Daily Wine News: Zinfandel, Then & Now

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-21-2021

Zinfandel grapes hanging on the vine.

In Imbibe Magazine, Chasity Cooper delves into Zinfandel’s fall from grace and how the grape is making a recovery. “How did Zinfandel’s story get so tangled? And how can wine drinkers grow to love it again? … As winemakers get more creative with bringing forth various expressions of Zinfandel, wine drinkers should be encouraged not to limit their thinking when it comes to the unique heritage grape, but to embrace it for all that it’s worth.”

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley reports on the Two Eighty Project, a small urban vineyard defying any assumptions that the city of San Francisco is inhospitable to grapegrowing. The farmer behind it, Christopher Renfro, also sees the vineyard as a way to promote social justice.

Are plant-based bottles the more sustainable future for the drinks industry? Katie Brown takes a look at a glass-free future in VinePair.

The same frost that devastated France has also impacted vineyards in Piedmont and Tuscany in Italy. Bruce Sanderson assesses the damage in Wine Spectator.

Alfonso Cevola reflects on the “wonderfully complicated and all too brief (and happy) life of Pio Boffa on his blog.

Have South African wines reached collectable status? In Club Oenologique, Adam Lechmere at whether the time has come to start investing in the Cape’s best bottles.

In Wine Enthusiast, Matt Kettmann looks at hybrid grapes’ role in California wine.

Daily Wine News: Another Covid Loss

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-20-2021

Pio Boffa

Pio Boffa, leader of the Piedmont’s Pio Cesare winery, died over the weekend after a battle with Covid-19, reports Robert Camuto in Wine Spectator.

In Wine Enthusiast, Kerin O’Keefe reflects on Boffa’s life. And Chris Mercer pays tribute in Decanter.

Tom Hyland pays tribute to Pio Boffa in Wine-Searcher. “I was fortunate enough to call Pio Boffa a true friend, having first met him at a wine event in my hometown of Chicago more than 20 years ago… Boffa was born almost exactly one year before me, and he would remind me that he was older and I should always respect him, something that was never a problem. I countered by saying that 1955 was a much better vintage for Barolo than 1954. I will always remember his laugh upon hearing that statement!”

As we return to wineries for tastings, what can we expect to be the new normal? Dave McIntyre takes a look in the Washington Post. (subscription req.)

In Wine Enthusiast, Cheron Cowan looks at the U.S. wineries pursuing radical sustainability. “In an age where brand loyalty and authenticity are deployed as marketing buzzwords, these wineries’ ability to sustain their businesses and communities are to be acknowledged—and celebrated.”

Also in Wine Enthusiast, Alexander Peartree explores how a scene in a wine shop from Schitt’s Creek serves as a refreshing metaphor for inclusivity. “As a gay man, I find it can be draining to constantly see myself reflected on screen in characters who are struggling as a result of their own sexuality, be it internally or wishing others could come to terms with it. What the writers of Schitt’s Creek accomplished went far beyond that. It was so simple and nuanced, yet profound, uplifting and incredibly refreshing. The fact they did all with a wine-focused metaphor only broadens the scope to a wider audience.”

The four friends behind Oregon’s A to Z Wineworks have hit on a winning formula. How do they manage to produce a Pinot Noir so affordable, widely available and consistently good, vintage after vintage? Lettie Teague catches up with them in the Wall Street Journal. (subscription req.)

On JancisRobinson.com, Alder Yarrow reports on vaccinations in California wine country. (subscription req.)

Daily Wine News: Surviving & Thriving

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-16-2021

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov looks at how U.S. winemakers have weathered pandemic disruptions over the last year. “A year later, their worst fears were not realized. Instead, as the pandemic threatened their way of working, many were able to adapt. Through flexibility and timely government loans, some producers did better in 2020 than they ever imagined was possible.”

UC Davis’s Chris Macias explore the impact of smoke on vineyards, and what increasingly more prevalent wildfires mean for the future of California wine.

