Hello my people. I don’t have a savvy intro for you today. I’ll just say I’ve got some interesting projects on the go, so stay tuned for more from me. In the meantime, please enjoy your weekly wine-newsy roundup. Cheers!


New York Times: Using Science and Celtic Wisdom to Save Trees (and Souls)

There aren’t many scientists raised in the ways of druids by Celtic medicine women, but there is at least one. She lives in the woods of Canada, in a forest she helped grow. From there, wielding just a pencil, she has been working to save some of the oldest life-forms on Earth by bewitching its humans.

At a hale 77, Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a medical biochemist, botanist, organic chemist, poet, author and developer of artificial blood. But her main focus for decades now has been to telegraph to the world, in prose that is scientifically exacting yet startlingly affecting, the wondrous capabilities of trees. READ MORE

Eater: Here Are the 2022 James Beard Awards Restaurant and Chef Semifinalists

Today in a press release, the James Beard Foundation revealed the semifinalist nominees for the 2022 James Beard Awards.

At a glance, the list appears to be one of the most diverse — across race, gender, geography, styles of service, and styles of cuisine — in the foundation’s history. There are some new categories this year, meant to address the findings of an extensive 2021 audit to address the longstanding biases baked into the awards process. There is now an emerging chef award; unlike previous years’ rising star chef award, the nominees below were not subjected to an age cut off. The regional best chef categories have also been reconfigured, with California, New York, and Texas each getting their own categories, in hopes of recognizing a broader geographic range of winners.

Voting is also different this year: previous JBFA winners (a group that skews white, and male) are no longer automatically included in the voting body that determines who from the semifinalist lists moves onto the finalist list, and then the winners list. The voting body has broadened to also include food experts beyond traditional food media and chefs, all with a goal of having 45 percent of committee members and judges be people of color this year, and 50 percent next year. READ MORE

Wine Enthusiast: Mexican Natural Wine Finds a New Home in Guanajuato

A new wave of Mexican wine is on the rise in Guanajuato, a state in the central highlands. While the area is internationally known for tourism hub San Miguel de Allende, just outside the city lies the country’s fourth-largest and fastest-growing wine-producing state—not to mention one of its youngest, with 30 wineries and modern viticulture practices dating to the early 2000s.

Consultant oenologist Natalia López Mota and her Balkan partner, Branko Pjanic, are part of the crew in Guanajuato. The couple began making wine in Mexico in 2012, and today produce their own unfiltered blends under the Cava Garambullo label. They ferment mostly organic grapes with natural yeast and minimal intervention.

“Cava Garambullo is exciting; they’re trendsetters,” says Sandra Fernandez, a sommelier in Mexico City. “They’re raising awareness [for natural wine], and Guanajuato is definitely at the front of this movement.” READ MORE

Press Democrat: Cold snap could trigger problems for North Bay grape growers

For local grape growers, concerns about the chilly conditions were exacerbated because a streak of unseasonably warm temperatures earlier this month contributed to an early bud break on vines in certain pockets around the region. Those young buds are now threatened by freezing weather unless farmers take protective action.

That either includes using wind machines to move warmer air above the vines, or using overhead sprinklers that can coat vines in ice, which can keep buds at a constant temperature of 32 degrees and prevent further damage. READ MORE…

Wine Enthusiast: It’s Time to Rethink South African Pinotage

Few grapes elicit as strong a love-it-or-hate-it response as Pinotage. With established advocates in each camp, from producers and retailers to wine writers, judges and consumers, it’s easy to overlook any middle ground and head toward an extreme to plant your own Pinotage-position flag.

But why did the dialogue around Pinotage get to this point? How did a grape hailed by many as a uniquely South African variety, positioned for decades to serve as a distinct calling card for the country, become so divisive? READ MORE

Wine-Searcher: Helping Wine to Grow Old Gracefully

Setting the stage for wines that will grow up fast begins in the vineyard.

Meticulous farming, often by hand, creates the foundation for great wine, young or old, says Jean-Jacques Bonnie, co-owner of the 180-acre Château Malartic-Lagravière in Bordeaux.

“We also delay pruning as much as possible to induce a later bud break and protect grapes from frost,” he says. “In the spring and summer, our canopy management depends on weather, with the goal of harvesting perfectly ripe and healthy grapes. We only use organic fertilizers sparingly, so that the vines are in a state that verges on deficiency at all times.”

