Good Saturday morning! Here’s your list of the latest wine-related news I’ve been reading this past week. Hope this proves interesting, if not useful. Let me know your thoughts…

From the Press


Shown before the pandemic, from left, Pax Mahle, Scott Schultz, Jaimee Motley, Martha Stoumen and Carlo Mondavi. They all make their own wines, sharing space in Mr. Mahle’s production facility. Credit…Jason Henry for The New York Times

For six producers who form a mutually beneficial winemaking community in Sonoma, Covid-19 poses practical and financial obstacles beyond health. READ MORE…

Wine Spectator: Wine’s Biggest Health Benefit Might Be Drinking with Friends

By Douglas De Jesus

Staying social, even during a pandemic, can be key for one’s health. (istockphotos)

In our days of COVID-19 shutdowns, wine drinkers have embraced virtual happy hours, gathering to chat by video and raise a glass. And a new study suggests that drinking wine with friends offers more health benefits than drinking alone.

When it comes to older adults, the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption have been linked to increased longevitylowered risk of Alzheimer’s diseasedecreased risk of pulmonary disease in mendecreased risk of dementia and other health advantages. A team of researchers from the University of Central Florida at Orlando (UCF) recently attempted to determine whether there are intrinsic benefits to moderate alcohol consumption for older adults or if these positive health outcomes could be a byproduct of other factors.

According to their study, published in the journal The Gerontologist, they questioned whether published studies on the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption for the elderly population could be attributed to the lifestyle adopted by these moderate drinkers rather than alcohol itself as a substance. Their theory was that moderate drinking correlated to how often respondents socialized and that this increase in social activities is what produced the positive health outcomes. READ MORE…

wine-searcher: Missing live sports updates? Check out the results of the latest world wine survey.

By W. Blake Gray

© AirNZ | The vineyards of Canada have been busy – exports are booming.

South Africa was struggling to export wine even before the pandemic, while France, Italy and … wait for it … Canada were booming. These are some of the takeaways from statistics released this week by the OIV (International Organization of Vine and Wine). The OIV’s worldwide wine stats are interesting, but their press releases can be dry unless you like numbers. Me, I love numbers. Plus there aren’t any live sports going on right now, so I don’t have any other stats to obsess over. So the OIV stats – mostly from 2019, before the pandemic – were a treat. Maybe they will be for you as well! READ MORE…

Wine Enthusiast: The Rare Australian Wine You May Never Get to Taste

By Christina Pickard

Bunches of Cygne Blanc grapes, a.k.a. White Cabernet / Photo by Anthea Mann

Three decades ago, in a backyard garden in Western Australia’s Swan Valley, a mystery vine grew in secret. Its seed was likely carried by a bird or wind from a nearby Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard, located in a historic wine region 18 miles inland from capital city, Perth. Upon being discovered, its keepers dedicated a decade to covert propagation and experimentation before the vine was patented.

This is how Cygne Blanc, also known as White Cabernet and thought by many to be Australia’s first and only spontaneous indigenous wine grape variety, was born. READ MORE…

Wine Spectator: A Rare Trifecta for Vintage Port

Taylor Fladgate’s Adrian Bridge says the quality of the 2018 Port made a vintage declaration a certainty. (Courtesy of Taylor Fladgate Partnership)

If Vintage Port is known for one thing, it’s the stringent way in which its producers choose to declare a vintage. Port houses typically only produce Vintage Port two or three times a decade. There were more than a few raised eyebrows when back-to-back general declarations (years in which essentially all the Port houses produce a Vintage Port) were made in 2016 and 2017. Now with a handful of houses declaring in 2018, history is being made. READ MORE…


Blogs Worth a Read

I have a new page listing the Blogs I follow with regularity. Here are just a few posts from this past week I think are worth a read. Shoot me a note if you have suggestions or want your blog included.

The Cork Report: Join Us for #openlocalwine on May 22, 2020 to Celebrate & Support Local Wine

To take part in #openlocalwine all you need to do is:

  1. Get a bottle of local wine (or cider) and open it Friday, May 22.
  2. Enjoy it with a nice meal – either home-cooked for takeout from your favorite local restaurant.
  3. Post picture(s) of the wine or wines online – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter – using hashtag #openlocalwine. And tell us why you picked that wine (or wines) and who you are sharing it with.
  4. Raise a glass to the winemaker who made it.
  5. Drink it and enjoy it with your family.


