Hola—Happy My Birthday Weekend to you! Hope you have something fun planned. Me? I’ll just wait to be surprised—or not—whatever the case may be I’m finding that I’ve a lot to be thankful for so am happy to simply celebrate life.
Enjoy your round up of weekly wine news. I’ll highlight, in shameless self-promotion, that I’ve taken on a Managing Editor role for Wine Industry Advisor. I’ll still be freelancing everywhere and keeping up my personal website, but this is a great opportunity and am stoked to jump on board.
Cheers everyone—celebrate something this weekend, even if it is yourself. 🙂
Grub Street: Should Unvaccinated People Avoid Restaurants Completely?
Last week, Atlanta restaurateur Armando Celentano posted a sign on his restaurant, Argosy: “No Vax No Service,” after identifying breakthrough COVID-19 cases among his vaccinated staff. Celentano explained his decision to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, saying, “I have to do what I think is right to protect the people who rely on me to make a living.” In doing so, he joined a growing wave of business operators who are taking a hard line against unvaccinated customers. Even without mandates, a growing body of evidence suggests those unvaxxed customers should avoid bars and restaurants no matter what.
COVID cases continue to rise sharply around the country, with the New York Times reporting a 144 percent upsurge over the last two weeks. Hospitalizations and cases have not increased as much, however. This increase in cases has led cities like Los Angeles and St. Louis to reinstate mask mandates, and Argosy is one of an increasing number of restaurants requiring proof of vaccination. (And today, per the Times, the CDC is expected to recommend “that people vaccinated for the coronavirus resume wearing masks indoors in certain areas of the country.”) One CNN contributor, Dr. Jonathan Reiner of George Washington University, has gone so far as to say that the unvaccinated “should probably not eat at a restaurant” because they “are at great risk of becoming infected.” READ MORE…
Wine Spectator: New York Star Sommelier Arrested and Accused of Arson
Caleb Ganzer, wine director and co-owner of the popular New York City restaurant La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, has been arrested and charged with arson for allegedly setting fire to garbage and to outdoor dining structures outside other restaurants in lower Manhattan in three separate incidents this year. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has charged Ganzer with two counts of arson, two counts of criminal mischief and three counts of reckless endangerment.
“Every act of arson has the potential to spread rapidly, endangering the lives of New Yorkers and [New York Fire Department] members,” said New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro, in a statement. “Thankfully in these incidents there were no injuries and the suspect has been apprehended before another fire could be set.” READ MORE…
GreenBiz: These entrepreneurs want consumers to reuse wine bottles
Americans aren’t the biggest wine sippers in the world — imbibing a mere 3.2 gallons per person in 2020 versus the 16 gallons guzzled by Portuguese residents, according to estimates from the industry’s primary source of stats.
But the habit still translates into a whole lot of single-use bottles: About 4.3 billion of them, many of which find their way into landfills or (maybe) into some sophisticated recycling system where they can be processed and resold along with other types of glass. While glass is highly recyclable, only about one-third of what American’s throw away annually is actually handled that way. So it shouldn’t surprise you that life-cycle assessments suggest that the largest percentage of the industry’s footprint is related to this heavy, single-use packaging. Depending on who you ask, from 1 pound to 2.7 pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted for the production associated with a wine bottle.
What’s the alternative? Alongside newer formats such as cardboard boxes and cans (a matter for another story), there’s growing interest in refill models. Over the past year, two New York-area companies — circular containers startup Good Goods and “wine on tap” distributor Gotham Project — have begun testing services that do just that with retailers in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Colorado. (The Gotham Project hopes to add locations in Vermont, Ohio and Maine by September.) While the two companies are using different approaches, both are treating their programs as an opportunity for retail engagement enabled by digital technology. And both are focused (initially at least) on what they call “drinkable” wines, traditionally priced between $10 and $15.
