Which state is the thirstiest for wine? It’s a question we’ve noodled before as Washington DC is the thirstiest non-state in the nation! The good folks at Business Insider have taken the initiative to produce this handy map showing comparative wine consumption data, which they also list in a table. (Since the data relate to wine sales as opposed to pulling corks, some states with friendly policies to wine sales–such as New Hampshire–or places with a good selection next to lousy places–such as DC and adjacent the Montgomery County, MD–skew the results somewhat.)
Wine is popular across the country today. And it’s a non-partisan imbibing as the appeal of cabernet and Champagne spans party lines. Yet, after the jump, check out how the map of wine consumption correlates with the 2012 electoral returns:
Just to throw another map out there, here is per capita income by state:
This week, Olivier Cousin went before a judge. The heinous crime of the pony-tailed vigneron? Truth in labeling.
Here’s the story (which we’ve mentioned before but it’s worth a recap): Cousin farms 12 acres organically–neigh, biodynamically for Cousin who tills his vineyards with horse-drawn plows. In those vineyards in the town of Anjou, he has a lot of cabernet franc, known locally as Breton. So he labeled his 100% cabernet franc wine grown in Anjou as “Anjou Pur Breton.” So far so good, right?
The only catch is that the appellation retains the right to the term Anjou on wine labels and wines bearing the term must meet their criteria, including a blind tasting by committee. And Cousin quit the AOC in 2005 telling journo-blogger Jim Budd, “I stopped because the AOC is for industrial wines as the rules permit everything: weedkillers, huge yields, additives etc.” So the appellation authorities have dropped the legal hammer (gavel?) on Cousin and brought him to court.
Jim Budd was at the trial in Angers on Wednesday and the photos are his. He says that there was a protest picnic in front of the courthouse with wine, signs and Olivier Cousin riding his plow horse bareback down the courthouse steps.
Budd writes that Olivier Cousin took the stand and, after stating some background info such as the fact that 75% of his wine is exported, underscored that he uses sustainable viticulture, doesn’t add sulfur or chaptalize (a process of adding sugar to boost alcohol). From the witness stand, he described two different styles of local agriculture prevailing, “industrial” and “paysans” making “healthy” wines with no additives. He said that the place where the grapes are grown, the grape variety, and the vintage are the key things consumers need to know about a wine.
Cousin’s lawyer claimed elaborated that “The Anjou has been confiscated – stolen by appellation contrôlée. When buying wine the consumer looks for the assurance of ‘d’origine controlée’ and not Anjou. Cousin had not tricked the consumer.” Cousin’s lawyer also revealed that Cousin calls his wife is “Petite Anjou.”
The prosecutor said that Cousin duped the consumer because Anjou is a protected term in commerce.
The verdict will be handed down on June 4. If found guilty, Cousin faces a fine of about $8,000.
Robert Parker’s “World Tour” of Asia continues. And while it may be hedonistic fruit bombs poured from the importer “partners” by day, Parker drops the chat room bombs late at night. Evidence #1, comments about the wines Eric Asimov (NYT) and Jon Bonne (SF Chronicle) presented at a panel entitled “Unexpected Napa Valley Wines”:
Eric Asimov then posted in the forum: “This must be an example of the new civility among wine writers that Bob has recommended.”
But back to Parker’s hearsay bashing. So which were the wines at the tasting? We turn to Lisa Perrotti-Brown, editor-in-chief, who takes the mic:
By two accounts, there was no pinot grigio, rather the Matthiasson white 2012. And there was no cabernet franc, rather the Turley Wine Cellars Library Vineyard Petite Sirah 2011. And what was the “forgettable Cabernet Sauvignon”? Corison 2010.
I wasn’t at the tasting and I haven’t tasted all the wines in the lineup. I will admit, however, that embracing the new, new thing just because it is shiny and new would be silly–better to embrace it because it is good. But what’s wrong with applauding vintners for experimenting with different grapes and different styles in Napa? Making wines that are either lower-priced or go with foods beyond red meat sounds prudent to me for many reasons.
And what of respecting others’ (differing) opinions? It is incredibly rude to dismiss Asimov and Bonné as “alleged to be professional wine writers.” But I am sure they are laughing because it is, well, laughable. Parker takes everything so personally. It’s too bad that Perrotti-Brown sees the world through Parker-colored glasses; you’d think the new regime at the Wine Advocate would be more conciliatory to the broader world, trying to salvage relevancy when Parker rides off in to the sunset once and for all. It’s hard to see consumers having much thirst for bitter, unhinged attacks and ideology in a wine glass.