The Gray Report: Americans in Burgundy offer a great way to buy Burgundy wines online

Burgundy residents Eleanor Garvin and Dennis Sherman of Elden Selections

arely will I blog about an online wine club or store. It has to be special, or I would tell you to just go to Wine-Searcher, where I am US Editor, and which puts almost all the nation’s wine stores at your fingertips.

I think Elden Selections is something special. Based in Burgundy but run by Americans, Elden is an online-only wine shop that offers a relatively narrow but deep selection of Burgundies made by small producers. The company, which ships throughout the U.S., specializes in “affordable” Burgundies — it has 30 wines under $35 — though its strength is wines priced a little above that, about $50-$60.

Here’s what I mean by narrow but deep: Elden offers wine from only 33 producers. But, from each of those producers, it offers multiple wines. Moreover, the Elden website offers the kind of context that you rarely get from Burgundy. READ MORE…

The Wine Economist: Global Wine Impacts of Coronavirus Crisis & Recession: OIV Update

The OIV released their annual “State of the World” wine sector report last week (via social-distancing video conference, of course) and it is noteworthy both for its view of the recent past and its tentative analysis of present conditions and future trends. (Here are links to the report summary, the press release in pdf, and the presentation in pdf,  and the report in pdf.)

Under normal circumstances, my focus here would be on the annual report itself and the recently-released special study of the sparkling wine boom, both of which are packed full of data and sound analysis. But, as OIV Director General Pau Roca would note, these are rear-view mirror reports that document a world that does not exist in the same way anymore. They are useful for sure (see below), but don’t directly address today’s most pressing questions about the future of the global wine sector.

So we must move from quantitative measure to qualitative assessments and informed speculation, and that’s what Pau Roca provided in the press conference and resultant video report (see YouTube video below). Herewith some of the OIV highlights with my commentary. READ MORE…

SVB on Wine: What is Normal in a Post COVID-19 World?

I think it’s critically important to shift gears now and begin to prepare to reopen tasting rooms and normalize business conditions.

While larger wineries with distribution have done well, the typical small family boutique winery has been slammed with the loss of tasting room and restaurant sales. Winery revenues have dropped typically between 40% – 60% of normal over the past 6 weeks. Everyone has been scrambling to conserve cash while searching for the yellow brick road leading to new sustainable business practices. What has now become clear to every small winery owner is the overfocus on the tasting room model at the expense of other paths to the consumer such as investments in online, data mining, and remote sales has cost dearly.

But change creates opportunity and consumers and wineries have both recognized in this pandemic that there are digital ways to conveniently move wine. In fact, online sales of wine and alcohol are up over 300% compared to the same period last year. That’s mostly from online retailers, but without tasting room being open to deliver sales, smaller wineries are finally making a move to discover new approaches to tap the online channel too. Whether small wineries or independent restaurateurs, these have been the worst business conditions arguably since Prohibition and the Great Depression. Naturally with the preceding as the backdrop, its no surprise that today everyone is focused on survival. Rightfully so, but I think it’s critically important to shift gears now and begin to prepare to reopen tasting rooms and normalize business conditions. READ MORE…

We Like Drinking Podcast: Brent Elliott, Master Distiller for Four Roses Bourbon

Brent Elliott is the master distiller for Four Roses Bourbon. He has been the master distiller for Four Roses since September of 2015. He was named master distiller/blender of the year at the 2020 Icons of Whisky America award ceremony. This week he is here in particular to talk about the distillery’s newest permanent product-line extension since 2006, Small Batch Select. LISTEN HERE…

Jancis Robinson: Instagram accounts for wine lovers

Sarah Newton’s in-depth wine reviews @wine90

As we isolate ourselves at home, social media has taken on many important roles: connecting us with friends, following the news, and entertaining us through the endless hours. See, for example, Richard’s constantly updated list of opportunities for Lockdown learning. Our time online has skyrocketed as weve been stuck inside; for example, Italians have spent 70% more time on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp since their terrible COVID-19 outbreak. Fortunately, several social-media accounts provide wine lovers with education, entertainment, and even some stress relief during this difficult time. READ MORE…

WSET Global: Meet the WSET Diploma Alumni: Thomas Choong DipWSET

Thomas Choong graduated in 2019 and is our first alumnus from the Armed Forces. How did he manage to fit in his wine studies alongside active service? Read on to find out more…

What does your day-to-day role in the Armed Forces involve, and how did you manage your WSET studies alongside it?

