Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Wed, 02 Sep 2015 06:56:07 -0400 Wed, 02 Sep 2015 06:56:07 -0400 Snooth Japanese Tax Authorities Establish Labeling Rules for Domestic Wines James Duren <p>Japan&#39;s National Tax Authority is getting territorial about its wines.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This past week, the governing board established a new regulation that will require all wines labeled as &ldquo;Japanese wines&rdquo; to meet two requirements: that the wines are made of domestically harvested grapes, and that the wines are produced from start to finish in Japan.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> An article this past week from the <em>Napa Valley Register</em> highlighted the new regulation, pointing out that the new rule will elevate Japanese wines.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Even though about 75 percent of grapes or concentrated grape juice used to make Japanese wine are imported, such wine is considered to be domestically produced,&rdquo; the story said. &ldquo;Wineries that use only domestically harvested grapes welcome the new standard as they believe it will promote Japanese wines.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> As the previous quote shows, the regulation will pose a problem for &ldquo;Japanese&rdquo; wines whose wines use a foreign-majority mix of grapes or concentrated grape juice. In this sense, the regulation is a logical conclusion in a country where wines made from Japanese grapes share the same designation as wines made from grapes sourced from outside of the country.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Tax Authority&#39;s decision comes at an important time in Japanese wine history. The timing of the decision may very well be part of the motivation to set a standard which will, presumably, govern the wine industry for years to come: The county&#39;s trading volume of domestic and imported wines has increased each year for the past seven years.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In fact, the country&#39;s 2013 numbers hit heights that hadn&#39;t been seen in the country since 1998.</div><br /> <br /> The <em>Register </em>said this is an indication that wines are making their way into &ldquo;general households.&rdquo;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Japan&#39;s Tax Authority did a survey and found that &ldquo;between 30 percent and 90 percent&rdquo; materials used for wine production at medium and large wineries were imported.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Though the foreign-sourced wines aren&#39;t, according to the new regulation, &ldquo;authentic&rdquo; Japanese wines, they do play an important role in keeping the shelves stocked with enough wine for the public&#39;s growing affinity for the corked stuff.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The regulation also comes with a fine for winemakers who are in violation of any of the rules associated with the new standard. Offended parties may have to pay up to about $4,000 for their violations. There also is the possibility that they could lose their production license.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> One winemaker exec wondered if the new rule will cause consumers to think that wines made from foreign-sourced grapes are of a lesser quality than homegrown bottles.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>halfrain</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Tue, 01 Sep 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6641 Georgian Wines Grabbing American Headlines James Duren <p>They&#39;re full of syllables, history and intrigue, and they&#39;re fast becoming one of the favorite dark-horse wines of the year.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This past Saturday, <em>The Washington Post </em>reporter Dave McIntyre presented a well-worded defense of the validity of Georgian wines as formidable quaffers for the Western world. His premise was simple and stated in his headline: Why drink Georgian wines? Because they&#39;re exciting.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The country offers everything a modern wine geek could ask for: native vinifera grape varieties grown almost nowhere else; modern-style wines that capture those grapes&rsquo; fruity flavors;&rdquo; McIntyre wrote, &ldquo;and wines fermented the way Georgians have done it for centuries, offering us a taste of the past.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Over the past year or so, Georgian wines have popped into the collective consciousness of the wine world for two main reasons: <em>qveri</em>, the ancient clay pots in which many Gerogian wines are fermented; and the country&#39;s claim as the birthplace of wine.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> And who can argue the charm of an upstart country who, in the midst of its heavyweight Old World counterparts, plays the ultimate trump card, &ldquo;We invented wine,&rdquo;?</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Yet the appeal of the country&#39;s wines also have a great advantage for penny-pinchers &ndash; their wines are relatively inexpensive.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Along with the history, the method, the claim and the price tag, Georgian wines have also played an important part of Orange wine, the niche white wine that has become the darling of discerning palates who, in some cases, have deemed the wines more interesting than Ros&eacute;s.</div><br /> <br /> For the uninitiated, Orange wines gained their name not by virtue of being created from oranges, but because the white wine is fermented in its skins to produce an amber-orange color.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Also working to Georgian wines&#39; advantage is that they are available in the United States. McIntyre pointed out that the country&#39;s rkatsiteli and mtsvane white varietals and the red saperavi varietal are the most popular in the U.S.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The reporter said Georgian reds may find their footing here because they are sweet and sweet reds are &ldquo;in vogue nowadays.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The wine also boasts some &ldquo;savory&rdquo; notes with elements of &ldquo;tobacco leaf.&rdquo; He went as far as to say that the wines are reminiscent of Loire Valley Cab Francs.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In the end, the wines have the distinct advantage over other up-and-comers as well as the gatekeepers: &ldquo;a taste that spans centuries of history, and a whiff of ancient origins.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>kashmirhare</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Tue, 01 Sep 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6640 One Year Anniversary of Napa Quake Brings Memories, Shakes James Duren <p>In many ways, everything you need to know about the one-year anniversary of the 6.0-magnitude earthquake that shook America&#39;s most prestigious wine region is captured in the lead photo for the <em>Napa Valley Register&#39;s</em> Aug. 23 story about the infamous event.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The scene is a warehouse. A lone Toyota Forklift with a gray safety cage and orange body is sitting in the middle of the room surrounded by a violent tangle of dark-colored wine racks and an Escher-like maze of light-colored wine barrels bound by silver bands of metal.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Small flows of ruby-colored wine run across a gray floor.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The scene almost looked staged; but as Napa&#39;s wine community knows, there wasn&#39;t anything rehearsed about the Aug. 24, 2014 earthquake.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;An estimated 60 percent of area wineries suffered some degree of damage in the disaster, with losses at more than $80 million,&rdquo; reporter Jennifer Huffman wrote, quoting Napa Valley Vintners Communication Director Patsy McGaughy. &ldquo;Today, all are believed to be back in business, with plans for the new harvest.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Camaraderie was a big part of the clean-up and recovery effort, McGaughy said. Winemakers worked together to make sure those who&#39;d fallen &ndash; both figuratively and literally &ndash; could back on their feet and do what they love: Make great wine.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;We have empathy for anyone still suffering or recovering, but we&rsquo;ve been so fortunate in the wine industry, things feel like they are back to normal,&rdquo; said McGaughy. &ldquo;We are already in the throes of harvest 2015. Business goes on.&rdquo;</div><br /> <br /> Several winemakers who sustained damage to their facilities during the quake have become much more aware of the dangers of having loose barrels on racks and have secured their prized possessions by strapping them down &nbsp;in the event another tremor hammers Napa.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>SFGate</em> reported that residents of Napa were scheduled to gather for a ceremony commemorating the quake. The event&#39;s name was named &ldquo;Napa Strong 6.0/365&rdquo;.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to <em>SFGate</em>, the event was scheduled to take place at the City of Napa&#39;s Veterans Park at 3:20 p.m.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Perhaps ironically, the U.S. Geological Survey said that a magnitude 3.9 earthquake rattled Sonoma County this past Sunday morning, just one day before the Napa anniversary.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Officials said the epicenter of the quake was located in the Geysers region, an area known to be geologically active. No injuries or damage as a result of the quake were reported.