2004 Wine News
Latest Wine News
Governor Schwarzenegger this week awarded the California Sustainable
Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) with the state's highest and most prestigious
environmental honor. The Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership
Awards (GEELA) recognize the alliance's efforts to conserve the
state's natural resources and protect and enhance the environment
while promoting sustainable economic development. The CSWA is an
educational nonprofit organization established by the Wine Institute
and the California Association of Winegrape Growers. It enjoys the
participation of vintners, growers, regional trade associations,
regulators, academics and environmental and social equity groups.
As part of their efforts, the CSWA has hosted nearly one hundred
sustainable winegrowing workshops in 24 California counties. So
far, more than 1,000 growers and/or winemakers from 800 vineyard
facilities and 125 wineries have attended these workshops, a signal
that sustainability has entered the mainstream thinking of the California
wine community. Trinchero Family Estates, Simpson Meadow Winery
and Quady Winery are three wineries that have been recognized for
their sustainable efforts. With the California wine world committed
to producing high quality wines in a socially responsible manner,
winemakers everywhere may join the push toward sustainable wine
Why didn’t someone think of VinoVenue in the heyday of Horn
& Hardart? Dubbing itself "San Francisco’s Ultimate
Wine Bar,” VinoVenue provides its customers with an automated
wine bar, featuring more than 100 wines. Purchase a VinoVenue tasting
card, insert it into the automated wine station, and out comes one
ounce of your wine of choice. As it registers your pours, the VinoVenue
card also archives the wines you’ve tasted for future reference.
The brainchild of financial planner Nancy Rowland and marketing
specialist Mary Lynn Slattery, VinoVenue is the first of a proposed
national chain. What else would you expect at the crossroads of
high tech and haute cuisine?
the Wine that Fits
Old history merges with a new trend at Thomas Winery in Rancho Cucamonga.
The winery is a California Historical Landmark designated as the
oldest winery in California and the second oldest in the nation,
but The Wine Tailor has recently opened up shop to give the old
location new life. Part winery, part wine shop and part wine bar,
The Wine Tailor offers an array of services. As a boutique winery,
it crafts wines from vineyards around the world including France,
Italy, Australia, South America and, of course, California. Those
wines are sold exclusively through the winery at $8-$15 on average,
under the label “Foothill Vineyards.” The wine bar allows
for visitors to taste and learn about wine making techniques while
finding a wine that suits their tastes. In addition, wine lovers
who want to experiment with making their own brand of wine can create
their own vintage in a personal fermenter. Each fermenter makes
about 29 bottles of wine. The customer adds yeast to the crushed
grape mix of their choice, then The Wine Tailor professionals look
after the process for four to six weeks. Finally, the customer is
able to cork and custom label his own wine. Custom-labeled wines
are also available for weddings, special events and as personalized
gifts. The new winery is open Tues.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat.,
11 a.m.-9 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-7 p.m. For more information, visit
Every three years, sommeliers from 43 countries converge in Greece
to compete against each other for the title of “Best Sommelier
of the World.” This year’s competition, held in October,
saw an American candidate make it for the very first time to the
finals! Herve Pennequin represented the United States. The French-born
aficionado came in first place as “Best Young Sommelier of
France” in 1989 and second place at that contest in 1994 before
relocating to the United States. This year’s international
competition started in Santorini with a lengthy written test that
covered subjects concerning beverages (wine mostly, but also coffee,
tea, water, liquors and spirits), cigars and gastronomy. The second
test was a blind tasting with written commentaries of two wines
in 20 minutes, followed by a session where the two wines were served
with a dish prepared for the occasion. All candidates had 10 minutes
to explain their choice of which wine to best suit the dish. In
the following days, the candidates participated in two more tests.
Then four finalists were selected to compete in a series of tests
within 30 minutes: a food and wine pairing (5 minutes); decantation
of a magnum of red Bordeaux and service for 2 clients (10 minutes);
blind tasting of three wines and two spirits (10 minutes with only
the kind and name of the spirits); and correction of an erroneous
wine list (5 minutes) with two questions at the end on cigars. In
the end, Enrico Bernardo of Italy won the title, but America’s
Pennequin proved to be a serious competitor and plans to enter the
competition again in 2007.
A revolution is sweeping across vineyards worldwide that may (we
hope!) be shaping the future of viniculture. Biodynamic and organically
produced fine wines are popping up in greater numbers, and while
the movement is forward-thinking, the method is, in fact, ancient.
Biodynamic viticulture, primarily influenced by the theories of
Rudolf Steiner, has been practiced in France for decades, and seeks
to create an individually unique ecosystem which is as self-sufficient
as possible with respect to the cycle of substances it requires.
It builds on the notion of "terroir," emphasizing that
the taste of wine can only be original if it is the full expression
of a specific place; hence, no harsh chemicals, only the nutrients
produced from composting will influence the taste of these wines.
