To learn the mysteries of wine, we need to know geology. This simple observation can sustain doctoral dissertations, but was driven home to me recently in a 10-minute conversation with Roy Cloud, managing partner of the Washington importer Vintage 59.
Pinotage (pinno-tahj), the distinctive South African wine, is a work in progress. The variety is viticulture parvenu invented in 1925 when Stellenbosch University wine whiz A.I. Perold crossed pinot noir and cinsaut (san-soh). Cinsaut is called hermitage (French pronunciation) in South Africa, thus the portmanteau "pinotage."
What's in a glass of wine? The answer might be surprising. Wine is basically spoiled grape juice. (Whoever first ingested it millennia ago: hat tip.) But these days wine's ingredients can also contain a laundry list of adds in's: sulfur dioxide, egg whites, oak chips, water and numerous chemical additives, in addition to the base of fermented grape juice.
As the Chinese get richer, their taste in liquor is changing. According to Paris-based pollster firm Ipsos, red wine is the top selling alcoholic drink in China, with a penetration rate of 39 percent (meaning more than a third of those polled saying red wine was their preferred alcoholic beverage.)
Following the longest main road in France, the route to the sun from Paris to Provence, cyclist Adam Ruck makes the most of the vineyards and foodie pit stops that have been refuelling travellers for centuries...
Speaking at the Fine and Rare Specialist course at Vienna’s Palais Coburg on 29 June, he said that annual US fine wine sales through retailers amounted to US$3.2 billion, before commenting, “The US is a larger fine wine market than people think”.
The 2011 vintage may be remembered as a missed opportunity for Bordeaux. The wines were good, but not as outstanding as in 2010 and 2009, which meant Bordeaux had the chance to win back traditional markets like the United States during its annual springtime futures campaign … if the wines were priced right.
During this depression, it would appear that investors are no longer finding solace in turning to the bottle. Fine wines are being hit hard by the global downturn, with the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 index down 7.4 percent on the year, according to July’s Cellar Watch Market Report.
It’s easy to claim that France’s finest dry white wines are its burgundies and Champagnes. But when it comes to awarding third place I will take a stand: Sancerre, the enchanting sauvignon blanc-based glory of the Loire Valley deserves to take the bronze.
Last week, we attended a winemaker’s dinner with viticulture royalty: Michel Chapoutier, one of the greatest winemakers of our time. Michel is an interesting man and his story is even more interesting.
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