In Meininger’s, Roger Morris looks at the plight of American sommeliers in a Covid-19 world. “Less than a year ago restaurant sommeliers in America were riding high — as a group the main influencers in determining which exotic varietal wine would become the next trendy item as a by-the-glass pour and which new regions would be on hot wine lists… In the months since [Covid-19 shutdowns], the somms’ worse fears – no paycheck, no job market, dark future – have played out, and many question whether the profession will ever again reach the glory days it experienced during the first 20 years of this century.”
“This year marked the earliest grape harvest ever in many important wine regions, including Burgundy… The pandemic made an extraordinary vintage exceptional in other ways too. The picking teams had to be masked and socially distanced, and there was none of the usual end-of-harvest jollity.” Jancis Robinson explores the changing Burgundian wine calendar.
In Wine-Searcher, Natalie Sellers reports on the range of insect problems plaguing vineyards.
After more than twenty years, and from a pool of over 90 communes that produce wine under the Côtes du Rhône-Villages AOC, Nyons has been promoted and awarded the 22nd Côtes du Rhône-named village, reports Matt Walls in Decanter.
Hannah Selinger explores the diversity of New England wine in Wine Enthusiast.
In Vinous, Antonio Galloni offers his impressions of “the highs and lows of 2016-2020” Barbarescos.
In Grape Collective, Jackson Mattek explores the evolution of Muscadet.
In the New York Times, Eric Asimov looks at how income inequality has erased the chance for most consumers to drink the great wines. “In any field, it’s necessary to comprehend the reference points, the benchmarks that connote greatness, to join that conversation even if ultimately you choose to argue the point. These days, it is impossible for most people to pay for these wines.”
Yes, wine scores still matter, says Matt Kettmann in Wine Enthusiast. “Should it be the only metric? Hopefully not. Should people learn about critics to know where they stand on certain styles? Hopefully so. Do critics who taste from specific regions year after year while regularly visiting vineyards and meeting with winemakers have valuable insight into a given wine? Of course.”
Erica Duecy explores the evolution of Central Otago’s Pinot Noirs in VinePair. “Over the past several years, the evolution of these wines has captivated me. I’ve tasted through hundreds of New Zealand’s Pinot Noirs while judging wine competitions and writing articles, and these wines — especially those from Central Otago — have changed remarkably in a relatively short time span. Today, they are fresh and elegant, complex and structured, with a textural component that speaks to a specific sense of place.”
In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley reports that Napa winemakers are demanding looser restrictions after wildfires, pandemic scorch local tourism.
Three decades after the end of communism, Moldova’s wine industry is still finding its feet. Caroline Gilby MW reports on the country’s progress in Meininger’s.
Philadelphia Magazine highlights five essential Pennsylvania wineries.
Experimentation is propelling Virginia’s wine industry, says Michelle Williams in Forbes.
It’s been a hell of a year, but Sonoma producers have reasons to be cheerful, says W. Blake Gray in Wine-Searcher. “…90 percent of the Sonoma County grapes that will be harvested had already been picked before the Glass Fire broke out on September 27.”
Tim Atkin reflects on the year that changed the wine world. (Hint: It’s not 2020.)
Back in 2019, before anybody had heard of Covid-19, wineries prepared for their 2020 wine launches. Jeff Siegel looks at what happened next in Meininger’s.
Bloomberg debuted a video that looks at how Georgia’s wine industry turned to VR and e-commerce to bring its vineyards wine lovers everywhere when the pandemic halted travel.
Amy Edelen looks at how Washington winemakers have been impacted by the West Coast wildfires.
In the Drinks Business, Lucy Shaw delves into the power of wines backed by celebrities.
Cutting-edge scientific techniques could soon allow us to sample the same wines King Herod drank, but it’s not certain we’ll enjoy them. Food archaeologist Dr. Tziona Ben-Gedalya discusses recreating the flavors of the past.
On JancisRobinson.com, Alder Yarrow looks at how the American wine industry is gearing up for the presidential election, and looks at the wineries finally embracing politics.
In SevenFifty Daily, Betsy Andrews reports on how bartenders, winemakers, and hospitality workers use their skills and their platforms to mobilize like never before as the presidential election nears.
The pandemic has convinced both wine merchants and wineries to head online. James Lawrence explores an increasingly popular e-commerce tool, Shopify, in Meininger’s.
“Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the United States. As an industry, we need to acknowledge that outside of the vineyard and do better. The BIPOC population is an untapped market that the wine industry has completely overlooked.” Mekita Rivas reports on Oregon’s thriving Latinx wine community in Wine Enthusiast.
