Monday, June 30, 2008

Pa. wineries' cost-saving efforts bear fruit

With the cost of everything from glass bottles to gasoline increasing, some Bucks County wineries are looking for creative ways to save money so they can avoid scaling back production or raising prices.

They're cutting out the middleman, joining forces to buy materials in bulk and, in the case of the Fratelli Desiato Vineyards in Bedminster, installing solar panels, wind turbines and cisterns that capture rainwater to irrigate fields and wash equipment.
"We did it because of the economy," owner Lou Desiato said of his vineyard's new "green" amenities. "We were trying to cut some of our overhead."

The changes have helped lower the winery's electric and water bills, he said.
"We're watching every penny," he said. "We're closed on Mondays and Tuesdays because there's not enough business to support it."
Costs have risen and business has slipped at the vineyard's restaurant and tavern, but Desiato said the winery will still produce "a few thousand bottles" of wine this year about the same as last year.

"People are more price conscious," he said. "But our private events are still good, which is helping us weather the storm."
Wine is a $661 million industry in Pennsylvania. The state is the nation's fifth-largest producer of wine grapes in the U.S., according to the Pennsylvania Winery Association.

Though local wineries are susceptible to higher prices for ingredients and supplies and subject to slowing demand during tough economic times, some area vineyard owners say they're going to be just fine.
"People are staying local and buying local and we have a ton of local customers," said Tom Carroll Sr., co-owner of Upper Makefield's Crossing Vineyards and Winery, which added solar panels last year.
is even ripe for expansion, said Carroll.

The business plans to open a retail location in the Marketplace at East Falls on Ridge Avenue in Philadelphia, he said. Plus, Carroll said he expects the winery to increase production and build an addition to give it more storage space.
"We're still doing well," agreed Jerry Forrest, patriarch of Buckingham Valley Vineyards. "We get a lot of business from the Philly metro area in a 20- or 30-mile radius."

He added that wine lovers are likely to continue making purchases despite economic concerns. "To some degree, I think we're cushioned because we deal with a unique clientele," he said increasing.
"Our costs are up, but we're trying to do things smarter," Carroll said. "(Our) expansion actually helps because we're buying (supplies) in bigger quantities."
Petroleum-based fuels are needed to produce the glass used in wine bottles and some types of labels, so those costs have gone up significantly, vineyard owners said. Crossing Vineyards recently switched glass suppliers to get a better deal and the business uses labels that aren't petroleum-based.

Desiato added that his vineyard has joined forces with Peace Valley Winery in New Britain Township to make some supply purchases together to get a better price.
Tinicum's Sand Castle Winery grows all its own grapes, which cuts down delivery costs. But winery vice president Joseph Maxian said it's still costing more to keep the tractors running and get other materials they need to operate.

"If they get an excuse to raise prices, they will," Maxian said of suppliers. "We haven't changed our prices since last year. We're hanging on."
Sand Castle, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, has faced an additional challenge: portions of nearby River Road have been closed for repairs due to several floods during the last few years.

Like Crossing Vineyards, Sand Castle plans to increase production when a new vineyard it has cultivated in recent years begins to bear fruit. The winery currently produces between 24,000 and 36,000 gallons of wine per year. It charges $13to $30 per bottle.
"We're going through the challenge of an energy crisis and unknown economics, but the farmer is always optimistic and always looking to next season," said Maxian.


Winery taps into the Chinese wine market

Filippi brand to be sold on far-off shelves

The Chinese straying from tea as their beverage of choice shouldn't be hard to believe.
It didn't take long after the red curtain was raised in the late 1970s for China to embrace Coca-Cola.

And when the Germans settled into the eastern port town of Tsingtao, beer quickly reached the lips of those used to rice wine.

But a goblet of cabernet to go with the kung pao?

It seems like an odd pairing, but a burgeoning middle and upper class in China has spawned a new appreciation for wine, and wineries like the Joseph Filippi Winery in Rancho Cucamonga want to tap into that market.

This past week, the winery sent 200 cases of bottled wines and 2,700 gallons of wine not yet bottled to Tianjin, China, where it will be sold to different stores and restaurants. Winery owner Joe Filippi said his client in China is planning on opening a tasting room where most of the wines will be from the Cucamonga Valley.

According to Filippi, California wineries may be shipping large quantities to China, but countries like Australia and Chile are also getting their foot in the door.

"As their middle class grows, they want the American lifestyle and part of that is wine," Filippi said. "We have to take advantage of that because if we don't, other countries are going to catch up to us."

Wine isn't new to China, but for decades, the wine has been of low quality. A surge in imports has changed that, leading to connoisseurs with deep pockets and discerning tongues.

Wine imports surged 52 percent in the first nine months of 2007 from a year earlier to 27 million gallons, according to an Associated Press article.

The climate is especially ripe for American wineries to export owing to the weak dollar abroad.

But wineries aren't the only ones eyeing this lucrative market.

Marc Curtis started the Redlands-based China Wine Tours, which will have its first group tour in October bringing American wine enthusiasts to visit the wineries in China. Curtis said the wine scene has changed dramatically, and small boutique wineries are popping up in the provinces of Shandong, Shanxi and Xinjiang.

"Right now, China is the sixth-largest wine producing country in the world and experts say by 2058, they'll be No. 1," Curtis said. "I think it's going to be sooner than that."

If that's the case, Chateau China doesn't seem so odd after all and as the country develops a generation of wine snobs, Cucamonga wines could play a role.

This week's shipment by the Filippi winery included zinfandel, syrah, cabernet franc and a ginseng-laced red table wine. Some production took place at Galleano Winery, which has also shipped its wines to China in past years.

"These days if you go to a store, it's difficult to find things that aren't made in China," said winery owner Don Galleano. "It's been very much one way as far as trade goes so it's good to see other areas get products made in the United States."

Wendy Leung

Italian cork maker to double size of Sonoma facility

Italy’s largest producer of natural cork wine bottle stoppers is planning to double the size of its North American distribution hub to have more room for quality control and increase efficiency.

Ganau America, a subsidiary of family-owned Sugherificio Ganau S.p.A. of Sardinia, purchased 2.8 acres of land in late May and plans to build a 40,000-square-foot facility about a half-mile away from its current location at 21750 Eighth St. E. The new location is in Carneros Business Park, a 53-acre newly approved development located just north of the intersection of Eighth Street East and Highway 121.

The goal is to open the estimated $5 million facility in early 2010. Del Starret Architect of Santa Rosa is designing the project.

If the county of Sonoma approves the project proposal, the new location would have four times more laboratory space than the current facility. Winemakers often use such labs to test for problem bales of corks, according to Mariella Ganau, president of Ganau America.

“In Napa and Sonoma counties, many winemakers want to do their own evaluations in our facility,” said Ms. Ganau, 30. “So it made sense to accommodate winemakers who want to do their own tasting.”

Such testing, including the soaking of stoppers in wine, hot water or vodka for 24 hours, has become more rigorous in the past decade as some winemakers have looked askance at natural cork closures amid publicity that fingered such stoppers as the culprit for “tainting” wine, especially delicate white varietals.

Such attention to the issue has led to the rise of alternative closures and a shift among natural cork stopper makers toward vertical integration from tree to delivered bale as well as development of cutting-edge sanitation for the cork bark as early in the production process as possible.

In the mid-1990s, Ganau adopted a high-temperature steam system to battle TCA, which is a mold-related chemical compound often blamed for wine taint. A decade later, the company acquired autoclaves large enough to clean whole slabs of cork bark, allowing for use of high-temperature water to remove contaminants without boiling the wood.

Ganau set up its distributorship in Sonoma in 2003 with the acquisition of Italcork, a cork importer in which Ganau had part ownership. Italcork started in 1991 and expanded to the location currently occupied by Ganau America in early 2003.

The new facility would allow throughput of corks to increase 20 percent right away and offer additional expansion opportunities, according to Ms. Ganau. Each year about 80 million corks leave Ganau America’s facility south of Napa, representing 17 percent of Ganau’s global sales. The facility firebrands, lubricates, sorts and samples the stoppers before shipping them to customers.

The stoppers are produced at the main plant in Italy. In 2001, the parent Ganau company opened a facility in France to make stoppers for sparkling wine. Earlier this year, Ganau opened a plant in Portugal to produce cork pieces and discs, which are sent to the Sardinian plant for forming technical corks, which have agglomerate cork between one or two discs of solid cork on each end.

Jeff Quackenbush

Wine retailers fear bitter year ahead as sales tumble

The rampant growth of the UK wine market has ground to a sharp halt with sales falling at their steepest rate in living memory as consumers suffer the effects of rising taxes and the economic downturn.

Wines sales in Britain have soared this decade and the market grew 6 per cent to £5.6bn in the year to the end of February, according to Nielsen, the market research company.

However, that growth has now come to a sharp halt with off-trade sales in the four weeks to May 17 down 5 per cent, or about 4.5m bottles, against the same period last year.

The scale of the decline will be a blow to UK wine retailers who have seen demand grow strongly in recent years as consumers turned away from beer.

Analysis: Retailers sitting pretty
Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, blamed the government's taxation of the drinks sector for playing a big part in the decline. The government in March pledged to raise duty on wine by 14p a bottle and a further 2 per cent above inflation annually until 2012.

"Consumers are facing skyrocketing costs for everything from bread and milk to petrol. Now we're seeing those increases effecting sales of alcohol," he said. "Politicians are making it worse with their tax increases and should remove the burden of higher taxes and end their pledge to raise taxes even higher."

The WSTA said that if the decline continued the UK wine market would be unlikely to see any growth this year.

Nielsen does not track changes on a monthly basis but industry insiders said they cannot remember a time when the sales declines has been so sharp.

Majestic last week reported a 3.4pc increase in pre-tax profits in the year to the end of March, but chief executive Tim How said that had come through price increases rather than higher sales volumes.

