Bollinger – Bond’s Champagne of Choice

Posted by | Posted in Out of the Glass | Posted on 11-21-2012

Skyfall debuted with the most successful opening weekend ever for a James Bond film — and has now racked up a record-breaking $669.2 million worldwide in box office sales. Sitting down to watch the 23rd Bond movie, it’s hard not to get a little giddy for the action and entertainment that’s coming – even the opening credits anchored by Adele’s Skyfall are really, really good.

Another accompaniment to Skyfall that I’d recommend? A flute of Bollinger. I love creative marketing campaigns that actually make sense – a combo you don’t typically find in the wine industry, which tends toward either stale and traditional or cheesy and crittery. The marketing effort is obviously even better when the fermented substance inside the innovative campaign is good quality. The Bond / Bollinger duo meets this criteria.

Bollinger has been Bond’s champagne of choice since 1973 and has appeared in 13 films since then. An epic quote pops up in the 1979 film, Moonraker, when Bond notices a bottle of Bollinger in Holly Goodhead’s bedroom and says:

“Bollinger? If it is a ‘69, you were expecting me.”

Today, Bollinger is launching a playful marketing program to celebrate the 50th anniversary of 007’s appearance on screen and the Bollinger / Bond partnership. To commemorate, Bollinger has created a Limited Edition package for Bollinger La Grande Année 2002 in a sleek box mimicking the shape of a Walther PPK silencer. Inside, the bottle itself is decorated with a black and silver Bond-inspired stamp around the neck. It’s fun.

If you haven’t seen Skyfall yet, I recommend you head to the theater this week after your Thanksgiving feast and check it out. You’ll be entertained. And after the movie (or during), open some Champagne!

Poster at Skyfall Screening at Sony HQ in NYC

Bollinger Buckets at Skyfall Screening



Revisiting Older Rieslings: Tasting Through Some 1997 German Wines

Posted by | Posted in Out of the Glass | Posted on 08-20-2012

The 1997 Schaefer Kabinett

Young German Riesling can be absolutely thrilling. At their best, the wines have a remarkable vibrancy and energy with the fruit tasting incredibly fresh and nervy acidity beneath adding a sense of precision, freshness, and clarity to the flavours. In many of the off-dry examples, the youthful sweetness often makes the wines very appealing to drink early and it can be a challenge exercising patience with wines that are as enjoyable in their youth as a Kabinett or Spätlese from a fine producer.

Yet patience can yield amazing rewards, as I recently experienced at a dinner featuring several German Rieslings from the 1997 vintage. I don’t own or open as much older Riesling as I’d like to, and it was a pleasure sitting down with several maturing wines over a few hours. None of these were close to mature. German Riesling can age effortlessly over decades, and the 1997s we opened had years ahead of them. Yet they had shed some of their youthful brightness; the fruit flavours remained incredibly pure and fresh, but for the most part were augmented by the start of developing smoky, creamy and other savoury elements.

One of the most striking differences between German Riesling on release and several years later is the sense of harmony that seems to develop. The floral or mineral expressions that they show on release aren’t as vivid several years later, but rather they converge with the fruit and the nuances of development into a seamless whole that’s greater than the sum of all parts in the best examples. While most of the top young examples from 2011 and 2010 I’d tasted recently were wines that dazzled with their youthful exuberance and the interplay between sweetness and acidity, and fruit and mineral flavours, the 1997s at this lineup were thrilling for very different reasons – they were calmer, more understated and delicate, and showing a remarkable range of flavours that kept unravelling with time and air.

It was a reminder of what great Riesling can offer at different stages of maturity. I haven’t come across other styles of wine that offer the same range of pleasures that Riesling does at almost any age, whether right on release, several years after when the wines are beginning to slim down and lose some of the exuberance of youth while still retaining much of their primary character, or when more mature and entering more savoury phases. And it remains a relief and wonder that many of the top examples are still remarkably inexpensive (the most recent vintage of Willi Schaefer’s Graacher Domprobst Riesling Kabinett still retails for under $25!).

Tasting notes follow below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Shipwrecks & Champagne: Photos

Posted by | Posted in Out of the Glass | Posted on 05-14-2012

Nearly two years ago, marine archeologists discovered a 165+-year-old shipwreck in the Baltic Sea, in waters south of Åland. In the wreckage were 162 bottles of Champagne, from Veuve Clicquot, Heidsieck, and Juglar, a defunct house that’s now part of Jacquesson. Shockingly, about half of the Champagne came out intact — and in excellent condition, as it “lay horizontally, under pressure, at a low temperature, and in the dark.”

