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Latest Wine News and Updates

April 1, 2020 4 comments

Of course, it would be too much to say that wine is in the center of everyone’s attention – but it is a beloved beverage for hundreds of millions, and some tens of millions are involved in wine industry one way or the other, so the wine news definitely gathers some attention.

From time to time, I share in this blog some of the interesting tidbits of what’s going on in the wine world, so here is the latest round of newsworthy happenings around the globe.

When you hear Chateau d’Yquem, what do you think of first? Of course, the quintessential Sauternes, the magical elixir not even produced in all the years. But – do you know that Chateau d’Yquem also produces dry white wine? It is called “Y”, and it is a tasty blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Last month, Chateau d’Yquem announced that they will be expanding their portfolio and adding … wait for it … a red wine which will be called Y Not. It appears that 5 years ago, Chateau d’Yquem replaced some of their Sauvignon Blanc plantings with the Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot, and now it is ready to produce the first vintage. The 2019 Y Not will be released in 2022. The price had not been disclosed at the moment, but considering the total production of 300 cases, you can imagine that it will not be inexpensive.

We are not done with Chateau d’Yquem yet. It leaked to the press that venerable Harlan Estate from Napa Valley, one of the topmost cult wine producers in the USA, enlisted the help of Chateau d’Yquem to start production of the dessert wine! The wine will be produced from the late harvest Cabernet Sauvignon. It is expected that the wine will be aged for at least 2 years in the mix of old and new French oak barriques, and probably 1 year in the bottle. The wine will be called Sweet Baby Harlan, and the 2020 vintage will be offered to the mailing list members at one 375 ml bottle per customer with the starting price of $1,100. Considering the tiny production, this wine will be impossible to get for a while.

Our next news is really bazaar. It’s been reported in The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Massachusetts that a number of Market Basket supermarkets experienced a little mayhem in the bottled juice section of the stores – the juice bottles (narrowed down to the grape juice bottles only after the few incidents) started to blow up at random, covering customers in sweet and sticky liquid. The culprit was traced to the popular brand of grape juice – Welch’s. Welch’s recalled all of the grape juice bottles sold in Massachusetts supermarket and opened the investigation into the incident. Based on the initial analysis, it appears that the yeast was added to the bottles at the final steps of the production, and as you know, the combination of yeast and sugar is how the wine is made, so blown up bottles come at no surprise. Apparently, some of the customers who managed to get the unexploded bottle to the homes were pleasantly surprised with the bubbly version of the popular grape juice, and some are even planning to start a petition to Welch’s to make this new type of grape juice a new product, possibly using some reinforced bottles.

It is not a secret that Australian winemakers are always eager and willing to step away from traditions and try the pioneering technologies, no matter how unorthodox they are. A simple example is a so-called screw cap, also known as Stelvin, which was developed in the late 1960s, and Yalumba winery in Australia become one of the early adopters introducing new bottle closure in 1973. Now another Australian wine producer, Penfolds, maker of the legendary Grange, decided to step in with a brand new solution for reducing the carbon footprint of the wine, which the wine industry is constantly grilled for. With the help of scientists at The University of Adelaide, Penfolds developed a brand new plastic bottle that is completely safe for storing the wine. Not only it is lightweight, but it is also made from the recycled materials and – get this – biodegradable. The bottle is guaranteed to fully disintegrate in 5 years’ time. The only culprit? The bottle will disintegrate in 5 years no matter what, so it will not be any time soon that we will see Penfolds Grange offered in this form of packaging. But for all the regular wines, which should be consumed as they are acquired, this will be a perfect vessel. Just don’t “leave and forget” such a bottle in your cellar – or you will remember it for a long time…

While the wine industry is squarely rooted in traditions, it is never shy to enlist the latest technology to help to advance its cause – helping people to enjoy their life a little bit more. Knowing when to open the bottle of wine to ensure the best possible experience is one of the most difficult problems of any oenophile, whether he or she is a Master Sommelier or an occasional drinker consuming two bottles of wine a year. Some of the most technologically advanced companies in the wine industry, world-famous specialty glass producer, Riedel, and Coravin Wine Systems, maker of the popular wine dispensing solution, teamed up to create a product which they called Smart Bottle. Seemingly indistinguishable from the regular glass bottle, the Smart Bottle is equipped with the array of sensors which constantly monitor the state of the wine inside the bottle, and will inform the owner when the bottle reached the ideal consumption phase via embedded Wi-Fi transmitter directly to the owner’s phone. While working on the design of the Smart Bottle, both companies filed about 25 patents. Apparently all leading wine producers in the world – DRC, Petrus, Chateau Latour, Screaming Eagle, Sine Qua Non and many, many others already lined up to get the Smart Bottle as soon as it will be released. An important and attractive feature of the Smart Bottle is the ability for producers to set up the proper aging profile specific to their particular wine, as it is clear that ideal indications, let’s say for DRC and Sine Qua Non will be quite different. Riedel and Coravin reported that they are finishing field trials and the production is slated to start in 2021.

That’s all the latest news I have for you, my friends. Until the next time – cheers!