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>James Gunn</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6639 Seattle Foodie Site Crowns Pair of New Wine Neighborhoods James Duren <p>Washington wines have long been a major player in the United States wine scene, vaulting themselves from relative obscurity in the late 80&#39;s to the forefront of some of the country&#39;s best quaffers in the 2000&#39;s.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Wine-crazy towns like Yakima and Walla Walla are popular stopping points for wine lovers.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> But for as much as the home of Puget Sound has wowed us with their wines, the state&#39;s wine-centric neighborhoods have, for the most part, taken a back seat to the oenophilic prowess of big cities like New York.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> However, this past weekend, <em>Seattle Refined</em>, a foodie site dedicated to the cuisine of Washington&#39;s largest city, gave readers from Washington and beyond a peek into two of the city&#39;s most vibrant wine communities: Georgetown and SoDo.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Slowly and methodically, Georgetown and SoDo have been staking their claim as &nbsp;a wine destination on their own,&rdquo; contributor Frank Guanco wrote.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Much of the ballyhoo over the two neighborhoods started when popular Washington winery Charles Smith opened Charles Smith Jet City, an urban winery located alongside a Boeing landing strip.&nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Yet the glitzy new winery is just part of a larger movement that&#39;s launching Georgetown and SoDo into conversations about Washington&#39;s wine hot-spots.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Judy Elsom opened Elsom Cellars in SoDo (Guanco lauded her 2009 Horse Heaven Hills Malbec), just a few blocks from beloved wine shop Esquin, which is just a short walk from the neighborhood&#39;s Garagiste wine shop and warehouse.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> Georgetown is pulling its weight in the climb to the top with it&#39;s own set of wineries. Bartholew Winery and Cloudlift Cellars are must-visits, Guanco said, as is Jack&#39;s BBQ, a haven not for wine but for delicious barbecue.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Other highlights from the up-and-coming neighborhood are winemaker Ben Smith&#39;s Cadence (restraint is his strength, the article said) and Paul Zitarelli&#39;s Full Pull Wines, the innovative wine shop where all communication about sales and subscriptions take place through email.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Scarborough and Kerloo Cellars are also part of Georgetown&#39;s thriving wine scene. Kerloo Cellars, like Charles Smith Jet City, is a newcomer to the area but a welcomed addition to the community&#39;s wine ranks.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;While answering the question if Georgetown or SoDo is the next hotbed in the Pacific Northwest akin to Woodinville, Walla Walla, the Willamette Valley, or Yakima,&rdquo; Guanco wrote, &ldquo;these neighborhoods have wineries and shops to be destination-worthy in their own right. Cheers to that.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>ArtBrom</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6638 Warmer Climate Not a Bad Omen for Swiss Winemakers James Duren <p>The effects of global warming have already caught the attention of the world&#39;s wine enthusiasts.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Scorching temperatures and drought have wracked regions and vineyards in California and Australia, causing the two countries to address the need for better water management and explore the benefits of dry farming.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> However, the colder wine regions of the world are counting their blessings &ndash; warmer climates mean a better future for their grape harvests.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This past week Swiss news site <em>The Local</em> talked with Swiss agriculture expert Vivian Zufferey about the anticipated benefits of a warming weather in the normally chilly interior of Switzerland.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Zufferey told <em>The Local</em> that global warming is &ldquo;a positive overall for Swiss wine growers because it guarantees better maturation, especially for late harvest grape varieties.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Over the past century, average temperatures in Switzerland have risen about 1.6 degrees Celsius.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The continued increase in heat means that winemakers must make decisions about what types of grapes they will grow.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While certain techniques for cooling grapes can be utilized for the plethora of cold-weather varietals the country grows, winemakers are already adjusting to the higher temps by planting grapes more suitable for warmer climates.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Switzerland&#39;s Valais region, the country&#39;s leading wine producer, is home to Syrah vines. There has also been talk that winemakers want to plant Cabernet Sauvignon, the legendary warm-weather champ.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> But the adjustments aren&#39;t stopping there &ndash; winemakers are taking a cue from Southern France and planting Merlot, too.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Other winemakers are starting to plant Pinot Noir in some of the country&#39;s higher elevations, soaking up the daytime sunshine but taking advantage of the cool mountain nights.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Yet this sense of innovation is tempered by a desire to produce quality wines with staying power.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;It is necessary to remain prudent because certain varieties are difficult when it comes to temperatures and we want a quality product ten years out of ten, not just for one or two years,&rdquo; Zefferey said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Along with the concern about quality is the unpredictable nature of a warmer planet. High temperatures may be good for the vines, but droughts and severe heat waves could ruin a harvest no matter how well the grapes are maturing.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Switzerland&#39;s measured enthusiasm about global warming is not unlike the hopeful curiosity of winemakers in Scandinavia, where Swedish producers are hoping warmer summers mean they can start planting warm-weather varietals that have otherwise been impossible to plant.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Kosala Bandara</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons&nbsp;</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6637 Bulgaria Says 2015 Grape Harvest Will Be Double the Fun James Duren <p>You may not put much thought to wines made between Germany and Russia, but Bulgaria is hoping you might reconsider your position.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The spunky little Eastern Europe country turned a few heads this past week when National Vine and Wine Chambe Chairperson Radoslav Radev said this year&#39;s harvest will be twice the total it was this past year.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The news was reported on Novonite, the news site for the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. The site said that, according to Radev, &ldquo;the expectations are both for good quantity and good quality of the grape harvest.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This wouldn&#39;t be the first time a wine region or national wine exec has called his region or country&#39;s shots before the grapes are picked. However, this may be the first time you&#39;ve read of optimistic harvest prognostications from Bulgaria.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The country produced 100 million kilograms of wine in 2014. The 2015 total, therefore, is expected to flirt with 200 million kilograms.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A big harvest has several benefits for the average Bulgarian wine drinker. First, wine prices are expected to drop this fall because the supply will be so prolific. Second, there should be more white wine on tap in the future because Bulgarian&#39;s are starting to develop an affinity for the pale stuff.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> However, the news of a good harvest is set against a tough year for the small country&#39;s wine market.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> Though the country is not included on Russia&#39;s list of embargoed exporters, its wine shipments to the northern neighbor have dropped 60 percent since the autumn of 2013.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Furthermore, Bulgaria&#39;s agriculture department doesn&#39;t consider the wine sector to be a priority, so winemakers have been plying their trade without the help of government subsidies.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> These factors haven&#39;t stopped Bulgarians from drinking a formidable amount of wine, though.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> At 15 liters of wine per person per year, Bulgaria is a quaffing superstar amid the tepid tastes of the former Soviet states of Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> However, the country&#39;s thirst for wine trails far behind neighbors Romania, Greece and Macedonia.