Pierre Peters champagne with Rodolphe Peters


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One winery I wanted to be sure to visit when I was in Champagne last month was Pierre Péters. I have always tremendously enjoyed the racy wines in the US and Rodolphe Péters not only commands a lot of respect in the wine world for his Champagnes but I had heard he had a new (sparkling) wine project in California I wanted to learn more about. Despite wanting to find it, I drove right by the winery in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger–there’s no sign and it looked like a construction site.

Rodolphe Péters, who has made the wine since taking over from his father in 2007, met me and apologized for the mess. He said the project was taking longer than expected (which renovation hasn’t?). Rodolphe is a sixth generation farmer and a fourth generation winemaker. The estate is a renowned producer of blanc de blancs Champagne from their 19.98 …

Exciting times for Spanish wine – a story over on SevenFifty


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ricardo perez
Spain makes a lot of wine. Overall, it’s the third biggest producer in the world. One problem the country has is that many of the country’s wines sell at low prices–don’t get me wrong, there are certainly some pricey ones too. Another problem is that as wine enthusiasts and producers around the world rejoice in delving into fiendish detail about vineyards, some of Spain’s region’s can keep an administrative lid on the terroir.

I examine how some producers such as Ricardo Pérez Palacios (above) and Raúl Pérez in Bierzo and Telmo Rodriguez in Rioja are doing to unlock the terroir in their regions. This process not only ties into what’s happening in the larger wine world, it can also serve as a way to raise the price of grapes, land and wine.

These are exciting developments. I sought to capture them in an article at SevenFifty daily, published today. Check …

Three questions with…Evelyne de Pontbriand of Domaine du Closel


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On the sidelines of her NY distributor’s recent tasting, I grabbed a quick three minutes with the supremely lovely Evelyne de Pontbriand. She is the third consecutive woman in her family to run the estate Domaine du Closel located at the Chateau des Vaults in the Loire region of Savennières.

Aging Savennières: underrated or overrated?
I think it is quite underrated. I have a whole collection of old Savennières, unfortunately not older than 50 years old but they are fantastic. I did a big tasting a couple of years ago for the 50th anniversary of the appellation with 50 vintages. it was really very interesting. I think they get another dimension when they age and they are more and more, very interesting food wines.

Botrytis: underrated or overrated?
I think botrytis is…hmm, that’s difficult. I don’t think people really know what it means. I think it might be overrated. Now …

Wine spills onto the docket at the Supreme Court


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On Wednesday, the eyes of wine geeks and those in the wine industry will turn to the the Supreme Court. Wine will be on the docket, and, as you might expect, reds and whites do not map on to a political right and left. A love of wine is non-partisan even though no justice has ever proclaimed “I love wine” during confirmation hearings (only beer gets this kind of admiration!). At stake on Wednesday is whether wine shops can ship across state lines.

The biggest wine case the Supreme Court ever decided was Granholm v Heald in 2005. In their decision, the majority ruled that states could not discriminate between out-of-state wineries and in-state wineries—either they had to open up to shipping from all wineries or close the whole thing down. Fortunately for wine enthusiasts, almost all state chose to open up so consumers across the country now at …

Slinging juice: my side hustle at Parlor Pizza


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My good friend, chef Tim Labant, and I have ridden probably 15,000 miles together on our bikes the past few years. We’ve had some epic adventures. Tim is the chef/owner of Schoolhouse at Cannondale, a new American spot in Wilton that celebrated its eleventh anniversary this past spring. About three years ago, Tim decided he wanted to bring his fine dining skills to a more casual environment. He loves pizza (who doesn’t?), so he started developing his own dough recipe. He went to Pizza Expo in Las Vegas two years in a row, refining his recipe and researching ovens. As the restaurant was developing, he asked me to put together the wine list and I was only too happy to help.