Latest Wine News and Updates

April 1, 2019 6 comments

With the risk of repeating myself, I still have to say – we truly live through the wine revolution nowadays. This revolution takes on many forms. The wine quality is at the highest throughout the world, and it keeps getting better and better every year. Wine is made in far more places than ever before – who would’ve thought 10 years ago that England can produce world-class sparkling wines, rivaling the best Champagne? The wine has shaken off its traditional format of not only the bottle, but even the box, and it is available today in the can and in the keg. Heck, the wine today can be even mixed with CBD (Cannabis) so you can get high quickly and surely. Yep, it is the wine revolution time.

So with this, I want to share with you some of the latest and exciting developments taking place in the world of wine.

Let’s start with an interesting development around high-end wines. Have you ever noticed that many successful (and equally expensive) super-Tuscan wines have names ending in “aia” – Ornellaia, Sassicaia, Solaia – you see the trend, right? Turns out that a couple of the US retail giants – Walmart and Target, to be exact – decided to add high-end Italian wines to their portfolio, and surprisingly (or not?), both went with the super-Tuscan theme and named their new wines – can you guess – Targaia and Walmaia! Targaia is the blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Sangiovese, and Walmaia has a very interesting blend of 80% Cab Franc, 10% Sangiovese and 10% Carignan. 2016 will be the first vintage of Targaia, and Walmaia will debut with the 2015 vintage, both slated to hit the retail shelves later on this year. The release price for Targaia is set for $75, and Walmaia will open at $70 – great price for super-Tuscan wines, where a lot of well-known wines today are offered at the prices well north of $200 per bottle. Will “aia” do the magic trick for Target and Walmart? You will be the judge of it, once you will be able to get your hands on the bottle – hopefully it will not be too difficult, however, the production volumes had not been disclosed, as well as the source vineyards, so we will have to wait and see.

Our next update is about the Coravin, the famous wine preservation system which allows you to extend the life of your precious bottles and enjoy them over a longer period of time than otherwise would be possible. Of Coravin is a tool of choice of many wine writers, restaurateurs, sommeliers and all of the wine lovers, and it works perfectly for most of the wines – with Sparkling wines been a notable exception. And who wouldn’t like to have a small celebratory sip of Dom Perignon, while preserving the rest of the bottle for another special occasion? Coravin set out to solve the sparkling wine issue and reportedly invested more than $3M (USD) into the brand new lab in Switzerland. The initial design seemed to be successful, however, not really commercially viable, considering that the machine was a size of a small desk and weighed around 300 lb. Subsequent tests, however, showed that the researchers still have long ways to go, as the bottle of Dom Perignon shattered into the hundreds of little pieces while operated by the first smaller size prototype – luckily, nobody was hurt and the only loss was the one of a precious liquid. I’m sure Coravin researchers will not give up and sooner rather than later we will be able to enjoy a small pour of delicious Champagne while the rest of the bottle will be safely preserved.

Continuing the subject of bubbles, this next piece might surprise you. I’m sure everybody knows Grey Goose, the famous French vodka, a staple of any top shelf of any self-respecting bar. The problem with vodka is that it is typically relegated only as a mixing component in the cocktails, no matter how high the regard it has. Many vodka producers are trying to change this status quo, but it is usually done by simply infusing vodka with a certain flavor in an attempt to convert it into a sipping drink. Grey Goose decided to try something different, and partnered with Moët & Chandon to create … yes, the sparkling Vodka! The attempts to produce sparkling vodka using the Classic Method were unsuccessful, however, based on the initial reviews, the Charmat method worked just perfectly, with many critics simply raving about the experience. The sparkling Grey Goose vodka is packaged in gold-adorned classic Champagne bottles and it is already available at select retailers in the USA for about $200 per bottle (suggested retail price). While I don’t drink vodka as is, I’m definitely looking forward trying this unusual drink – would be curious in your opinion too.

Now let’s talk about cult wines. Not just any cult wines, but maybe the cult of the cults – Screaming Eagle. I’m sure you know that Screaming Eagle makes the most expensive Cabernet Sauvignon wine in the USA, priced at around $3500 if you can ever find a bottle. But do you know that this is not the most expensive wine made by Screaming Eagle? Until now, their most expensive wine was white – Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley, priced north of $4K, and equally impossible to get. Did you noticed I said “until now”? Screaming Eagle is set to beat its own record with the brand new offering to the mailing list members – Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé. It will be priced at $4999 for the mailing list members, and with only 30 cases produced (360 individually numbered bottles), this Screaming Eagle Rosé is expected to disappear in less than a minute after the members will be able to place their release orders. It seems that Rosé is an absolutely unstoppable category, with such heavyweights as Screaming Eagle joining the madness – I just hope not everybody will join their suit for the insane prices. And if you will be able to score a bottle, send me a note – I would looove to help you drink that.

