Canadian fisticuffs! Sipped & spit

Oh, Canada!

Check out this 5-minute radio segment from CBC wherein to Canadian wine personalities start sparring verbally–and then literally–in the studio. And there’s no hockey involved.

Good stuff. Very Monty Python-esque. You will be LOLing.

In other wine news:

AU REVOIR and BONJOUR: Jacques Puffeney, a viticultural leader in the Jura, has sold his vineyards (10.5 acres) to Guillaume D’Angerville of Burgundy. [wine-searcher]

MOSCATO FOR ALL: Russia threatens to ban French wine imports in retaliation for Western sanctions. [Decanter]

BIG BOTTLES: Two magnums of Chateau Petrus 1961 fetched $79,625–about $800 an ounce–at Sotheby’s NYC this past weekend. [Bloomberg]

PRO TIP: Brut NV on a label does not mean the wine is from Nevada.

Wine picks from my NYU class

ridge three valleys
In my six-week NYU class ended recently. In the class, we taste six wines (blind) around a certain theme every week and I poll people on their visceral reaction to each wine before we discuss it. The wines that have weak polling numbers have to be put out to pasture or run for election in marginal shops where the mere act of getting a placement will be given polite golf claps. But the wines that poll well–generally 90+%–have the power to sweep, scoring huge wins at cash registers at wine shops across the land. I try to post the winners on my instagram feed after each class.

In the photo above, we had the highest percentage of unanimously liked wines in any class of the semester. Our theme that evening was the wines of America. We kicked off with the Roederer Estate Brut from Anderson Valley that was greeted with a roomful of thumbs up for bubbles and balance (and, perhaps, because it was the first wine after work). [Find Roederer Estate at retail] The next unanimously liked wine was the Copain, “Tous Ensemble,” Syrah 2011 for its elegant flavors and complexity. [Find Copain Syrah at retail] Finally, the Ridge, “Three Valleys,” 2011 got thunderous applause, perhaps because it was poured last but more accurately because it yet has good intensity and mouthfeel without the high octane rating that accompanies most California Zinfadel (the three Valleys is actually a Zinfandel-based blend, and the other grape varieties may also help the freshness of the wine). Oh, and they loved the price, rolling in in the low $20s. [Find Three Valleys at retail]

A white truffle sells for $61,250

Sabatino Largest White Truffle2 White truffles are a rare delicacy: The short season for the mushrooms, the stratospheric prices ($2,000 a pound is not uncommon) and the intense aromas and flavors make this mostly something for the world’s super rich. Shaving a few grams of a white truffle on a dish such as risotto can send the price at a restaurant soaring into the triple digits. The artist formerly known P. Diddy had the money quote on the fungus. Apparently, when dining at Restaurant Daniel, he would say “shave this bitch” to indicate that he thought the dish would be enhanced by some white truffle. No doubt the servers were only too happy to oblige.

Abundant rains this year in Italy produced something of a bumper crop of white truffles. Ryan Sutton explores truffle-nomics, pointing out that wholesale prices are down by 50% over two years ago. Restaurateurs have mostly lowered their prices on the rarities too with, for example, Marea charging $100 for 7-8 grams of truffles shaved over risotto, down from $149 last year.

The bumper crop produced what has been called “the world’s largest truffle.” Discovered last week in central Italy, the Balestra family of Sabatino Truffles put it on the block at Sotheby’s New York over the weekend. The 1.89-kilo (4.16-lb) white truffle sold for $61,250 to a phone bidder in China. That’s $32.40 per gram. Makes Marea’s pricing seem like a bargain! I’m sure the bidder has a private plane–the kind that shaves truffles, that is.

The consignors say they will be donating the proceeds to charity.

More on truffles:
“The Dark Side of the Truffle Trade” [The Atlantic]
“White Truffles: Why They’re Worth $2,000 a Pound” [TIME]

Zipz wine gets $2.5 million funding on Shark Tank

zipz wine tv The sharks love them some wine. Especially Kevin O’Leary.

The self-proclaimed “Mr. Wonderful” on the ABC show “Shark Tank” reached an agreement to invest $2.5 million in the single-serve wine company called Zipz. That gave Zipz the $25 million they were seeking.

