Daily Wine News: What’s Next for Napa?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-28-2020

(Source: Visit Napa Valley) N

“The Napa Valley accounts for more than a fourth of wine shipped directly to consumers nationwide – and this from a region producing just 4 percent of California wine,” writes Sarah Klearman in the Napa Valley Register. “It’s an impressive share…But Napa’s existing command of the market begs the question: where to from here?”

Abe Schoener, ex-philosophy professor and the winemaker behind the Scholium Project, is opening a new urban winery in LA. Jamie Goode caught up with him to discuss his latest project.

With Robert Parker officially hanging up his quill last year, Roger Morris asks if predictions about the critical landscape in his absence have come to pass – or if something else has instead.

In Wine Enthusiast, Anne Krebiehl MW offers an early look at Burgundy’s 2018 vintage.

In Decanter, Chris Losh visits Taras Ochota, “Australia’s master of minimum-intervention wine.” (subscription req.)

Grape Collective talks to South African wine pioneer Chris Mullineux about the greatness of old vine Swartland chenin blanc.

Robert Joseph keeps hearing that the wine trade should stop producing heavy wine bottles. He offers another point of view in Meininger’s.

On Robert Parker’s Wine Journal, R.H. Drexel profiles Seth Cripe, founder of the LOLA brand.

Daily Wine News: The Minerality Mystery

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-27-2020


Jancis Robinson delves into “mysterious minerality” in wine. “Like many wine words, it has been used, particularly this century, without much precision, but we wine professionals do tend to agree at least about what it is not. It’s a character that is nothing to do with anything fruity, vegy, oaky, flowery or spicy. It’s a character often associated with a texture…”

Dynasties are reasonably common in the wine world, but they don’t always run smoothly, Margaret Rand discovers in Wine-Searcher.

From Ningxia geology to the new regional brand ‘Ningxia Hong’, Sylvia Wu offers the latest report on China’s up-and-coming fine wine region in the wild northwest in Decanter.

Émilien Boutillat joined Piper-Heidsieck at a time of rejuvenation. In Meininger’s, he discusses what’s changed and what will never change.

For the Oregonian, Michael Alberty ponders the future of piquette in Oregon.

In Somm Journal, Erik Segelbaum explores the diversity of Israeli wine.

In SevenFifty Daily, Australian importer Gordon Little discusses the ongoing bushfires, smoke taint, the 2020 vintage, and the outpouring of support from the U.S.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre reports on the Bonny Doon sale.

Daily Wine News: Wine Leaks Into River

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-24-2020

A 90,000-gallon tank holding Rodney Strong Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon suffered a leak, allowing some of the wine to make its way into the Russian River, reports Esther Mobley in the San Francisco Chronicle. Staff is still working to figure out the cause of the leak.

In her weekly Drinking with Esther newsletter, Mobley chimes in on the eruption on Twitter about wine lists after Helen Rosner tweeted a confusing list.

“The EU has agreed to increase aid for wine promotion activities by 10%, to help boost exports,” reports Barnaby Eales in Meininger’s. “The additional funding is aimed at supporting EU wine producers hit by the US government’s 25% increase in import duties on some EU still wines.”

There’s challenges ahead for Champagne in 2020, says the head of France’s Comité Champagne trade body. Caroline Henry delves into the details in Decanter.

In the Washington Post, Kevin Ambrose talks to winemakers about what made 2019 a particularly good year in Virginia.

In Wine Enthusiast, Lauren Mowery highlights natural wine fairs around the world.

Grape Collective talked with Dario Pieropan about Soave’s past and future, and the role of the Pieropan wines in both.

Brian Freedman explores the affordable world of Rioja Gran Reserva in Food & Wine.

Daily Wine News: Yes, Still Talking Tariffs

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-23-2020

(Source: Wikimedia)

The 25% tariffs on some European wines, imposed in October 2019, have hurt the wine trade on both sides of the Atlantic. In Meininger’s, Jeff Siegel hears about it from people on the front lines in the US.

ICYMI: Trump and Macron agreed to trade truce and avoid massive tariffs on French wine—for now.

In Beverage Media, Jim Clarke looks at the significant updates Austria has made to its new DAC system, and checks in on how the quality of the country’s wines have improved.

A new report suggests that some of California’s top producers might be pricing themselves out of the market. W. Blake Gray looks at what that means in Wine-Searcher.

In Decanter, James Button explores how terroir makes a difference in Barbaresco. (subscription req.)