The latest American enterprise to jump on the biodynamic bandwagon
is Santa Monica, Calif.-based Dynamic Imports Corp., joining Quintessa
and Araujo Estate in Napa Valley, Benziger Family Winery in Sonoma
County and Brick House Vineyards in Oregon. The company imports
and distributes the special wines in the U.S. through four domestic
labels (Barra of Mendocino, Yorkville Cellars, McFadden Farm and
Heller Estate), ten Italian wineries (Savian, Le Carline, Castello
di Arcano, Marina Sgubin, Distilleria Domenis, La Luna del Rospo,
Punset, Concadoro, La Spinosa and Il Conventino) and three Spanish
brands (Dionisos, Bodegas Palmera and Bodegas Bagordi). According
to company president Bruno Allaire, Dynamic believes that great
wines should focus on the vineyard rather than the winery and that
organic and biodynamic farming produces grapes that are superior
in nutritional content, higher in polyphenols and of deeper character
and complexity, which all combine to produce better wine.
on the Block
Three of America’s most experienced wine sellers are back
in the auction arena. Christie’s and Sotheby’s veterans
Michael Davis and Paul Hart, also one-time partners in Chicago-based
Davis & Company, have joined John Hart of John Hart Fine Wine
to form Hart-Davis-Hart Wine Company, a comprehensive service for
wine collectors. The new company offers its clients many unique
and personalized services, including a fully integrated website
that showcases the steady flow of rare wines handled by the auction
house; long-term temperature-controlled storage options; and the
opportunity to consign one’s entire collection through Hart-Davis-Hart.
Their first auction will be held at the University Club of Chicago
on January 29th, 2005. Auction consignments for the January 29th
sale will be accepted through November 19, 2004. Following that
event, the firm plans to hold one auction in the spring and two
in the fall of 2005. To order an auction catalogue, or for information
about selling wine, please contact Hart-Davis-Hart at 312-482-9996
or visit www.hdhwine.com.
Hart-Davis-Hart, 363 W. Erie St., Chicago, IL.
Penguin, Big Fun
What's more fun than a little penguin? How about Little Penguin
wines from Southcorp Wines, Australia's largest producer of premium
wine brands? The new line of Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet and Merlot
varietals are now available in retail outlets across the United
States, priced at approximately $7 for a 750 ml. bottle and $13
for 1.5 liters. The Penguins target a younger crowd via the brand's
humorous penguin-themed website and through a marketing campaign
that emphasizes that quality wine can be attractively priced: Little
Penguin wines are designed to be charming and approachable, just
like the little shorebird on the label. Southcorp Wines currently
markets Australian wines in the Americas under numerous well-known
labels: Penfolds, Rosemount Estate, Lindemans, Wynns Coonawarra
Estate, Seaview, Seppelt, Coldstream Hills and Devil's Lair. They
are also involved in a joint venture with the Robert Mondavi Family
to produce and market two new lines of wine; Kirralaa from Australia
and Talomas from California. Visit www.thelittlepenguin.com
for purchasing information or to find out where the Little Penguin's
last been seen on the party circuit.
Buzz for Budweiser
Forget about a cup of coffee to wake the senses after last call,
Budweiser's new brew, Be, pronounced "B-to-the-e,"
merges an energy drink with a beer. Anheuser-Busch, the world’s
largest brewer, is launching the new caffeinated beer in November,
aimed at the 21 to 27 age group. The slimmed-down ten-ounce cans
will be sold for a premium at high-end bars and clubs with 6.6 percent
alcohol by volume, more than both Budweiser and low-carb phenomenon,
Michelob Ultra. In addition to its 54 mg of caffeine, the beer will
include ginseng and guarana, a Brazilian berry. While not short
on carbs or calories—22.5 g of carbohydrates and 203 calories—the
company is sure that the new brew’s fruity taste and energy
boost will be a fun alternative to trendy energy drink-based cocktails.
With approximately 30 brews sold in the U.S., only time will tell
what Anheuser-Busch will think of next.
Welcomes New Winemaker
winds of change are blowing over California wine estate, Quintessa,
as it welcomes Aaron Pott as the new head winemaker.
Formerly winemaker and general manager of St. Clement, the University
of Burgundy graduate specializes in Bordeaux grape varieties, having
worked at chateaux and estates in Bordeaux and Chile. Quintessa’s
winemaker since 2002, Sarah Gott, will continue working with Pott
and Michel Rolland as a consulting winemaker, while allowing more
time for her family. Quintessa joins Araujo Estate in Napa Valley,
Benziger Family Winery in Sonoma County and Brick House Vineyards
in Oregon as another American wine producer using biodynamic farming
practices. Several of France's largest producers have been using
biodynamic techniques for decades, a process that, according to
the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association of America “seeks
to actively work with the health-giving forces of nature.”
Biodynamic farmers analyze the land and determine what is out of
balance, working to turn the land into a self-sustaining, self-regulating
habitat. At Quintessa, this balancing act seeks to enhance vitality
in the soil with specially prepared compost teas applied in the
spring. Homeopathic preparations are made with minute amounts of
silica, chamomile, oak bark, stinging nettle, valerian and other
herbs to be sprayed on the foliage of the vines as the growing season
Collection Comes to New York
A valuable piece of wine history has landed on Manhattan’s
Upper West Side at Nice
Matin, where twenty-five mixed cases of Bordeaux, Burgundy and
German Riesling that once belonged to President John F. Kennedy
now reside in the restaurant’s wine cellar. The collection
of about 300 bottles includes 30 classified-growth Bordeaux bottlings.
Among them are Château Mouton-Rothschild 1864, 1874, 1893,
1934 and 1945; Château Margaux 1944 and 1949; Château
Latour 1865, 1954 and 1959; Château Lafite Rothschild 1899,
1944 and 1945; and Château Haut-Brion 1949 and 1955. The bottles
range in price from $200-$14,000, many of which have been re-corked
and resealed over the years. Sommelier Guy Goldstein receives calls
daily regarding the prized collection, with many requests to reserve
certain vintages. So far, the Château d’Yquem and Château
Latour 1959 have been among the Kennedy wines sold. Nice Matin plans
to auction off dinners that will include wines from the Kennedy
collection, with proceeds pegged for a prominent New York hospital,
Goldstein said, adding that the restaurant also plans to donate
some of the rare wines to charity.