UPDATE: On Saturday, Robert Parker’s attorney sent me the letter below. As of now, 8:52 AM on March 10, the image and block quotes posted to eRobertParker.com have been removed.
We are intellectual property and litigation counsel to The Wine Advocate, Inc. the owners of all the copyright protected content and information published in The Wine Advocate and on eRobertParker.com.
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The March 6, 2014 posting on Dr. Vino described herein identically copies a photo and text from various postings to the eRobertParker.com Bulletin Board. The text and photo from these posts to the eRobertParker.com Bulletin Board are copyright protected and owned by The Wine Advocate. The copying or republishing of this content is expressly prohibited by our client. By copying and displaying this content on the Dr. Vino website, Dr. Vino is directly infringing upon our client’s copyright protected content.
In light of the above, we must demand that Dr. Vino immediately (i) remove the photo and text from the March 6, 2014 post that includes our client’s copyright protected content, (ii) remove any and all other content posted on Dr. Vino that was copied from eRobertParker.com and (iii) provide us with your written confirmation that this infringing content has been removed. While this is a matter of significant concern to our clients, we trust that this matter can be swiftly and amicably resolved. We look forward to your response by no later than March 10, 2014.
Very truly yours,
Here’s a funny informercial for what may or may not be a good product: the Vingarde Valise, quote, luggage for wine geeks.
The campy video is kind of funny–who doesn’t like to see a case of wine kicked down a flight of stairs and live to tell the tale? Maybe he should take this to Shark Tank? I’m sure Lori, the “Queen of QVC,” would love it. (But the sharks always ask about sales, so he’d be advised to actually sell a few units first.)
Related: bringing wine home from abroad
Domaine de l’Ecu, a conscientious estate in Muscadet that makes some of the region’s best wines, has had one of their wines rejected by an approval committee.
To have the right to bear the appellation, a French wine must meet all the rules, which pertain to things like which vines can be planted in a delimited zone, maximum yields and so on. The final aspect of approval is a blind tasting by a committee, allegedly to assure “typicité” or that the wine tastes typical of the region. Usually this is a rubber stamp. But tasting committees, particularly in the Loire Valley where Muscadet lies on the western edge, have been showing a tendency to reject some wines. Paradoxically, those are often singular wines that strive for excellence. In so doing, the AOC system becomes more of an obstruction to quality than an institution to undergird it as it reinforces middling or bland wines.
The estate was founded by Guy Bossard. But it was Frédéric Niger Van Herck, a partner and the winemaker at Domaine de l’Ecu, posted the news that their “Expression de Granite” 2012, one of three bottlings that express the different soil types, has been denied the approval of the tasting committee. Here what he said on FB:
News of the day: Granite 2012 has just been rejected by the AOC tasting committee–and unanimously, no less… Promised for next year, full-on chemistry, mechanical harvesting, commercial yeasts, full use of enzymes, and sulphur galore… It should pass that way.
The worst thing is that everything is sold out and have nothing left… When will these official tastings end that turn the beautiful into standardized products? [my translation]
Long live the French wine!
He elaborated that the panel of five tasters judged his wine to be oxidized, adding “what a bunch of…”
Clearly the AOC has a problem: by rejecting wines from quality producers, they risk becoming a laughingstock by enshrining mediocrity.
(Update) Tech specs on the 2011 Granite:
Grape Variety: 100% Melon de Bourgogne
SURFACE: 3 ha. AGE OF THE VINE: 45-55 years old.
Characteristics of the territory:
Orientation of the slopes is SOUTH WEST. Stony soil. Sub-sol: Two-Mica Granite.
40-45 hl. Soil ploughing and soil scraping. Canopy management.
PRUNING: Simple Guyot.
Vinification and refining:
Organically farmed since 1975. Biodynamic – Demeter certified since 1998.
100 % hand-picked grapes
Reception of the grape harvest by gravity, no use of pumps.
No racking of the must
Fermentation: 100 % natural yeast
Temperature control: 15°- 17 °.