On JancisRobinson.com, Tamlyn Currin rounds up five more wines books published in 2019.

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Joshua Greene reports on how the International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA), an organization formed by Torres Family Wines and Jackson Family Wines, came to pass.

In VinePair, Julie Tremaine gets to know Happy Canyon, one of southern California’s tiniest AVAs.

Daily Wine News: After the Sale

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-22-2020

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray talks to Randall Grahm about the bumpy ride that led to the recent sale of Bonny Doon. “This is largely a downbeat story. Grahm’s heart was broken in wine when his estate vineyard near Santa Cruz died in the 1990s, and his business aspirations were thwarted several times. But the story also has – for now – a happy ending. Call it an upbeat finale to this season of the Randall Grahm show. Grahm has reinvented himself, again, with his Popelouchum vineyard – a vineyard in windswept San Juan Bautista on California’s Central Coast where he is reconsidering how wine grapes are planted. It’s a new focus of his ambitions.”

Elsewhere in Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray has an update on the threat of tariffs on all European wines: they’re apparently off the table for the immediate future.

In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto ponders the arrival of prosecco rosé, slated for New Year’s Day 2021. “My immediate reaction was suspicion. Wasn’t this more evidence that the world was going to hell in a wine basket? Were my adopted countrymen, Italians, cravenly trying to cash in on two wine trends in order to feed our never-ending thirst for novelty?”

“Daniel and Florence Cathiard, the owners of Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte in Bordeaux, are branching out to California’s Napa Valley. The couple has purchased the Flora Springs estate, which straddles the Rutherford and St. Helena AVAs, at the base of the Mayacamas mountain range,” reports Aaron Romano in Wine Spectator.

In Bloomberg, Ainslie Chandler reports on how the wildfires that swept through Australia have impacted the 2020 vintage.

In the New York Times, Florence Fabricant shows a little love to Swiss wines.

Tom Mullen highlights three TED talks that relate to wine in Forbes.

Daily Wine News: Praising Winemakers

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-21-2020

Do we over-emphasize the impact a winemaker has on the finished wine? Oliver Styles ponders the question in Wine-Searcher. “My point is the way we praise winemakers is somewhat problematic: are we praising the person themselves and their abilities; are we praising the employee of a company for doing her or his job; are we praising their ability to please us? How do we know what wines one winemaker would make if completely free of responsibilities to the board, responsibilities to the market, the pressures of their peers (this latter is a factor, especially in natural wine circles)? In other words, we can’t be sure that the winemaker we praise wouldn’t have made a completely different wine to the one we like if left completely to her or his own devices.”

Prices for fine wines have skyrocketed, while wine writing income has stagnated. In Meininger’s, Robert Joseph says that, increasingly, wine writers have little experience of fine wine to draw on.

Tim Atkin explores Chile’s outer limits. “In a country that’s currently experiencing one of its worst-ever droughts, especially in the classic growing areas close to Santiago, the longer term potential of southern areas like Lago Ranco, Osorno and now Añihué is considerable. There’s no denying that this is an extreme site…but the vineyard appears to be prospering.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Shana Clarke looks at the reasons why winemakers are creating custom barrels.

Elsewhere in Wine Enthusiast, Paul Gregutt charts the return of refined Oregon Pinot Noir.

In the Buyer, Richard Siddle talks to Polly Hammond, founder of the brand communications consultancy 5Forests, about what makes millennial wine consumers special.

The gang of pioneering natural winegrowers back in the late 1980s and 1990s achieved so much in Beaujolais. Now a new generation of naturals is emerging, including Louis-Clément David-Beaupère. Jamie Goode writes about his visit with him on his blog.

Daily Wine News: Wine List Debate

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-20-2020

How much should diners be expected to know about wine? A storm erupted on Twitter after Helen Rosner tweeted about confusing wine lists. Robert Joseph weighs in on the debate in Meininger’s.

“Sonoma-based wine company Vintage Wine Estates (VWE) and Kunde Family, a family-owned winery in Sonoma Valley, are suing their insurance companies for refusing to cover wines damaged by smoke from the [2017] fires,” reports Augustus Weed in Wine Spectator. “They argue that smoke taint destroyed the marketability of some of their wines, resulting in substantial losses that should be covered under their respective insurance polices.”

Elsewhere in Wine Spectator, Bruce Sanderson reports the death of Burgundy vintner Michel Lafarge, whose Domaine Michel Lafarge is “among Volnay’s leading domaines.” He was 91.