Wine sales have seen strong demand in recent years in pubs and bars but the on-trade is seeing declining drink sales as people begin to spend less.

The sector has also been hit hard by the smoking ban.

Any further decrease in wine consumption as drinkers seek cheaper alternatives or simply go out less will be a further blow.

Jonathan Sibun

Sunday, June 29, 2008

More 2005 Red Burgundies

We had the opportunity to taste some 20 wines that were being poured at Zachy's Wine Store in Scarsdale as a sales promotional. As it was a stand-up affair it was difficult to juggle a glass of wine and note pad at the same time while trying to take notes. In the end I realized it was simply not possible to make exhaustive notes so my notes are brief. Wines ranged from 1er cru Beaune to Bouchard's Le Chambertin.

David Croix Beaune Cent Vignes: Organic notes rather than fruit driven ones on the nose. Earthy, quite ripe with mid palate intensity. Gentle grip, not tightly wound ; fruit barely nestled inside a kernel of acidity so it was a bit more open and enjoyable now compared to some others which hace shut down. Lovely wine. 89 points

David Croix Beaune Pertuisets: The scent of minerals and violets dominate the nose and once again aromas of fruit are not dominant. Compared to the above wine this wine is driven by acidity which carries the delicate, yet intense, fruit to a long and vibrant finish. Focussed and perfumed. This is an exceptional value. 90 points

Pavelot Beaune Bressandes: All about fruit (raspberry) and though quite nice and pretty it does not have the class of the Croix wines. 87 points

Potel Pommard Vignots: Dominated by new oak. Not deep but thoroughly enjoyable as there is not much acidity masking the fruit. 88 points

Gouges Nuits St.Georges Clos des Porrets: Typically hard and minerally. Closed in now but there is good ripeness of fruit and ample tannins . Austere now but promises to age well. 89+points

Jadot Gevrey Combes Aux Moines: Unexpectedly (for a Jadot wine) this is not very dark and is very bright and fresh. While there is rich extract it is light on its feet and the fruit is pure and not overlaid with obfuscating oak tannins . Promises to be an exciting wine. 91+ points

Bouchard Beaune Vignes Les Enfant Jesus : Utterly captivating and focussed. Rich acidity . Long and aromatic. 91+ points

Bouchard Le Chambertin: Grand Vin. Broad, restrained and powerful. 95+ points

David Duband Clos Vougeot : Tasted alongside Duband's Nuits Aux Thorey (85 pts) and his Morey Sorbes (86 pts) this wine towers over them and shows flashes of Grand Vin . Made in a forward style it is earthy and truffley and the non overuse of new oak keeps this wine on an even keel .Overall the wine is impressively made. 91-92 points

Kris Prasad


WHAT IS A GRAND CRU? To answer that allow me to digress a bit.
Last night we had Baricci 2001 Brunello for dinner. The wine was medium dark and the nose almost absent. On the palate the wine had little in the way of density but there was submerged fruit. The finish was clean and had yet to develop length. But the structure and balance was perfect and we agreed this was likely to develop into one of the finest brunellos of the vintage ( an assessment we had likewise made more than a year ago, when we tasted this wine blind). So one may well ask how such a prosaic description of a wine leads us to project potential greatness?

As background, the Baricci is from vines high up in the mountains (Montosoli region) and everything about it bespoke cool and composed. Haughty and reserved. Terroir at work. Absent was the lush glossy fruit that thrills palates seeking immediacy and inspires passionate plaudits from some critics. There was instead fruit that was sleek, suave and understated . The more we drank the more we loved its hidden nuances. The concentration was there but it needed to be unraveled. Precision was its hallmark, not port-like chocolatey fruit. While not yet complex this was Grand Vin.

The phrase “Grand Vin” is not necessarily restricted to Grand Cru Burgundy or other pedigreed wines from elsewhere. But Grand Cru burgundy should be synonymous with “Grand Vin”. It is often not immediately apparent when a wine should deserve this exaltation because it is not possible to quantify inherent quality. The more its renown the more nuanced and subtle it usually is. An intensity of fruit, while desirable, is not one of the prime assets of a Grand Cru but traits of precision, persistence and purity are what eventually exalts these wines. Floridity and immediacy are more attributable to wines of less class. But, like the Baricci Brunello, that sparked this essay , a wine which was young , rough and tight , other wines of Grand Vin quality likewise only give sneak peeks of what is to come. They might not set the taste receptors on fire but they oftentimes send brain cells tingling with excitement.

The designation “Grand Cru” for certain vineyards is not because they yield fruit that have high alcohol potential. In fact it is almost the reverse. The vineyards are often on poor soil and poorly exposed and fruit barely ripens. For instance, upper sections of Chambertin and Latricieres are cool and sheltered by woods just above them. Even in good years (at least in the past) they often give a measly 11.5% alcohol . So chaptalization is/was often necessary just to balance the wine out with body (alcohol). BUT, the 2005 vintage needed no such assist. Fruit came in at around 13.5 % potential alcohol in nearly all the Grand Cru vineyards. As it did in 2003 as well. Yet in the 03's the qualities of nuance, precision and finesse are completely swamped by the aggressive intensity of the fruit hogging the limelight , which is not what Grand Vin is about. The 2003's are big wines but without balletic athleticism. Balance is the key to a Grand Vin and that is why the Red Burgundy Grand Cru 2005's, even with their rough & tough youthfulness at this young age, will mature in a slow arc, unlikely to please those without patience, and exemplify the definition of what it takes to be a Grand Vin. They may ( nearly always) show less well at this point in time than 1er Crus or even Village wines but their greatness, hopefully, can be sensed even now.

20 Questions for Mary Taylor of the Thoreau Wine Society

You're living in Burgundy but you have a very strong connection to the Boston area. Tell me about that.
Im grew up in Concord, MA, my parents are still there and I return from time to time. It's a compelling place, so beautiful and so much history. Later I went to Boston College and lived in Allston for some years, while working at the Prudential Center and then at Boston University. I eventually moved to New York but I remain faithful to my Beantown roots, and I love Boston restaurants like Upstairs on the Square and Chez Henri.

Your website,, was recently featured in Food & Wine magazine. How did you attract their attention?
I had met Megan Krigbaum, the assistant wine editor at Food & Wine, while working at another job. She liked my emails and featured the site in the magazine. It helps to keep people's email addresses – you never know when an email list will come in handy.

What's the connection between wine and Thoreau?
It's funny, I was just biking through Gevrey Chambertin tonight and thinking about all the extraordinary wines that I've had that come from this tiny land mass. Why is Chambertin so different from Lavaux
St. Jacques? As you get more into it, these are the questions from which you derive so much pleasure because you are directly experiencing what the soil/climate combination can produce; a very transcendental experience, if you quiet down and give attention to such sensual nuances. That is a major part of Thoreau's writings – transcendentalism – accessing the divine via nature. He also refused to give into societal strictures and went off on his own, similar to what I'm doing.

Other than your website and blog, what service do you offer to readers and wine lovers?
Good question. It's been a bit of a slog getting going. The logistics of what I'm doing are quite complicated, especially in regards to the individual states and their policies. But effectively what I do is sell wine like any other retailer in the US. I just do it from wine country. As I get moving, I will branch out and do events and wine trips. People can always look me up when they are in Burgundy, I'd show them the lay of the land.

Your blog includes some fantastic, little-known information, such as "in Paris, with practically every apartment comes a share in a dank basement" that could be used, presumably, as a wine cellar. Could you tell us more about that?
I just marvel at how France and the US have co-existed for so long and yet, as much as we Americans look up to French cuisine, we gaff at the idea of having a glass of wine with lunch (although we'll go out and have 3 American-sized cocktails at night). Proper French (not the dudes at the train station bar) really know how to do wine right. Really enjoy a glass or four with a great meal, but rarely or never go over-board. Keep wines in a cellar so that they are drunk when they are softened and more complex. Or spend $50 on a good bottle, but only drink one per week, when its matured properly. People in the US who have adopted these principles have pleasure in their lives that the rest of y'all are missing.

Your biography indicates a very strong connection between wine and literature. What, in your opinion, is the essence of that connection?
Literature and all art, really, gives us true freedom from monotony. Great wine has profound qualities like this. I remember drinking an '85 Salon with all of its bakery, perfume and old Paris smells... It just created another realm for me to jump into, just like a great novel or a great song.

Do you have a particular memory that crystallized wine as an important part of your life? Or is wine one of those interests that simply grew as you grew?
Well, honestly, I began as a White Zinfandel drinker. To my underage palate I was impressed that it was so gulpable, when beer and hard alcohol were so bitter and offensive. But as a good college student, I got into the merits of all of the finer beverages, irregardless. It was one night when my then-boyfriend brought home a bottle of '92 Opus One. We lapped it up and eventually went to Napa seeking out great wine. When I started working in wine, at Sothebys, I tasted many great bottles from all over the world, and started amassing a collection. But now, I take it easy, there's no reason to go crazy. I can say that because my now-boyfriend brings home Chambertin from his winery.

What is the Wine & Food Connoisseurs' Club in New York, and what is your involvement in it?
The Food and Wine Connoisseur's Club is another reason I can speak so confidently about wine. The club has existed since 1980, and is comprised of 12 members (I was made member three years ago). Led by Kris Prasad, a PhD chemist, along with some brilliant palates (I am the youngest and least accomplished), we taste 12 wines blind of a particular region and vintage. We thoroughly and seriously round-table discuss each one, discuss the appellations, soil and vintage, rank them in order, get into arguments about which is which and later reveal them. Then we taste them all over again with dinner, and throw a few older bottles into it as well. I've learned about sub-regions of, for example, Brunello di Montalcino, like I could never learn otherwise.

