EDIT Saturday September 19: I prepared this post previous to the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Suffice it to say her passing has affected me greatly. As such, I wanted to add a nod to this wonderful woman who, though not related to wine or the wine industry, has been and will continue to be a great role model to women who wish to pursue their passion in any career field, make a difference in their community, and stand up for what is right and just no matter what their adversaries throw at them.
ORIGINAL POST STARTS HERE
Hello how are you? It’s ok if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed in the midst of a pandemic that is engulfed in wildfires and entrenched in epic storms. But I’m here to tell you that it’s also ok to remain optimistic. There is good news if you search for it.
I know there are many winemakers who are just saying ‘no’ to the 2020 harvest season—be it for financial reasons due to the impact of COVID-19 or because of the effects of the fires. But check out wineries around the U.S. who are intent on making the 2020 vintage work. And the US wine industry isn’t alone, Spain, where there’s been a recent resurgence of the virus, has also made adjustments to keep their harvest season on task.
Close to home, Jason Haas of Tablas Creek Vineyard is making the case for regenerative agriculture—check it out, adjusting farming practices can actually help the fight against climate change. (I’m researching this topic further for an upcoming article, so stay tuned.) And in Napa, the Napa Valley Vintners has put in a significant amount of money and effort to increase diversity in the local wine workforce.
If you just need something pretty to look at, take a look at Veuve Clicquot’s new labels. (Preferably while drinking some Veuve Clicquot…)
See?! Good news—it still exists and I love sharing it. Be sure to scroll through, there are some other interesting insights into the current state of the wine industry including sales trends, wine recs, and insight into wines and wine businesses around the world (not to mention a funny meme from the Wine Curmudgeon).
wine-searcher: Napa Walks the Walk on Diversity
A new scheme aims to open wine country up to a more diverse workforce.
Napa has put its money where its mouth is when it comes to promoting inclusivity, with a $1 million investment in boosting the number of minority workers in the industry.
Napa Valley Vintners announced yesterday that it was partnering with UNCF (United Negro College Fund) to create a new scholarship program for people of color to pursue college degrees in wine industry subjects including grapegrowing, winemaking, marketing, and business. UNCF has been managing scholarships for minority students for 75 years and is the largest and most successful minority organization of its kind. The NVV has committed $200,000 to the fund each year for the next five years and will begin a fundraising effort with its members to build the fund beyond that initial investment. READ MORE…
Wine Enthusiast: Across the U.S., Winemakers Persevere to Harvest Amid Wildfires and the Pandemic
Right now, winemakers across the United States are plowing through harvest season. Unlike years past, the 2020 harvest is unfolding in the middle of a global pandemic and numerous wildfires along the West Coast, which threaten many vineyards in the heart of America’s wine country.
But there’s no pausing Mother Nature. When the grapes are ready, they’re ready. As harvest begins, winemakers discover how this unconventional year has shaped their product. Some have suffered devastating damages from wildfires and face the specter of smoke taint. Regardless of circumstances, their 2020 offerings will stand out in the future. READ MORE…
Wine Spectator: Harvest During COVID’s Second Wave—Spanish Wineries Fight for the 2020 Vintage
Spain has been hard-hit by coronavirus, but vintners are adapting to rebuild businesses and keep workers safe
Earlier this year, COVID-19 swept across Spain, with confirmed cases increasing from fewer than 500 on March 7 to more than 85,000 by March 30. To date, the country has suffered more than 29,000 deaths from the virus, with total cases approaching half a million. And since August, the number of coronavirus infections has again been escalating at an alarming rate.
For the country’s wine industry, with the 2020 harvest now underway, the timing of the COVID resurgence couldn’t be worse. READ MORE…
Mexican News Daily: Mexican wines are establishing a reputation at international competitions
74 have won awards so far this year at three events
Mexican wineries are having a banner year in terms of international competitions: so far in 2020, 74 wines have won awards at three international events.
At the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, which wrapped up September 8 in Brno, Czech Republic, Mexico took home 59 medals. De Cote Winery’s 2016 Atempo merlot and Pozo de Luna’s 2015 malbec were named Grand Gold Medal winners out of 8,500 wines from 46 countries. Decote is located in Querétaro and Pozo de Luna in San Luis Potosí. READ MORE…
Meininger’s Wine Business International: US loses its shine for German wine producers
For years German wines struggled to get respect in the coveted US market. Finally, Germany gained traction – and then came the Trump tariffs and Covid-19. Valerie Kathawala looks at what happened next.
“It’s the best time to be buying German wine — if you forget that we live on planet Earth,” says Lyle Fass of Fass Selections, an importer and direct-to-consumer retailer.
