Crimea, California’s climate, Biodynamics – sipped & spit


Andrew Jefford has a long piece on the wine industry in the Crimea and how current events will impact it. Net: some growers are pleased to be rid of corruption and fees they experienced in Ukraine and welcome being part of the “richer and more diverse” Russian market. [Decanter.com]

“Excessive temperatures in Napa Valley make it a challenge for the wines to belong on a world class level.” Christian Moueix, owner of Dominus and a parter of Chateau Pétrus, comments about drip irrigation and more, summarized on jancisrobinson.com.

“[Rudolf Steiner] had no competence in agriculture – he was an archivist for the Goethe family.” So says the esteemed Frédéric Mugnier in a wide-ranging Q&A over on wine-searcher.com].

PSA: “The things you write on Twitter are public…This is not a bug in Twitter; it is a feature.” [Gawker]

Hungary kicks butts, dropping 3 and 4 Puttonyos Tokaji. [Decanter]

The James Beard Foundation announced the full list of nominees today including Ray Isle! Congratulations to all the nominees! [JBF] Here’s Ray’s story, “The Battle for America’s Oldest Vines,” at F&W.

Miracle Machine: a 500-million view hoax

miracle machine wine
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Such is the case with the so-called “Miracle Machine,” a $499 countertop appliance that claimed to make water into wine in three days. The story had legs and ran away faster than Usain Bolt since it was picked up by a huge number of media outlets: According to one account, 600 publications wrote about the machine and the articles were read 500 million times. Philip James was the public face of the project; previously, he headed Snooth and then Lot18, where he raised over $40 million from investors before closing various product lines, having staff reductions, and, ultimately, stepping down.

Now, James has admitted the project is a hoax. In a video on winetowater.org, he Read more…

Who will be the Elon Musk of the wine industry?

tesla model s

Elon Musk is an innovator–probably everyone who’s picked up the business pages recently knows that. Not that I’ve ever driven a Tesla, but I am a huge fan of everything he’s doing. While the gigafactory, the hyperloop and the electronic car that goes 0 – 60 in 5.6 seconds may have gotten most of the attention, he’s also taking on a lot of entrenched interests.

First and foremost is how cars get sold in America. States regulate the sale Read more…

Which states drink the most wine?

map US wine consumption

Which state is the thirstiest for wine? It’s a question we’ve noodled before as Washington DC is the thirstiest non-state in the nation! The good folks at Business Insider have taken the initiative to produce this handy map showing comparative wine consumption data, which they also list in a table. (Since the data relate to wine sales as opposed to pulling corks, some states with friendly policies to wine sales–such as New Hampshire–or places with a good selection next to lousy places–such as DC and adjacent the Montgomery County, MD–skew the results somewhat.)

Wine is popular across the country today. And it’s a non-partisan imbibing as the appeal of cabernet and Champagne spans party lines. Yet, after the jump, check out how the map of wine consumption correlates with the 2012 electoral returns: Read more…

The trial of Olivier Cousin

olivier cousin horse

This week, Olivier Cousin went before a judge. The heinous crime of the pony-tailed vigneron? Truth in labeling.

Here’s the story (which we’ve mentioned before but it’s worth a recap): Cousin farms 12 acres organically–neigh, biodynamically for Cousin who tills his vineyards with horse-drawn plows. In those vineyards in the town of Anjou, he has a lot of cabernet franc, known locally as Breton. So he labeled his 100% cabernet franc wine grown in Anjou as “Anjou Pur Breton.” So far so good, right?

The only catch is that the appellation retains the right to the term Anjou on wine labels and wines bearing the term must meet their criteria, including a blind tasting by committee. And Cousin quit the AOC in 2005 telling journo-blogger Jim Budd, “I stopped because the AOC is for industrial wines as the rules permit everything: weedkillers, huge yields, additives etc.” So the appellation authorities have dropped the legal hammer (gavel?) on Cousin and brought him to court. Read more…

Parker’s putdowns

robert parker yao 2
Robert Parker (not Tony) standing with Yao Ming (Image removed–see update below)

Robert Parker’s “World Tour” of Asia continues. And while it may be hedonistic fruit bombs poured from the importer “partners” by day, Parker drops the chat room bombs late at night. Evidence #1, comments about the wines Eric Asimov (NYT) and Jon Bonne (SF Chronicle) presented at a panel entitled “Unexpected Napa Valley Wines”: Read more…

Vingarde Valise [infomercials]

Here’s a funny informercial for what may or may not be a good product: the Vingarde Valise, quote, luggage for wine geeks.

The campy video is kind of funny–who doesn’t like to see a case of wine kicked down a flight of stairs and live to tell the tale? Maybe he should take this to Shark Tank? I’m sure Lori, the “Queen of QVC,” would love it. (But the sharks always ask about sales, so he’d be advised to actually sell a few units first.)

Related: bringing wine home from abroad

AOC committee rejects a top Muscadet

ecu granite muscadet

Domaine de l’Ecu, a conscientious estate in Muscadet that makes some of the region’s best wines, has had one of their wines rejected by an approval committee.

To have the right to bear the appellation, a French wine must meet all the rules, which pertain to things like which vines can be planted in a delimited zone, maximum yields and so on. The final aspect of approval is a blind tasting by a committee, allegedly to assure “typicité” or that the wine tastes typical of the region. Usually this is a rubber stamp. But tasting committees, particularly in the Loire Valley where Muscadet lies on the western edge, have been showing a tendency to reject some wines. Paradoxically, those are often singular wines that strive for excellence. In so doing, the AOC system becomes more of an obstruction to quality than an institution to undergird it as it reinforces middling or bland wines.

The estate was founded by Guy Bossard. But it was Frédéric Niger Van Herck, a partner and the winemaker at Domaine de l’Ecu, posted the news that their “Expression de Granite” 2012, one of three bottlings that express the different soil types, has been denied the approval of the tasting committee. Here what he said on FB:

News of the day: Granite 2012 has just been rejected by the AOC tasting committee–and unanimously, no less… Promised for next year, full-on chemistry, mechanical harvesting, commercial yeasts, full use of enzymes, and sulphur galore… It should pass that way. icon smile

The worst thing is that everything is sold out and have nothing left… When will these official tastings end that turn the beautiful into standardized products? [my translation]

Long live the French wine!

He elaborated that the panel of five tasters judged his wine to be oxidized, adding “what a bunch of…”

Clearly the AOC has a problem: by rejecting wines from quality producers, they risk becoming a laughingstock by enshrining mediocrity. Read more…


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