Wines under $20: Ott (Gruner edition)

ott gruner am berg There’s a hilarious story that runs every August: they’re running out of rosé in The Hamptons! Predictably, it ran again this week. There are tons of great rosés out there (both still AND sparkling, ahem, Hamptons-goers) but the good ones do tend to sell out early in the season. So stock them early for subsequent stashing in sea planes!

Rather than mention other rosés, I’m going to pivot and talk about Ott. Domaine Ott is the pink object of much desire in the Hamptons. But wine enthusiasts would be very will served to take an Austrian turn and try Bernhard Ott’s 2013 Gruner Veltliners. I poured the Am Berg at a private tasting on the Upper East Side the other day and this was the crowd favorite for its verve, minerality and crackle. The best thing too: it was the cheapest 750ml wine at the tasting, ringing up at $19.99, in part thanks hailing from the Wagram rather than the more tony Wachau. (Find Ott Gruner Am Berg at retail)

Oh, and if you want some bubbly, the 2012 Knauss Riesling Sekt Zero also turned heads with stylish packaging (below) as well as purity on the palate. (Find Knauss Sekt Zero at retail)

Actually, I take it all back: who needs these prices to run up? Read more…

Sting: pay to pick my grapes

sting estate
Finding labor to perform the annual harvest at a vineyard can be hard. Many wineries compete for migrant laborers at a time when there are lots of other fruit to bring in; we’ve even seen wineries recruit students to pick the grapes. But Sting doesn’t have such difficulties: the Englishman in Tuscany is charging people $350 a day to come and work in his vineyard.

The paying pickers would arrive at a leisurely 11:30 at Il Palagio, Sting and Trudie Styler’s 900-acre estate. After a picnic on a lawn, with possibly a game on the giant chess set, the paying help can then start laboring for up to four hours. Then, freshen up (no word if the pool is available), and, before heading out, try a sampling of the estates wines, including the rosso “Message in a Bottle,” which sells in the US for about $20. No word if the estate’s owners will be around but guest workers will get a talk from the estate manager about the vineyards and soil, as well as winemaking.

If you can’t get enough time under the Tuscan sun, you can go back in November and harvest Sting’s olives.

Il Palagio web site

Napa quake registers 6.0

An area south of Napa was the center of a big earthquake overnight. The 6.0 quake, the biggest in the Bay Area in 25 years, shook wine barrels and bottles off of shelves and onto the ground. What the damage is remains to be seen; we hope that it is fixable and that the barrels bounced and weren’t broken.

Here are some pictures from Twitter of the Napa quake (#napaquake is a common tag):

Steve and Jill Matthiasson, whose wines are a popular choice among wine geeks, posted this dreadful picture, saying “Will be barrel pickup sticks #napaearthquake.” He also posted a picture of severe damage to their house. It is is “not a wipeout,” Matthiasson commented. Thankfully!
napa quake barrels

And this from Silver Oak: Read more…

LA County tries to crush Malibu wine

malibu wine

California…celebrities…vineyards…Throw in some hills, glitzy real estate with water views and it sounds like a match made in some screenwriter’s Heaven.

But LA County authorities are taking a dim view of such a scene. The part they find objectionable, oddly, are the vines! Yes, what is now LA was the home to some of the earliest vines in California. And the new Malibu Coast just won federal approval for putting on wine labels. Rather than cultivate this heritage, and nurture the new Malibu wine recognition, County authorities are moving to ban new plantings and uproot some existing ones.

What is this–Europe? Do residents of Malibu need planting rights as in the EU? The logic is not entirely clear as organic farms will be tolerated but organic vineyards would not. And equestrian facilities installed without permits will be allowed? Hmmm. LA Weekly has the full story but the motives of County officials remain unclear. The story concludes that the rule looks to be voted through in a meeting on August 26.

Image credit via creative commons

Faiveley buys Billaud-Simon in Chablis

billaud simon chablis1 Domaine Faiveley of Burgundy has announced the acquisition of Billaud-Simon for their first vineyard purchase in Chablis. The 50-acre estate includes 4 acres of Grand Cru sites in Vaudésir, Les Clos, Les Preuses and Blanchots. They also have 22 acres of premier cru sites. Domaine Faiveley now has 350 acres in Burgundy.

I have always liked Billaud-Simon’s wines, so it is sad to see the end of an era. However, Erwan Faiveley (who chatted with us a few years ago), has really steered S.S. Faiveley in a good direction since taking the helm. So I will look forward to seeing the results of this acquisition.

Find Billaud-Simon Chablis at retail

Veuve Clicquot tablets sparkle on the internets

veuve clicquot tablets
How would it sound if you could carry tablets of Veuve Clicquot in your handbag and drop then in water to make a glass of the famous bubbly? To those who drive popular brand to sales of over a half a million cases a year in the US, that sounds like their kind of “plop, plop, fizz, fizz.”

Photos of Veuve Clicquot tablets have surfaced on the internets today and some have latched on to the story as real. But it is actually a hoax, put out by a “Russian communication agency.” So there you have it. Apparently the muckety mucks at LVMH are none-too-happy about this. But given the legs the story has had, maybe it’s an idea they should explore commercially? Well, maybe some producer in another region will…

Find Veuve Cliquot (bottled) at retail Read more…

Quick takes: Questioning the IMW; rebuffing Resy

wine bottles

“The IMW is little more than an elitist club, accessible by invitation only, designed to keep the riff-raff and rabble out.”

Such is one nugget in a trenchant opinion column on the Institute of Masters of Wine that appears on Harpers.co.uk. Be sure to check out the comments.

* * * *

What to do when demand for restaurant reservations exceeds the supply? Some restaurants, such as the innovative Alinea and sister restaurant Next, adjust the menu prices higher to coincide with peak demand times (check out this Big Data blog from Nick Kakonas of Alinea). For others, there reservation scalpers have emerged, much to the disdain of restaurateurs. A third way of creating a secondary market for reservations has emerged where diners pay surcharges for peak dining times and start-ups share share those demand charges with restaurants.

One SF restaurant owner says he rebuffs all such approaches as “borderline offensive.” [SF Gate]

I am intrigued by these sites but, while they may work for certain people, if one restaurant were full, I’d simply try another. What do you think about the value of these apps/sites?

Archeologists dismayed that ancient wine cup was not varietal-specific

pericles

Archeologists have found a wine cup that is attributed to the Greek statesman, Pericles.

Amazed at they detail of they cup, they were, however, dismayed that the earthen cup was not varietal-specific.

Full story


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