Last month came news that Paris auction firm Artcurial Briest–Poulain–F.Tajan was selected to sell the wines. On June 6, the firm will auction off 11 bottles — six from Juglar, four from Veuve-Clicquot, and one from Heidsieck. The bottles are expected to fetch around $13,000 each.

While a number of bottles will be kept for museum purposes, the rest will be sold at auction over the next few years. Proceeds from all the auctions will go towards Baltic marine conservation. Check out some amazing photos below. And if you purchase one of these bottles, I hope you’ll invite me over when you open it!

Cinco de Mayo for Wine Enthusiasts

Posted by | Posted in Out of the Glass | Posted on 05-04-2012

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo.

In Puebla, Mexico, local residents will hold small celebrations to commemorate the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

Across the United States, though, revelers will party all day long. For the last decade or so, Americans have seen May 5 as a celebration of all things Mexican. At Mexican restaurants, Tex-Mex eateries, and bars across the country, Coronas, Dos Equis, and Margaritas will flow like water.

What’s a wine drinker to do?

In Wine Spectator, Jennifer Fiedler chats with Jill Gubesch, the sommelier at Frontera Grill, about which wines work best with Mexican cuisine. Elsewhere, Tom Natan of First Vine explains why he’ll be drinking wines from the Southern Rhône. (Tom’s post also includes a recipe for Enchiladas!)

Sommelier Journal & Robert Parker

Posted by | Posted in Out of the Glass | Posted on 05-02-2012

Last year, Alder Yarrow urged his readers to subscribe to Sommelier Journal: “The magazine contains really great content, from profiles of wine lists at top restaurants around the country, to in-depth coverage of the world’s wine regions, to witty commentary.”

I just finished reading the most recent issue, and I’m convinced. It’s an excellent magazine and well worth the tariff. Plus, Sommelier Journal has kindly offered a special discount for Terroirist readers! (Read on for details.)

The most recent issue contains a must-read interview with Robert Parker, conducted by sommelier and educator David Denton. In the interview, Parker pulls no punches — chiming in on everything from Campogate and “natural wine” to wine bloggers, message board participants, and his legacy.

Parker’s harshest words are directed at Alice Feiring:

When we talk about all these catchphrases like ‘natural wine,’ I can tell you that people like Alice Feiring are charlatans — I think they are no better than the snake-oil salesmen of yesterday. They are selling a gimmick. Most wines are natural.

Joe Roberts has chimed in on this — correctly contending that “that “Feiring is no more responsible for all horse-sweaty, undrinkable juice than Parker is for all over-extracted, boozy Frankenwines.”

This isn’t the only juicy quote. As to his impact on the wine world, Parker says the following:

The main thing I’m proud of is that from the very beginning, I was interested in quality — in raising the level of quality, pointing out underachievers in every area, whether it was a vin de pays or an appellation in California or whatever. I think my legacy will be that I was about recognizing the quality that exists out there.

I think he’s right here. Had Parker not pioneered a Consumer Reports-style approach to wine criticism, a much higher percentage of bottles would be flawed.

Parker also argues that today’s palates are more much more sophisticated thanks to wine education and geeky wine lists:

With all the by-the-glass programs, with all the educational programs, with the diversity of wines that are available, they have to be… it’s not adequate to drink just Burgundy or Bordeaux. You’ve got to be trying Toros, you’ve got to be trying inexpensive Mourvèdres from Jumilla, you’ve got to try Albariños. And now you are seeing these really great table wines coming out of Portugal and Greece.

He also makes some interesting points on terroir — praising Riesling and criticizing Burgundy:

When people talk about terroir, they say to just look at a great erroir like La Tâche or Romanée-Conti, and I ask, “Well, what do you say about he fact that those wines are aged in 100% new oak? What would they taste like without oak?” I mean if you want to talk about terroir, talk about German Rieslings or Alsace Rieslings, where the wines are naked — there’s no makeup, other than a little bit of sulfur.


Wine, Baseball, and Investing

Posted by | Posted in Out of the Glass | Posted on 03-13-2012

In third grade, I was the only girl in the Baseball Card Collectors Lunch Bunch Club. I had a shoebox full of Topps and Donruss, and I would obsessively consult my outdated Beckett book before deciding whether to pony up, say, my mint condition Sandy Alomar Jr. card for a rookie year Cecil Fielder.

