Batali and Bastianich group threatened with suspension

eataly wine
Can you imagine dining at Del Posto and not having a glass of vino?

That might be the case. The New York SLA (State Liquor Authority) has posted to their website a list of items on their March 25 meeting. On the agenda are several items relating to liquor licenses held by Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group, for Eataly, Del Posto and other of their restaurants.

The item for Eataly states two charges: (1.) Read more…

Chateau Latour prices 2004 vintage 328% higher

latour label Two years ago, Chateau Latour announced they were no longer going to sell their wine en primeur, instead releasing them “when the wines are ready to drink.” Owned by billionaire Francois Pinault, the first growth decided to not pre-sell the vintage two years before delivery. The en primeur system of pre-selling a vintage has been widely criticized for a variety of reasons ranging from crass commercialism to selling an embryonic wine, one that hasn’t completed secondary fermentation and is literally years away from having a completed final blend.

In strictly economic terms, en primeur is selling the bearskin before catching the bear. Yes, that really is economics, with a bit of hunting: apparently, hunters would sell pre-sell bearskins when they thought the price of bearskins would decline in the future, thus locking in the higher price. Since this is a declining marketing, this is why down markets came to be called bear markets, at least accruing to a recent piece on Marketplace. In the case of wine, pre-selling a wine may be because sellers are bracing for a decline in the future. But it also helps cash flow, again, since they sell the wine two years before delivering the wine (in any format you want!). Either way, Latour clearly thinks prices are going up and they aren’t in need of short-term capital.

So, yesterday, they sold a slice of 2004 from their cellars. The price is about $600, which is about the market price today. But it is a far cry from the 110 euros the wine was sold for en primeur in 2005. In other words, Latour is getting 328% more today than they did in 2005 for the same wine (the S&P 500 was up 62% for the period). Not a bad return for the past ten years . And it certainly covers their storage costs.

Find 2004 Chateau Latour at retail

Crimea, California’s climate, Biodynamics – sipped & spit


Andrew Jefford has a long piece on the wine industry in the Crimea and how current events will impact it. Net: some growers are pleased to be rid of corruption and fees they experienced in Ukraine and welcome being part of the “richer and more diverse” Russian market. [Decanter.com]

“Excessive temperatures in Napa Valley make it a challenge for the wines to belong on a world class level.” Christian Moueix, owner of Dominus and a parter of Chateau Pétrus, comments about drip irrigation and more, summarized on jancisrobinson.com.

“[Rudolf Steiner] had no competence in agriculture – he was an archivist for the Goethe family.” So says the esteemed Frédéric Mugnier in a wide-ranging Q&A over on wine-searcher.com].

PSA: “The things you write on Twitter are public…This is not a bug in Twitter; it is a feature.” [Gawker]

Hungary kicks butts, dropping 3 and 4 Puttonyos Tokaji. [Decanter]

The James Beard Foundation announced the full list of nominees today including Ray Isle! Congratulations to all the nominees! [JBF] Here’s Ray’s story, “The Battle for America’s Oldest Vines,” at F&W.

Miracle Machine: a 500-million view hoax

miracle machine wine
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Such is the case with the so-called “Miracle Machine,” a $499 countertop appliance that claimed to make water into wine in three days. The story had legs and ran away faster than Usain Bolt since it was picked up by a huge number of media outlets: According to one account, 600 publications wrote about the machine and the articles were read 500 million times. Philip James was the public face of the project; previously, he headed Snooth and then Lot18, where he raised over $40 million from investors before closing various product lines, having staff reductions, and, ultimately, stepping down.

Now, James has admitted the project is a hoax. In a video on winetowater.org, he Read more…

Who will be the Elon Musk of the wine industry?

tesla model s

Elon Musk is an innovator–probably everyone who’s picked up the business pages recently knows that. Not that I’ve ever driven a Tesla, but I am a huge fan of everything he’s doing. While the gigafactory, the hyperloop and the electronic car that goes 0 – 60 in 5.6 seconds may have gotten most of the attention, he’s also taking on a lot of entrenched interests.

First and foremost is how cars get sold in America. States regulate the sale Read more…

Which states drink the most wine?

map US wine consumption

Which state is the thirstiest for wine? It’s a question we’ve noodled before as Washington DC is the thirstiest non-state in the nation! The good folks at Business Insider have taken the initiative to produce this handy map showing comparative wine consumption data, which they also list in a table. (Since the data relate to wine sales as opposed to pulling corks, some states with friendly policies to wine sales–such as New Hampshire–or places with a good selection next to lousy places–such as DC and adjacent the Montgomery County, MD–skew the results somewhat.)

Wine is popular across the country today. And it’s a non-partisan imbibing as the appeal of cabernet and Champagne spans party lines. Yet, after the jump, check out how the map of wine consumption correlates with the 2012 electoral returns: Read more…

The trial of Olivier Cousin

olivier cousin horse

This week, Olivier Cousin went before a judge. The heinous crime of the pony-tailed vigneron? Truth in labeling.

Here’s the story (which we’ve mentioned before but it’s worth a recap): Cousin farms 12 acres organically–neigh, biodynamically for Cousin who tills his vineyards with horse-drawn plows. In those vineyards in the town of Anjou, he has a lot of cabernet franc, known locally as Breton. So he labeled his 100% cabernet franc wine grown in Anjou as “Anjou Pur Breton.” So far so good, right?

The only catch is that the appellation retains the right to the term Anjou on wine labels and wines bearing the term must meet their criteria, including a blind tasting by committee. And Cousin quit the AOC in 2005 telling journo-blogger Jim Budd, “I stopped because the AOC is for industrial wines as the rules permit everything: weedkillers, huge yields, additives etc.” So the appellation authorities have dropped the legal hammer (gavel?) on Cousin and brought him to court. Read more…

Parker’s putdowns

robert parker yao 2
Robert Parker (not Tony) standing with Yao Ming (Image removed–see update below)

Robert Parker’s “World Tour” of Asia continues. And while it may be hedonistic fruit bombs poured from the importer “partners” by day, Parker drops the chat room bombs late at night. Evidence #1, comments about the wines Eric Asimov (NYT) and Jon Bonne (SF Chronicle) presented at a panel entitled “Unexpected Napa Valley Wines”: Read more…


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