Hello my friends. It’s been a hot second since I’ve been able to post anything, even a cheeky round-up. Well, here you go. A list of just a few of the articles, blog posts, and news releases that caught my attention this week. There certainly is a lot and I hope I captured a well-rounded look at our current food and drinks industry.
On a personal note, I plan to post an update about all the things that are happening on my end. There’s a lot. Luckily there will be (quite) a few press releases going out that will announce some of these updates—so keep your eyes out for those and I’ll try to link to them here as well.
Alright, now it’s time to breathe deep cleansing breaths. *Inhale…the wine…* *Exhale…the good times…*
New York Times: In ‘Living Wine’ Documentary, Natural Wine Transcends the Clichés
When the polarizing subject of natural wine arises, the discussion generally spirals to the stereotypes: flawed and funky wines, hippie producers and the debate over definitions. But a new documentary film, “Living Wine,” hopes to change that trite discussion.
The film, which opens in selected theaters July 15, focuses on a small group of natural wine producers in California. It examines, with far more nuance than is typical, the myriad reasons they choose to work in natural wine, along with the many rationales for consumers to drink it.
In this context, natural wine is presented neither as a trend nor a generational emblem. Involvement is a conscious choice. Though their reasons may overlap, each of the producers in the film has a different point of emphasis. READ MORE…
Pix: The World’s Most Infamous Wine Is a Scottish Favorite
There’s a strange ritual that takes place in mini-marts, liquor stores, and even licensed post offices in Scotland every weekend. Young men — it’s almost always men — carefully spin, then study bottles of Buckfast Tonic Wine on shelves, as though they are inspecting a grand cellar full of rare vintages. But the wine they’re perusing is essentially identical and has scant detail on its labels. It’s barely even wine at all.
The information they think they’re seeking hasn’t been printed on paper, however, it’s stamped near the base of the glass bottle. They’re looking for a number ranging from one to 29. These connoisseurs, as they believe themselves to be, insist that certain numbers are better than others and represent the point on the barrel from which the wine was drawn. Lower numbers mean a thicker tonic, they’ll tell you; higher ones will be thinner. I have seen arguments develop and threaten to turn violent when these confused sommeliers have their preferred number snatched away by another.
They might not believe you if you told them the truth, which is that the sequencing numbers on the glass have nothing to do with the Buckfast inside, and that the drink hasn’t come from barrels for a very long time. I know this to be true and yet, despite myself, cannot help but check the number on each bottle I buy, too.
What is it, this strange and infamous brown beverage? READ MORE…
Decanter: Mount Pisgah Is Oregon’s Newest Wine Appellation
Oregon Pinot Noir country has a new wine appellation. The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved the Mount Pisgah American Viticultural Area (AVA) on June 3, and the designation went into effect July 5. The approval brings the total number of appellations in the Beaver State to 23.
Mount Pisgah, Polk County, Oregon—the AVA’s official full name—is the second-most southern subappellation within the Willamette Valley, next to Lower Long Tom, which was approved in November 2021. Mount Pisgah is southwest of Eola-Amity Hills and Salem, the state capital. (The long name is meant to avoid confusion with another Mount Pisgah in a different county.) READ MORE…
Decanter: Iconic Italian wineries partner on wine in space project
The project was devised by FIS president Franco Maria Ricci and officially unveiled last week in Rome at the Foundation’s latest annual International Wine Culture Forum.
‘About four months ago I thought we should do some proper experiments to understand what happens to wine and vines in space. Eventually, I decided that this year’s FIS Forum had to be dedicated entirely to this subject,’ Ricci told Decanter. ‘My idea would be to understand if the vine can live and survive in space (and even on other planets), and if so, when and where. I want to know if, in a century or more, wine will still be available to future generations,’ he said, explaining the idea behind the project.
The experiment will involve a selection of vine samples and wine bottles from the three participating wineries spending a period of time in space. Both vines and wines will undergo comparative tests with analogous samples that never left the earth upon their return. READ MORE…
Decanter: Família Torres establishes new base in Galicia
Torres is best known for producing wines across Spanish regions including Catalunya, Rioja and Ribera del Duero. It also has an international presence with Miguel Torres in Chile and Marimar in Sonoma, California, but for more than a decade it has been producing wines in Galicia too. This aspect of its portfolio started with the purchase of a 6ha vineyard in the Salnés subregion, producing the upmarket wine Blanco Granito based on Rías Baixas’ star variety, Albariño. The wine is made from a unique process, so far in a small cellar near the vineyard, using granite eggs for vinification.
