Good Saturday morning to you. There’s been loads of wine news this past week and I’ve rounded up a few top headlines. I think one of the biggest surprises was President Joe Biden’s specific mention of the beverage alcohol industry in his Executive Order Promoting Competition. Read a breakdown of that clause and implications for the wine industry.
I also have to call out Sean Sullivan’s piece on dissecting the recent sale of Chateau Ste. Michelle and what that means for the Washington wine industry specifically.
Looking for some educational reading? Scroll down to the blogs and read my latest article for my wine school, Napa Valley Wine Academy, where I discuss the effects of wind on wine. And I absolutely love the latest post on Tim Atkin’s site talking about mousse.
Also—and this is a pretty hilarious juxtaposition—check out this piece talking about vintners who believe that biodynamic viticulture is utter witchraft, then continue on to the post describing why biodynamics can never be vegan (which is actually true).
Last but not least, I’ll leave you with this—be kind to each other.
Wine Industry Network: Executive Order on Promoting Competition … In the Wine Industry
On July 9, 2021, President Biden gave the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. The Order itself, detailing plans to increase economic competition by opening opportunities for small businesses across the U.S., came without shock. The creation of a Competition Council is very much in keeping with the tone the Biden-Harris administration has put forth.
“But nobody had any idea there would be a section completely dedicated to alcohol,” says Michael Kaiser, vice president of WineAmerica. “It was a surprise for everyone, including the TTB—they had no idea it was coming.”
Much of the Order can be taken as good news for the alcohol beverage industry as a whole—beer, wine, and spirits. As Kaiser notes, this is the first time that the Federal Government has taken a deep look at some of the “issues,” the industry has been battling for years. READ MORE…
New York Times: Restaurant Shuts Down for a ‘Day of Kindness’ After Customers Make Its Staff Cry
The owners of Apt Cape Cod, a farm-to-table restaurant in Brewster, Mass., drew a line in the sand against customers’ rude behavior since being allowed to fully reopen.
The verbal abuse from rude customers got so bad, the owners of one farm-to-table restaurant on Cape Cod said, that some of their employees cried.
The final indignity came last Thursday, when a man berated one of the restaurant’s young employees for telling him that they could not take his breakfast takeout order because the restaurant had not opened yet, said Brandi Felt Castellano, the co-owner of Apt Cape Cod in Brewster, Mass.
“I never thought it would become this,” she said.
So Ms. Felt Castellano and her spouse, Regina Felt Castellano, who is also the head chef and co-owner, announced on Facebook that the restaurant would close for part of that same day to treat the restaurant’s employees to a “day of kindness.”
The move drew widespread attention in the community and on social media. Other restaurateurs shared similar anecdotes that they said demonstrated the strain that fully reopening was placing on an industry that was battered by the coronavirus pandemic. READ MORE…
Wine Enthusiast: Sold! What The Ste. Michelle Sale Means for Washington’s Wine Industry
“The scale of this investment is significant,” says Ryan Pennington, senior director of communications and corporate affairs at SMWE. “And we see that not only as a significant vote of confidence for our team, and our estates and brands, but really for the entire Washington wine industry.”
SMWE includes Chateau Ste. Michelle, the winery’s flagship brand, along with 14 Hands and Columbia Crest in Washington; Erath in Oregon; and Patz & Hall in California, among others. Founded in 1967, Ste. Michelle was purchased by U.S. Tobacco (UST) in 1974 and became part of Altria when that company bought UST in 2008. READ MORE…
The Drinks Business: Pesquera owner cut three eldest daughters out of will
Alejandro Fernández, founder of leading Ribera del Duero estate Pesquera, cut three of his daughters out of his will five days before his death, leaving his entire fortune to the youngest.
As reported by The Times, Fernandez changed his last will just five days before his death in May to exclude his eldest daughters Olga, Lucía and Mari Cruz.
According to the paper, the trio sided with their mother, Esperanza Rivera, when their parents separated in 2017, with only youngest daughter Eva remaining loyal to her father, leading to his King Lear-esque disinheritance of the others.
After their separation, Esperanza allegedly forced Fernandez out of the family wine business, valued at €150 million. READ MORE…
ABC News: Senate Democrats unveil proposal to end federal prohibition on marijuana
WASHINGTON — For the first time in Senate history, Democrats on Wednesday will move toward ending the federal prohibition on cannabis, removing it from the federal list of controlled substances. It’s a move sponsors hope will also end the disproportionate harm that has been done to communities of color.
