Winebits 250: Wine names, wine prices, Buena Vista

? U.S.-based chateaus? The cyber-ether is abuzz because the French don ?t want to allow U.S. wines that say chateau on the label to be sold in Europe. The dispute is part of negotiations to revise a 2005 treaty between the European Union and the U.S. that defined wine and food terms, so that we can ?t call a hard cheese made in the U.S. Parmigiano Reggiano and the Europeans can't call ham produced in Italy Smithfield. As part of the 2005 treaty, some U.S. wineries that used terms like chateau and Champagne were grandfathered in for products sold in the U.S. We ?re asking the EU, as part of negotiations to revise the treaty, to end the foreign ban on the term chateau, so a winery like Chateau St. Jean won ?t have to change its name to be sold in Europe. I can ?t do justice to the topic here, save to say that it ?s a lot more complicated than many people are portraying it. This story, from Britan ?s Independent, clears things up a little.

? Wine price panic: The Europeans, facing several drought-stricken grape harvests, are in a tither about increasing wine prices, and wine in Britain is already up three percent from last year. The Wine Curmudgeon has some advice, based on our experience this year with the U.S. wine price panic. Take a deep breath. Take a sip of wine. Take another sip. Everything will be OK. Retailers always say stuff like that. Spain is in the middle of a massive recession, with almost 25 percent unemployment, and the jobless rate is almost 12 percent in Italy, which is also in recession. That means there is much less domestic demand for wine, which will undercut the supply shortage and mitigate price pressure. Really. Why else would I use economic-speak?

? Buena Vista changes: One of the oldest wineries in
California is updating its image and its brands, part of its acquisition
by wine tycoon Jean-Charles Boisset. The 155-year-old Buena Vista
has restored and updated its champagne cellar, which was damaged in a
1989 earthquake. Wine is being made on the property for the first time
in some 50 years, and it is carrying the Sonoma label. Even though Buena
Vista is located in the state ?s second-best known wine region, its
previous owners had stopped making wine with the Sonoma appellation.