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Latest Wine News and Updates

April 1, 2020 5 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!

Ten Cabernet Sauvignon Facts For The Cabernet Day

August 31, 2012 3 comments
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes, Wikipedia

Today (or it might be yesterday, depending on when I will finish this post), on August 30th, we are celebrating Cabernet wines, which include some of the most coveted and sought-after wines in the world.

For this event, I want to talk a bit about Cabernet wines in general. While Cabernet wines often include both Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes, I want to focus today on the wines which have Cabernet Sauvignon as the only or at least a primary ingredient – I should save something (Cabernet Franc, to be precise) for an easy post next year, shouldn’t I?

For what it worth, here are ten facts about Cabernet Sauvignon – some might be actual facts, and some might be… myths? I will let you be the judge…

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon grape is relatively young, first appearing in 17th century as the result of the cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes (hence the name).
  2. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are very small with the thick skin, which means that the ratio of seeds and skin versus pulp is quite high, leading to lots of tannins being extracted during maceration process. More tannins = bigger wine, which usually also can age for a long time, but on a flip side needs an additional breathing time to open up.
  3. Cabernet Sauvignon wines are successfully made all over the world, but the best known regions are Bordeaux, California, Tuscany and Australia. These main regions are closely followed by Argentina, Chile, Israel, Spain and South Africa.
  4. Typical flavor profile of Cabernet Sauvignon wines include black currant (Cassis), green bell peppers and eucalyptus (not necessarily all at the same time).
  5. Not all the Bordeaux wine are predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon based. The wines made in Médoc and all the sub-appellations (situated on the left bank of Garonne river) are actually based on Cabernet Sauvignon (70% is quite typical). The wines made on the right bank of Dordogne river are predominantly Merlot wines (typically containing about 70% of Merlot grapes). Some of the most successful Bordeaux wines, such as Chateau Petrus and Le Pin, are actually made out of Merlot.
  6. The oldest continuously producing Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the world are located in Australia – it is Block 42 of the Kalimna Vineyard in the Barossa Valley, which belongs to Penfolds. It is assumed that the vines were planted between 1886 and 1888, which will give us an approximate age of 125 years.
  7. Typical California Cabernet Sauvignon wine needs about 13 years to reach its peak (see, I told you – patience is one of the important traits of oenophile).
  8. Malbec was the most popular grape in Bordeaux until early 18th century, when it was replaced by Cabernet Sauvignon.
  9. Cabernet Sauvignon holds the title of most expensive wine ever sold in the world. An Imperial (6L = 8 bottles) of 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon was sold at the auction (proceeds went to charity) for $500,000 in year 2000.
  10. When it comes to pairing with food, there are two combinations which are typically stand out. Cabernet Sauvignon and steak are usually go very well together, and same is true for Cabernet Sauvignon and dark chocolate (be advised – your mileage might vary).

That’s all I have for you for today, folks. I have to admit that I didn’t get a chance to drink Cabernet today (I promise to compensate tomorrow) – but I really want to know what was in your glass for the Cabernet day? Please comment below. Cheers!

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