Posts Filed Under wine news
By now, most of you reading this will have at least some knowledge of the devastation that is impacting Northern California wine country in the wake of over one dozen fires that, at the time of this writing, have left over twenty people dead, burned more than three thousand or more structures to the ground, and has consumed roughly 170,000 acres (for some perspective, that is and area larger than the city of Chicago).
Because the situation is changing rapidly due to weather conditions, it will be some time before we know the true impact to the wine businesses in Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino, and to the lives of the people who are at the heart of those businesses. For those of you who are looking for details on the impact, WineBusiness.com blog is keeping a list of winerires destroyed or damaged in the blazes.
Personal reports sent to me by those in the area all have one thing in common: the situation is just as bad – if not worse – than depicted in news reports.Fortunately, a good number of the people that I know in those areas have checked in as safe, but how the fires have affected harvests, aging wines in storage, inventory, vineyards… we’re not going to know the extent of that anytime too soon. The feeling of near-helplessness from the Left Coast as friends tell me they are evacuating their homes (some multiple times) has been, in a word, heartbreaking.
What those of us who are remote and care deeply about those gorgeous areas, their beautiful wines, and their wonderful people can do, however, is donate to those funds that are in a position to do something to help. Following are donation links provided by McCue Marketing Communications:
Please consider donating.
“The most endangered species –
The honest man”
-Rush, Natural Science
In the great room of my house, there are two 5″x7″ framed prints in Chinese script, each of which represents one of the two “house rules” of the home shared by me and my daughter (it’s generally too big of a space for the two of us, but she understandably – and emphatically – did not want to move after I filed for divorce).
And yeah, there really are only two house rules at Chateau Dude. One represents Integrity, the other Honesty.
And yeah, we really do believe in and live by them. The fact that I feel compelled to write that last sentence is, I think, indicative of just how far through the looking glass we have come, socially speaking, in the USA, even in my relatively short lifetime.
And yeah, this will eventually get to the topic of wine, but that’s not the crux of this article (you have been warned). To get to that, we’ll need to review a couple of articles by W. Blake Gray that were recently published on Wine-Searcher.com [ full disclosure: I utilize their affiliate program ]. The first of these, Pay-to-Play Scandal Exposed, detailed the fallout from illegal bribes (including several thousand dollars spent on “adult entertainment”) offered by the likes of mega-distributor Southern Glazer’s to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to influence what alcoholic products were/weren’t carried on its state store shelves.
That story justifiably got a lot of traction. But it’s Gray’s follow-up story that, to me, is actually more important, and should have most of us outraged…
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A couple of years ago, I undertook a rather statistically-irrelevant and thoroughly un-scientific study regarding the Biodynamic tasting calendar (based on the lunar-cycle farming techniques espoused by Rudolf Steiner). This study had a single participant (me) who knew next to nothing about this calendar, who downloaded one of those mobile apps that tells you what type of day it is on the BioD calendar. I then tasted through wine samples pretty much every day, as usual, and noted whether or not any given wine seemed to taste really good or really nasty, and what BioD calendar day type it happened to be.
Presumably, I would have enjoyed more of the wines on so-called “fruit” days, and wines would have tasted nastier on “root” days; thus postulateth the Biodynamic calendar, anyway. My tasting results? In summary: totally random, with no correlation to the BioD calendar days at all.
The results of a much more scientific and potentially relevant experiment into whether or not the BioD calendar impacts how a finished wine tastes were recently published. The results of this New Zealand based study found that the tasting impact of the BioD calendar was, essentially, nada. From the study’s conclusion:
“…the findings reported in the present study provide no evidence in support of the notion that how a wine tastes is associated with the lunar cycle… Consumers expecting a wine to be more expressive and aromatic on Fruit days might actually perceive them as such through top down cognitive effects.”
In other words, it’s possible that any impact of the lunar cycle on your wine tasting is just all in your head….
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By now, many of you will have heard of, read about, and/or actually watched the documentary Bitter Grapes, a film that examines harsh conditions for workers in some areas of the South African wine industry.
The Washington Post has an excellent summary of the film, its impacts on the image of South African wine worldwide, and the response by the region’s wine trade:
“Danish journalist Tom Heinemann… found that some workers were allegedly being paid less than the minimum wage, exposed to pesticides, consuming dangerous amounts of alcohol and discouraged from joining unions, among other problems.”
The WP piece also puts the film’s findings in important context: like the USA, South Africa doesn’t exactly have a great humanitarian record when it comes to how farm workers were treated in the past. In more recent history, there was the terrible “dop” system (now illegal), under which S. African workers were paid partially in wine.
I’m not here to discuss the implications of the documentary, though for sure I have opinions on those given my past visits to South Africa’s wine country.
What I want to talk about is the Wines of South Africa (WOSA, the promotional body for the region’s wine business) response to Bitter Grapes. Because their response tastes a lot like sour grapes to me…
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