Daily Wine News: Retsina Renaissance

Retsina. (Source: Pixabay)

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov “Anyone who has traveled to Greece or even eaten at a Greek restaurant in the United States may have received well-meaning advice from wine-loving friends: Don’t drink the retsina… But retsina appears to be undergoing a renaissance. A trickle of producers is demonstrating that if retsina is made thoughtfully and carefully, from grapes grown conscientiously, it can be a delicious wine that goes beautifully not only with a wide variety of Greek foods, but with many other assertive cuisines as well.”

Marissa A. Ross profiles Vermont-based natural winemaker Krista Scruggs in Bon Appétit. “Her all-natural operation produces wines and ciders and also blends the two to create vinous ciders, an increasingly cool category in the natural wine world. I couldn’t get any of them out of my head.”

In Bloomberg, Elin McCoy looks at the rise of “micro” wine lists. “You’re in a restaurant, staring at a wine list with 2,000 names, and have no idea where to start. You quickly pass it on to the wine geek at your table like a hot potato, with a deep sigh of relief. Goodbye to all that.”

Craft cider has grown exponentially over the past decade, and women are at the forefront of its evolution. In Wine Enthusiast, I profile seven cidermakers to know.

Elsewhere in Wine Enthusiast, Roger Voss explores the red wines of southwest France.

In SevenFifty Daily, Alan Tardi looks at the little-known Italian grapes that are on the rise.

In Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague finds out what is and isn’t valuable in wine collecting.

Asti Unleashes Two New DOCGs

Speaking of Moscato d’Asti (see last week’s article for a deep dive into that topic, including a look at how stupid I can be), I thought it worth mentioning a topic that came up during that same media trip to the rolling hills of Piedmonte’s Moscato bianco growing region: Asti is unleashing two brand new DOCG wines onto the market.

Asti Unleashes Two New DOCGs
Make it rain! Yes, I ate this. With Moscato. Yes, it rocked. Yes, I’d do it again.

Being DOCGs, these are to be just as regulated as the strictly mandated Moscato d’Asti DOCG, which is good news for Moscato lovers looking for something different (and, presumably, for the Italians looking for work enforcing the regulations!). Like Moscato d’Asti, the new DOCGs are made from 100 percent Moscato Bianco grapes grown in the region, but don’t require Moscato dAsti’s vintage declaration. Confusingly (for me, anyway), neither mentions the grape in its DOCG name. Anyway, here’s the run-down of the new categories, both of which offer a broader stylistic range of Asti Moscato…

Asti Unleashes Two New DOCGs
More rolling Asti hills. Because… well, duh.

ASTI Dolce DOCG – This is the new sweet(ish) wine category for Asti’s Moscato. The Like Moscato d’Asti, the sugar is all natural/residual, mitigated to some extent by the bubbles and the ample acid volume. In my experience tasting the versions now available, you generally get a slightly sweeter, easy-to-imbibe presentation of Moscato Bianco in this new DOCG, with tons of floral, grape, and stone fruit aromatics, and a straightforward, harmonious finish. Think aperitif, or pairing with fruity desserts, and be prepared to pour a not-insubstantial amount of this stuff to party guests.

  • 11.5% minimum potential alcohol
  • 6-7% actual alcohol
  • 4.5 g/l minimum total acidity
  • 3.0 bar minimum pressure
  • 90-100 g/l sugar
Asti Unleashes Two New DOCGs

ASTI Secco DOCG – There are far fewer examples of this new category of Moscato Bianco being made than its Dolce counterpart (particularly in the Extra-dry and Demi-sec versions), but I did manage to get my lips on a few of them during my Asti travels. In general, this is Asti’s answer to Prosecco, offering a drier non-vintage style (courtesy of higher bubble pressure and lower residual sugars). It’s a food-friendly Moscato style, with the floral bite amped up (think hoppy beer), the finish drier (sugars are almost ten times lower than in Moscato dAsti), and the body more substantial (almost double the alcohol of its lower-abv Asti counterpart DOCGs).

  • 11.5% minimum potential alcohol
  • 11% actual alcohol
  • 4.5 g/l minimum total acidity
  • 3.0-3.5 bar minimum pressure
  • 17 g/l sugar (average)

I see a good market for ASTI Dolce, but personally I am most excited about the Secco category, as it will explore a side of Moscato Bianco that we rarely ever see (even in Italy).


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Daily Wine News: State of the Wine Industry Report

(Flickr: JonathanCohen)

Silicon Valley Bank has released the 2019 State of the Wine Industry Report. Wine Industry Insight extracts 14 key findings, including: “Baby boomers, who control 70 percent of US discretionary income and half of the net worth in the US, are moving into retirement and declining in both their numbers and per capita consumption,” and: “Millennials aren’t yet embracing wine consumption as many had predicted…”

“The Wine Intelligence US Landscapes 2019 report… found there was a “marked decline” in the frequency that wine (and alcohol generally) was drunk among people aged under 35, with around 3 million people aged 21-35 falling out of the category,” reports the Drinks Business. “It backs up anecdotal evidence suggesting that the wine industry was losing traction among younger drinkers, despite their willingness to experiment, trade up and embrace a wider repertoire of drinks.”