“Market uncertainty is the biggest issue we face now,” notes Kevin Pike of Schatzi Wines. “The US seems exceptionally fragmented, with each of us dealing with varying threats, from the pandemic and economic downturn to existential questions about what our industry will look like on the other side of all this.” He says his focus has been on “keeping bread and butter wines in stock at prices that will sell”. READ MORE…
VinePair: Oktoberfest 2020 Isn’t Dead — How Munich Breweries Are Keeping It Alive
From Sept. 19 through Oct. 4, during what would have been Oktoberfest’s usual period of celebration, special events will take over the beer halls of the six Munich breweries that normally fill the festival tents: Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten. Each brewery will set up its own “Wirtshaus-Wiesn” at its respective Wirtshaus, or local tavern, in an attempt to salvage at least some of the fun of Oktoberfest — as well as some of its economic benefits. READ MORE…
Wine Spectator: Veuve Clicquot’s New 2012s Grow Wild with Trippy Art Garb
The Champagne house has partnered with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama to create 100 hand-painted magnums outfitted in psychedelic flower sculptures
It has been a heady year, to say the least, and Champagne house Veuve Clicquot is channeling that chaotic energy with a most psychedelic art design for the latest release of its headiest cuvée, La Grande Dame. Clicquot recently partnered, for a second time, with contemporary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama to celebrate Grande Dame’s 2012 vintage, the first vintage of the wine since the 2008 cuvée. The 91-year-old artist’s signature polka dots and hallucinatory flowers appear on bottles and boxes accompanying the wine, but the collector’s item is a limited-run magnum, outfitted in a floral sculptural fixing that the artist spent more than 250 hours designing and painting. READ MORE…
SevenFifty Daily: Wine Auctions Pivot—Quite Profitably—to the Virtual World
In July, Chicago’s Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. held an auction for the powerhouse New York restaurant Del Posto. All of the 3,422 lots, including vintage Quintarelli, Sassicaia, and a full case of 1999 Case Basse Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, were sold, with 80 percent of the lots selling for quite a lot more than was predicted. Overall, the Del Posto Collection raked in $5.7 million, far surpassing the estimated total of between $3 and $4.5 million.
It was “one of the most comprehensive collections of Italian wine in the world,” says Marc Smoler, senior vice president of client services at Hart Davis Hart, noting that the sheer number of quality bottles, combined with the cachet of the restaurant, made for “a very competitive auction.” As Hart Davis Hart gears up for its first Hong Kong-based sale this winter, Smoler is optimistic.
The auction business is booming. Another restaurant collection, culled from the cellars of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (Gramercy Tavern, the Modern, Union Square Café, Maialino, and Marta in New York), was auctioned in April via a partnership between USHG HUGS, the company’s nonprofit employee relief fund, and White Plains, New York-based Zachys Wine Auctions. All of the lots, bottles of Margaux and Selosse among them, were spoken for. The final yield of $905,907 was much higher than the $592,610 estimate. READ MORE…
Wine Enthusiast: How to Taste Booze for a Living
“I think [people assume], ‘Oh, you drink all day for a living,’ ” says Jane Bowie, master of maturation and director of innovation at Maker’s Mark. “I mean, we do, but it’s funny when you get into tasting. It’s a different headspace.”
The way she tastes is not, as she says, “how normal people drink.” Bowie spends much of her day in a lab where she tastes through glass-topped samples of Kentucky Bourbon. She looks for whiskeys that exhibit interesting qualities. Bowie samples experiments that examine what aging techniques or areas of the warehouse show promise, or what didn’t work at all. READ MORE…
Blogs Worth a Read
Taken from the list of Blogs I follow regularly, here are just a few posts from this past week I think are worth a read. Shoot me a note if you have suggestions of blogs to follow or want your blog included on that list.
Tablas Creek: 2020: The Year Climate Change Got Real for American Wine
What to do? […] Here’s where regenerative agriculture comes in. One of its tenets is that agriculture has an important and necessary role in the reduction of greenhouse gases (and especially Carbon Dioxide) in the atmosphere. And plants, after all, are the best engines we have in doing so, since photosynthesis uses CO2 as one of its inputs, turning that carbon into carbohydrates. But modern farming produces more emissions than the plants it grows consume. Some of that is the fertilizer, derived mostly from petrochemicals. Some of that is the fuel for the tractors and other machinery. And some of it is the processing of the agricultural products.
