Wine around $20: Copain Syrah Tous Ensemble

copain syrah
The signature characteristic for syrah from the Northern Rhone is an alluring savory character with a note of black olives. This Copain Syrah, “Tous Ensemble,” 2011, comes from three vineyards in Mendocino County and sees nine months in neutral oak. It’s in the Northern Rhone vein, favoring restraint instead of anything over the top–no “gobs” of anything here. It’s not that California syrah has to ape France; it’s just that Wells Guthrie of Copain favors that style, as do I.

I poured this wine at an event recently and it was very well received; I bought it again for $24 and it was a superb transition to fall with richer foods and cooler weather. And at $21.60 on the case, it is one heckuva a good wine for the price.

Find this wine at retail

Kate Moss makes a Champagne A-cup

kate moss champagne Kate Moss has launched a new line of champagne stemware taken from a mold of her breast. The model famously displayed her skin-and-bone frame (topless) in ads for Calvin Klein’s Obsession. Which might lead one to think the champagne coupe is called the A-cup? But apparently not.

The coupe was purportedly modeled on Marie Antoinette’s breast. But it fell out of fashion in favor of the stem, which favors a visual presentation of Champagne’s bubbles.

Now many sommeliers favor serving Champagne in white burgundy glasses to capture more of the aromas. Read more…

William Shatner’s Brown Bag


When William Shatner is not negotiating deals for your travel, apparently he’s been drinking wine out of a brown paper bag. Fear not for the former Star Trek Captain–he’s swilling on camera in a newish (I’m the last to know, apparently), short interview show that incorporates a few minutes of celebrity chat followed by a brown bag wine tasting.

The most recent episode features Misha Collins who talks about his charitable work and acting in some supernatural show. When it comes to the tasting portion, The Negotiator pours a white wine in the glass, which Collins grips by the bowl, swirls and sniffs, saying that it has a “waft of amphibian, a primordial sacrifice” like the Aztecs. Must be a Halloween tasting note. But it made me laugh.

The Shat previously tasted with Alton Brown, who developed a word cloud of a tasting note with uncanny precision on his guess, and Dominic, a “marijuana dealer,” among other guests.

It’s all good fun but it is unfortunate that at the end of each tasting, Shatner pulls out a sheet with a score (from his show sommelier) and tasting notes on it and the guests rejoice or sulk in how much they conformed or deviated with the sommelier’s thoughts. But here’s the thing: the sommelier’s tasting notes and scores are simply his opinion. Shatner should embrace his guests’ opinions too, rather than comparing them to some sacred text/score handed down from on high. As wine enthusiasts, we’ve been there, done that. But the page has turned and the diversity of opinion now reigns supreme. For Shatner’s program to connect with millennials, he might want to set up more of contrasting views, rather than a right and wrong about what are simply opinions.

There are facts about the wines but blind tasting is notoriously difficult. Hats off to Alton Brown, though!

Sobering: America’s skewed drinking

us drinks data
We know that a third of Americans abstain from alcohol. Another third don’t drink too much. But the Wonkblog has a striking graphic showing that the top decile really pound the stuff, drinking an astonishing ten drinks per day. That’s about two bottles of wine a day. Paging Gerard Depardieu! Read more…

James Suckling’s $8,500 briefcase of stemware

james suckling ferragamo briefcase JAMES SUCKLING’S $8,500 FERRAGAMO BRIEFCASE FOR LALIQUE STEMWARE

Really, need we say more? No, but we should point out there’s no scarf included.

Here are some other wine-y things you could do with $8,500:

* Build a 12′ x 5′ wine cellar in your basement with a cooling unit and double stacked wooden racking for 1,000 bottles and a dozen Zalto crystal wine glasses. (Local labor rates may vary.)

* Buy a ten bottles of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Echézeaux, 2011.

* Buy a Eurocave 5290 + one case of Dom Pérignon 2004 and two cases of Billecart Salmon rosé Champagne.

* Buy 284 bottles of Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey’s 2012 white Burgundy.

* Buy 531 bottles of Domaine de la Pepiere Clos des Briords Muscadet 2012.

Wine pour in super slow mo

iPhone 6 Slow Motion Wine Pour 240fps from Osborne Images on Vimeo.

Having fun with the new iPhone’s 240 frames per second, or, super slow-mo.

Club W raises $9.5 million

wine venture funding 213x300 Club W, a wine club that sells private label wine directly to consumers, has raised $9.5 million in its latest round of funding. The company, led by CEO Xander Oxman, had previously raised $3.1 million in a seed round. The WSJ reports that Bessemer Venture Partners led this round; the previous round was led by Crosscut Ventures. The WSJ did not state the company’s valuation at either round.

Part of the Club W pitch includes calling themselves a “global winery” that cuts out all the tiers of the wine biz, including winery, importer, wholesaler, and retailer to offer wines at about $13 each (three a month for $39). Wines have names such as “So this happened…” and “Alchymist noir red blend.” Their web site does not state how they have cracked the perennial wine shipping nut though if the LA-based company is acting as a bonded winery and a licensed importer, the number of states they could ship to could run into the dozens.

In the recent wine venture capital beat, Club W has now soaked up the most funding. Coravin, which stuck its needle into the biotech community, is second. Vivino, the wine app based in Denmark, is running third. Silicon Valley’s Delectable, which closed a $3 million round in May, is fourth.

Lot 18 raised the most venture capital for a wine business post-recession at $44 million. But the company has had layoffs and abandoned the “flash sale” model. In other private equity news, The Wine Advocate sold an controlling stake for reportedly $15 million in late 2012.

Depardieu drinks 14 bottles of wine a day

gerard depardieu 150x150 French wine consumption has been declining for the past fifty years. But one man seems to be taking it upon himself to single-handedly reverse this trend: Gerard Depardieu.

The Frenchman-turned-ruski told the British site So Film, “I can absorb 12, 13, 14 bottles…per day. But I’m never totally drunk, just a little pissed.”

“All you need is a 10-minute nap and voilà, a slurp of rosé wine and I feel as fresh as a daisy!” He added.

He’s not likely to run out of wine since Depardieu owns Chateau de Tigne in Anjou. He once joked that his mother’s amniotic fluid was wine.


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