Category:Wine news

Tuesday tidbits 25

? Aussie wine take takes an import hit: It’s not news the historically weak U.S. dollar is hurting foreign wine producers. But what is news is that the strong Australian dollar is making imports cheaper Down Under, and clobbering the Australian wine business from that direction. Imports from Chile, South Africa and Argentina will rise 50 percent this year, says a government study. Fosters Wine Estates, which sends brands Like Greg Norman, Lindemans, and Rosemount to the U.S., says that a one cent rise in the value of the Australian dollar against the US costs it A$3.2 million in revenue (about US$3.04 million). The Aussie dollar has risen 10 cents since the middle of December.

? Another shot at Robert Parker: This, from the food writer Alice Feiring: “Forget ‘Eureka,’ the new state motto can well be: ‘Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.’ Today’s California wines are overblown, over-alcoholed, over-oaked, overpriced and over-manipulated.” Sounds like the Wine Curmudgeon, doesn’t she? Feiring, whose forthcoming book is called The Battle for Wine and Love — Or How I Saved the World from Parkerization, doesn’t mince words. She rips some of California’s best-known winemakers, including Helen Turley, and even gets a dig in at a Texan named Michael Stewart, who owns Napa’s Stewart Cellars.

? Texas wines in Smart Money: Wine writer Raymond Sokolov praises Llano Estacado, Pheasant Ridge and Woodrose in the current issue of Smart Money (which isn’t available on-line.). It also discusses the three-tier distribution system, and how difficult it is to get Texas wines in places out of Texas. One correction, though: Sokolov identifies Llano as a boutique producer, which it isn’t. In fact, it makes 100,000 cases a year and is the state’s second biggest producer.

A look at Colorado wine, part I

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This is the first of two parts looking at Colorado wine. Today is  an overview, and Monday is a look some of the wines.

Guy Drew, who owns the self-named winery outside of Cortez in southwestern Colorado, insists the high desert in that part of the state will eventually produce world-class wines. And he isn ?t alone in that optimism, either. Talk to growers and winemakers throughout Colorado, from Grand Junction in the west to the Front Range in the east, and you ?ll hear the same thing. Colorado is a wine phenomenon waiting to happen.

Says Horst Caspari, the state viticulturist: ?One day, we ?ll be so popular, you ?ll see Hollywood celebrities buying land here and opening wineries. ?

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Tuesday tidbits 24

? Now that’s a bribe:  Tip o’ the wine glass to Dave McIntyre, who passed this along. Wine magnate Bernard Magrez has outraged a group of journalists by offering each of them a Cartier wristwatch worth more than $2,600. The writers attended a wine lunch and got a bag when they left that had a press kit and a box with the watch, which most did not open until they had left the restaurant. Decanter, which ran the story, reports that that the majority of watches have been returned.

? Wine writers hall of fame: Silly, I know, but there it is — the first inductees will be honored June 16. (No word on whether they will receive pricey Cartier watches.) The group includes Italian specialist Burton Anderson; Hugh Johnson of World Atlas of Wine fame; Edward McCarthy, the co-author of many of the Wine for Dummies books; the Robert Parker; Frank Prial of the New York Times; the Jancis Robinson; and Kevin Zraly, whose Windows on the World is probably the best introductory book about wine. Posthumous inductees are pioneer wine writers Alexis Lichine and Frank Schoonmaker.

? Rolling Stones get into the wine business: Specifically, the band has has signed a licensing agreement with a Canadian icewine producer. The product, to be called Sympathy for the Devil, will retail for about C$125 (which is about US$125). The winery plans to do a red and white with the band, as well.

Tuesday tidbits 23

? Screw tops for Sonoma-Cutrer in Texas: This is not some low-end grocery store wine, either. Sonoma-Cutrer is one of the most popular restaurant brands in the country, and its wines run as much as $65 retail. So why the new enclosures? Winemaker Terry Adams says the Stelvin screwcap makes the wine better than using a cork.

? Another reason why we like Jancis Robinson: Wine writers should be be more humble and honest, the leading English wine critic told an international panel of wine writers and winemakers in Spain. “‘We must always remember that we are parasites on the business of winemaking,” she said. Or, as the Wine Curmudgeon always says, tell people what the wine tastes like and let them make up their own minds, without any gobbledigook or winespeak or any of the other crap that too many of us foist on the public.

? Ingredients on wine labels: This proposal has been kicking around the federal agency that regulates wine sales for a couple of years. Officials want wine labels to include the same things that are on canned goods: serving sizes, calories, carbohydrates, fat, protein and potential allergens on the label. The industry is less than thrilled, citing the usual sorts of issues industries always cite. No word yet on if — or when — the government will rule on this.

Tuesday tidbits 22

? The Wine Generation Gap: Alan Goldfarb, writing for Appellation America, describes what he calls a difference in the way younger and older drinkers approach wine. I’m not so sure his analysis is completely on the mark — blaming “digital culture” seems a little simple — but there is a difference. I tend to see it centered around how my generation came to wine, which was from drinking beer, and how younger people came to wine, which is from drinking cocktails. We saw wine as a social step up from beer, and wanted to learn how to fit in. They see wine as an extension of drinking, where a 17 percent zinfandel is no different than a fruit martini made with flavored vodka. The piece is worth reading, and so are the comments.

? Wine health update: Could raise breast cancer risk, but may prevent onset of dementia in women. One of the most fascinating developments in the wine business has been watching researchers fall all over themselves to find out if wine is healthy. Not sure why that is, other than wine research is more fun to do than the usual run of academic study. But one doesn’t need research to know that wine is good for you — enjoyed in moderation with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and no cigarettes.

? Bizarre 2008 vintage for Australia: Aussie winemakers are calling the 2008 vintage one of the strangest on record — soaring temperatures above 95 for 16 days in a row in one region, alcohol levels in some grapes above 20 percent, high even for Down Under, and one of the earliest harvests ever, eight weeks ahead of normal.