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]

A white truffle sells for $61,250

Sabatino_Largest-White-Truffle2White truffles are a rare delicacy: The short season for the mushrooms, the stratospheric prices ($2,000 a pound is not uncommon) and the intense aromas and flavors make this mostly something for the world’s super rich. Shaving a few grams of a white truffle on a dish such as risotto can send the price at a restaurant soaring into the triple digits. The artist formerly known P. Diddy had the money quote on the fungus. Apparently, when dining at Restaurant Daniel, he would say “shave this bitch” to indicate that he thought the dish would be enhanced by some white truffle. No doubt the servers were only too happy to oblige.

Abundant rains this year in Italy produced something of a bumper crop of white truffles. Ryan Sutton explores truffle-nomics, pointing out that wholesale prices are down by 50% over two years ago. Restaurateurs have mostly lowered their prices on the rarities too with, for example, Marea charging $100 for 7-8 grams of truffles shaved over risotto, down from $149 last year.

The bumper crop produced what has been called “the world’s largest truffle.” Discovered last week in central Italy, the Balestra family of Sabatino Truffles put it on the block at Sotheby’s New York over the weekend. The 1.89-kilo (4.16-lb) white truffle sold for $61,250 to a phone bidder in China. That’s $32.40 per gram. Makes Marea’s pricing seem like a bargain! I’m sure the bidder has a private plane–the kind that shaves truffles, that is.

The consignors say they will be donating the proceeds to charity.

More on truffles:
“The Dark Side of the Truffle Trade” [The Atlantic]
“White Truffles: Why They’re Worth $2,000 a Pound” [TIME]

Zipz wine gets $2.5 million funding on Shark Tank

zipz_wine_tvThe sharks love them some wine. Especially Kevin O’Leary.

The self-proclaimed “Mr. Wonderful” on the ABC show “Shark Tank” reached an agreement to invest $2.5 million in the single-serve wine company called Zipz. That gave Zipz the $25 million they were seeking.

Making the presentation for Zipz was Andrew McMurray. McMurray is more known in the wine world as Read more…

Bear market for Russian wine imports

Sanctions and the declining price of oil have slowed Russia’s economy, which is forecast to fall into recession next year. (A real bear market–rimshot.) And, in a nasty triple whammy, the ruble has declined precipitously as well, which is forcing up the price of imports. Consider the case of Apple, which just boosted the price of iPhones for sale in Russia by 25%. (But, apparently, even some, erm, domestic industries have also been compelled raise prices).

russian_wine_marketSo what about wine? President Vladimir Putin has banned some food imports in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis. Notably, foreign wine and spirits weren’t on the banned list as they are (were?) popular with middle class Russians despite high taxes and markups. But Putin has wielded wine tariffs as a cudgel before against Moldova and Georgia so it may just be a matter of time until wine tariffs arrive too. In any event, the slowdown and inflation have put many imported wines out of reach.

In 2012, according to OIV, the International Wine office, Russia was the ninth largest importer in the world by value bringing in 911 million euros of wine. And they were growing at 11% reaching 7.9 liters per person (compare that with 9.1 liters per person in the US, using the OIV data for 2011). But with the current malaise, those numbers are likely to fall off a cliff. Which is too bad because in the Jeffersonian ideal, wine is a drink of moderation and the antidote to spirits and, perhaps in this case, an attractive alternative to bare-chested vodka drinking.

Which countries have the most at stake in the Russian wine market? Thanks to this handy graphic from the folks at RBTH.com, we know that French wines dominated Russian wine imports in 2012 with 20% market share but Italian wines are catching up as moscato has gained in popularity. Spain is third. The US had a 1.37% market share.


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