Via goodgrape, we learn of the impending release of a new The Sims-like computer game called Wine Tycoon. The producer’s description:
Create the vineyard of your dreams in 10 of the most important wine regions of France. Commanding operations from your very own French chateau, build your winery, plant and tend your vines through all four seasons of the year, and hire staff to harvest and process your grapes. Produce 50 French wines such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Pinot Gris and Champagne from more than 40 different grape varietals, all in the ultimate goal of becoming a wealthy wine baron!
* In this age of Wii and PS3, people still play PC games? If it’s going anywhere, it had better be massively multiplayer!
* Does naked pigeage count as a plus or a minus in the game?
* Who stirs the Biodyanmic preparations?
* Do the vignerons-tycoons have to learn about selling into the three tier system in America?
* And don’t forget the goal of wine making: become rich as Croesus! But I thought you had to start with a large fortune to make a small one in the wine biz…
Over at the new blogazine, Palate Press, there’s a posting about a pair of women who bare all and then jump in a tank full of warm, fermenting pinot juice, seeds and skins. No, this isn’t the recreational sport of tank diving; they did it in the name of “pigeage” or a punch down that keeps the floating bits (known as the “cap”) moist. Most wineries do this with a long tool while some use a method of taking juice from the bottom of the tanking pumping it over the top.
Here’s the photo that ran with the posting: what’s your caption? Try to keep it PG-13 or somewhat safe for work.
If we ingredient labeling on American wines, would they have to add naked woman if they do the traditional pigeage?
SIPPED: match made in a barrel room
Jean-Charles Boisset and Gina Gallo married over the weekend in a private ceremony at the San Francisco Fairmont according to winemag.com. Each is a wine scion: Boisset Family Estates is the third largest wine company in France and E&J Gallo Winery is the largest in the world. They both have wineries and vineyards in Sonoma.
Dick Grace of Grace Family Vineyards tells the SF Chron “the pendulum has swung too far” on the cult wines he pioneered: “We have to get over what I call the trophy mentality.”
SPIT: more trophies
“If I buy a bottle for $100 from Napa Valley — and believe me, there are hundreds — I’ll mark it up to $225. But no one is buying those,” Rajat Parr wine director at RN74 in San Francisco told CNN in a piece entitled “wine buying for vultures.” As a result, Parr is “saying no to all Napa Cabernets until customers drink what’s left.”
SIPPED: a new chapter
Mariann Fischer Boell, the EU Commissioner for Agriculture who oversaw a controversial reform of the wine sector in 2007, has announced she won’t seek another five-year term. [MFB blog]
SIPPED: bigger Terroir in NYC
Marco Canora and Paul Grieco tell Grub Street that while they’re leaving Insieme (boo hoo) they will be adding a newer, slightly larger Terroir wine bar in Tribeca (yay!). We look forward to adding it to the map of the best wine bars in NYC!
Mike Steinberger posted a synopsis earlier today of the recent policy transgressions, policy changes and general tone deafness at Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate. It advances the discussion since his angle is that the moment of the Internet is now:
But while the online world has clearly changed the way in which wine information is disseminated, the notion that it might fundamentally alter the critic-consumer dynamic was, until recently, mostly a matter of prognostication—everyone agreed it was bound to happen, but at some indeterminate point in the future. What the Parker imbroglio demonstrated is that the future has arrived…
We are moving from a monologue to a dialogue, and this reflects a fundamental truth about wine: It is a matter of taste, and taste differs from one person to the next. There’s still a need for expert opinion, but authority is going to have to be worn a lot more lightly going forward, and it isn’t going to command quite the deference that it used to.
Check it out. And also be sure to check out, if you haven’t already, the lively discussions by the “purged and the disaffected” over on Wine Berserkers!
