Daily Wine News: In Defense of Zinfandel

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-31-2023


In Decanter, Elaine Chukan Brown celebrates the future of Zinfandel. “In California, history has demonstrated no grape is better suited to the varied conditions of the state than Zinfandel. Its ability to adapt exceeds that of Pinot even…Over the last 10 years, Zinfandel has gone through a market correction. Its least interesting vines have been pulled in favour of more lucrative varieties. Farming costs have driven out lower-end price points. Sites with a track record of quality remain. Classic producers have been joined by newer brands looking to capture the energy of California’s oldest vineyards with fresh enthusiasm.”

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley highlights Brown Estate, “which claims to be (and is, as far as I can tell) Napa Valley’s first Black-owned winery.”

Dick Erath, Willamette Valley pioneer and founder of Erath Winery in the Dundee Hills, died on March 29, reports Sean P. Sullivan. He was 87.

Kathleen Wilcox explores New Mexico’s Mimbres Valley AVA, “one of three American Viticultural Areas in New Mexico, and it is by far the largest, spread across 636,800 acres at 4,000–6,000 feet above sea level in the southwestern corner of the state,” in Wine Enthusiast.

Oregon Public Broadcasting looks at how Chardonnay reflects Oregon’s changing wine scene.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre talks to photographer George Rose, who’s spent decades capturing the landscape of vineyards, about what he’s observed about climate change over those years.

In Punch, Megan Krigbaum explores the evolution of non-alcoholic wine.

Daily Wine News: No & Low in France

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-30-2023

While wine consumption in France continues to drop, French consumers are showing increasing interest for no- and lower-alcohol products, reports Louise Hurren in Meininger’s.

Esteemed winemaker Boela Gerber has decided to leave Groot Constantia after enjoying a 22-year stint at the award-winning South African winery, heading to Virginia’s Southwest Mountains Vineyards, reports Martin Green in Decanter.

In Wine Spectator, Bruce Sanderson offers notes on the “suppleness and elegance” of the 2018 Barolos and other wines from Piedmont.

In Forbes, Lana Bortolot raises a glass to women winemakers in Texas.

In SevenFifty Daily, Caitlin A. Miller reports on five bottles from Protein that illustrate the broader trends shaping the global beverage industry today.

Grape Collective shares some highlights from this year’s Wine Writers Symposium.

In Eater LA, Sean L. Malin explores the booming wine scene in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Daily Wine News: Pesticide Ban

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-29-2023

California has unveiled its sustainable pest management roadmap, a long-range plan towards an environmentally sustainable culture. The plan focuses on the elimination of pesticides by the year 2050. In Decanter, Marisa Finetti considers how the ban will change California vineyard practices.

It’s official: North Carolina–based First Citizens Bank has bought the troubled Silicon Valley Bank, including nearly $1.2 billion in loans to wineries.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley highlights the 25 best wineries in Napa and the Bay Area.

Cornell has released a new white variety called Aravelle, which has been 42 years in the making. “Aravelle contains traits of Cayuga white, a grape developed at Cornell in 1972, which is relatively resistant against bunch rot and mildew diseases, easy to grow, and very productive when it ripens in early to mid-September. The new variety combines those traits with the taste qualities of riesling grapes…”

Grape leaf samples taken by California’s Humboldt County Department of Agriculture have tested positive for Pierce’s disease.

In Club Oenologique, Joanna Simon tracks the story and evolution of Pinot Noir at South Africa’s Hamilton Russell Vineyards.

VinePair chats with sommeliers about their go-to bottles this spring.

Daily Wine News: Reviving Heritage

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-28-2023

One of the revived grape varieties. (Source: Torres)

“Querol, Forcada and Pirene are grapes most people have never heard of. Their names are new, chosen by Spain’s Torres family after they found them growing wild in Catalonia. Yet the family is convinced that these varieties were commonly used in the region’s blended red wines for hundreds or thousands of years.” In Wine Spectator, Kristen Bieler reports on the Torres family’s 30-plus-year journey to recover the lost winemaking heritage of Catalonia. “The more they learn about these ancestral varieties, the more the family believes they could play a pivotal role in arming today’s winegrowers to cope with an increasingly warm and dry climate.”