Up to 80% of French vineyards have been damaged by heavy frost, reports Food & Wine.

In the Buyer, L.M. Archer also surveys the damage to French vineyards.

In Wine Enthusiast, Matt Kettmann looks at the growing category of low-calorie, low-ABV, and nonalcoholic wines.

Also in Wine Enthusiast, Roger Voss explores Corsica’s indigenous grapes.

In Decanter, Walter Speller looks at how a new generation of winemakers is shining light on the Sangiovese grape and reshaping its reputation at the workhorse grape of Chianti and Brunello. (subscription req.)

The future of wine events still looks uncertain, with some 2021 in-person events still planned, while others wait for next year. Roger Morris takes a look at the calender for Meininger’s.

In VinePair, Katie Brown explores the story behind Mayacamas kosher wine.

Daily Wine News: Bye Bye, Rudy K

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-15-2021

Rudy K’s counterfeit wines being destroyed in 2015. (Flickr: U.S. Marshals Service)

Rudy Kurniawan has been deported to Indonesia, reports Mitch Frank in Wine Spectator. “What’s unclear is what the man once known in wine collecting circles as Dr. Conti will do next.”

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley reports on how Wine Country’s insular nature played a role in Dominic Foppoli’s alleged misconduct. “In another industry, a local business known for pool parties might have sounded louder alarm bells. But there are several features of Sonoma County’s wine culture that may have allowed practices like that to endure, said Amy Bess Cook, founder of the Sonoma organization Woman-Owned Wineries… Another factor is that the Sonoma County wine industry can feel like a “bubble,” which can contribute to a culture that implicitly encourages silence…”

Mekita Rivas explores the long and winding path of wine as medicine in Wine Enthusiast. “Wine has been produced for thousands of years, dating back to the Neolithic period. And no matter which part of the globe is in question, the civilizations of the era likely made some curative claims about wine.”

In Grape Collective, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher explore the new generations bringing excitement and innovation to Valtellina.

In Vinous, Antonio Galloni offers notes on Vino Nobile and Carmignano wines, “Italy’s forgotten noble reds.”

In Eater, Jaya Saxena reports on how the frost across France’s wine regions is devastating the industry.

On JancisRobinson.com, Adam Wells draws attention to perry, or pear cider.

Daily Wine News: Tasting Notes

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-14-2021

Terry Theise takes on tasting notes. “One, you can’t compress wine writing into your measly 475 words (or whatever) and expect it to carry its weight. Either give it a reasonable amount of column-inches so that it’s something more than a mingy little chaos, or don’t do us any favors. Two, a tasting note does not have to consist of complete sentences. In fact it should not do so. The taster’s impressions are fragmentary, ephemeral; they rush along, and language ought to reflect that.”

In the New York Times, Roger Cohen reports on the “violent” and devastating frost French winemakers are facing. “The frost followed a period of mild weather, with the result that plunging temperatures caught rural France by surprise. Vines were the worst hit, but almond and fruit trees were also affected, as well as some other crops, including beets and rapeseed. Emotion ran high throughout French wine regions, the soul of the country in many ways.”

Tim Atkin on why we should value our old vines.

In Modern Farmer, I look at how artificial sex pheromones are being used to protect Argentina’s vineyards from the European grapevine moth.

In TRINK Magazine, Chandra Kurt explores the beauty of Heida, “one of the most popular rarities of Valais. It shines a bright golden yellow, with inviting aromas of papaya, honey, and ginger. On the palate, a racy Traminer note mingles with flavors that call to mind roses, apricots, and mint. It is delicate, yet potent, with a crunchy acidity. A glorious and singular pleasure.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Emily Saladino explores how Jay-Z changed Champagne culture.

Anne Robinson sketches out a blueprint for a more equitable hospitality industry in VinePair. “Replacing this economic and political system is a long shot, but anti-capitalist practices have existed in bars and restaurants for years now. So what does this look like, and why should everyone care?”