To date, some 18 states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and 37 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, now allow the medical use of the drug.
“The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act will ensure that Americans — especially Black and Brown Americans — no longer have to fear arrest or be barred from public housing or federal financial aid for higher education for using cannabis in states where it’s legal,” the discussion draft reads. “State-compliant cannabis businesses will finally be treated like other businesses and allowed access to essential financial services, like bank accounts and loans. Medical research will no longer be stifled.” READ MORE…
Slate: The Anthony Bourdain Doc Is No Hagiography
Roadrunner is a brilliant, sometimes troubling documentary about a brilliant, sometimes troubling man.
Within seconds of the opening of Roadrunner, a new documentary from the Oscar-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?), the writer, chef, and TV personality Anthony Bourdain is already talking about death. Sitting at a table with an unseen companion, he says that he has no investment in what happens to his remains after he is gone, except insofar as it might provide “entertainment value” for his body to be, say, fed into a woodchipper and sprayed around the London department store Harrods at rush hour.
Given that Bourdain died by suicide in 2018 during the filming of an episode of his CNN show Parts Unknown in Alsace, France, this mordant joke takes on extra-gruesome meaning—and as a montage later on in the movie shows, it was far from the only time he cracked wise on camera about his own death. In its mix of playful irreverence and punk-rock attitude, the put-me-in-a-woodchipper-at-Harrods line is pure Bourdain, an example of the way he could charm, seduce, shock, and amuse all at the same time. READ MORE…
Harpers: Canada’s Cool Climate Sensibility
Harpers’ recent Canadian-flavoured webinar looked at the emerging regions and styles from this exciting country as it emerges onto the global wine scene, as Andrew Catchpole reports.
A recent Harpers survey of the indie merchant sector found more than two-thirds reporting their customers had become more adventurous during the past 12 months, representing the acceleration of a trend already under way pre-pandemic in more wine-savvy off- and on-trade quarters.
Moreover, people are increasingly seeking out authentic wines with a sense of place, coupled with a shift towards fresher, more poised and elegant styles. All of which favours cooler-climate regions and quality-focused producers – wines delivering distinct character and individuality.
Step up Canada, with it’s exciting but ‘yet-to-be-discovered’ styles coming under the spotlight in our recent Canada – Wines with a Cool-Climate Sensibility webinar. This brought together leading UK buyers that have already taken the plunge by listing Canadian wines, first to pre-taste a selection of what the country offers, and then to discuss how and where Canada is best placed to grow its UK presence. READ MORE…
Wine Spectator: NBA’s Seth Curry Joins All-Star Oregon Pinot Team with New Wine
Curry, who spent the 2018-’19 season in Portland, recently partnered with Oregon’s Maysara winery to make Triskelion Pinot Noir McMinnville Momtazi Vineyard 2016 ($34), with 10 percent of proceeds going to Social Change Fund United (SCFU). The charity, which supports underrepresented communities of color, was founded by NBA stars (and wine lovers) Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade.
According to Curry’s wife, Callie, who also serves on the SCFU advisory council, moving to Portland turned Curry onto the local wine scene and into a serious collector. READ MORE…
Pix: Introducing the New Generation of South African Winemakers
In a country where access to land is tough, a new generation forges a path
After 14 years in a prestigious job, Duncan Savage resigned to invest more time in his own label. But he is doing more than just making wine — he is helping to mentor the next generation of winemakers, including talented university graduates who wouldn’t otherwise have access to wine.
Some of the graduates will get jobs. Others will take their place among a new wave of garagiste winemakers who are shaking up South Africa’s wine scene, finding their place in what has traditionally been the preserve of people with access to resources like land and money. READ MORE…
The 2005 Bordeaux vintage will require decades to evolve and develop. Is that better than wines that are terrific sooner, but not as majestic?
It’s only 2021, and we’ve already had possibly seven red Bordeaux vintages of the 21st century.
Depending on which critics you pay attention to, they include 2000, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016 and 2018.
That’s an awful lot of choices, particularly for a region that earlier in its history would typically have endured a decade or two between vintages that might widely be considered great.