Mick Fleetwood joins Jerry Garcia and Bob Dylan as the latest rocker
to have a wine label bearing his name. The drummer and cofounder
of legendary rock group Fleetwood Mac, has released his own signature
wine, as well as a new solo album. His first wine is a 1998 Cuvée,
which will sport the label, Mick Fleetwood Private Cellar wine.
Fleetwood chose winemaker Mike Brown to blend 25% Cabernet Franc
and 75% Merlot grapes from Westerly Vineyards in Santa Ynez for
his new label, which is 30-month aged in Oak Cast and aged an additional
18-months in the bottle. With about 6,000 cases made, the wine will
retail for around $30 around the country, with limited availability.
Fleetwood and business partner Jonathan Todd are working to find
unusual wines for the label by sampling wines from small producers.
Their aim is to have four bottlings, three red and one white, with
no more than 10,000 cases each.
Maximus, the Guinness Book of World Records’ certified World’s
Largest Wine Bottle, is making a coast-to-coast tour of 27 of the
61 Morton’s restaurants in the U.S., celebrating the steakhouse’s
25th anniversary with wine and food receptions. The bottle measures
4.5 feet tall and 4.5 feet around and has the capacity to hold more
than 173 standard bottles—the equivalent of 1200 glasses—of
wine. The massive bottle mold was built in the Czech Republic, then
four bottles were hand-blown from Simax™ glass. After the
final firings, one bottle was shipped to California, where it was
filled with Beringer’s 2001 Napa Valley Private Reserve Cabernet
Sauvignon, blended from seven Napa Valley vineyards. So how do you
stop up a bottle that big? With a huge cork—130 millimeters
by 75 millimeters wide and handmade in Portugal—finished with
a wax seal. Beringer will store the bottle, with its valuable vintage
contents, under ideal temperature and humidity conditions until
November, when it will be shipped for sale to Sotheby’s galleries
in New York. All of the auction proceeds will go to Share Our Strength,
one of the world’s leading hunger-fighting umbrella organizations.
For information on the tour and details about Maximus, visit www.mortons.com.
World Meets Wine World
five long years of construction and planning, Darioush,
a premium estate wine producer in Napa Valley, has created a piece
of Persia in the Napa Valley at its new visitor center and winery,
built with materials, castings and furnishings from distant lands
and exotic locations. The 22,000-square-foot winery combines architecture,
design and Persian—Iranian—culture, evoking Persepolis,
the illustrious capital of ancient Persia. Iranian-born owners Darioush
and Shahpar Khaledi came to Southern California in the late 1970s,
and have since garnered fans for their hand-crafted estate wines:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Viognier and Merlot.
The Visitor Center boasts a state-of-the-art facility offering a
unique one-on-one experience to taste the complete line of signature
wines, with options for indoor and outdoor seating. Six outdoor
water features with fountains and one indoor rolling wall of water
compliment the lush landscaping, which leads visitors to the winery.
The center, located at 4240 Silverado Trail in Napa, welcomes guests
daily from 10:30 a.m.-5p.m. For more information on wine tours and
tastings, please contact the winery’s concierge at 707-257-2345.
New Sparkle in Napa Valley
old is new again at Cliff Lede’s tasting room! Cliff Lede
Vineyards (pronounced "lady") has transformed the original
1913 craftsman-style bungalow into a state-of-the-art experience
with surrounding landscaped gardens, contemporary sculptures and
views of the Stags Leap Palisades. Now guests are invited to raise
a glass and relax as they enjoy the wines of Cliff Lede on the terrace
or in the spacious new tasting room, which is open from 10 a.m.
to 5p.m. daily. Public tours operate twice daily at 10:30 a.m. and
2:30 p.m., or visitors can arrange for private tours by appointment.
The company was established in 2002, when Lede, a Canadian businessman,
purchased S. Anderson Vineyard, a family-owned producer of still
and sparkling wines founded in 1971. Aside from producing his own
vintages, Cliff Lede continues to turn out the vintage-dated S.
Anderson sparkling wines as well as the winery’s flagship
rejoice! Crushpad, a San Francisco community winery, is opening
its doors to up-and-coming vintners, restaurateurs, professional
winemakers and wine enthusiasts, where the goal of creating your
own premium wine becomes attainable. The winery provides complete
services from grape sourcing to winemaking to bottling to marketing
and sales. The Custom Wine service is designed for non-traditional
winemakers who can work hand-in-hand with Crushpad staff and consulting
winemakers to define and create their wine. Customers can choose
from Crushpad’s grape sources of 12 growers in the North Coast
and Central Coast appellations, or bring their own, and are encouraged
to participate in the myriad decisions necessary during the process.
Professional winemakers can opt for the Custom Crush services, which
provide the facilities, equipment and labor that enable them to
create wines that reflect their fruit and winemaking style without
having to own and operate a physical winery. Lot sizes can be as
small as one barrel (25 cases) or as large as you want. The 5,000-square-foot
space in San Francisco's industrial SOMA district has room for 400
barrels and will have about 30 vats, ranging in size from 200 liters
to 1,600 liters. A refrigerated area will be used for cold soaks
and fermentation of white wines. With Crushpad’s help, anyone
can participate in the centuries-old practice of winemaking and
Drawn in to Napa Valley Winery Redesign
Kathryn and Craig Hall, who own Hall winery in St. Helena and Kathryn
Hall Vineyards in Rutherford, have tapped noted architect Frank
Gehry to redesign the Hall winery estate’s facility. Under
Gehry's plan, the 119-year-old wood and stone structure that has
been hidden behind sheet metal would be exposed and complemented
with glass and wood additions. The proposed project has yet to be
approved by Napa County’s planning commission. Gehry, who
has received acclaim for creations like the Jay Pritzker Pavilion
at Millennium Park in Chicago and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in
Los Angeles, would coordinate the winery project with St. Helena
architect Jon Lail, a spokesman for the winery said. Hall produces
bottlings from Napa and Sonoma county grapes.