Are you aware of a similar club in Boston?
Not yet, although I try to cultivate one every time I'm there! But considering I will be spending more and more time in Boston (the folks) I would love to hook up with more connoisseurs. Like the Connoisseur's Club, I assume these clubs are small and limited.

What is the demographic of your readership? Are most readers based in the States? In France? Somewhere else?
All of my readers are in the US. Because my business is selling wine to Americans, I don't promote much here in France. But I do serve the entire US market, so if you know of anyone, have them join up!

What is the demographic of your clients? Do you ship any wine outside of France?
I get all of the wine imported to the US and ship from various retailers around the states.

In Burgundy, do you see yourself as a wine merchant? Something similar? Something different?
The winemakers think I am a wine journalist, which I am (I ghost write for another company). But they know I have my own independent business with which I hope to succeed and they are very supportive. I am more of a wine-merchant from my computer.

You seem to have a special interest in Italy, in addition to France. Why is that?
I love Barolo – it is ethereal and lovely at times, and masculine and edgy at other times – but it has soul and personality. I was the buyer for several years for an Italian-based wine shop in Manhattan and I got to taste thousands of Italian wines and learn in-depth about the regions and the varietals. I met hundreds of Italian wine-makers as they passed through New York. It just happened that way. I also love Spain, Portugal, Germany and Austria, but I ended up working in depth with Italy.

What in your opinion (speaking from France, as someone with a vested interest in the sale of French wines) has been the effect of the weak dollar against the Euro?
Oh it's just terrible on both ends. If you are serious about wanting to drink great wine, taking a gamble on something at these current prices can often be a major disappointment. Thus, I verify what I sell. I might not be the first one to wax scientific, but I have tasted in great seriousness thousands of the world's best wines. My clients trust my palate. I don't sell what I haven't tasted and found to be excellent.

We've all heard how young people in France are now drinking more beer than wine. As an observer (and participant) of French culture, what's your take on this development?
In France, beer is for partying, wine is for dinner. No wonder the Americans drink more wine. My roommates in Brooklyn down bottles of wine when they are partying. Here in France, its beer.

How do you identify the wines and the winemakers you decide to work with?
It takes years of experience to get a sense. I couple that with the fact that my French boyfriend and his family and friends are very well-informed about who is doing great work throughout France. I usually propose working with a particular winemaker, and I wait to see how he reacts. If positive, he says "Oh yeah! He's really good." If negative, a nose wrinkle. He is out in the vineyards and at winemaker conferences and can get a much better sense of their focus and commitment. And I verify that with a tasting at each respective cuverie.

In a recent post you mentioned "that bit [of your] youth spent in the inner-city of Boston as well described in All Souls (the story of Southie) which I'm finally getting around to reading." Could you tell us more about that? About your youth in inner city Boston, that is, and about the book All Souls?
My family originally comes from Cork, Ireland. I went to public school in Massachusetts after the busing crisis. When I was 18, I hooked up with a bunch of kids from inner-city Boston, who teased me for being from Concord. I learned all about Whitey-Bulger and his effect on the city. There is a lot of pain there, because of that poverty and violence, that I both witnessed and felt. All Souls captures that. I like to mention other things in my essays besides wine wine wine – I connect with people on other levels.

The tone of your writing is balanced between critically astute and popularly engaging. Is that what you're after as you write?
Well, I'm totally bored sometimes with the same structure over and over. It's a challenge getting people excited about not only the product you sell as well as you and your mission. Because I'm not standing in a store engaging people, I have to make my essays as human as possible.

Do you have any formal training in wine?
I have an advanced certificate in wine from the Wine Spirit Education Trust. I started the next level which is the diploma but honestly, I failed chemistry in high school and as much as I learn about lignins and photosynthesis and sulphur and copper (there is so much to know), I probably couldn't pass a test.

What in your opinion are some of the most exciting wines coming out of France right now?
There are some ancient varietals being revived, such as the strains of Malbec that Elian da Ros has been working with in the Côtes du Marmandais. There is so much new hipster biodynamic winemaking; it's a great movement, but I think for some, it has become the only movement. And for me, I would rather a profound bottle of Patrick Javillier Meursault, made traditionally, than perhaps a Thierry Puzelat Cot.

Cathy Huyghe

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bordeaux Wine Route


Stormy Sky Over Saint-Emilion

View on St-Emilion From the Place du Clocher

The Gates to Chateau Canon Vineyards (see Church in the Far)

Kilometers of Galleries

St Emilion, Old Walls and Vineyards

You might consider the town of Bordeaux as the natural base for this exploration, but the traffic around and in Bordeaux is a challenge. The better option is to stay first a few days in Bordeaux, then find a base out of town to visit the area. Leaving or entering the Bordeaux limits by car can be a misery because lots of commuters live out of town and drive to work, and the freeways are often jammed. In Bordeaux itself you can walk or use its new glitzy tramway to feel the pulse of this great wine capital. Like every other rich town in France, Bordeaux succumbed to the tramway craze and bought itself this new costly toy. Riding in its cars will give you a good first approach of this magnificent town where wine is a major and historic cornerstone. Speaking of the tramway, a trolleybus system would have been cheaper, more silent and allow more flexibility in its itineraries, but a trend is a trend... Apart from the economic soundness of this new tramway, the outlook of the town improved much after this major remodeling project.
There are quite a number of good hotels in Bordeaux and we've used in the past both the Continental Hotel (doubles : 85 or 104 Euros)which is centrally located (we're giving these addresses without sponsorship...), and the very cheap Hotel F1 chain (33 Euros a room - all rooms can accomodate 1, 2 or 3 people)), which is located on the other side of the Garonne, at a 15 mn walking distance from downtown (they have a parking). You can reserve you Hotel F1 room through the internet (they're very basic but good value and fill up fast).
We'll skip the Bordeaux visit this time and concentrate on St-Emilion which is a good base to visit the region.
In spite of having all the features of a wine-tourist trap (like Beaune in Burgundy), with its collection of luxury wine shops and well-polished old streets, Saint Emilion is still a lovely place from which you can plan your exploration of the Bordeaux region without being bothered by the traffic. Once in Saint-Emilion, try not to loose your time with window shopping on wine paraphernalia that you'd probably find anywhere in the world, and start your time travel in this lovely small town...

To find an accomodation in or near St Emilion, you can look for a Chambre d'Hôte (B&B) on the web, like this page, or on that page. Many of these chambres also have a "table d'hôte", meaning that you can have dinner with the owners at a very reasonable price, and probably discover their favorite wine at the same occasion. Check the distance of the accomodation from St Emilion and use Viamichelin to locate the given village on the map (you need the ville/village name and its zip code).
Saint-Emilion is an extremely-well preserved village and walking along its streets is a pleasure. As it is sitting at the top of a hill, you have several spots with nice views over the town's roofs and the vineyards, like from the Place du Clocher near the Tourism Office. This "Office du Tourisme" provides the visitors with lots of info about the town and the wineries. St Emilion is literally encircled by vineyards, and some of the estates around St-Emilion were first planted by the Romans. The Roman Poet ausone for example, owned one of the three properties of his time, including what has become Chateau Ausone. I can't but recommend an excellent guide book to vist the area, it is Hubrecht Duijker's Touring in Wine Country, Bordeaux (a collection directed by Hugh Johnson). The French edition seems to be sold out but you should find the English version. Its many maps covering each of Bordeaux Appellations are so detailed that you can easily find the properties yourself, and these maps will also be of great help to understand the Appellations and locate the estates and their neighboors. Many world-renowned estates are at an easy walking distance of the village, like Chateau Ausone, Chateau Bel Air, Clos Fourtet, Chateau Canon or Chateau Beauséjour Duffau. Take the right street and path, and you can be walking along Ausone's vineyards or Chateau Canon's in the matter of 5minutes after leaving the Place du Clocher.

When you begin your vist of St-Emilion and its region, you may try the tourist train (see picture right), it costs 5 Euro per person and drives you around St Emilion with a multi-language description of the landscape and estates it drives by. Not a must-do experience, especially if they keep the glass-windows on (actually it's cheap for a sauna) like when we took it, and once you'll venture on foot outside of Saint-Emilion, you'll realize that you can do the itinerary yourself by foot. Also, the operators of this train seem to direct the tourist on certain wineries along the circuit where a tasting room and a shop welcomes the visitors, and I am not sure these wineries are the most interesting ones.
Another good option to explore thearea is to rent a bicycle. You can ask at the Tourist office near the Place du Clocher, according to this page, they have bicycles to rent. The Chambre d'Hôte where you stay may also have a few bicycles for your own use (like the Chambre d'Hôte of Chateau Meylet), and that may be one of the things to ask before choosing your accomodation. You can also join of of these costly packages where your bicycle tour is organized through several points of interest and estates, like here. If you are an experienced cyclist and feel that you can travel on your own bicycle like this fellow on left, prepare your gear (don't forget the rain coat) and take the road from Bordeaux, your trip will be very rewarding especially if you keep using the small roads. See this page for a few tips.

The cats of Saint emilion are either wine snobs, or really, really spoiled... Somehow the wine craze has crossed the species boundaries in St Emilion and I shot red-handed (red-clawed ?) this one as it was sharpening its claws on...a vine right in the tiny garden of a local wine shop. The wine shop in question is the Comptoir des Vignobles and there are a few wine shops of this quality in the village, they all seem well stocked with tempting bottles. Several of them have a few open bottles for tasting, and as the top estates don't sell wine at the estate in Bordeaux, it may be interesting to make a few purchases if you can afford it (we can't). These shops stock old millesimes too and the rule is to be impressed by the price tag of the top estates. Great place to buy a bottle and have it with friends sitting in the vineyards.

