Trump winery: it’s yuuuge!

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Last night after winning the Michigan primary, Donald Trump gave a press conference more worthy of QVC than C-SPAN: he had on display a variety of his Trump-branded products, including Trump steaks (free ginsu knife set?) to Trump Water and Trump Wine.

At one point, Trump, an avowed teetotaler, launched into a discussion about Trump Wine saying that it was the biggest winery in the East coast! And one of the biggest in America! Somehow, he stopped short of exclaiming that it’s yuuuuge, but, as we all know, when it comes to bank accounts, hands, and polls, size matters with this fellow.

Let’s fact check this! Trump bought Kluge Estate Winery and 776 acres of adjoining land near Charlottesville in 2011. At the time, twitterati derieded this wondering if he would rename the wine “comb-over cuvée.” He then commented on the acquisition: “I’m really interested in good real estate, not so much in wine. This place had a $28 million mortgage on it, and I bought it for $6.2 million. It’s a Trump deal!”

On the winery web site, they state that the estate today has 1,300 acres with 200 acres of vines planted to vinifera. The winery is 50,000 sf with 100,000 gallon tank capacity. the site size nothing about relative size but modestly states that they are proud to be among the 260 wineries in Virginia today. And hidden under the “Legal” tab, there’s this nugget: “Trump Winery is a registered trade name of Eric Trump Wine Manufacturing LLC, which is not owned, managed or affiliated with Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization or any of their affiliates.” Oops.

To say that it’s the largest winery on the East Coast is a bit like being the tallest in Lilliput: California makes 89% of American wine and some vineyards there, such as Fred Franzias, have tens of thousands of acres of vines planted.

And from a tourism perspective who would ever want to vineyard because it is the biggest? If that were the case, Modesto would be the epicenter of wine tourism, rather than places like Napa. Try googling “biggest vineyard in Finger Lakes” and you’ll see how wine people don’t care as much about size since the results are for the best wineries to visit. But for a real estate developer who doesn’t drink wine, I guess you can see how quantity is more important than quality.

What do your stats tell you–does this claim hold up? Have you tried the wine? I see they have a “fortified chardonnay…”

Value vino: Les Hexagonales, pinot noir, 2012

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This is a bright, cheery pinot noir with lots of varietal character. You won’t mistake it for a Pommard, but that misses the point: This is a lovely value wine that is better than 99% of domestic pinot noirs under $15. Pinot under $15 (nay, $20!) is a tough category but this one comports itself well with a harmonious balance of fruit and acidity. If only varietal “pinot noir” wines offered by the glass at various clubs and airport lounges could be half as good as this. Find this wine at retail

It hails from the Loire, which is somewhat amusing. Not amusing that a good pinot hails from the Loire, since if you haven’t tried a good red Sancerre, then you are missing out. No, amusing because the back label bills it as a wine of place, which I’m sure it is, but it just doesn’t say which place that is exactly. We do learn a bit more on the importer’s site, such as that it is made by the Mérieau family on their 85-acre estate in the Touraine.

Sparkling water, acidity, wine and teeth

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There was a scaaaary story circulating the internets recently: Sparkling water is not good for your teeth! Some variants of the story even compared it to soda! Eeegad–just when you thought you were doing the right thing by completely depriving yourself of any flavor…

Well, as with most scaaaaary headlines, there are some caveats. And these also will allay any fears about wine.

Sparkling water is a lower pH than regular water, which, as we all remember from chemistry class, should be 7.0 or neutral. Sparkling water is about 5.5. Why? Well, the bubbles come with carbonic acid, which reduces the pH (below 7.0 is more acidic). Is that catastrophically bad? No. But the author of the much-circulated piece admitted to drinking 144 ounces of seltzer water in a day, so, yeah, that perma-bath of acidity all day long could be a little destructive if repeated daily. (Btw, reverse osmosis water reduces the pH in its filtering process so if you carbonate RO water via a system such as Soda Stream, it will have an even lower pH than non-RO water.) Sodas can have a pH of 2.5 and have been shown to be many times more corrosive than sparkling water.

So what about wine? Well, even though wine has a lower pH than neutral water, it is not a beverage that most people drink 144 ounces of. If someone had a particularly good night at a dinner, a half a bottle is only 12 ounces of wine. Combine that with food for a “buffering effect,” and, yeah, not a big deal in the dental department.

But what can be harder is tasting a lot of low pH wines such as Riesling or Champagnes. These high-acid wines can have a pH of 2.8-3.3 range. Tastings of these wines can be harder on the teeth and gums than tastings with tannic red wines, which have their own side effects of teeth discoloration (A smile and “hi honey, I’m home” after one of these tastings is usually met with “red wine this time?”). One dentist suggested to me that brushing after a tasting would be better than before a tasting, which would remove build up that could protect the teeth.

