Daily Wine News: Non-Vintage Blends

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-09-2022

While consistency is still the name of the game for Champagne, Essi Avellan explains why many of the big houses are rethinking the way they blend their non-vintage Champagne in Club Oenologique.

In Wine Enthusiast, Aleks Zecevic delves into the history of Furmint in Hungary, and why winemakers there and in Austria are betting on its future in the face of climate change.

Rupert Joy explores the growth of alternative wine packaging in Decanter. “A quiet revolution is underway, driven by the climate crisis, better packaging technology, lifestyle changes and young entrepreneurs who are determined to prove that presenting high-quality wine in non-glass formats is not only viable, but more convenient and better for the planet.”

In Vinous, Joaquín Hidalgo reports on Argentina’s resilience and creative winemaking.

The 2022 growing season in Europe was far from dull, thanks to drought, wildfires and storms, but growers are happy with quality, though yields are down. Wine Spectator has the details.

Wine-Searcher reports on California’s 2022 vintage.

Eric Asimov’s annual Thanksgiving wine recommendations are here.

Daily Wine News: Palm Wine Sans Palm

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-08-2022

Fresh palm wine.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley profiles scientist Onye Ahanotu, maker of Ikenga wines, who’s recreating traditional Nigerian palm wine—without using any actual palm.

Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson are among a group of leading UK wine writers who have signed an open letter calling for action to promote a shift to alternative packaging for wine. “Switching from glass to alternative formats could save as much as 750,000,000 KgCO2e of emissions every year in the UK alone. This is the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road overnight, and equates to well over a third of the carbon footprint of wine consumed in the UK.”

For Plate, I talked with somms about how to pair wine with kelp, a carbon-sucking seaweed that more chefs are embracing.

In InsideHook, Emily Monaco talks with geologist Gordon Hull of Heidrun Meadery, who hopes to elevate the image of mead.

“CH Engineering of Krov, Germany is the first company in the world to make a machine harvester that can be used on slopes of up to 75 percent and that works on vineyard terraces,” reports Wine Business. “Gundlach Bundschu in Sonoma Valley is the first U.S. winery with experience using it.”

In Forbes, Liz Thach explores how bees and bats are key to Bordeaux vineyards’ biodiversity plan.

In Food & Wine, Anna Lee Iijima offers a guide to German wines.

Daily Wine News: Frost in Mendoza

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-07-2022

Frost and vines. (Flickr: epeigne37)

As Amanda Barnes reports in the Drinks Business, Mendoza’s government has declared an agricultural state of emergency following two nights of devastating frost this week which have impacted over 10,000 hectares of vineyards as well as other crops.

In Decanter, Barnaby Eales also reports that wine producers have been assessing vineyards after an unexpected and severe “black frost” this week, amid concerns of significant damage in the key Mendoza region.

Jancis Robinson explores “Château Rayas, a red Châteauneuf-du-Pape made from Grenache grapes which manages to be both rich and ethereal, transparent and floral, utterly hedonistic, necessarily alcoholic because Grenache needs full ripeness, but without heft.”

“It has been broadly accepted that biggest contribution to a wine’s carbon footprint comes, not from vineyard or cellar practices, but from the energy deployed during the manufacturing and transportation of the glass bottle itself, from factory to end-drinker.” In Wine-Searcher, Kathleen Willcox reports on how winemakers are embracing reused wine bottles, wine in kegs and other environmentally-friendly packaging options.

In Wine Enthusiast, Melanie Haiken looks at why winemakers are embracing worms in the fight to conserve water.

In Grape Collective, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher share highlights and takeaways from a recent trip to South Africa.

American Wine Project’s Erin Rasmussen talks about how she’s rethinking Wisconsin wine.

In the World of Fine Wine, Nicolas Belfrage picks out some of the visionary individuals who have contributed most to the soul of Italian wine over the past half century.

Daily Wine News: Future Forward

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-04-2022

Old vines garnacha. (Wikimedia)

In Reuters, Joan Faus and Vincent West report on a Spanish research laboratory studying climate-resilient old vines and grape varieties that could become key in the future of wine production.

Eric Degerman looks at the key roles women have played since the early days of Washington State wine, and highlights three women leading the future of Washington’s wine industry in the Seattle Times.

In Wine Spectator, April Louis talks with transgender Oregon winemaker Vivianne Kennedy about her jump from social worker to vintner and her efforts to highlight lesser-known grapes.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague says it’s worth getting to know Pinot Blanc, and shares her favorite bottles produced in France, Italy, Germany and the U.S.

After a poor start, an unlikely heatwave in Oregon rescued a harvest that was looking decidedly iffy, reports W. Blake Gray in Wine-Searcher.

