Hello my friends. Hope all are doing well and staying healthy. Super important now that mask mandates and COVID protocols seem to becoming lifted in more and more areas. I know they are in my neck of the woods. It’s a simultaneous sigh of relief but also a source of anxiety. So, again, I urge you all to stay safe and healthy while venturing back out into the world.
There’s loads of fun stuff in this week’s newsletter—including some scandalous opinion pieces. (I’ll let you scroll through and figure out which.) And in shameless self-promotion, I’ve included an article by yours truly. (First link below.)
If you haven’t had time to check out the site lately, I did have two new posts this week—learn about a few ‘lesser known’ wine regions: Costières de Nîmes and Custoza.
Excellent. That’s me done. I’ll leave you all to it. Enjoy!
Wine Enthusiast: The Differences Between Mountain and Valley Wines, Explained
“Napa Valley is a wine region with incredible diversity,” says Rebekah Wineburg, viticulturist and winemaker for Quintessa, in Napa’s Rutherford American Viticultural Area (AVA). “Looking at differences between mountain and valley AVAs is a good start to understanding that diversity.”
Elevation is the most obvious influence on wines made from grapes grown in these areas. It also impacts factors like fog, topography, soil type and diurnal range, or difference in day and night temperatures. READ MORE…
VinePair: A Look at LBGTQIA+ Issues in Wine, and How the Industry Can Solve Them
When Alvaro Cardenas first started selling wine in 1996, it was common for him to be greeted by professionals who made inappropriate jokes about HIV and AIDS or commented, “Here comes this little f*g trying to sell me wine.” Add that he was a Latinx man in a predominantly white, Eurocentric and heterosexual industry, and he didn’t feel remotely welcome in his chosen profession.
Things have improved since that time, says Cardenas, who now owns Wine Stop, a pair of retail stores focused on providing organic and sustainably made wine in Los Angeles. But he and other LGBTQIA+ members of the wine world say the industry still has a long way to go to be more welcoming and inclusive. “As long as we have to talk about this, we know there is work to be done,” he says. READ MORE…
CBC: A small wine boutique is changing the face of who is a tastemaker
Grape Witches launches scholarship that aims to make the wine industry more inclusive
Jaby Dayle loved the food and wine industry, but they never saw a future for themself as a wine expert. In fact, they never saw any Black wine experts working in the industry.
“When you look at the world of wine, you don’t often hear tales of the children of immigrants being able to make their way to the industry,” said Dayle, a first generation Canadian whose family emigrated from Jamaica.
The 32-year-old, who now lives in Toronto, said they have been working in the hospitality industry off and on for half their life. READ MORE…
Wine-Searcher: Oregon Winery Buys into Burgundy
Burgundy producers have often bought land in Oregon, but now the tables are turning.
Burgundy is notoriously difficult for outsiders to buy into, especially grand cru blocks, which are often just a few vines in parcels that have been subdivided by inheritance laws for generations. Evenstad said this deal was possible because of how well she and her company have handled the Château de la Crée purchase.
“We’ve been here for six years now,” Evenstad told Wine-Searcher on an authentically poor wifi connection from Burgundy. “Everything that happens in Burgundy happens because you know somebody and they trust you. After six years that we have been in the community, they know we’re going to take care of it. They know we’re going to make good wine from it. They know we’re upright people.”
Grace and Ken Evenstad founded Domaine Serene in 1989, moving from Minnesota to buy a 42-acre hilltop estate that had just been logged. Domaine Serene was one of the most ambitious Oregon wineries in the 1990s and has been rewarded with critical acclaim. A press release claims the winery has received 130 95-point-and-above scores. READ MORE…
Wine Enthusiast: Winemakers Collaborate With Weed Growers on New Cannabis Appellation Systems
In September, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 67 into law, which set the stage for the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Cannabis Appellations Program. Once the program begins to accept petitions, it will establish the world’s first cannabis appellations.
It’s a whirlwind of change for an industry that, until just a few years ago, was mostly illegal in the United States. In the eyes of the federal government, Cannabis is still a Schedule I narcotic, the same category as LSD and ecstasy .
But for cannabis growers in California, creating appellations has been a dream. READ MORE…
Press Democrat: Can bud grafting help vintners stand their ground with climate change?
A plant surgeon of sorts, Marcelo Robledo cuts into a vine with precision. After adding a pinot noir bud to fill the incision, he bandages it up for its metamorphosis. The medical procedure by this Latino third-generation bud grafter will transform the rootstock that previously produced chardonnay into one that will produce pinot noir grapes next year.