It also comes down to the vine and root material. READ MORE

Blogs Worth a Read

Taken from the list of Blogs and other media outlets 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 independent media to follow or want your outlet included on that list.

The Rhone Rangers Experience—2022

This past weekend I had the pleasure—nay, the honor—of moderating the featured tasting and seminar at the 2022 Rhone Rangers Experience. It was a special event for several reasons. Top of most people’s minds is the fact that this annual tradition had to take the obligatory COVID-pause. So, of course, it was wonderful to see friends and colleagues from across the US gather together and, yes, even hug. READ MORE

Trink Magazine: Black Wine Entrepreneur Mason Washington and the Pull of His German Roots

Mason Washington wants to set himself apart in the wine world. He’s convinced his German identity is the ticket.

The 24-year-old digital media marketer grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina, a small city in the American south that Washington charitably describes as being “what you make of it.” It was an unlikely place for a young Black man to be raised in a German family. But his grandmother Ingrid, a native of Berlin, and his mother, Carmen, born in Munich, were just that. “The biggest thing for me is the German heritage on my mom’s side,” says Washington. Now, he’s digging into those roots, hoping his understanding of the culture of German wine will help his peers connect with it. READ MORE

Dame Wine: Iconic Wine Producer’s Theme For New 2019 Release Relates To The World’s Covid Journey

As a 29-year-old man took a big gulp of water after his daily run, he could not help but feel a little off; his body felt a little sluggish and it seemed impossible for him to catch his breath. But it was February in New York City, which meant that the height of flu and cold season was still in full force and so he decided to go to the gym and do a vigorous workout as his philosophy of pushing through an impending cold, nipping it in the bud, always worked out for him before. But within a week, his girlfriend abruptly woke him up before his alarm as his lips had a faint hint of blue, and her doctor, who she consulted with before she woke him, told her to get him to the emergency room as soon as possible. READ MORE

The Wine Gourd: The wine industry is asking the wrong question

The SVB report is intended to be a bit more holistic than simply wine-focused, in that it tries to look at the big picture, of the industry as a whole (although restricted to the USA). One topic of focus is that the prime wine-drinking population of recent decades is the Baby Boomer generation, which is mostly now either in retirement or departed. The issue is that neither the following Generation X nor the subsequent Millennial generation have shown more than cursory interest in wine. If they consume alcohol, then it is likely to be mixed drinks (except maybe in Australia: Australian millennials drive wine consumption post-pandemic).

The response of the commentators has been to ask the question: how do we sell our wines to the Millennials? I contend that this is fundamentally the wrong question, asked from a wrong perspective.

I will keep my commentary personal, but I contend that my perspective is a general one. READ MORE

Jancis Robinson: Typicity v authenticity in fine wine

ARENI’s Pauline Vicard, whose birthplace is pictured in the BIVB image above, suggests New World winemakers hesitate before copying the French system too slavishly.

I grew up in a winemaker’s family in Burgundy in the late 1980s, and though the region wasn’t trendy at the time, those of us in the Hautes-Côtes de Beaune were already living in a different world from ‘les grands de la Côte’ (d’Or). Literally. Whenever my dad had to go to Beaune or Nuits-St-Georges – respectively a mere 25 km (15.5 miles) and 50 km away from where I grew up near Les Maranges – he had to plan the trip as thoroughly as I must to travel during COVID-19 time.

Bordeaux and its blends were the paradigm for quality at the time. Our wines were regarded as feeble and weak, with unripe, rusty tannins, and alcohol that partially came from chaptalisation each and every vintage.

Then, somehow, this paradigm changed. READ MORE

A Must Read Blog: Meet Justin Hall—Proud Indigenous Head Winemaker at B.C.’s Nk’Mip Cellars

The land that Justin grew up on, and where he makes Nk’Mip wine today, is part of the 32,000 acre Osoyoos Indian reserve in the southern desert region of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.

In the Okanagan language the word Nk’Mip means “bottomland,” a reference to the winery’s location at the southern tip of the band’s original hunting ground.