Also in Wine Enthusiast, Roger Voss explores the many sides of Beaujolais. “It produces enjoyable and versatile red wines of great value, but don’t mistake this region for a one-trick pony.”
According to Chris Mercer in Decanter, French insurance group that owns Château Calon Ségur has acquired three estates on Bordeaux’s Right Bank from Château Latour’s owner, the Pinault family-controlled Artémis Domaines.
Mike Veseth, the wine economist, delves into a new book about saké.
Robin McBride and Andréa McBride John. (Photo credit: McBride Sisters Wine)
In the first of two segments, NPR features Robin McBride and Andréa McBride John, the sisters behind McBride Sisters Wine. “With hardly any money or connections, they built one of the biggest Black-owned wine companies in the world — a journey that began with an extraordinary family discovery: Robin and Andréa are half-sisters who didn’t know of each other’s existence until they were both young women.”
In PUNCH, Leslie Pariseau talks to sommelier James Sligh about his Children’s Atlas of Wine project, which reimagines the traditional map through the lens of natural wine-and with fewer borders. “Sligh, who until recently worked and taught wine classes at SoHo’s La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, launched his own online education platform, under the “Atlas” name, in partnership with Chambers Street Wines in New York… The project and collection’s title is not only a self-deprecating nod to Sligh’s status as an amateur cartographer and artist, but also reflective of the approachable nature of his teaching style.”
In the Berkeleyside, Jennifer Kaplan reports on how Berkeley’s urban wineries are rallying during uncertain times.
Karen Catchpole highlights the high-altitude vineyards of Argentina’s Salta wine region in Travel + Leisure.
In Eater Austin, Erin Russel looks at how various wine experts are getting creative as they pivot in their careers, and says the business of recommending wine is busier than ever despite it looking much different.
In the Robb Report, Sara L. Schneider says South African Pinotage is finally coming into its own.
In Wine Enthusiast, Sarah E. Daniels talks to band All Time Low about their new rosé and Cabernet.
“Who gets to judge our wines? And why them? What qualifies James Suckling or Michel Bettane or Jancis Robinson or Antonio Galloni or Monica Larner to rate our wines? Why do they get the gavel, the robes and the wig? Sure, they have great palates, but if technical tasting ability was the foremost requirement, then surely we’d call on winemakers themselves? Or would we?” In Wine-Searcher, Oliver Styles looks at what makes a wine judge.
Many California wineries will make no wine this year because of wildfire smoke, reports Esther Mobley in the San Francisco Chronicle, yet many vineyards were spared, and there will be wine to drink next year.
In Wine Enthusiast, Christina Pickard explores how gardening has helped her appreciate wine even more.
Treve Ring remembers Adelaide Hills winemaker Taras Ochota on Jamie Goode’s blog.
On his Do Bianchi blog, Jeremy Parzen reflects on how his wine buying and wine consumption habits have—and haven’t—changed during the pandemic.
“Uruguay is one of the most exciting—and least talked about—winemaking nations in the world,” declares Elliot Eglash, who talks to Germán Bruzzone, winemaker at Bodega Garzón, in Grape Collective.
In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre remembers Lulu Peyraud, who influenced the likes of Kermit Lynch, Richard Olney and Alice Waters.
“So many people think that they’re intimidated by wine when in fact they’re intimidated by the language of wine. Someone, somewhere convinced them that before they dare try to describe what’s in their glass, they must first master the hyperspecialized vocabulary of wine’s professional class. But there’s a twist: That vocabulary isn’t fixed, it’s ever-changing—a dispiriting realization whether you’re a retail robot from the future or a consumer in the year 2020. The words we use to talk about wine often say more about us than the wine itself—how we want to be seen, which club we want to be a part of. Are you deductive or intuitive? A numbers gal or a feelings gal? Nerd or jock? Country or rock ’n’ roll?” In PUNCH, Emily Timberlake looks at the new vocabulary of wine.
In the Star Tribune, Bill Ward reports on Itasca, the latest grape from the University of Minnesota, which is “being hailed as at least a “breakthrough” and more likely a “game changer” for the state’s still-nascent wine industry. One winemaker even likened the 2017 University of Minnesota release to what the research center achieved with Honeycrisp and Zestar apples.”
In the New York Times, Eric Asimov pens an obituary for Lulu Peyraud, French wine matriach, who died last week at the age of 102. “Her family ran Domaine Tempier, a wine estate in Provence known for its Bandol reds and rosés. She ran the kitchen.”
Also in the New York Times, Eric Asimov offers 20 wines under $20 for trying times.
“Here’s what you need to know. Amazon isn’t waiting for the law on interstate wine retailer shipping to change to get into the business of wine shipping. Amazon doesn’t support the liberalization of those laws,” says Tom Wark about wine-shipping laws. “If lawmakers really want to protect their independent wine stores from competition, they need to start thinking about how they can help open up all the U.S. states for those retailers to sell and ship into.”
