Daily Wine News: Power Dynamics

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-03-2020

On Tim Atkin’s website, Giles Fallowfield asks: Who holds the balance of power in Champagne? It seems the balance of power in Champagne, on which the health of the appellation depends, has swung noticeably in favor of the major houses. Since 2009 the percentage of the harvest sold by the growers to the houses to produce their brands has risen steadily from 55% to 63.5% in 2019, a trend that has worrying implications if it continues.”

What does it mean for a wine to taste like it’s “supposed to”? asks Esther Mobley in her weekly San Francisco Chronicle newsletter. “Typicity may sound like a philosophical concept — a “how should a wine be?” kind of thing — but it has very practical applications, too… Lately, though, it’s become fashionable in California to throw varietal typicity to the wind.”

The Wine & Spirits Magazine team highlights Rising Black Voices in Wine.

A long-lost white wine, Nascetta, is re-emerging in the Piedmont’s Novello village. “From nothing 27 years ago, 12 Novello wineries now make Nascetta,” says Robert Camuto in Wine Spectator.

“Washington gained its 15th appellation September 2nd, with the approval of the Royal Slope, the U.S.’s latest American Viticultural Area (AVA),” reports Sean P. Sullivan in Wine Enthusiast.

In Meininger’s, award-winning sommelier André Hueston Mack offers his thoughts on the future of somm culture, post-Covid-19.

In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sam Wood reports that NJ’s largest wine and spirits wholesalers—Allied Beverage Group and Fedway Associates—will each pay $4 million each for unfair trade scheme, plus other Philadelphia-area retailers will also pay penalties.

Daily Wine News: Petite Sirah’s Makeover

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-02-2020

Photo courtesy of Mountain Tides Wine Co.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley explores how Napa’s Mountain Tides Wine Co. is giving the unpopular Petite Sirah a makeover. “They’re an example of the gradual lightening of California wine that’s taken place over the last 15 years — moving from bigger flavors and textures to subtler ones. But Mountain Tides is doing more than just following that trend. It also represents the willingness to explore a grape variety in a way that had never been done before, a rebellion against the conventional wisdom of what Petite Sirah is supposed to be.”

In Decanter, Chris Mercer delves into Stalin’s Wine Cellar, a new book that charts how an Australian merchant followed a tip-off and embarked on a quest to find a secret wine cellar that was purportedly once owned by Tsar Nicholas II and Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Wine grapes are under threat from a combination of climate change and a rising backlash again the use of fungicides. In Meininger’s, Robert Joseph looks at the thorny question of hybrids and wonders if there isn’t a better solution.

On JancisRobinson.com, Max Allen reports on how smoke taint and a pandemic have forced Australian winemakers to adapt and innovate. (subscription req.)

In Grape Collective, Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher talk to Bruliam Wines’ Kerith Overstreet about harvesting in a pandemic.

In Wine Enthusiast, Roger Morris explores red and white grape wine blends.

Also in Wine Enthusiast, Jim Gordon offers a guide to making wine at home.

Daily Wine News: California’s Wildfires

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-01-2020

“I came to Napa Valley a year and a half ago to pursue my passion for wine on the pretext of the California Dream. My job, as a wine educator for a high-end winery, should be one of the best around. But I might have moved here at the worst time in recent history,” writes Olivia L. Eckerson in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. “The winery I work for has been closed for a week because of bad air quality and its location in an evacuation zone. When we reopen, who will want to visit?”

California’s wildfires came at the worst time for the wine industry. Elin McCoy looks at how they’re impacting harvest in Bloomberg.

In VinePair, Jess Lander reports on the organizations mobilizing to protect vineyard workers from Covid-19 during this year’s harvest.

Robert Joseph looks at the unstoppable rise of the rosé category in Meininger’s. “It is impossible to say how much the popularity of these rosés and the ones that followed benefitted from the general pink trend, or vice versa. What is clear is that Instagram lay at the heart of the pink phenomenon.”

In the Oregon Wine Press, Sophia McDonald surveys a number of Oregon producers using wine as a tool for supporting social justice organizations.

Dorothy J. Gaiter highlights ten Black drinks innovators to watch in SevenFifty Daily.

In Wine-Searcher, Alex Russan delves into the history of wine’s changing flavors.

Brad Pitt unveils ‘Fleur de Miraval’ Rosé Champagne after five years of production, reports Wine Spectator.

Daily Wine News: An Ideal Summer Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-31-2020

Vermentino (Wikimedia)

Vermentino is the ideal summer wine that not nearly enough people know about, says Lettie Teague in the Wall Street Journal. (subscription req.)