The Takeout is already reporting a take: “American Millennials are killing wine now, too.

In Wine Enthusiast, Kara Newman checks out the wine menus breaking barriers between sommeliers and guests with their unusual formats.

Alfonso Cevola delves into the history behind the success of California Chardonnay.

David Schildknecht offers a preview of the 2018 and 2017 vintages in Germany and Austria in Vinous.

In Wine-Searcher, Liza B. Zimmerman looks at the ways wine and spirits theft is happening in the online sector, as opposed to on retail shelves

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Rachel DelRocco Terraza pens a brief profile of Rania Zayyat, who launched her own two-day, female-focused conference, Wonder Women of Wine—or WWOW—to discuss gender equality issues in the industry. It will be held in Austin, March 2-3.

Daily Wine News: Supreme Court Hearing

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray presents a digest of the issues surrounding the landmark Supreme Court hearing.

Brandy Winer founders Ed and Deb Fitts have sold their winery and 15 acres of vines on Pritchard Hill to Jim Bean and Christine O’Sullivan, reports Mitch Frank in Wine Spectator. Winemaker Philippe Melka will stay.

Esther Mobley reviews natural wine bar Verjus in the San Francisco Chronicle. “Is this cave de manger-inspired creation becoming a Bay Area trend, then? Maybe… Or maybe this cave de manger-style situation is just perfectly suited to the style of wine that everyone suddenly seems to be drinking — the style, if not precisely natural then in the natural vernacular, in which Verjus is specializing. The chillable, the chuggable, the crunchy.”

Mike Dunne checks in on Idaho’s growing wine scene in the Sacramento Bee. “Despite Idaho’s agricultural bounty, just 1,300 acres are planted to wine grapes, but that’s double what it was 20 years ago. Of that total, 1,125 acres are cultivated in the Snake River Valley in the state’s southwest corner. Still to be determined is what grape variety or varieties eventually will be most closely identified with Idaho.”

Premium Port sales are rising in the US market, says Jim Clarke in Meininger’s. He goes hunting for the reason why.

In SevenFifty Daily, ­­Courtney Schiessl looks at how Vias Imports built a business on native Italian grapes.

The French insurance company MAIF is leaving the wine industry and selling Château Dauzac, the 1855-classified Grand Cru Classé Margaux with its 49 hectares of bearing vines, according to Vitisphere.

Daily Wine News: Coffee & Wine

In Decanter, Andrew Jefford compares wine and coffee. “Does the overall comparison he makes between coffee and wine provide new insights into each? No; but the points of comparison and contrast are deeply interesting in themselves… Of the two, wine is historically the senior, and there is a sense that coffee ought to emulate wine in order to assume some of its lustre.”

David Morrison explores the fundamental problem with wine scores.

In Wine Enthusiast, Sean P. Sullivan profiles five winemakers changing the face of Washington wine.

In SOMM Journal, Karen MacNeil shares her second annual report on the status of women in the wine industry.

Many sommeliers are getting into the business of making wine. Lettie Teague samples the results in the Wall Street Journal. (subscription req.)

Sam Dangremond looks at the 10 most expensive wines in the world in Town & Country.

In Forbes, Tom Mullen reports on the challenges Sweden’s blooming wine scene faces.

VinePair names their top 10 wine destinations for 2019.

Daily Wine News: What Does the Future Hold for Wine?

(Source: Delectable)

In Meininger’s, Robert Joseph on the bleak future for new wine apps. “Tools like Vivino will always have an appeal for the 5% or 10% of wine drinkers who are engaged enough to want to post reviews and read what others think of a wine. Huge numbers of the other people who downloaded the app did so because they were briefly attracted by the novelty of the technology. But that interest soon wore off…”

In Wine-Searcher, W. Blake Gray profiles a family whose lives remain perilously dependant on the upcoming Supreme Court ruling, Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Blair.

What’s up with the pop-up wine bar boom? Megan Krigbaum investigates in PUNCH.

The Wine Institute answers a few questions about the TTB shutdown.

In Wine-Searcher, James Lawrence ponders what change 2019 could bring to wine.

Chris Mercer is also predicting 2019 wine trends for Decanter.

1WineDude Joe Roberts explores the deceptive complexity of Moscato d’Asti.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre explores how a new book about politics— Prius or Pickup?: How the Answers to Four Simple Questions Explain America’s Great Divide by Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler—can also be applied to wine.

Grape Collective talks with Rocco Vallorani, one of southern Marche’s star winemakers, about the evolution of his region.

Daily Wine News: Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Blair

(Flickr: Kudosmedia)

In the New York Times, Eric Asimov reports on Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Blair, to be argued before the United States Supreme Court, who will consider whether states can prohibit retail wine shops from shipping to consumers in another state.