Few corners of the world can rival Armenia’s rich winemaking history and a new, exciting generation of wines have emerged in the post-Soviet era, writes Caroline Gilby MW in Decanter. (subscription req.)

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague offers tips for online wine auctions. (subscription req.)

In Wine Enthusiast, Lia Picard offers a guide to Atlanta’s wine scene.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre shares a few strategies for how to find great value when buying wines.

Daily Wine News: Honoring the “Indiana Jones of Viticulture”

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-17-2020

Harold Olmo (Source: Wikimedia)

A $200,000 donation from the owners of Napa Valley’s Larkmead Vineyards will allow UC Davis to preserve and share the work of one of its most celebrated professors, Harold Olmo (the “Indiana Jones of Viticulture”), who scoured the globe for vine cuttings and helped put California Cabernet wines on the world stage. Jane Anson has the details in Decanter.

In Wine Enthusiast, Kara Newman considers the cultural impact of Prohibition, 100 years after it went into effect.

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov offers notes on the most recent Wine School, California Syrah, and announces what’s up next: Rioja Gran Reserva.

Wine Enthusiast highlights 7 of the best wine travel experiences of 2020.

Britt Karlsson considers the cost of converting to organic farming.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley delves into the consumer wine data released in the Silicon Valley Bank wine industry report.

In the Napa Valley Register, Sarah Klearman also looks at what the report says about changes the wine industry must make in order to adapt to changing consumer demands.

Jacob Dean explains why Washington’s Walla Walla is a region to watch in VinePair.

Daily Wine News: Is Mead Making a Comeback?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-16-2020

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Mike Dunne highlights Ayele Solomon’s Bee D’Vine honey wines. “Many drinkers mistakenly assume that all mead is invariably sweet. They’ve been disappointed with mediocre versions they’ve tasted at Renaissance fairs. But makers of honey wine believe that sales would be much easier if they could just persuade potential buyers to take a sip.”

In New Jersey Monthly, Tara Nurin also looks at how mead is making a comeback.

Moore Brothers Wine Company, which operates in three states, ordered 35,000 bottles, or a year’s supply, to try to get ahead of the possible 100% tariffs.

Trade wars, falling wine sales and global uncertainty. Everything points to the need for wine producers to find more baskets for their eggs, says Robert Joseph in Meininger’s.

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray breaks down the findings from the latest Silicon Valley Bank State of the Industry report. “Overall wine sales by volume in the US are actually down, for the first time in 25 years – and that’s only the beginning of the bad news.”

In the Baltimore Sun, Christina Tkacik explores Baltimore’s natural wine scene.

In SevenFifty Daily, Amanda Barnes explores the wines of Uruguay.

Miguel Ángel de Gregorio of Finca Allende talks about the complicated nature of terroir in Rioja with Grape Collective.

Daily Wine News: The State of the Wine Industry in 2020

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-15-2020

The Silicon Valley Bank State of the Wine Industry Report 2020 has been released. “Rob [McMillan] suggests that we are in the midst of a consumer reset, which requires every winery to reimagine how they sell and market wine. The early results tell us there are winners and losers today, with about 25 percent of the business struggling while the upper quartile of wineries is delivering record years.”

On JancisRobinson.com, Elaine Chukan Brown explores how petite sirah has evolved in California. (subscription req.)

Chris Crowley sums up how the looming tariffs are terrifying the American wine world for Grub Street. “There’s no timeline on the proposed 100 percent tax that would affect European wines and other goods yet… Monday, January 13, was the deadline for public comments on the proposed tariffs. Since December 12, nearly 25,000 were made to the Office of the United States Trade Representative.”

Changes are afoot in Bourgogne, with a new geographical denomination added to the AOC Bourgogne: Bourgogne Côte d’Or. The Drinks Business looks at what this move means for producers and consumers alike.

On the blog for First Vine, Tom Natan delves into a new certification in France for agricultural products containing zero pesticide residues. “the resulting bragging sticker to be placed on the bottles contains five important words: Within the limits of quantification. This acknowledges that the wines might contain pesticide residues, but that the quantities are so small that current instruments and methods can’t yet detect them. Bravo for the honesty. And good for the certifying organization, called Nouveaux-Champs (or New Fields, in French), for coming up with something that conveys accurate and useful information to consumers so that they can make more informed choices.”

In the New York Times, Charu Suri looks at how hotels are ramping up their wine-tourism experiences.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Château Miraval is teaming up with a top grower Champange producer to make a rosé Champagne, reports Wine Spectator.