“These are wines meant to be consumed casually, rather than highly aged or occasion wines,” said Zach Lawless, co-founder and CEO of Good Goods. Indeed, the most popular wine this summer for retailers testing the return model is a rosé, mirroring typical retail trends. READ MORE…
Molecules: Potential Mitigation of Smoke Taint in Wines by Post-Harvest Ozone Treatment of Grapes
When bushfires occur near grape growing regions, vineyards can be exposed to smoke, and depending on the timing and duration of grapevine smoke exposure, fruit can become tainted. Smoke-derived volatile compounds, including volatile phenols, can impart unpleasant smoky, ashy characters to wines made from smoke-affected grapes, leading to substantial revenue losses where wines are perceivably tainted. This study investigated the potential for post-harvest ozone treatment of smoke-affected grapes to mitigate the intensity of smoke taint in wine. Merlot grapevines were exposed to smoke at ~7 days post-veraison and at harvest grapes were treated with 1 or 3 ppm of gaseous ozone (for 24 or 12 h, respectively), prior to winemaking. The concentrations of smoke taint marker compounds (i.e., free and glycosylated volatile phenols) were measured in grapes and wines to determine to what extent ozonation could mitigate the effects of grapevine exposure to smoke. The 24 h 1 ppm ozone treatment not only gave significantly lower volatile phenol and volatile phenol glycoside concentrations but also diminished the sensory perception of smoke taint in wine. Post-harvest smoke and ozone treatment of grapes suggests that ozone works more effectively when smoke-derived volatile phenols are in their free (aglycone) form, rather than glycosylated forms. Nevertheless, the collective results demonstrate the efficacy of post-harvest ozone treatment as a strategy for mitigation of smoke taint in wine. READ MORE…
wine.co.za: South Africa’s wine industry has less room to hide from climate change than other regions
After contending with a severe drought between 2015 and 2017, South Africa’s wine industry faces higher average temperatures, more severe heatwaves and a shifting rainy season. But while producers in other parts of the world are shielding themselves from climate change by moving into cooler territories, this is less of an option for South Africa’s winemakers, experts say.
As a result, climate change adaptation will be key to the sector’s long-term prosperity, and producers are likely to gravitate towards warmer-climate wine varieties, such as cabernet sauvignon, rather than cooler-climate varieties, such as chardonnay.
The commentary on South Africa’s wine market (below) comes after researchers quantified the role that human-caused climate change played in an intense late frost episode that damaged agricultural lands in France in early April. Vineyards in particular were severely affected, with early assessments estimating losses of almost 2 billion euros.
The French study showed that while global warming made the cold wave less likely, it is also shifting the growing season earlier into the year. This is problematic because during the bud-burst stage, vineyards are especially susceptible to frosts. So while temperatures have generally increased in recent decades, crops are maturing earlier in the year, leaving them more exposed and vulnerable to low temperatures.
The researchers, including scientists from the University of Oxford, concluded that overall, human-caused climate change made the damaging frost event in France about 60% more likely. READ MORE…
Bloomberg: Champagne With No Bubbles? Thank Climate Change
Still wines from the legendary home of sparklers are becoming more commonplace, and rising temperatures are part of the math that makes them possible.
The sparkle in great Champagne is known all over the world. So why is the region increasingly making wines without the trademark bubbles?
And are these new wines any good?
Those were the first questions that came to mind in the spring, when Champagne house Louis Roederer, famed for its iconic Cristal, released a bubble-free pinot noir and a matching chardonnay under a new label called Hommage a Camille.
Many more of these still wines, known as “coteaux Champenois,” are coming from both grandes marques and top grower-producers. By far the majority, perhaps 90%, are red, made from pinot noir, meunier, or both; the rest are chardonnay, with a few producers using unusual forgotten white varieties, such as petit meslier, pinot gris, and arbanne. READ MORE…
Press Democrat: Will this new Sonoma County wine be a hit with millennials?
The label Billy D. Wines, produced in Sonoma County, is a new arrival on many retail shelves, and the vintner behind it hopes it will pique the interest of millennials, a sought-after market, for its unique varietals and its eco-savvy 500-ml bottlings.