Our last news for today is really from the “hard to believe” category, but I guess everything is possible… For about 10 years now, world famous UC Davis conducted the work to identify the effects of different types of music on the vines, grapes and the resulting wines. Fully independent test vineyards had been set up each with its own winery facilities, to ensure the same type of music is used through all of the stages of the winemaking, from the first bud break until the wine is pressed, aged and bottled. All facilities are outfitted with state-of-the-art Bose sound systems to ensure high-quality sound, both in the vineyards and inside the wineries. Chants, classical music, dance, hip hop, and heavy metal are used in the experiments, each one at its own, individual vineyard. All results are still being processed, and no conclusions had been made yet, however, a recent report from UC Davis really makes you wonder. It appears that after barrel-sampling wine from the vineyard subjected to the heavy metal music for 7 years in the row, visiting scholar, Dr. Drunkken, became extremely violent and attacked his colleagues, initiating an unprovoked, bloody fight. Dr. Drunkken was never previously known for any aggressive behavior, and after he spent a day subdued in the hospital bed, had literally no memories of an accident and couldn’t understand why his hands had been tied. It is completely unknown what triggered such behavior of a generally nice and gentle man, so it seems that researchers just got a lot more work to do. I don’t believe one single accident will derail the whole (expensive!) program, but I’m sure the new level of caution will be asked of everyone involved in this research.

That’s all I have for you today. Until the next time – cheers!

Wine News and Updates From Around The World

April 1, 2018 18 comments

I’m happy to live during the times when wine is getting more and more popular – at least if you look at the wineries popping up all over the place, everywhere in the world, new wines coming out from the places where grapes were never planted before, and winemakers everywhere experimenting with new grapes, new tools (when did ceramic egg became “the thing”, huh?), and new styles (bourbon barrel-aged wine, anyone)? There is a tremendous amount of information available to the wine lovers everywhere, so I wanted to bring to your attention some of the latest news and developments in the world of wine which I found the most interesting.

There seems to be quite a bit of research pointing to the health benefits of the moderate wine consumption. More often than not, the health benefit is attributed to the red wine, not so much to the white, Rosé or Champagne. And then we also heard a famous story about Marilyn Monroe taking a Champagne bath (it supposedly took 350 bottles to fill the bathtub). What’s the connection, you ask?  Based on the research conducted at Dartmouth University, it appears that Marilyn Monroe was onto something – the Champagne, with its high acidity and tiny persistent bubbles, has a great refreshing effect on the skin, so the 30 minutes bath is highly beneficial and rival most of the known skin rejuvenation treatments in its efficiency. Moving from theory to the practice, Veuve Cliquot, the leading Champagne producer, teamed up with Elizabeth Arden, leading American cosmetics and skin care company, to start offering Champagne treatments at select Red Door spa locations. The price is set for $10,000 for the 30 minutes, and the first 6 months of the appointments were booked within first 30 minutes of the initial offering. First trials at the spa showed excellent results and produced many happy clients. The only challenge? Someone has to constantly watch over the clients and remind them to drink Champagne only from the glass in the hand instead of taking the “deep dives” with their mouth open. Otherwise, the offering had been extremely successful and Veuve Cliquot is even considering to start offering treatments using  La Grand Dame, but the pricing had not been unveiled yet.

There are no limits to the winemaking innovations today – aging wines in ceramic eggs and old bourbon barrels, mixing wine and coffee, filtering wines with the beer hops – bare mention of any of these would make winemakers and wine lovers cringe merely 10 years ago – but it is the norm today. Taking winemaking innovation to the next level, BrewDog out of the UK, the legendary producer of the world’s strongest beer (Tactical Nuclear Penguin clocks whooping 32% ABV), teamed up with the Australian winemaking legend, Penfolds, to produce the world’s strongest wine. The wine, called Penge Royal, uses the production methods of the Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Penfold’s flagship wine, Penfolds Grange. After aging the wine for 3 years in the old Scotch barrels, it then spends 60 days at the -32°C, and at the end of that period, reaches 70% ABV, beating most of the Absinthe on the market. It seems that the wine nicely preserves the flavor profile of Grange, but packs a substantial punch – as you would expect. The wine initially will only be available at the select markets in Australia and the UK, with the prices set at $5,000 per bottle. There were only 10 cases of 375 ml bottles produced, and they were all sold out immediately upon the offering. Would love to taste the Penge Royal one day, but getting one would not be easy.

I’m sure you heard about the so-called AI – Artificial Intelligence, and the robots, which will replace humans in pretty much everything we, humans, do. Going beyond the robot bartenders turns out that winemaking is also not immune to the automation and robot’s onslaught. The research team at Oxford University was working for the past two years on creating a robot which will be able to inspect the vineyards and decide on the day of the harvest, make all the decisions at the winery (how long fermentation should take, what strain of yeast to use, how and for how long to age wine, and also how to blend the final product). The project ran into an unexpected issue of many (if not most) of the winemakers not willing to share their knowledge, or even deliberately providing wrong information (no, you can’t wait until -10°C to harvest the Cabernet Sauvignon). Also, first results of blending by the winemaking robot were rather disastrous, with the resulting wine been completely not drinkable, not deserving even to be called a “plonk”. Hopefully the situation will change for the better, and the scientist will be able to make some progress, but for now, we will have to continue trusting humans to have a drinkable wine on the table.

