Daily Wine News: Cheers to Champagne

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 02-12-2021

Flickr, Jérôme-.

A growing number of Champagne producers are launching direct-to-consumer portals in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic in a bid to increase their online sales, reports James Lawrence in the Drinks Business.

Reuters profiles Marie-Ines Romelle, the Black entrepreneur now running her own Champagne label, in partnership with a local vineyard, which has found a market among customers of Caribbean origin who want a brand that reflects their connections with the region. “To the best of her knowledge, she is the only Black producer of champagne, a strictly regulated designation that is reserved exclusively for people making the sparkling wine in the Champagne region of northeast France.”

On his blog, Jamie Goode considers the traditional method, and how it has enabled Champagne to shed the complication of vintage variation. “In the marketplace, having a non-vintage wine means that each year you don’t have to sell afresh the new vintage to your customers, which is a big advantage to the Champagne houses. They can just keep ordering.”

In the Wall Street Journal, wine columnist Lettie Teague explores the individuality of grower Champagne. (subscription req.)

Jordan Michelman offers a guide to grower Champagne in Eater.

In Food & Wine, Jaime Brown highlights 15 programs that support a more diverse wine, beer and spirits industry.

In Sprudge, Alexander Gable writes extensively about Josko Gravner, Friuli, and his amber wines. “Josko Gravner is a man driven by belief… His work is now synonymous with quality, and the orange wines he makes have in turn inspired a generation of winemakers around the world.”

On his site, Tim Atkin details “the trouble” with China. “The bright lights and thrusting skyscrapers of Shanghai are seductive; at its best, China has an undeniable sense of energy. But that energy is built on an appalling, infrequently acknowledged truth.”

Daily Wine News: Lifting Up

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 02-11-2021

In VinePair, Zach Geballe talk to Rania Zayyat and Cara Bertone of “Lift Collective, a platform designed to bring access and equality to the wine industry for marginalized peoples of all types, by offering discussion, mentorship, and scholarship opportunities to those who have traditionally not been represented by or within the wine industry. It’s Wonder Women of Wine, with a wider lens and a greater ambition.”

U.S. tariffs and coronavirus restrictions that shut restaurants, bars and airport duty-free stores in many countries wiped 13.9% off the revenues of French wine and spirits exporters last year, industry group FEVS said.

As both climatic and pandemic conditions continue to change, securing solid contracts is growing more important in the wine business. Kathleen Willcox looks at the implications in Wine-Searcher.

Gallo sues St. Helena’s Long Meadow Ranch over breach of wine grape contract, reports Sarah Klearman in the Napa Valley Register.

In Wine Enthusiast, J’Nai Gaither explores the story of Zinfandel, the Croatian grape that found success in America.

Jancis Robinson offers her impressions of Austria’s “lovely” 2019s. (subscription req.)

In Decanter, Jane Anson reports on the how the Sauternes 2001 wines are holding up. (subscription req.)

Daily Wine News: Monopolies

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 02-10-2021

(Source: Wikimedia)

In Wine-Searcher, Natalie Sellers considers the pros and cons of wine monopolies. “Any reasonable cynic will conclude that the real reason alcohol monopolies prevail, moralistic concerns for public health aside, is that they are often – although not always – lovely little money spinners for states, governments and councils the world over as well as giving the powers that be copious amounts of control. Arguably, it is the consumer who pays the ultimate price for business monopolies, particularly when it comes to booze.”

Wine Opinions conducted surveys at the end of 2020 to measure the impact of personal financial conditions. Read the results—and their implications for the wine industry—here.

Wine sales have spiked at convenience stores, reports W. Blake Gray on WineBusiness.com. “Growing this market might be a simple matter of convincing more independent convenience stores to give wine a try.”

Chemical analysis of Malbec wines from more than 20 vineyard sites in Mendoza has shown how terroir exerts its influence across different vintages, says a new study. Chris Mercer has the details in Decanter.

In Wine Enthusiast, Lawrence Grabowski considers how Russia helped shape Champagne.

In SevenFifty Daily, Daniel Ng tracks the career transitions of three somms.

The Robb Report highlights the excellence of Oregon sparkling wines in advance of Valentine’s Day.

Daily Wine News: Regeneration

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 02-09-2021

In Civil Eats, Annelise Jolley reports on the grape growers committed to regenerating and conserving California’s biodiversity. “Grapevines cover 635,000 acres in California—nearly double the size of the crop in the state in 1990. Given this scale, a commitment to growing grapes to boost biodiversity can produce a number of environmental benefits, as threats to the land—including urbanization, clearing, and climate change—intensify.”

In TRINK, Susan H. Gordon considers the importance of cooperation (and co-ops) in Alto Adige.

In Wine Enthusiast, Rebecca Toy delves into the story about how Saint Valentine (sort of) saved French wine.

In Grape Collective, Lisa Denning looks at the impact of biodynamic winemakers in Alsace.