“There comes a time when there’s a need for some disruption,” said vintner Billy Davies. “We can’t let wine disappear with seltzers and liquors. Wine has a great story. If we want to make wine provocative going forward, we have to do something else.” READ MORE…
Sonoma Index Tribune: Robledo Family Winery seeks to increase local production from 300 to 50,000 cases
Robledo Family Winery has ambitious plans. Currently producing only 300 cases of wine at the on-site facility south of Sonoma, the winery is seeking permission to significantly increase its production to 50,000 cases. To meet that goal, it hopes to construct a number of new buildings – including a 9,910-square-foot hospitality and administration center.
The winery was founded by vineyard workers Reynaldo and María de La Luz Robledo in 1997, on their original 13-acre property in Carneros, known for its hospitable conditions for chardonnay and pinot noir. Their son, Reynaldo Jr., founded the Olive Tree Farm; a total of nine siblings are involved in the winery and vineyard management companies as well, including Everardo Robledo, 45, the CEO of Robledo Family Winery.
The list of wines that Robledo currently bottles is extensive – the usual reds such as cabernet, pinot noir and zinfandel, as well as barbera and tempranillo; and whites including chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio and a dry riesling. READ MORE…
VinePair: The Most Interesting Spirit Coming Out of Scotland Is a Strawberry Vodka
What if I told you there was a Scottish distillery that makes one of the best-tasting, most cult-ish spirits in the entire drinks world at the moment — but it’s not a Scotch? Even more shocking is that Arbikie Highland Estate’s Strawberry Vodka has become a sensation among the types of connoisseurs who typically wouldn’t be caught dead drinking such a thing.
Like Vacheresse, who has occasionally deployed it in cocktails over the last couple of years, with one notably called What’s Love Got To Do With It?, a Negroni variant he made in honor of Tina Turner’s 80th birthday in 2019.
“But mostly I turn people onto it, ’cause it’s delicious and a kind of mind f*ck,” he explains. READ MORE…
Eater: You Don’t Need to Pay $12 for Mac and Cheese Ice Cream. Make It Yourself Instead.
How to make Van Leeuwen’s savory-sweet flavor using Kraft mac and cheese
A few nights ago, I had the pleasure of stopping by Palizzi Social Club — a hundred-year-old members-only Italian spot in South Philly — for an after-dinner drink. At the bar, in between rounds, my friend suggested that since we’d already eaten, we should order Palizzi’s famous dessert instead. Soon after, we were digging into a big old slice of Mom’s Ricotta Cheese Pie: rich, crumbly, tangy, salty, and sweet, with an almost-savory almond crust. With an Amarena cherry on top, the pie — a dessert complemented by the savory flavor and creamy texture of cheese — was the perfect nightcap.
Cheese and sugar — or creamy richness amplified by sweetness — is a match made in heaven, but you wouldn’t know that based on the indignation people registered when Van Leeuwen announced its limited-edition Kraft macaroni and cheese ice cream. The chorus of voices reacted with confusion and revulsion and even outrage. “Cheese ice cream?” Hoda Kotb said with a grimace on the show she co-hosts with Jenna Bush Hager. Kotb visibly winced as she tasted it, adding, “It’s just not ringing my bell.” Stephen Colbert was more equivocal, saying coyly, “It’s happening.” The Cut, on the other hand, wrote what many people were thinking: “This Is What Greets You at the Gates of Hell.”
It’s strange that the combination of cheese and sugar seems to inspire such derision. What’s not to love about a rich, salty ingredient gussied up for an after-dinner sweet course? 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.
Jancis Robinson: Don’t forget Austria!
A reminder of this source of great whites – and, now, reds.
Wine regions get their moment in the sun, as I hinted in the Oxford Companion to Wine entry on fashion. Though since that article was written, in 2014, many a region has come and gone, if not from wine lists then from the massive coverage they enjoyed at one point. Jura, Canary Islands, Gredos spring readily to mind but I’m sure you can think of others.
(Thinking of Nick’s ‘work’ reviewing restaurants, I see the same phenomenon in that world. A certain restaurant is hot for a while, then in a year or two it almost seems to be forgotten.)
Earlier this century the pristine nature and consistent quality available from Austria was widely celebrated and most wine lovers had their Grüner Veltiner (discovery thereof) moment.