“Bud grafting is becoming a lost art,” said Robledo, 42. “Only about 100 people in Sonoma County are doing it. Younger people seem more interested in technology.” READ MORE…
VinePair: Why You Should Be Aging Your Rosé
It’s rare to find a topic in the wine world that is easily painted with one broad brush. Why, then, does rosé languish under the public impression that it must be opened as soon as temperatures rise above 60 degrees? A connection between the color pink and frivolity may be partly to blame. Regardless, spend some time with the purposeful, serious rosés of the world and one quickly realizes that this, like most preconceptions, crumbles quickly. It reveals rosés of depth, intention, and age-worthiness. Here’s why cellaring rosé gives us another way to enjoy something we already know is delectable. READ MORE…
Wine-Searcher: Time to Stop Cellaring Wine
Is it time to puncture wine’s most sacred myths?
We need to stop cellaring wines
For a start it’s in the name: “mature wine”. As if all other wines drunk and enjoyed by the rest of humanity (and a few other cogent life-forms) are immature. How exclusionary.
As if the wines that don’t “keep” in the cellar are inferior or will not have ever hit those highs enjoyed by the mob of in-bond purchasers, speculators and the generally lazy. It’s as if all us wine consumers, the people who just want to enjoy a nice, fresh glass of fruit-forward wine are criminals.
Seriously, how many decades have the people been sneering at those young wines with pure fruit flavors, unsullied, uncorrupted by age? What’s wrong with enjoying a primary-fruit-flavored wine – wine as it really should be? 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.
Club Oenologique: Blind Ambition: the film following Zimbabwe’s first “Wine Olympics” team
Documentary Blind Ambition introduces the first Zimbabwean sommelier tasting team to enter “the Olympics of the wine world”. Kaleem Aftab talks to its protagonists and filmmakers about the opportunities afforded through wine, as well as the industry’s continued diversity issues
The remarkable story of TeamZIM, the first representatives from Zimbabwe to enter the World Blind Wine Tasting Championships, is told in Blind Ambition, a new documentary from Australian filmmakers Warwick Ross and Rob Coe, which just had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
The journey of teammates Joseph, Tinashe, Marlvin and Pardon is like the wine world’s version of Cool Runnings (the tale of Jamaica’s first Olympian bobsleigh team). It’s a story of how wine can have a positive impact on lives. These four migrants were forced to flee Zimbabwe in search of a better life in South Africa. Despite all four being virtually teetotal, they went on to become Africa’s top and most unlikely sommeliers.
“When I went to Cape Town, I didn’t really drink wine at all,” award-winning sommelier and team member Tinashe Nyamudoka says over Zoom. But, after emigrating to South Africa, he found a job as a waiter at the Roundhouse Restaurant in Cape Town in 2008 (the venue has since reopened as Salsify]. It was there that he tasted a 2006 Chenin Blanc from Australia that he liked so much, he decided to learn more. That sip set him on the course to becoming a sommelier at Africa’s top restaurant, The Test Kitchen (also in Cape Town), winning the Eat Out Wine Service Award in 2016. READ MORE…
Jancis Robinson: Does Chinese wine go with Chinese food?
Matching wine and food takes two variables that are infinitely complex and totally subjective, then multiplies them together. As a premise for certainty, that’s a pretty shaky one [though see Tam’s most recent report on the topic – JR].
Maybe the point of the exercise isn’t to produce a failsafe formula for success, but to explore ever-expanding frontiers of flavour – especially so with Chinese wine and Chinese food. Whereas most European regions have food and wine cultures that co-evolved, Chinese wine is a much more recent phenomenon. On the other hand, ‘Chinese food’ is an ancient multiverse of diverse flavours, often served and eaten at the the same time. READ MORE…
Grape Collective: Distinctly Greek—A New Style of Retsina Is Revitalizing One of the World’s Longest-Lived Wine Traditions
There’s no doubt about it, retsina is a polarizing wine. Yes, it has its share of fans, but plenty of detractors too. As a traditional Greek wine, retsina is made with the addition of pine resin, which, unsurprisingly, is a turn-off to people who find the uniquely pungent flavor and turpentine-like aromas unappealing. As an interesting side note, while researching this article, I discovered that turpentine is also made from tree resin and that the solvent, a pure one anyways, should smell nice, like pine trees and licorice.
I remember my first time trying retsina decades ago when the wine’s quality was iffy at best, and a bottle went for about $3. But, in spite of its rot-gut reputation, I found the signature forest-like scent intriguing and immediately fell for its piney taste. My friend Nicole, on the other hand, took her time warming up to the wine.
