Daily Wine News: Topless Wine

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

Is it time for wine to go topless? Kathleen Willcox explores the environmental implications of metallic wine capsules in Wine-Searcher.

Paso Robles-based Justin Vineyards and Winery’s owner, the Wonderful Company, is acquiring Napa’s Lewis Cellars, reports Wine Spectator.

“Lewis Cellars, an award-winning producer of high-end wines, will be the first Napa Valley winery under the ownership of the Wonderful Company, joining Justin Vineyards in Paso Robles and Landmark Vineyards in Sonoma,” reports Esther Mobley. “The Lewis Cellars property, on Big Ranch Rd. in Napa, includes a production winery but no estate vineyards.”

Aaron Ayscough explores the art of degassing wine in Wine Enthusiast. “The decision of whether to remove CO2 before bottling, and how much to remove via a process called degassing, is critical to the development of a wine’s final profile. Too much CO2 can prevent a wine from settling properly, resulting in a cloudy appearance.”

Elsewhere in Wine Spectator, Shawn Zylberberg talks to DLynn Proctor about his storied career.

In Beverage Media, Aleks Zecevic explores how Blaufränkisch is making a comeback in its native Austria and beyond.

In Decanter, Argentine winemaker Laura Catena of Bodega Catena Zapata shares her early wine memories and her hopes for the future.

Daily Wine News: Jancis Sells

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-01-2021

(Source: JancisRobinson.com)

Jancis Robinson posts an update on her site: “Conscious of my age and the need to assure an even brighter future for the site, and wanting to continue to improve it, I am delighted to announce that we have found the ideal partners to help shepherd JancisRobinson.com to its next chapter. As of today we are part of Recurrent Ventures, an innovative, US-based digital media company. I have no intention whatsoever of retiring. I shall continue to work my socks off doing the things I really enjoy: tasting and writing about wine, and travelling to the extent that is possible in this pandemic-restricted era. I just won’t have to worry about the less-interesting (to me) aspects of running the company.”

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley reports on the sale of JancisRobinson.com to Recurrent Ventures, which has a digital-media portfolio that also includes Saveur and Popular Science. “It’s not yet clear how JancisRobinson.com’s devoted following, many of whom have been drawn to the site for its personal feeling and commitment to independence, will view the new deal.”

In Wine Enthusiast, Stacy Briscoe offers an update from Spring Mountain almost a year after last fall’s Glass Fire. Elsewhere, Briscoe explores what “reductive” means in wine.

In Meininger’s, Robert Joseph sees a connection between global political trends and the evolution of the wine industry.

Rebecca Gibb explores how climate change is affecting Sancerre in Vinous.

“A winemaker in southwest France has invented and patented a new process that involves submerging wine barrels under water,” reports John Laurenson in Marketplace.


Daily Wine News: Sour Over Hybrids

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-31-2021

Jacquez, a hybrid grape. (Wikimedia)

In the New York Times, Norimitsu Onishi reports on how hardy American hybrids—which French authorities tried to outlaw for 87 years—are now giving renegade winemakers a lift as climate change and the natural wine movement change the country’s winemaking landscape. “With the growing threat of climate change and the backlash against the use of pesticides, Mr. Garnier is hoping that the forbidden grapes will be legalized and that France’s wine industry will open up to a new generation of hybrids — as Germany, Switzerland and other European nations already have.”

It’s a mainstay of Italy’s wine industry, but can Sangiovese really thrive beyond its native vineyards? In Wine-Searcher, Vicki Denig reports on how Sangiovese is struggling to gain a foothold in vineyards outside Italy.

In Wine Enthusiast, Matt Kettmann reports on California’s newest AVA—the Palos Verdes Peninsula American Viticultural Area, which was approved in June—where coastal wines are bring produced in Los Angeles County.

With a new owner and winemaker, Bella Oaks, one of Napa’s first single-vineyard Cabernet bottlings is making a comeback, reports James Molesworth in Wine Spectator. (subscription req.)

On Jeb Dunnuck’s site, R.H. Drexel explores Paso Robles, “the ideal Wine Country getaway.”

Alder Yarror offers his thoughts on the recent and upcoming releases from Corison Winery.

In the World of Fine Wine, Stuart Walton casts an historical eye over wine’s use as an aphrodisiac, from the Greek symposium to the findings of modern neuroscience.

Daily Wine News: Sheep Return

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-30-2021

Sheep grazing in a vineyard. (Flickr: Stefano Lubiana)

In Wine Enthusiast, Kathleen Willcox highlights the winemakers bringing sheep back to the vineyard. “While hard numbers are tough to come by, the use of sheep, and other animals, in vineyards is on the rise after about a century of decline… sheep help eliminate the need for chemicals, herbicides and fertilizers. They also help reduce tractor passes to take care of weeds with the built-in fertilizer their urine and feces provide. As an added bonus, the stimulation of sheep’s hooves helps build microflora in the soil and makes it more resilient to extreme cold and heat.”