I’m generally not all that interested in the great vintage method of buying wine. For one thing, the prevailing standard of greatness, for Bordeaux in particular, is powerful wines that can endure for decades, long enough to develop the complex secondary and tertiary aromas and flavors that transcend mere pleasure and achieve profundity.
I’ve nothing against drinking those wines, naturally. Once they have reached a certain level of aging, wines of this caliber have provided memorable thrills that have helped to shape the way I think about wine and its possibilities. 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.
Napa Valley Wine Academy: Effects of Wind on Wine
Two California Vintners Discuss How Wind Influences Viticulture, Winemaking, and Resulting Wine Styles
You can’t see it, but it’s there. One of the most defining environmental features of California’s wine regions—wind. It can cool a warm climate or warm a cool climate; it can exacerbate problems in the vineyard or provide a viticultural solution.
The Petaluma Gap, which only just gained AVA status in 2017, is defined by its consistently windy conditions. “[The AVA] is a naturally occurring wind tunnel,” says Erica Stancliff winemaker at Trombetta Family Wines and Pfendler Vineyards and president of the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance. “Here the hills run east to west, as opposed to north to south,” she explains. “That separation [in the coastal mountains] means there’s a gap that comes from the Pacific, pulling in cool coastal air. The east-west hill formation creates a tunnel running south to San Pablo Bay—body of water to body of water.”
This, she says, is how the Alliance drew the boundaries for the proposed sub-region, but it took more research to prove the significance wind plays within this boundary to gain AVA status. “We set up wind stations measuring speed and consistency of the wind at various points,” Stancliff says. The data showed consistent average wind speeds of about 8 miles per hour throughout the year. READ MORE…
Booze Rules Blog: Competition in the Beverage Alcohol Industry Now Under the Microscope
Last Friday, President Biden, with great fanfare, signed an executive order that defines his vision for our economy moving forward into the third decade of the 21st Century. The first two decades brought fundamental expectancies in a terrorist attack, a financial melt-down, never-ending wars, and a global pandemic not seen for a century. The change in direction of the American economy roadmaped in the executive order will be as striking as the afore events but will be a forward-looking industrial policy. This executive order and the Biden/Harris Administration’s infrastructure plan, if successfully implemented, will reimagine the “American Dream” for decades and serve as the lasting face of the United States in the global economy.
Or, is it a pipedream?
Word on the Grapevine: Why biodynamic wine can never be vegan
Early vegan pioneer, Leslie J Cross, defined veganism as seeking ‘an end to the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection, and by all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man‘. Today, The Vegan Society defines veganism as a ‘philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose‘. Alex J. O’Connor has noted that ‘veganism is not about food‘ while Jacy Reese Anthis argues there to be ‘strong practical reasons to oppose any commodification of animals, not just that which is cruel or egregious‘. For the layman, veganism is an ethical framework that objects to any practice or product necessitating the slaughter and/or commodification of animals. Presented in 1924 by occultist, Rudolf Steiner, biodynamics is a form of esoteric alternative agriculture rooted in anthroposophy and mysticism. Today advocates present biodynamics simply as a framework that considers the farm as belonging to an ecologically interrelated system. Hardly revolutionary. Often negated though, is that Steiner asserted the health of this system relies upon the harvesting of cosmic energy. This energy, he claimed, is harnessed in part through the use of nine preparations. Each component of these preparations is said to possess a unique characteristic fundamental to the flourishing of cosmic forces, including an array of animal organs. In this essay, I make two distinct arguments. The first, that wine made according to biodynamic practice can never be considered vegan. The second, that biodynamic agriculture is philosophically opposed to veganism. Such that, any product of biodynamic agriculture must by definition be considered non-vegan. READ MORE…
The Buyer: Mike Turner speaks out for the ‘witchcraft’ practices of Biodynamics
Biodynamic farming is being damned by a group of Italian scientists who have started a petition, claiming that the practice is witchcraft. A leading senator backing the scientists has declared (somewhat unbelievably) “we risk giving legal recognition to flat-earthers who preach magic and witchcraft.” The aim of this petition, which has surpassed a staggering 31,000 signatories, is to overturn a bill which would put biodynamic farming on the same standing as organic farming, thereby allowing biodynamic practitioners to receive state aid. So puzzled about this state of affairs was wine consultant and restaurateur Mike Turner, that he decided to delve into the matter and ask some fundamental questions about all types of farming, talk to South African winemaker of the year Johan Reyneke, and generally put some positive PR out there for biodynamic farming. READ MORE…
The Wine Gourd: Do online wine ratings and searches actually mean anything?