“My first experience with retsina was that it tasted like rubbing alcohol or perhaps lighter fluid,” she recalls. “But it became an acquired taste because it paired so well with Greek salads, piled high with feta cheese and stuffed grape leaves.” READ MORE…
Science & Wine: New Climate Normals
The question is “what is normal”? Like many meteorologists and climate scientists, I get asked this question all the time. We typically make statements that describe a certain day, or month, or event, as warmer, colder, more extreme, etc. than average or normal. This is because observing and discussing climate is inherently statistical and requires comparison to baseline periods to make sense of how they relate to our lives. By saying goodbye to 2020 – I think we can all agree it’s more aptly good riddance – we are moving from one decade into another and ushering in a new climate baseline period and new statistics to report from. So, with new climate normal period data being released in many countries worldwide, and the USA last month, I thought it would be worth sharing a little about this process and what it means as we start discussing the “new normal”. READ MORE…
The Wine Gourd: Australia and New Zealand wine comparisons
A couple of weeks ago I compared Australia versus New Zealand wine exports. One of the confounding factors in that comparison is, of course, the size of the two different countries. Indeed, Australia is officially a continent, as well as a country and an island, being roughly the same size as the contiguous USA, whereas New Zealand is basically a couple of smaller islands.
One obvious way to address this issue of difference in geographical scale is to compare wine-industry measurements per capita (ie. per person), which is my objective in this post. READ MORE…
Jamie Goode: The different faces of South African Chenin Blanc
Of all the grape varieties grown in the Cape, it’s Chenin Blanc that perhaps has the strongest claim to be South Africa’s signature variety. While Pinotage lovers may dispute this, Chenin’s claims are several. It’s South Africa’s most widely planted grape variety, with just shy of 19 000 hectares in the ground. There’s almost twice as much Chenin in South Africa than there is in France. And while Pinotage has fans, it also has enemies. Chenin just makes fantastic wines. READ MORE…
Young Gun of Wine: Australian Winemakers Lifting the Veil on ‘Sous Voile’ Wines
Australian winemakers freewheeling with a unique biological method of maturing wine in barrel, inspired by some of the wines of Jura in France and Jerez in Spain
The ‘sous voile’ wines of the Jura are one of the most talked about styles of modern times. The technique of using flor yeast during ageing, while uncommon among New World wine producers, is being explored by Australian winemakers.
France’s ancient Jura region has long been enticing wine drinkers with its speciality, vin jaune. From that first waft from a freshly opened bottle, vin jaune lovers can revel in memories of fistfuls of popcorn, jersey caramels, the indescribable smell of winter and mum’s roast chicken. Then throw in a jar of Hugh Grant’s apricots soaked in honey from his fridge in Notting Hill. This is a wine of deep expression that encapsulates what it means to be complex. It has caused many drinkers to raise a curious eyebrow over their glass. There are layers, there is savouriness; there is so much to sit and wonder about. In an era of experimentation, when winemakers at home are comfortable in their freedom of choice and drinkers are becoming open to adventure, what better technique to challenge us than the use of flor? READ MORE…
These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!
TTB: Three American Viticultural Areas Established
On Thursday, June 7, 2021, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) published three final rule documents in the Federal Register, each establishing a new American viticultural area (AVA), or grape growing region. We are issuing these regulations in response to petitions submitted on behalf of local vineyard owners and vintners. TTB designates viticultural areas to allow vintners to better describe the origin of their wines and to allow consumers to better identify wines they may purchase. READ MORE…
Wine Institute: US and EU Lawmakers Endorse Elimination of Wine Tariffs and “Zero for Zero”
Wine Institute and Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV) issued the following statement today in response to the Common Statement on the US-EU Wine Trade Relationship signed jointly by members of the U.S. Congress and members of the European Parliament. A total 85 U.S. and EU lawmakers endorsed the statement’s clear call for the removal of all tariffs on wine traded between the two markets. The statement acknowledges the harmful impact of retaliatory tariffs and calls on the leadership of the US and EU to work towards a “zero for zero” tariff-free wine trade environment. READ MORE…
Merryvale Vineyards: Merryvale Vineyards Expands Portfolio with Petite Arvine
Merryvale Vineyards announces the release of the 2019 Merryvale Petite Arvine from Valais A.O.C. Switzerland. With this release, proprietors René and Laurence Schlatter pay homage to their Swiss roots and expand the Merryvale portfolio with its first imported wine.
Merryvale’s proprietors since 1992, the Schlatter family are dedicated to showcasing elegance, texture, and a sense of place in their wine portfolio, with extensive emphasis on the sustainably farmed Stanly Ranch Estate Vineyard in Carneros and the Profile Estate Vineyard in St. Helena. READ MORE…
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