Think Champagne can’t get more chic? Think again! Legendary
Champagne house Veuve Clicquot releases its newest vintage, La
Grande Dame 1996, dressed by none other than Emilio Pucci.
La Grande Dame is Clicquot’s most exclusive wine, made from
eight Grands Crus vineyards purchased by Madame Clicquot
and named after her, “La Grande Dame de la Champagne.”
“Just as Christian Lacroix plays with colors, shapes and textures
to reinterpret Emilio Pucci’s style,” says Jacques Péters,
Veuve Clicquot’s cellar master, “I myself play with
aromas, taste and textures to achieve the Clicquot style.”
Designer Emilio Pucci’s blend of brilliantly colored prints
and flowing fabrics revolutionized clothing design in the 1960s
and is still favored today by fashion-conscious women, for whom
this pairing would make a brilliant gift. The limited-edition bottle
and designer gift box are available nationwide in fall 2004 at fine
wine shops for $200.
Legend Dies At 92
French wine community lost one of its pioneers with the death of
Emile Peynaud, the noted oenologist and wine professor who helped
modernize Bordeaux and influence winemaking worldwide. Peynaud died
July 18 at age 92 after years of battling with Parkinson's disease.
During his 46-year-long career in wine, the University of Bordeaux
professor authored two famous books, The Taste of Wine
(1980) and Knowing and Making Wine (1982), as well as nearly
300 other scientific articles and books on tasting and oenology.
Throughout his career, Peynaud brought discipline to the wine practice,
changing the ways in which many proprietors made wine. He advocated
harvesting fully ripe grapes that would arrive at the winery in
a healthy and mature condition; aging the wine in clean oak barrels;
lowering the acid levels in the grapes and wines; and controlling
temperatures in the cellars throughout fermentation. He shared his
wine knowledge and methodology as a consultant outside of France
in California, Chile, Spain, Peru, Mexico and elsewhere. Peynaud
is survived by his wife, Yvonne; a son, Jean-Pierre; a daughter,
Danièle, and five grandchildren.
Up in Red: Bob Dylan, Winemaker
Dylan is making waves in the wine world, joining with Italian winemaker
Antonio Terni of Fattoria Le Terrazze winery in Italy's Marche region.
Together, they have produced the first bottles of Dylan’s
Planet Waves signature label, a 2002 vintage blend of 75 percent
Montepulciano and 25 percent Merlot. Of the 415 cases produced,
125 will be exported to the United States in October, with a suggested
retail price of $65 per bottle. Planet Waves gets its name from
a 1974 Dylan album, which Terni says expresses two sides of Dylan's
personality: "It's severe and unpredictable like Montepulciano,
and soft and friendly like Merlot." Vintner Antonio Terni is
a long-time Dylan fan, having named a Fattoria Le Terrazze wine
Visions of J, after the Dylan song Visions of Johanna from his 1966
Blonde on Blonde album.
Valley Vintners Work To Crush Development In California Wilderness
in the Napa Valley will lobby federal lawmakers to secure the future
of Northern California’s wilderness areas. A delegation led
by Gene Kirkam, principle and founder of Casa Nuestra Winery and
Vineyards, and Amelia Ceja of Ceja Vineyards, has thrown its support
behind the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness
Act (H.R. 1501/ S. 738) to protect more than 300,000 acres of federal
land and 21 river miles of California’s remaining untouched
public lands and streams. The legislation is being backed by Sen.
Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Mike
Thompson (D-CA). Areas proposed for protection under the legislation
include Cedar Roughs in Napa County, home to the last wild black
bear population in Napa County, and the King Range in Humboldt and
Mendocino counties, the longest stretch of undeveloped beach and
coastal bluffs in the United Sates outside of Alaska. At present
only about 1% of California's rivers are protected with a “Wild
and Scenic” designation and only about 14% of California's
federal public lands are designated as wilderness.
Africa Adopts Biodiversity Initiative
boom in South African wine production, which represents three percent
of the world’s wine, has raised environmental concerns, as
vineyard expansion threatens one of the world’s valued plant
and animal reservoirs. Consequently, South African winemakers, in
response to a study by the Botanical Society of South Africa and
Conservation International, have teamed up with the environmental
sector to incorporate conscious biodiversity practices into the
wine industry. South Africa currently ranks as the eighth largest
wine producer in the world and as much as 90% of South Africa’s
wine production takes place in the Cape Floral Kingdom on South
Africa’s western cape, ranked as the smallest and richest
of the six recognized floral kingdoms worldwide. The Biodiversity
& Wine Initiative aims to minimize the loss of threatened natural
habitat and contribute to sustainable wine-producing practices.
The initiative will be funded by international donor organizations,
the wine industry, the private sector and local conservation organizations.
The South African wine industry plans to take the initiative’s
biodiversity measures mainstream by June 2006.
Gorge Becomes New AVA
Columbia Gorge that lies about 60 miles east of Portland, Oregon
becomes the newest American Viticultural Area, or AVA, on July 9.
That brings to 12 the number of AVA’s in Washington and Oregon
authorized by the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
The new appellation is located in Washington’s Skamania and
Klickitat counties and Oregon’s Hood River and Wasco counties.