In Wine-Searcher, Tom Hyland makes a case for still needing classic Barolo. “…with this newfound attention to Barolo from such in-demand sites as Cannubi, Brunate and Monvigliero (there are more than 160 of these recognized areas known as MGA in the production zone), it’s easy to forget that, for about a century, Barolo was a wine that was all about blending fruit from various sites.”

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected wine habits? Don Kavanagh investigates using search data from Wine-Searcher. “Despite the huge upheavals in the wine world since March, and the countless breathless news stories telling us about the “new normal”, what people are looking for hasn’t really changed. Yes, the shift to ordering and buying online has been a big shift, and the closure of many places where people could previously gather socially has significantly changed consumption habits, but there has been very little change in what people are looking for…”

“Australia’s winemakers have been hit by a second Chinese government probe, as trade tensions between the countries escalate,” reports Ainslie Chandler in Bloomberg.

After revisiting the country after two decades, Tim Atkin MW reflects on the remarkable progress made by Uruguay’s winemakers in Decanter.

In Wine Enthusiast, Zoe Baillargeon looks at how brewers are now embracing amphorae.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre offers tips for where to find bargains on quality California wines.

Daily Wine News: Harvest Struggles

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-28-2020

(Flickr: KBJPhoto)

In Wine Spectator, Aaron Romano delves into the many ways wildfires and the coronavirus have added to harvest struggles, as concerns over weather, labor and grape supplies loom for California wineries.

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray reports on the many unhealthy choices vineyard workers are facing amid Covid-19 and wildfires in California.

In Decanter, Jane Anson looks at how vineyard and winemaking decisions have changed the style at three top Bordeaux châteaux in the 21st century, arguing that the romantic idea of terroir as an unchanging slice of earth ignores the reality that it is a managed ecosystem. (subscription req.)

French consumers are notoriously unwilling to countenance foreign wines. But, says Sophie Kevany in Meininger’s, Prosecco is changing that.

In the Wall Street Journal, James R. Hagerty remembers Barry Sterling, the corporate lawyer who founded Iron Horse Vineyards in Sonoma County, who died on July 26. (subscription req.)

In Forbes, Rebecca Ann Hughes reports on the €6 million worth of storm damage in Valpolicella.

Antonio Galloni offers his impressions of Champagne’s new releases in Vinous.

The Guardian’s Fiona Beckett highlights summer wines to enjoy before autumn sets in.

Daily Wine News: Smoke Taint

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-27-2020

Smoke taint on grapes may mean almost no wine to make in 2020, Sonoma vintner Noah Dorrance tells Esther Mobley in the San Francisco Chronicle. Mobley is also keeping track of all the wildfires news and how it’s impacting

Mobley also reports that wine scion Angelina Mondavi has acquired Sojourn Cellars, the well regarded producer of single-vineyard Sonoma County Pinot Noir, following her purchase in January of the historic winery building that had formerly housed Zinfandel icon Ravenswood.

“California winegrape growers who have crop insurance may be screwed this year by an odd loophole regarding smoke taint,” says W. Blake Gray, who delves into the fine print in Wine-Searcher.

In Wine Spectator, MaryAnn Worobiec sits down with Marcia Jones to discuss her passion for wine, her current work on a documentary film and book, the Black Winemakers Scholarship Fund and how to bring more people into wine.

Anne Krebiehl offers a guide to Pinot Noir clones around the world in Wine Enthusiast.

Emma Dibdin highlights seven podcasts about wine, beer and cocktails in the New York Times.

Also in the New York Times, photojournalist Mónica R. Goya shares shots from Canary Islands vineyards at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Daily Wine News: Worker Exploitation

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-26-2020

In Grape Collective, Monty Waldin explains why he believes wine certifications don’t go far enough when it comes to worker rights. “As an industry we should demand stricter guidelines regarding the health, safety and well-being of vineyard workers, many of whom have non-fixed contracts, minimal insurance, the barest of employment rights, making them expendable… Worker exploitation is the dirty secret that our industry is turning a blind eye to. Wine journalists mostly exist in a symbiotic relationship with the wine producers and regional wine marketing associations. Most editorial efforts are directed at ratings and service journalism as the advertising from wineries and trade organizations keep the lights on at the major wine magazines. Very little work has been done on advocating for worker rights.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Virginie Boone reports on how the wildfires in California are impacting the 2020 harvest.

Bordeaux winemakers have seen one of the earliest starts to harvest in recent memory, reports Chris Mercer in Decanter.

