Happy New Year and happy weekend to you. What a week it’s been, eh? I don’t know about you but ever since the events on Wednesday, I’ve found it hard to focus on pretty much anything else. So, in case you missed some of the latest happenings in the world of wine and food, I’ve got my weekly round up ready for you—including a piece by yours truly.
And for those of you studying along on my WSET Diploma journey, make sure to take a look at these latest posts: WSET Diploma Tasting—Common Grape Variety , WSET Diploma Tasting—Common Region of Origin, WSET Diploma Tasting—Burgundy’s Chardonnay Spectrum, WSET Theory—Burgundy Chardonnay.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and drink good wine.
Wine Enthusiast: Old Vines Cultivate Pride and Profits at New World Wineries
“Old vines are not good because they’re old, they’re old because they make good wine,” says James Lindner, proprietor of Langmeil Winery in Barossa, Australia. His estate’s Freedom Vineyard grows some of the region’s oldest Shiraz vines.
Like many Barossa estates that farm old vines, Langmeil is registered with the Barossa Old Vine Charter, an association that records, preserves and promotes old vineyards. READ MORE…
Eater: José Andrés Set Up a Late-Night Emergency Kitchen to Feed Police in D.C.
A curfew put in effect after pro-Trump extremists took over the Capitol meant MPD officers had nowhere to eat
Yesterday, when pro-Trump extremists launched an unprecedented siege on the U.S. Capitol, José Andrés did what he always does in a crisis: he found someone to feed.
After a mob that included MAGA-chanting conspiracy theorists and neo-Nazis mounted an insurrectionist takeover at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and members of the National Guard from neighboring states such as Maryland and Virginia were called in to back up the woefully unprepared unit of federal Capitol police, who had earlier let Congress fall briefly under the control of the mob. When D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a 12-hour curfew that went into effect at 6 p.m., Andrés recognized that with restaurants closed, the group of responders would have nowhere to eat. And so he began posting videos of his efforts to deliver meals downtown. READ MORE…
Vinepair: Diversity and Inclusion Efforts Are Key to The American Wine Industry’s Future
Ask Darwin Acosta about his fall internship at Dalla Valle Vineyards, and he radiates elation. Harvesting on a mountainside with a panoramic view of the valley, doing lab work, gassing barrels — “I call these ‘magical moments,” he says. “I have had the time of my life focusing on my career.”
A recent graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who earned his level-one Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) award while in college, Acosta is one of the first scholarship recipients of The Roots Fund, created to help Black, Indigenous, and Latinx aspirants get experience in wine. In the fall 2020, just after launching, it brought Acosta to Napa and unveiled a world of possibilities to him. Now he wants to complete his level-three WSET by the end of 2021 and work harvests in France, Australia, and New Zealand. He has a 10-year plan to grow grapes on his father’s land in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. He dreams of starting his own label where he and the people he hires “can be 100 percent ourselves”—a vehicle he can use to put money back into the Latinx, Black, and gay communities.
“I’m Dominican. I identify as non-binary and gay. America runs on these groups; it’s what makes us unique. But coming into this industry, you see people of color cutting the grapes, working behind the scenes, but there’s not enough representation outside of that,” says Acosta. “With groups like The Roots Fund, things are changing.” READ MORE…
Napa Valley Register: Save the Family Farms makes wine-tasting pitch to Napa County
Save the Family Farms is trying to get its micro-producer, mom-and-pop wine world proposals on Napa County’s 2021 “to-do” list.
Members first approached the Board of Supervisors publicly more than two years ago. They say grape growers producing small amounts of wine should be able to hold wine tastings on their farms without building a winery — perhaps at a picnic table near vineyards.
Without a solution, small family farms will cease to exist, said Ken Nerlove, who owns vineyards near Jameson Canyon and makes his Elkhorn Peak wines offsite.
“That would be a shame, because most of us remember how it started: small,” he recently told the Board of Supervisors. “The small guys made this valley. Without the small guy, Napa Valley will lose its soul.” READ MORE…
Thieves who stole €350,000 of fine wines from a luxury hotel in Burgundy threw some of the prized bottles at French police during a car chase, according to a local media report.
Fine wine thieves stole an estimated €350,000 of wines, including grand cru bottles, from Domaine de Rymska, a luxury Relais & Châteaux hotel and restaurant south of Beaune.
After breaking into the hotel’s cellars in the early hours of Tuesday morning (5 January), the burglars attempted to escape with their loot in a van.
But, the hotel’s owner was woken by a fire alarm and quickly alerted police, according to local newspaper Le Journal de Saône-et-Loire.
During a chase that led south towards the city of Lyon, the thieves threw some of the stolen fine wines at pursuing police, the newspaper reported. READ MORE…
The new federal dietary guidelines kept the recommendation that men drink no more than two alcoholic beverages per day, but any talk of the benefits of moderate consumption are gone
The U.S. government has opted not to redefine moderate drinking. On Dec. 29, the Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) released the 2020–2025 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. While there were some changes, the guidelines left the federal recommendations on alcohol—that women drink no more than one alcoholic beverage per day and men drink no more than two—unchanged.
