Take a look at this week’s wine-centric news round up. A few call outs: Love this piece by Jeff Siegel about how the wine industry just needs to ‘calm down’ about all this DTC shipping legal craziness. Looks like the glassy winged sharpshooter has been found in Northern California wine country—that could be horrible if it turns out to be an infestation. Take a look at this piece I wrote for the Napa Valley Wine Academy answering the question—What is Rutherford Dust really?
Don’t forget to sign up for this year’s WINExpo, where I’ll be moderating a session on regenerative agriculture. And if you haven’t yet—please submit your nominee for who you think Wine’s Most Inspiring Person for 2021 should be.
That’s all from me for now. I will not be here next week as I prep for my next WSET Diploma Exam and then take a bit of time off to recover. Until the next time—drink good wine…cheers.
Wine Industry Advisor: US Wine DtC Legal Battles—Time to Calm Down
There are many reason for the Supreme Court not to hear a case—none of which the wine industry can influence.
Jay Hack, a senior partner at Gallet Dreyer & Berkey in New York City and the chair of the wine, spirits, and beer law committee for the New York State Bar Association, has a few words of wisdom for the wine business in the wake of last week’s legal disappointment. That’s when the Supreme Court declined to hear the Missouri retail direct shipping case, Sarasota Wine Market v. Schmitt – which might have opened up retail direct shipping across the country.
His advice? Stop getting so worked up about this stuff. It’s not good for your health. READ MORE…
Napa Valley Register: Glassy winged sharpshooters found in Solano County, experts working to contain infestation
An infestation of vineyard-threatening glassy-winged sharpshooters was identified in Solano County earlier this month, officials say.
The insect is a transmitter of Pierce’s Disease, which causes grape leaves and fruit to dry and shrivel up when infected. They are a major threat to California’s ag industry and have been largely avoided here in Napa County since the early 2000s.
Solano County officials and specialists are working to contain and eradicate the infestation before it spreads, as part of the state’s PD Control Program, and have thus far found five incidences of the insect between two traps. Luckily, these traps are in residential areas and the present GWSS has not affected surrounding crops. READ MORE…
Wine Enthusiast: In Puerto Rico, A Century-Old Policy Hinders the Rise of Natural Wine
When Laura Madera welcomes guests to Pío Pío, the restaurant and wine bar she co-owns with her husband, Chef Ciarán Elliott, in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, the first thing she discusses is the wine list. The 25-seat space serves more than 90 wines, including bottles from Spain and California, plus an array of natural wines.
“The natural wine market is growing,” says Madera. “People are learning of it and how good it is, eliminating paradigms that natural wine is just funky and cloudy.”
Pío Pío is part of that paradigm shift. Madera pairs natural wines with small plates that highlight local ingredients, like lionfish with carambola ceviche, or greens in an herbaceous silken tofu dressing. READ MORE…
Wine Spectator: Byzantine Behemoth—Massive 1,500-Year-Old Winery Discovered in Israel
A team of archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority has unearthed a gigantic winery in the town of Yavne, following a two-year excavation for the Israel Land Authority. The archeologists date the site’s grape presses to some point between the 5th and 7th centuries, when the area was part of the Byzantine Empire. And according to one of the excavation’s directors, Dr. Jon Seligman, the winemaking facility could be the Mediterranean’s biggest from that period or earlier.
“We haven’t identified wine production facilities of that size anywhere else,” Seligman told Wine Spectator. “It’s the largest without question [in the region], and it’s the largest we’ve managed to identify in the Mediterranean Basin.” Indeed, with five grape presses each covering an impressive 2,422 square feet, plus four storage warehouses, the facility could have squeezed out a massive 2 million liters of wine annually.
In addition to the presses, the archaeologists uncovered the factory’s fermentation pits and huge, octagonal collection vats, as well as excellently preserved kilns used to make distinctive amphorae known as “Gaza jars.” The long-gone winery staff left behind tableware and oil lamps as well. READ MORE…
Wine-Searcher: Atlantic Winery Raises the Fine Wine Flag
Out in the wildness of the mid-Atlantic Ocean, there’s a quiet wine revolution taking place.
Far out in the Atlantic Ocean, between Lisbon and New York, vines grow between the cracks of black basalt lava stone on Pico Island.