Everything came together about five weeks ago when Parlor opened its doors. Tim’s dough uses two types of Italian (Caputo) flour and has a multiday fermentation and proofing. …

Reboule du Rhone, second edition


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The Reboule du Rhone is back for a second edition! The event last year feted winemakers and wines from the Northern Rhone with dinners and tastings, raising over $300,000 for the charity No Kid Hungry. Above is a quick montage of scenes from last year.

This year’s encore edition will include a series of singular dinners, November 15-17. The first dinner (at a private residence 50 floors up) highlights “legendary” vintages of the last 50 years, the second dinner has a focus on the “kings of Cornas,” and the third is a BYOB extravaganza. For those looking for a more budget-friendly event, it’s hard to outdo the value of walk-around tasting at 1 PM Saturday the 17th. Winemakers and leading sommeliers will pour over 100 wines from the region.

The event is the brainchild of Thomas Pastuszak and Dustin Wilson. Profits go entirely to No Kid Hungry.

List of winemakers …

2017 wine auction market seen through the crystal…wine glass


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Sotheby’s released a glossy report on their 2017 wine auction year today: the house racked up $63.8 million at 21 auctions in London, New York, and Hong Kong. That was good enough for third on the list of 2017 wine auction houses–in all, the global wine auction market rose 12.7% to $381 million last year (WS had a summary piece back in January).

At Sotheby’s, as elsewhere, Burgundy rose and DRC dominated. Last fall, six bottles of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Romanée Conti 1996, fetched $134,750, or $22,458 per bottle. Not too shabby for fermented grape juice! In total, $11.6 million worth of DRC sold at Sotheby’s auctions last year, making it the top wine for the fifth year in a row and more this year than Lafite, Pétrus, and Mouton combined (Bordeaux sales declined to less than 50% of total wines sold, by value). Whisky …

Trump – Macron state dinner wines


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Last night’s state dinner in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte was the first of Donald Trump’s term. Would the current occupant of the White House shatter wine protocols at state dinners? Would the teetotaler whose name adorns a Virginia winery serve his own wine?

The White House has a tradition of serving only American wines at state dinners. This president was not going to put waves in that particular chardonnay glass–MAGA and all that. The menu included a chardonnay and a pinot noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the white from Domaine Serene and the red from Domaine Drouhin. The focus on Oregon is apt since it is an area that has attracted many French winemakers and makes many wines in a Burgundian style. The Drouhin family was the first French family to buy vineyard land in Oregon back in 1987. And perhaps because the White …

China targets US wine in tariff showdown


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American wine has just gotten a dubious distinction: it features on a list of 128 items that may be subject to new Chinese tariffs. (spelling tip: tariffs ends in “FFS”!)

Saber rattling in trade between the US and China is escalating. The Trump administration announced $50 billion in tariffs on Wednesday and China responded yesterday with a more modest $3 billion. Of course, the two sides could be posturing and may come to an agreement before the tariffs hit the fan.

At any rate, wine featured on the list of items that would be hit with a 15% tariff into China. The US exports $79 million of wine to China, which seems like a drop in the Slavonian oak barrel of world trade. (Pretty small beer…) So even though it might sting in California, it is something of a backhanded compliment to US wine that it is seen as …

Reboule du Rhone


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About five years ago, Dustin Wilson became the wine director at Eleven Madison Park and Thomas Pastuszak became the wine director at NoMad. At a similar point in their careers at restaurants in the same group, the two bonded over their many shared interests, one of which was a love of the wines of the Northern Rhone.

Last year, when they were visiting cellars in the region together, they hatched the idea to have a weekend celebration of Northern Rhone wines in New York City. Thus Reboule du Rhone was born with the first weekend of events slated for November 17-19. Pastuszak says that some of the dozen producers invited have never been to New York before. Part of their motivation was to give “the sommelier community a chance to get in front of these heralded producers,” he says.

