Happy weekend all. Hope everyone’s had a good week behind them and something exciting to look forward to ahead of them. I’ve got your weekly wine-newsy roundup (of course). A few pieces that spoke to me—Puck Futin beer (raising money for Ukraine refugees), why wine brands should start utilizing Tik Tok, Asimov’s piece on the language of wine, and there are quite a few interesting articles coming out of VinoJoy News this week for those who are interested in the latest in the Asian wine industry.

On a personal note, I recently cleaned out my wine cellar. What I had intended to be a one-hour job morphed into an all afternoon and into the early evening project. But, as such, I’ve got a lot of wines that I think would warrant a fair review/write up on this site—some new releases and others some excellent ‘cellar finds’ if you will. I know I’ve been a bit more news/news-round up focused on this site, which you all seem to be enjoying. How about some good old fashion wine write-ups? If that’s something you’d like to see more of, just shoot me a quick note with like—I dunno—a thumps-up emoji? And let me know.

Tis all for now. Happy (safe and healthy) drinking!


Me—when I see the wine glass getting a little too empty…


The Drinks Business: Puck Futin beer raising money for Ukraine sells out before being brewed

Three Australian producers have teamed up with Pravda brewery in Ukraine to brew Puck Futin, a beer created to raise money for humanitarian aid and refugees fleeing the war.

Proceeds from sales of the Puck Futin red ale are being donated to charities assisting with humanitarian aid in the Ukraine and for Ukrainian refugees arriving in Australia.

Puck Futin is due to be brewed at Barossa Valley’s brewery this Wednesday and released by April 22.

Following an influx in sales, both Prancing Pony and beer retailer Beer Cartel sold out of their initial allocations. The producers are now set to brew a second batch at Prancing Pony’s brewery.

Rob Watt, managing director of Route 9 Distillery, is married to a Ukrainian, according to Beer & Brewer, where this story was first reported. READ MORE

The Buyer: How The California List brings a Grand Cru status to California’s wine estates

Inspired by the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux, The California List, which was launched on Wednesday in London, is a new 51-strong list of seminal Californian wine producers, being formally acknowledged for the first time for their impact on the UK market. Judged by a panel led by Jancis Robinson MW and including Ronan Sayburn MS, the List was launched at a ritzy West End reception, with 32 of the producer’s wines being poured including library stock of Harlan Estate, Opus One and new wave producers such as Radio-Coteau. Peter Dean was our man at the launch who heard from Robinson, Sayburn and others about the rationale behind the concept. READ MORE…

New York Times: 10 Grapes Worth Knowing Better

For many reasons, these varieties have either been unfairly dismissed or are little known outside their home regions. But they make joyful wines.

A few weeks ago I opened a bottle that caught my attention. It was a soulful, graceful, strikingly pure red from the Aveyron region of southwestern France made by Nicolas Carmarans, a vigneron who makes natural wines from grapes that have long grown in the area.

This particular grape was fer servadou, a variety that to my knowledge I had never tried.

As delightful as I found the wine, my encounter with an intriguing new grape was even more joyful. It was a reminder that no matter how well versed one might be in the intricacies of producers, regions and issues, wine always has more to reveal. READ MORE

SF Chronicle: Why TikTok — not Instagram — is a rising platform for winemakers desperate to lure Millennials

The rise of wine influencers on TikTok is boosting sales for some Bay Area wineries and showing them a potential new frontier to attract much-needed Millennial customers

In February, sommelier and wine educator Amanda McCrossin went on TikTok to recommend some wines to her more than 30,000 followers.

She endorsed three lesser-known brands, starting with Duhig Wines, the personal brand of longtime Caymus Vineyards winemaker Harvest Duhig. As she spoke about the Duhig brand, her video flashed the words Secret Diamond, indicating that the wine was a lesser-known gem, and she called it one of her “favorite wines in Napa.” The video has received more than 500,000 views since its launch.