Anyway, wine tasters can get some relief in the fact that Sensodyne toothpaste and a Philips Sonicare toothbrush is probably all you need at the end of the day to combat even the toughest Riesling tasting regimen. Regular dental checkups are also advised. 🙂

Quinta do Noval turns 300 – A tasting with Christian Seely

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Who cares about port? I scale waist-high snow mounds and leap slush puddles to attend a tasting of Noval ports yesterday. It was well worth it. Christian Seely (left) with Michael Quinttus of Vintus, who imports the wines.

Christian Seely, the erudite and affable managing director of Quinta do Noval since 1993 (and head of AXA Millesimes), flew into New York to lead a tasting at the new tasting spot, Journée. Available for the assembled scribes were three incredible groups of wines: Colheitas, vintage, and the Nacional, a vintage bottling from a select parcel of old, ungrafted vines that almost always makes the most coveted wines from Noval and from the region. The Quinta Read more…

Oil prices as champagne

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Modified chart via Ian Bremmer

Depardieu to star in French “Sideways”

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Gérard Depardieu (The Belgian resident and Russian citizen) will star in a new buddy film set on the wine route in…Beaujolais.

The film, entitled Sait-Amour after the Beaujolais appellation, is evocative in theme to Sideways, the 2005 Oscar winner. In Saint-Amour, Depardieu plays a farmer who seeks a rapprochement with his son by taking a tour along a wine route–a real one, not just doing the circuit of wine stands at the agricultural fairs. Throw in a young driver named Mike and a love interest…et voila.

It will be interesting to see if the film, released in March of this year in France, will have as big an impact on the Beaujolais region and wines as Sideways did for Santa Barbara and Pinot. I’m guessing no. First, it’s a French release and the French already know the charms of Beaujolais. It could go some distance raising the reputation of the region, which for many people, remains tethered to the quick-to-market Beaujolais Nouveau. Second, for it to have much of an impact here, it would have to be remade in English, which would probably mean shifting the location to the US. Oh, but wait–we already had that with Sideways. So, yeah, I don’t see this as providing much of a fillip to Beaujolais in the US.

Can’t hurt though! And I, for one, look forward to streaming it. Trailer follows below. Read more…

Wine apps: finding the best

Jay Jacobs took my NYU class this past semester. He’s getting into wine and is a techie so he was interested in the latest wine apps. He ended up downloading a few–including one in beta–and test driving them so I invited him to write up his findings here.

By Jason Jacobs

“Just tell me the app that shows me the best wines and how to buy them.” I hear you. But as you might guess, all apps are unique, and there is usually no one app that’s perfect. So what I’d like to explore is an overview of four of the biggest wine apps on the market today, and why each of them might be worth your time—or not.

A quick bit about me – I work on the mobile team at a startup in NYC as the product manager for our app. And while I live in the world of apps, I am just recently getting into wine. Hopefully this gives me a unique perspective that allows me to work through a series of wine-related apps and figure out which is the right one for you.

What I’m looking for:
1) Easy to Use and Understand
2) Easy to Buy Wines
3) Helps Me Discover New Wines

The four apps I’ve chosen to review here are two dominant ones that help log and select wines, Delectable and Vivino, as well as two new wine apps, Banquet and Wine Ring. The three concepts are what I’ll be keeping in mind as I’m using these apps since I assume these are the major goals for the people downloading them. One of the apps stands out above the rest and earns a “thumbs up” from me. The others are either solid or emergent, and the fourth still has some way to go. Read more…

Gov Cuomo deals wine shipping a setback

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Late on Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have made wine shipping easier for New York wine retailers. The bill protects wine retailers from being penalized by the NY State Liquor Authority for potentially violating the laws of other states. That’s right: other states.

In vetoing the bill, Cuomo said that he did not want to make New York a “haven for entities intent on breaking other states’ laws, avoiding other states’ legitimately imposed taxes and regulations and selling to minors with impunity.” (see full text of the statement)

Why would the Governor veto a bill that both houses passed by 90% last summer? Your guess is as good as mine. But that language about selling to minors is usually the hallmark of wholesalers’ argument against liberalizing wine shipping–technology exists to collect taxes and provide age verification. Now it remains to be seen if the legislature will override the veto with a two-thirds majority.

The Governor also called on the SLA to hold “a series of roundtables” on how to modernize the industry starting next March. We shall see if these roundtables include any consumer representatives but since a recent SLA ad hoc committee did not, I will not hold my breath.

The bill stems from a long-running case of Empire Wine, a retailer in the Albany area that is active in internet sales. The SLA had sanctioned Empire for violating other states’ laws and the legislature saw that as overreach, thus passing the bill.


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