The best ones grow close to the sea, where the crabs sing, as the local saying goes; it’s where there’s greater exposure to the sun, far below the rainy heights of the clouded Mount Pico volcano, Portugal‘s highest mountain.
Over the past decade António Maçanita, winemaker at the Azores Wine Company (AWC), has played a key role here, more than a thousand miles from Portugal’s key wine regions, transforming wine production in the Azores archipelago.
In a bid to further raise the profile of the company’s wines, Maçanita has released Vinhas dos Utras, one of Portugal’s most highly priced still white wines. With a retail price of €240 ($280) a bottle, it is also Maçanita and the AWC’s most expensive wine.
Maçanita made 1116 bottles of this wine, which the AWC says has production costs totaling close to €20 per kilo of grapes. The white wine is made from Arinto de Azores grapes grown on old vines on Pico Island.
Maçanita says that Vinha dos Utras 2019 shows how the potential of the Azores has now started to come to the fore. “2019 was the best vintage – the wine shows depth and power.” The elegant wine, made with low levels of sulfur, is now being distributed mainly to Michelin-star restaurants and independent wine merchants. READ MORE…
The Lead: In Max’s Memory
The Royal Adelaide Wine Show’s top prize for Most Outstanding Red Wine honours the man who put South Australia on the map for outstanding red wine: Max Schubert.
The Bay of Fires Pinot Noir 2020 has taken out this year’s Royal Adelaide Wine Show’s top gong, the Max Schubert Trophy for Most Outstanding Red Wine in Show.
The coveted prize, which has long been received by heavier-bodied reds like Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, is the most prestigious award at Australia’s most prestigious wine show.
The trophy’s namesake, Max Schubert, was Penfolds’ Wines Chief Winemaker from 1948 to 1975. He was a trailblazer of South Australia’s wine industry, and is known as the father of Australian table wine. READ MORE…
Business Insider South Africa: Glass bottle shortage means wine is sitting in barrels for longer, leading it to taste ‘like a sawmill’
The supply-chain issues snaring container ships in traffic jams and emptying store shelves are also threatening one of California’s most famous products – wine.
A dire shortage in glass bottles is forcing some winemakers to let wine age in wooden barrels for too long, which can lead to the drink tasting “like a sawmill,” Phil Long, the owner of Longevity Wines in Livermore, California, told Insider.
With prices of nearly every good needed to bottle wine soaring, Long said vineyards may eventually be compelled to raise the price of wine as well. The cost of glass has skyrocketed by 45% compared to 2019, but Long said he has resisted raising prices so far. READ MORE…
Wine Industry Advisor: Opinion—Minerality in Terms of Terroir
Terroir as like a tree falling in a forest. Just because you don’t hear it, it doesn’t mean it didn’t fall.
I think that the one aspect of terroir-related qualities that we had—and continue to have—the hardest time grasping is the concept and perception of “minerality.” Minerality, if anything, is like God in religion: We know it exists, we can grasp the idea, but there is no real proof. (Unless, of course, you are highly religious, in which case all bets are off.)
The easiest explanation for minerality in wines used to be the obvious one, that sensory qualities suggesting minerals are derived from minerals found in vineyard soils. More recently, however, we’ve been fortunate that scientists such as Alex Maltman (University of Wales), Anna Katherine Mansfield (Cornell Department of Food Science) and Carole Meredith (U.C. Davis Department of Viticulture & Enology) have all been coming out with pretty much the same clarification: That tiny amounts of dissolved ions in soils can indeed be absorbed by vine roots, but none of them are ever of sufficient enough efficacy to contribute to actual sensations of minerality in a wine’s aroma or flavor. That is to say, minerality never comes from soil content. 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.
Napa Valley Wine Academy: Rutherford Dust
Winemaking legend André Tchelistcheff once said, “It takes Rutherford Dust to grow great Cabernet Sauvignon.” And that phrase—Rutherford Dust—is today a well-known descriptor of Napa Valley’s Rutherford AVA.