In Wine-Searcher, James Lawrence delves into an issue winegrowers in Mendoza are struggling to fight: a plague of ants.

On his blog, Alfonso Cevola explores what he calls the four pillars of Italian wine: Pinot Grigio, Chianti, Prosecco, and Moscato d’Asti.

David Babich, CEO of New Zealand’s Babich Wines, tells the Drinks Business why it’s becoming increasingly challenging to expand in Marlborough.

David Cameron “Cam” Baker, proprietor of Larkmead Vineyards, has died. He was 86.

Josh Raynolds, wine writer for Vinous and before that, International Wine Cellar, has died. Antonio Galloni pays tribute.

In Wine Enthusiast, Gregory Leporati delves into the history of Champagne celebrations becoming a sports tradition.

Daily Wine News: Germany Gets Going

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-27-2023

Mosel Valley vineyards

In the Financial Times, Jancis Robinson explore German wine’s transformation. “German wines have improved immeasurably in the past two decades, major beneficiaries of the warming climate that now results in fully ripe grapes without the searing acidity of the last century that had to be compensated for by sweetness.”

First Citizens is in advanced talks to acquire Silicon Valley Bank after its collapse earlier this month.

In Decanter, Elizabeth Gabay profiles Tom Bove, who “may have acquired international fame as the man who sold his home and vineyard, Château Miraval, to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie,” however, “locally he is better known as the American who has bought, restored and sold over a dozen vineyards in the past 30 years.”

A new bill in Kentucky allows small farm wineries to self-distribute up to 12,000 gallons of wine annually, allowing “small, up-and-coming wineries to “establish a place in the marketplace” to the point where a wholesaler would want to distribute their product,” reports Sarah Michels in the Bowling Green Daily News.

In the Washington Post, Laura Reiley charts the rise of nonalcoholic wines.

Jess Lander offers a look inside Frank Family Vineyards’ new tasting room barn in the San Francisco Chronicle.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague recommends kosher wines for Passover and beyond.

Daily Wine News: Major Moves

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-24-2023

After more than 17 years producing some of Tuscany’s most renowned wines in Bolgheri, Ornellaia winemaker Axel Heniz is going back to Bordeaux. Lawrence Wine Estates has hired Heinz to serve as CEO of Château Lascombes, reports Wine Spectator. (Partners Gaylon Lawrence and Carlton McCoy purchased the Margaux second growth six months ago.)

Champagne’s largest cooperative group, Terroirs et Vignerons de Champagne (TEVC) – which owns Nicolas Feuillatte – looks set to acquire Champagne Henriot, reports the Drinks Business.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley looks at how potential frost this weekend could affect California vineyards.

At the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium, Jeff Bitter, president of Allied Grape Growers, said that in order for the industry to be healthy again, growers should pull out 30,000 acres of vineyards.

For Wine Business, Robin Shreeves highlights the importance of wine brands marketing their sustainability efforts online.

In Vinous, Eric Guido explores the wine quality surge taking place across the Veneto.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre recommends a few kosher wines.

Daily Wine News: Sancerre Prevails

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-23-2023

Sancerre. (Wikimedia)

Sancerre and its crisp whites seem to steal the spotlight in the Loire, despite there being plenty of wines to love from the region. David Kermode ponders why that is in Club Oenologique. “Sancerre’s fellow appellations in the Centre-Loire produce very similar wines, from (mostly) the same grape varieties, without enjoying anything remotely like the same level of fame. To them, it must seem unfair and it is unfair. So what is the secret of Sancerre?”

A difficult growing season for the 2021 vintage in Burgundy yielded a small crop of Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, but the best are ripe, balanced and elegant, says Bruce Sanderson in Wine Spectator.

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov explores the 2021 German vintage, of which he’s particularly interested in “because it allowed growers to make some beautiful, lightly sweet kabinett rieslings, a lacy style that has been difficult to achieve for most of the 21st century because of climate change.”

Despite its lower yields, the Wente Chardonnay clone’s fruit-laden concentration has made it the king of California Chardonnay—with some help from key winemaking figures. Laura Burgess exports its impact in SevenFifty Daily.

Christy Frank has written “The 3000 Word Silicon Valley Bank Explainer That No One Asked For.”