In the Buyer, Simon Woolf shares the ups, downs, and other realities of wine book publishing.

Tom Wark offers his thoughts on “the deception and duplicity necessary to defend the three-tier system.”

In the Daily Beast, Victoria James talks to New York sommelier Madeline Maldonado about dealing with hurricanes, racism and now a pandemic.

On the blog for First Vine, Tom Natan tastes an old bottle of Cognac and reflects on old standards—lead bottle foil!—and cherishes old memories of a lost relative.

Daily Wine News: Forward Thinking

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 02-08-2021

In Wine Enthusiast, Roger Voss and Kathleen Buckley report on Bordeaux’s move to allow new grape varieties. “Estimates are for two to eight acres of these new varieties to be planted per participating producer. Who will plant what and where is completely voluntary. There is no special funding for these plantings, making them a business expense for vineyard owners. The new varieties are limited to 5% of a producer’s planted vineyard area and cannot account for more than 10% of a final blend.”

In TRINK, Meg Maker embarks on a quest for the true lineage of Austria’s St. Laurent.

In the Northforker, Lenn Thompson debunks three myths about Long Island wine.

With ever-increasing prices and sales, reports of Burgundy’s demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated. Matthew O’Connell, head of investment for Bordeaux Index, takes a look at the numbers in Club Oenologique.

In Quench, Treve Ring looks at how the booming Cava category led to the birth of the Association of Wine Producers and Growers Corpinnat. “Each Corpinnat producer was forced to formally leave the DO Cava, as the Regulatory Board considers both brands incompatible on one label. Corpinnat producers are no longer allowed to use the terms Cava, Paraje Calificado or Gran Reserva on their bottles.”

Antonio Galloni offers a 2018 Tuscany preview on Vinous.

Jancis Robinson explores age-worthy white wines.

Daily Wine News: New Year, Same Problems for Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 02-05-2021

(Flickr: ajroder)

“It’s a new year, and there’s a new administration in Washington, but the American wine industry remains tangled in the same set of thorny problems: Covid-19, government tariffs and climate change.” In the New York Times, Eric Asimov elaborates on the problems wine is already facing in 2021.

In Bon Appétit, Kyla Peal talks about how her wine education hub, Slik Wines, came to be, and what she’s learning about her community and herself. “Our conversation progressed to what we knew was missing in the wine world and in fine dining—diversity, equity, and inclusion—and how we could develop a platform to support the wine and hospitality community.”

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre reports on the ways sommeliers have been forced to pivot their careers during the pandemic.

Liza B. Zimmerman considers the implications of Uber’s takeover of Drizly for retailers and consumers in Wine-Searcher.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley explores California aperitifs.

In Decanter, Chris Mercer speaks to CJ McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers about his winemaking project with Adelsheim Vineyard in Oregon and how he became part of the NBA’s renowned wine scene.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague offers tips on where to find the best Cabernet Sauvignon under $25. (subscription req.)

Daily Wine News: Biodynamic in Austria

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 02-04-2021

Grüner Veltliner being harvested at a biodynamic vineyard. (Wikimedia)

In Wine Enthusiast, Anne Krebiehl profiles the Austrian winemakers at the forefront of a biodynamic farming revolution. “Some of the country’s winemakers realized 40 years ago that farming methods had to change… Austria has long had biodynamic pioneers. They blazed the trail and are now making wines of astonishing beauty and depth.”

“The EU seems to have made an overture to US President Joe Biden to drop all tariffs on all sides,” reports W. Blake Gray in Wine-Searcher. “This would include 25 percent US tariffs on most wines from France and Germany as well as wines under 14 percent alcohol from Spain. It would also include EU tariffs on American whiskey, rum and other spirits.”

Pix, the wine discovery platform set to launch in Spring 2021, has appointed Felicity Carter as Executive Editor. Carter is leaving her post as editor-in-chief of Meininger’s to work with Erica Duecy at Pix.

In Atlas Obscura, Reina Gattuso on the battle to bottle palm wine. “If you hunt hard enough, you can find the odd bottle of imported palm wine, such as Ghana’s Nkulenu brand, in a few specialty stores in the United States. But the beverage hasn’t been widely distributed, and even in countries where it is produced, such as Nigeria and India, efforts to commercialize it remain smaller scale.”

“Brits snap up Australian wine that didn’t go to China,” reports BBC News.

In Bloomberg, Ivan Levingston reports on the wine app, Vivino, and how it’s raised $155 million, fueled by the pandemic, to expand into new countries.

In Club Oenologique, Guy Woodward explores how the cellar masters of Louis XIII Cognac mentor their successors.

Daily Wine News: Cool vs. Uncool

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 02-03-2021

Wines today are prized for being “authentic”. But authenticity should relate to what’s in the glass, not the shifting sands of fashion, says Adam Lechmere in Club Oenologique. “Do you remember when Bordeaux was quite the thing? When the Médoc was the reference point for elegance and freshness? When opening a wine from one of great properties of the left or right bank in a fine vintage could be chic as well as elite? Bordeaux is still bankable of course, and there’s no gainsaying the beauty of a great wine. But in a barely perceptible twitch in the tectonic plates of international wine fashion, it’s no longer actually cool.”