“It’s an apt descriptor, as there is an undeniably ‘dusty’ characteristic to the ancient, mineral-rich soils of Rutherford, which were formed millions of years ago and spread out from the hills as alluvial fans,” says Lauren Pesch, president of the Rutherford Dust Society (RDS) and partner of both Leeds & Pesch Vineyard Consulting and Chavez & Leeds Family Vineyard. “Vines grown in these soils do not have a superficial attachment to the earth; rather they are deeply rooted in the ground.” READ MORE…
Eric Asimov: Embracing an Unloved Grape
Mountain Tides took on the challenge of exploring the subtleties of petit sirah, a brassy grape long used to help color and flavor wines.
Scott Kirkpatrick never cared much for petite sirah. He liked wine that went with food, and he regarded most wines made with the grape as too big, tannic and powerful to enjoy at the table.
So naturally, when he considered making his own wine after working for others in Napa Valley, he knew that he wanted to focus on petite sirah.
“I saw beautiful grapes, but I didn’t like the wines,” he said in September when I visited him at the utilitarian production facility he shares with another label in an industrial park near the Napa County Airport. “I wondered if it could be lighter and fresher, a wine I would like with energy and a lot of joy. And things kind of got out of hand after that.” READ MORE…
Deborah Parker Wong: The duality of-smell phenomenon
Our sense of smell is based on two delivery pathways, orthonasal and retronasal; that makes it the only “dual sense modality” we possess, one that provides information about things both external and internal to the body.
When it comes to evaluating as well as marketing wines, the duality of smell has important consequences for perception. Not surprisingly, there are differences in the odors resulting from orthonasal and retronasal olfaction, even though they are processed in the same way.
While both pathways deliver volatile aroma compounds to the same receptors, the quality of those odors and our thresholds for detecting them differ due largely to the airflow patterns that the molecules follow, the temperature differences of the air traveling through each pathway, and the different enzymes found in our saliva and the membranes of our mouth and throat. READ MORE…
Vino Joy News: ‘Disneyland of fakes’ at China Food & Drinks Fair in Tianjin
Jancis Robinson: Three small steps forward
Understanding the byzantine nature of wine laws in the United States involves thinking not in terms of 50 separate states, but in terms of 50 separate countries. The regulations enacted by each state in the wake of the 21st Amendment’s repeal of Prohibition are so complex, they have given rise to several companies whose revenues run into the tens of millions of dollars, all from helping wine producers stay on the right side of the law.
Decades before they enacted the protectionist and convoluted shipping laws that are the bane of America’s modern existence (except for the wholesalers who profit handsomely from them), most states established a set of laws governing the consumption and sale of alcohol. Some of these so-called ‘blue laws’ forbade the sale of alcohol on Sundays or during certain hours of the day that were objectionable to primarily religious interests.
Other laws, known as ‘tied-house’ laws, were enacted to prevent the competitive price wars among liquor sellers that the temperance movement blamed for overconsumption before Prohibition. READ MORE…
Science & Wine: Wine packaging and its impact on flavor
Since the Neolithic era, humans have utilized the fermentation process as a means of extending the shelf life, increase the safety, and produce desirable flavors for foods and beverages. Beer and wine have been around for tens of thousands of years. The discovery of wine was likely a happy accident when a forgetful farming accidently allowed their grapes to ferment in a storage vessel. The rest is history.
Wine, like other fermented beverages, is a complex product, primarily composed of water (80–85%), alcohols (9–15%, ethanol being the major one), and other minor components (3%). Wine flavor is a composed of a number of volatile compounds and a delicate balance of sweet (sugars), sour (organic acids), and bitterness/astringent (polyphenols). The flavor and aroma of wine depends on the grape varietal(s) used, growing conditions (soil type, climate), and wine making practices including wine aging and storage conditions. Therefore, the consumer experience can be greatly affected by the packaging, transport, and storage conditions.
The purpose of food packaging is to protect and preserve the quality of the food or beverage from outside forces like oxygen, light, and moisture. The package should also be inert with respect to flavor migration from the package to the product or sorption of flavors from the product to the package (flavor scalping). One of the primary parameters that affect wine through the aging process is the transfer of gases through the packaging materials, hence why the type of packaging will have a considerable impact on the extent of wine oxidation and the loss of other sensory properties. READ MORE…
Wines of South Africa: Wine Legend John Loubser
‘If the sky could dream, would it dream of dragons?’