Duhig wasn’t aware that her wine had been mentioned on TikTok, but suddenly her mailing list started blowing up. “I had to turn off notifications because it was pinging like every two minutes with a new subscriber,” said Duhig, who gained more than 1,100 new subscribers following the video. READ MORE

The Drinks Business: Reaching for the stars—the future of the recycled glass wine bottle

Porto Protocol hosted those driving the movement for recyclable glass bottles last week. db gets the scoop on what’s next for the recycled wine bottle.

“With sustainability, it’s only when you’re radical that you make an impact,” says Muriel Chatel, managing director at Sustainable Wine Solutions.

The Porto Protocol ‘Climate in a Bottle’ talk, which took place on 17 March, was hosted by Diana Snowden Seysses, of Domaine Dujac and Snowden Vineyards. READ MORE…


The sixth Wine Tourism Conference that took place on Wednesday 16 March 2022 at the Boschendal estate in Franschhoek saw outstanding international speakers share the platform with other leading local wine and tourism specialists. Its focus was on the value of wine tourism as a key tool for driving wine sales, with the accent on forging direct to consumer (DtC) relationships as a way of building future resilience.

The conference left the guests with renewed optimism about the future of wine tourism in South Africa. It also provided plenty of food for thought. 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.

NYT Wine School: Finding the Right Words for the Red Wines of Languedoc

The imprecision of the language used to describe the wines can muddle the clarity of their stylistic differences.

While I was drinking one of the three Languedoc reds that we have been examining in Wine School over the last month, a one-word description kept running through my mind. “Rustic,” and I meant it as a compliment.

Yet almost any word used to describe a wine comes with a ready-made argument against it. “Crisp” is a common description of white wines with lively acidity, yet someone invariably will ask, “How can a liquid be crisp?”

I can’t help but believe that’s an intentionally obtuse response, but I’ve been on the receiving end of it plenty of times. Same with “dry.” The objections are predictable pokes at wine jargon, though dry is easily defined as a wine with minimal amounts of residual sugar after fermentation.

“Rustic” earned its own treatise last year on the site Punch by the writer Danny Chau, who suggested the word be retired. His objection, as I understood it, was on two counts. First, it has no fixed meaning. Rather, the meaning is derived from the context in which it is used, depending on who is speaking the word and the wine to which it is applied. READ MORE

VinoJoy News: South Africa winery is making wines ‘specifically for Chinese palate’ 

South African winemakers are luring drinkers in the lucrative China market after Australian wines’ exit under the anti-dumping tariffs. To capture Chinese drinkers’ hearts, AM vineyards, a winery from the Cape, is producing wines specifically tailored to “meet the needs of the Chinese palate,” it has announced.

While China’s wine imports hit historical low in 2021, South African wine exporters like AM Vineyards are set to impress Chinese drinkers as they see a golden opportunity “to fill a significant gap” after Australian wines exit last year.

Instead of reallocating their existing wine ranges, AM Vineyards, with six vineyards in Cape Winelands region of South Africa, took a step further and launched the new Karan range to please the Chinese palate, in hope of grasping China’s lucrative market of 50 million wine drinkers. READ MORE…

Dame Wine: Native Italian Wine Grapes Succeeding Under Women’s Guidance In Sicily

Strapped in tightly into the cramped cockpit, Barbara felt a jolt of exhilaration as the jet started to climb over 6,000 feet per minute and since this Aermacchi MB-339 jet was only going up to around 3,000 feet it took only half a minute to level off. Every bit of turbulence was felt due to the lack of cushioning on Barbara’s seat but this lack of cushion would ideally protect her spine if she needed to eject out with the parachute. As the aerobatics began – turning upside down, turning on a dime, dipping down swiftly to come closer to the ground, she was at once feeling forces against her body at an intensity that she could never fathom while at the same time feeling that she was in a dream as she and the jet were one – very little between her and the open sky – and so she knew what it was like to be an eagle and to see through its eyes. READ MORE

Jancis Robinson: Winiarski’s new climate index

California’s new growing season marks the beginning of another year of an ambitious research effort to update the Amerine–Winkler heat-summation index, popularly known as the Winkler method of climate classification. Famed winemaker Warren Winiarksi, founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and now Arcardia Vineyards in Coombsville, is funding the effort. UC Davis viticulture professor Dr Beth Forrestel is leading the research. They are seen together above in a photo provided by the university.

