Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Northern Rhone (Red) Vintage Chart

Low yields in well-balanced climatic conditions produced classic reds that will age extremely well.

Giant, long lasting wines from the famous heatwave summer. Many top wines will last 20+ years.

Inconsistent vintage due to sporadic rainfall and difficult ripening conditions. Keep to trusted names.

Good vintage with occasional outstanding wines

Average vintage, less rich than in past 2 years, but some very good wines
Drink or Hold

Superb year, Cote Rotie and Cornas outstanding, long-aging wines

Good, consistent vintage, best wines will age well
Drink or Hold

Light but quaffable. Time to drink them up!

Good wines, attractive balance, full flavoured.

Classic vintage – near its peak.
Drink or Hold

Light but quaffable – now past its best.

Poor year

Past peak. Avoid now.

Good vintage, firm structure, attractive balance
Drink or Hold

Very great year. Biggest Côte Rôtie and Hermitage peaking around 2006-2008.
Drink or Hold

Classic vintage. Côte Rôtie and Hermitage can age 20 years.

Classic vintage. Great Cornas and St Joseph.

Judge halts moth spraying in Monterey County

State agriculture officials plan to appeal a superior court judge's ruling that halts aerial spraying to eradicate the light brown apple moth in Monterey County until an environmental impact report can be completed.

Monterey County Superior Court Judge Robert O'Farrell ruled today that the discovery of the moth - a pest that is considered a threat to the state's agricultural economy - does not constitute a legal emergency. He ordered the aerial spraying of a moth pheromone pesticide stopped until a report on the environmental effects of the spraying operation can be completed in January.

A.G. Kawamura, state agriculture secretary, said the state Department of Food and Agriculture would appeal the decision immediately, combining it with a similar decision two weeks ago in Santa Cruz County.

"The light brown apple moth infestation is, in fact, an emergency that threatens our nation's food supply and our state's environment," he said in a prepared statement.

The moth species was first detected in Berkeley about a year ago, and specimens have since turned up in Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, Solano, Napa, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties. The state agency plans to spray a synthetic pheromone pesticide over much of the Bay Area this summer in hopes of getting rid of the pest by interrupting its mating cycle.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had halted planned spraying in the 12 counties until Aug. 17 to allow safety tests to be completed.

Michael Cabanatuan

US threatens to block all Brunello imports

The United States has threatened to block all imports of Brunello di Montalcino from 9 June.

From that date all Brunello coming into the US must be accompanied by laboratory analysis certifying that the wine is 'pure Sangiovese'.

The US is Brunello's biggest market, importing 25% of total Brunello production.

Francesco Marone Cinzano, president of the trade body, the Brunello Consorzio, said the news came via a letter from the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to the US Embassy in Rome on 9 May.

'Starting on 9 June, the US will block all Brunello imports unless the wine is accompanied by laboratory analysis proving that the wine is pure Sangiovese,' he said.

Since Brunello must by law be 100% Sangiovese, adding other grapes would be a violation of a strict labelling convention between the US and the EU that stipulates that what is on the label must guarantee what is in the bottle.

According to reports, the Italian Embassy in Washington had received numerous written requests starting on 9 April from the ATTB for more information and verification on the grape blending scandal that has recently battered the denomination.

The fact the requests were ignored led to this more aggressive stance, sources say.

'We have a general assembly in two days, and organising laboratory analysis will be our number one priority, to ensure that Brunello will continue to be imported into the US,' Marone Cinzano said.

He added that the latest generation of laboratory analysis can certify the authenticity only of wines made with three varieties: Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir. 'Based on the level of anthocyanins, tests can prove whether wines made with any one of these three varieties are pure or if they have been blended with other varieties.'

'We now need to act rapidly to ensure consumers in the US and everywhere of Brunello's authenticity.'

In New York City, Sergio Esposito, proprietor of retailer Italian Wine Merchants, said it is wrong for Washington 'to penalize Brunello for blowing the whistle on itself.'

'Consumers have a right to know what they are drinking,' he said. 'But everybody in the wine trade knows that blending goes on in every region and every country. This means that, to be fair, the US should spot-check imported wines from everywhere that critics give 98 points or more' in order to make sure the contents are authentic.

Kerin O'Keefe & Howard Goldberg

Merchant accused of selling fake top Bordeaux

A Bordeaux wine merchant has been accused of selling table wine labelled as top Bordeaux from prestigious chateaux including Pichon Longueville, Leoville Barton, Gruaud Larose and Saransot Dupre.

Amar Derriche, a former cellar master based in Moulis-en-Medoc, allegedly blended and bottled vins de table and charged well over their true value – but far less than the real wines would have cost.

For example, he was selling the 2000 vintage for €20 (£14) per bottle - ten times the price of a vin de table, but less than half the price of the wines they were supposed to be, which would have cost upwards of €50 (£35) a bottle.
Derriche was caught in a random check by the customs office, which found 13,000 fake labels, and 5,600 fake capsules and corks in the back of his shop - alongside several genuine cases.

He at first confessed, but later retracted the confession, saying the labels were to be sold as souvenirs, and the real bottles were for his personal consumption.

Of the chateaux involved - who declined to comment – six have begun a civil suit against Derriche for 'damage to reputation' and are seeking the equivalent of £43,000. The customs office is seeking £29,000, and the INAO (the national wine industry oversight body) expects £11,000.

Jane Anson