If you are a serious wine enthusiast, I’m sure you run into this dilemma an uncounted number of time – I’m going to the dinner, should I wear a perfume? The perfume would interfere with the smell of wine and get in the way of truly appreciating it, both for oneself and for the people around us, right? The designers at Chanel, a leading French fashion house, set out to help all of us, oenophiles, to solve this dilemma and let us feel good about ourselves while going to a party while not disrupting the sensual pleasures of wine. Chanel’s designers created a new line of perfume specifically for the wine lovers, called W by Coco. The 3 years of experiments and hard work which went into the creation of W by Coco resulted in the perfume which offers a refreshing scent of the perfectly balanced wine, helping you to greatly accentuate aromas of the wine you are about to taste. All the Bordeaux First Growth producers supported the research, and as the result, the W by Coco line includes five different fragrances, one for each of the first growth Chateaux – Château Latour, Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Margaux, Château Haut-Brion and Château Mouton Rothschild. The fragrances available exclusively at Chanel boutiques in Paris, New York, Singapore and Tokyo and will cost wine lovers $450 for 30 ml. Reportedly, Château d’Yquem, Petrus, and Screaming Eagle all lined up to be included into the second release of the W by Coco line, but the date for the second release had not been confirmed yet.

Capitalizing on the popularity of the wine, literally every self-respecting brand is involved in the wine business, whether it is private label wines, special releases or simply store-branded lines of products – I’m sure you all had Kirkland wines, Trader Joe’s wines, Wine Farmer line at Whole Foods and more – never mind wine retailers such as Total Wines who offers thousands of private label wines in their “Winery Direct” program. Yes, we all know that and are usually not surprised by those private label wines. However, Walmart, the largest in the world retailer of discounted goods, managed to surprise everyone (and I meant it), by unveiling their partnership with none less than Old Rip Van Winkle, the producer of the most thought-after bourbon in the world. It appears that two of the iconic American companies joined forces to offer whiskey aficionados two new bourbons – Old Rip Wal Winkle 10 years old and Wal Winkle Special Reserve. The pricing and availability will be announced later, but it is expected that both whiskeys will appear in Walmart stores in the USA only at the beginning of 2019. Walmart shoppers and whiskey lovers, rejoice!

That’s all I have for you, my friends. Cheers!

 

Wine News and Updates

April 1, 2017 11 comments

The wine world enjoys ever-increasing popularity and attention, and respectively, the wine news are coming at us at a neck breaking speed as well. I wanted to share with you some of the most interesting updates I recently came across.

First, an interesting update from Coravin. I’m sure the name rings the bell, but just in case it is not, Coravin produces a wine gadget, which can be somewhat classified in the “wine preserver” category – Coravin helps you to pull small amount of wine from the bottle through the cork without much impacting the wine, thus allowing aficionados to enjoy their prized bottle of Petrus slowly over the years. Coravin recently got $22 million in funding from the group of investors. One of the projects touted by the company is a “flavor booster”, for the lack of the better term – special attachment to the main Coravin device will allow consumers to specify the desired level of acidity, fruit and tannins, and the “favor booster” will be able to affect the wine on the molecular level, delivering ultimately tailored treat to the individual palates. The project is well underway, however, it is still mostly in the experimental stages. The rumor on the street had it that Riedel, producer of the finest glassware, is on the lookout for the same technology, so it will be interesting to see which company will deliver better solution first.

Now we need to move from Earth to space. Well, okay, not exactly, not yet anyway. The NASA and Space-X recently started a collaborative project aiming at converting wine into a paste concentrate. As Space-X is readying their space tourism program, having wine on the board of the spaceship is highly desirable. However, transporting the wine in its usual form – bottles – is extremely impractical as bottles are both bulky and heavy. Having the wine in “just add the water” form would be extremely beneficial. Of course, the key is to preserve the taste and uniqueness, to ensure that every wine is recognisable and maintains its individuality. Some of the best wineries in the world are sponsoring this work (Latour, Krug, Penfolds, Antinori, Mondavi, Heitz just to name a few) and are very much interested in the results. The work is only in the initial stages so we will need to keep an eye on it.

Now, let’s talk again about the paste – this time, a toothpaste out of all! If you find the flavors of the toothpaste boring, you are not alone – mint, peppermint, really? That’s all we can have? What if we had an amazing glass of wine right before the bedtime, now we need to use that mint toothpaste to destroy that wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon flavor lingering in the mouth? It seems that Colgate understands us, wine lovers. Colgate recently announced an upcoming availability of the wine-flavored toothpaste. Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay flavors are expected to hit the market first, and Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are in the works. The price was not revealed yet, but it is expected to be close to the $10 per tube. Crest and Sensodyne are expected to announce similar products in the near future.

The name Nomacork might not be familiar to many of the wine consumers. Most of the corks used in winemaking today are produced from the bark of the tree. The reason corks are such great enclosures for the wine is due to the fact that while cork fully retains the wine inside the bottle, it is still porous enough to allow trace amounts of oxygen to get through and reach the wine – and oxygen is very important for the evolution of the wine in the bottle. Nomacork produces so-called “engineered corks” which can be constructed for the different levels of oxygen penetration, thus allowing winemakers to use the ideal enclosures for the different types of wines, depending on how slow or quick they would like the wine to age. While this all sounds too technical for the wine consumers, Nomacork recently announced the brand new type of engineered cork, this time squarely looking after the wine consumers. The new type of cork will have a microchip inside and will allow consumers to select the month and the year when they want to drink the wine, and cork will automatically change its properties to ensure the wine will be at its peak at the required time. Nomacork filed more than 50 patents associated with this technology and this work might be one of the most guarded secrets in the wine research today.