Regenerative agriculture leads the way toward building carbon content in the soil, through a combination of permaculture, cover crops, reduction in tillage, and the replacement of chemical inputs with natural ones like compost or manure. Soils with more carbon content also hold more moisture, which will help California wineries weather the droughts too. We showed in the application process for our new Regenerative Organic Certification that it was possible to increase our soil’s carbon content while growing grapes even in a dry climate like Paso Robles. READ MORE...
Jancis Robinson: Who’s writing about wine in China?
A peek into the virtual reality of wine communication in China.
Asking who writes about wine in China is a bit like asking who eradicates pandemics in the UK; it misunderstands the fundamentals of what’s happening.
According to OIV data, China is now the fifth-biggest consumer of wine in the world. With so many wine drinkers, there must be a lot of people writing about it too, just as there are in Europe and North America.
That is the fundamental misconception. There are indeed many wine communicators in China, but they bear little resemblance to how wine media is produced and consumed in its traditional markets. READ MORE…
Tim Atkin: The Vanishing Point
I have an age problem. First of all, 38 years of tasting young wines has conditioned me to their charms – their energy, their freshness. Second, there’s little point in my buying wines that will take 20 years to mature. I might be dead by then.
Nevertheless, the question that I ask, as I try to listen to a wine, is: how will it age? Ageability is a key element in judging the quality of a wine, even though many of us don’t age our wines for very long, if at all. READ MORE…
Jamie Goode: The 2020 Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Wines
This year is a bit of a change for the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction. It is going to be held in the UK, at Bonhams on Saturday 3 October, rather than its usual location (in South Africa).
Because of the complicated situation with the virus, there are just 28 wines in the auction this year from the 46 members of the Guild. These are special Auction-only wines, and – as you’d expect – the standard overall is very high.
Here are my notes on all the wines. READ MORE…
Great British Wine: International English Wine Awards 2020 Results
It’s the English wine event that I look forward to more than any other each year. Yes, there are other wine competitions out there, but the IEWA is the only one I am truly part of and have been since its inception by founder, Alex Taylor, in 2017.
Now in my fourth year judging in the competition, I see the IEWA as a chance to firstly benchmark some of the wines I have already tasted and rated throughout the year. Secondly, it’s perfect as a platform to discover some new wines or producers that may have otherwise eluded my palate.
With the competition having been postponed by five months, and much still uncertain across the country, it was through Alex’s sheer organisational resilience and The IEWA’s excellent social traction that entries were once again up this year. There were a total of 147 entries and there was a frequency of 75% wines that received a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal. That’s down a little from previous years, and the number of Gold Medals awarded this year, 15, was down from last year’s 22. READ MORE…
The Wine Gourd: Worldwide patterns of wine consumption
We all know that alcohol consumption varies greatly around the planet, and that wine preference varies along with this. The origin of modern grape-based wine-making is currently credited to the area of what is now the country of Georgia, although there is evidence of an earlier mixed rice and grape fermented drink in ancient China. Wine-making then spread mainly mainly west from Georgia, into the Balkans and the Mediterranean countries. Modern preferences for wine still reflect this early history.
Many countries do not encourage the consumption of alcohol (see: Lifetime alcohol abstainers — where in the world are they?), but in those places where alcohol is consumed the preference for wine versus beer versus spirits varies considerably. READ MORE…
The Wine Economist: Book Excerpt—On the China Wine Trail
I thought you might enjoy using your imagination to travel to China along with Cynthia Howson and Pierre Ly via this excerpt from their new book Adventures on the China Wine Trail: How Farmers, Local Governments, Teachers, and Entrepreneurs Are Rocking the Wine World, which won the 2020 Gourmand Awards gold medal for wine tourism books.
Many thanks to Cynthia and Pierre and to Rowman & Littlefield for giving permission for publication here. This selection is from Chapter 2: Sea, Sand, and Shandong. Enjoy! READ MORE…
James Suckling: Is 2019 Germany’s 100-Point Vintage?
The 2019 vintage is the best vintage I have ever tasted for German riesling in my four-decade career. Like James, my career as a wine critic began in the early 1980s. The first German vintage I tasted as young wines was 1983 and I can’t remember a vintage like that – until now. The 2019 wines, from dry to classic style with natural grape sweetness are simply astonishing quality, which means 2019 is one of the greatest vintages of modern times and will be remembered for decades, possibility generations. READ MORE…
Wine Curmudgeon: Wine meme update: Let’s not forget about premiumization
Of all wine’s problems — and there are entirely too many to mention — premiumization may be the one that makes me the craziest. Case in point: I got an email the other day touting a $25 gruner veltliner, a white wine from Austria. Check Wine-Searcher, though, and there are dozens of gruners in Austria that cost €4 or €5. How did an everyday wine in Europe become a luxury in the U.S.? READ MORE…
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