Mark Wharry of the Columbia River Gorge Wine Growers Association
petitioned for the AVA that affects 24 growers and 4 wineries, including
Blue Dog Mead Company, Edgefield Winery, Erin Glenn Vineyards, Flerchinger
Vineyards and Hood River Vineyards in Oregon. In Washington, the
vintners are Cascade Cliffs, Columbia Gorge Winery & Klickitat
Canyon Wines, Chateau Champoux,Marshal’s Winery, Maryhill
Winery, Syncline Wine Cellars, Waving Tree Vineyard & Winery
and Wind River Cellars. Within the 280-square-mile appellation,
284 acres are planted to wine grapes.
25 , 2004
Meets Fork In The Road
future of interstate commerce hangs on a case headed to the Supreme
Court that could impact wine e-commerce. On one side, alcoholic
beverage wholesalers and distributors have argued that wine e-commerce
across state lines violates the 21st Amendment. Meanwhile, wine
producers claim the Constitution’s commerce clause prohibits
states from enacting measures that protect in-state interests from
outside competition. Since the birth of e-commerce, many states
have enacted bans on direct mail shipments of out-of-state wines.
Rulings by the 2nd and 7th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals have upheld
such bans while the 4th, 5th, 6th and 11th circuits have ruled in
favor of interstate trade. The Supreme Court is expected to reach
a decision on this case in 2005.
22 , 2004
Reason To Lift Your Glass
Researchers at the Universidade do Porto in Portugal are studying
the effects of certain phenols found in plant-based beverages, such
as red wine, beer and tea, on breast cancer. According to the American
Physiological Society, the research team found that breast cancer
cell growth slowed significantly in a cultured medium in the presence
of three phenolic compounds. The most effective phenol was the one
found in beer, but another compound, resveratrol, which is common
in red wine, also stunted cell growth. Still, the doctors cautioned
women against increasing their alcoholic consumption, because previous
studies have indicated that such behavior can heighten some women’s
risk for breast cancer.
Vintner Janet Trefethen won a ten-year campaign in February, when
the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau designated
the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley as the valley’s 14th
American Viticultural Area, or AVA. The Oak Knoll District lies
just north of Carneros, east of Mount Veeder and south of Yountville
and had been the only part of the competitive valley floor not designated
with an AVA. Trefethen Vineyards is one of 12 wineries to fall within
the district, joined by Andretti, Costello, Etude, Frisinger, Kate’s
Vineyard, Laird Family, Luna, Monticello Cellars, Koves-Newlan,
Silverado Hill Cellars and Van Der Heyden. About 40 grape growers
reportedly reside within the 8,300-acre appellation also. The wineries
began identifying the Oak Knoll District in late April.
And Your Health
Most of us know that the Mediterranean diet, by some considered
the healthiest of all, includes daily moderate wine consumption.
You might also be aware of some of the healthful components in wine
such as resveratrol. Beyond that the camps are divided on how healthy
a daily glass of wine actually is. According to a recent study authored
by Dieter Meyerhoff, a radiologist at the University of California,
San Francisco, moderate drinking doesn't cause brain damage, while
heavy drinking does. Light to moderate drinkers consume one to two
glasses per day. Heavy drinkers consume around 100 to 200 drinks
per month, and alcoholics generally have about 300 drinks per month.
According to another study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
might even be more important to health
than previously thought. Resveratrol activates the protein Sirt1,
which is linked to an extended lifespan in yeast and tiny worms.
So far they could not make this happen in people.
Last but not least, the French might decide once and for all that
wine is a food. The country's wine industry and a majority of its
legislators (in face of slumping wine sales) are pushing to reclassify
wine as a natural food.
The Carbs Out Of Grape Juice
United States is in the tight grip of low-carb mania, and it's here
to stay. A reported 59 million U.S. consumers are on the low-carb
diet now, and in the last quarter alone 586 new low-carb products
entered the market. Beer lovers are already counting their carbs
(funny, given that in the brew's home country, Germany, beer is
also known as "liquid bread"), and now it's time for the
wine industry to cash in on the trend.
week, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City started serving
the industry's first specifically low-carb wine, launched by Kentucky-based
Brown-Forman Wines, the nation's eighth-leading wine producer. The
names One.6 Chardonnay and One.9 Merlot communicate the respective
carb count of the wines.
two wines are produced specifically to have fewer carbohydrates
than other wines. Careful grape selection, dry fermentation, and
specific blending result in lower residual sugar, said winemaker
new development was made possible via a recent ruling by the Alcohol
and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which allows producers of
alcoholic beverages to include calorie and carbohydrate content
on their labels. In order to qualify for a low-carb label, a wine
can contain no more than 7 grams of carbohydrates per 5-ounce serving.
to the United States Department of Agriculture, a 3.5-ounce glass
of red wine has just about 1.8 grams of carbohydrates, while the
average glass of white wine has just 0.8 grams.
Chardonnay and One.9 Merlot will be available in stores throughout
the United States for about $10 a bottle.