Over the last few years, violent “wine riots” shook South of France, with French vignerons dumping wines and setting fires to protest imports of the cheap Spanish wine juice. The unexpected offer to help came unexpectedly from the world renowned supplier of the fine meats, D’Artagnan. The company, known for its gourmet meats, game, duck, foie gras and lots more, offered to buy the inexpensive Spanish wine in the large quantities. Based on D’Artagnan research, it appears that most of the water in ducks’ diet can be perfectly replaced with wine, which leads to the much tastier meat and unbelievable smooth and delicious foie gras. It was also stated that red and white wines create different flavor profile of the meat, so soon we are going to see ever tasting products available from D’Artagnan.

That’s all I have for you for today. Cheers!

Wine News and Updates

April 1, 2016 14 comments

endless_vineyards_1As you know, I generally like to share the interesting wine world information which I come across, so below are few of such tidbits.

Let me start with something a bit unusual. Generally we don’t mix beer and wine. However, some innovative winemakers started experimenting with adding hops to their wines creating new and refreshing beverages which greatly appeal to millennials and generation Y. Not to miss the bandwagon as they did with the craft beers, Budweiser announced that they acquired a small winery in California and the new product, called BudMyWine, will appear soon in the supermarkets next to you. The initial release of BudMyWine will be packaged in the standard 6-pack of .33 tin cans, and will include Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. BudMyWine Light, boasting measly 49 calories per can, is expected to hit the store shelves closer to the Christmas season. With this development, I’m really curious who Budweiser will be mocking in the SuperBowl 2017 commercial…

Next, the wine is about to be taken to “where no man has gone before”. Elon Musk, the multi-talented entrepreneur behind SpaceX program, which has the goal of “enabling people to live on other planets”, recently decided to evaluate the effects of space travel on wine in a bottle. SpaceX teamed up with none less than Château Mouton Rothschild, which will produce a special bottling of its popular Mouton Cadet Chilean wines, which will take a voyage in space for the duration of about 12 month. The wine will receive a special label and will be called Space Cadet. About 1,000 cases will travel into the space. Upon return, the wine will be sold through the auction, and it seems that numerous collectors already started signing up so they wouldn’t miss their chance. Who knows, SpaceX and Mouton Rothschild might be onto something – 200 years ago, hugely popular Madeira was an accidental result of the ocean voyage – Space Cadet might start another cult wine revolution.

It is political season in the United States, so obviously wine is not immune to the political interests. Not to be outdone by Donald Trump who is affiliated with eponymous winery in Virginia, supposedly the biggest one on the East Coast, Hillary Clinton just announced an agreement to acquire Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville, New York, the oldest winery in the United States. Mrs. Clinton stated that winemaking team will stay in place at Brotherhood winery. One of the Brotherhood Winery flagship wines, 1839 Cabernet Sauvignon, will be produced as a limited release under the name “White House Dreams”, picturing Hilary Clinton with the White House in the background. The wine will be available in July at a retail price of about $100, and is expected to be an instant hit among Mrs. Clinton supporters.

And here is the last update I have for you for today. As you might know, Playboy Magazine already ventured into the world of wine, first with the wine column written by the talented wine educator Joe Roberts a.k.a. 1WineDude, and then with the wine club. Few weeks ago, Playboy announced the new wine club, called “For your eyes only”. Playboy managed to sign an agreement with an undisclosed cult wine producer in California, and will offer a line of luscious, sexy wines to the very limited number of lucky mailing list subscribers. Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon will be available in the first release, and the wines will be limited to the one three-pack of each per subscriber. The wines will be called Double Pleasure, and each bottle label will feature one of the Playboy cover models (naked, of course), going all the way back to 1953 – and new labels will be produced for each release. Each bottle will be wrapped in gold-accented black parchment paper; the wine will be priced at $450 for the 3 pack, plus shipping. It seems that the mailing list had been already sold out, so waiting list is now the only option for those who wants to get a taste of Double Pleasure.

That’s all I have for you for today. Until the next time – cheers!

Latest Wine News

April 1, 2015 15 comments

There were a number of interesting developments in the world of wine and related “beverages”, which prompted this post. Here are some of the latest happenings:

Who doesn’t like Rum and Coke? It is easy, simple and refreshing, and it clearly says “warm days are here”. Yielding to the ever increasing popular demand, Coca-Cola company just announced the brand new product – Rum and Coke in the can, which should be available in the supermarkets next to you starting in May. Going an extra mile, and taking an advantage of thawing relationship between US and Cuba, Coca-Cola signed an agreement with Bacardi company to use their famous authentic Cuban Rum for this product line, thus this new line from Coca-Cola will appear under the name of “The Real Rum and Coke“. Coca-Cola arch nemesis, Pepsi-Cola Corporation is reportedly peeved by the announcement and entered into the talks with the famous French Cognac producer, Hennessy, to come up with some authentic concoction. Stay tuned for the further updates.