St Emilion sits on kilometers of caves and man-made galleries, and the size on this underground world is such that only a small proportion is used as wine cellar. The picture above was shot on the small road leading to Chateau Bel air.
In St Emilion proper, you still find authentic streets and places if you venture out of the beaten path. It is a good surprise to see these simple scenes, untouched by the wine & luxury culture. We walked along this "rue des Douves" [pic on left] as we came back from our stroll near Chateau Canon and Chateau Ausone. Very quiet walk, we were basically alone. I noticed the many fig trees in the area and must confess that I picked a small branch from a fig tree on Ausone property, with the goal to have it grow in the Loire. I'm not sure it will work yet, I'll keep you informed. Whatever, we came back to St Emilion through this narrow street bordered with many unused caves and underground galleries, some of them being walled. These galleries were initially quarries, not cellars. A nice smell of freshness and cold rock cellar came to us as we walk along this quiet path.

Saint Emilion has been largely spared by modern constructions and it is a pleasure to walk straight from the old city to prestigious vineyards. The vineyard on the picture belong (if I'm right) to Clos Fourtet. The wall on the right is a remain of the fortifications that were protecting the city from invaders. Don't ask me too many details, I think it was the English armies, and there has been some rough battles in the vicinity.There are a couple of wine bars, the most well-known being near the office du tourisme. The one we went to is a bit off-center, it is named Chai Pascal on the rue Gaudet, and it has a connected computer in addition to a few nice wines. I overheard a few conversations there and it seems that some estate owners are regulars. So if you want to hear insider news and spy on the region, that may the place to go. I just found a positive review (in French) on this cool place.

That's one of the reasons I prefer the slow travel to the fast TGV trains (the other being it is much cheaper) : We saw this herd as we were leaving the region and driving northward in the direction of Limoges on secondary roads. At precisely the time we stoped for a few minutes, three herd boys arrived to move the animals to another prairie, the oldest, in his mid 40s, had long dark hair and a several-days-old beard and looked as if he lived in a remote place in the backcountry. He was visibly teaching a maybe-15-year-old future herd-keeper on how to prepare carefully a herd to move. I regret not to have asked for a picture but felt it would break the magic, plus I'm not sure they would have accepted.

Bertrand Celce

Australia: Western Australia wineries being sold off

A number of family-owned wineries are selling up and leaving one of Australia's most prominent grape-growing regions.

Despite vineyards in the south west of WA experiencing a prosperous harvest this year, many say they no longer have the time to produce wine.

Owners of Willespie winery at Wilyabrup, Marian and Kevin Squance, planted their first vines back in 1976.

Marian says the decision to sell the winery had nothing to do with financial pressures - it's because they've reached retirement age.

"We are getting closer to 70 than 60," she says.

"It's a lot of ongoing work and we would never want to do it less than our best.

"Yes, we'll be very sad to see it go. In fact, my grand-daughter said to me today, Gran what will you do when you sell Willespie? And I said, well I'll cry first of all, then I'll probably enjoy my retirement."

White Rocket Wine Company Unearths a Treasure in Geode for Millennial Generation Chardonnay Drinkers

NAPA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--White Rocket Wine Company is launching Geode, a new-generation, super-premium Chardonnay fusing timeless quality and contemporary style in a strikingly sophisticated package targeted to savvy young wine consumers. Geode is crafted from vineyards in Santa Barbara County, a classic growing region whose stellar Chardonnays are universally recognized for superior quality. With its warm, inviting label, aura of earthy energy and promise of rich, pure flavor, Geode beckons wine lovers to “discover the treasure within.”

“Chardonnay is the most popular wine in the United States, with a 22% share of the total wine market, and it’s also the number-one white wine sold on-premise,” notes White Rocket Vice President of Marketing Mark Feinberg. “Dollar sales of super and ultra-premium Chardonnays grew 8% off a huge base in 2007, four times the rate of the total Chardonnay category. With established wine drinkers continuing their love affair with Chardonnay and sophisticated Millennial Generation consumers seeking exciting, environmentally conscious new brands, the time is right for wine lovers to discover Geode.”

Geode arises from vineyards in the rolling hills of Santa Barbara County, a majestic, world-class growing region along California’s South Coast. Santa Barbara’s spectacular geography and cool, marine-influenced climate produce lush, sumptuous Chardonnays. The prime vineyards selected for Geode are farmed and irrigated responsibly, minimizing the use of synthetic fertilizers and utilizing cover crops to control pests and nourish the soil. The pure, flavor-packed grapes from these outstanding sites infuse Geode with its rich, earthy goodness.

The 2006 Santa Barbara County growing season was long and cool, ensuring Geode’s Chardonnay grapes had extended hang time, which produced intense, concentrated flavors. The fresh, pure juice was fermented in French oak barrels, then underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged sur lie in barrel for 8 months, with frequent stirring of the lees. The result is a rich, full-bodied Chardonnay with bright tropical fruit aromas complemented by enticing honey, toasted oak and baked bread scents. In the mouth, Geode delivers lush, creamy, tropical fruit flavors balanced by crisp acidity and a refreshing, mineral-tinged finish that makes it delicious with food, especially rich seafood, poultry and vegetarian dishes.

“Our debut vintage of Geode perfectly captures the marvelous terroir of Santa Barbara County and the spirit of Millennial Generation consumers, who are acutely conscious of protecting the environment,” says Mark Feinberg. “It’s an earth-friendly Chardonnay that’s delicious to the core, one that will delight wine lovers seeking rich, pure flavor in a modern, elegant style.”

About White Rocket Wine Company

Launched in 2006, White Rocket Wine Company focuses on developing new brands that appeal especially to Millennial-generation wine consumers, who comprise a large and ever-growing segment of the premium wine market. In addition to Geode, White Rocket markets Horse Play, AutoMoto, Silver Palm, Camelot, Dog House, Ray’s Station, Pepi, Tiz Red and Tin Roof Cellars. The company is located in Napa, CA.

Tempranillo Group Goes Public

Growers and producers of Iberian varieties hope to popularize their favorites

Napa, Calif. -- A group of North American grapegrowers and winemakers that quietly allied more than two years ago will meet the public for the first time in August. The Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society, which goes by the tasty acronym "TAPAS," will welcome the trade and the public at Napa's Copia center for wine, food and the arts, at a fiesta featuring tastings from some 40 participating wineries.

Members of the wine trade are invited to attend the opening on Friday, Aug. 8, featuring technical seminars explaining "Why Iberia and Why Now," and updates on viticultural and ecological requirements for individual varieties of Iberian grapes, plus guided tastings and a walk-around tasting of wines produced by TAPAS members. Tickets for the trade are complimentary; register at

Although the group's name highlights Tempranillo, perhaps the best- known Iberian grape, most of the 70-plus members grow or make wine from numerous varieties grown on the European peninsula. Albariño, Garnacha (Grenache), Graciano, Mourvèdre, Touriga, Verdejo, Souza and Bastardo are among the Iberian grapes now grown and vinified in North America. TAPAS' membership includes growers and wineries throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Texas and even Ontario, Canada.

Earl Jones, proprietor of Abacela and president of TAPAS.Earl Jones, TAPAS president and proprietor of Abacela Winery in Roseburg, Ore., (, explained that, although the Iberian grapes are most commonly considered "warm climate" varieties, "There is a key misperception that Spain is a desert. It actually has the second highest elevation in Europe (behind only Switzerland). It's a huge mesa, with elevations of 2,000 to 4,000 feet. The elevation cools it to something more moderate, the kind of place these grapes can thrive."

The top varietal among Abacela's 6,000 case per year annual production is Tempranillo. Although it's gaining popularity, "Tempranillo is hardly a household word, even in Europe," because in Spain it's bottled under the regional denomination, Rioja, Jones explained to Wines & Vines. "We have an identity problem."

Jones and fellow industry fans of the Iberian grapes first got together in late 2005, and formally started TAPAS in January 2006. Although the group has held a few tastings for professional wine organizations, most notably at the Unified Symposium in Sacramento last January, "We're trying to reach out to consumers," Jones said. He recalled that the Unified event, which drew about 300 members of the industry, was primarily an academic affair. "That didn't extend the reach to consumers," he acknowledged.

Therefore, the Copia fiesta will be open to the public on Saturday, Aug. 9, with consumer-oriented seminars and guided tastings, and a walk-around tasting where sippers can chat with TAPAS members. Tickets are available at

St. Amant's Stuart Spencer is a TAPAS board member.TAPAS board member Stuart Spencer, program manager for the Lodi Winegrape Commission (, is active in his family winery, St. Amant, which has been growing Spanish and Portuguese varieties in the Sierra Foothills since 1980, and producing varietal and port-style wines from them since 1981.

He's enthusiastic about the organization, and about its movement into the public eye. "This accomplishes several things. It lets people (consumers) know that this is being done, and lets other wineries know, too. We'd love to do this at least every year."

Spencer commented that the U.S. wine market is changing. "The younger consumers are more adventurous, more accepting. These varieties can have a place-hold in American consumers' minds."

He believes that the history of the U.S. wine market holds a key to the future of these still obscure varieties. "I have an unproven, unstudied theory," he said. "Look at the Old World wine regions that have succeeded: Bordeaux, Burgundy. The recent success of wines from Spain and Portugal here provides a platform for these (new) names," suggesting that U.S. producers of these same grapes may coattail on consumer marketing campaigns from Old World producers.

"My goal for this group is to develop, flourish and subscribe to quality," Spencer said. "Our knowledge of rootstock and clones is growing. We have experience working with these varieties in the vineyards."

He and his family have learned to work with the early-ripening Tempranillo, with its tendency to high pH, and reductive qualities in the winery. They've also come to terms with the even more temperamental Bastardo. "It's called that for a very good reason," he said. "It's thin skinned, light colored, it ripens early, has tight clusters; it rots easily and birds love it." Spencer doesn't recommend this variety for table wine, but uses it to make a nutty, aged dessert wine.