That ignores the suggestions of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which issued a report last July arguing that men should limit themselves to just one drink a day at most and was also dismissive of the idea that moderate or low alcohol consumption could offer any health benefits. READ MORE…
North Bay Business Journal: New owners of Napa Valley boutique winery Stony Hill Vineyard name new winemaker, estate director
The new owners do not plan to boost production, but they told the Business Journal they intend to convert the vineyard to Biodynamic practices, as they have done the other wineries.
At the helm of Stony Point now are new winemaker Jaimee Motley and Laurie Taboulet, estate director. READ MORE…
Until March, when everything started tasting like cardboard, Katherine Hansen had such a keen sense of smell that she could recreate almost any restaurant dish at home without the recipe, just by recalling the scents and flavors.
Then the coronavirus arrived. One of Ms. Hansen’s first symptoms was a loss of smell, and then of taste. Ms. Hansen still cannot taste food, and says she can’t even tolerate chewing it. Now she lives mostly on soups and shakes.
“I’m like someone who loses their eyesight as an adult,” said Ms. Hansen, a realtor who lives outside Seattle. “They know what something should look like. I know what it should taste like, but I can’t get there.” READ MORE…
Some 86% of people with mild cases of Covid-19 lose their sense of smell and taste but recover it within six months, according to a new study of over 2,500 patients from 18 European hospitals. READ MORE…
If you are in the US and you love French wine, go shopping right now.
A prior round of tariffs in a dispute over aircraft hit all French, German and Spanish non-sparkling wines at or below 14 percent alcohol with a 25 percent tariff. The new wine tariffs are aimed only at French and German wines but, realistically, only French wines will be affected, because the new 25 percent tariff will be slapped on still wines more than 14 percent alcohol; there are few German wines in that category. It’s not clear why Spain avoided the Trump administration’s wrath this time, but gracias a Dios. READ MORE…
E. & J. Gallo Winery announced Tuesday it completed an acquisition of low-price wine brands from Constellation Brands Inc., in a scaled-back $810 million deal that still is one of the biggest in the U.S. wine industry.
The transaction originally was valued at $1.7 billion when first announced in April 2019. However, regulators balked and forced the two alcohol beverage giants to shrink the deal to preserve competition in the U.S. wine industry. Gallo is the country’s largest wine company, and with this sale Constellation Brands drops two spots to No. 5 nationwide. READ MORE…
The buy-out of a raft of Constellation brands has been given the go-ahead by regulators.
Monopolies should be feared; sometimes not for the obvious reasons. AT&T had among the best research labs in the world, which was good, but it kept long distance prices artificially high. If AT&T had not been broken up, you would not be able to pick up your cellphone and dial your mom across the country for free.
That is the fear for the Gallo-Constellation deal, which finally was approved this week by the US Federal Trade Commission. Already the world’s largest wine company, Gallo will go from producing 26.9 percent of all US wines to 30.3 percent after absorbing Clos du Bois, Ravenswood, Franciscan, Manischewitz and several other brands. READ MORE…
Wine sales and consumption have increased considerably during the Covid-19 pandemic, and while most of the wines flying off the shelves are still packaged in the standard 750-milliliter format, alternatives are on the rise. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Say you want to consume only one glass of wine and you live alone, or don’t share the wine preferences of others in your household. It can feel like a waste to open an entire bottle, and what are you supposed to do with the remaining four glasses? If you don’t have a preservation device, the wine could spoil, rendering it undrinkable. (It’s especially hard for sparkling wines to retain their freshness and vitality over a few days, even with the best stoppers.) And what if you like to try multiple wines during the week, rather than drinking the same one every night? 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.
SpitBucket Blog: Ending the Year with a (Wine) Bitch
In a year of so many surprises and scandals in the wine industry, maybe I shouldn’t be shocked to see it end with a brand trying to torch any goodwill or bridges it had left. That’s 2020 for you.
So let’s give a toast to The Wine Show for putting on a masterclass in crisis management gone awry.
So how did I get dragged into this mess? Oh lordy! READ MORE…
Jamie Goode: Catena explore the natural side: making the most of Argentina’s historic Criolla Chica variety
Catena spoke to her chief winemaker Alejandro Vigil, and they began experimenting with different varieties, vinifying without sulfur dioxide. They purchased some tinajas (terracotta amphorae) from Spain. ‘We did some historical research,’ she says. ‘In Argentina, starting in the 17th century, we were making wine in tinajas. In Mendoza there is a museum with hundreds of tinajas. My father says that his grandfather would make wine in tinajas.’
Catena decided to explore this, and Vigil was extremely excited about the prospect. I want to make natural wines too, he said to her. They bought some tinajas from Spain: there was a producer in the north of Argentina, but they were concerned about heavy metals in the clay. They tried these tinajas with a number of varieties.