“We’re All Wine Critics Now: How the Internet has democratized drinking.” [Slate] (Crop of image from Slate)
I’ve wanted to visit the Dominus Estate in Napa since it was built in 1997. But it’s not open to the public. So when I was in Napa in February as a speaker at the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, I inquired about visiting and was glad that they offered me the chance. So here’s an edition of Dr. Vino inside! (And a change for trying out a new photo “gallery;” background and annotation appear after the jump.)
Known as “the black wine of Cahors” for its inky character, Cahors wines had their heyday in the early 14th century when production was high and half of it was exported. Then, rivalry with downriver Bordeaux led to taxes and levies that severely crimped exports and thus renown.
The marketing campaign today exclaims, “Cahors is back, Cahors is black, Cahors is Malbec!”
Hitching the Cahors wagon on to Malbec train is easy to understand. The grape has experienced sharp growth in popularity over the past few years. But Malbec has also become the signature grape of Argentina, which has almost three-quarters of the world’s Malbec plantings and is stylistically and literally oceans apart from Cahors.
So I wonder if the folks from Cahors are setting expectations incorrectly since Malbec is often understood to be big, soft, and gentle (a Bloomberg story suggested it was “stealing” Merlot sales). Those are not terms usually used to describe the wines of Cahors, which, though some can be charming and surprisingly age-worthy, can have fearsome tannins and acidity. In fact, in my book, A Year of Wine, I suggest trying a Malbec from Argentina and “black wine” of Cahors as a way to understanding the term “rustic.”
I brought a couple of Malbecs to a late summer grill-fest at some friends’ house, bagged them and poured them blind. The two wines were the Clos la Coutale 2007 for about $11–a firm but somewhat modern Cahors–and the Bodegas Salentein for about $19–not the most over-the-top Malbec form Mendoza. Generally speaking, I described the Cahors style as having higher tannins, less fruit, lower alcohol and more “rustic” and the Argentine style as having more fruit, higher alcohol, and generally a plusher feel. Although the assembled group was able to nail each for what it was, they were divided on which they liked better, particularly with the grilled meats, which improved the Coutale for those who favored the Salentein.
Maybe the new slogan should emphasize food? “Cahors Malbec: meat, your match.”
In other news, a friend who has consumed many Argentine Malbecs over the past couple of years recently admitted to getting bored with them. So maybe Cahors should just play the Cahors card in case the seeds of a Malbec backlash are germinating?
In a piece entitled “Mayor Doesn’t Always Live by His Health Rules,” the Times reported yesterday on Mayor Bloomberg’s diet. To the tape:
HE dumps salt on almost everything, even saltine crackers. He devours burnt bacon and peanut butter sandwiches. He has a weakness for hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and fried chicken, washing them down with a glass of merlot.
Whoa–talk about impossible food-wine pairings!! Surely we can do better for Mayor Mike than merlot? Which wine with you pair with burnt bacon and peanut butter sandwiches? Or are they…impossible?!? Answer well and it could lead to Senior Pairings Expert in a possible future Bloomberg administration?!
Over on Forbes.com, I just contributed a short piece about the wines of Vouvray. Almost entirely, the wines of Vouvray are from the Chenin Blanc grape and Vouvray is in many ways the apogee of Chenin Blanc. The wines from this 5,000 acre appellation can be very rewarding, as a sparkling wine or dry, off-dry, and sweet. Moreover, the best examples are extremely age-worthy and global warming has made them more accessible in their youth.
My thoughts drifted to regional rival, Suavignon Blanc, which is considered one of the three “noble” white grapes (Riesling and Chardonnay are the others). I’ve never really cottoned to the whole aristocratic anthropomorphism for grape varieties but if I were drawing it up today, I’d prepare Sauvignon for a defenestration in favor of Chenin. Let’s measure it up:
Multiple expressions (sparkling to sweet)? Chenin has the edge
Multiple layers of complexity in the glass? Chenin
The top examples of each? Chenin has the edge
More accessible when young? Sauvignon
More popular? Sauvignon
Ability to be planted more widely? Sauvignon
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