Making the presentation for Zipz was Andrew McMurray. McMurray is more known in the wine world as Read more…

Bear market for Russian wine imports

Sanctions and the declining price of oil have slowed Russia’s economy, which is forecast to fall into recession next year. (A real bear market–rimshot.) And, in a nasty triple whammy, the ruble has declined precipitously as well, which is forcing up the price of imports. Consider the case of Apple, which just boosted the price of iPhones for sale in Russia by 25%. (But, apparently, even some, erm, domestic industries have also been compelled raise prices).

russian wine market So what about wine? President Vladimir Putin has banned some food imports in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis. Notably, foreign wine and spirits weren’t on the banned list as they are (were?) popular with middle class Russians despite high taxes and markups. But Putin has wielded wine tariffs as a cudgel before against Moldova and Georgia so it may just be a matter of time until wine tariffs arrive too. In any event, the slowdown and inflation have put many imported wines out of reach.

In 2012, according to OIV, the International Wine office, Russia was the ninth largest importer in the world by value bringing in 911 million euros of wine. And they were growing at 11% reaching 7.9 liters per person (compare that with 9.1 liters per person in the US, using the OIV data for 2011). But with the current malaise, those numbers are likely to fall off a cliff. Which is too bad because in the Jeffersonian ideal, wine is a drink of moderation and the antidote to spirits and, perhaps in this case, an attractive alternative to bare-chested vodka drinking.

Which countries have the most at stake in the Russian wine market? Thanks to this handy graphic from the folks at RBTH.com, we know that French wines dominated Russian wine imports in 2012 with 20% market share but Italian wines are catching up as moscato has gained in popularity. Spain is third. The US had a 1.37% market share.

Melissa Etheridge brews pot wine

grapesandpot

We’ve heard a lot about pot wine, those special barrels where marijuana is infused in the wine as it ferments and ages. Of course, like unicorns, they don’t exist because if a winery were found to be making such a brew, it would be steeped in a world of pain that even a big fat one couldn’t help moderate: they would lose their bonded winery license.

But Melissa Etheridge has found a way around these rules and regs to make pot wine a legal reality. Working with a dispensary in Santa Cruz, CBS News reports that the singer has created a line of “cannabis-infused fine wines.” Legally, the 90 cases she and her partners have cooked up are known as “wine tinctures” and can only be sold to people with a prescription. Describing the effect, Etheridge, a cancer survivor, says “You feel a little buzzed from the alcohol and then get a delicious full body buzz.”

The CBS story dares to find a doc who doesn’t think it’s such a great idea, saying “The wisdom of prescribing alcohol to any patients is highly suspect.” Whoa, he’s clearly not in Colorado!

Cuvée MJ is (legally) on the way.

“Cannabis-infused wine delivers a “full body buzz” says Melissa Etheridge” [CBS News]

Craft beer overtakes Bud: chart of the day

craft beer bud
The King of Beers has a problem: Growth. Or, the lack of it. It’s pretty obvious that Bud is in decline. But a chart in the WSJ, reproduced above, shows the scale and speed of that of that collapse, as Bud sales have cratered, falling by 50% over the last decade to 16 million barrels. In 1988, they sold 50 million barrels.

The main reason Bud’s suds have turned flat is the stunning rise of craft beer. In fact, last year was the first year that craft beers, taken together, edged out Bud in total sales with 16.1 million barrels.

The WSJ piece indicates that Bud will be putting the famed Clydesdales out to pasture, rolling out new ads to try to woo younger drinkers. The piece also says that AB InBev will flex its muscles and try to get Bud on tap in bars where it isn’t already flowing. While both of these strategies may get younger drinkers to try a Bud, will they ever go back for a second round? The brewer overlooking what has attracted younger drinkers to craft beer: flavor, something Bud is distinctly short on.

The surging popularity of craft beer also holds a challenge for wine, largely based on price (even though some craft beers are getting pricey). Fortunately though, wine has plenty of flavor. And there even are bubbles too, the Champagne of craft beers, if you will.

“Bud Crowded Out by Craft Beer Craze” [WSJ]

Meet Roy Welland who is selling $15 million of wine

roy welland Roy Welland is a big-time collector. It’s well known that his collection served as the core of the restaurant CRU, which he owned. But it’s not well known that his collection also helped out Alinea when they first opened.

That’s one of the many interesting tidbits I learned when I talked to Welland before the first part of his two-part auction. That first tranche fetched $6.6 million versus an estimate of $5.3 million. The second portion hits the block today and tomorrow in LA. So it’s a good a time as ever to point you to the piece I contributed to wine-searcher.


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