Podcasts – A New Medium for Wine

levi_dalton_lg.jpg For those interested in learning more about wine without visiting wine country themselves, the methods for doing so haven't changed much in the past 30 years. There were books and courses to be had, and then, later, internet sites. There were occasional television shows with varying, if limited, lifespans. And for those inclined towards their radio, a few local talk shows could be found, often of poor quality. In the last few years, however, an entirely new medium has emerged from obscurity to become a fully mainstream source of exceptional wine content. And by the beginning of 2018, this medium will become a new frontier for advertising and consumer engagement. I'll explain why in a moment. But first, a little background. In 2005, after my first year writing about wine, I could count the number of my fellow wine bloggers on two hands with many fingers to spare. One of ...

Pressing Pause on the Wine Samples, Please

wine_box_no.jpg Hello wine industry folks. I'm requesting that you stop sending me samples for a while. Both fortunately and unfortunately (given the crazy price of real estate these days) I am in the process of moving from San Francisco across the bay to Piedmont. It's not far, but that doesn't change the fact that I've got 17 years of accumulated possessions to pack up and transport to our new home. I'd prefer that as few of those boxes be filled with wine samples as possible. Consequently, I'm asking that anyone reading this who was contemplating sending me samples hold off for a few months. By September we'll be settled and everything will be back to normal, but in the interim, please do both yourselves and me a huge favor and hold off. Cheers! Image © Stephen Adamson | Dreamstime.com - Wine Box Shipment

Champagne Jayne and Justice

CJ-in-the-Champagne-Armand-de-Brignac-vineyard-rose.jpg Sometimes, David beats Goliath in real life. Last week, Jayne Powell, a self-employed wine educator and consultant won a three year battle with the CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne) after being sued over her use of the name Champagne Jayne to conduct sparkling wine seminars and events in her native Australia. The claim, according to the CIVC, was that Jayne served sparkling wines others than those made in Champagne, and therefore diluted and otherwise tarnished the Champagne name by misleading the public. Powell, for her part maintained that Champagne Jayne had been her nickname for years, and as such, made for a fine moniker under which to do business, especially since her job involved actually teaching people about wine, including what the difference is between sparkling wine and Champagne. The fact that she was being sued by the CIVC over her use of the term seemed outrageous on ...

What’s New in the World’s Best Wine Lists?

dreamstime_s_4155170.jpg As some of you may know, I spend time each Spring participating as a judge for the World's Best Wine Lists competition held by the World of Fine Wine magazine. This week I spent a couple of hours of the early morning on the phone with my fellow judges working through what amount to essentially the semi-finals of this competition. In preparation for this call, and in the course of judging up until that point, each of us judges reviewed literally hundreds of wine lists from restaurants and wine bars all over the world, ranging from single page lists at boutique eateries to 300-page tomes at some of the top restaurants of the world. It's a fascinating exercise, and one which yields some interesting insights each year, which I must reserve to share only after the announcements of our judging results are made, but I was interviewed about some of ...

Gallo March Back Into Napa

stagecoach_aerial.jpg On 23 March E & J Gallo Winery, America's largest winery and the second largest wine company in the world, announced what was for some, shocking news. The company had paid an undisclosed sum for the Stagecoach vineyard, the single largest contiguous planting of grapes in Napa Valley, and one of its most famous. The shock value of this announcement reflected the fact that Gallo, so often thought of more as a Sonoma-based brand, would be acquiring such a large swathe of Napa's most cherished vineyards. But it was also because the Stagecoach vineyard supplies grapes for more than 100 wine labels, some of whose owners now face the prospect of needing a new source of grapes for their entire production. Indeed, in addition to the very profound implications for those who have based their entire fledgling wine projects on Stagecoach fruit, this purchase promises to have a fundamental impact ...

Have We Hit Peak Somm?

patrick_cappiello_BT_1500.jpg A handsome young man in stylish glasses sits in an empty restaurant, his vividly coloured sleeve tattoo curling artfully out from underneath his designer T-shirt. At ease in front of the camera and with only the slightest hint of irony crinkling the corners of his eyes, he proceeds to taste through a series of bag-in-box wines, his facade of gravitas quickly cracking in the face of wines that, hilariously, he can't seem to get out of his mouth fast enough. This video is entitled 'One of America's Best Sommeliers Grades Boxed Wine' and with more than 290,000 views, it seems to be the most popular sommelier video on YouTube in the English language. Shot as part of his ongoing role as Food & Wine Host for Playboy magazine, the clip features sommelier Patrick Cappiello (pictured above in a photograph by Brand Trent) and couldn't be a better illustration of America's ...

Acceptance, But No Love, for Plonk

dreamstime_s_9248121.jpg Last week, a writer I met a number of months ago published an op-ed piece in the New York Times entitled, "Ignore the Snobs, Drink the Cheap, Delicious Wine." Bianca Bosker is a talented young journalist who, in addition to being an editor at the Huffington Post, has written about wine for various outlets including the New Yorker. This editorial was adapted from her forthcoming book entitled Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste. Bosker's thesis in last week's piece can be summed up as: what's so bad about highly engineered wines that have been precisely crafted to match basic consumers tastes -- at least they're drinking wine, right? Defending mass-market wines engineered to have specific colors, textures, and tastes with more than 60 different additives, Bosker writes, "These maligned bottles have a ...