Daily Wine News: Loss & Resiliency

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-14-2020

Australian winemaker Taras Ochota, “bass-playing, surfer dude of the Adelaide Hills,” has died, reports Rupert Millar in the Drinks Business. On Imbibe.com, Chris Losh also reflects on Ochota’s life.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley reports that Dolores Cakebread, who helped turn Napa Valley into a food and wine destination, has died at age 90.

Scientists and vintners are exploring using UV lights, now being employed in HVAC systems to reduce the threat of COVID-19, as a weapon against mildew in vineyards. Lynn Alley reports on some of the findings in Wine Spectator.

In the Buyer, Amber Gardner explores what it’s like being a woman working as a sommelier in hospitality and the wine industry. “I am 32 years old with eight years in the wine industry. I still suffer from Imposter Syndrome. I often wonder why this is… I realize that I am not, and never will be, part of the inner club of wine – the boys’ club – that still dominates the wine industry.”

In Forbes, Kate Dingwall looks at how the digital world is transforming wine in 2020.

Blake Gray takes a trip to Napa Valley to see the wildfire damage, and reports on his findings in Wine-Searcher. “America needs Napa Valley wine. I don’t like to admit it, but I need it too.”

Dick Snyder reports on how an antiquated tax system is killing Ontario’s wineries.

In Decanter, James Button shares some highlights from Italy’s 2020 harvest.

Daily Wine News: New Times

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-13-2020

(Source: Wikimedia)

In Wine Enthusiast, Virginie Boone reports on the “record-setting devastation” in Napa. “Recent years have been disastrous, but 2020 seems to know no bounds. It surpassed 2018’s record-setting destruction in just four weeks of blazes this summer… For those who have lived in the Napa Valley for decades, these are new times indeed.”

Also in Wine Enthusiast, Anne Krebiehl looks at the winemakers behind England’s sparkling future.

In VinePair, Jess Lander reports on how winemakers are repurposing smoke-tainted grapes from the wildfires.

The Silicon Valley Bank Annual State of the Industry Survey is open now until October 30.

“A former wine and liquor distributor was sentenced to 24 months in prison on Friday for using the show “Shark Tank” as part of a scheme to defraud investors,” reports CNN. “Joseph Falcone, 60, formerly operated the 3G’s VINO LLC, a wine and liquor distributor based in Bethpage and Farmingdale, New York. Among other products, 3G’s distributed a single-serving wine in a sealed glass, which had previously been featured on an episode of the reality pitch show “Shark Tank,” according to a federal information.”

Jancis Robinson encourages readers to buy South African wine to help support the country’s restricted wine industry. “So, what’s the good news about South African wine? The sheer beauty of it, that’s what. It must be almost unimaginably frustrating for the producers of these gorgeous, often underpriced liquids not to be able to sell them unfettered.”

In SevenFifty Daily, Alex Russan looks at how winemakers craft “clean” natural wines that aren’t marked by volatile acidity, Brett, or mousiness.

Daily Wine News: Pondering Napa

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-12-2020

(Source: Visit Napa Valley)

“Economic reports done for Napa Valley Vintners over the past decade have estimated that agriculture, wine and related activities account directly and indirectly for two-thirds of the county’s full-time jobs,” writes Barry Eberling in the Napa Valley Register. “That’s something to celebrate or worry about—or both.”

For Club Oenologique, Alder Yarrow wonders how Napa Valley can survive intact after facing the reality of an annual wildfire season.

When Italian winemaker Valentina Passalacqua became embroiled in controversy, her former supporters quickly turned their backs. In Meininger’s, Simon Woolf investigates, and says it’s the natural wine world that needs to answer some questions.

In Wine-Searcher, Margaret Rand considers the impact of irrigation on terroir in a world where drought is an increading threat to architecture. “The argument about irrigation is an argument about terroir. It may be expressed as an argument over flavors, but it’s about terroir, and what a proper expression of terroir should be. Winemakers are both the best people to ask about that, and the worst.”

Also in Wine-Searcher, Tom Jarvis recalls how Oz Clarke’s 1991 book, New Classic Wines, guided him into the wine trade, and looks at how the book has aged.

“Why wait for someone to die to celebrate their life? Why not beat the drum while their heart is still beating some of that fine red Italian blood?” says Alfonso Cevola on his blog. “Which brings us to a figure whose life in Abruzzo has most definitely left its mark for the better. That person is celebrating his 90th birthday, Dino Illuminati.”

VinePair explains the three-tier system and why you can’t get some wines or craft spirits shipped to certain states.