Social media sites like Vivino, Delectable and Cellar-Tracker collate wine ratings from their users, and Wine-Searcher does the same thing for critics, as well looking at the search popularity of wines. These sites sometimes present a compilation of their data as representing things like “the best wine in the world” (eg. Is this the best wine in the world? An app with 35 million subscribers says so) or “the world’s most desired wines” (eg. The world’s most wanted wines).
This seems like quite a radical conceptual leap, to me. It is one thing to note what wine is, in some sense, the most popular wine, on average, for the restricted set of users represented on any given online site. It is another thing altogether to present this as “the best” in any broader sense. To leap from a restricted user base to the entire world is a form of arrogance, at best, and complete and utter foolishness at worst. READ MORE…
Jancis Robinson: Putin’s traditional method
Tim Hall of Scala Wine, an avid Champagne-watcher, gives the low-down on Russia’s recent wine-labelling diktat.
On 2 July, while the European football tournament quarter-finals fizzed, Switzerland having ended French hopes, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a new law and the genie of a Franco-Russian trade spat popped out of Champagne’s bottles. Henceforth, only bottles of bubbly actually made in Russia could be labelled ‘Champagne’ for sale in that country, it was reported. Proper champagne, the one from Champagne (as all informed readers of JancisRobinson.com know), was no longer allowed to call itself ‘Champagne’ in Russia. But Russian fizz was. ‘Sacré bleu!’ may well have been heard in the Champagne capital Epernay’s lunchtime haunts. READ MORE…
Tim Atkin: The Mysteries of the Mousse
Almost all sparkling wine undergoes a second fermentation in a closed environment, trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) in the wine. This could be the bottle itself (for Champagne or any ‘traditional method’ sparkling wine) or a tank (for Prosecco or any ‘tank method’ wine). When a glass of sparkling wine is poured, tiny fibres in the glass form ‘bubble nurseries’ where this CO2 is able to make its escape. Without these nurseries, no bubbles would appear at all. Differences between glasses will mean that a visual inspection of the rising ‘bead’ of bubbles may not tell you how bubbly the wine really feels to drink.
The real action happens on our palates, where the dissolved CO2 finds plenty of sites to raise its offspring. Not only do we physically feel the bubbles, but recent research has shown that we actually taste them: the CO2 reacts with moisture in our mouth (via a fantastically-effective enzyme called carboanhydrase found in our tongue) to form carbonic acid, the effect of which is crucial to the tingling sensation we find in any fizzy drink.
We’re hoping for something a bit more sophisticated than a can of soda, though; what are the qualities of the finest sparkling wine mousses? I asked Champagne expert and author of Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine, Tom Stevenson: READ MORE…
Jancis Robinson: The quest for Singapore’s next wine trend
On arrival in Singapore two years ago, I was expecting clos-to-clos burgundy, and only grands crus at that. First-growth claret might be an acceptable warm-up act, with tolerance afforded to the occasional Supertuscan sideshow, but otherwise burgundy, burgundy it shall be, for breakfast, dinner, lunch and tea.
Such was this market’s reputation. In reality, there is much more nuance. Yes, dinners (and breakfasts, lunches and teas) take place that resemble pre-apocalyptic vinocide, just as they do in New York, London and plenty of other cities. But what might we discover by examining Singapore’s wider wine scene? And why should that even matter? READ MORE…
Vino Joy News: Wine companies fined for using Chinese leaders in ads
Chinese leaders are off limits for wine companies’ promotions, even with a ringing endorsement coming from China’s first chairman Mao Zedong himself, as the country tightens its grip on advertising for alcoholic beverages.
The story itself was also confirmed by Ji Yanchi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to Georgia. “All Chinese know that Stalin served the Chinese leader Mao Zedong with Georgian red wine Kindzmarauli, so this wine is very popular among Chinese,” he said in an interview.
For years, Georgian wine companies have capitalized the story to promote Georgian wines, until now.
