SIPPED: varsity tasting
The Oxford-Cambridge rivalry has played out over wine glasses for over 60 years: this year’s tasting included a Vega Sicilia 1953. En garde, you “coconut,” “tobacco leaf,” with “horse manure character!” Oh wait, those were the tasting notes… [NYT]
SLUSH, you huskies! A wine from South Dakota will greet Iditarod competitors at the finishing line. #winesworthmushingfor [ArgusLeader.com] Oh, a previous story reported that the course had to be rerouted in part, thanks to climate change.
BLING: Treasury Wine Estates, the maker of Penfold’s and other wines, is targeting Asia, where profit margins are double other regions. Part of the fatter margins come from trophy bottles such Penfold’s 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon closed with an ampoule sold for $168,000. [Bloomberg]
SPRAYED? Would you sparkle wine with a Sodastream? The NYT investigates a variety of “hacks” for the popular carbonator; do let us know your experiences. Tom Mansell tweeted to me “I’ve done cider. I don’t recommend it. Anything but water fizzes like crazy. (heterogeneous nucleation)” Doh!
SPIT: The NRA has a wine club?! Ack. I’m sure all the wines will be high caliber…
SPIT: Rudy Kurniawan‘s attempt to have the DOJ’s evidence against his alleged wine counterfeiting was disallowed by the judge. Now the defendant must prepare to stand trial or change his not guilty plea.
SPIT: Orange wines, the skin-fermented wines once hot among hipsters, get crushed by sommelier Richard Betts who argues succinctly, “Tecate > orange wines.” Other sommeliers pile on.
SIPPED: Arnot-Roberts, specifically, Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Robert, get deserved recognition as the California’s winemakers of the year by the SF Chronicle.
GLUGGED: Guy Fieri, whose Times Square restaurant was the subject of a negative review in the NYT, is buying a small vineyard in Sonoma. Will the wine be called Donkey Sauce?
ADVISED: The Hosemaster reports from the fictitious Lodi Professional Wine Writers’ Symposium where one panel advises: “You catch more flies with honey than with Authentic Wine.”
CAUGHT: police have arrested a former employee for the recent destruction of six vintages of Soldera Brunello. A motive appears to be that he was not provided a “mini apartment” at the estate. [Corriere della Sera]
DECEIVED: Palate Press exposes a pattern of Natalie Maclean’s taking other writers’ tasting notes and placing them behind her paywall. Furor erupts both from writers and in the comments, where allegations of winery pay-to-play emerge. [PalatePress.com]
EULOGIZED: Hosemaster laments the death of wine writing. “Yes, Wine Writer had been horribly sick before he passed, a pathetic shadow of what he once had been, reduced to a kind of Laubotomized babbling, a sad and tired victim of Parkerson’s Disease, covered in nasty Suckling wounds, his Hugh Johnson Feiring nothing but blanks. ” [Hosemaster]
SPIT: on Facebook, commenters are wondering how many points to give James Suckling’s purple couch.
SIPPED and SPIT: The Drops of God
The latest installment of The Drops of God, the wine-drenched graphic novel from Japan, is now in English. I review it and learn that this volume will likely be the last in English. [wine-searcher.com]
SIPPED: sense of place. “We’ve concluded that Tuscan-style homes would make the finest fit here.” Apropos the Khao Yai wine region in Thailand, where homes in a development range from $650,000 to more than $3.3 million. [WSJ]
Sticker shock: Some London buyers won’t buy wine at auction that bears a US back label.[smcp.com]
SIPPED SLOWLY: recovery. After the surge, Pasanella wine shop combats the quiet. [NYT]
SIPPED: the “noble experiment” Learn how the 18th amendment got passed, understand its links to the federal income tax and see a hatchet carried by anti-alcohol crusaders. Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, curates an exhibit on Prohibition with all of these items. The show runs through April 28 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. [WSJ]
PASSED: popcorn. A long thread involving a horizontal pear tasting and more discussion of wine tasting notes. [wineberserkers]
LOST: inventory. But not hope.
The winemaker at Red Hook Winery told nonabrooklyn that the ambitious project on Pier 41 has to “assume a total loss” of all wine on the premises in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. They hope to continue but admit that their future hinges on insurance policies paying out. Best of luck to Christopher Nicolson, Robert Foley and Abe Schoener.
SIPPED and SPIT: shipping fees
The Press Democrat has a lengthy story on Amazon wine. In it, they report that the shipping fees will be $9.99 for six bottles and $19.96 for 12. Seems below the market price so make that a SIP for consumers and a SPIT for the wineries, who will likely be doing the fulfillment. [pressdemocrat]
The evergreen wine topic of calories in wine gets a graphic look and comparison to beer over at WineFolly. But, sadly, the graphics choose to make wine look less cal-o-rific, even when a standard wine serving could likely have more calories than a standard beer (a lager). Basic rule: more alcohol = more calories.