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Bulgarian&#39;s may actually drink more than 15 liters per year, though.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The country is also home to an enthusiastic segment of winemakers who craft their own quaffers, according to Radev. Between 30 and 50 percent of the country&#39;s wine grapes are processed outside of licensed wineries, lending more evidence to the idea that 15 liters per year, per Bulgarian is a conservative estimate.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo credit: <a href=""><strong>tribp</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6636 Brits Say Hello Prosecco, Goodbye to Champagne James Duren <p>It&#39;s official &ndash; Britain&#39;s wine-drinking public have spoken about their sparkling wine of preference and the results are decidedly Italian.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the results of a study done by research company IRI, Prosecco sales rose a whopping 72 percent from the beginning of the year to mid-July. The grand total of purchases was more than $400 million.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> IRI analyst Toby Magill told <em>The Guardian</em> that the popularity of the Italian bubbly comes down to a pair of timeless principles: it&#39;s cheap and it&#39;s tasty.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Prosecco is a fashionable drink that provides a cheaper and excellent quality alternative to Champagne,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s no wonder that it now outpaces Champagne in value as well as volume and is being chosen above champagne at weddings. It&rsquo;s quickly becoming the nation&rsquo;s summer drink of choice.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Compared to Prosecco&#39;s phenomenal rise in sales, Champagne sales seemed a bit banal. According to the IRI study, &nbsp;the French legend&#39;s total sales numbers rose just a hiccup: 1.2 percent for the year to date. Sales topped out around $375 million.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Prosecco also led the way in liters sold, skyrocketing 78 percent in the past six months. Champagne, on the other hand saw a slight drop in liters sold. The final numbers? A difference of more than 27 million liters: 37.3 million liters to 9.8 million liters.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While overall Champagne sales were sluggish compared to it&#39;s Italian counterparts statistics, IRI noted that not all hope was lost for French producers.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Top of the top-selling brands in the country &ndash; Moet and Lanson &ndash; were able to increase their sales as their bubbly brethren faltered.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> Experts say the fact that these two brands maintained growth while other brands fell behind is an indication that consumers may be moving away from bargain Champagne brands and choosing more affordable Proseccos instead.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The rise of the Italian quaffer in Britian hasn&#39;t come without its small disputes, though. Earlier this year, <em>The Independent</em> (U.K.) reported that Prosecco producers were souring on bars who were offering Prosecco on tap, saying the practice violated specific EU rules which stated that Prosecco was to be sold exclusively in bottles.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The small skirmish was just a bump in the road for Prosecco sales, though. England was the top consumer of Prosecco this past year.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The article noted that England&#39;s thirst for the Italian bubbly was expressed well by the cost of department store Marks and Spencer&#39;s most popular brand of Prosecco, Conte Priuli. The $18-per-bottle quaffer&#39;s demand rose 268 percent in one year.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>the_moment</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Flickr Creative Commons</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6635 The Top Secret Chardonnay Files Claudia Angelillo <p><div><br /> Are thoughts of Thanksgiving Pinot starting to dance in your head? It&rsquo;s not time for that just yet. But when the holiday wine planning finally begins, there&rsquo;s a good chance you&rsquo;ll be thinking about Oregon&rsquo;s Willamette Valley. Established in 1984 (and now consisting of six sub-regions), the Willamette Valley AVA has consistently garnered accolades for its strong showing in Pinot Noir. These are age-worthy, vanguard bottles that give Burgundy cause to shudder in its casks. The area is also known for its remarkably crisp Pinot Gris. But the Willamette Valley has been hiding something. It&rsquo;s something steely with characterful minerality and plenty of bright yellow fruit flavors. It&rsquo;s been right under your nose all along, and the history of its cultivation is just as complex and storied as the wine itself. It&rsquo;s time to get intimately acquainted with Willamette Valley Chardonnay.</div><br /> <br /> <em>Honey, almond, caramel and butterscotch aromas commingle with some Sherry-style savory notes of baked brie and pear.</em> These are the notes you will find in a 1992 Cristom Vineyards Willamette Valley Chardonnay. In 2015, this wine is a sublime example of venerable Chardonnay. The problem is, you may not be able to find it. (I was fortunate enough to score a rare glass.) While the Willamette Valley has been planting Chardonnay since wine grapes were introduced to the area in the 1960s, older vintages (like Cristom&rsquo;s 1992) are tucked away in cellars around the valley. Incredibly small lots were produced as winemakers struggled to get their formulas just right. The older bottles of Willamette Valley Chardonnay that still exist today are prized examples of thoughtful craft and dedication. Conversations between winemakers and nature can go on for decades. And in the mid-1960s, some of the Willamette Valley&rsquo;s Chardonnay grapes were crying out in frustration.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> But let&rsquo;s take a step back. What is Chardonnay, anyway? According to DNA fingerprinting, it&rsquo;s a cross between Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc. It&rsquo;s an Old World staple that has found a welcome home in the New World. However, as any sentient human being will understand, adapting to new circumstances can take time. Some rise to the occasion while others tarry behind. Still more will never be able to adjust to their new circumstances and return home. A few will get by with a little help from their friends. Wine grapes work the same way.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to Harry Peterson-Nedry, founder of Chehalem Vineyards, &ldquo;The right variety and clones in the wrong place miss ascendancy, as do oak barrels and malolactic fermentation with poorly grown fruit.&rdquo; The Chardonnay clone once predominantly used in the Willamette Valley, known as clone 108 or the Wente clone, caused a great deal of strife for farmers and winemakers alike. Sure, clone 108 was well suited to Northern California&rsquo;s comparably equatorial climate; but for the most part, it fell flat in Willamette. Many clusters simply did not ripen in time to avoid the rains. And even when they did ripen in time (usually during hotter-than-normal vintages), the acidity was far too high. Willamette farmers and winemakers experimented and struggled with the 108 clone for years. There were decent bottles from certain sites, but on the whole, something was missing.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> One of the key facets of the Willamette Valley wine industry is camaraderie; all for one and one for all. David Adelsheim, Founder and President of Adelsheim Vineyards, is credited with encouraging his Willamette Valley colleagues to consider working with new Chardonnay clones. This would mean accepting that clone 108 simply wasn&rsquo;t the only one. And so, in the mid-1990s, Burgundy&rsquo;s Dijon clone made its way to the Willamette Valley. &ldquo;Chardonnay is utterly transformed by Dijon clones, making wines that are rich without oak, complex with or without malolactic fermentation, and a travesty to leave sweet,&rdquo; says Peterson-Nedry. Put down that Pinot Gris, indeed.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Dijon clone has an affinity for Oregon soil and climate. It needn&rsquo;t be coddled by a large percentage of new oak. The grapes stand up on their own. The Dijon clone is easy on acidity, too. All by itself, clone 108 was capable of battering dental enamel. Dijon produces the soft acidity that creates structure and balance &ndash; something for we all strive, inside and outside of the glass.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The good news for us wine drinkers is that Chardonnay plantings in the Willamette Valley are on the rise. Consumers are tasting the difference and demanding more Oregon Chardonnay, as the same-old same-old selections have grown stale. These are fruit and mineral-driven Chardonnays that showcase the high level of style and panache to be found in Willamette. Producers such as Winderlea Vineyards are beginning to replace some of their Pinot Noir plantings with Chardonnay in order to meet demand. Suffice it to say, the Willamette Valley Chardonnay movement is gaining momentum. And why wouldn&rsquo;t it be? After all, the Willamette Valley is the New World&rsquo;s very own Burgundy. But if you suggest that notion to most folks in the Willamette Valley wine world, you&rsquo;ll get nothing more than the equivalent of a wink and a smile. Cheers to staying humble.