The Tianjin company is fined for close to RMB 10,000 for failing to produce Chinese back labels for 74 bottles of Georgian wines, and the illegal use of Chinese leader’ images in advertising and promotions will be investigated in a separate case, according to Tianjin Administration for Market Regulation’s announcement.
Violation of China’s advertising law could face fines between RMB 20,000 and RMB 1 million. READ MORE…
BK Wine Magazine: Col Vetoraz, a prosecco that does not want to be called prosecco
The Prosecco bubble does not seem to want to burst. Consumption of sparkling wine from Veneto, in north-eastern Italy, does not appear to be declining. In 2009, the area for production was expanded and recently a pink variant, prosecco rosato, was added. But several voices are critical, especially in the original areas of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. Some producers today choose to remove the name prosecco from their labels so as not to be associated with what they believe are only market-adapted wines of often low quality. One of these is Col Vetoraz, which recently launched a series of new wines. READ MORE…
Lodi Wine Growers: How Women and German Settlers Civilized the Rum-Guzzling 1800s Town Called Lodi
In 1874 the 450 or so citizens of a little town called Mokelumne — nestled in the lush watershed area of California’s Mokelumne River, just east of the marshy Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta — decided they needed a name change. So they came up with “Lodi.”
A short and sweet, pronounceable name probably wasn’t the only thing that was needed. At that time, the community was being drawn up in unpaved roads, bogged down by sticky mud during the winter rains, and engulfed in nostril-clinging dust when stirred up by the Delta breezes during the desert-dry summer months. One local historian has called late 1800s Lodi “an unruly child… sometimes referred to as a ‘rum-guzzling’ town with young boys on the road to hell” (Christman, Our Time to Shine). READ MORE…
Fermentation: Can We Agree That Alcohol and Lies Don’t Pair Well?
My argument is a simple one: In advancing or promoting or opposing any alcohol-related policy, you should tell the truth. The corollary to this position is equally simple: Don’t lie.
I focus on this position today in response to a common lie that has been resurrected in opposing the proposal to allow the U.S. Postal Service to ship alcohol and augment their revenue in doing so. Below is the #1 argument put forward by a former alcohol regulator from Oregon and one of the most prominent proponents of vigorous regulation of alcohol why the U.S. Postal Service should not be allowed to ship alcohol: READ MORE…
These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!
International Masters of Wine: Ten MW students share special IWSC Foundation scholarship
IMW supporter IWSC Foundation has awarded 10 MW students with a special scholarship due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ten students from stage two of the MW study programme share a portion of £23,500.
IWSC Foundation made the fund available to current stage two and three MW students experiencing significant financial hardship. The purpose of the scholarship is to support students who may have struggled to complete their studies due to lack of funds – job loss or a reduction in earnings, for example – given the global pandemic.
The Foundation assessed the applications on a case-by-case basis, which asked students to give details of their situation and how much money they would like to receive. READ MORE…
National Association of Wine Retailers: Wine Retailers Urge Supreme Court To Overturn Ban on Wine Shipments
The National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR) has submitted an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court of the United States to grant Certiorari to Sarasota Wine Market v Schmitt, a retailer wine shipping case brought to challenge Missouri’s discriminatory ban on consumers in that state receiving wine shipments from out-of-state retailers.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that the discriminatory Missouri ban on shipments from out-of-state wine retailers constitutes an “essential element” of the “three-tier system” and is therefore not subject to judicial scrutiny under the Commerce Clause. READ MORE…
PlantX Life Inc.: PlantX Adds Vegan Wines to Its Online Grocery Selection
PlantX Life Inc. (CSE: VEGA) (Frankfurt: WNT1) (OTCQB: PLTXF) (“PlantX” or the “Company“) is pleased announce the addition of vegan wine to its expanding product selection on its U.S. e-commerce platform.
The Company will be enhancing its product offerings by adding a curated selection of high-quality vegan wines by brands such as Rare Earth, Veuve Clicquot, Pino Cellars and Gravel Bar Winery. The new items are now available to order in the “Plant-Based Wine” section of the Company’s U.S. e-commerce platform.
“The alcoholic beverage market is one of the fastest growing industry segments in the U.S. and globally,” said PlantX CEO, Julia Frank. “The new vertical will allow PlantX to holistically meet customer demands and expectations by expanding its product offerings in line with its mission and values.” READ MORE…
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