Axel Heinz – one of Italy’s most celebrated winemakers – is stepping down from his role at Super-Tuscan wine brands Ornellaia and Masseto to take on new challenges in France, Filippo Bartolotta reports in the Drinks Business.

In Esquire, Kevin Sintumuang explores natural wine bars around the country.

Daily Wine News: Israel’s Wine Scene

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-22-2023

Vineyards at Recanati winery in Israel.

Israel’s dynamic wine scene is evolving at a rapid clip. Exciting new producers are emerging every year, while established wineries are embracing new styles and approaches. In Wine Spectator, Kristen Bieler highlights the winemakers at the forefront of the country’s boutique wine revolution.

In Food & Wine, Wanda Mann profiles South African winemaker Ntsiki Biyela, one of the 2023 “Food & Wine” Drinks Innovators of the Year. “Had Ntsiki Biyela been granted the scholarships she applied for in pursuit of her childhood dream, which was to become a chemical or civil engineer, the world would have missed out on not only a talented winemaker, but one who has broken barriers and shattered wine-world stereotypes.”

For too long overshadowed by close sibling Dom Pérignon, Moët’s Grand Vintage deserves more recognition, says Essi Avellan in Club Oenologique.

While energy costs are falling, glass bottle prices remain high. Vincent Messmer goes searching for clues in Meininger’s.

“In April 2021, wine lovers around the world looked on in fear as Burgundy succumbed to a devastating spring frost…However, what was able to be salvaged is simply spectacular,” says Vicki Denig in Wine-Searcher.

Spanish wine giant CVNE has made its first foray into Rías Baixas by purchasing Albariño producer La Val for an undisclosed sum, reports Martin Green in Decanter.

In VinePair, Clay Dillow delves into Italy and Australia’s battle over the term “Prosecco.”

Daily Wine News: What’s Next for SVB Wine Clients?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-21-2023

Rob McMillan shares what work—and life—had been like since Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse. “Based on the incoming calls this past week, I believe there are many financial organizations that will put in a bid for the wine division as a stand-alone entity, apart from other units of the former SVB. What does that mean to clients and the industry? It means we will be able to resume our focus on this business, and hopefully along with that, resume the production of thought leadership for the wine industry.”

Tom Wark has launched a new website, Fermenting Change, that aims to dismantle the three-tier system the US. “The problems the three-tier system was designed to address no longer exist. Today, a new set of problems and issues ought to serve as the basis and motivations behind the state alcohol regulatory system.”

Does New Jersey have a signature grape? Does it need one? Lenn Thompson explores the pros and cons in Edible Jersey.

For Star Wine List, Felicity Carter talks to Paula Sidore and Valerie Kathawala, editors of TRINK Magazine, who are on a mission to share their excitement for Austrian and German wines with the world.

Rioja wine sales are down in the UK, but up in the US and Germany.

In the Drinks Business, L.M. Archer offers a summary of the recent Slow Wine USA events.

On JebDunnuck.com, R.H. Drexel reports back from the 23rd edition of The World of Pinot Noir.

Daily Wine News: Low & No

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-20-2023

Cupcake’s new line of low-calorie wines.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley examines the rise of low-alcohol wines. “This category is poised for better success than wine overall. While sales of full-strength wine are projected to decrease 2% by volume from 2022 through 2026, according to analyst IWSR, low-alcohol wine is slated to grow by 10% during that same period…If you want to reduce your alcohol or calorie consumption, my advice would be to simply drink fewer servings of full-strength wine.”

In Penta, Abby Shultz charts the rise of Sonoma, where “winemakers and producers who are proving [they] can offer beautiful, collectible, and varied wines to rival Napa Valley’s powerful—and more than $500-a-bottle  pricey—Cabernet Sauvignons.”

Is Loire Chenin Blanc better than ever? James Lawther says so on JancisRobinson.com.

In InsideHook, Kate Dingwall talks with Aaron Ayscough, author of The World of Natural Wine, about small, sustainable producers and debunking natural wine disdain.

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray on what recent investments in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano can tell us about where Tuscan wine is headed.

Chris Losh offers a wine traveler’s guide to Bordeaux in the World of Fine Wine.

Arielle Weg highlights a handful of Sauternes bottles in Wine Enthusiast.