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Check out these personally vetted and vouched for bottles:</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Walter Scott Chardonnay 2013</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> If you&rsquo;re going to sign up for one wine club this year, make it Walter Scott. This cult hit sells like hotcakes, so make sure you&rsquo;re on the guest list. And be sure to follow co-proprietor and winemaker Ken Pahlow&rsquo;s career; he is an inherently gifted winemaker (you can&rsquo;t just teach this stuff!) who will continue to floor wine lovers for decades to come. The 2013 Chardonnay brings a touch of almond and peach to the nose with floral undercurrents of honeysuckle. Like velvet and silk across the palate, the soft roundness is carried by crisp lemon cr&egrave;me brulee, grapefruit, and a touch of allspice. A clean, melon-tinged acidity runs throughout.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>JK Carriere Lucidite Chardonnay 2012</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> JK Carriere&rsquo;s property is unfathomably beautiful. The grapes are very happy there, and it shows in the glass. Saline and citrus on the nose with a good fresh minerality. Very focused on the palate with touches of herb, pine, lemon, and white pepper. Fresh, warm heat on the palate mellows into green apple and pear. Aged in neutral oak and sat on the lees for 18 months, adding a bit of spice and just a touch of cream.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Winderlea Chardonnay Willamette Valley 2013</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> Yet another unfathomably beautiful property, Winderlea&#39;s Bill Sweat and Donna Morris have taken the time to fashion clone blends that bring out the best in every grape. Their Chardonnay is a combination of both the Dijon and 108 clones grown on different sites in the Willamette Valley, demonstrating that there is a place for 108 in the glass. Just a dash of the 108 clone brings unparalleled structure and crisp acidity to the wine. Pineapple and tropical fruits greet the nose with a bit of cream. In the mouth it&#39;s steely with a gentle minerality and green apple freshness. A fresh squeeze of lemon and grapefruit are capped with a touch of butter on the finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Cristom Germaine Vineyard Chardonnay Willamette Valley 2013</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> Cristom has been making elegant Chardonnay for decades. Steve Doerner has been the winemaker since the very first Cristom vintage in 1992, pioneering a bevy of clones and predominantly native yeasts to pilot the Willamette Valley into preeminence. The 2013 Chardonnay opens with a bit of green apple slices and sun-baked peaches. This is an inordinately pretty wine. White pepper, vanilla and whipped butter cover the palate as the fruits continue to sing. Fresh melon flavors carry through to a deep, long finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Chehalem INOX 2013</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> Harry Peterson-Nedry has paved the way for both grapes and wineries to grow in the Willamette Valley since 1982. His keen attention to detail and training in chemistry and statistics are invaluable assets to the region, especially when it comes to questions of climate variation. And these technical chops have helped create an ineffably gorgeous Chardonnay. Crisp and fleshy Granny Smith apples on the nose and palate. Lemon drops dapple the tongue along with some kiwi and lime. A mineral-drenched, steely acidity creeps in as white peaches parade to the finish.&nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Fri, 21 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6634 Mozart, Merlot & the Influence of Classical Music on Winemaking James Duren <p>We&#39;ve explored the relationship between music and wine in the past, focusing on the interaction between music and the wine drinking experience.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Some experts have devoted hours to understanding how certain types of music can affect the way a wine tastes as it rolls over the palate while Led Zeppelin rumbles in the background.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A new story from Vancouver&#39;s (Ca.) Vancity news website suggest that music &ndash; classical music, to be exact &ndash; may be able to influence the outcome of a wine if listened to during the winemaking process.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Reporter Nicolle Hodges spoke with Okanagan Valley winemaker George Hanson, whose Seven Stones Winery is home to an Old World cellar and a whole lot of classical music.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Hanson believes that music can impact the taste of wine well before it touches the tongue,&rdquo; Hodges wrote. &ldquo;For the next six months, his wine will ferment in wooden barrels to the tune of classical music, which will play on surround sound speakers 24 hours a day.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Hanson&#39;s theory is based on studies which have shown that plants and animals thrive when they are subjected to the vibrations produced by music.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> As the sound waves of a particular song move through, let&#39;s say, a barrel of wine, molecules may act differently than they normally would without the sound of music.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> Hanson isn&#39;t the only one who believes that music can affect a wine&#39;s fermentation process. There have been examples across the world of winemakers using classical compositions to coddle their vines and their wines: an Austrian winemaker believes music stimulates yeast action, his Italian counterpart in Siena says Mozart helps his vines while more winemakers are implementing the use of music as their wines age.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Like the Italian in Siena, Hanson believes the music he pumps into his barrel rooms will stimulate yeast to gobble up sugars. The quicker a winemaker can get rid of the sugars in his or her wine, the quicker the wine ages and, as the theory goes, the better it will taste.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Hodges acknowledged that Hanson could be onto a genius idea or just a wild-goose chase. The winemaker himself said he&#39;s aware of the possibility that musical winemaking could be all notes and no flavor.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> If science eventually says that Mozart-infused Merlots are hokey, Hanson will, at the very least, be a winemaker well-schooled in classical music.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Pixabay</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Fri, 21 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6633 Defiant Buckfast Monks Go Small, Launch Line of Party-Favor Wine James Duren <p>Buckfast Abbey is home to some of England&#39;s most controversial booze.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The intrepid producer of tonic wine has faced its fare share of criticism over the popularity of its wine, which contains caffeine and has an alcohol content of 15 percent.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Earlier this year, Scottish politicians were intent on banning the drink because it created &ldquo;wide-awake drunks&rdquo; who were buzzed both on the high caffeine and alcohol content in the drink, going as far as calling the monk&#39;s home &ldquo;Fastbuck Abbey&rdquo;.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The monks have stayed relatively mum on the issue &ndash; not surprising &ndash; choosing rather to, as recent headlines have pointed out, release a new line of small-bottle offerings perfect for weddings and other special occasions.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A story in the U.K.&#39;s Daily Record detailed the potent party favors, which arrive on the heels of the abbey&#39;s experiment with canned wine.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;First, it came in cans for the barbecue season. Now, the monks of Buckfast are to sell their controversial tonic wine miniatures for weddings and flights,&rdquo; the story said. &ldquo;It is expected they will retail at around &pound;2 a bottle across Britain in grocers&#39; shops and off sales.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The launch of the little bottles is the result of many requests from customers who were eager to use small bottle and flask-style bottles of the stuff as party favors at milestone birthdays or as wedding favors to celebrate holy matrimony across the country.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> One representative from Buckfast&#39;s sales department said that if the small bottles are a success, there may be a chance to get the jitters-inducing wine onto airline flights.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Whether by plane or by wedding, the tonic wine will most likely have detractors.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the Daily Record, in 2010 the BBC did a special investigation about the role Buckfast played in crimes committed in the Scottish region of Strathclyde.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The tonic wine was mentioned in 5638 crime reports from 2006 to 2009. The report said those mentions averaged about three per day.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> However, a Buckfast sales representative said the majority of the company&#39;s customers drink the wine responsibly. The representative said the Scottish government was unfairly singling out Buckfast.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In the meantime, the company has partnered with Michelin-starred chef Martin Blunos to create a list of gourmet dishes which use Buckfast as an ingredient. The partnership is part of the company&#39;s effort to &ldquo;rebrand the tonic wine as &nbsp;a cocktail and culinary ingredient.