TAPAS' agenda includes both market outreach and collegial sharing of knowledge, Spencer emphasized, observing that, "In the wine industry, people like to get together and talk about what they are doing."

TAPAS, bearing in its name the implication of social conviviality and late nights in Spain, is poised to take on the French and Italian varieties that have thus-far formed the American wine vocabulary.

Jane Firstenfeld

Thursday, June 26, 2008


The purpose of the Marin Wine Auction is to raise money to fund the programs, services and research projects of our charitable beneficiaries.

The Marin Wine Auction's primary focus is its annual wine-related event held each September in Marin County. All activities that comprise the Marin Wine Auction are intended to create a stimulating and exciting environment of “natural giving” by those who love and appreciate wine.

Toward that end, the Marin Wine Auction, hosted by the Keiretsu Forum Charitable Foundation, cultivates participation by the Marin and North Bay wine communities to work in conjunction with businesses, restaurants, entertainment, and communications firms, as well as individuals united in the common goal of supporting the charitable activities of the beneficiary organizations.

100% of the net proceeds of the Marin Wine Auction are passed through to selected 501 (c)3 organizations.

The Marin Wine Auction is hosted by my organization Keiretsu Forum Charitable Foundation North Bay (a donor advised fund at Marin Community Foundation) which is the charitable arm of the Keiretsu Forum, the world's largest angel investor network.

Each year we hold a major event to raise money for charities, and our members that attend tend to be quite generous. This year, the event will be the first annual Marin Wine Auction which will be held on September 13 at the Marin Art and Garden Center with 100% of the net proceeds going to various 501 (c)3 organizations – most with a North Bay focus. Over 20 Marin wineries will be showcased and Heidi Krahling of Insalata's will be serving up an Oyester bar, seafood shooters, skewered delights, and veggie antipasti platters.

Elizabeth May, Director

Keiretsu Forum San Francisco / North Bay

425 Market Street, 26th Floor

San Francisco, CA 94105

Direct: 415-244-9890

Fax: 415-543-2007


This is a new, unique & well rounded news source for wine lovers around the world.
News is constant and from a wide array of sources. Cut & Paste this link
& you will see. DECANT3R should be in your répertoire.



Wine growers throw stones at riot police after a demonstration in Montpellier, southern France Wednesday, June 25, 2008.


MONTPELLIER, France - Winemakers in southern France have burned two police cars and vandalized supermarkets during protests to demand government aid.

Vintners in France's Languedoc-Roussillon region have been protesting plummeting prices for their regional wines as well as rising fuel costs.

Top regional official Cyrille Schott says protesters broke windows at the courthouse in the city of Montpellier. In nearby Montagnac, protesters wielding baseball bats chased police from their vehicles and set the cars on fire.

Schott says protesters damaged four bank buildings.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New gizmo creates fine wine in mere minutes

If you're living on a Two Buck Chuck expense account -- and let's face it, these days we all are -- but have a taste for a 20 buck Cabernet, then you might consider a new wine-aging gizmo on the market.

It's called the Perfect Sommelier and it ages wine in 30 minutes, rather than years, according to the folks behind TPS. While there are skeptics locally, it's drawing some praise and awe from wine experts like Anthony Dias Blue, Bon Appetit's wine editor, who used it on an Italian Brunello "known for being tight and unapproachable when young." (Brunellos start at $40.)

But the gizmo turned it around, he says.

"Don't ask me how it works, but it works," he says in a testimonial.

Makers of TPS say it works like this: Open a bottle of wine and replace it with a magnetic top. Then place the bottle on the magnetic coaster or base, which also is part of the kit.

Once this process -- which includes the creation of a magnetic field and traveling wine molecules -- is done, the wine reportedly is transformed. After 30 minutes, the bitterness from some of those budget bottles of wine should be gone.

Gregg Wilson of the Artisan Cellar in the Merchandise Mart asked one of his highfalutin wine collector customers, and the customer dismissed it.

"His thought was 'just drink something else if it's not ready.' "

Wilson, fine wines director at the store, says this isn't something you'd use on a 2005 Bordeaux, which isn't ready to open yet.

"But I'm not against it for casual wines that need a boost," he said.

He and others question the need for a product when the market is flush with good, inexpensive wines.

"For people who want to have a nice wine with their meals every day, even in the present economy there are tons of wines for under $10 -- and they're great wines -- that's great," said Gregory Fulham, a wine consultant with a bit of a cultlike following at Binny's Express in Hyde Park, 1531 E. 53rd St.

"For the guy who has to have everything, the latest bar, the latest corkscrew -- great. But in 10 years I want to know where they are. I can see the cart table at the yard sale right now," Fulham said.


Wine Drinkers Still Trading Up

Recent IRI data shows evidence that American wine drinkers are still trading up amidst poor economic conditions. Table wine dollar sales grew 5.7% and volume rose 1.5% in the four weeks to May 18, according to IRI scan data, with growth of domestic wines far outpacing imports. Value of domestic wines grew 7%, while volume was up 2.4%. Dollar sales of imports, meanwhile, rose 1.7%, while volumes declined -2.5%. It looks like the weak U.S. economy is taking its toll on imports as consumers opt for less expensive domestics.

Red and white wines remained relatively steady, with red wine value rising 6% and white wine value growing 6.3%. Volumes of red wine grew 2.6%, while white wines were up 2.5% in the four weeks.

VARIETALS. The same varietals that have shown growth in recent years continued to surge ahead, while Merlot and Syray/Shiraz remained weak. Dollar sales of Cabernet rose 7.7%, while volumes grew 5.9%, according to IRI. Chardonnay sales, meanwhile, rose 4.7% and volumes were up 3.2%. Sauvignon Blanc values jumped an impressive 13.4% and volumes climbed 6.6%. Not far behind, dollar sales of Pinot Grigio climbed 10.3% and volumes rose 7.1%. Once again, Pinot Noir demonstrated the highest rate of growth, with sales up 19% and volumes up 21%. Zinfandel grew 11.5% in value and 6.2% in volume.

Meanwhile, dollar sales of Merlot declined -0.2% and volume was down -0.1%. Merlot has lost 0.7% of dollar share in the four weeks and -0.2% of volume. Syrah/Shiraz saw value fall -5.1% and volume decline -4.2%, with share points down -0.4% and -0.2%, respectively.

REGIONS. California, Oregon and Washington all performed well in the month, displaying dollar sales growth of 6.5%, 20% and 12.1%, respectively. Volumes of California wines rose 2.2%, followed by Washington (8.5%) and Oregon (13.4%).

Out of the big three importers - Australia, France and Italy - only Italy showed growth in dollar sales. Value of Australian wines declined -1.9%, while volume was down -1.7%. French dollar sales declined -2.7% and volume was down -5%. Value of Italian wines, meanwhile, rose 2.2%, but volumes fell -4.9%.

German wines rose 2.5% in dollar sales and fell -7.2% in volumes. Portuguese wines grew 7.5% in value and 1.8% in volume, while Spanish wines climbed 4.6% and 1%, respectively.

Other than Australia and South Africa, dollar sales of new world wines performed well in the four week period. Argentina displayed the highest rate of growth (37.8% in value and 19.7% in volume), followed by New Zealand (25.2% in value and 13.2% in volume) and Chile (6.3% in value and -1.3% in volume). Dollar sales of South Africa declined -14.6% and volume fell


PRICE SEGMENTS. Meanwhile, higher priced wines continued to show promising growth in the four week period, indicating that consumers are still trading up. Dollar sales of the $20+ wine category rose 14.2% and volume grew 10%. Dollar sales of wines in the $15.99-19.99 range grew 14.1% and 13.3% in volume. Wines in the $11-14.99 category saw values increase 12.9% and volumes climb 12.4%. Dollar sales of wine priced $8-10.99 grew 9% in value and 6.9% in volume. Dollar sales of wine priced $5-7.99 grew 1.6%, while volumes grew 1.2%.

The following price categories experienced growth in dollar sales but declines in volume. Wines in the $3-4.99 range grew 1% in value but declined -3% in volume. Lastly, wines priced below $3 grew 0.3% in dollar sales but were down -3% in volume.

Wine & Spirits Daily

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New 'White Wine' Has Red's Health Benefits : Study

After red wine, now it’s turn for white wine to contain all the goodness of health. The researchers from Technion, the Israeli Institute of Technology have developed white wine with the same health benefits as red.

Israeli scientists revealed that they have developed a white wine with boosted levels of plant chemicals and polyphenols which are believed to fight heart disease.

Various studies have shown that regular drinking of moderate amounts of alcohol helps in combating cardiovascular diseases and some studies have put red wine at the top chart with stronger effects than other beverages.

Red wine, made from the crushed dark colored grapes which remain in contact with the grape skin during fermentation, contains antioxidantsdefine called polyphenols which helps in lowering cholesterol, preventing cancerdefine and fighting heart disease. On the other hand, white wine lacks the properties as it is fermented only from the pressed juice of the grape.

Professor Michael Aviram, a researcher at Technion's Faculty of Medicine said, "There has been an incredible response from those that have heard about the research, with many thinking of taking up drinking white wine more seriously."

The researchers developed an incubation technique i.e. incubating squeezed grapes in the presence of alcohol for 18 hours prior to removing skin, to increase white wine polyphenols six-fold.

This new wine will have same taste, color and aroma just like regular white wine but will also contain the same beneficial substances of red wine.

An Israeli wine manufacture, Binyamina Wine Cellars and Distillers has already started using the recipe to manufacture the healthier white. It is expected to hit the shelves in the United States by the end of the year.

In year 2002, a research was published in the magazine New Scientist and the online version of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry which showed that scientists at the University of Montpellier in France developed a white wine named as Paradoxe Blanc which they claimed has the same health benefits as that of red wine.

