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]
Remember wine in a can from a few weeks ago? Or the headline “”Beringer launches White Zinfandel Moscato”? Here’s something else to make your head spin: Turley…11.2% alcohol…pink wine…Yes, Turley, the icon of high-octane Zinfandel, has released a “white Zinfandel.” Jon Bonné tasted it and called it “refreshing…with surprising depth.” Bar Tartine in San Francisco tweeted that it was “so delicious.”
In other California low-alcohol news, Food and Wine as well as Eater highlight nouvelle vague microproducers making relatively affordable, atypical wines from California. That’s three articles this week, so it is officially a trend to write about the trend. As I mentioned on Wednesday, perhaps the most interesting part of the story is that these acid-hounds are casting aside the selling-wine-by-numbers approach that has served as the sales model for the industry for so long. The Eater story digs into that aspect.
And you may have heard about passing off cheap Burgundy as more expensive wine. But, unrelated to the story of Rudy Kurniawan, authorities have arrested four executives at Labouré-Roi on suspicion of fraud.
SIPPED: matters of taste
Pictures of billionaires in Burgundy are generally disturbing (don’t drive up prices any more!). But in this one, of Jay-Z at Ma Cuisine in Beaune, it is reassuring to see that the superstar has moved beyond his own Champagne Ace of Spades and is delving into Roulot. Fellow wine geek!?! Meursault nice…
SIPPED: profiting from passion
Dr. Ruth has launched a line of low-alcohol wines to “arouse”? Sounds like quite a brand extension…Also, isn’t almost all wine vin d’amour? [NY Post]
LIBERALIZED? A popular wine bill would allow Canadian citizens to carry wine across provincial lines! If it passes the Canadian parliament vote this Wednesday, it would go to the Senate and could be law by the end of the month. Free at last?!? [cbc.ca]
SKEWERED: wine blog awards [HoseMaster of Wine]
BREAKING: In Possible Gaffe, Romney Says Poor People ‘Go Best With White Wine’ [Andy Borowitz]
SIPPED: “Tres Brooklyn.”
Food trucks. Paris. Comment dit-on “hipster”? [NYT]
SPIT: Will the NYC ban on big sugary drinks include banning 750-ml bottles of Moscato?
New wine jobs: assistant beverage director, wine sales, summer internship and more.
SIPPED: Jesus as store manager in the image above?
LARGELY SPIT: Bordeaux 11
After pre-judging the Bordeaux 2011 vintage prior to tasting, Parker dials back the damning commentary writing in his report that it was “much better than I first thought,” likening it to 2008 and 2001. [DrinksBusiness.com]
SIPPED, NOT SMOKED: Mike Steinberger answers the question “what was HE smoking?!?” with the latest piece on the pot wine phenomenon in California. [DailyBeast]
SUSPENDED: Jancis Robinson reports that work on the controversial Mosel high bridge has been suspended. [JancisRobinson.com]
SPIT: wine as TP
Costco’s wine buyer, responsible for one billion dollars in wine sales, tells CNBC that wine is like toilet paper. Talia Baiocchi weeps. [eater]
According to the illustrious Hosemaster of Wine, wine bloggers are barking poodles calling out for attention. So, yay, the editors at Saveur have included this blog as a finalist in the best wine and beer blog category. Woof! Click through to vote and see the complete shortlist (which includes some good ones but doesn’t include Hosey, sadly). [Saveur.com]
SPIT: vintage of the century
The commercially savvy Bordelais scheduled en primeurs during the quasi-holiday week before Easter. Why? Well, some rushed to pre-judge expressing “no interest” in the wines, while others went and tasted with full reports due soon. Rumor has it that some top chateau will cut prices by as much as 50 percent on the first tranche of 2011.
SIPPED: waistlines and increasing demographics
If NFL viewers are going to put down the Lite beer and pick up a wine glass, they might reach for a wine from Three Fat Guys, a new wine from three former Packers who weigh in at a cumulative 1,000 pounds. The linemen say they’re doing it because they like wine, not to make money, and with a paltry 126 cases made, they may actually mean it! [Arizona Republic]
SIPPED: circa 1933
Fortune.com republished a lengthy archive article from 1934 over the weekend. There’s lots to savor: the author suggests American wine can handily undercut French wine on price, urges an Eastward expansion of vineyards in the US, and notes that Champagne wasn’t considered wine by government policy.
SIPPED: Cheval Blanc ’47
Well, not by me, sadly! But Sotheby’s is offering the wine (in 750 and magnum!) among others offered directly from the Chateau cellars. How big will the authenticity premium be on the bottles?
SPIT: lite beer
A Bloomberg article suggests the increased interest in wine is, in part, spurring America’s thirst for craft beer. And in Canada, wine’s popularity is growing much faster than the flat suds. Over the past decade, beer sales have slipped while red wine has grown 181%. Maybe one day wine will outsell beer. Now that would be something, eh?
SIPPED: more laffs
A propos of nothing wine, put this NYer humor piece (“Vive la France“) in your queue. Here’s a taste: “In France we do not even have a word for fat. If a woman is obese, we simply call her American.”
SPIT: Metrokane’s The Rabbit
Install a machine such as in the above video and you will really one-up your neighbors in the corkscrew department.
What? That LA Times is dropping stars for restaurant reviews? I’m 99+ points on that. [LAT]
SPIT: a man’s cave
Henry Tang, a candidate to be wine-drenched Hong Kong’s next chief executive, may have seen his hopes hoisted on his (illegal) wine cellar. [BBC]
CHOMPED: meat dress? “My favorite way to catch up with friends is to have wine and food nights. We cook together and drink six or seven bottles of red wine.” -Lady Gaga [Drinksbusiness]
PARKENTSTEIN: “I only awarded 19 perfect 100 point wines in THE GREATEST VINTAGE EVER! This is remarkable restraint on my part.” [hosemaster]
TASTEVIN: “A 100-point score for a young wine is just a cry for attention.” -Stephen Tanzer