But Austrian wine producers would be justified, I think, in feeling the need to draw attention to the fact that their wines are better than ever, now that Austrian vintners are really focused on maximising freshness and have got over a short-term obsession with ripeness (whites) and oak and French grape varieties (reds). READ MORE…
Jamie Goode: Visiting Mullineux, one of South Africa’s top producers
Jamie Goode and Treve Ring continue their series on the Swartland, visiting Mullineux at their home base, Roundstone.
This was our first visit to Roundstone, which is the farm that is home to Mullineux wines. They started buying fruit from here in 2004 when they were working for Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards, and they moved here in 2007 with Mullineux.
It’s on the Kasteelberg, which is one of the three main mountains here. The others are the Paardeberg in the south (where Adi Badenhorst and Eben Sadie are based), which is a huge granite outcrop. The other side of the Kasteelberg is Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West, and then far in the north is Picketberg, which is where Craig and Carla (Testalonga) are. READ MORE…
BK Wine Magazine: Unique wines and grapes in Sud-Ouest: Gaillac, Cahors, Madiran, Jurançon, Irouléguy, Béarn, Fronton and more
If you look at wines from the so-called New World, you can easily get the impression that there are no other grape varieties than chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon. Of course, there is nothing wrong with these grapes. Still, I would also like to promote lesser-known grape varieties and strike a blow for the regions that make an effort to preserve traditional grape varieties and that a classic regional character of the wines is maintained.
The appellation rules have, of course, a role to play here, but many winegrowers also believe that if small wine districts are to survive, it is essential to be able to show a distinct regional style. But the wines should also appeal to consumers, and what do people really want? Streamlined, easy-drinking chardonnay wines without any surprises or personal wines that may require a little getting used to? Something to think about then, for the winemaker and the consumer.
Few districts in France can showcase so many “own” and “unique” grape varieties as the southwestern part of France, le Sud-Ouest. Grapes such as mauzac, malbec, tannat, braucol and petit manseng make their mark on the wines. But since it is allowed to blend with mainly Bordeaux grapes, it is still up to the winemaker to decide what type of wine he wants to make.
So let us take a closer look at some of these not so well-known but very exciting wine regions, and wines, that we can find in France’s South-West. READ MORE…
These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!
Wine Industry Network: Wine Industry Network Brings on Stacy Briscoe to Oversee Editorial Department
Wine Industry Advisor continues to expand its reputation as THE business resource for wine professionals
Wine Industry Network (WIN) announced today that Stacy Briscoe who has for the past year been working with them as a consulting editor will transition into a managing editor role for their Wine Industry Advisor publication.
Briscoe will be overseeing the Advisor’s editorial content as well as looking to bring on more writers and freelancers to expand the publication’s capacity to originate content. Briscoe is the former staff writer for Wines & Vines magazine and the former assistant editor of Wine Business Monthly. She’s currently a freelance writer for several notable publications including Wine Enthusiast, Sonoma Magazine, and SevenFifty Daily, among many others. She also holds the WSET Level 3 Advanced Certification and is a WSET Diploma candidate. Her years of experience and passion for the industry will ensure that the most timely and insightful information is presented to WIN’s audience of wine industry professionals. READ MORE…
Wine Industry Network: Wine Industry Network Launches packXplore
Wine Industry Network (WIN) announced today that it is launching packXplore—a new virtual conference focused on wine packaging. Dedicated to helping wineries and wine brands discover and navigate the wide world of wine packaging, the conference is set to feature experts, insiders, and case studies. Explore the intersection of Design Innovation, Engagement, and Sustainability in wine packaging.
The virtual conference will be broadcast on Wednesday, August 25th, from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Registration is free for wine industry professionals and opens today.
- Alternative Packaging by the Numbers
- Sustainability in Packaging Practice
- Driving Consumer Engagement
- Exploring the Future of Interactive Packaging
“Packaging is such an important element in the marketing of wine and while we talk about it a lot, it’s not enough,” says George Christie, President and CEO of Wine Industry Network. “It’s a topic that’s been underserved in our industry, and we felt compelled to address that with the launch of packXplore. We’re incredibly excited to begin with a virtual event, but even more excited when we can be in person in 2022.”
This is a free conference for the wine industry, interested professionals can register here: REGISTER.
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