Daily Wine News: Overcoming Obstacles

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-09-2020

Vineyard in Lebanon. (Source: Wines from Lebanon)

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov offers notes on the most recent Wine School— Northern Rhône Reds—and announces what’s up next: reds from Lebanon. “…few places in the world have faced the onslaught of obstacles that have challenged the wine industry of Lebanon… The Lebanese wine industry has had to demonstrate its resilience for decades, most famously navigating through 15 years of civil war. When the war ended in 1990, just five wineries were operating in Lebanon. As of 2018 there were roughly 50.”

Wine Business looks at the gender pay gap in the wine industry.

In Vinous, Joaquín Hidalgo reflects on how the Argentine wine industry has changed in the past 20 years.

As the world learns to live with coronavirus, James Lawrence wonders in Wine-Searcher, what impact has it had on wine prices? “There are winners and losers: smaller brands formerly reliant on the restaurant industry are rushing to develop direct-to-consumer networks. Online retailers are generally optimistic and certain brands report an uplift in sales (when compared to the same period in 2019). The important caveat is that many jobs are still supported by furlough schemes: these are likely to remain in place until 2021 in many European countries.”

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre covers the wine industry programs that aim to diversify “a stuffy white boys’ club.”

The Los Angeles Times looks at how a trio of winemakers are harvesting 250-year-old vines at San Gabriel Mission.

In Grape Collective, Christopher Barnes talks to South African winemaker Paul Cluver about his journey from growing apples to Pinot Noir.

Daily Wine News: Representation

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-08-2020

When it comes to representation in wine, whose stories get told? Paso Robles winemaker Edgar Torres explores the answer through his own experience in Wine Enthusiast. “This business has been hard, but it’s been harder to realize that I now have a duty to share the story of my success with other Mexicans and people of color to help them envision an alternate path and to help challenge the stereotypes in my industry.”

On his blog, Jamie Goode discusses the future of wine criticism, and asks whether traditionalists might resist the journey into the sunlit uplands of life unrestricted by the 100-point ceiling.

In Forbes, Alex Ledsom reports on how some Bordeaux wine producers are utilizing bats to help reduce pests in vineyards.

In Meininger’s, Michèle Shah explores the evolution of Maremma in Tuscany, “one of Italy’s most promising wine regions.”

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague highlights “5 intimidating wines that are actually easy to love.” (subscription req.)

In Decanter, Sylvia Wu explores the importance of grafting in the vineyard.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, reviews the book, Wine and the White House: A History by Frederick J. Ryan, Jr.

Daily Wine News: Indigenous Indifference

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-07-2020

Emerging regions are regularly encouraged to lead with their indigenous grapes. In Meininger’s, Robert Joseph says this could be a mistake. “There are lessons to be learned from comparing the ancient regions of Greece, which focused on their own varieties and remained in a niche, and Sicily where Planeta earned international recognition – and sales – with versions of Bordeaux and Chardonnay before introducing an increasingly broad market to its Nero d’Avola, Frappato and Grecanico.”

An estimated 80% of Napa vineyards may have been affected by the Glass Fire, reports Elin McCoy in Bloomberg. “Those in the south of Napa, from sub-regions such as Pritchard Hill, Stags Leap, and Mount Veeder may be all right.”

According to WineBusiness.com, the price of bulk Napa Cabernet, as one might expect, is higher than it was a few weeks ago.

Winery and vineyard owners have been through hell this year. How will they recover? Kathleen Willcox takes a look in Wine-Searcher.

In Wine Spectator, Robert Camuto meets with “Burgundy underdog” Jean-Marc Vincent, who leads a new generation of producers in Santenay.

In Wine Enthusiast, Kathleen Willcox highlights Cab Franc wines from five East Coast wine producers.

In PUNCH, Jessica Hernandez looks at Japan’s first foray into vermouth: the botanical-infused, sake-based formula, Oka Kura Bermutto.

Daily Wine News: Lasting Effects

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-06-2020

Flickr: Ren Kuo

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov considers the deep toll fires have taken on California’s Wine Country. “The damage to wineries cannot be tallied simply by adding up the cost to rebuild. It goes much deeper than that… What’s bottled is not just a beverage, but a legacy of the people who grew the grapes and made the wine, a snapshot of their thoughts, their emotions and their labor as they seek to convey the character and personality of a place through the wine. To lose a vintage, much less a vineyard, is devastating.”

In VinePair, Sally Tunmer explores clarete. “Native to northern Spain, primarily Ribera del Duero and Cigales, clarete is a wine that exists within its own distinct category. It’s not a red, a white, or a rosé — it is clarete.”

“Will 2019 be the breakthrough vintage for German wine?” asks Jancis Robinson. “Could it persuade Riesling-phobes to abandon their prejudices?”