The wine was named after the famous paradox that the French have a remarkably low rate of heart disease despite their rich diet and smoking habits -- possibly because of all the red wine they drink with their meals.

The lead researcher, Pierre-Louis Teissedre and team produced a chardonnay which was 4 times rich in polyphenols as typical white wines.

Called as new generation of wine, Paradoxe Blanc was deliberately enriched with antioxidants and was developed specifically to treat people with juvenile, or type 1 diabetesdefine, whose bodies are less able to mop up spare free radicals. Dr. Teissedre said drinking a glass or two of the wine a day could benefit people with diabetes.

When on one hand many international studies are going ga-ga over health benefits of wines there are few studies which reveal that consumers do not get much protection from wine than they do, from drinking beer and spirits.

Abby Kapoor

Bacchus plans to have around 8-10 portfolio wine companies

A-B "Limited" Partner with Winery Investor

Recent buying sprees of U.S. wineries and increased consumption among consumers has resulted in a wave of investment funds specializing in the wine business. And just in the nick of time as family-owned wineries are preparing to hand the business off to the next generation. Coincidence?

Here enters Bacchus Capital Management, a winery investment firm based in San Francisco, that formed last year by Seagram heir Sam Bronfman II and partners Peter Kaufman and Henry Owsley of the Gordian Group.

Gordian is known for its efforts to guide companies through restructuring and back to health, including Spiegel, Smithfield Foods, and, more recently, Summit Global Logistics, according to an article in The New York Sun.

One of their first ventures has been to launch a fund that will provide mezzanine capital and, to a lesser degree, private equity funding to wineries "maxed out at their banks," says Kaufman. Bacchus is prepared to lend at four to eight times earnings before income taxes, depreciation, and amortization, compared to banks who typically will only lend up to three times EBITDA. Most acquisitions in the field fetch prices as high as 12 to 18 times EBITDA.

In addition, Bacchus plans to have around 8-10 portfolio wine companies in the initial phase of the fund.

It has been well documented that most family-owned wineries are facing the challenge of how to pass the business onto the next generation without losing control. Silicon Valley Bank's survey last month said 51% of family-owned wineries are anticipating a change in ownership by 2017. So, expect a lot more companies like Bacchus in the next couple of years.

Kaufman and Owsley can help wineries pass their business to the next generation, while Bonfman and recently hired colleague Mike Jaegar are proficient at running wineries and promoting brands. Recall that Jaegar is a former Constellation and Vincor USA senior exec, who became Bacchus president and coo in April.

ANHEUSER-BUSCH LIMITED PARTNER. Bacchus has also signed Anheuser-Busch as a significant limited partner. A-B is contributing money, a full-time employee (senior exec Keith Wesselschmidt) and use of its distribution system. Distribution is key since most wineries (96%) sell less than 100,000 cases a year and often have a difficult time gaining distribution through wholesalers.

"The key to success is distribution. There are only about 10 national distributors that matter, and a lot of wineries can't get distribution. Sam Bronfman is extremely conversant with these organizations and can be incredibly helpful. Worst case, some can game the system and make an end-run around the distributors, going through Anheuser," said Kaufman in the article.

According to The Sun, Kaufman says he's not sure how Bacchus's arrangement with AB might be affected by an anticipated bid from InBev.

Wine & Spirits Daily

Wine maker eyes pack innovation amidst industry complacency

As winemakers come under greater pressure to ensure they are offsetting the environmental impacts of their operations, one global vintner believes that the humble carton may offer a productive new solution.

Jean-Charles Boisset, president of the Boisset family estate, said that its use of an octagonal multi layer carton for its French Rabbit brand of varietal wines had allowed the group to reduce material use by 90 per cent compared to glass-based wines.

Although only five per cent of the company's wine output, which totals about 5m cases of wine annually, comes from glass-alternative packaging, Boisset said that he believes operational improvements can be achieved from innovation in this area for more immediate consumption wines.

Wine companies are facing a challenge in finding new ways to package and distribute their products as part of wider calls for the entire beverage industry to ensure sustainability in production and sourcing.

The Prisma pack

Speaking over video link at an environmental conference being hosted by Tetra Pak, which supplies the eight-sided Prisma packaging for the wine, Boisset said that the wine industry has been "complacent" in adapting to packaging innovations and needed to change.

The carton, which combines polyethylene and aluminium to protect the wine from the impacts of UV rays, has a twist off plastic cap, making the product fully recyclable.

Besides the potential improvements of the Prisma pack regarding material use, the company claims there are convenience benefits as well related to using such packaging.

Boisset claimed that in opting for an octagonal product over the more traditional brick shape, the group have found a packaging that is still eye catching, while allowing for easier fridge storage and shatter proof alternative to glass during the product distribution.

Glass alternative push

While not a solution for ageing wine, with the aluminium-lined Prisma packaging offering a maximum storage life of about 24 months, Boisset said that he hoped to be part of a revolution in the wine industry to encourage acceptance of new types of wine packaging.

"We are not keeping innovations such as the French rabbit packaging to ourselves," he stated. "By helping to encourage greater competition in the carton and alternative wine-packaging sector, we hope to actually create an entirely new segment in the industry."

Boisset suggested that the main challenge would be consumer and retailer attitudes to the notion of drinking a carton of wine, though with French Rabbit on sale across Canada as well as the Stade de France in Paris, the message may be catching on.

With the product available in a number of countries worldwide, he added that demand in different markets for innovative new wine packaging was being driven by a variety of requirements.

These range from greater convenience in storing and transporting a product, to improved carbon footprint levels and other green factors.

However, the Boisset family remain far from the only wine group hoping to expand into new areas for pack innovation.

Industry-wide focus

Back in March, major players in the UK wine industry said they would team up with packagers and other stakeholders to improve cooperation in supplying lightweight glass bottles to tackle environmental concerns over the product.

The pledge was made at the closing of a forum between winemakers, retailers and their supply chain partners, which aimed to discuss ways of increasing the availability of lighter weight glass bottles.

Glass support

The decision followed the publication of findings by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP),which suggest that manufacturing glass emitted less carbon dioxide than manufacturing PET (polyethylene terephthalate) on a per unit weight basis.

A number of groups including WRAP, as well as producers and packagers like Constellation Europe, Kingsland Wine & Spirits, and Ardagh Glass UK, attended the forum.

The participants agreed to improve communication and cooperation in the supply chain from bottle makers up to retailers on how to better obtain light weight glass for packaging.

However, John Corbet-Milward, a technical director for industry body the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) said there was a lot of work to be done in order to meet its green ambitions.

"This is a challenge facing the whole industry because it's clear the UK wine sector needs to reduce the thousands of tonnes of packaging waste it produces every year," he stated. "We are pleased to have brought industry players face to face and delighted they have agreed to work more closely in future on the issue of lighter weight bottles."

Wrap findings

According to the WRAP study, manufacturing glass is less carbon intensive than manufacturing PET on a per unit weight basis.

However, a PET wine bottle can be manufactured of lower weight than the glass equivalent and light weighting has been shown to reduce CO2 emissions with regard to transportation of loads.

Neil Merrett
Lund, Sweden

"The Sipping Point" Demystifies Wine for Overwhelmed Wine Drinkers

According to a recent study the majority of wine drinkers report feeling confused by the sheer volume of choices on store shelves or restaurant wine lists and are looking for help to expand their knowledge. A new book, The Sipping Point: A Crash Course in Wine written by Laurie Forster, provides a solution to "overwhelmed" wine drinkers.

Baltimore, MD (PRWEB) June 24, 2008 -- Do your eyes glaze over and feelings of sheer terror envelop you when you're handed the wine list at your favorite restaurant? Have you ever wandered aimlessly through the aisles of your favorite wine store searching in vain for that perfect bottle of vintage vino to gift the hostess of a dinner party you're attending?

Whether you are overwhelmed, an enthusiast or just plain curious about wine, readers can find help in a new book from Laurie Forster, The Wine Coach®, entitled The Sipping Point: A Crash Course in Wine. The book showcases a variety of topics including the secrets to dealing with a sommelier, great gifts for wine snobs, the keys to food and wine pairing, proper serving temperature for wine, how to start your own wine club and more!

I wrote The Sipping Point: A Crash Course in Wine in plain, everyday English so that everyone can discover how to buy, taste, and enjoy wine with ease instead of anxiety. I also include some secrets and shortcuts that only seasoned wine experts know about so my readers can feel a bit more like wine insiders by the time they finish my book
Earlier this year, Constellation Wines released the latest findings of Project Genome™, the largest market research study on the habits of wine drinkers to date. They categorized consumers into one of six segments--Image Seekers, Enthusiasts, Savvy Shoppers, Satisfied Sippers, Traditionalists, and Overwhelmed. The largest group or 23% of wine consumers, fell into the Overwhelmed segment, while one of the second largest group were the Enthusiasts which account for only 12% of consumers, but purchase 25% of wine sold. The amazing common thread among most segments of the study was this - most people are totally inundated by the sheer volume of choices on store shelves or restaurant wine lists and are looking for help to expand their knowledge of what is contained in that vast array of bottles in the wine shop.

"As a wine educator, I find that many of my clients are looking to demystify wine so they can sit back, relax and enjoy it!" says Ms. Forster. "I wrote The Sipping Point: A Crash Course in Wine in plain, everyday English so that everyone can discover how to buy, taste, and enjoy wine with ease instead of anxiety. I also include some secrets and shortcuts that only seasoned wine experts know about so my readers can feel a bit more like wine insiders by the time they finish my book" explains Ms. Forster.

Written in a no-nonsense and entertaining style, The Sipping Point: A Crash Course in Wine will also tell you how to get those nasty red wine stains out of a white sofa, remove a broken cork out of a bottle of wine, how to feel comfortable reading a wine list that seems as long as a New York telephone book and how to properly open champagne without putting an eye out.