Daily Wine News: Rioja’s Reign

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-13-2021

Vineyards in Rioja. (Flickr: thirstforwine)

Lawrence Grabowski explores how Rioja became a global superstar in Wine Enthusiast. “A series of technological advances and ecological disasters from the 18th century to the late 20th century helped to not only improve the longevity of Rioja’s wine, but also make it one of Spain’s most famous wine regions.”

In Modern Farmer, I look into why alcoholic beverage producers are embracing regenerative agriculture. “Converting to regenerative farming processes can be a costly endeavor, but many believe the future of the land is worth it. That cost can be offset by higher profit margins that added-value products such as wine or cider make possible.”

The rosé category remains strong, but an influx of generic brands and the lingering impact of 2020 means it’s more crowded than ever. Will quality prevail? Jessica Dupuy takes a look at the category in SevenFifty Daily.

In Wine Spectator, Mitch Frank profiles Carmelo Anthony and looks at how he’s sharing his passion for wine with fellow NBA players and through his wine-themed YouTube Series, What’s In Your Glass? (subscription req.)

The Russian River Winegrowers has begun the process to terminate Christopher Creek Winery following allegations of sexual assault against its co-owner Dominic Foppoli, reports Esther Mobley in the San Francisco Chronicle. The winery’s termination with take affect April 24.

In Club Oenologique, sommelier Julie Dupouy helps a wine-loving reader who has partially lost their sense of smell ease back into drinking low-tannin reds.

Daily Wine News: Showcasing Scheurebe

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-12-2021

A glass of Scheurebe.

In TRINK Magazine, Christoph Raffelt explores the history and future of Scheurebe. “Despite a rocky start, Scheurebe has become one of the most successful new German varieties. And since donning its new dry dress, it has earned itself a seat among the established aromatic grape varieties.”

According to Liza B. Zimmerman in Wine-Searcher, the Napa County Board of Supervisors (BOS) has committed to spend $42 million over a projected five-year period to prevent fires.

Jancis Robinson emphasizes the need to re-evaluate—and save—old vines.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre looks at how pandemic supply chain issues have affected wine.

In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto visits Giovanni Bigot. “This 48-year-old agronomist and researcher from northeastern Italy’s Friuli region has developed an intriguing 100-point scale for measuring the potential of vineyards to produce great and unique wines. In other words, he’s scoring terroir—overlaid with vineyard practices and the overall health of the grapes.”

Jeff Jenssen highlights three Croatian white wine grapes in Wine Enthusiast.

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov puts together a starter kit for aspiring wine lovers.

In Vinous, Neal Martin offers notes on recent vintages from South Africa.

Daily Wine News: Sexual Assault Allegations in Sonoma County

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-09-2021

Dominic Foppoli.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on allegations of sexual assault against Dominic Foppoli, mayor of the Sonoma County town of Windsor and owner of Christopher Creek Winery. Wine critic Esther Mobley explains why it matters: “For anyone who follows California wine or local Wine Country politics, this is essential reading. It’s not just about one alleged bad actor. It’s about a system that allows bad behavior to occur and go unpunished—where an alleged rapist can not only wield influence through his businesses, but can also gain political power.”

In Eater, sommelier Bianca Sanon on why it’s time to rethink wine pairings. “Here’s an important thing to know: Most wines will taste pretty okay with most foods. So often people ask for a pairing suggestion to avoid the “wrong” wine that makes their food somehow inedible — that is actually pretty rare. Most wines will not turn your meal into an inedible mess.”

This week, winemakers from Bordeaux to Burgundy lit candles and even launched helicopters to help protect the young 2021 vintage from plunging temperatures, but there have been already been reports of severe damage to some vineyards, reports Chris Mercer in Decanter.

Bruce Sanderson also shares reports of frost damage in vineyards across France in Wine Spectator.