“The Japanese wine industry is maturing… That’s led the government to take the first steps toward a true appellation system, noting on labels where grapes were grown. But that’s created a challenge for wineries, because most don’t own vineyards and many source fruit from multiple regions.” In Wine Spectator, Julian Littler reports on the impacts of new rules created for an appellation system for Japan’s growing wine industry.

In Vinous, Neal Martin calls 2017 burgundy a “modern classic.”

On JancisRobinson.com, Richard Hemming MW explores how producers persuade us to drink their wine.

Jane Anson considers whether acacia wine barrels are the future for white wine in Decanter. (subscription req.)

In Wine Enthusiast, Anna Archibald looks at how a handful of wine shops are reinventing wine retail style with innovative design.

“This time of year is a very underrated period for winery visits. I love seeing the bare, leafless vines and the beginnings of cover crop between them. I love the cool, gray weather. And I love how quiet and peaceful it feels in California wine regions during this offseason,” says Esther Mobley in the San Francisco Chronicle. “That’s a flowery way of saying that there’s no bad time of year to visit Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Paso Robles, Monterey or any of our state’s other wine destinations.”

Grape Collective talks with Marilisa Allegrini about how she and her brother continue to combine tradition with innovation, inspired by their father’s vision for the winery.

Daily Wine News: Vegan Somms

In the World of Fine Wine, Gemma Price delves inside the world of vegetarian and vegan sommeliers and explains how the popularity of meat-free dining may influence in positive ways how all of us eat out.

Two winemakers in the prestigious Conegliano-Valdobbiadene region have had their wine seized for breaking rules over sugar. Liza B. Zimmerman reports on issue in Wine-Searcher.

John Szabo explores the rise of blaufränkisch in places beyond its native Germany and Austria home in Wine Enthusiast.

In an article from UC Davis, Jessica Nusbaum looks at how UC Davis Library’s wine archives continues to grow with collections donated by various wine writers.

In Forbes, Lana Bortolot recommends four books published in 2018 that gave rise to plenty of philosophical debate to topics such as minerality, terroir and authenticity in wines.

VinePair breaks down drinking trends and per capita wine consumption by state.

What makes Screaming Eagle tick? In Decanter, Tim Jackson MW tastes the component parts of the cult wine to find out. (subscription req.)

In Wine & Spirits Magazine, Joshua Greene reports that Adrian Bridge, CEO of Taylor’s Port, is creating the Porto Protocol to initiate the fight on climate change.

Daily Wine News: Syrah’s Resurgence

Syrah. (Flickr, McD22.)

Luke Sykora explores syrah’s second coming in Wine & Spirits Magazine. “Across the country, it turns out, sommeliers are reporting that enthusiasm for the northern Rhône is starting to escape its culty wine-insider bubble. Part of that interest, certainly, is the result of producers from South Africa to Australia to the Sonoma Coast preaching the gospel of cool-climate syrah through their own savory, aromatic wines. But these days, the gateway to syrah is often much closer to Lyon.”

Alecia Moore (aka Pink) has sold out of her debut release of Californian wine label Two Wolves, selling all 114 cases just one day after launching, according to the Drinks Business.

In Vinous, Ian D’Agata shares his impression of the new releases from Trentino.

In the Oregonian, Michael Alberty explores Oregon’s wine-cider hybrids.

In Terroir Review, Meg Houston Maker talks to Eleanor Léger of Eden Specialty Ciders about natural cider making, cider terroir, and the state of the craft.

“So, the idea that the USA is the No. 1 wine consumer is not unexpected. However, the question is when did it become No. 1?” David Morrison of the Wine Guard blog looks at the data.

The Hispanic consumer is key to the future of the wine industry, says Rick Parra.

In Decanter, Michael Garner explores the changing styles of Valpolicella. (subscription req.)

Daily Wine News: Martian Wine?

Mars. (Source: Wikimedia)

In the Washington Post, Amie Ferris-Rotman reports on scientists’ endeavor to find a Martian-friendly grape. “Georgia promotes itself as the world’s birthplace of wine. So it seems only natural that the country is trying to figure out what varietal might be sipped one day on Mars. That is the thinking behind the IX Millennium project, which is seeking to develop grapevines fit for the possible Red Planet agriculture pods.”

Virginie Boone and Matt Kettmann explore rosés and fizzy reds that are fit for winter in Wine Enthusiast.

Elsewhere in Wine Enthusiast, Jessica Kelly looks at how winemakers are utilizing gravity-flow wineries to produce low-intervention wines.

Grape Collective talks with Kris Matthewson of Bellwether Wine Cellars in the Finger Lakes about what he’s most excited about in the region and more.

Spain’s Félix Solís Avantis has grown into a giant thanks to its commitment to innovation. Felicity Carter pays a visit and reports on what she found in Meininger’s.

In Bloomberg, Elin McCoy on seven ways wine will change in 2019.

In Forbes, Tom Hyland delves into the future of Amarone.

Tara Gonzalez tests out a handful of wine subscription services in Glamour.