South Africa’s government has relaxed a ban on alcohol sales that angered the country’s wine sector, but wineries are still under pressure as the 2021 harvest begins, reports Chris Mercer in Decanter.

“Imagine an industry, on which 290,000 lives are dependent and which generates an annual total income for the economy of R55 billion (approximately $3.6 billion), having sales of its lifeblood banned, not once but three times in less than a year.” Angela Lloyd and Lauren Buzzeo do a deep dive into the impact of South Africa’s alcohol sales ban in Wine Enthusiast. “Vinpro estimated that while many had already shut down as a result of the lockdowns, more than 80 wineries and 350 wine-grape producers would go out of business over the next 18 months, with a potential loss of more than 21,000 jobs.”

“McBride Sisters Collection, one of the largest Black-owned wine companies in the United States, created the She Can Professional Development Fund in 2019 to promote the professional advancement of women in the wine industry… Since then, the fund has grown by more than 600 percent, and will distribute $300,000 in grants to the She Can Thrive class of 2020,” reports MaryAnn Worobiec in Wine Spectator.

On the blog for First Vine, wine importer Tom Natan chronicles the delays and frustrations involved in getting shipments from Europe during Covid times.

“Napa Valley Vintners is running an online library auction starting next week that includes one of the most impressive group of Napa auction wines ever assembled,” shares W. Blake Gray in Wine-Searcher.

In the World of Fine Wine, Brian St. Pierre reviews In Vino Veritas: A Collection of Fine Wine Writing Past and Present, edited by Susan Keevil.

Daily Wine News: Honoring Clay

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 02-02-2021

Clay soil.

“We take clay, and its remarkable properties, for granted,” says Margaret Rand in Wine-Searcher. “Read anything about wine, and you’’d be forgiven for not knowing whether clay is a hero or a villain. On the one hand it doesn’t drain well, and vines like drainage… But come a hot, dry summer, and Saint-Estèphe in the Médoc will be trumpeting its advantage over more gravelly appellations: our clay held the water, they’ll say; our vines weren’t stressed, unlike theirs, poor things…”

The WSET has announced an immediate (temporary) halt to all its activities in China, including all courses and examinations. “…it has been alleged that officials are investigating whether the company holds a valid education license as it is running classes for large numbers of students. The company could possibly need to suspend its courses for at least six months.”

On Tim Atkin’s site, Donald Edwards explores how some Australian winemakers are recognizing the erasure of the contribution of Aboriginal culture. “A new generation of winemakers are facing up to the ugly truth of their colonial heritage and the realities of the white privilege from which they benefitted.”

In 5280 Magazine, Denise Michelsen and Patricia Kaowthumrong highlight the artisans leading the new age of Colorado wine.

A boom in online wine sales has created a packaging shortage that has left smaller firms struggling to send out shipments.

Jancis Robinson recommends red wine vintages to drink right now.

In Italy Magazine, Rochelle Del Borello reviews the The New Wines of Mount Etna by journalist and professional winemaker Benjamin Spencer, in which he explores the Mount Etna wine-producing area in a mixture of culinary history and guide book.

Daily Wine News: Hail Control

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 02-01-2021


Alder Yarrow reflects on the recent news that the winegrowers of Saint-Emilion will implement a “collective hail control system” in an effort to combat the effects of climate change. “There’s just one problem. Cloud seeding has long been understood to be minimally effective and almost entirely unreliable when used to produce precipitation. While there is continued academic debate about whether it really “works,” the main proof for its ineffectiveness is the lack of its widespread commercial adoption as a practice.”

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre looks at how Super Bowl champion Will Blackmon aims to break wine’s racial divide and make grapes cool and approachable to younger generations.

In Wine Enthusiast, Stacy Briscoe talks to nine women winemakers about their experiences in wine. “… crucial conversations around diversity and inclusion remain and mustn’t be overlooked. To explore how wine business hurdles, and perspectives of those encountering them, have and have not changed over time, consider the paths taken by nine very different U.S. women winemakers.”

“Wines sold in Europe are expected to require labels with calorie information as well as any additives (like tartaric acid or water) by 2022,” reports W. Blake Gray in Wine-Searcher.

Alfonso Cevola pens a love letter to Trebbiano on his blog.

In Fortune, Stephanie Cain looks at how digital sommelier Vivino is becoming a Netflix for wine.

In Grape Collective, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher tell the story of Warren Winiarski’s “Aha!” moment with Nathan Fay’s homemade wine. “Before history would unfurl the results of what were, in fact, educated and highly calculated risks, the two like-minded men became friends, and that friendship led directly to what has been called a “watershed moment in California wine history.”