LA Country 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 it 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

California law allows undergrads to sip and spit–for credit

wine tasting winery Being an undergrad and drinking may appear to go hand in hand. But now they can legally go together in California. Well, sipping and spitting, that is.

Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a the so-called “sip and spit” bill last week. As of next year, California students enrolled in beer or winemaking classes will legally be able to sample beer and wine in a class. They do have to be at least 18, but that’s a three-year jump on the legal minimum age for drinking. California has many places to study winemaking, including UC Davis is one of America’s leading faculties in viticulture and enology. The Golden State also produces 89% of American wine and is home to many leading craft breweries, including stalwarts like Sierra Nevada as well as Stone, Russian River Brewing, and Lagunitas, among many others.

While the law may seem silly–no swallowing, young’uns!–it is a terrific advance for American wine. Many colleges and universities across America are offering wine appreciation classes as wine consumption has risen for 20 consecutive years. Hopefully, this new law will inspire other states to consider similar legislation and remove a legal obstacle to the next generation of hipster wine and beer makers. If there’s something that really sets (young) American wine consumers apart, it is their curiosity and relatively high level of knowledge. This new law will only help the trend.

Phil Mickelson drinks $40k DRC – sipped & spit

phil mickelson claret jug Phil Mickelson has really made the most of having the “Claret Jug” since winning the British Open last year. How much? He told the Scotsman about his Bacchanal:

“I’ve loved having the Jug with me for the last 12 months,” he confirms. “The people who know and love the game get a big kick out of it. They really appreciate what it means to hold such a famous trophy. And drink out of it. I only let them drink the good stuff of course. There’s been nothing in there that is sub-par. But the best was a 1990 bottle of Romanée Conti wine. It wasn’t on my dime thankfully. It costs about $40,000.”

SIPPED & SPIT: In other wine news, Massachusetts consumers will soon be able to order wine from wineries more freely. Congratulations–now make the same legislation apply to wine shops. [gazette.net]

SIPPED: Barolo has received designation as a UNESCO cultural heritage site. The recognition includes several nearby communes, including Barbaresco. [Decanter]

SPIT: Treasury Wine Estates, the Australian wine producer with falling net income, is on the block. But one suitor has been spurned: KKR. The American private equity firm bid A$4.70 a share but word leaked and the shares are now at $5.05. [Bloomberg]

BYTES: IBM’s Watson supercomputer, tired of competing in Jeopardy!, now has its own BBQ sauce. Wait until Watson tries making wine! [NPR]

G.D. Vajra in Barolo – “clean traditionalist”

giuseppe vajra Giuseppe Vaira was caught in a fight when he was in elementary school. It wasn’t the sort of meet-you-at-the-bike-racks kind of thing. No, it encapsulated what might happen only to the son of a winemaker, or even the son of a Barolo winemaker. He was classmates with two other kids who were also from wine families. One said proudly that he was the son of a modernist winemaker while the other said proudly that she was the daughter of a traditionalist. No doubt, both the kids harrumphed, crossed their arms, and turned their backs to each other.

Giuseppe was flummoxed. Which camp did his family winery fall into? Read more…


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