World wine consumption: USA up, France down

world wine consumption The OIV, an international wine organization based in Paris, released their annual report of the state of the wine world last week.

In it, they showed the US market becoming the largest in the world for the first time. Even though this got some play last week, we already broke out the foam fingers a couple of years ago when another organization declared the US the world’s biggest wine market. Of course, in per capita terms, we’re still a relative weakling.

Still, the trend in world wine consumption is clear: the US is one of the few big, growing markets in the world. France sagged a tremendous amount year-over-year (see chart), making one wonder if there was a methodological problem. Also of note in their report, China actually showed a decline.

Anyway, we’ll raise a glass to these statistics–all in the name of keeping the USA at the top of the list!

See the OIV report

Fake wine first-hand

drc wine label Last week, a story broke about The White Club, a group with $25k annual dues that staged lavish, wine-centric dinners around the world. We mentioned the fill-and-refill scam in Friday’s post about fake wine.

Since then, some details have emerged about the attendees. Jancis Robinson published a post detailing how she had attended three of the White Club dinners and was “taken in” by the organizers (adding, “My colleagues John Stimpfig and Neal Martin were too.”). She suspects that the wines at the first dinner, outside of Copenhagen, were mostly real. By the second dinner, in Bern, the pouring was taking place in another room. And by the third dinner, in November 2011 in Hong Kong, she writes that the organizer “by this point must have thought I was a real mug because it was quite clear that many of these wines were not at all as they should be. It was all decidedly embarrassing.” She has removed any comments about the wines from her site.

Neal Martin, author of Pomerol and Wine Advocate contributor, has yet to comment on The White Club. Over on WineBerserkers, a commenter posted one of Martin’s tasting notes for a Petrus 1970 from one of the dinners: “This is probably one of the finest bottles of Petrus I have encountered. Drink now-2030. Tasted September 2012.”

Old bottles are famously variable. In fact, there’s a saying that there aren’t good wines, there are only good bottles. Apparently there are also fake bottles. So, remind me, what’s the point of tasting old wines (especially not ex-cellar) and publishing notes on them? At the very least, participants should be obliged to take a big shot of skepticism before proceeding.

Blind taste test: Stradivarius

stradivarius We all know about the record of wine experts at blind tastings: decidedly mixed.

What if professional violin players played a 300-year-old Stradivarius worth millions of dollars and a newer violin (worth tens of thousands) under double blind conditions? Would they fare better than professional wine tasters? SPOILER ALERT: It turns out, no, the professional players picked the older violins as superior only on par with the odds in chance.

Check out the story on the most recent Planet Money podcast from NPR. And here’s a link to the one of the studies in PNAS.

This week in wine fraud

wine fraud denmark
What, just because Rudy Kurniawan is behind bars you think wine fraud is kaput? Think again! Here is the latest in wine fraud this week:

1. Rudy Kurniawan, found guilty by a jury of wine counterfeiting late last year, had his lawyers lodge a letter with the judge prior to his May 29 sentencing. In it, they claim, essentially, that fakes are pervasive in the world of high-end wine, Kurniawan was a big buyer, and, even though he did sell some wines that ended up being fake, it’s not the worst thing in the world since the victims were rich. Oh, and he loved the adulation from collectors and hanging out with the Burghound Allen Meadows and Jackie Chan.

2. The Danish magazine “gastro” has published a piece on a Danish couple they say scammed the wine world with–wait for it–cheaper wine in expensive bottles. According to this account on BT.dk (using the estimable Google Translate), they had a wine club dubbed The White Club that carried about $25,000 a year in dues for lavish dinners staged around the world. Attendees thought were tasting the finest wines including one DRC blowout in December 2012.

3. “Fake Bordeaux in China being made on offshore boats,” says a headline in Decanter. Not too many details on this nautical-vinous scheme, however, as the story veers into the machinations of building a third-party certification against fraud. Bonne chance, mes amis!

Eataly Vino turns into a Nutella bar

eataly nutella

Remember Eataly Vino NYC? Yes, the wine shop that is serving six months in the penalty box for liquor law infractions. Well, the at-grade storefront on the 23rd St. side of Eataly New York has been transformed at least temporarily into…wait for it…a Nutella bar!

Eater reports that, building on the success of a Nutella bar in Eataly Chicago (pictured above; Eater credit), the Italian gastroplex will roll one out in NYC on Monday. The Chicago spot offers Nutella on rustic bread, square pastries and crepes for prices ranging from $2.80 – $5.80 (see menu). Eater says that the line on weekends is 45 minutes long. Nuts!