In Wine Enthusiast, Mekita Rivas talks to Texas winemakers about how they’re feeling after the statewide freeze. “Resiliency is nonnegotiable as a Texas winemaker. Varying microclimates, soils and topography can make grape growing especially challenging. Spring freezes and hail storms are added stresses that can plague the region and keep winemakers up at night. Still, many grape varieties do well in the heat of the Texas Hill Country…”

Also in Wine Enthusiast, Sarah E. Daniels writes about Sour Grapes, the documentary about Rudy K.

In Forbes, Amanda Schuster highlights five bottles that showcase the exciting winemaking happening in New Zealand.

Daily Wine News: What’s Wrong With Wine Influencers?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-08-2021

In Wine Enthusiast, Emily Saladino explores wine media’s opposition to influencers. “For my #twocents, I think influencers are an underutilized asset in wine. They can help struggling brands reposition themselves, engage new consumers and diversify the wine business. While the industry wrings its hands over how to capture millennials’ and Generation Z’s dollars amid competition from craft beer, spirits and cannabis, it could only help to meet potential customers where they are: social media… To a relentlessly optimistic person like myself, influencer marketing seems like a win-win for wine. Why, then, does it rouse such passion from established professionals who write think pieces? It might just be late adoption. Those with deep roots sometimes hesitate to embrace fresh shoots.”

Jamie Goode also offers his two cents on wine influencers. “Wine companies have been looking for ways to reach younger drinkers who aren’t in the typical catchment area of established media, and these new Influencers offer a potential route. Some of them are excellent, and offer a fresh, fun take on the world of wine. PR companies are tracking these new voices and looking for ways to work with them…But along with the positive attribute of acting as a platform for new forms of wine communication, Instagram has had a darker, murkier side…”

Sustainability is a much-used term worldwide. Cultivating countries set different priorities— and the social responsibility of producers is increasingly coming into focus. In Meininger’s, Alexandra Wrann explores the world of sustainability in wine.

Ponzi Vineyards, a pioneer of Oregon wine, has been acquired by the Bollinger family, owners of Champagne Bollinger. It’s Bollinger’s first winery purchase outside France.

On the Just Be Local podcast, Heather Griffin and Brian Brakesman, who own and run Napa Valley’s Summit Lake Vineyards with their father, talk about how small family wineries can adapt to changing times.

The LA Times’ Jenn Harris shares how a group of sommeliers saved a Los Angeles restaurant during the pandemic.

In VinePair, Nicole MacKay reports on how Okanagan Valley is working to become a global leader in certified wine production.

In Wine-Searcher, Margarent Rand on how Syrah’s ability to shape-shift can make it difficult to understand.

Daily Wine News: Trousseau’s Future

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-07-2021


In SevenFifty Daily, Sophia McDonald considers Trousseau’s past in Europe, and the grape’s future in American vineyards. “The grape’s plantings have been increasing of late—yet far from its native territory. American winemakers throughout Oregon and California are cultivating both Trousseau Noir and Trousseau Gris to craft a range of intriguing still, sparkling, fortified, and skin-contact wines.”

Although no precise figures are as yet available, the wave of conversions to organic in the vineyards of Bordeaux is undoubtedly growing, says Vitisphere.

While Perrier-Jouët’s brand ambassador, Jonny Simms, says going organic would be “nirvana,” he believes practicing organic viticulture in Champagne is “almost impossible.”

On JancisRobinson.com, James Mayor looks at how Rob Symington, a fifth-generation digital native, is shaking up one of the best-known port shippers in its 140th year.

In Wine Enthusiast, Zoe Baillargeon explores how convicts and immigrants paved the way for Australia’s wine industry.

Elsewhere in Wine Enthusiast, J’Nai Gaither reports on phylloxera’s impact in Napa Valley.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, looks back 10 years after the publication of his first book about the business of wine, Wine Wars: the Curse of the Blue Nun, the Miracle of Two Buck Chuck, and the Revenge of the Terroirists.