For devotees, it is Italy’s most profound grape. For naysayers, it’s pale yet tannic. Now, collectors’ love affair with Burgundy is putting Nebbiolo in the spotlight—and not just in its Barolo and Barbaresco heartland, says Walter Speller in Club Oenologique.

In the Napa Valley Register, Sam Jones says that for many wineries, virtual tastings will persist well beyond the pandemic.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre reports on a new executive order that aims to improve competition across several industries, including alcohol.

In the New York Times, Penelope Green pens an obituary for Rebecca “Becky” Wasserman-Hone, who helped put Burgundy on the U.S. map. She died on August 20 at 84.

Jeni Port looks at what’s behind the rise of Australia’s Heathcote region in the Drop.

In Meininger’s, James Lawrence searches for the Pinot Noir regions of the future.

Wine Reviews: Costières-de-Nîmes

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-28-2021

For interesting, inexpensive Rhone wines, Costières-de-Nîmes is a fount of good options.

I’ve enjoyed sipping these wines over the years, and I dug into this region further earlier this summer, when I attended a wine tasting and webinar led by a great teacher, MS Evan Goldstein, and winemaker Michel Gassier.

The southernmost appellation in the Rhone, about an hour west of Avignon, the rosé and red wine production here is pretty evenly split, with about 8% white wines, too. Syrah is the dominant red grape here, supported by Grenache, and backed up by Carignan, Cinsault and Marselan. There are lots of old vines, interesting blends, and it’s also one of the “greener” appellations in the area, with 25% of vines farmed organically.

At the end of the Rhone delta, vineyards are situated in rolled, pebbly soils. The climate sees plenty of hot sun, but also cooling influences from the nearby Mediterranean Sea and Petite Camargue marshes. (As a winelover and birdwatcher, I’d sure love to visit this area to scope birds and taste wine all day.)

If you have gone through various cycles of discovering exciting wineries or regions, only to watch them explode in popularity (and price) to the point where you feel priced or crowded out – I can relate. And I was mulling over that dynamic while tasting these wines, thinking about how they have a refreshing sense of timelessness. Inexpensive pink wine that packs a punch and tastes “real”? Or complex, spicy, earthy red blends that evoke roasted meats and herbs? White blends that are juicy but fresh and salty? Those are all to be found in Costières-de-Nîmes – all without the crowded, overpriced, celebrity label vibes. And $15 to $30 will take you pretty far. If you haven’t yet, you may find a lot to like exploring Costières de Nîmes.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Harvest, Interrupted

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-27-2021

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley reports on how the Caldor Fire is throwing harvest into chaos in up-and-coming El Dorado wine country. “By now, winemakers throughout California are used to contending with smoke taint, since the ambient ash can spread far away from a blaze’s epicenter. But for the El Dorado wine community, facing the possibility of actual destruction by fire was a far less familiar feeling. There have been wildfires here before, including the 2014 Sand Fire, but the region has not been battered as hard as Bay Area wine regions in recent years, and many winemakers here report that they’ve never had to evacuate in the past.”

Because fewer glass containers are being recycled, entrepreneurs re-examine an old idea—reusable glass bottles—to increase wine industry sustainability. Roger Morris looks for the genie in the bottle in Meininger’s.

In Wine Spectator, MaryAnn Worobiec talks to sommelier and Hue Society founder Tahiirah Habibi about making wine inclusive and building community.

In Vinous, Josh Raynolds explores the changing perspectives in Beaujolais.

Farm Progress highlights new technology, using robotics and artificial intelligence, which can gather as much info on a leaf as an optical microscope in order to help identify grape diseases.

In the Drop, Lana Bortolot goes searching for value in the white wines of Bordeaux.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, considers the anatomy of the Prosecco DOC boom.

Daily Wine News: Indigenous Labels

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-26-2021

“Commune” wine from Peramangk Country.
Photo by Rachel Signer

In Wine Enthusiast, Rachel Signer reports on how some Australian winemakers are pushing to recognize Indigenous land names on their wine labels. “While some worry about tokenism, others believe these are enormously important changes. They represent not just semantic shifts, but also an effort for Australians to reckon with collective pasts—and futures.”

In VinePair, Layla Khoury-Hanold looks at how Oregon winemakers repurposed smoke-tainted wine grapes to make rosé. “Many winemakers employed techniques outside their usual winemaking processes, such as micro-fermentations, less skin contact (no cold soaks or extended maceration), use of activated carbon, or treatments such as adding yeast or oak, and hoping for the best.”

In Wine-Searcher, Christy Canterbury MW reflects on the loss of her friend and mentor, the Burgundy phenomenon Becky Wasserman-Hone.