Nk’Mip Cellars is just outside of the town of Osoyoos, about a four-hour drive east of Vancouver.  The striking sandy grey winery is designed in a Santa Fe adobe-style, artfully blending with the luxury, four-star Spirit Ridge Hyatt Hotel and Resort located just down the road. The 18,000-square-foot winery produces 18,000 cases a year making it small enough to be artisan, but large enough to qualify as a significant player in the British Columbia wine scene. READ MORE

Jamie Goode: Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: pitting top examples against international benchmarks

The Clare Valley is a north-south running valley some 30 km long and 10 km wide, 130 km north of Adelaide and northwest of the Barossa. Altitude is a factor here, and it ranges from 250 m-608 m, helping to moderate the climate.

Being a bit further north than the Barossa, and a bit more inland, climate has a touch of continental influence. It’s pretty warm if you look at the temperature charts (mean summer temperature is 30 °C, but there’s some discussion about whether these figures accurately reflect what’s happening, because this is a region that excels at Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon, and the wines don’t taste like they come from a hot climate.

One feature of the summer is a large diurnal temperature variation of 13-15 °C, which could be contributing to the sense of freshness many of the wines display. Average annual rainfall is 500 mm-600 mm (with 25% falling during the growing season), and this is enough to dry grow vines in some sites. READ MORE

Jancis Robinson: Novel Bardolino Novello

My BoJoNo article in November 2021 prompted a few emails, one of them from Alessandra Zambonin of Studio Cru in Italy, who works with the Bardolino Consorzio. She asked me if I would be willing to try something that a handful of the Bardolino producers were playing with: ‘The Bardolino Novello is a novelty among the Bardolino selection and it is made with 100% carbonic maceration, just like Beaujolais Nouveau. I could send you the Novello expressions of two or three small wineries that were the first ones to make Novello and that continue to make it in very few bottles. Novello producers are very few and it is still considered a niche product.’

There is something quite special about the wines of Lake Garda. I’m yet to visit this magical region (the COVID portcullis came down just as plans for a visit were under way), but Studio Cru have been patiently nurturing what I could describe as my growing love affair with these moraine-clipped wines, from textured Chiaretto pinks to punkish Bardolino redsREAD MORE

A Balanced Glass: How To Leave Your Job With Your Heart Intact

“When you want to make a decision, listen to your heart.”

My acupuncture doctor’s words sat with me as I lay (literally) pinned on his treatment table for yet another appointment to treat another stress-induced ailment.

I had been contemplating changing jobs for more than a year, workshopping it with friends, journaling, meditating, even trying it on via a sabbatical (I wrote about here) to consider what a new work life may resemble.

I loved my job, but also knew there was more out in the wine world to explore. While I was excited at the prospect of a fresh start, the COVID reality plus the ferocious voice of fear in my head would tell me all the reasons it was not possible, so to the daily routine I returned.

Sound familiar?

Leaving anything you love can bring up feelings of fear and loss, so for those times, here are a few ways to keep your heart safe: READ MORE

Press Releases

These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!

Institute of Masters of Wine: Two new Masters of Wine

Justin Martindale MW and Jonny Orton MW are the newly crowned Masters of Wine.

Announced by the Institute of Masters of Wine today (25 February), the new members of the IMW are both based in the United Kingdom, Justin in Scotland and Jonny in England.

There are now 420 MWs globally – 269 men and 151 women living or working in 30 countries. Since the first exam in 1953, 498 people have become an MW.

Justin and Jonny are the first of the 2022 MW vintage. They have proved their understanding of all aspects of wine by passing the Master of Wine exam, recognised worldwide for its rigour and high standards.

The MW exam consists of the theory and practical exams taken at the end of stage two and the research paper submitted at the end of stage three. The RP is an in-depth study on a wine-related topic from any area of the sciences, arts, humanities, or social sciences. Only when an individual passes the third RP stage of the MW exam do they become a Master of Wine.

In addition to passing the exam, and before new members have the right to use the title Master of Wine or initials MW, they must sign the IMW’s code of conduct.

The top countries where MWs are based around the world are Australia (28), Canada (10), France (19), Germany (10), New Zealand (16), the UK (211) and the US (56). READ MORE


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Educational posts are in no way intended as official WSET study materials. I am not an official WSET educator nor do I work for a WSET Approved Program Provider. Study at your own risk. Read the full disclaimer.
**Please note: all reviews and opinions are my own and are not associated with any of my places of business. I will always state when a wine has been sent as a sample for review. Sending samples for review on my personal website in no way guarantees coverage in any other media outlet I may be currently associated with.**

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