While the new study is especially relevant to grape-growers and viticulture students, the results will be valuable to wine lovers in general. One of the benefits of the research will be to adapt wine-growing to the effects of climate change and to improve identification of which varieties will grow well where. Ultimately that means ensuring the rest of us can continue to enjoy wine. READ MORE

VinoJoy News: Can major wine markets in China survive its worst Covid resurgence?

China’s intense lockdown and curbs have shown immediate effects on the country’s lucrative wine market, especially in three of the affluent cities in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Dongguan that are engines for the country’s wine consumption, as the country holds on tight to its ‘zero-Covid policy’.

Faced with the highest cases since Wuhun in 2020, northern China’s Langfang city, Changchun city and the Jilin province are placed under knockdown.

What’s more worrying is that China’s tech hub Shenzhen and Dongguan across Hong Kong have subsequently followed suit, and the country’s commercial center Shanghai is pushing through with a citywide mass testing and a rolling-basis, 48-hour lockdown.

Empty restaurants and bars, as well as temporary disruptions in warehouses and logistics, have added financial burden to wine merchants and distributors who were already hit hard by previous pandemic loss. READ MORE

VinoJoy News: Ningxia wine exports soared 256% in 2021

Ningxia, China’s premier wine region in northwestern China, saw a 256% growth in export value in 2021, thanks to strong government support and a new generation of committed winemakers in Ningxia.

Last year, Ningxia wine export value soared 256% from the previous year, according to the latest figure announced in the Ningxia wine industry work conference. Domestically, the region’s total wine sales volume and value jumped by 8% and 15%, respectively.

In terms of wine output, Ningxia produced 130 million bottles of wine last year, totalling RMB 30 billion (US$4.7 billion) in overall production value.

The success of Ningxia wine today came a long way with continuous government support and efforts of quality-driven winemakers in the region. READ MORE

Young Gun of Wine: The Call of La Sirène – Blurring the Lines Between Beer & Wine

Oak barrels sit in cradles stacked four high. There are pipes and hoses and racks and boxes of bottled stock.

La Sirène looks and feels like most small Australian wineries. Except La Sirène is in inner suburban Melbourne at Alphington, and they make European farmhouse ales, not wine.

Brewer Costa Nikias looks right at home among the open fermenters and puncheons in which he makes his beers. READ MORE

Young Gun of Wine: Deep Dive—Australia’s Best Fiano

Fiano had in fact found its way to Australia in 1978, which seems somewhat progressive as it was only first granted a DOC in the same year. However, the material that was brought in by the CSIRO never progressed beyond a research phase, with commercial plantings only occurring in the early 21st century. The first vineyards were established by two of the great champions of Italian grapes in Australia, the Coriole and Chalmers families, the former with the CSIRO material and the latter with their own imported vines. READ MORE

VinoJoy News: ‘Shocking’ corruption revealed for former head of world’s most valuable liquor brand

From hoarding luxury handbags and watches to receiving a bizarre gift of 5kg pure gold drinking vessel, China’s anti-graft watchdog has revealed details of shocking corruption committed by the former head of the world’s most valuable liquor brand.

The shocking details of corruption and bribery committed by former chairman of Kweichow Moutai, China’s most known luxury liquor brand, laid bare the decadent lifestyles and for-profit business that propped up Moutai’s sky-high prices and heighted its supply shortage problem inside the US$500 billion companyREAD MORE

Press Democrat: Sebastopol vintner admits guilt for killing man, injuring boy while driving drunk in Sonoma County court

A Sebastopol vintner pleaded guilty in Sonoma County Superior Court Wednesday to vehicular manslaughter while driving drunk in connection with a 2021 crash that killed a Santa Rosa cyclist and seriously injured a 12-year-old boy.