Oset Babür profiles “Sauvignon Blanc Savant” and winemaker Chris Christensen in Food & Wine.

Lettie Teague highlights a number of fun winery T-shirts in the Wall Street Journal. (subscription req.)

In Club Oenologique, Chris Howard examines the overlaps of wine and waves by profiling some surfing winemakers.

In Decanter, Elizabeth Gabay MW charts the history of Domaines Ott and explores the winemaking philosophy at this highly regarded Provence producer, known for top rosé wines made across its three estates. (subscription req.)

Daily Wine News: Alternative Packaging

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-25-2021

Garçon Wines’ answer to a wine bottle that has a lower carbon footprint.

In SevenFifty Daily, Betsy Andrews dives deep into the eco-packaging innovations that aim to shrink the carbon footprint of wine, spirits and beer. “The drinks media has tended to focus on earth-friendly production. But the biggest burp of CO2 comes afterwards, in the glass bottle production and shipping that comprises from 51 percent to as much as 68 percent of wine’s carbon footprint… For the sake of the planet and, and in the eyes of new generations of consumers, the solutions can’t come soon enough.”

In an open letter published by the Drinks Business, Stephen Cronk of Domaine Mirabeau opens up about the Provence wildfire that swept through his estate last week and speaks of the urgent need to act now to mitigate the effects of climate change. “A vital conversation needs to be held about how forests can be managed better, without exposing these huge carbon capturing surfaces to being such an uncontrollable fire risk, where one catastrophic event will undo years of natural growth cycles.”

In Wine Spectator, Suzanne Mustacich offers an update on the wildfires burning through wineries and vineyards in Provence.

Federica Boffa found herself thrust into the legendary Barolo winery’s driving seat after the death of her father, Pio Boffa. Tom Hyland profiles the “New Boss” in Wine-Searcher.

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Elaine Chukan Brown pens an essay about how Caribou soup and life on the tundra prepared her for a career in wine.

Elin McCoy highlights eight places to taste wine in California in Bloomberg.

Meg Maker explores whole cluster fermentation in the Drop.

Daily Wine News: Cakebread’s Innocence

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-24-2021

(Photo credit: Cakebread Cellars)

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley reports on how Napa’s Cakebread Cellars absolved itself of starting last year’s Glass Fire. “If Cakebread’s vineyard fence were found to have sparked the Glass Fire, and if the winery were found guilty of negligence or another statutory violation, it would have been vulnerable to lawsuits from Cal Fire, the state’s firefighting agency, as well as the owners of 650 destroyed homes…So the Cakebreads jumped to action. Rather than wait for Cal Fire to complete a report on the fire’s origins, a process that could take upwards of a year, the winery undertook its own investigation.”

In SevenFifty Daily, Courtney Schiessl Magrini makes the case for premium Vinho Verde. “While many simpler Vinho Verdes taste similar, these more complex versions showcase the region’s potential for diversity. Many are labeled by grape variety or subregion (or both), and some are vinified using atypical techniques like skin maceration, barrel fermentation, or amphora aging.”

In PUNCH, Megan Krigbaum explores the story of Ameztoi Rubentis, the rosé txakoli that has maintained one of the most loyal, and unlikely, cult followings in wine.

“Global warming has forced wine regions around the world to consider new grape varietals that can better withstand the forecasted rise in temperatures. One such wine grape, Marselan, appears to be gaining more traction in Bordeaux, China and Napa Valley,” writes Liz Thach in Forbes.

In the Drop, Roger Morris looks at how cork closures are making a comeback.

In the Drinks Business, Sarah Neish ponders the future of orange wine from Argentina.

In Wine-Searcher, Vicki Denig talks to wine retailers about the importance of brand loyalty.

Daily Wine News: Remembering Becky Wasserman

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-23-2021

Becky Wasserman

Becky Wasserman, American champion of Burgundy’s small wineries, has died at 84. Bruce Sanderson pays tribute to her life in Wine Spectator. “She was a major advocate and supporter for many young vignerons, but also importers, distributors, retailers, wine writers and wine lovers around the world. If not for the efforts of this American woman and her company, Le Serbet, many of France’s greatest wineries might have remained unknown in the United States.”

SommTV also celebrates Becky Wasserman, and Jancis Robinson has re-shared her 2019 profile of her.

Winemakers in southeast France are assessing the impact of wildfires, which began last week. Although the fires had mainly hit forests, several wine-growing areas were also heavily affected. An estimated 73 wineries and 5 cooperatives were affected.

In Texas Monthly, Amanda Albee explores the funky, floral rise of orange wine in Texas.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre reports on how Virginia vintners are embracing wine blending.

In Wine Enthusiast, Janice Williams explores the growing quality of Marsala wine—not just for cooking anymore.

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague goes looking for the best $15 wines. (subscription req.)