The Wine Biz Upside Down - Literally!
to the South for Premium Wines?
importer Southern Starz, under the direction of President and CEO
Ken Onish and Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Gorman,
recently brought ten of their top winemakers from Australia, New
Zealand and South Africa to the United States for a coast-to-coast
tasting tour of the United States. The tastings impressed all who
attended. The wines are available at Southern Hemisphere Wine Center
in California, which sells the largest collection in the country
of exclusively Southern Hemisphere wines.
shop was created by native South African John Gorman to re-introduce
America to the wines of his home country after apartheid sanctions
were lifted. He later decided to expand his venture to include wines
from Argentina, Australia, Chile and New Zealand. They have been
able to build a top portfolio of value priced wine such as Fairview
"The Beacon" Shiraz 2002, possibly one of the greatest
South African Shiraz to date, or the Spy Valley Gewürztraminer
2003, one of the top white wines from New Zealand for the 2003 vintage.
and his team travel abroad several times a year to meet and talk
with the winemakers they represent, taste their latest offerings
and stay current on the Southern Hemisphere industry. That practice
leads to a very knowledgeable staff and careful relationships with
has a different palate and we strive to create a relationship with
that palate. Ratings and scores are helpful to consumers but should
not qualify a wine," says Gorman.
offerings from Sherwood Estate & Zenith, New Zealand (Dayne
Sherwood is one of the early pioneers of Pinot Noir in NZ), Konrad
from New Zealand, Simonsig Estate, South Africa (a legend in the
South African wine industry), as well as Bleasdale, Ross Estate,
R.L. Buller & Son, Nugan Estate and Margan Estate from Australia.
France To Reform Appellation System
France is considering a radical reform of its 70-year-old appellation
system to boost slumping wine sales and regain credibility and consumers'
confidence. The idea to add super appellations above the current
AOCs, called Appellations d’Origine Contrôllées
d’Excellence (AOCEs) was presented by René Renou, president
of the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO). For
a wine to be eligible for the higher classification, it'd have to
meet extremely rigorous requirements. The goal of the overhaul is
to create a clearer picture for wine drinkers amid an appellation
jungle and to regain France's status as fine-wine leader.
International Screwcap Closure Symposium
first International Screwcap Closure Symposium will be held in Marlborough
November 2004. The event will bring together international speakers
and experts to examine the latest developments in wine closure,
evaluate wines sealed with screw caps, take a look at current winemaking
technology relating to the use of screwcaps etc. Find out more on
the website of the New Zealand Screwcap Wine Seal Initiative.
The First-Ever Premium Sparkler with a Crown
Speaking of alternative wine closures, Domaine Chandon in Australia
has released the first ever high-caliber sparkler with a beer-bottle
top. The stainless steel crown on Chandon's Chandon Z*D Vintage
2000 is intended to prevent cork taint.
Pretty: The Sofia Mini
in an aluminum can? Yes, and you can lower your brow again. It's
a sexy little red can and it holds Niebaum-Coppola's Sofia Mini
Blanc de Blancs. The purists among you might shy away in horror,
but this wine has a specific target: basically the "Sex and
the City" kind of girl (or guy). "Impromptu, impetuous,
and passionate," (their words) like director Francis Ford Coppola's
daughter, director Sofia Coppola (who garnered rave reviews worldwide
for her "Lost in Translation"), the wine offers a single
serving of Pinot Blanc with refreshing fruit notes. Serve it at
your next hip film release or art show with chèvre-stuffed
mushrooms, Roquefort fig bruschetta, California rolls, or crispy
Thai spring rolls. So far, Niebaum-Coppola
produced 5,000 cases. The cans retail for $5 each, or $20 for a
four-pack. Visit www.sofiamini.com.
Hunting for Wine... and Vice Versa
you hunt? Then you may be in the target group for Wild Game Blends,
a collection of hunters' wines issued by California's River Wild
Winery, in collaboration with Mossy Oak. The two came up with four
wines that were "handcrafted to be the perfect complement for
your wild game." After all, a fresh kill ought to be properly
"Made by a team of American Sportsmen for the American Sportsman,"
the wines include the 2000 Trout Blend, 2000 Turkey Blend, 2000
Venison Blend and 2000 Waterfowl Blend. The Venison Blend, for instance,
with a predominance of Cabernet Sauvignon, is said to also pair
well with elk, antelope or a well-marbled rib eye steak.
want to we want to revolutionize the way wine is sold in this country,"
says owner Gary Verboon. "The wines have been selling well
in Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee."
need to track any trophies. You can just order them.
State Vintners Accept Buyout Offer from The Wine Group
Golden State Vintners,
Inc., one of the largest suppliers in the United States of premium
wines, is inches away from merging with The Wine Group LLC.
Golden State Vintners ("GSV") has accepted a buyout offer
from The Wine Group LLC ("TWG") to acquire GSV at a cash
price of $7.75 per fully diluted share. The deal is worth about
$100 million, including $72 million in cash and $29 million of assumed
The deal was higher than a sweetened offer from a group led by Golden
State Chief Executive Jeffrey O'Neill. The merger will finalize
by the end of July.
The San Francisco-based The Wine Group is the nation's third largest
wine producer and produces brands such as Concannon, Glen Ellen,
Corbett Canyon, Franzia, Foxhorn, Mogen David, Casarsa, Austin Vale,
Morassutti and Tribuno.
Southcorp Launches Casual New Brand: The Little
Australia's largest winemaker and producer of premium wines,
will release a casual new brand, the Little Penguin, in the
North American market. The range will consist of four single-varietal
wines (Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon),
which will be available in both 750ml and 1.5L formats. The
Little Penguin wines will be available from July in stores,
priced at about $7 for a750 ml and $13 for 1.5L. They are
aimed at "consumers who look for new and different brands,
both in wines and in other areas of their lives. They will
"appeal to those who are not necessarily interested in
the legacy of a winery or a vineyard's terroir, but want to
pick up 'something fun'", said Senior Vice President
of Marketing Doug Rogers.
Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are all made in a fruit-forward
style. Lush fruit flavors dominate the senses and the wines
have a clean finish. The Little Penguin Chardonnay shows bright
fresh tropical fruits with hints of melon and pineapple. The
Shiraz is a dense magenta color, with notes of chocolate and
berries on the palate. The Merlot is bright red in color,
with ripe strawberries and juicy blueberry flavors leading
to a smooth finish. The Cabernet Sauvignon is a dark ruby
color with a fresh red bell pepper nose with hints of juicy
red cherries and soft background tannins.
owns labels such as Penfolds, Rosemount Estate, Lindemans,
Seaview, and Devil's Lair and is also involved in a joint
venture with the Robert
Mondavi Family on Kirralaa
from Australia and Talomas
Are Getting Screwy for Pepi and R.H. Phillips
hotly debated screw cap closures are here to stay. Pepi
Winery has announced that it will send the traditional
corkscrew straight to the dustbin of contraption history.
Beginning this month, the entire lineup of Pepi wines - including
its Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Sangiovese
– will feature Stelvin screw caps.
R.H. Phillips Winery is also switching its entire line
to screw caps. They have chosen a Torqued On Pilfer Proof
(TOPP) closure. This sheath cap produced by Global Cap in
England has never before been used to seal wine.
One of the winery's goals with the new closures is to be even
more user-friendly and "demystify wine for our consumers,"
said R.H. Phillips co-founder Lane Giguiere.
Goodbye, cork? That nasty little infection 2,4,6-Trichloranisole
(TCA) has made its mark, and folks are dissing cork in
favor of caps. Are you? Master Sommelier Fred Dame
tackles the issue.
Power at Mondavi
the first time in Mondavi winemaking and –selling history
the family has given up the helm of the company. While the
Mondavis maintain a controlling interest, it is outsiders
that are making decisions at the Robert Mondavi Corporation,
one of the most widely recognized labels in the world selling
in more than 80 countries such wines as the supermarket-brand
Woodbridge and the high-profile Opus one.
Earlier this year, Michael Mondavi stepped down from his position
as chairman, to "spend more time in the marketplace with
key distributors, retailers, and restaurateurs." He is
succeeded by Ted Hall, general partner of Long Meadow Ranch,
an organic farm in the Napa Valley, and president of Long
Meadow Ranch Winery. Under the new structure, Michael assumed
the title of Vice Chairman along with his brother, Timothy
J. Mondavi, who continues in his role as winegrower.
decision followed on the heels of Robert Mondavi himself leaving
the board late last year to continue in a role of consultant
and chairman emeritus. The change meant a crucial moment in
the winery's history: it was the first time that a Mondavi
was not steering the company.
These aren't the only leadership changes. Opus One, the Napa
Valley venture between Robert Mondavi Winery and French company
Baron Philippe de Rothschild, until recently only had co-CEOs.
With the appointment of David Pearson, who was given sole
responsibility for the partnership, it has reached a new level
of autonomy. Co-CEOs Peter Ventura (representing Mondavi)
and Douglas Morton (representing Rothschild) stepped down.
Further, Opus One got a new head winemaker in Michael Silacci.
Previously Tim Mondavi and Patrick Léon, winemaker
for Château Mouton-Rothschild, shared that position
until Léon retired. Tim will stay on as a consultant.
In further news, Mondavi's Chilean venture Vina Caliterra
bought out Mondavi's 50-percent stake.
Valley Wine Auction
Annual Napa Valley Wine Auction, the world's largest charity
wine event, will be held at Meadowood Napa Valley, June 3-6.
Themed Isn't it Romantic? A Sparkling Toast to Napa!"
( inspired by the 1930's & 1940's Broadway tunes of Cole
Porter, George and Ira Gershwin and Irving Berlin) it celebrates
the beauty and spirit of the Napa Valley. The Auction has
donated nearly $50 million since its inception in 1981, with
over $6.5 million distributed last year alone to local non-profit
healthcare, housing and youth development organizations in
Napa County. It attracts nearly 1,800 attendees from throughout
the world. Go
here for festival details.
du Vin is a new weekly newsletter we like for its quality
content. Publisher Mickey Butts scours the world wide wine
world to " give you an understanding of the land, vines,
winemakers and cultures that produce great wine." The
current issue features articles such as "Wise Man of
Wine," in which Tim Atkins "reveals 25 truths gleaned
from his 20 years of sniffing, swirling and spitting"
or Memories of Barbera's Past and The Wines of Alsace. The
newsletter is named after the famous wine-touring routes of
Phillips Launches Russian River Valley Chard
R.H Phillips is expanding its line with the addition of the
first vintage of Toasted
Head Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley. Director
of Winemaking Barry Berkman describes it as having "apple
and citrus blossom aromas with hints of cinnamon and clove
spice. The mouth feel is very rich, with apple, pear and citrus
zest. Light oak flavors are integrated with delicate vanilla
and caramel notes, leading to a long finish of spiced pears."
Head is the winery's best-selling wine the U.S. The Russian
River Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA), with the unique
feature of blankets of coastal fog slowing the maturation
of the grapes, is famous for the high quality of its Chardonnay
Phillips, founded by John, Karl and Lane Giguiere in 1981,
produces four lines: Toasted Head, EXP, Kempton Clark and
R.H. Phillips value-priced classic varieties. The letters
T.H., for which toasted Head is named, indicates that the
heads of the barrels used for aging the wine are toasted.
Roederer Buys Domaines Ott
Ott, one of the most prestigious wine houses in Provence has
been taken over by Champagne house Louis Roederer. Maison
Ott, famous for its Rosé Coeur de Grain, consists of
three domains, Château de Selle, Clos Mireille (in the
Côtes de Provence appellation) and Château Romassan
(in the heart of the Bandol appellation). Louis Roederer now
holds a controlling share of 66 percent.