Additionally, Torres has the larger-production Rías Baixas label of Pazo das Bruxas (also Albariño), but, as company director, Miguel Torres Maczassek told Decanter, ‘This small winery we’ve been using wasn’t large enough for the production of Pazo das Bruxas and our enologists had requested a larger space for additional control in winemaking as well as the potential to grow production down the line.’ READ MORE…
Trink Magazine: Playing Bond, James Bond, at a Swiss Wine Hotel
he lure of 007 and having Bollinger bubbles at their fingertips in the Bond Suite pulls some people into Erlinsbach, in northern Switzerland, for a night or two of intrigue. Others fantasize about being lulled to sleep surrounded by gently aging (shhhh) vintage Burgundies in the Wine Cellar Suite. For the rest of us, it’s a simpler dream of a night that opens with great food and a hard-to-find bottle of a Swiss vintage wine.
Landhotel Hirschen owners Albi and Silvana von Felten were ahead of their time when they bought the hotel from Albi’s parents 22 years ago. They are gratified to see the world catching up. A hotel, von Felten decided back then, must turn a profit while still offering guests an unhurried chance to eat and drink, in a way that is respectful of nature and people. Very unfashionable then, he laughs now. Luxury at any cost and fusion cooking that required foods from far away were trendy; vegans and even vegetarians were widely dismissed as odd. There were tensions with Albi’s parents, too. Their restaurant was classic French fine cuisine. “My father couldn’t understand why we should buy fresh asparagus, locally and more expensively, just when everybody had had too much of it from elsewhere. As for the lobster tank, the coquilles St. Jacques, and the sole…” These were not exactly native to Switzerland and his voice trails off here. READ MORE…
Veranda: Here’s What the Future of the Wine Industry Looks Like
Easy-drinking wines, ancient grape varieties, and eco-conscious practices: This is just the beginning of a new era in the wine industry. Acclaimed viticulturists throughout the world have relied on centuries-old production methods, but a new wave of winemakers has entered the playing field, ready to shake things up. Sommelier Erik Segelbaum, founder of SOMLYAY and educator at the Smithsonian Institution, believes the generational shift will only increase the quality of wines being produced and led way for new, groundbreaking varieties.
“We’re starting to see an acceptance of innovation in the wine industry,” says Segelbaum. “A passionate generation is taking the helm, bringing with them fresh ideas that respect traditions but embrace the technology of today.”
Here, a look at what you can expect from the wine industry in the years to come. READ MORE…
Wine-Searcher: Sauternes’ Sweet Style Runs Dry
Berenice Lurton didn’t sell her majority stake in Château Climens due to a burning desire for a career change – trampolinist, perhaps? Neither was it because the new proprietor offered to make her as rich as Croesus and twice as happy. No: Lurton waved au revoir this month because turning a profit from Sauternes can be an utterly demoralizing task.
The announcement was made last week: Château Climens would henceforth be controlled by entrepreneur Jean-Hubert Moitry, with funds provided by the family’s Patrimonia Développement group. According to insiders, it was the inevitable outcome of a succession of disastrous vintages, combined with the ever-difficult market for Sauternes. READ MORE…
WBM: Former President Files Lawsuit against Nakedwines.com
A former executive at Nakedwines.com alleged in a federal lawsuit the online wine retailer demoted and then fired him after he spoke up against the company’s treatment of female employees, according to the complaint.
Max Miller was hired as president of Nakedwines.com in April 2020. Miller said he was fired in March 2022 after he tried to prevent the alleged discrimination against women at work, according to the lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court.
The company also allegedly concocted a “negative and false performance review” and refused to provide an office in Denver, where more than 45 employees, including Miller worked, according to court records. The goal was to force Mille to quit the job “he loved,” according to the complaint. Nakedwines.com’s main US office is in Napa. 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.
