Is this wine targeting minors, adding fuel to the fire of distributors who play the underage drinking card in the direct shipping debate? The wine’s marketer told LA Weekly: “My take on it is this: with over 60,000 Hello Kitty sku’s in the marketplace and at 35 years old now, she is definitely ready for more adult skewed products. I don’t think that the $15,000 dollar Hello Kitty handbags are aimed at children either.” What say you: is Hello Kitty wine the Joe Camel of wine?!?
If Josie and Kent M. Whitney have their way, it will. According to the Sonoma Valley Sun (via wineopinions), the Secretary of State has cleared their ballot initiative that would raise the excise tax on a regular bottle of wine from four cents to…$5.11. They estimate this would raise $7 – $9 billion for the state’s coffers. (See more on the proposal at ballotopedia.org)
The only thing standing in the way of this rise is the fact that the Whitneys need the signatures of 433,971 voters — and then half the votes on the referendum in the fall.
While excise taxes might be the type of strong brew that only a few politicians can raise, it’s extremely unlikely that voters would really want to raise these taxes in such a drastic manner both out of their own self-interest and protecting the local industry. (If the mild reversal in California’s budgetary woes reported on Bloomberg today continues, any popularity for the initiative could be dampened.) But where there is no local wine industry, excise taxes do have a habit of creeping up every year…
How far would you drive to taste some vintage port? That’s most often a rhetorical question but I actually confronted it head on last week as a rare vertical tasting including some legendary wines came on the agenda in Montreal. Since I tucked away some 2003 Fonseca from one son’s birth year, I thought this would at the very least offer a something of a preview of how it will taste when we drink it together in 2024 and beyond. So I hopped in the car. Read more…
Last week we heard about baboons who give Chardonnay a thumbs up. This week we learn that cougars like Merlot!
If they are on ABC’s Cougar Town, that is. Also, pouring wine should be done to the rim, apparently.
Of note: Sheryl Crow played a sales rep at wine distributor in Wednesday night’s episode. As SlateWine quipped on Twitter, “Does this mean she supports three-tier system? Say it ain’t so, Ms. Crow.” Couldn’t she bring her glamor to another part of the wine biz, such as an independent shop owner? The cougars have to buy their Merlot from somewhere, after all.
Eric Asimov has a long piece in today’s NYT about small wine shops. He highlights a number of local, independent shops mostly around New York City. If you are familiar with our map of NYC wine shops, then you knew about virtually every store in his story already! I’d also highlight Le Vigne, which is a good, new shop that didn’t get mentioned. I’ve also recently discovered UVA Wines in Brooklyn, which has an excellent selection of wines from the Loire and Burgundy. Thirst Merchants in Fort Greene also merits a shout-out since they have a lot of the hard-to-find wines from the portfolio of importer Kermit Lynch. Hit the comments with faves in your area.
I love a good, small wine shop. When people ask me to recommend a wine, I often tell them that the best practical advice I can give them is to find a great, small shop near them. Read more…
While Merlot’s fall from grace can be traced to one line in the movie Sideways, the fall of Syrah has been more difficult to track. Australian wine, with Shiraz as the signature grape, has experienced a decline in sales over the past couple of years. Even more broadly, it’s still a tough sell: producers and retailers have repeatedly told me that save for a few appellations in the Northern Rhone, the homeland of the grape, Syrah remains a sluggish category.
I was happy to have the chance to check in with Syrah by organizing a small tasting at a private residence last week. In putting together the seven wines in the lineup, I wanted to be sure to include examples from Australia, the US and the Northern Rhone but had the usual constraint that the wines actually had to be available locally. I decided to spare the tasters the hot-climate, jammy style and the boring cheapie style since they were probably most familiar with those, especially the latter, which is poured with abandon at fundraisers and art gallery openings. Read more…
SPIT: reform in Maryland
Reforming Maryland’s wine law, where it is a felony to ship wine to consumers, is all but dead for this year. Despite having a majority of co-sponsors in both chambers of the state legislature, the bill has been farmed out for further study. Read the autopsy of reform over on Baltsun.com. As a chaser, check out Tom Wark’s “manifesto for change in the wine industry” over on Fermentation.
SPIT: business as usual
The aftershocks of the earthquake that rocked Chile and its wine industry continue to be felt. “Everybody is struggling to keep up with the harvest. I wouldn’t be surprised if some wineries don’t make it,” an AP story quotes one winemaker as saying. Grape prices have risen, the harvest is at hand, and there is still much infrastructure in need of repair. [Photo: reduced size crop of AP image]
SIPPED: turning tide?
A more sanguine take on the state of Napa’s economy; Nielsen data show wine sales at stores increased 4.6% in February year-over-year with the previously anemic category of wines over $20 showing 12.6 percent growth. Of note: the Super Bowl was on Feb 7 this year as opposed to Feb 1 of last year.
SPIT: business models
Three wine makers from California who were victims of the recession receive profiles in the LAT.
SPIT: extra weight
In the name of a smaller carbon footprint, the Champagne bureau has announced that 90% of Champagne bottles will be lighter weight within two years. They will still be strong enough to withstand the several atomospheres worth of pressure, however. Just easier to break when baptizing boats. [Timesonline]
SPIT: wine on TV; SIPPED: strength of will
Before it even shoots its first program, a proposed wine TV channel may be banned by French authorities on the basis of violating the Loi Evin. Undaunted, the people behind the channel, Edonys, press ahead. [Decanter]
We all want to order wine like a pro at a restaurant. But apparently ordering wine off a wine list is an extremely pressure-filled situation for many people, ranking right up there with fear of public speaking and fear of grizzly bears. So with a new, recurring feature on this site, we aim to help you order wine like with aplomb and find an excellent deal.
Although regular wine markup in restaurants is 300 percent of the wholesale cost, many wine lists have hidden deals. There are any number of reasons why they exist: Perhaps the sommelier has a soft spot for an unheralded grape and slips it on the list with a low markup or maybe there is a closeout item and the restaurant passes on the savings.
Today’s such gem comes from Bar Boulud. To accompany the restaurant’s extensive charcuterie menu, wine director Michael Madrigale runs an innovative program that focuses largely on wines from the Rhone and Burgundy. One of the exciting things he does is feature a different large format bottle, often a rare mature wine, open it and pour it by the glass. (Follow on Twitter to see which wines are being poured.)
But one deal that he doesn’t telegraph is what he calls “the nugget.” On the wine list at any given moment is a wine that Madrigale puts on for the wholesale cost (that is to say, even below retail). He doesn’t highlight the item and it’s often an obscure, wine geek’s wine and his stock can be quickly depleted. Diners have to spot the wine on the list as being an outrageous value, and then order it and accept it. At that point Madrigale lets them know the value they have uncorked. “Usually, they are quite happy about their choice,” he says. Previous such wines have included Chapoutier’s ’04 Cornas “Les Arenes” for $55 and the Chateau Grillet 2004.
So order wine like an insider when next at Bar Boulud. The current nugget is…Eric Texier, 2000 Hermitage rouge for $69.
1900 Broadway (between 63rd & 64th) New York, NY 10023