Starbucks recently announced that in addition to the Starbucks Evenings program, which adds wine and beer offerings at a number of select Starbucks locations, the purveyor of the fine coffee will add a Starbucks Mornings program, which will feature a special morning beer program to be available in select markets nationwide. The pilot will start in Las Vegas and New Orleans stores, and then it is expected to expand to New York and Los Angeles markets. Starbucks also announced a partnership with Blue Moon Brewing Company to produce a special light morning brew called “Blue Bucks”. A number of analysts in the industry believe that Starbucks Mornings program will be widely successful.

Considering recent acquisitions of Siduri Wines by Jackson Family and J Vineyards by the Gallo, Bronco Wine Company, producer of the famous Fransia and Two Buck Chuck wines, decided not to be outdone by the competitors and made an offer to buy a legendary California producer, Sine Qua None, at an undisclosed amount. To express his reaction to the Bronco’s offer, Manfred Krankl, proprietor at the Sine Qua None, responded in his usual eclectic fashion by sending a case of one of his latest and greatest wines, a 100% Grenache, to the Bronco’s headquarters. The wine, called Middle Finger, had specially designed unique label, surprisingly quickly approved by TTB. There is a great suspicion in the industry that the acquisition talks might collapse after that.

And just a few more tidbits. Screaming Eagle, producer of the eponymous most desired California Cabernet Sauvignon, recently acknowledged growing trend of “Rosé Rules” by announcing the brand new Rosé, made from the best plots of Cabernet Sauvignon, under the name of “Screaming Hen”. The new Rosé wine will be priced at the $500 per bottle, and will be available to the mailing list subscribers. 150 cases will be produced. After this information became public, Christian Moueix, producer of the famous Petrus wines in Bordeaux, reportedly attempted to enter into the partnership with Chateau Miraval in Provence, to produce the best and most expensive in the world Rosé. Based on the limited information available to the press, the talks fell through as Christian Moueix was unable to convince Brandelina team to rip out Cinsault and replant it with Merlot.

That’s all I have for you for today. Happy Wine Wednesday and Cheers!

 

Latest Wine News Update

April 1, 2014 7 comments

So many things are happening in and around of the world of wine that I had to share some of the latest updates with you.

Coravin, the maker of the Coravin™ Wine Access Technology, announced that the company recently finished development of the patented wine fingerprinting algorithm, which allows to uniquely identify all different wines made in the world. Using this algorithm, Coravin is planning to complete within the next 5-6 months the creation of the database of all the wines ever made. The next version of the popular Coravin™ Wine Access appliance will not only allow you to enjoy your prized wines without pulling the cork, but will also automatically identify year, grape(s) and producer of the wine, and provide a prediction as to for how long the wine will continue to evolve in the cellar. The new Coravin gadget will also serve as a deterrent against fake wine, as it will be able to tell you if the wine you are drinking doesn’t match information on the label. Coravin is accepting pre-orders now and expect to start shipping the new device in the first half of 2015 –  make sure to order yours now as it is expected to be sold out of pre-orders within the first week.

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s wedding seems to be occupying the thoughts of everyone nowadays, and it seems that everybody want to be a part of it. I’m sure you heard that Burger King offered to provide all the food for Kanye and Kim’s wedding. Now Korbel, the famed producer of California Champagne, is offering not only to supply all the champagne for the wedding, but they also want to provide an unlimited access to any amount of champagne to Kim Kardashian for any occasions when she will feel a la Marylin Monroe and would want to take a bubbly bath.

You probably read recently that sales of Prosecco worldwide surpassed sales of French Champagne in terms of volume shipments. This news is not taken well by the bubbly greats, and based on the unconfirmed rumors, Krug Champagne, one of the most venerable producers, entered the talks with Zonin Prosecco about purchasing the company. It seems that Zonin’s witty TV commercials had a great effect on Krug’s top management, and they believe such an acquisition will be a great asset in the Krug’s portfolio. The exact amount of possible transaction is unknown.

Wine Advocate leaked that Robert Parker will be leaving the publication very soon. To replace him, based on the information from inside industry sources, it appears that Wine Advocate reached out to Ron Washam, the HoseMaster of Wine. The folks at Wine Advocate believe that addition of Ron Washam to the team will help to take the publication to the next level – Ron’s fiery wine reviews and skewering comments are expected to be especially well received by the aspiring audience of Chinese wine lovers. Stay tuned as this story is developing, more updates will be coming.

And the last update for today: in the usual spat between Manfred Krankl and TTB, the application for the newest label of Sine Qua Non Syrah, called Five Naked Women and A Cowboy, was rejected. TTB reviewers said that cowboy’s facial expression is too scarily detailed, and young wine drinkers might feel threatened be simply looking at the bottle. It is unknown if Manfred Krankl is planning to appeal or will decide to change the name of the wine to something else.

That’s all I have for you for today. Enjoy your day and cheers!

