpectedly on Tuesday.

The line between wines, beers, spirits, soft drinks and alternatives is becoming increasingly blurred. In Meininger’s, Robert Joseph shares his opinion on the subject.

Grape Collective talks with Nine Oaks partner and creative director Anna Addison about classic Georgian viticulture, the unique grape varieties native to the area, and natural winemaking in Kakheti.

Daily Wine News: Subscription Central

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-12-2022

Miquel Hudin explores the trend of wine experts launching their own sites. “Why create a subscription site? Because it gives value to writing. Despite this view that all things creative are done simply for passion, writing about wine has a cost whether that’s travel, research, books, education, or just one’s time…While there are some people who may be able to do this because of family or spousal support, most people cannot and thus starting about five years ago, we arrived to the death of the wine blog and the birth of individual subscription sites.”

Ever tried Heida, Rezé and Petite Arvine? In Club Oenologique, David Kermode waxes lyrical on Switzerland’s indigenous grape varieties and exactly why Swiss wine is well worth seeking out.

From supply chain issues affecting wine availability to drinking from a wider range of under-the-radar regions, Vicki Denig talks to members of the wine trade in the US and beyond for their predictions on the wine trends we’re likely to see in 2022.

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray looks at how Napa Valley Vintners is ending Auction Napa Valley and transitioning to a new idea called Collective Napa Valley, a free-to-join membership program that will offer barrel futures instead of bottles with fancy add-ons.

Claude Taittinger, who led Taittinger Champagne for nearly five decades, died Jan. 3, reports Wine Spectator. He was 94.

“Proving that even a 250-year-old Cognac producer is not too old to learn new tricks, Maison Hennessy will on Wednesday launch its first NFTs – non-fungible tokens – consisting of numbers 1/250 and 250/250 of an offering whose primary fungible asset is a elegant decanter or carafe called Hennessy-8, which consists of a blend of spirits produced by the maison’s last eight master blenders, including the current one, Renaud Fillioux de Gironde,” reports Roger Morris in the Drinks Business.

In Wine Enthusiast, Kelly Magyarics explores Grüner Veltliner regions around the world.

Daily Wine News: Away With Appellations?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-11-2022

Italy’s DOC and DOCG labels. (Pava/Creative Commons)

In Wine-Searcher, James Lawrence ponders whether appellations are now more hindrance than help. “Such rhetoric is catching on, particularly in Spain and the south of France. It is becoming almost de rigueur for trailblazing Spanish winemakers to slag-off their appellations, before inevitably announcing a separation. A group of more than 45 wineries in the Rioja Alavesa sub-region are planning to do just that. Producers in the Languedoc are also increasingly sidelining appellation frameworks in favor of supposedly inferior designations…The democratization of information, coupled with the rise of social media, has given less-affluent brands more options. In the ‘heyday’ of European wine marketing, people lived in an era of top-down information, displaying a level of unwavering trust in what they were told from select critics and the trade. But today, there are simply an awful lot of ways to source and share opinions.”

California’s wine industry lost more than $250 million in value last summer because of crushing supply chain disruptions at West Coast ports, a new economic report reveals.

Alison Napjus explores the range of non-alcoholic wine offerings in Wine Spectator.

In Bloomberg, Elin McCoy shares her 2022 wine predictions, including a Champagne shortage, wine NFTs, better non-alc offerings and more.

Zachary Sussman is also thinking about wine trends to watch this year in SevenFifty Daily.

 Jess Lander is joining senior wine critic Esther Mobley at the San Francisco Chronicle as a wine reporter.

“Organics teaches you where you should and shouldn’t grow grapes,” wine consultant Alberto Antonini told the Drinks Business.

Daily Wine News: The Côte Chalonnaise

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-10-2022

The Côte Chalonnaise region. (Wikimedia)

Jancis Robinson on why the Côte Chalonnaise’s day may have come. “Their wines are generally much, much less expensive than those of the Côte d’Or but the soils and elevation are very similar, and many vineyards enjoy the same sort of aspect, facing the rising sun, as most of those on the Côte d’Or. So why are Chalonnaise wines seen as so decidedly inferior? The reasons are more historical and political than geographical.”

In 1965, brothers Robert and Peter Mondavi had a falling-out that culminated in a fistfight at a family dinner that cleaved the California family, and the winery they ran, in two. Allison McNearney has the full tale in the Daily Beast.

In Wine-Searcher, a vertical tasting of Austria’s Schloss Gobelsburg estate takes Margaret Rand on a deep into the history of the estate.

In Wine Enthusiast, Virginie Boone explores Sonoma’s exciting monopoles—a vineyard site from which one producer sources grapes exclusively, a place where no one else has access to make wine.

In the Robb Report, Sara L. Schneider talks to top wine sellers about their picks for winemakers to watch in 2022.

St-Emilion’s wine council has said it will press ahead with the 2022 Classification, despite expressing regret that Angélus has become the third high-profile estate after Cheval Blanc and Ausone to withdraw its candidacy, reports Panos Kakaviatos in Decanter.