Ms. Forster's wine career began in 2002 as a way to blend her passions--wine and people. She studied with the American Sommelier Association to earn her certificate in Viticulture and Vinification and also trained as a life coach with CoachU, the leading global provider of life coach training programs. As The Wine Coach® she combines her training as a professional sommelier with her experience as a life coach to create unique corporate events, seminars and culinary tours that help people connect with wine and their passions. In addition to her extremely successful career as a wine educator, Ms. Forster is a columnist for several magazines, has her own weekly radio show "Something to Wine About®" and is a sought after guest on radio as well as TV shows. Ms. Forster is currently serving as the national media spokesperson for the "Pour on the Joy" campaign sponsored by Lindemans® Wines where she is helping people increase their happiness by making the wine-joy connection.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bordeaux's 2005 `Vintage of the Decade' Is Ready for Dinner

Wine critics are overly fond of pronouncing the latest Bordeaux release to be a ``vintage of the century'' -- 1982, 1989, 1990, 1995. Yet since we are in the eighth year of the 21st century, I'm confident that the 2005 Bordeaux is at least the best vintage of the decade -- and with high prices to match.

The most illustrious bottlings have soared out of sight for all but the wealthiest collectors of wines. Chateau Latour is $1,600, Chateau Ausone is $4,000 and Chateau Petrus is $5,000, even though most is already presold. Bottles from less- prestigious yet still well-regarded estates like La Mission-Haut- Brion ($950), La Mondotte ($500) and L'Eglise Clinet ($450) are tough to find in the market.

Fortunately, there are an amazing number of 2005 Bordeaux priced well under $100 that share the same strengths as more famous estates. The 2005 vintage -- about 900,000 bottles -- is full of bright wines with an early balance of fruit, acid and tannin. They are very easy to drink, even now, and it is not at all clear just how much better they will be in years to come.

The reasons for 2005's excellence are not difficult to understand: Good weather counted. Yet like everyone in the global wine market in the 21st century, Bordeaux vintners have learned how to make finer wines by cutting back grape yields, picking only the best fruit, carefully monitoring aging in the proper casks from vintage to vintage, and allowing the fruit -- not the tannins or alcohol -- to shine.

Lower Profiles

Many of the wines I tasted over the last two weeks don't have high profiles, yet I found them as wonderful as Bordeaux can and should be. You taste their distinctive cabernet sauvignon, with softening elements of merlot and other varietals.

These are red wines whose virtues are dimmed by sipping them without food. With red meats, poultry and game their luster emerges, full-bodied, mineral-rich and as satisfying with the first glass as with the second and third.

Chateau Marquis d'Alesme-Becker ($34), a third-growth Margaux, has come a long way in recent years. The 2005 is a superb wine, ready for the table, with big fruit and peppery flavors beneath. At 13.5 percent alcohol, it's a wine to drink and drink again over the course of a dinner.

Another third-growth Margaux, Chateau D'Issan ($85), was tight on first sip yet blossomed quickly when served with a rare grilled steak, accentuating the flavors of the beef while showing a burst of fruit and black cherry, with an edge of oak beneath.

Velvety St.-Emilion

Chateau Fombrauge ($55), the largest vineyard in St.- Emilion, is from vintner Bernard Magrez, who also makes the famous Grand Cru Pape Clement. Fombrauge is 77 percent merlot, 14 percent cabernet franc and just 9 percent cabernet sauvignon. Unfiltered, it's a velvety, intensely rewarding, highly refined St.-Emilion. It is also one of the best buys of the vintage. If you can get a case, do so.

Chateau Rocher-Calon was the biggest surprise of my tastings -- a big, brawny St.-Emilion to be sloshed into a glass, swirled and enjoyed with a lamb stew. At $17-$20, it's an astounding bargain.

If you like soft, merlot-based Pomerols, the blend of 95 percent with 5 percent cabernet franc under the simple label Pomerol Christian Moueix ($32) is a dreamy wine for those who cannot afford Moueix's great Chateau Petrus.

I did sample some well-structured though very tannic 2005s that will take a few more years to come into focus. Sarget de Gruaud-Larose ($40-$75) from St.-Julien was one of the more tannic examples -- much like its better-known sister wine Gruaud- Larose. Those tannins are stubborn right now, requiring at least a year or two more to release their grip.

Chateau Les Gravieres ($40), a Grand Cru St.-Emilion (not to be confused with la Graviere in Pomerol), usually made with 100 percent unfiltered merlot, was so tight that I couldn't puzzle out what other flavors lay beneath the tannins. Give it five years.

Vintages like this do not come along often enough. Yet if Bordeaux viniculture continues to modernize without losing the soul of its terroir and history, we should see more outstanding vintages like 2005 than would have been possible 20 years ago.

John Mariani

LEBANON: Wine Flows Under Hezbollah's Shadow

BEIRUT, Jun 23 (IPS) - Pine trees adorn majestic mountain flanks separating south Lebanon from the Chouf region in the village of Jezzine. Amid the shrubbery, lush vines, their crisp leaves tinted emerald green, bear the promise of a future harvest as the grapes start to form on the twisted branches. Bordering known Hezbollah strongholds, wine production seems to be thriving, in an area where the peaceful co-existence between the culture of the vine and the 'party of God' is indeed a paradox.

The neat rows of vines that neatly align the main road in Jezzine bear Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and many other grape varieties. "Lebanon is blessed with a consistent amount of rain and sun every year, which are factors that facilitate to a great extent the vinification process and make our country perfectly suited for wine production," says Habib Karam, partner at the Karam winery.

The Lebanese started producing wine 5,000 years ago. Their ancestors, the Phoenicians, were among the first people to commercialise and sell wine regionally, exporting their produce to the far shores of Mediterranean countries, including Italy and Greece. The wine industry witnessed a boost in 1857, when monks from the Ksara village in the Bekaa Valley, east of Beirut, started cultivating new varieties of vines they imported from Algeria, at the time a French colony and the second largest wine producer after France.

Karam examines the vines under the scorching sun, fixing a stem against the wire that supports the shrubs. In the background is Mount Safi, a mountain chain located north of the Litani river, its white rocky summits glowing in the sun. Since the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, and the subsequent deployment of troops from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) south of the Litani river, the militant group's military operations have become extremely difficult if not impossible, leading to their building fortifications on the mountain peaks surrounding Jezzine.

Karam nonetheless maintains that Hezbollah has never interfered with his work. Launched in 2003, his operation has been growing steadily, spreading over 75,000 square metres and boasting a yearly production of 55,000 bottles.

The wine maker has strayed from traditional Lebanese wine making by choosing an area away from the country's known 'wine country' in the Bekaa valley. "When I decided to establish my winery, the question I asked myself was what would make people buy my wine -- what would really differentiate me from the rest? I decided to produce a wine that would be distinguishable from others, something that could be only achieved if I grew my vines in a new territory outside the Bekaa Valley. I chose Jezzine." Karam comes from the area, which was occupied by Israeli armed forces until 2000.

His vineyards are currently scattered in different villages around Jezzine, such as Roum and Bisra. Looking at the picturesque landscape, it is difficult to imagine that the area was in the midst of a war only two years ago. Vine shrubs are firmly planted in soil of different shades, creating an earthy palette of beige and reddish brown, surrounded by pink wild flowers and red anemones.

"In spite of the war and the systematic targeting by the Israelis of any suspicious vehicles, I was able to irrigate my land. They had drones flying over the region -- luckily they never targeted my irrigation trailer, which was at one point filmed extensively. I suppose they wanted to make sure we were not engaged in any suspicious activity," says Karam.

The wine maker was in fact approached by Hezbollah members during the conflict, who inquired if he needed help with irrigating his vineyards. As the war lingered on, wine producers around the country worried about their autumn harvest. Fortunately, the conflict ended on Aug. 14, and the first white grapes were picked Aug. 18.

Two years after the July 2006 war, Lebanese wine production is in full throttle. One potential obstacle to the sector is the ever changing political climate, among which feature Syria's recent peace negotiations with Israel over the return of the Golan Heights. "The Golan Heights is known to produce a wine of excellent quality, which is comparable to Lebanese wines. In the event that the area is returned to Syria, it could represent serious competition for Lebanese wines," predicts Habib Karam.

As the sun sets over the Karam vineyard, the sound of explosions resonates in the distance, the source unknown, as Hezbollah has barred the entry of security forces. Nevertheless, the wine continues to flow.

Mona Alami

Steinhauer Looks to the Future

Portland, Ore. -- Speaking in front of a packed room at the Oregon Convention Center on Thursday, Robert Steinhauer reflected upon the changes he's seen since first entering the wine industry 40 years ago. Honored by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) as the recipient of its 2008 Merit Award, the noted grower said that during the past several decades an influx of new people changed Napa Valley, bringing in money and different life experiences that changed the area and the way wine is made there. He said that if the industry is going to continue to evolve and thrive, more money must be invested in research--both to increase quality and fight the pests that threaten crops.

As a recent graduate of the master's program at California State University, Fresno, Steinhauer had managed a 5,000-acre vineyard near Delano, Calif., in the southern Central Valley, where he was involved in negotiating a union contract with vineyard laborers. In the 1970s, at the urging of his wife, Verna, Steinhauer took a job in the Napa Valley, working for Beaulieu Vineyard under Andy Beckstoffer, who is now renowned as one of the biggest private vineyard owners in Napa Valley. Steinhauer also worked with Andre Tchelistcheff, the Russian-born, French-trained enologist who directed winemaking at Beaulieu for several decades. One of the longest-lasting lessons Tchelistcheff gave Steinhauer was the importance of site selection--the grape variety must be matched to the appropriate site to make high-quality wine. This was a new concept at the time for many California wineries, which sometimes planted Grey Riesling beside Zinfandel beside Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Gamay.