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Wikipedia</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6632 New Booze Map Calculates Wine Consumption in Europe James Duren <p>Numbers don&#39;t lie, but sometimes they don&#39;t tell the whole truth.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Take Jakub Marian, for example. Not satisfied with 2014 alcohol consumption numbers released by the World Health Organization in 2014, the numbers and culture enthusiast decided to break down the statistics on his own and create a map of Europe which detailed the approximate amount of wine the average person drank in every European country.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Granted, Marian isn&#39;t a vetted authority on the numbers. However, the mathematical process he used to extrapolate each country&#39;s wine drinking habits aren&#39;t so outlandish. According to a post about the map, the stats sleuth said he &ldquo;took the total amount of alcohol consumed per capita, multiplied it by the fraction of alcohol consumed in the form of wine, and divided the result by 0.13, which is approximately the average alcohol content in wine.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Marian&#39;s results are quite surprising simply because France, the supposed king of wine quaffing, has abdicated its throne in favor of former maritime powerhouse Portugal, where the average person drinks about 55 liters of wine a year. The French consume 53 liters a year, while Andorra is home to a total of 48 liters of wine drank per person, Marian said. Fourth place on the list of Europe&#39;s most winey is the surprising trio Slovenia, Denmark and Croatia, who each quaffed about 42 liters per year.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So what to make of the gumshoe&#39;s numbers? For starters, the statistics reveal that most of us are somewhat unaware of how much Slovenians, Danes and Croatians love their wine &ndash; so much so, in fact, that they put to shame the 17-liters-per-year habits of Spaniards.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> Second, how about the tipple-heavy tendencies of the mountainous border country of Andorra?<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> And perhaps equally as interesting but not as highly publicized is the disparity of quaffing between the former Soviet states and the rest of Europe.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) along with Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova collectively drink an average of 52 liters of wine per year; that&#39;s one liter less than France and two magnums less than Portugal.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Turkey is home to Europe&#39;s least winey imbibers, where the average person drinks about one liter of wine per year. Cyprus, the small island afloat in the Mediterranean, had a respectable showing of 17 liters per year.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Greece, as it turns out, was seventh on the list with 37 liters per year, just four liters behind Switzerland.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong></strong></a></div><br /> </p> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6631 Cold Climate Wine Showdown Showcases Chilly Weather Grapes James Duren <p>It&#39;s hard to imagine the chill of winter as summer temperatures hit their peak this month. But then again, daydreaming about frost-kissed mornings and snowy nights may not be that far beyond our imagination.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Winter&#39;s chill is definitely on the minds of a select group of winemakers who will gather this week for the International Cold Climate Wine Competition at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> That&#39;s right &ndash; cold-climate wines will be stealing the show in the middle of August.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This past week website Inside Science wrote about the upcoming frigid festival, highlighting a research project which will be at the forefront of conference discussions.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Wine grapes specially bred for extreme temperatures may have a future, despite any laughs connoisseurs might have at the thought of wine labels extolling the virtues of the terroir of Deadwood or Fargo,&rdquo; contributor Joel N. Shurkin wrote.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The research initiative, named the Northern Grape Project, started in 2011 as a collaborative project between universities and laboratories in a dozen states who cozy up to cold temperatures and, in some cases, the Canadian border.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The project has funneled &ldquo;more than $400 million&rdquo; into the economies of the states involved in the research, as well as 13,000 jobs.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the story, researchers are working with hybrids of the European-American vitis vinifera vine and a cold-busting North American species of grape called vitis riparia. The challenge is, among other obstacles, incorporating cold-heartiness without imparting the undrinkable flavors of vitis riparia.</div><br /> <br /> Scientists say the riparia is a dark grape that is a disease-fighting champ, but that the flavor is, basically, vile.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> However, winemakers from the presumed wine deserts of Iowa and Wisconsin have somehow managed to create wines which gain respectable reviews at international competitions.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This past year, the Northern Grape Project held a wine tasting in Singapore. The results of the tasting revealed two things about the United States&#39; cold-weather wines: that they&#39;re better than you thought and that they suffer from a bad reputation.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tasters who didn&#39;t know they were drinking wines from Iowa and Wisconsin actually rated the sippers better than wines from Europe.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> However, tasters who knew they were tasting the cold-weather quaffers rated them lower than their European counterparts.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> For now, winemakers and researchers alike will continue their quest to create vines and wines which do justice to the chilly earth from whence they came.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Pixabay</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Tue, 18 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6630 WA to Oz: Aussie Rep Explores Export Options for Washington Wine James Duren <p>According to the numbers, wine from the United States is an afterthought in Australia.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A report this past week from Pasco, Wash., NBC-affiliate KNDO/KNDU indicated that Australia is showing a keen interest in changing that trend by bumping up its imports of wine from Washington. Currently, the report said, exports of American wines to Australia make up a mere half-percent of Australia&#39;s $600 million wine market.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Australian Department of Commerce sent representative Doug Hartley to Washington to get an up-close look at the state&#39;s wine industry. The Tri-City Herald (Wash.) reported that Hartley stopped by Claar Cellars Winery.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A photo from the visit shows Hartley chit-chatting with the winery&#39;s winemaker and its co-owner. Representative Dan Newhouse was also part of the visit.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The winery was representative of the state&#39;s commitment to a &ldquo;clean and green reputation,&rdquo; Hartley was quoted as saying.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> However, Australia&#39;s interest in the region isn&#39;t just a matter of bringing excellent wine to Australia. Hartley told KNDO/KNDU he thinks Washington is a great destination for Australian tourists.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The scenery is spectacular. Inbound Australian tourists are starting to discover this part of the world,&rdquo; Hartley said. &ldquo;If we come back to the import statistics, we would like to import quality wines from around the world.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The commerce rep went on to say that the next step in the wooing process would be an offer by Washington to host a wine event in the state in an effort to attract Australian wine buyers who want to expand their portfolio of international wines.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> Hartley was also hoping that Australian tourists would buy Washington wine while visiting the state, then become Washington wine evangelists back in Australia.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> That Australia would focus on Washington as a spearhead of a movement toward more American imports is impressive. Most of Australia&#39;s wine imports come from Old World titans France and Spain.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to Washington State Wine, Washington is the second-largest premium wine producer in the country and is home to 13 American Viticultural Areas.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The state&#39;s top five white varietals are Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvingon Blanc and Gewurztraminer. Washington&#39;s top five red varietals are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> From 1981 to 2014, the state&#39;s total number of wineries jumped from 19 to 850 and total wine production increased more than 200,000 tons.