Graff Joins Napa Cellars Winery
Cellars Winery in Oakville has nabbed Todd Graff, who's
been crafting sparkling wine in the traditional French méthode
champenoise for Frank
Family Vineyards since the fall of 2003, to be their winemaker.
Graff will be in charge of winemaking for both properties.
Graff, a UC Davis graduate, has a sparkling resume that includes
Schramsberg Vineyards, Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Stags Leap
and the former Codorniu Napa.
small 9,000-case Napa Cellars Winery produces Chardonnay,
Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and a late-harvest
Issues Further Whites from Australia's Deakin Estate
up on a mid-2002 release of Deakin Estate offerings, Freixenet
USA is introducing a 2003 Sauvignon Blanc ($9) and a new 2002
vintage Chardonnay ($9). The new releases complement the Australian
winery's other single-varietal offerings in the US, which
include Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (all priced
at $9). Deakin Estate wines are produced at Red Cliffs in
North West Victoria, Australia.
is among the ten largest wine companies in the world. Owned
and operated by the Ferrer family of Sant Sadurní d'Anoia,
near Barcelona, Spain, the Freixenet Group is comprised of
fine still and sparkling wine estates in Spain, France, Australia,
Mexico and California. The Freixenet Group produces over 100
wines under more than 15 brands and markets them in over 140
countries. Imported by Freixenet USA of Sonoma, California,
wines produced by the Freixenet Group are sold in all 50 states.
Launches Largest West Coast Winery
Herzog Wine Cellars is marking its 20th year anniversary with
the groundbreaking of its new Oxnard, California-based winery,
making it the largest, new winery on the West Coast since
the winery boom of the '90s. The new Herzog Wine Cellars
winery will also be the largest facility that produces kosher-certified
wines on the West Coast once it opens in the fall of 2004.
In addition, it will be the largest plant producing dry varietal
wines that are kosher-certified in North America.
parent company, Royal Wine Corp., produces kosher-certified
wines throughout the world. The company is owned by the Herzog
family, whose winemaking roots date back to 19th century Europe.
The Herzog family, now its eighth generation, continues to
direct the company's day-to-day operations. The company, based
in Bayonne, N.J., has produced Herzog California wines since
1984, blending and bottling its last five vintages at a small
winery in Santa Maria, CA.
new Oxnard facility will feature a new high-tech computer
system that will help control fermentation temperature. Warming
tanks will be installed to spur fermentation and to promote
malolactic fermentation, which occurs during warmer temperatures.
A more automated, high speed bottling line will be added to
the new facility as well. An expanded aging room will provide
greater temperature and humidity control during the barrel
aging process. An in-house laboratory will allow for more
in-depth, readily available analyses of wine samples. A 50,000-gallon
blending tank will make blending of wines easier and more
efficient. The winery's expanded, temperature-controlled warehouse
storage area will help maintain the quality of Herzog wines
even after the wines are bottled.
Herzog's winemaker, Joe Hurliman, and executive winemaker,
Peter Stern, will continue to manage all winemaking efforts
at the new winery.
Longtime Spago Master Sommelier and vintner Michael Bonaccorsi
died of a heart attack this past week at the age of 43. The
popular young winemaker was highly regarded in wine circles.
He became the twentieth American to be awarded the Master
Sommelier Diploma. In 1994, he accepted the position of sommelier
He also offered consultation and staff training at many of
Wolfgang Puck's other restaurant properties including Granita,
Palo Alto, Spago
on Main, and the Wofgang
Puck Cafés. In 1999, his love for Burgundy- and
Rhône-style wines prompted him to form Bonaccorsi Wine
Company to produce wine of his own. Bonaccorsi Winery produces
limited quantities of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah rendered
in the style and spirit of a small Burgundy domaine.
Stackhouse Named La Crema Winemaker
Crema Winery has a new winemaker in Melissa Stackhouse. She
will oversee all aspects of winemaking at the family-owned
Russian River estate, which specializes in handcrafted, Burgundian
style Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from cool climate vineyards
along the Sonoma Coast. Stackhouse joined La Crema in February
2000 as Associate Winemaker. Prior to La Crema, Stackhouse
worked with Peter Michael Winery, Hardy's Tintara Winery in
McLaren Vale, South Australia and Joseph Phelps Vineyards.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Viticulture and
Enology from the University of California, Davis. During her
years at Davis, she held positions at Sterling Vineyards and
Robert Mondavi Winery.
Eberle Viognier Ranks High
Winery ranks among the top 15 award-winning wineries in
California for the third year in a row, according to California
Wine Winners 2004. Gary Eberle's Viognier was selected as
the highest award-winning Viognier in California for the second
time and as a whole, the winery made 11th best. Eberle Winery
was established in 1979 and currently produces 25,000 cases
of wine per year from its Paso Robles, California Estate vineyards.
Frank O. Gehry to Design the Hotel Marqués
de Riscal in Spain
at the end of 2005 in Elciego, south of Bilbao, Spain, the
Hotel Marqués de Riscal will be designed by Frank O.
Gehry, who is best-known for Bilbao's landmark Guggenheim
Museum and most recently L.A.'s Disney
Concert Hall. It will be a part of the Marqués
de Riscal winery, the oldest winery in the Rioja region
of the Basque Country, and its design will incorporate Gehry's
signature swathes of titanium, which will be layered over
stone. The hotel will provide an interesting contrast to the
vineyards and existing 19th-century sandstone structures.
The avant-garde complex will include a wellness center, banquet
hall in the former ancient cellar and a wine museum. The hotel
will be part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts' European Luxury
Collection. Visit www.starwood.com.