Aged “ON THE LEES” in underground vats
Bettane et Desseauve : 16.5/20 (page 807)
Sélection Parker des vins : vins à moins de 20€ (page 337)
Gault et Millaut : 16/20 (page 998)
“When I retire, I don’t want to see the wine writing profession wither away.”
That was one of the many provocative things that Robert Parker said before–get this–a room of wine writers (which prompted some chortles on twitter about new career paths). Granted, wine writing and journalism more generally have changed since Parker was at his peak. But the après-Parker era will not be one of silence; indeed, diversity of opinion is now the norm.
At any rate, Richard Jennings attended the talk and he posted key passages from Parker’s talk as well as the above picture. Here are some of the winning quotes:
* “The wine world is so big. Yes, there are styles of wines I don’t like. Orange wine, natural wines and low alcohol wines. Truth is on my side and history will prove I am right.”
* On tasting the controversial Pavie 2003 this month: “[I] was having problems with it though. The gritty tannins seemed to me to be excessive. It is a vintage that’s evolving very fast. I kept those problems to myself though, until today.”
* On closing eBob to non-subscribers: “No one at The Wine Advocate has any regrets about closing it…[Bulletin board editor] Mark Squires kept throwing people off, warning them at first. It just got worse and worse though. [Squires] was turning into a schizophrenic because so many people were complaining.”
* “People do still want to read tasting notes.”
* On Asia and China: “I want to leave some kind of legacy in Asia. [The Chinese] are great students and fast learners. They’re too respectful to challenge you on anything, but they’re learning.”
* On the Wine Advocate’s new owners: “I’m not the majority owner anymore.”
Check out the full summary.
The rain in California falls mostly in the winter. I think that’s how it went in Pygmalion. At any rate, the rain has decidedly NOT been falling this off-season for the vines. While that doesn’t necessarily spell doom for California’s wine industry–some older vines have deep roots–it does mean less water to go around and and a descent into the politics of water scarcity. New vines and a lot of older vines in the Golden State rely on drip irrigation–it will be interesting if “dry farming,” which some claim produces wines that are more expressive of their terroirs then irrigated vines, catches on this season out of necessity. Also affected are increasingly popular “cover crops,” the nitrogen-rich plants that some vineyard managers sow between the vines to plow under and provide natural fertilization for the soil.
Jason Haas (right), of Tablas Creek in Paso Robles, one of the hardest hit areas in the state, told Bloomberg News that competition from overseas will limit how much California producers can pass drought costs on to consumers. Aquifers and wells may cover some of the shortfall, but, again, welcome to water politics, perhaps a dominant theme for this century in much of the country.
California produces 89% of American wine. The San Joaquin Valley alone cranks out 60%. The Central Valley also produces many of the country’s fruit, nuts and vegetables–America’s salad bowl, if you will, rather than its breadbasket. Mather Jones has a terrific infographic on how the California drought could affect you no matter where you live. (Btw, since it takes about 600 to 800 grapes to make a bottle of wine, they therefore claim it takes 180 – 240 gallons of water to make a bottle of wine. Vintners, winemakers: does that strike you as an exaggeration?)
On a somewhat optimistic note, rain is on the way. Randall Grahm, who makes his Bonny Doon wines on and around California’s central coast, tweeted today: “The fact that rain (and lots of it) is forecast for later this week is the best thing I’ve read in forever. #betterthan95ptsfromparker”
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A committee in the French Senate declared the obvious this week in adding an amendment that would make wine an official part of French heritage.
Cries of “um, duh!” could be heard in the land that makes some of the best wines in the world today and up until fifty years ago had a per capita consumption of 100 liters per person.
That it has come to this underscores the threats the wine industry faces abroad but particularly at home. Overseas, French wine has lost market share in the US to new world producers (although, at the high end, the mindshare remains huge). But at home, wine has come under threat from advertising restrictions, tougher laws against drunken driving, an ascendent force that sees wine/alcohol as a public health problem, a proposal to raise the tax on wine 1,000%, and truly nutty proposals to bar media discussion of health benefits of wine and a ban on talking about wine on the internet! So, in light of these domestic developments, such a declaration by the senate becomes more understandable as it gives the wine industry to something they can use to bolster their position.
We wish them bonne chance. But perhaps the best thing we could do for them is take a sip of the heritage and say santé! (Or, wait, is it not healthy…?)
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