State dinner w Filipino food: Somm U

obama jiro
President Obama just wrapped up a four-country swing through Asia. There was lots of diplomatic talk, to be sure, but inquiring food minds want to know what of the local cuisines Obama got to sample. Thanks to the official food feed (?) of the White House on Twitter, Obamafoodorama (aka Eddie Gehman Kohan), we have some of the foodie details of his trip. The real culinary highlight must have been dining at Sukiybashi Jiro where owner and sushi master Jiro Ono served Obama and Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. Must have been tough to score that rez!

We always enjoy taking a look at the wines poured at state dinners at the White House. But at the state dinner in Manilla, we have the official menu but no wines listed. You know what that means: “impossible food-wine pairings” meets “leaders and liters”! Readers new and old are no doubt salivating as if it were grower champagne and kumamoto oysters! In the absence of word on the actual wines served, here is a combination of two of our favorite themes and the chance for you to play sommelier! Un, deux, trois: voila! The menu from the Philippines: Read more…

Mathieu Lapierre and 2013

lapierre morgon
Mathieu Lapierre said that the 2013 showed more “Burgundy influence.” At the Kermit Lynch portfolio tasting in New York yesterday, he elaborated briefly that given the location of Beaujolais, vintages can oscillate between “Rhone-influenced” (e.g. 2009) and “Burgundy-influenced.” He said 2013 for him ended without hail, the grapes were healthy and they harvested as late as October 28, a record.

The Raisin Gaullois 2013 is a vin glouglou from the estate’s youngest vines, bottled en screw. (Too bad that the 5L bag-in-box is not imported!)

The Morgon, always a reference point for the region, has a beautiful poise between come-hither fruit of the semi-carbonic macerationo and tannic structure from the granite soils in the 2013 wine. The “Cuvée MMIX” (2009) was a tad ripe for me (Rhone-ish, if you will), but the “Cuvée MMXI” (2011) more successfully combines the ripeness of the wine with intriguing structure. Thing for my “to do” list: taste this MMXI with the Foillard Pi Morgon wine for a fuller understanding of their differences and similarities.

Asked if he prefers to drink the Morgons now or with some age on them, Mathieu replied that with friends he prefers young wines but that for more serious occasions, he’s currently drinking the 2007s. He invoked the late Henri Jayer, saying “a good wine must be good young and old for different reasons.”

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Put a Burg on it: d’Angerville Jura

pelican jura

Guillaume d’Angerville has made sophisticated and elegant wines at his family domaine in Volnay since he took over in 2003. But recently, the story goes, his curiosity was piqued in the wines of the Jura: a Parisian sommelier poured him a chardonnay from the region blind and d’Angerville took it to be a white Burgundy. And we all know that happens with a successful and ambitious vintner who has his curiosity piqued: before long, d’Angerville had purchased two estates in the Jura.

He placed them under the name Domaine du Pélican complete with a pelican on the label. You might think that because the Jura is the ultimate wine for hipsters that, in deference to Portlandia, he had to “put a bird on it.” But apparently it is a reference to the coat of arms of Arbois, where the wines are made. Burgundy…Jura…is this a match made in sommelier heaven or what?

D’Angerville settled on the two properties after an extensive search. Even though Arbois is only an hour from Volnay, it gets twice the rainfall. Also, some of the plots can be quite windy, given the rolling countryside. Throw in his high standard for excellence and it’s no surprise that it took d’Angerville a few years to find the right spots. Wink Lorch has a detailed backgrounder (pdf) about the new domaine and writes that they are looking for yet another vineyard parcel in the area. They are also experimenting with the local “sous-voile” style of winemaking, wherein white wines mature under a natural yeast blanket giving them an oxidative quality.

The current wines are made in a Burgundian style, which is to say that the white barrels are topped up and not oxidative. The 2012 Chardonnay has a vibrancy and elegance with layers–strata?–of minerals and a lingering finish. The 2012 Savagnin Ouillé is richer, with a faint nutty character, and big dose of minerals (can’t vouch for vitamins). The red 2012 Trois Cépages is a blend of Pinot Noir, Trousseau, and Poulsard (60-35-5) that has the terrific acidity you would expect as well as lively, prickly tannins that give it good structure.

These exciting wines are hard to find but worth seeking out. (Find these wines at retail)


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