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Pixabay</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Mon, 17 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6627 Is Instagramming Your Wine Pics Driving Others to Drink? James Duren <p>It&#39;s Friday night.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> You kick off your shoes, switch into sweatpants and pop your feet up on the coffee table for a night of TV and movies. And, of course, the scene isn&#39;t complete with a wine glass and a itchy Instagram trigger finger.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Five minutes later, you&#39;ve queued up a Netflix favorite and you&#39;ve posted a pic of your Cabernet and happy-to-be home toes.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Nothing wrong with that, right? Well, not so fast, says one &nbsp;alcohol researcher who notes that the trend of &ldquo;promoting and glamorising alcohol to &hellip; young females&rdquo; is putting drinkers at risk for addiction.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dr. Janice Withnall&#39;s retorts in the recent were no joke, mind you. The article wasn&#39;t just another shareable top-10 list &ndash; it was a Rousey-esque barrage of scientific haymakers.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;This is a progression of promoting women&#39;s use of alcohol to fix a problem,&rdquo; Withnall said in the article. &ldquo;It&#39;s like the smoking cigarettes campaign where we&#39;ve got to the point in advertising drinking, in whatever form, in social media, becomes dangerous. It will influence their behaviour.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> With Withnall landing the first blows to a seemingly innocuous habit among all wine drinkers &ndash; not just women &ndash; the article then tagged in Georgia Foster, an Australian psychologist who continued to pummel the trend.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the story, most of Fosters clients are women in their 30s who are, in many cases, unwittingly addicting to wine.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Wine is very easy to drink. I think we are still stereotypical about what we consume and wine something that&#39;s lovely, decadent, it&#39;s sophisticated, it&#39;s a treat, and it&#39;s more than acceptable to drink,&rdquo; Foster was quoted as saying.</div><br /> <br /> A caveat comes with these pronouncements &ndash; Australia, Withnall said, has been dealing with an &ldquo;alarming&rdquo; number of women who are dependent on alcohol.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While the principles carry over to the United Kingdom and the United States, statistics provided in the story focused on Australia &ndash; 16 percent of women in midlife are alcohol dependent and, according to Withnall, 33 percent are misusing alcohol.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So what to make of Withnall and Foster&#39;s attacks on the way marketers and individuals have used social media to promote the gratuitous &ldquo;wind-down&rdquo; wine?&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Withnall answered the question herself &ndash; don&#39;t turn to wine to help you, male or female, calm moments of anxiety.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> For those who think they might have become dependent on alcohol to calm their nerves, head to a trusted health professional to understand why you drink when you&#39;re anxious and to learn how to deal with anxiety the right way.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Then, one can conclude, that Friday night glass of Malbec will tumble across your lips for exactly the right reasons.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Pixabay</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Fri, 14 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6622 The Sweet Taste of Summer Amy Miller <p><div><br /> Dessert wines are often saved for the winter holidays when we tend to linger at the table with our family and friends, but summer brings its own set of celebrations that are perfect for opening a bottle of something sweet. As the days lengthen and temperatures rise, it&#39;s a perfect time to head outdoors for a picnic, barbeque or dinner party on the patio. Desserts made from the fruits of summer, such as strawberries, peaches, apricots and cherries easily lend themselves to wine pairing. The key is to make sure the wine is sweeter than the dessert and to match the flavor intensities so that neither overpowers the other. Here are five dessert wines to seek out for the sweet taste of summer.</div><br /> <br /> <strong>Brachetto d&#39;Acqui</strong><br /> <div><br /> No one does fun and fizzy quite like the Italians. What comes through is not so much the wine&#39;s terroir but a sense of playfulness and charm. This is exactly what you&#39;ll find in a bottle of Brachetto d&#39;Acqui, an off-dry, light red sparkler from Piemonte. Made with red Brachetto grapes (said to have been a favorite of Cleopatra) these crowd-pleasing wines are redolent of strawberries and roses with a light, delicate effervescence. Although often overshadowed by their more famous cousins down the road in Asti, Brachettos are made in a similar style, undergoing second fermentation in a pressurized tank to create their bubbles. Banfi&#39;s Rosa Regale is a consistently fine example. It&#39;s an easygoing, refreshing wine that offers up an abundance of ripe raspberries, strawberries and cherries as well as a hint of rose petals. The low alcohol (7% abv) makes it a perfect pour for brunch, paired with French toast and red fruit, or a great accompaniment to fresh strawberries and cream while watching Wimbledon.&nbsp;<a href=""><strong>Banfi&#39;s Rosa Regale Brachetto d&#39;Acqui</strong></a>, 750 ml, $19.99.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> Transport yourself to the sunny south of France with a bottle of this vindoux naturel from a tiny appellation in the Rhone Valley. Made with the most noble of Muscat grapes, Muscat Blanc &agrave; Petits Grains, these floral, honeyed wines have been delighting drinkers since the Popes set up shop in nearby Avignon in the 14th century. The best wines come from vines grown on a south-facing outcrop of limestone, which bathes the grapes in long days of direct sunshine. As with other fortified wines grape spirit is added to halt fermentation before all the sugar has been converted to alcohol, leaving behind an overtly sweet nectar with about 15% abv. The wines may be enjoyed in their youth, but the grape&#39;s inherent high acidity also gives them aging potential. Over time their color darkens and the flavors deepen with more pronounced notes of honey and dried fruits.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> From one of the top producers comes this light and invigorating, medium sweet wine that will surprise you with its level of complexity. The glass is a harmonious swirl of pear, apple, candied lime, apricot, honeydew and Muscat&#39;s signature grapiness. This would make a wonderful aperitif or serve it with melon, strawberries, or a pear tart. <a href=""><strong>Domaine de Durban Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise 2011</strong></a>, 375 ml, $18.99.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Tokaji</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> The sweet wines of Tokaj, Hungary have a pedigree going back centuries. In fact it was here in the late 16th century that someone first dreamed/dared to make a wine from grapes shriveled by the Botrytis cinerea fungus, aka noble rot. Sauternes is far better known these days, but Tokajiasz&uacute; wines were once favored by European royalty and great artists of the day such as Beethoven, Schubert and Goethe. The downward spiral began in 1885 when phylloxera decimated the vineyards. Further decline came with two world wars followed by four decades of Communism. Only in the last 25 years has the industry been able to rebuild and recapture some of its former glory.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> One of the pioneers of Tokaji&#39;s renaissance is Royal Tokaji, which was founded in 1990 by Hugh Johnson, the noted British wine writer. The sweet, golden wines are made from three grape varieties: Furmint, H&aacute;rslevelű and Muscat de Lunel. The winemaking process itself has changed little over the centuries. The grapes shriveled by botrytis (asz&uacute;) are hand harvested individually and crushed into a thick, syrupy paste. This paste is then added to a base wine made from that year&#39;s harvest of unbotrytized grapes. Originally, the asz&uacute; grapes were collected in wooden barrels called puttonyos, which is the term still used today to indicate the level of sweetness. The more puttonyos, the sweeter the wine. They range from 3 to 6, followed by an even sweeter wine called essencia, which is made from free-run juice and not blended into a base wine (it&#39;s also extremely expensive). A wine with 5 puttonyos usually hits the right pleasure/price sweet spot, and this one from Royal Tokaji&#39;s Red Label is an elegant example. The deep orange color suggests a more viscous wine, but this is bright and lively, full of ripe peaches, apricots, pears and mandarin oranges with a gorgeous layer of botrytis. This could easily be dessert in itself, but would pair well with a peach pie or apricot tart. <a href=""><strong>2008 Tokaji Asz&uacute; 5 Puttonyos &quot;Red Label&quot; Royal Tokaji</strong></a>, 500 ml, $52.99.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Banyuls</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> Should you find yourself roasting marshmallows by a campfire, plan on having a bottle of Banyuls nearby. This port-like vindoux naturel from the Roussillon region in southern France is the perfect sip with s&#39;mores. In fact it pairs well with anything chocolaty as well as desserts made with dark fruits, such as blackberry cobbler or plum tart.