In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague looks at how Jeff Smith of Hourglass Winery is coping with the Napa fire. (subscription req.)
Italian police seized 4,000 bottles of counterfeit Super Tuscan wine, fake bottles of Bolgheri Sassicai.
In Wine Enthusiast, Lauren Mowery highlights a handful of European wine co-ops. “Throughout time, co-ops have not only shared resources and acted in unison for the collective good, but they’ve offered a way to help outsiders access smaller growers and producers that may be unable to promote themselves or would otherwise go unnoticed. Though many have been known to yield compelling wine, they fly under the radar today.”
In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley admits she has been waiting seven months to write a story about a wine bar. She’s back, shining a spotlight on Habibi, a pop-up wine bar at Bacchus Wine Bar. “I found the experience of being at Habibi to be just as cozy, hospitable and welcoming as any wine bar that I’ve been missing.”
Clean wine, natural wine, fine wine— all are contested terms. In Meininger’s, Robert Joseph says he’s changed his mind about the language of wine. “As someone who has railed against the term ‘natural’ wine, I’ve always fought against any marketing that seeks to confuse, or which does so accidentally. But I’ve also missed the point. Wine drinkers find these terms useful.”
On JancisRobinson.com, members from the wine industry remember Australian winemaker Taras Ochota.
Yes, 2020 has been a turbulent year, but it just might be a special vintage for Long Island winemakers.
James Brock catches up with Nate Klostermann, who succeeded Rollin Soles as winemaker at Oregon sparkling wine producer Argyle in 2013, to discuss the succession and sparkling wine’s true power.
In Decanter, Jane Anson offers a look at the Bordeaux 2020 harvest. (subscription req.)
Australian winemaker Taras Ochota, “bass-playing, surfer dude of the Adelaide Hills,” has died, reports Rupert Millar in the Drinks Business. On Imbibe.com, Chris Losh also reflects on Ochota’s life.
In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley reports that Dolores Cakebread, who helped turn Napa Valley into a food and wine destination, has died at age 90.
Scientists and vintners are exploring using UV lights, now being employed in HVAC systems to reduce the threat of COVID-19, as a weapon against mildew in vineyards. Lynn Alley reports on some of the findings in Wine Spectator.
In the Buyer, Amber Gardner explores what it’s like being a woman working as a sommelier in hospitality and the wine industry. “I am 32 years old with eight years in the wine industry. I still suffer from Imposter Syndrome. I often wonder why this is… I realize that I am not, and never will be, part of the inner club of wine – the boys’ club – that still dominates the wine industry.”
In Forbes, Kate Dingwall looks at how the digital world is transforming wine in 2020.
Blake Gray takes a trip to Napa Valley to see the wildfire damage, and reports on his findings in Wine-Searcher. “America needs Napa Valley wine. I don’t like to admit it, but I need it too.”
Dick Snyder reports on how an antiquated tax system is killing Ontario’s wineries.
In Decanter, James Button shares some highlights from Italy’s 2020 harvest.
In Wine Enthusiast, Virginie Boone reports on the “record-setting devastation” in Napa. “Recent years have been disastrous, but 2020 seems to know no bounds. It surpassed 2018’s record-setting destruction in just four weeks of blazes this summer… For those who have lived in the Napa Valley for decades, these are new times indeed.”
Also in Wine Enthusiast, Anne Krebiehl looks at the winemakers behind England’s sparkling future.
In VinePair, Jess Lander reports on how winemakers are repurposing smoke-tainted grapes from the wildfires.
The Silicon Valley Bank Annual State of the Industry Survey is open now until October 30.
“A former wine and liquor distributor was sentenced to 24 months in prison on Friday for using the show “Shark Tank” as part of a scheme to defraud investors,” reports CNN. “Joseph Falcone, 60, formerly operated the 3G’s VINO LLC, a wine and liquor distributor based in Bethpage and Farmingdale, New York. Among other products, 3G’s distributed a single-serving wine in a sealed glass, which had previously been featured on an episode of the reality pitch show “Shark Tank,” according to a federal information.”
Jancis Robinson encourages readers to buy South African wine to help support the country’s restricted wine industry. “So, what’s the good news about South African wine? The sheer beauty of it, that’s what. It must be almost unimaginably frustrating for the producers of these gorgeous, often underpriced liquids not to be able to sell them unfettered.”
In SevenFifty Daily, Alex Russan looks at how winemakers craft “clean” natural wines that aren’t marked by volatile acidity, Brett, or mousiness.