As a Royal Engineer, our motto is ‘ubique’ meaning ‘everywhere’. For me, this not only represents location but also our role within the army too – which is immensely varied. First and foremost I am trained as a soldier, then a combat engineer and ultimately as a tradesman (a draughtsman providing technical drawings for construction design). Every day has the potential to be completely different, which is why it took me nearly four years to finish my Diploma.

The day before my D2 Wine Business exam, I kayaked 125 miles over 24 hours, from Devizes to Westminster in an international canoe race. This is something we had prepared for at a 12-week training camp – I kayaked in the day and studied in the evening. The other units just as challenging, balancing careers courses, exercises and a baby born 3 days after the course started.

The final exam – D3 Wines of the World – was the hardest academic test I’ve ever done. At times it could be overwhelming and there were plenty of 1am meltdowns prior to exam week! I believe a quality that personnel in the Armed Forces possess is the ability to work through adversity. When things get hard, we step up and we excel. I had to have this approach to pass such a demanding course.

I was studying whilst on a 6-month operational tour of Iraq, with no access to wine, limited resources and not a lot of time to prepare. I knew I was up against it and I often thought if I can pass this, I can do anything. Sheer determination and perseverance (along with some stubbornness not to fail) got me through. READ MORE…

Science & Wine: Brettanomyces spp. control: a research-winery crosstalk

Figure 1. The application of the emerging technologies to control Brettanomyces spp. growth and the VPs production during the winemaking steps. Abbreviations: O3, gaseous ozone; EW, electrolyzed water; PEF, Pulsed Electric Fields; HHP, High Hydrostatic Pressure; UHPH, Ultra High Pressure Homogenization; MW, Microwave; AMPs, Antimicrobial peptides; KTs, killer toxins; HPU, High Power Ultrasounds; RT-PCR, Real time-PCR.

The Brettanomyces spp. contamination during winemaking and its persistence in the cellar have a detrimental effect on the high-quality wines and produce economic losses worldwide. The Brettanomyces spp. wine spoilage is largely due to the volatile phenols (VPs) production with a depreciation of the wine bottles. In the last decade, academic research explored the application of several emerging technologies in the wine sector to control Brettanomyces spp. contamination and the VPs release. The most important researches on this topic and the discussion of the obtained results have been summarized in a recent review untitled “Emerging technologies to control Brettanomyces spp. in wine: recent advances and future trends”. The review was written by Dr. Loris Pinto (CNR-ISPA, Italy) and Dr. Federico Baruzzi (CNR-ISPA, Italy) in collaboration with Prof. Luca Cocolin (University of Turin, Italy) and Prof. Manuel Malfeito-Ferreira (University of Lisbon, Portugal).

The application of these technologies is necessary in order to reduce the use of sulphur dioxide. Indeed, there is an emerging threat related to Brettanomyces spp. resistance to SO2 (Dimopoulou, Hatzikamaria, Masneuf-Pomarede, & Albertin, 2019). The emerging technologies proposed can be classified in physicalchemical, and biotechnological approaches and, as reported in Figure 1, they can be applied during all the winemaking processes. READ MORE…

Nielsen: Quarantined Consumers are Staying Connected with TV and Social Media

Source: Nielsen Social Content Ratings. Base sports Tweets from 12/1/19-3/12/20. Series and streaming service Tweeters from 3/13/20-4/15/20.

As more consumers shelter in their homes, they’re turning to social media to pass the time. And audiences have a lot to say about the new TV, streaming, and movie options at their fingertips. Despite there being a relatively consistent number of programs on air year over year, we’re seeing a sizable jump in social media activity across most TV genres. As expected, we see the biggest upticks in social buzz about talk and news programs, family movies and all streaming services. READ MORE…

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**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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