“We get really excited to serve these wines and drink these …

Helping the wildfire recovery


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wildfire_recovery

The wine country fires caused a lot of damage, that we know. But as the fires come under control and some residents return to their greatly altered lives after mandatory evacuations, we are starting to get a handle on the extent of what happened. Here is a sad list of 22 wineries damaged by the fires in both Sonoma and Napa. And there’s speculation that undocumented immigrant workers, vital to the system of wine making, may not return since they do not qualify for disaster aid and much of the low-cost housing was damaged.

Sadly, there have been reports of price gouging as well as insurance payouts being insufficient to cover some damage. One estimate put the total at $3 – $6 billion.

Clearly, the regions need a lot of help. As wine consumers, the most obvious thing we can do is to buy wine from the affected areas. …

Fires savage Napa and Sonoma


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On Sunday night, a fire got out of control somewhere north of the Bay. Seasonally dry conditions had left the area like a tinderbox. So when whipping winds of up to 70 mph hit the initial flames, they spread, well, like wildfire. Tragically, the blaze has now prompted the evacuation of 20,000 people, burned over 1,500 homes, incinerated 73,000 acres and left 11 people dead.

Santa Rosa in Sonoma has been hit particularly hard. The flames have also jumped to Napa and Mendocino counties.

The NYT has some shocking photos from before and after. SFgate has coverage too–the video with the homes crackling as they burn really pulls on the heart strings. And this video driving down a street after the Tubbs fire is haunting. And these photosEsther Mobley of the SF Chronicle has been tweeting tons of updates.

The vintage 2017 may be tough in many parts …

Hail strikes Burgundy and Beaujolais — again


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Climate change is a bitch. Severe weather events have roiled wine growing areas with depressing regularity in recent years. Burgundy seems to be on the forefront of this plagued by floods, hail storms, late frosts and other events that have reduced (or in some places even eliminated) the crop.

Jeremy Seysses, owner and winemaker at Domaine Dujac, posted the above photo to instagram along with this description.

Yesterday night, 10th July, brought heartbreak in the form of hail. Of our vineyards, the top of the hill of Morey was hit hardest, Monts Luisants worst, probably 30-40% damage; Clos St Denis and Clos de la Roche next, then Combottes. Bonnes Mares had minor damage. The rest of the domaine seems ok. The leaves like they were put through a shredder. The fruit is pummeled. The shoots battered. We’ll still make some wine, though!

There was also severe weather in Beaujolais …

Warriors toast NBA title with actual champagne!


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The Golden State Warriors won their second NBA title in three seasons last night. As a hoops fan, the most impressive stat for me was 147 assists on 216 made baskets–teamwork! But as a wine geek, we here at the Dr. Vino World Headquarters had to wonder…what would the team pop to celebrate in the locker room?
Would the owners cheap out as so many MLB owners do and use bubbly that could be picked up at any 7-11 on the way to the stadium?

We asked a Russian to hack the feed from the locker room to see what they sprayed. (Okay, our source was actually ESPN’s Darren Rovell.) This Warriors team did not hold back! To celebrate this title the doused each other with magnums (natch) of Moët Impérial “Golden Luminous”–a limited edition of the Moet nonvintage that Rovell says are valued at $1,200 each. (Search …

Behold the drip-free wine bottle!


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Wine drip stains on white tablecloths have a new nemesis and his name is Daniel Perlman. The biophysicist at Brandeis University discovered that all it took to eliminate the bane of (red) wine pourers everywhere is to etch a small groove at the top of the bottle under the lip. We can but hope this catches on widely.

drip-free-wine-bottleProfessor Perlman studied slo-mo videos of wine being poured from a bottle. He found that drips cling to side of a bottle because bottles are hydrophilic! Now if that sounds more than PG-13, don’t worry: it just means that the glass of the bottle attracts the drops of water (or wine) that then annoyingly cling to the side and make a big mess. He found that cutting a 2mm groove in the bottle with a diamond-studded cutting tool just below the lip was sufficient to break up the attachment issues between the …

Vote Emmanuel Macron! A blind tasting


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The French presidential election is heating up. Polls show Emmanuel Macron defeating Marine Le Pen in the decisive second round on May 7 by 62-38 (yes, polls have been deceiving ahead of recent elections but this is a big margin).