“We spend so much time looking for fossils,” says Cap Classique specialist John Loubser, unpacking an assortment of rocks. We’re tucked away in a corner at Steenberg, overlooking the cellar he spent 15 years in as cellar master and general manager. He left in 2017 to devote himself to Silverthorn full-time, his family’s boutique estate in Robertson.
With bright eyes he passes over a flat stone – there is no mistaking the fan-like shapes of a dozen seashells pressed into the rock, a fossil from the antediluvian ocean that once covered Robertson. It’s a terrestrial reminder that it’s the only region in South Africa with significant limestone deposits, much like the kimmeridgian soils of Champagne, making it our holy ground for the production of sparkling wine.
“I was annoyed there are no dinosaur fossils,” John laments. “The reason they aren’t is that the soils in Robertson are 400-million years old, which means they pre-date them.”
“Now look at this,” he says passing over a smaller rock. More evidence of the ancient ocean with its millennia-old imprint of a small wave cresting. “We found this trace fossil behind our cellar, we think it’s a pectoral fin.” READ MORE…
These are some press releases I received this week that I actually thought were interesting…enjoy!
Wine Industry Advisor: Participate in Recognizing Industry’s Most Inspiring People
Wine Industry Advisor (WIA) has opened submissions for its annual Most Inspiring People award and is asking the industry at large to participate by nominating individuals who have made a lasting impact on the North American Wine industry. Nominees can be viewed as inspirational either by their approach to life or their approach to business and have influenced the future of the wine industry in a positive way.
See our 2021 MIP award winners.
In 2018, The Wine Industry Advisor began recognizing ten inspiring people from our industry each year. For the first time, WIA is opening the nominations to its readers, and in so doing, hopes to find those individuals who may be flying under the radar and show the true diversity of talent within our industry. The wine industry is extremely fortunate to have many exceptional people among its ranks, and this recognition is a way to highlight them and encourage and inspire future generations. READ MORE…
Wine Industry Network: Register for the 2021 WIN Expo
Wine Industry Network opened registration for the 9th annual North Coast Wine Industry Trade Show & Conference (WIN Expo), scheduled for Thursday, December 2nd, 2021, at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and Event Center in Santa Rosa, CA. WIN Expo is both a buying show and educational conference. READ MORE…
The Institute of Masters of Wine: Five new applicants share IWSC Foundation scholarship
IMW supporter IWSC Foundation has awarded five scholarships worth £5,000 each to MW study programme applicants.
Ian Casterton, Atsuhide Hoshiyama, Christy Fuhrman, Mariko Iwai and Kelcie Jones share a portion of £25,000.
IWSC Foundation made the fund available to new stage one MW students in the programme, assessing the applications on a case-by-case basis.
Christelle Guibert, CEO of the IWSC said, “We are delighted to be providing some financial support to the five students that are about to start the MW journey. The candidates showed real passion and dedication, and hopefully, the fund will help them to achieve their goals.” READ MORE…
Five new applicants share IWSC Foundation scholarship
Trefethen Family Vineyards: Trefethen Family Vineyards Partners with Earthly Labs on Carbon Capture for the Wine Industry
Trefethen Family Vineyards, one of Napa Valley’s pioneering family-owned estate wineries, and Earthly Labs today announced a pilot project focused on capturing carbon dioxide emitted from the winery’s fermentations. Trefethen is the first winery to install Earthly Labs® CiCi® carbon capture technology and the two companies hope the technology, put in place for this year’s harvest, will eventually help more wineries reduce their carbon footprints. Carbon dioxide is a natural by-product of fermentation and the CiCi technology captures the gas, purifies it, and stores it as a liquid, which can then be reused in various industrial applications.
Although the carbon dioxide captured during fermentation is not coming from fossil fuels, it acts the same way in the atmosphere. Hailey Trefethen, who leads sustainability programs for her family’s winery commented, “this is a natural extension of our commitment to land stewardship and environmental responsibility. With this technology we are gaining ground in reducing global emissions and the related impacts of climate change. We are making great strides this harvest season and hope the practice will be widely adopted in the future.” Trefethen is certified Napa Green, Certified California Sustainable, and a member of The Porto Protocol, a global consortium of wineries focused on climate change. READ MORE…
BriscoeBites officially accepts samples as well as conducts on-site and online interviews. Want to have your wine, winery or tasting room featured? Please visit the Sample Policy page where you can contact me directly. Cheers!