Michelle Williams explores Argentina’s Uco Valley in Wine-Searcher. “Some 30 years ago, a handful of winemakers independently dared to look beyond Mendoza to an untamed land without roads, electricity, and irrigation; undaunted by these obstacles, they were determined to fulfill a viticultural destiny in unity with the mountains to create the best wines of Argentina.”

Beaujolais has reported that 2020 represented a “vintage of extremes,” according to the Drinks Business.

In Fortune Magazine, Rachel King says now is the time to start aging your wine collection.

Buyers who took a chance on Robert Parker’s ‘Magical 20’ Bordeaux wines from the 2009 vintage would be looking at average gains of 40% today, according to Liv-ex.

Daily Wine News: Prejudices & Stereotypes

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-05-2020

In VinePair, Vincent Moten on what it’s like to be a black man working in wine. “As a colleague, let me say to other wine professionals: It’s time to let go of your tired prejudices. Black men don’t just drink sweet wines, or cheap wines. Speaking from my experience facilitating wine tasting events, Black men do drink a broad range of wines. We are hungry to explore the world of wine; we just need wine professionals who are willing to take the time to explain it, in the same way that’s afforded to white customers.”

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley provides updates on the Glass Fire, including that it has now damaged 17 Napa Valley wineries, and that winery employees double as the majority of the region’s volunteer firefighters.

Wine Spectator reports that some vintners in Calistoga, Spring Mountain and Howell Mountain have been able to inspect the Glass fire’s damage, but the blazes continue as they try to salvage harvest.

It’s time to kill gender stereotypes in wine, says Vicki Denig in Wine-Searcher.

Should producers trouble to find out who, exactly drinks the wine they make? In Meininger’s, Robert Joseph says they should.

Kerin O’Keefe offers a guide to the indigenous white grapes of Sicily in Wine Enthusiast.

In Forbes, Lana Bortolot and John Foy say Lambrusco is the perfect summer-into-fall transition wine.

Wine Reviews: Napa Valley Reds

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 10-03-2020

My heart is breaking as I follow from afar the news of more fires in California. The impacts of the Glass Fire that continues to devastate Napa are tragic and overwhelming. The scale of the destruction of life, property, livelihoods seems impossible to imagine. My sincerest thoughts and wishes for safety are with all of the people affected by this and other fires.

While there are so many more immediate concerns and ways to support those affected, it seems to be as good a time as any to buy some Napa wine and raise a glass to their safety. This week, in a spirit of support for the people who make Napa Valley wine possible, I have a round-up of some recent Napa red wine releases.

Sullivan, under new ownership since 2018, was founded by Jim O’Neill Sullivan in 1972. This Rutherford estate offers up two exciting reds in this report.

Calla Lilly Estate also brings a pair of delicious wines. This Pope Valley estate was founded by two Hong Kong-based entrepreneurs, who sought out winemaker Cary Gott. The 20 acres of vineyards reside on the eastern slopes of Howell Mountain. The 2015 vintage of their Audax is really something.

La Pelle is a Napa project that brings together Israeli-born winemaker Maayan Koschitzky, Mexican-born farmer and winemaker Miguel Luna, and American-born farmer and founder of Silverado Farming Company, Peter Richmond. I’ll let their wines speak for themselves.

Shafer is a Napa stalwart that needs to introduction. Their TD-9 continues to deliver deep, Napa goodness for a reasonable price, while the Relentless Syrah lives up to its name.

All of these wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: The Wine Aroma Wheel

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-02-2020

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague delves into the history of the Wine Aroma Wheel. “First published in 1984 by Ann C. Noble, a sensory scientist at the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis, the Wine Aroma Wheel is rather unprepossessing in appearance for such an influential tool.”

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley reports on how Napa’s Spring Mountain has avoided fires for years—and how it wasn’t as lucky this year.

A new fire has broken out in Napa County near Oakville and Yountville, reports CBS Bay Area, which has been dubbed the Campbell Fire.

In Wine Enthusiast, Danielle Beurteaux looks at how smoke-tainted wine grapes are finding new purpose in craft spirits. “While this might all sound like cold comfort for those currently faced with devastating wildfires, it also presents an interesting case study as winemakers continue to adapt to climate change.”

Jesse Newman and Donald Morrison report on the devastation in the heart of California’s wine industry in the Wall Street Journal.

On JancisRobinson.com, Alder Yarrow explores how Red Mountain, the tiny appellation in Washington State, won its enviable reputation.

In the Buyer, Justin Keay puts the renaissance of Moldovan wine into a socio-political context.