In 1979, Steinhauer began a 25-year career with Beringer Vineyards, a once-sleepy, 100-year-old Napa Valley winery that was then newly owned by the Nestle company of Switzerland. Steinhauer's tenure as Beringer vineyard manager coincided with the winery's growth from about 1 million cases annually to 10 million, he said.

"I kept saying to everyone that we can be good, and we can be big, too," Steinhauer recalled. He began a collaboration with Beringer winemaster Myron Nightingale and, later, his successor, Ed Sbragia, that enabled Beringer simultaneously to become one of the top White Zinfandel brands in California and also the maker of Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, both of which won the highest accolades from wine critics. For Beringer, Steinhauer expanded vineyards beyond the Napa Valley floor to Howell Mountain, to Knights Valley in Sonoma County, and to large vineyard developments in California's Central Coast.


Much as the new residents changed the Napa Valley's growing and winemaking traditions, the technology changed as well, Steinhauer said.

Drip irrigation--When Steinhauer began his career in the Central Valley, vineyards were flood-irrigated. Drip irrigation used much less water and made it easier to irrigate remote and hillside vineyards.
Mechanical harvesting--As far back as 1990, Steinhauer and staff did a comparative study of machine-harvested versus hand-harvested fruit. "It was proven out to be a good tool," he said. In a blind tasting of the resulting wines, the winemakers trying them could detect a difference, but they did not agree on a preference for one or the other.
Clean stock program--Steinhauer began his career at a time when leafroll disease and fanleaf virus infected hundreds of acres of vineyards and held back wine quality. A program to certify disease-free nursery stock was a boon for the industry, he said.
Chardonnay--The grower estimated that Chardonnay plantings in California have increased from 5,000 acres to 95,000 acres during his career, and he noted that improvements in viticulture produced increases in yields from 1.5 tons per acre in Napa Valley in the 1970s to 4 tons today.
Pinot Noir clones, and clonal selection availability for other varieties--Few options were available to growers in Steinhauer's early career, but he noted that the introduction of the Pommard clone, Beaujolais clones and, later, the Dijon clones, transformed California and Oregon Pinot Noir.
Phylloxera--In 1985, he first heard that a vineyard in Napa Valley was declining because of the infamous grapevine louse, phylloxera. "I had been a big fan of the AxR-1 rootstock," Steinhauer said, "and I was in the camp that said it will not be susceptible to phylloxera." Beringer had planted hundreds if not thousands of acres on this rootstock, known historically to have some susceptibility to phylloxera. "It was a $40 million mistake for Beringer," Steinhauer admitted, but as he directed the replanting of failing vineyards, many new viticultural improvements were implemented, including vertical shoot positioning of the vines, row orientation north and south, and other steps that "improved the wine quality by leaps and bounds."
Vine protection--Drip irrigation is nearly universal now, he observed, and many Napa Valley vineyards also install overhead sprinklers or wind machines for frost protection. Now, some growers have added water misters to cool the vines during heat spikes.
Filtered light--Early in his career, the California sprawl was a common vine-training design, which kept most of the fruit shaded by the canopy. Then in the 1980s and 1990s, canopies were stretched up and away from the fruit zone to allow sunlight on the berries. The next wave of research, however, showed that too much direct sun on the grapes is not good for wine quality, so the concept of a canopy that allows dappled light on the bunches is now preferred.
Sustainability--Steinhauer said he's proud that growers and vintners established the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance and promoted sustainable winegrowing guidelines for growers. He's happy with how far the program has progressed since early this decade, but said, "We've got to step back and find a way to certify this sustainability so the consumer knows he or she is getting a quality, responsible product."


Reflecting on the biggest challenges he faced as a grapegrower, Steinhauer recalled a trip to South Africa that he took with his Beringer teammate Tom Peterson and others. "I remember we were touring the vineyards, and Tom was afraid of the snakes, the puff adders and black mambos. That night at dinner, I asked the South African growers hosting us what their biggest problem in the vineyard was, and one said, 'Oh, the winemaker.' So that's universal," he quipped.

Pierce's disease and glassy-winged sharpshooter--Steinhauer said he was shocked to see the extent of damage in Temecula vineyards from Pierce's disease when he visited at the height of the infestation. "We have blue-green sharpshooters in Napa Valley, but you rarely see two or three at a time. In Temecula they were flying around us by the thousands." He said the industry had risen to the challenge of finding ways to defeat the sharpshooters through research.
Leafroll disease--Steinhauer mentioned the recent sighting of light brown apple moths in California as a potential threat, but added that vine mealybug and the recent fast spread of leafroll disease in Napa Valley vineyards are his biggest concerns. Believed to be the vector of the viruses that cause leafroll disease, the vine mealybug came in a suitcase on table grapes from the Mediterannean region to the Coachella Valley of California, according to Steinhauer, who said he saw the proof. "Leafroll is spreading very rapidly in Napa Valley," he said. "Believe me, this is extremely important. For some of us, it's as big a threat as phylloxera; but with leafroll, there is no known control, while with phylloxera there was," he said, referring to replanting on resistant rootstocks.
Climate change--Winegrowers need to accept that climate change is happening, and adapt to it, he said.
More challenges--The wine industry should find ways to make wines with the tannins and flavor of the current high-alcohol wines, but without so much alcohol, Steinhauer said. Handling salt accumulation in the soil of the San Joaquin Valley is another major challenge, as is fanleaf disease.
Moving forward

Steinhauer, who has been very active on industry boards such as the American Vineyard Foundation and the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium program committee, urged other members of the ASEV to support these and other industry associations at the local, state and national levels.

Finally, Steinhauer called for more research for the American wine industry to compete more effectively against its rivals. He acknowledged the work so far by the American Vineyard Foundation and National Grape & Wine Initiative, but said, "I challenge you to raise more money, a lot more money, for research. You might say that we're on the right track, that we're making progress, but as Will Rogers said, 'You can be sitting on the right track and still get run over.'"

Jim Gordon

"The United States is poised to become the leading wine consuming country in the world"


Majestic Fine Wines, the sales organization for Jackson Family Wines, has filled twelve newly created positions to support the expansion of its super-premium and luxury wine sales.

"The United States is poised to become the leading wine consuming country in the world," says Bill O'Connor, Vice President/National Sales Manager. "Despite the current economic slowdown, we at Majestic Fine Wines are expanding our sales efforts to meet the expected long-term consumer demand for fine wines nationwide."

Wine & Spirits Daily


Famed French winemaker Michel Rolland said Napa Valley has more great wines than any other country besides France.

In an interview with the Napa Valley Register, Rolland said: "Napa Valley has one of the highest ceilings in the world. Napa Valley is a place where we can find a lot of great wines now."

"There are more great wines in Napa Valley than in Italy."

He has been visiting Napa for 22 years and says "they don't need me much in the vineyards. They know what to do after 20 years." Instead, he assists more with blending.

Interestingly, he said good wines can be made everywhere, although great wines can't be made everywhere.

"Even at $2.99, you can make a good wine," he said. "People (growers and vintners) will be disappointed if they don't accept that."

He also said he likes working with American wineries because they have "more energy and creativity than elsewhere" and are quicker at making decisions.

"I was born in Bordeaux, and I know French behavior. You need five years to convince people to do something."

Wine & Spirits Daily

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Red, red wine
Go to my head
Make me forget that i
Still need her so

Red, red wine
It`s up to you
All I can do, i`ve done
But mem`ries won`t go
No, mem`ries won`t go

I`d have thought
That with time
Thoughts of her
Would leave my head
I was wrong
And I find
Just one thing makes me forget

Red, red wine
Stay close to me
Don`t let me be alone
It`s tearin` apart
My blue, blue heart

---red red wine rap section---

Red red wine you make me feel so fine
You keep me rocking all of the time

Red red wine you make me feel so grand
I feel a million dollars when your just in my hand

Red red wine you make me feel so sad
Any time I see you go it makes me feel bad

Red red wine you make me feel so fine
Monkey pack him rizla pon the sweet dep line

Red red wine you give me whole heap of zing
Whole heap of zing mek me do me own thing

Redred wine you really know how fi love
Your kind of loving like a blessing from above

Red red wine I love you right from the start
Right from the start with all of my heart

Red red wine in a 80`s style
Red red wine in a modern beat style, yeah


Give me little time, help me clear up me mind
Give me little time, help me clear up me mind

Give me red wine because it make me feel fine
Mek me feel fine all of the time

Red red wine you make me feel so fine
Monkey pack him rizla on the sweet dep line

The line broke, the monkey get choke
Burn bad rizla pon him little rowing boat

Red red wine i`m gonna hold to you
Hold on to you cause I know you love true

Red red wine i`m gonna love you till I die
Love you till I die and that`s no lie

Red red wine can`t get you out my mind
Where ever you maybe i`ll surely find
I`ll surely find make no fuss jus` stick with us.


Red red wine you really know how fi love
Your kind of loving like a blessing from above

Red red wine I love you right from the start
Right from the start with all of my heart

Red red wine you really know how fi love
Your kind of loving like a blessing from above

Red red wine you give me whole heap of zing
Whole heap of zing mek me do me own thing


Champagne per brindare a un incontro con te che già eri di un altro ricordi c'era stato un invito stasera si va tutti a casa mia Così cominciava la festa e già ti girava la testa per me non contavano gli altri seguivo con lo sguardo solo te Se vuoi ti accompagno se vuoi la scusa più banale per rimanere soli io e te e poi gettare via i perché amarti come sei la prima volta l'ultima Champagne per un dolce segreto per noi un amore proibito ormai resta solo un bicchiere ed un ricordo da gettare via Lo so mi guardate lo so mi sembra una pazzia brindare solo senza compagnia ma, ma io, io devo festeggiare la fine di un amore cameriere, champagneâ