Jancis Robinson: Buddhism in the vineyard
In the Pacific Northwest of the United States, the Columbia Gorge AVA overlays a canyon carved out of the Cascade Range by the Columbia River (see this map). The appellation stretches along 40 miles (64 km) of the river with mountain slopes to the north and south. Being inside the Cascade Range but along the river, the Columbia Gorge AVA includes the influences of the surrounding alpine region with its opening to the cool Pacific Ocean to the west and the hot, dry inland desert to the east. This combination creates a sort of daily breathing pattern that brings nightly maritime fog from the west and occasional warming breezes from the east to form a distinctive cool-climate wine region. In the Mosier Valley on the Oregon side, Analemma has proved to be one of the region’s stand-out producers. READ MORE…
Jancis Robinson: Valuing viticulture in Chile
Around Santiago, Chile has seen considerable vineyard consolidation over the last few decades. But in regions a bit further from the city, many vineyards are still owned by grower families who hand-work their vines to sell fruit to larger producers. The quality of these vineyards is often high, many of them including valuable older vines. To bring greater recognition to their value for Chile’s heritage as much as its economy, both Viña Carmen and Miguel Torres have begun bottling wine named for the growers who supplied the grapes. These special cuvées enable them to increase what they pay the farming families who own the land. The hope is that it will encourage the next generation to stay and keep farming their legacy vineyards. READ MORE…
Dame Wine: Spanish Premium Wine Region Commits To 100% Tempranillo Wines
The incredible smells of thick steaks cooking over a wood fire fueled by grapevines encourage drool to form at the guests’ mouths as they eagerly wait in anticipation for a meal of a lifetime. The large centuries-old kitchen had festive Spanish music playing in the background as the multi-course meal with free-flowing wine brought everyone along a journey that was a magical dining experience. All the good things in life could be enjoyed in one place, the home of a winemaking family who were also restaurateurs who loved nothing more than to host people in their ancient family home tucked away in a tiny town in the Spanish wine region of Ribera del Duero. READ MORE…
On the Wine Trail in Italy: The Wine Trade’s Dirty Little Secret
For the past three weeks I’ve not been imbibing in alcoholic beverages, part of a seasonal cleanse, taking an active part in becoming healthier. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying wine isn’t healthy for you. Actually, wine has alcohol in it, and alcohol is pretty toxic. But we usually give wine a pass, because it is so delicious, and we have it with meals. And we age it, and fetishize it, and worship it. So, that must make it OK.
But really folks, the wine trade has a problem. A drinking problem. READ MORE…
The Wine Gourd: How has the vineyard area of the US states changed over the past century?
It is of interest to think about how the world has changed within one’s own lifetime, which becomes especially true the older one gets. However, we can also think about longer–term changes; and this especially applies to the wine industry, which has been around for a very long time (even in the so-called New World).
Recently, the AAWE presented vineyard acreage data for the states of the USA way back in 1880, based on Department of Agriculture Special Report no. 36 (1881). It occurred to me that it would be interesting to compare this to the same data for today. I report on the result here. READ MORE…
Tablas Creek: Why is Glass Recycling in the United States So Dismal?
Glass is a product with a number of inherent advantages. It’s made from a readily-available and non-toxic source (sand). It’s exceptionally stable and nonreactive, and so provides a terrific vessel for containing products like wine that you might want to store for decades. And it can be melted down and reused without any degradation of its quality, so it’s a perfect product for recycling. Any yet, in the United States, it’s recycled less than a third of the time. This fact is one of the main reasons we’ve been exploring alternative packaging like the bag-in-box that we debuted for our Patelin de Tablas Rosé earlier this year. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Other countries recycle a much higher percentage of their glass than we do here. I found our depressingly low rate of glass recycling eye-opening enough that I have spent a fair amount of time over the last few months researching why. The conclusions say a lot about what our society and industry values right now. I’m guessing and hoping that this information might be eye-opening for you as well. READ MORE…
These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!
wine.co.za: Old Vine Project announces inaugural Old Vine Day on 1 August
The Old Vine Project (OVP) team announced that they, their members, and wine lovers all over the South Africa and the world, will be celebrating the inaugural Old Vine Day this year on 01 August 2022 (and every year after from now on), this being the founding date of the OVP in 2016.
Rosa Kruger, vineyard manager and founder of the OVP, began to catalogue old vines in 2002. Since the formal launch of the OVP six years ago, the organisation has gone from strength to strength, with close to 130 members and over 250 Certified Heritage Vineyard (CHV) wines now released each vintage.
The old vine category in South Africa contributes significantly to the country’s global wine brand with old vineyard plantings having increased from 2 952 ha in 2016 to 4 004 ha in 2021, a remarkable 35% increase in six years. With climate change threatening South Africa and the world’s current vineyard plantings, “Planting to grow old” has become the new watchword for the OVP members. READ MORE…
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