Ulises Valdez Jr. appeared in court Wednesday morning, with family and friends of the victims in the gallery, watching attentively. READ MORE…

The Culinary Scoop: Tanqueray and Netflix’s “Bridgerton” Cordially Invite You to “Make It T-time”

Back in the day – the Regency era, to be exact – teatime actually meant something. It was one of society’s fanciest occasions; a moment to gossip, flirt, laugh with friends and of course sip in superior style. So how does one reclaim teatime and give it a modern-day spin, making it fun, fabulous and – dare we say­ – fancy again?

Tanqueray is officially announcing its “Bridgerton” “Make it T-time” partnership; a creative collaboration celebrating the smash Netflix show’s second season premiere on March 25. In appropriately regal fashion, fans are cordially invited to discover how Tanqueray (the “T,” if you will) can turn the traditional idea of teatime into oh-so-fancy “T-time.” READ MORE

A Balanced Glass:

7 Pro Tips For Doing Business Across Global Time Zones

The wine business is global in nature. As many ABG readers can attest, this means building and maintaining business relationships across multiple time zones.

Navigating time zone changes of a few hours can be a juggle, but time changes of more than a day’s work require careful attention to minimize multiple sources of stress: online meetings or calls in convenient business hours, project management so that an important meeting isn’t overlooked, mixing up dates and times or worse still, failing to meet a critical deadline.

With a 24/7 online presence, there’s always that one more email to respond to. Personally, the fear of missing a business deliverable raises my anxiety so high that I rarely sign off for the day.

Sound familiar? READ MORE

Press Releases

These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!

The Institute of Masters of Wine: The IMW welcomes 17 new Masters of Wine to the membership

Seventeen Masters of Wine were inducted to the Institute of Masters of Wine at an awards ceremony tonight (23 March 2022) in London.

The new members became Masters of Wine in 2020 and 2021. The ceremony welcomed new MWs to the IMW and recognised individual excellence in aspects of the MW exam.

Usually in November each year, the event was added to the IMW’s calendar to make up for a cancelled ceremony during the pandemic.

The six 2020 MWs inaugurated at Vintners’ Hall were, Beans Boughton MW (UAE), Jacqueline Cole Blisson MW (Canada), Heidi Iren Hansen MW (Norway), Annette Lacey MW (Australia), Geoffrey Moss MW (Canada) and Ross Wise MW (Canada). READ MORE

AgNet: No Surprises in Grape Crush, But Report Highlights Future Considerations

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Final Grape Crush Report for 2021 demonstrated an increase of 9.2 percent from 2020.  “We weren’t overly surprised by what we saw,” said Jeff Bitter, President of Allied Grape Growers. The 2021 crush totaled 3,877,584 tons, which was the approximate expectation detailed in the preliminary crush report.

“At least when it was released it didn’t provide any surprises. What it did show was that we had a below average crop,” Bitter noted. “Probably to the tune of about 10 percent off of what would have been an average crop of 4.1 million tons or so. Slightly up from the previous year and that’s specifically due to the fact that we did not lose very much if any at all winegrapes to smoke exposure in 2021.”

The report compiled by CDFA and USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service notes that average prices also increased. The 2021 average price of all varieties was up 26.6 percent from 2020 to a total of $860.57. “That’s a good thing. But you have to also keep in mind that the year before they had dropped significantly because of discounted grapes due to smoke exposure because of the fact that a lot of the smoke happened in the coastal regions,” Bitter explained. READ MORE

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Educational posts are in no way intended as official WSET study materials. I am not an official WSET educator nor do I work for a WSET Approved Program Provider. Study at your own risk. Read the full disclaimer.
**Please note: all reviews and opinions are my own and are not associated with any of my places of business. I will always state when a wine has been sent as a sample for review. Sending samples for review on my personal website in no way guarantees coverage in any other media outlet I may be currently associated with.**

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