RIP SkyMall, purveyor of random wine stuff

Forget the ECB–the big business news of the day is that the parent company of SkyMall has filed for bankruptcy! Yes, the catalogue found “in the seat back in front of you” that peddled bizarre but somehow captivating objects is on a ground stop that may really be interminable. SkyMall loved pets–everything you never thought you needed for Fido and Whiskers. But they equally loved wine! So here, we immortalize for the ages some of that random wine stuff! Long live SkyMall wine in all its awesomeness!

skymall_wine
Pets (animals) + wine! Amazed the pages didn’t spontaneously combust since this is such SkyMall hotness! Read more…

Burg surge: wine auctions 2014

DRC_wine_auction
Wine auctions around the world ticked higher in 2014. But auction hammers were coming down the fastest in the US, which surged 26 percent according to data aggregated by Wine Spectator.

They report that global wine auctions halted two years of declines to grow at a 4.5% rate to $352 million; the US accounted for $159 million, up from $126 million last year. Globally, Hong Kong sagged 7% while UK and Europe slumped 26%. Hong Kong retains the crown though as it bested NYC with $104 million in sales vs $84 million for New York. In the US, Hart Davis Hart in Chicago was the leader with $42.8 million in sales but Wally’s, a newish entrant, saw strong growth rising to third in the US thanks to the consignment from collector Roy Welland, which fetched about $11 million.

Online auctions tallied up $46 million in sales with winebid.com the leader. Despite occurring in the US, these do not figure in the US auction total as compiled by Wine Spectator.

Sotheby’s was the wine auctions 2014 leader with $65 million in sales worldwide. Click here to see the handy table from WS in PDF.

Representatives from several auction houses commented that Burgundy had displaced Bordeaux as the top wine. DRC led the way but Domaine Leflaive, Rousseau, Comte de Vogüé, and Louis Jadot were among the Burgundy producers seeing significant volume.

As a Burgundy enthusiast, I lament the rise in interest of the region’s wines since there is relatively little wine to go around. We’ll see if auction interest ticks up for village wines given the low harvests in the region the past few vintages. Probably not, but the prices will undoubtedly escalate at shops anyway as others clamor for a taste of the precious pinot and chardonnay. For 2015, it will be interesting to see if the US remains the top market given the strong dollar. Probably.

On a related note, for the two major auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, wine is a mere canapé for the main course of art and collectibles. Driven by art pieces, Christie’s global sales rose 12% to $7.7 billion while Sotheby’s grew 18% to $6 billion according to Bloomberg. Christie’s is a unit of Artemis, owned by French billionaire Francois Pinault (who also owns Chateau Latour in Bordeaux, Domaine d’Eugenie in Burgundy, and Araujo in Napa). Sotheby’s trades on the NYSE with the ticker BID.

The fondue dilemma and the Swiss Franc surge

eurchf
The Swiss franc surged in foreign currency trading yesterday as the central bank decided to stop defending the 1.20 floor with the euro. Last trade in the EURCHF was 0.99, so that’s a 20% surge for the Swissie. The CEO of Swatch was appalled at the currency move will likely send prices higher in foreign markets for the “Swiss made” watches. James B. Stewart, one of my favorite financial journalists, has an article in today’s Times examining the role of currency moves on various luxury products (and was kind enough to include a quote from Dr. Vino).

So, because I know you loooove talking currency moves even more than uncorking a good white wine from Neuchatel, what does the Swiss franc surge mean for wine? Read more…

Next NYU wine class starts Feb 4

wine_barrelsMake good on your new year’s resolution to learn more about wine and sign up for my next wine class at NYU. It’s open to all adult learners and, fear not, there are no grades so you don’t have to worry that your parents will be disappointed if they were to see a bad grade in a wine class on your transcript.

The course meets six consecutive Wednesday evenings, starting on February 4. We will explore some basics, including how to taste as well as understanding France and the US. We will also explore hot-button issues and topics, such as natural wine, wine auction markets, the role of critics, and how to navigate a wine list with confidence and style. Each class will have a tasting of at least six wines.

So what are you waiting for–sign up now! Hope to see you there.

The Grinch who stole wine from The French Laundry

“Wine thief with nose for the best reaps huge haul at The French Laundry” – SFGate

YOUNTVILLE –
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a grouse;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While memories of chanterelles danced in the diners’ heads;
The shrine to fine dining was closed for a remodel
All the foie gras put away, corks firmly in bottles. Read more…

Why the Euro at nine-year low won’t hit wine shelves soon

eurusd_2015
The euro hit 1.18 against the US dollar overnight, a level last seen in 2006. One might think that suddenly Barolos, Burgundies and Champagnes will become cheaper here in the US. Well, a European wine lover can dream…Here are eight reasons why we won’t see discounts on wine shelves in the immediate future.

1. Retailers have stock on their shelves already. They have to clear that inventory. On that note: Read more…

Canadian fisticuffs! Sipped & spit

Oh, Canada!

Check out this 5-minute radio segment from CBC wherein to Canadian wine personalities start sparring verbally–and then literally–in the studio. And there’s no hockey involved.

Good stuff. Very Monty Python-esque. You will be LOLing.

In other wine news:

AU REVOIR and BONJOUR: Jacques Puffeney, a viticultural leader in the Jura, has sold his vineyards (10.5 acres) to Guillaume D’Angerville of Burgundy. [wine-searcher]

MOSCATO FOR ALL: Russia threatens to ban French wine imports in retaliation for Western sanctions. [Decanter]

BIG BOTTLES: Two magnums of Chateau Petrus 1961 fetched $79,625–about $800 an ounce–at Sotheby’s NYC this past weekend. [Bloomberg]

PRO TIP: Brut NV on a label does not mean the wine is from Nevada.

Wine picks from my NYU class

ridge_three_valleys
In my six-week NYU class ended recently. In the class, we taste six wines (blind) around a certain theme every week and I poll people on their visceral reaction to each wine before we discuss it. The wines that have weak polling numbers have to be put out to pasture or run for election in marginal shops where the mere act of getting a placement will be given polite golf claps. But the wines that poll well–generally 90+%–have the power to sweep, scoring huge wins at cash registers at wine shops across the land. I try to post the winners on my instagram feed after each class.

In the photo above, we had the highest percentage of unanimously liked wines in any class of the semester. Our theme that evening was the wines of America. We kicked off with the Roederer Estate Brut from Anderson Valley that was greeted with a roomful of thumbs up for bubbles and balance (and, perhaps, because it was the first wine after work). [Find Roederer Estate at retail] The next unanimously liked wine was the Copain, “Tous Ensemble,” Syrah 2011 for its elegant flavors and complexity. [Find Copain Syrah at retail] Finally, the Ridge, “Three Valleys,” 2011 got thunderous applause, perhaps because it was poured last but more accurately because it yet has good intensity and mouthfeel without the high octane rating that accompanies most California Zinfadel (the three Valleys is actually a Zinfandel-based blend, and the other grape varieties may also help the freshness of the wine). Oh, and they loved the price, rolling in in the low $20s. [Find Three Valleys at retail]


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