Archive for the 'American wine' Category

Wine around $20: Copain Syrah Tous Ensemble

copain syrah
The signature characteristic for syrah from the Northern Rhone is an alluring savory character with a note of black olives. This Copain Syrah, “Tous Ensemble,” 2011, comes from three vineyards in Mendocino County and sees nine months in neutral oak. It’s in the Northern Rhone vein, favoring restraint instead of anything over the top–no “gobs” of anything here. It’s not that California syrah has to ape France; it’s just that Wells Guthrie of Copain favors that style, as do I.

I poured this wine at an event recently and it was very well received; I bought it again for $24 and it was a superb transition to fall with richer foods and cooler weather. And at $21.60 on the case, it is one heckuva a good wine for the price.

Find this wine at retail

Sobering: America’s skewed drinking

us drinks data
We know that a third of Americans abstain from alcohol. Another third don’t drink too much. But the Wonkblog has a striking graphic showing that the top decile really pound the stuff, drinking an astonishing ten drinks per day. That’s about two bottles of wine a day. Paging Gerard Depardieu! Read more…

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

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.

Wine economics: How much does that bottle cost?

economics wine Have you ever wondered about wine economics–what are the costs of a bottle of wine? While the industry, made up mostly of private companies, often keeps margins shrouded in mystery, I spoke with one vintner who broke down the price of barrels, corks, grapes as well as the three tiers for me. And since that vintner was Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena and Barrett & Barrett, he offers perspective on a range of (higher-end) wines. I also dig up some info on lower-end wines.

Margins are something that always pique the interest of consumers. So check out the piece over on wine-searcher.com and let us know your thoughts.

The quest for vin glou-glou in California

vineyard cali
While the story of the stylistic shift in California winemaking (dubbed, inter alia, the “New California”) is arguably the most exciting story in American wine in the last decade, one aspect has been a stumbling block: price. Particularly as it relates to lower-priced, highly drinkable wines, known variously as vin de soif or glou glou wines. It’s something we’ve discussed, oh, here, here, here, and here previously.

So I was glad to see Wine & Spirits taking up the topic in their June issue. Their piece points to the price of grapes as the main obstacle, saying that at $1,000/ton, it’s possible to make a $20/bottle wine but $2,000/ton is “pushing it.” This has pushed the glou glou producers to far-flung parts of California and to pursue less premium varieties that are still refreshing.

Given that a wine that sells for 2 euros at a small domaine could easily sell for $10 here after all the markups, another way to make domestic glou glou production more financially viable would be to sell directly to consumers. Alas, given the three-tier system, that would reduce it to in-state sales. But even if drinking a glou glou wine were only an option locally in California? There’s still a lot to be said for that.

A $1.6 million oops in Napa

pity the fool A Napa vintner hired a consulting enologist to cook him up a “cult” wine. It didn’t work out, the wine got flushed and the vintner is now suing the wine consultant to the tune of $1.6 million. See the Napa Valley Register for more details.

Who was that who said “I pity the fool who chases points”? Confucius? Mr. T?


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