Daily Wine News: Merlot Shortage

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-26-2022

Merlot cluster.

Northern California wineries that rely on Merlot for Bordeaux-style blends and varietal wines are struggling to secure enough high-quality grapes. What’s driving this shortage and what can be done to fix it? Sophia McDonald investigates in SevenFifty Daily.

“A state representative from Western Pennsylvania has proposed a constitutional amendment that would ban the state from the booze business,” reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s a new approach to a goal sought by generations of Republicans in Harrisburg: ending the state’s monopoly liquor business — exercised through the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board — which has been in place nearly since the end of Prohibition in the 1930s.”

Growers are trying to remain resilient despite winegrape prices being far outpaced by rising costs of production.

“It’s interesting times for English still wines at the moment, and one variety catching the eye is Chardonnay,” writes Jamie Goode on his blog.

Jancis Robinson remembers Bordeaux’s Anthony Barton.

In the Paso Robles Press, Mira Honeycutt looks at how Paso winemakers are embracing the art of amphora-vinification.

In the Drop, Wink Lorch explores the virtues of Trousseau.

Daily Wine News: Burgundy 2020, Today

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-25-2022

(Photo credit: Unsplash)

It’s being lauded as an exceptional year, but will Burgundy 2020 be in short supply? In Club Oenologique, Adam Lechmere asks winemakers, buyers and experts what to expect and where to find value from the vintage.

In Harpers, James Lawrence reports on how the wine oversight body Vinpro has urged South Africa’s winegrowers to use the pandemic crisis as an opportunity “to revive, recover and rebuild,” adapting current business models to better cope with a rapidly changing world.

Despite supply chain issues and harvest troubles, Champagne investment shows no signs of slowing, says Chris Mercer in Decanter.

What does $500,000 buy you in Wine Country? Lauren Mowery looks into the markets in Wine Enthusiast.

Grape Collective talks with Marco Nicolosi of Barone di Villagrande about the family’s unique place in the evolution of the Etna wine region and the particular suitability of the terroir to producing elegant expressions of Etna Bianco.

On the blog for First Vine, Tom Natan says farewell to his customers and readers after 15 years. “I hope you’ll indulge me in some reminiscing and perhaps a little sentimentality. First Vine got its DC online alcohol license just about 15 years ago to the day. Inventory arrived four months later and we officially started selling. This blog started as a newsletter five months after that and converted to a blog two years later.  Here are some things that stand out from all those years of importing, selling, and writing…”

In the Drop, Jamie Lafferty explores the wine scene in Edinburgh.

Daily Wine News: Bourbon Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-24-2022

Bourbon barrel. (Flickr: Don Sniegowski)

In the Drop, Jess Siegel looks into the rise of bourbon-barrel wine and explores why it’s so popular. “Aging wine in something other than the traditional oak barrels is not new…What’s different is that bourbon-barrel wine is part of a larger and more widespread trend, called a crossover product, that includes beer and spirits. For instance, Scotch whisky producers have long used old wine barrels to age their spirits, and craft brewers have turned wine- and spirit-barreled beer into a regular part of their offerings.”

“The results of a radiocarbon dating (Carbon-14) study of Tawny Ports have prompted Dutch retailers, wholesalers, and importers to recall several from sale, over fears that the age stated on bottle labels could mislead consumers,” reports Wine-Searcher.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley remembers Nicholas Molnar, the vintner who helped pioneer fine wine in the now-famous Napa County region of Carenros. He died on January 11 at the age of 94.

Want to drink wine in bed or with ice? That’s okay, says Dave McIntyre, who says not to worry too much about etiquette in the Washington Post.

Jancis Robinson compares red Burgundy and Pinot Noir from other parts of the world. “I would say that the richness of the 2020 vintage in Burgundy, preceded as it was by two other warm to hot growing seasons in 2019 and 2018, offers an opportunity for the best Pinot Noir producers outside France to champion the finesse of their wines.”

In VinePair, Julia Larson explores the new non-alcoholic bottle shops shaking up what we know about beverage retail.

Amelia Edelman offers a guide to traveling through Northern California’s wine country in Travel + Leisure.

Wine Reviews: Merry Edwards’ 2019s

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 01-22-2022

Merry Edwards’ wines likely need no introduction. The reputation of this winery is hard-earned and well-deserved. And I’m always excited to taste new releases from this Sonoma producer.

Year-in, year-out, the wines deliver, and the style and quality have remained remarkably consistent. On cold nights like the ones we’ve been having in the Mid-Atlantic, a Merry Edwards Pinot Noir is always a great call. From years of introducing friends and family to these wines, I can confirm they are universally loved.

I recently tasted through the 2019s, and — wow. A very solid growing season led to beautiful wines in the glass, deep but fresh, and the balance and staying power is there. I can’t wait to taste more 2019 Sonoma Pinots and see how they improve in the cellar.

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

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.