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Made predominantly with Grenache grapes grown along steep terraces above the Mediterranean Sea near the Spanish border, the wines are fortified while the grapes are still macerating, extracting a wide variety of flavors. Aging takes place in any number of vessels, including oak barrels and glass bonbonnes, depending on the producers desired style. Some seek to preserve the ripe red fruit flavors, while others seek the rancio notes (walnuts, caramel) that come from long aging and heat. The wines come in two tiers of quality. Grand Cru Banyuls must be aged a minimum of 30 months in wood, while regular Banyuls must be aged between 4 and 20 months. This wine from the Domaine de la Casa Blanca was aged in oak barrels for one year before being bottled. It&#39;s silky smooth and sweet but balanced by a racy acidity, with a complex array of jam-like fruit flavors (raspberry, strawberry and damson), and a hint of dried cranberries and figs. <a href=""><strong>Domaine de la Casa Blanca Banyuls</strong></a>, 750 ml, $26.95.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Pedro Xim&eacute;nez</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> These lusciously sweet fortified wines from southern Spain are ideal for sipping into the late hours of a languorous summer evening. Made from Pedro Xim&eacute;nez grapes that have been dried in the sun to concentrate the flavors and sugar, these dark, amber wines are redolent of caramel, chocolate and dried fruits. While most of the grapes are grown and dried in Motilla-Moriles, a region two hours northeast of Jerez, the wines may be aged in either the Marco de Jerez (which can then be labeled Sherry) or in Montilla-Moriles. Those aged in Jerez have more oxidative notes since producers don&#39;t completely fill the barrels. By contrast, in Montilla-Moriles the barrels are completely filled, which retains the fruit characteristics. Alvear is a producer from the latter and makes a whole range of sherry-like wines, including dry styles. They are known, however, for their line of sweet PX wines, such as this one, which was aged for five years in a solera that began in 1927. It&#39;s a lush, luxuriously sweet wine full of dried figs, prunes, cherry jam and dates, with a bright spark of acidity that will keep you coming back for more. Enjoy on its own or pour over vanilla ice cream for a heavenly dessert. <a href=""><strong>Alvear Pedro Ximenez Solera 1927 Montilla-Moriles</strong></a>, 375 ml, $24.99.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Amy Miller is a freelance writer based in New York City. Visit her at</em> <a href=""></a></div><br /> </p> Fri, 14 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6628 It's a Reality: Winemakers To Compete in TV Show James Duren <p>It was going to happen at some point.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Going the way of gourmet cooking, world traveling, dessert making and millionaire dating, the winemaking world has become the focus of a forthcoming reality television show called &ldquo;Best Bottle&rdquo;, according to a story this past week in Oregon Wine Press.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The show will follow contestants/aspiring winemakers as they try to win the grand prize of the show:$100,000 in cash and other prizes such as bottling a vintage of wine with a predetermined wine company.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the Oregon Wine Press, the competition&#39;s first season has already been filmed. It took place at Oregon&#39;s Lange Estate Winery.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Reporter Neil Zawicki wrote that the show&#39;s first seasons included American competitiors, but that other seasons will have aspiring winemakers from the Old World and New World.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Season one contestants will be guided by established winemakers from Oregon and California &ndash; future seasons will include competitors from Australia, Germany, France and New Zealand.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Warner Bros. Studios representative Chris Owen met with the show&#39;s creators in 2014. They said the show is all about educating people who may not know about all the grit, grime and dirty work that go into producing a drinkable bottle of wine.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The show will also give home viewers the opportunity to watch expert wine mentors offer their advice to competitors, interactions that are sure to educate and surprise the casual wine drinker.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> Jesse and Don Lange, the father-son duo who oversee Lange Estate, will act as mentors for the first sesason of competition.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The younger Lange was quoted as saying he wants to be able to tie what he and his father have done back to the land because, simply put, that&#39;s where the vines grow. He also said his winery&#39;s focus on Pinot Noir will shed even more light on how difficult the winemakers task can be.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Also important to the narrative of the reality show will be the stress of the harvest. The younger Lange mentioned harvest time is when things get &ldquo;real,&rdquo; alluding to an argument he had with his father at 2 a.m. in front of an entire team of harvest help.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> As for the contestants themselves, the show&#39;s creators said each person fighting for the prize had to pass a certain set of criteria.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Winemaking is a very long and complicated algorithm,&rdquo; Jesse Lange said.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Pixabay</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Thu, 13 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6625 Orange Before Rosé: Why the Pink Lady Should Be Replaced James Duren <p>You&#39;ve heard the experts calling for magnums of Ros&eacute; to be poured over all your summer sentiment in an effort to bring you the perfect summer wine.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> And granted, there are few drinks that can class up a party and cool down an August scorcher like the pale princess.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> However, Quartz reporter Jenni Avins said in an article this past weekend, it&#39;s time for people to pass on the power of pink and take a ride on the orange side.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Orange wines may still be under the radar for many casual drinkers, but they&#39;re increasingly sought out by adventurous imbibers in search of something new,&rdquo; Avins wrote.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Her article was based on a recent experience she had at a Brooklyn watering hole, a veritable &ldquo;Girl-walks-into-a-bar-and-sees-everyone-drinking-orange-wine&rdquo; kind of story.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> It was a hot August night, she said. Glasses were filled with amber tones, melon hints and &ldquo;cloudy copper&rdquo; colors reminiscent of grandmother&#39;s jewelry box.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Stunned by the scene, she quickly re-calibrated her wine sense, pointing out that orange wines aren&#39;t actually made from oranges but have their hue because winemakers allow the wine&#39;s white grapes to stay in contact with their skins during the production process.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So there she was, amid Brooklyn&#39;s wine savvies, imbibing the drink that looks more like a glass of Tang than an emerging trend in the wine world.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Her quaff that evening was a wine from the country of Georgia, that mystical land of ancient winemaking traditions.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> But Georgia isn&#39;t the only place for orange wine, as evidenced by what quaffers made it on the restaurant&#39;s wine list.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> Avins said the bar&#39;s wine consultant chose about 30 orange wines from countries including Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> She then went on to talk about how orange wine could give Ros&eacute; a run for its pretty little money. The main argument was that orange wines have the advantage of flavor because the skins &#39;&#39;and sometimes the stems&rdquo; stay in contact with the wine much longer than the touch-and-go relationship between Ros&eacute; and its red skins.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> She then invoked the opinion of Washington D.C. sommelier Sebastian Zutant, who loves Ros&eacute; but classified it as &ldquo;basically just a white wine with a little bit of color.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> That zingy reduction was then chased with a wholehearted endorsement of the orange stuff, saying he has a difficult time understanding Ros&eacute;s at premium price points but that expensive orange wines are &ldquo;complex wines.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The new Ros&eacute;? Probably not. But orange wine certainly is making a strong case for a spot on your patio table.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Pixabay</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Wed, 12 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6624 Flavorful Wines & Friendly Skies: Reporter Tracks Wine From Vine To Flight James Duren <p>British Airways is making a case for being a purveyor of fine wine at 30,000 feet.