They worked on Criolla, Bonarda, Malbec and Chardonnay. ‘It was if the Criolla was made to be made naturally,’ says Catena. ‘If you make Criolla the normal way, it’s basically this wine that doesn’t last very long.” READ MORE…
Jancis Robinson: Real progress on ingredient listing for wine
One has to admire the combined forces of the world’s wine trade for having managed to escape the niggling demands of ingredient labelling for so long. But of course nowadays we live in a world of allergies and intolerances, and 21st-century consumers demand and expect transparency. READ MORE…
Science & Wine: Impacts of global warming on southern California’s winegrape climate suitability
Winegrape is a valuable perennial crop in Southern California. Grapevines were first introduced to the area in the late 18th century and their production has grown economically and gained favorable attention particularly since the 1990’s. Currently, winegrape is grown in four subregions located near the coast and in higher-elevation vineyards, where climate suitable with cooler summer temperatures and more humid conditions (Figure 1).
This according to a report by the San Diego County Vintners Association, an organization that supports the winemaking community in the county, gross sales in 2018 in the region increased 57.1% over 2017 sales. In addition, the total number of jobs in the wine industry increase in 2018 by about 10%. A similar report for Santa Barbara county states that the local wine industry supported 9158 full-time equivalent jobs and had an economic impact of US$1.7 billion statewide. READ MORE…
Vino Joy News: Study finds narcissists drink more wine
Are you drinking more wine?
Wine world is riddled with wine snobs, those who would never relinquish a wine list at restaurants and anguish over drinking a Bordeaux in a Burgundy glass.
It turns out narcissism might be at work fueling a wine drinker’s ego because of the perceived social status associated with wine.
There are already researches that link wine consumption to attractiveness and competence. But a recent study on French and American wine drinkers found that narcissists tend to drink more wine as a way to show off their social status. Even if it means they don’t enjoy wine. READ MORE…
Tablas Creek Blog: The vineyard in January, from four perspectives
On New Year’s Day, we headed off around 3pm to catch the low light and the setting sun. I didn’t dictate where in the vineyard everyone went, or try to keep us together, because I know that I have a handful of routes I tend to return to when I’m out taking pictures, and I didn’t want that to become everyone’s default. I also didn’t suggest any particular content or narrative, for the same reason.
I thought that what came of the ramble was really fun. Here’s a look at three of my favorite photos from each of us that we took that afternoon. READ MORE…
BK Wine Magazine: Producers ready to plant seven new grape varieties in Bordeaux
No, your Bordeaux wine will not soon be made from other grape varieties, as some headlines have implied.
Last year, producers in Bordeaux approved a proposal to experiment with grape varieties that have never been grown in the region before. As a way to manage climate change, they decided to propose to allow:
- petit manseng,
- touriga nacional
Now, the INAO (Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité) has given their official approval and the producers in the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur appellations can start planting these grapes, except petit manseng which was not accepted by INAO. READ MORE…
These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!
E. & J. Gallo: E. & J. Gallo Winery Completes Acquisition Of More Than 30 Brands From Constellation
Purchase Accelerates Growth for Gallo and Expands Portfolio of Offerings at Every Price Point
E. & J. Gallo Winery (Gallo) announced that it has completed the acquisition of more than 30 wine brands from Constellation Brands, Inc. The closing of the agreement between Gallo and Constellation was approved by the Federal Trade Commission on December 23, 2020.
The acquisition includes well known wine brands such as Arbor Mist, Black Box, Clos du Bois, Estancia, Franciscan, Hogue, Manischewitz, Mark West, Ravenswood, Taylor, Vendange, and Wild Horse that will join the Gallo portfolio. With this acquisition, Gallo will expand its operational footprint with the addition of five wineries located in California, Washington, and New York, along with Constellation’s Polyphenolics business. Gallo will also acquire the Nobilo New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc brand in a separate transaction with Constellation. READ MORE…
Wine Institute: Wine Institute Reiterates Support for Elimination of Wine Tariffs
One year ago, Wine Institute joined with Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV) to call for the complete removal of all tariffs on wine (“zero for zero”) and to reiterate the universal industry support for the “wine for wine” principle. However, because of the ongoing dispute over civil aviation subsidies, the U.S. Trade Representative recently made an announcement stating that additional tariffs will be levied on wines from France and Germany beginning Jan.12. In response, Wine Institute reiterates its commitment to advocating for the elimination all wine tariffs and for wine not to be targeted in disputes that do not involve wine. READ MORE…
Napa Valley Grapegrowers: Napa Valley Grapegrowers Announce 2021 Board of Directors and New Officers
The Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG), founded in 1975 and representing 700 growers, vineyard owners and associated businesses, announces a new slate of officers for 2021-2022. Long-time Napa Valley viticulturist and winemaker Michael Silacci of Opus One Winery assumes the role of President, with Pete Richmond of Silverado Farming Company stepping into the Vice President role. Mary Maher of Harlan Estate continues to lead as the organization’s Treasurer and Paul Goldberg of Bettinelli Vineyard Management serves as the Past President. The membership has reelected Garrett Buckland of Premiere Viticultural Services to the Board of Directors. READ MORE…
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