Climate change and the Russia-Ukraine war are squeezing global sales and production in the $300 billion global wine industry, which is still recovering from the pandemic, said the International Organization of Vine and Wine.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre explores the beauty of Beaujolais.

Daily Wine News: Irish Entrance

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-03-2022

An unlikely contender is stepping up to the plate to become the next European wine powerhouse: Ireland, reports Lisa Grannell in Wine-Searcher. “According to the Drinks Ireland Report 2021, beer is still Ireland’s favorite alcoholic drink but this is closely followed by wine…Ireland has 10 MWs resident in the island of Ireland. Plus another eight Irish-born (or Irish passport-holding) MWs living abroad – most certainly an indication of the quiet wine revolution happening amongst the Irish.”

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley explores the rise of piquette in California.

Beverage company owners have many options for succession when they’re ready to retire. The key, says Sophia McDonald in SevenFifty Daily, is to start planning early.

Washington State University researchers are working to understand exactly how the smoke taint process works and what can be done to limit or prevent it.

Decanter highlights 12 prestigious vineyard sites around the world.

Jancis Robinson delves into “glorious” Spanish Garnacha.

Vicki Denig offers “the definitive guide to pairing wine with pizza” in Uproxx.

Wine Enthusiast announces its 2022 Wine Star Award winners.

Daily Wine News: California King

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-02-2022

St. Peters Church Vineyard. (Source: Florence Vineyard)

“Behind a modest Catholic church in Sonoma County sits a little-known vineyard that’s also one of the most influential in California. The beefy, gnarly and 130-year-old vines of Cloverdale’s St. Peter’s Church Vineyard are the unsung heroes of the Rockpile region, an appellation known for producing intensely flavored Zinfandels that rank among the best in the world.” Jess Lander reports on the vineyard’s unlikely rise to fame in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Doing things differently has helped the Cabernet Sauvignon of Ridge Vineyards’ Monte Bello stand out. In Club Oenologique, Jane Anson tells the Santa Cruz vineyard’s story and tastes through an astonishing seven decades and 20 vintages

In the Los Angeles Times, Patt Morrison explores the city’s history of winemaking. “Years before the reign of King Citrus, dozens of wineries and more than a million grapevines made up an enormous L.A. cash crop. In 1869, when L.A.’s wineries were squeezing out as much as 5 million gallons, 3 out of every 4 Los Angeles manufacturing workers were earning their pay in some fashion from the wine business.”

“Château Lascombes, the Margaux-based second growth in Bordeaux’s 1855 Classification, has become the first winery in Europe to be acquired by Lawrence Wine Estates, which already owns top Napa wineries Heitz Cellar, Burgess Cellars and Stony Hill. The group was established by the Lawrence family, led by US entrepreneur Gaylon Lawrence, alongside managing partner and Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy Jr.,” reports Decanter.

Elin McCoy also comments on the acquisition in Bloomberg.

On JancisRobinson.com, Max Allen adds to the ongoing discussion of how well wines age under screwcap.

Daily Wine News: England’s Côte d’Or

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 11-01-2022

Crouch Ridge Vineyard. (Source: Visit Essex)

Could a small corner of Essex, better known for Maldon salt and marshes, become England’s Côte d’Or? Tamyln Currin delves into England’s Crouch Valley on JancisRobinson.com.

In Thrillist, Mekita Rivas talks to Maria Calvert and Lydia Richards, the founders of Hispanics in Wine, about how improving Latinx representation could revolutionize wine.

On his blog, Alfonso Cevola ponders Nebbiolo from Piedmont. “There is something interesting between these two areas, Piedmont where Nebbiolo is made, and Burgundy where Pinot Noir thrives. Not to say I intend to draw parallels on the quality or style of the wines. Couldn’t care less. But there is something about the winemakers and the people who live in those lands that are curious to me.”

World wine production in 2022 is expected to dip slightly below last year’s level, with a better than anticipated volume in drought-hit Europe mostly offsetting a forecast drop in southern hemisphere output, reports Reuters.

Bordeaux’s  Château Lascombes, potentially one of the largest vineyards of the classified growths of 1855, has been sold to an American entrepreneur and vineyard owner for an undisclosed sum, according to the Drinks Business.

Alder Yarrow got Covid for the first time on a press trip in South Africa and lived to tell the tale about the worst part: anosmia.

In Vinous, Antoni Galloni focuses on the 2019 and 2020 vintages for Barbaresco.

Daily Wine News: Southern Glazer’s Raid

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-31-2022

“The US wine and spirits industry is atwitter this week after news broke of a raid on the California offices of the nation’s largest booze distributor…Agents from the Internal Revenue Service and the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau spent most of the day Wednesday at the Union City offices of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. The raid was confirmed by an IRS spokesperson to the San Francisco Chronicle, which broke the story. Now, the question everyone is asking is: Why? What were they looking for?” W. Blake Gray searches for answers in Wine-Searcher.