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The London-based airline picked up a few awards at the Cellar in the Sky Awards earlier this year. To get a sense of how the airline chooses its wine and how that wine gets from the earth to the vine and finally to the storage compartments of commercial airliners, a <em>Daily Mail</em> reporter decided to head to France to get the scoop on BA&#39;s award-winning Remi Niero Rhone Valley wine.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Flying out of Heathrow as part of a small group, the wine tasting began in the business lounge under the careful supervision of renowned Master of Wine Keith Isaac, who is also BA&#39;s head business class winemaker,&rdquo; reporter John Hutchinson wrote yesterday.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The reporter and the group he was with flew to Lyon and started their journey to the Rhone Valley. Along the way, they stopped off for a night in Condrieu. The next day, the group awoke and headed to Remi Niero.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Hutchinson was fascinated by the vineyards that rose up from the Rhone, whose riverside slopes give visitors breathtaking views of the storied waterway.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Winemaker Remi Niero explained what the day-to-day operations are like at his vineyard, highlighting the hard work it takes to care for vineyards on the Rhone slopes.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Hutchinson said that the wines he tasted at Niero were some of the best white wines he&#39;d ever experienced.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> After his stop at Niero, he headed to Font de Michelle and Chateauneuf-du-Pape.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> &ldquo;The site is known for producing powerful and world-renowned wines. But seeing the effort that goes into this makes you all the more impressed,&rdquo; Hutchinson wrote. &ldquo;This is an arid earth where the vine roots have to go down very deep to find the elements they need to survive.&rdquo;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The rocky earth, he said, seemed like it was doing it&#39;s best to be inhospitable. However, he quickly learned that the rocks play an important part in the growth and maturity of the vine. They soak up the day&#39;s heat and then slowly disperse that heat to the wine stock at night.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> By the end of the visit, Hutchinson admitted he was pretty worn out from all the tasting.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The story also included BA&#39;s anticipated wine list from September on.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Economy class passengers will have a chance to try a pair of wines from Spain, one quaffer from Chile, a Chenin Blanc from South Africa and a Chardonnay/Semillion from Australia.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href="ône-orange-mornas-426272/"><strong>Pixabay</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Tue, 11 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6623 Champagne to Beer: Stick a Cork In It! James Duren <p>Ironic that Miller&#39;s gold-laden cans of High Life beer boast the motto, &ldquo;The Champagne of beers&rdquo;, isn&#39;t it?&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This past week news outlet CNBC promoted the power of sparkling wine, championing the refreshing wine in lieu of beer, whose bloaty bubbles, the story said, are on the decline. While beer sales still beat out receipts from wine purchases this past year, there is no denying that while beer drinking has declined, sparkling wine consumption has increased.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> And for that reason, wine drinkers should raise a glass to the downward movement of suds.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There are two sparkling steeds leading the way for the bubbly wine world &ndash; Moscato and Prosecco, both sweet, both very drinkable for old hats and newcomers alike.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> And both, one could argue, significantly more classy than quaffing a watery lager afterthought.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The news site spoke with <em>Food &amp; Wine Magazine</em> executive Ray Isle about the shifting balance in carbonated beverages.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Isle said sparkling wine&#39;s light body and sweeter-than-Champagne flavor are part of the reason the airy heir-apparent to beer has seen a rise. Prosecco, in particular, has increased in popularity almost 30 percent in recent years.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Will the average Joe and Jane start mowing the lawn with a flute of Prosecco in his or hand in lieu of a light beer? Most likely no, particularly because a sixer of like-water light beer is, in most cases, a little easier on the wallet than sparkling wine.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> That hasn&#39;t stopped consumers from ponying up the green paper for a good glass of sparkling wine, though.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Isle offered up to CNBC and its readers a list of affordable &ndash; and quality &ndash; sparkling wines for consumers who are looking for value and flavor.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The list included one Prosecco &ndash; a $14 bottle of Mionetto Brut suitable for mimosas&ndash; and a Catal&aacute;n Cava from Ravent&oacute;s.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The wine expert then pitched a more pricey option, saying that if Dom Perignon isn&#39;t possible for your New Year&#39;s Eve party budget, try an $80 bottle of Roederer Brut Champagne straight from the motherland of sparkling wine.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Roederer is one of the greatest Champagne houses, and best known for its super-expensive tete de cuvee, Cristal,&rdquo; Isle noted.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> At $80 a pop, the Roederer &ndash; no matter how transcendent &ndash; probably won&#39;t attract your average beer drinker. But a $14 bottle of Italian delight? Much more probable.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Pixabay</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Mon, 10 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6621 Wine Fraudster Busted for Investment Scheme Shenanigans James Duren <p>The world of wine fraud is a varied one indeed; some crooks choose to go the way of the smash-and-grab, while others lock themselves in extra rooms and ply their dubious trade via labelmakers, corks and bad intentoins.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This past weekend another nefarious character met his end at the hands of the British court, who sentenced Spyros Constantinos, said criminal, to eight years in jail for 10 fraud-related crimes, U.K. publication <em>The Independent </em>reported Friday.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The wily worker of ill paraded as a wine broker boasting yearly return rates of between 8.9 and 50 percent, numbers attractive enough to lure in 26 investors.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Among his victims, the story noted, were a doctor and a vicar.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Constantinos&#39; racket was elaborate &ndash; he used fancy brochures, set up several different companies and even flew a client to France as part of the ruse.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The crook, the story said, used his ill-gotten funds to live a luxurious lifestyle.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;He spent more than $15,000 on a trip to San Francisco &hellip; as well as splashing out on shopping sprees in Harrods and Selfridges,&rdquo; the story said.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Constantinos was also a fan of the English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur, and spent part of his winnings attending matches.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In all, the fraudster captured more than $1.4 million in his scheme. The scam, prosecuting attorney Pauline Thompson told the paper, is a somewhat easy racket because there&#39;s a lot of time involved in the process.</div><br /> <br /> &ldquo;Once the investor puts the money in, they are not expecting to see what they paid for a good few years down the line &ndash; so wine is a pretty good vehicle for a dishonest person,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In his defense, the future jailbird (minus any concessions during a possible appeals process) said he wasn&#39;t a crook, turning the blame on his supposed suppliers.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> It wouldn&#39;t be the first time Constantinos has found himself the object of investors&#39; wrath &ndash; the shady character was busted for a similar scam in 2008 and was forbidden to run a business for 10 years.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> No matter, the crook thought &ndash; he regrouped, reorganized and launched his latest (and unsuccessful) wine investment scam.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>The Guardian</em> concluded the article by warning readers to be wary of &ldquo;dodgy&rdquo; investment schemes.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;There are lessons for us all in the tale,&rdquo; the story closed. &ldquo;For starters, be careful who you trust. Next, be careful where you invest. Not all wine investment is dodgy, but it&#39;s an area that requires expert knowledge.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Pixabay</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Fri, 07 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6620