We are single-issue voters around here and that issue is wine! Actually, that’s not true but we will roll with it. Recent French presidents have hovered at or near zero when it comes to passion for wine. Jacques Chirac’s tipple of choice was reportedly Corona. Nicolas Sarkozy famously didn’t even like wine. Current president Francois Hollande sell off a chunk of the presidential wine cellar–but he also canceled a lunch with the Iranian president after the guest insisted no wine be served.

Macron, a former minister of Finance who is a mere 39 years old, exhibits some wine savvy. Although he was raised in Picardy, not a region known for …

Wine class at Schoolhouse


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How about some wine classes to shake off the winter blues (wait, what winter? It’s 70 degrees!)?

I’ve been doing a series of wine classes at Schoolhouse at Cannondale, a new American restaurant in Wilton, CT. Chef/owner Tim LaBant–friend of the blog–has been running some cooking classes and I’ve been doing some wine classes on select Tuesdays. Two of my classes are in the bag but two more are coming up in the next two weeks. On 2/28, we’ve got Pinot Envy in which we will taste and talk through seven pinot noirs. And on 3/7, we will Drink Like a Hipster with tasting and discussing seven natural wines. It will be fun!

Reservations required. Timing is 7:00 – 8:30. Tickets are $75. Please email Francesca f2f@schoolhouseatcannondale.com for reservations.

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Wine import tax: Make American Wine Great Again?


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american wineEconomic policy has about as much clarity as a tank of Puligny after batonnage right now. There’s some reasonable certainty about various reforms (ahem, tax cuts) but one area that is shrouded in mystery: how imports will be taxed.

Trump made trade a big issue in the campaign and has continued in the same vein, doing industrial policy via Twitter since the election. Some policy wonks think that a huge change in the tax on imports may be forthcoming. A House bill from last year sought to impose punitive tariffs on imports to shame big box retailers such as Walmart, Home Depot and Target in their purchases from abroad.

Neil Irwin, writing in Sunday’s NYT sums up a relevant part of the destination-cased cash flow system:

A company that spent $80 making something that it sold overseas for $100 would pay no tax on its earnings. A company that imported …

Wine on the wing: Emirates wine program


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Apparently there’s a real rivalry among airlines for first class wine service–although you’d never guess it in the back of the bus where the wine selections are generally bad enough to drive a wine to beer.

A piece in Bloomberg details how Emirates has splashed out over $40 million a year on wine for the last twelve years. No comparative metric is given in the story (how much do other leading airlines spend on wine?) but it sounds like a big number to me.

(On a side note, there is something incongruent that Emirates spends such a sum on alcohol given that one of the five pillars of Islam is not to drink alcohol.)

Joost Heymeijer, who runs in-flight catering at the airline, details their buying strategy, which, interestingly, involves buying and then storing wines in a “Fort Knox-style” facility in Burgundy: The Emirates stash currently has almost …

Clos Rougeard sold to billionaire


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rougeard“Winery X, in family for generations, sold to billionaire” is a headline that would normally barely raise an eyebrow. But the winery in today’s news is Clos Rougeard from the Loire.

Located in Saumur, Clos Rougeard is the Bentley of the Loire. The wines, almost all red, are expensive, rare and of exceptional quality–the kind of wines that can turn haters of cabernet franc into ambassadors. (search for Clos Rougeard at retail)
The 27-acre estate was owned by the Foucault brothers Bernard (a.k.a. Nady) and Jean-Louis (known as Charly). They were the eighth generation to run the estate and made it a pioneer of organic viticulture in the area as well as hands-off winemaking.

After Charly’s death in 2015, La Revue de Vin de France reports, the family resolved to sell the domaine. The buyer is Martin Bouygues, French telecom billionaire and 481st richest person …