Alder Yarrow highlights two canned wines “that are worth a damn,” and urges you to donate to the 2020 Wine Country Fire Relief fund.

In Wine Spectator, Taylor McBride chats with sommelier, vintner and author André Mack about his unique introduction and approach to all things wine.

Elsewhere in Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto publishes a two-part series about Alto Adige’s Alois Lageder. (Part 1 and Part 2.)

In PUNCH, Robert Simonson and Jon Bonné revisit—and rewrite—the drink predictions they made for a year that didn’t exactly go as planned.

Daily Wine News: Champagne’s Woes

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-25-2020

Source: Wikimedia

In Wine-Searcher, Caroline Henry reports on Champagne’s 2020 struggles. “The 2020 vintage is one of the smallest in the past 50 years and is just shy of 22 percent lower than the 10,200 kg/ha of 2019, mirroring Champagne’s 2020 sales woes; during the first six month of the year, the region saw its sales shrink by 29.4 percent, which amounts to a sales loss of 32 million bottles.”

Jackson Family Wines buys Australia’s Giant Steps Winery, adding single-vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from Victoria to the company’s portfolio, reports Wine Spectator.

For Swaay, Washington winemaker Ashley Trout shares what she’s learned as a woman winery owner. “Nationwide, women only make up 8% of winemakers. Furthermore, while 47% of male winemakers own their wineries, only 4% of women winemakers do. Winemaking being a male-dominated industry bears no influence on what I love about it.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Michael Schachner delves into the winemaking innovation happening in Chile’s Maipo Valley.

In SevenFifty Daily, Courtney Schiessl offers tips on rebuilding your restaurant’s wine program.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre explains what to look for when searching for food-friendly wines.

On Jeb Dunnuck’s site, R.H. Drexel pair’s The Joe Rogan Experience podcast with wines.

Daily Wine News: Wildfires Rage On

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-24-2020

Big Basin Vineyards

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley reports that top Santa Cruz Mountains winery Big Basin Vineyards survived the fires, but owner Bradley Brown’s home was destroyed.

Felicity Carter does a deep die into the many, verifiably false claims of “clean wine” companies in VinePair.

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov explores German wines beyond Riesling. “It wasn’t that long ago that a great wine homogenization seemed to be occurring around the world. Countries like Italy and Spain, rich with traditional wines, seemed to reject their indigenous grape varieties in favor of internationally known grapes like cabernet sauvignon, merlot and chardonnay… Along with a new cast of grapes, looking at Germany’s diversity also requires a new look at its wine geography beyond the quintet of prime riesling regions: Mosel, Rheingau, Pfalz, Nahe and Rheinhessen.”

As South Africa lifts the ban on wine sales, many vintners fear it’s too late. Alexandra Wexler reports on the expected lasting damage in the Wall Street Journal.

Vicki Denig on the rise of low-intervention winemaking in Wine-Searcher.

Elsewhere in the New York Times, Kellen Browning reports on the scene in Napa and Sonoma Counties as wildfires rage on.

Ted Loos welcomes Beaujolais’s return in the Robb Report.

Daily Wine News: Wine Enthusiast Announces 40 Under 40 List

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-20-2020

Tahiirah Habibi, part of Wine Enthusiast’s 2020 40 Under 40 list

Wine Enthusiast announces their annual 40 Under 40 Tastemakers list. “This year’s list includes sommeliers who use wine as a bridge between cultures, brewers who are building awareness of racial injustice and the founder of a nonprofit advocacy organization for restaurant workers that has raised millions in coronavirus relief funds for hospitality professionals. It also includes people who have hands-on roles in creating wines for big-name producers, whether in the vineyard or the winery.”

“Many fields have an expected career trajectory, a staircase that usually starts in college and continues until you arrive at the proverbial top. In reality, however, there’s never just one path, especially in wine.” Elsewhere in Wine Enthusiast, I highlight a handful of winemakers, importers, and retailers who found success in their wine careers after 40.

In Wine Spectator, Aaron Romano reports on the wildfires in Napa, Sonoma, Santa Cruz and Santa Lucia that are threatening wineries, vineyards and thousands of homes.

As Bollinger launches a straight Pinot Noir Champagne, Margaret Rand asks why they are rarely labeled Blanc de Noirs in Wine-Searcher.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants you to drink more riesling.

On his Good Vitis blog, Aaron Menenberg explores Washington State’s white wines.

Shannon Ridge Family of Wines has acquired Steele Winery from winemaker Jed Steele in a deal that includes the brand, the 23-acre property and 2,500 tons of crush capacity, reports Cyril Penn on WineBusiness.com.