GLUGGED: A Nebuchadnezzar of Trockenbeerenauslese? Eegad! [Reuters]
POPPED: bubble pricing?
Wine auction prices to decline by 20%? Might happen, insiders say. [Decanter.com]
SPIT: cost cutting
In the name of reducing “irresponsible drinking,” the government may prohibit supermarkets in Britain from offering discounts on multi-bottle purchases. The resulting price hike may be difficult for some to swallow. [Telegraph]
SIPPED: cost cutting
Beck’s beer sold in the US is now brewed in St. Louis. Scandale! A Bloomberg BusinessWeek story on how CEO Carlos Brito is running AB InBev “like a private equity investor.” That leaves a big opening for craft beer.
SPIT: timely phrasing
NY Gov Andrew Cuomo said he will put promotion of the state’s wine and beer “on steroids.” Jeesh, next thing you know he will want them to win the Tour de France! [AP]
With apologies to Peter Sagal and Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, today’s wine news roundup is presented in the form of a bluff the reader challenge. Today you are playing for Steve in St. Helena, CA. Spot the one fake story below, and I’ll write the footer for Steve on all his outgoing email messages!
A) It’s not news that the Chinese love of wine has been growing. But what is news is that the Changyu Pioneer Wine Co. will be building a “wine city” on 1,000 acres in Shandong province. With an expected budget of nearly $1 billion, the attraction will blend wine research, wine making and tourism including a European-style village, vineyards, an international wine trading center, and two wine and brandy chateaus that will be among the world’s largest wine and brandy production facilities. Put it on your calendar to stop by and say “ganbei” starting in 2016.
B) In the Northern Rhone, growers on Hermitage hill have long produced wines coveted around the world. Although the hill famously has panels demarcating the various vineyards, the growers there are protesting what they perceive as a blight on the visual landscape: a sixty-foot high cell phone tower that would be visible behind the hill’s famous chapel. Although operator TDF already has a tower on the hill, this new tower from Itasim has irate growers promising legal action if they cannot prevail via other means. “There’s already one tower that disfigures the landscape that is part of our national heritage,” one local official exclaimed. “Don’t make it two!”
C) Wine enthusiasts at the Olympics in London this month will have a lot to cheer about. Trying to underscore the huge strides dining in Britain has taken over the past couple of decades, authorities will be opening the taps–to wine though, not beer. Wine-in-a-keg stations will be at every venue and each pour will be explicitly priced 50p less than any beer offerings. In a backhanded blow to France, the fresh pours available will consist of Mosel Riesling, sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, Semillon from the Hunter Valley, pinotage from South Africa, and Pinot Noir from British Columbia. To highlight the domestic industry, an English sparkling wine will also be on tap using a pressurized keg system developed by Ridgeview.
D) Fans of “natural wines” in Rome have more to dispair than a stuck fermentation. Authorities there have have fined a wine shop owner for a sign designating a selection of wines in his shop as “natural;” criminal charges might even be in store for the shop’s owner. The crime is consumer fraud since “natural wine” has no official meaning. The blogopshere erupted in cries of a “crackdown” and pointed out that the shop, one of Rome’s oldest dating back to 1929, is being made a high-profile example in what could be a newly aggressive stance at the Ministry of Agriculture.
MULLED: if you don’t have #RudyFatigue, there are lots of counterfeiting/Rudy Kurniawan details in a first-hand account from a NY collector. [oldvinenotes]
SPIT: the end
Laurent Ponsot tells the NYT that “The [counterfeiting] story is not at the end. This is just a beginning.”
COOKED: any wine in a UPS truck in NY today–or an unrefrigerated delivery truck bringing wine to a store or restaurant. Cooked wine > corked wine > counterfeit wine?
APPLAUDED: Laurent Ponsot is combatting not only fraud, but also heat in shipping! Awesome. See above image curtesy of @corkhoarder.
A hailstorm that was so bad that it wiped out not only all of this year’s crop, but also a third of next year’s? It sounds like a headline from The Onion, but it was really from Decanter.com about the Aube region in Champagne.
DISCUSSED: Crushpad, the custom crush facility that started at a warehouse in downtown San Francisco, appears to facing a financial cliff. Lew Perdue had a back-and-forth with their CEO. [wineindustryinsight]
SIPPED: two hybrid wineries are opening in southeast Portland, one with an “enopub.” [Oregonlive]
GULPED: vin de soif. They love it in Toronto! Thanks/merci, Beppi! [globeandmail.com]