 

 

 

Latest Wine News Updates

April 1, 2013 19 comments

Last few days were filled with important announcements in the wine world, so I wanted to bring them to your attention just in case you missed them.

Target, one of the major department stores in the US, made the decision to catch up with success of Trader Joe’s “Two Buck Chuck” wines and announced the new wine series called One Buck Willie. The wine will retail at $1.01 and will initially include Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as “Hello Willie” Moscato. Target’s major rival, Wal-Mart countered that with their Rollback series which includes Rollback Red, Rollback White and Rollback Sweet Ending, all proprietary blends. Rollback wines will retail for $0.98 and $1.96 in the magnum size and will be available this fall at the Wal-Mart retailer near you.

According to the information leaked on Twitter by the law firm Trellis & Press, Antonio Galloni surprised James Suckling with the lawsuit a few days ago. He claimed that James Suckling’s bad influence forced him to quit his lucrative position at the Wine Advocate. The lawsuit is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, but it seems that its major target is Suckling’s exclusive collection of Barolo and full vertical of Petrus starting from 1928. James Suckling declined the request for an interview.

Chinese wine fashion finally arrived in New York, and it is all official. Coca-Cola and Chateau Latour cocktail, called CocaTour, is now served at all leading New York restaurants, and it seems that bartenders can’t make it fast enough. The cocktails are priced according to the vintage ratings, with 1947, 1961 and 1982 being the most expensive. Eying the success of the competitors, unconfirmed reports seem to indicate that Pepsi-Cola entered into preliminary talks with Domaine Romanee-Conti to endorse the new Pepsi-Cola/DRC cocktail which will be called PepsidRC. Representatives from both companies couldn’t be reached for the comment.

Riedel, the world leader in the manufacturing of the wine glasses, announced a new line of plastic glassware. In the recent interview given to National Enquirer, Maximilian Riedel admitted that customers long enough demanded high-quality plastic glassware capable of highlighting qualities of the different wines. The first release of the plastic glassware series called PlastiXtreme will include Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Port glasses,  and it will be available exclusively at Costco this fall. Single-use plastic duck shaped decanter will also be available in time for holiday season.

Joe Roberts of 1WineDude fame and Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia announced their new joint venture which will be called DudeChuk. DudeChuk owners wowed to create content will be funnier than Ron Washam’s HoseMaster of Wine and Chris Kassel’s Intoxicology Report combined. Partners also plan to continue writing wine reviews not only for Playboy magazine but make them specifically white-labeled for ease of reuse by Natalie MacLean.

That’s all I have for you for today, folks! Cheers!

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Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Wine Tasting Whirlwinds and Barolo News

July 3, 2013 3 comments

Meritage Time!

Let’s start with the answer for the wine quiz #63, grape trivia – Malbec. In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about Malbec grape.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Explain the meaning of the name Malbec.

A1: Malbec is a very old grape. It was originally known as Auxerrois, then as Pressac, and subsequently in the 1700s it was named Malbec in the honor of Sieur Malbek, who made the grape popular in Medoc, Bordeaux.

Q2: In France, Malbec is known under a number of different names, used in the different regions. Can you name at least two of those “other names”?

A2: Auxerrois, Cot and Pressac are the three names which are used for Malbec in different regions in France (there are other names, of course).

Q3: About 200 years ago, Malbec was widely planted in France, and it was considered to be one of the major grapes. Two events lead to severe decline in plantings and almost disappearance of Malbec as a grape of any importance. Do you know what events were those?

A3: First it was phylloxera epidemic of the late 1800s, and then the frost of 1956 which literally destroyed most of the Malbec plantings in France, after which the Malbec vineyards were replanted mostly with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Q4: Some of the best Malbecs in the world come from Argentina. The quality of Malbec grapes in Argentina is also often associated with high altitude at which grapes are growing. Do you know what is the highest altitude of Malbec vineyards at the moment?

A: 1,500 feet, B: 5,000 feet, C: 7,000 feet, D: 3,000 feet

A4: Catena Zapata in Mendoza has Malbec vineyards located in Valle de Uco at altitude of about 5,000 feet (1,500m)

Q5: In its best times, Malbec was the grape made into so called Black Wine, very popular among Royal families. One Royal family went as far as even associating health benefits with consumption of Black wine. Now, do you know what Royal family was that and where the Black Wine was made?

A5: Black Wine was made in Cahors, with the name coming from the fact that wine was practically black in appearance. Many Royal families had the highest regard for the black wine, but Russian Royal family, starting from Peter The Great was one of the biggest aficionados, also attributing lots of health benefits to the Black Wine.

Now, when it comes the answers, there was only one answer given to this quiz! Don’t know if it was too boring, too intimidating, or both. Anyway, we don’t have a winner, but Barbie at Blindly Guessing Grapes definitely gets an honorable mention for trying. Hope to see more answers next week!

And now to the interesting stuff on vine and web!

I have only two articles which I want to share, but I think they both deserve your attention.

First, on the subject of the science of the wine tastings, there is an interesting article from The Guardian, arguing that all the science behind wine tasting doesn’t really exist. As usual, this is highly debatable subject, but if anything, it is an interesting read.