From forging ahead with biodynamics to creating a drier wine style, Alsace is shaking off its traditional image. Sophia Longhi explores some of those trends in Club Oenologique.

Jancis Robinson delves into Assyrtiko, “the characteristic grape of the hauntingly firm, fumy dry whites of the volcanic Greek island of Santorini, is an obvious example of a lesser-known grape variety that, once tasted, is never forgotten. It magically combines something saline and mineral with something citrus as well as tension and a magical ability to develop even more complexity in bottle even though growing seasons in its homeland are notoriously hot, almost impossibly dry, and inhospitably windy.”

It’s expected the Burgundy 2022 harvest will be bigger than the region’s five-year average, France’s agriculture ministry said this month, also noting the healthy state of vineyards in the area.” Chris Mercer has the details in Decanter.

In the New York Times, Elaine Glusac explores Oregon Wine Country by bus. “Rare among American wine regions, the Willamette Valley is connected to a public transportation system that links Portland to McMinnville, eliminating the “last mile” plague of public transportation systems that tend to strand riders just shy of their destinations.”

Rosé wines are enjoying an extraordinary boom, but they are still struggling to command premium prices. But as Roger Morris discovers in Meininger’s, this situation is starting to change.

In Forbes, John Mariani reviews Brian Freedman’s new book, Crushed: How a Changing Climate Is Altering the Way We Drink.

Daily Wine News: Compare & Contrast

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-28-2022

“Visiting European wine regions is always so illuminating for me, as someone who spends a lot of time in California wineries. On the surface, more or less, things tend to look the same: European grapes look like American grapes. Their wineries use the same kinds of stainless steel tanks that we do, and barrels emblazoned with the same familiar seals. But below the surface, some fundamental differences separate American wineries from European ones…” Esther Mobley explores some of those differences in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Those who adore Sherry love its complexity and diversity. And now innovation is making it even more fascinating, bringing in the region’s unfortified wines and other styles that cannot (yet) be termed “sherry.” Natasha Hughes explores the revolution happening in Jerez in Decanter.

For Wine-Searcher, Vicki Denig looks at the pros and cons of picking grapes early, an increasing consequence of climate change.

As Elaine Chukan Brown reports on JancisRobinson.com, Maryland wine is finally finding its footing.

Virginia wines deserve a place at the table, says Forbes contributor Lana Bortolot.

The Wall Street Journal’s Lettie Teague has noticed more and more people being stuck in a wine rut and asks: Should we be working harder to get outside our comfort zone?

In Wine Enthusiast, Mike DeSimone explores Spain’s Jumilla wine region. “If Jumilla literally exists in the shadow of the castle, it figuratively exists in its own shadow as the producer of inexpensive bulk wines as well as the shadow of more famous wine regions to the north. Here the main grape is Monastrell, a rich, juicy red variety…”

Daily Wine News: Agroforestry

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-27-2022

“Before mechanization, European vineyards often incorporated orchards. Under modern monocropping, however, agroforestry fell away. With the need to address climate pressures and growing interest in sustainability, the practice is coming back.” In SevenFifty Daily, Betsy Andrews reports on how winegrowers are using trees, hedgerows, and habitats to mitigate climate change, helping not just the environment, but also the health of their vines.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Jess Lander reports on a federal investigation that’s revealed tension across California vineyards over visa program for farmworkers. “The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that Lodi’s Vino Farms violated federal law by giving better wages and hours to workers in the H-2A program than workers already living in the U.S. The investigation just concluded with Vino Farms needing to pay roughly $55,000 in lost wages for shortchanging 14 Sonoma County workers, in addition to $21,000 in civil money penalties.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Matt Kettman profiles the winemakers behind some of America’s most popular wines. “These winemakers might serve the most critical role in American wine: producing bottles that can be enjoyed every day, introducing new wine consumers to the market and educating the next generation who come up through their ranks. They’re also on the leading edge of innovation, with the expansive budgets and expendable batches required to test new technologies, develop their own and share their research with everyone else.”

What makes Burgundy so desirable? Emily Saladino looks into the economic and ephemeral factors behind the region’s rise in Food & Wine.

Dread over fires and excessive heat has turned to euphoria for Bordeaux producers as the 2022 harvest has rolled out, reports Margaret Rand in Wine-Searcher.

In Sonoma Magazine, Sarah Doyle highlights Sonoma wineries leaning into rare varieties.

And in New Jersey Monthly, I share some love for Merlot.