Baseball card collecting was fun, mostly because there were a ton of different factors to consider before investing in a trade. Sure, you have to start with the book value. But was Sandy having a good season? (Meduim-good.) How would that affect the card’s future value? (I was only 8.) How many Cecil Fielders did I already have in my shoebox? (One.) Did I think Sandy Alomar Jr. was the greatest thing to happen to Cleveland since the river caught on fire? (Yes.)

As an adult, the closest I’ve come to the experience of assembling my baseball card collection has been in buying wine. It’s not too much of a stretch to liken a case of 1982 Chateau Latour to a Mickey Mantle rookie card — both are coveted by nerdy enthusiasts, cost way more now than they did in 1982, and have a seemingly unlimited resale potential.

In econ-speak, goods with these traits are called “Veblen goods.” Veblen goods are items whose demand grows as prices rise, a situation that is pretty counter-intuitive. The transition of fine wine into a Veblen good began when people stopped buying it as a beverage, and began “investing” in wine as a resalable commodity. The secondary wine market exploded in the in the 70’s and 80’s, and some first growth Bordeaux has actually outperformed more traditional commodities like gold and silver.

I’ve been thinking about wine investment a lot since Robert Parker released his orgy of 100-point ratings for the 2009 vintage. His scores appear to have added even more value to an already expensive vintage, and wine prices have risen sharply as a result. If these 100-point wines are truly Veblen goods, demand will only continue to grow stronger as prices rise, and a single man’s influence will have lead to a vicious cycle of wine price inflation: the much-maligned Parker Effect. Read the rest of this entry »

An Over-Elaborated Rubegoldbergian Steampunk Corkscrew

Posted by | Posted in Out of the Glass | Posted on 03-13-2012

Presented without comment…

Sh*t Wine Drinkers Say

Posted by | Posted in Out of the Glass | Posted on 01-31-2012

Ever since “Sh*t Girls Say” went viral in December, countless imitations have been posted on YouTube.

The latest — from Jon Boring of The California Wine Club — targets wine drinkers. What do you think?

Combating Wine Snobbery in DC

Posted by | Posted in Out of the Glass | Posted on 10-25-2011

This past Sunday, Jeff Siegel (aka The Wine Curmudgeon) explained that his “goal is [to] help Americans see wine as Europeans do, as something to drink every day. Even if it kills me.”

This is a goal that everyone who loves wine should rally behind — wine shouldn’t be reserved strictly for connoisseurs. Fortunately, an increasing number of wine lovers across the globe are helping combat the poison of wine snobbery. Two of these people — Lisa Byrne and Vanessa French – are doing more than their part in my hometown of Washington DC.

Lisa is a marketing and events professional, but she’s best known as the DC Event Junkie. Vanessa is the founder of Pivot Point Communications, a boutique creative communications agency. Over a Sunday brunch just two months ago, Lisa started lamenting the fact that Washington DC has a beer week – but didn’t have a wine week. So the two decided to start one. A few bar napkins later, the idea was fully hashed out.

“Our goal was to demystify wine by making it a less intimidating experience and by creating events that foster learning more about the vast subject — and the enjoyment of wine, of course,” Vanessa later explained to me.

DC Wine Week finished up this past Saturday, and by all accounts, it was a smashing success. All the official events were well attended, and the concept inspired other area wine bars, restaurants, retailers, and others to host their own wine-themed events.

Lisa and Vanessa plan on plan on hosting an even larger weeklong event in the spring. Huge congratulations to both! I hope their success inspires others to launch similar events.

A Sad Future for Hong Kong?

Posted by | Posted in Out of the Glass | Posted on 10-17-2011

The three-day wine event costs $2,900 to attend.

Speakers include Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson, James Suckling, Angelo Gaja, Jaime Araujo, Michel Rolland, and plenty others. Francis Ford Coppola is the “guest of honor.” And there will be three Grand Tastings, where “some of the world’s finest wines” will be poured.

Pancho Campo, host and organizer of the event, will lead the first tasting, entitled “The Diversity and Passion of Spanish Wines.” The second, called “Beyond Bordeaux,” will be led by Jancis Robinson, where she’ll showcase 15 wines from 15 different countries. The final tasting — called “The Magical 20” — will be headed up by Robert Parker, where he’ll highlight 20 different Bordeaux wines from the 2009 vintage.

An event for the fabulously wealthy in Napa Valley? Nope. A big wine to-do for Europe’s upper crust? Think again. A first-of-its-kind event in Bordeaux, aimed at collectors across the globe? Wrong again.

This is the lineup for Wine Future Hong Kong, because the future of wine in Asia, it seems, has nothing to do with Asians, Asian wine, or those without stratospheric wealth. Read the rest of this entry »