Another interesting article I want to bring to your attention is written by Jancis Robinson for the Financial Times, and it talks about changing the laws of Barolo appellation to make it illegal to specify two different vineyards (Crus) on one label. This creates an interesting issue for some of the producers such as Giuseppe Rinaldi, for instance, where he would need to come with the new way of labeling his wines which in the most cases produced as a blend from the different vineyards.

That’s all I have for you for today. The glass is empty – but refill is coming. Until the next week – cheers!

Stay At Home Resources for Wine Lover

April 15, 2020 2 comments

Since our world was flipped upside down a few months ago, and home is now one and only place for everything, including all winery visits, wine tastings, wine events, and festivals, I thought I would compile a list of items that might be useful for the wine lovers under the lockdown. I plan to make continuous updates to this list as new resources will come to my attention, so you might even want to bookmark this post.

Buying wine:

This might be a big question for many wine lovers – where to buy wine. Most of the wine stores are closed for in-person visits, and ordering wine via the phone requires you to know exactly what you want. Buying wine online can be done at one’s own pace and allows for thorough research if one desires. Now, as I love value, my two favorite places to buy wine are:

WTSO – this is a flash sale site. Typical WTSO sale is the wines that are priced reasonably well but require a minimum number of bottles to get free shipping. However, WTSO now offers case buys of the wines of your choice for $120 per case, shipping included. WTSO also offers Last Chance Wines, where you can buy wine in single quantities, and still have free shipping.

Last Bottle – another flash sale site; the model is similar to WTSO with a minimum number of bottles required to purchase to get free shipping.

Both WTSO and Last Bottle offer periodic Marathon events where wines can be acquired in the single bottle quantities – but those run once in 3 months or so.

If the price is not a concern and you want premium selection, take a look at Benchmark Wine Group – here you can find DRC at $10K, but you can also find a perfectly aged, 20 years old California Merlot at $20, and it will be still delicious.

Of course, these are not the only sources of wine. You can buy wine from other online retailers such as Wine.com, where you can always get additional discounts (American Express often runs specials for Wine.com, such as $30 off $100 purchase, or you can find other discount codes such as $50 off $150 purchase with the code “CIQ50” (in effect on the date of writing).

Directly from wineries – the absolute majority of wineries today offer flat rate shipping for their wines, sometimes with a minimum purchase required. Shipping can range from $0 to $15. If you have a favorite winery, this is a great option, as it also feels good knowing you are helping a business to stay afloat.

Wine Education:

This might be a perfect time to further your wine education. There is plenty of free educational wine content available everywhere. For example, web sites such as Rioja Wine and Wines of Portugal offer a wealth of information to any wine lover desiring to learn – without the need to spend even a penny. Just use your browser to type in whatever it is you want to learn – and your lessons will start.

Virtual tastings – this might sound like a misnomer at first – what is the point of watching winemaker tasting and talking about the wines if you don’t have the same wines in front of you – but then there is a possibility of doing it correctly. For example, Tablas Creek, one of the Rhone-style pioneers from Paso Robles, is offering a special virtual tasting pack of 4 half bottles – now you can actually follow along and learn. Tablas Creek is not the only winery which found the right way to do the virtual tasting – a quick search in Google for “virtual tasting pack” yielded names such as Clos Du Val, Benovia Winery, Rutherford Hill Winery, Project M Wines, Pindar Vineyards, and Stony Hill Vineyard, all offering specially designed packs for your next virtual tasting.

Wine Books – there are myriads of the wine books, of course. Here is the compilation of the wine books I personally like which you can buy off Amazon. I can offer you also another list – these are the books recommended by Wine Spectator magazine, well worth your attention.

Wine Entertainment:

Movies – movies are probably the most popular form of entertainment and considering the popularity of the wine, there is plenty to look for. You can look up the old movies, such as Sideways or the Bottle Shock. You can also watch the SOMM (available on Amazon Prime), or some of the most recent movies such as Uncorked on Netflix, or The Wine Guys again on Amazon Prime.

Wine Blogs – there are thousands and thousands of wine blogs. A lot of them are entertaining, and a lot of them are not – you will need to find what speaks to you. To help you with that, here is the list of Top 100 wine blogs according to the Feedspot. Also, this very blog you are reading (and I want to thank you for that), had been around for more than 10 years – there are many of the posts here which you might find interesting and entertaining, such as a series of the April 1st posts, winemaker’s interviews, or wine and grape quizzes.

Wine communities:

Last but very far from least is the issue of self-isolation. It is not easy to be stuck between four walls, without knowing when the life will restart. It definitely helps to have a community of sorts, just to be able to talk to other like-minded human beings. Videoconferencing today helps you greatly to solve this problem. You can use Facetime, Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, skype to talk to your friends one on one. You can also get a free account on zoom.us, and your world will become a little, tiny bit more comfortable. Another option might be to join one of the existing wine groups on Facebook, such as #Winelover (more than 26.5K members) or Friends Who Like Wine In The Glass (more than 10K members) – or you can start your own wine group on Facebook – it is really easy.

The self-isolation will pass. The virus will pass. Use this time as an opportunity to self-reflect, learn and grow. It’s all going to be alright.

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