From the aisles of California retail, a site reader sends in news of perhaps the ultimate closeout–wine for a penny a bottle.
What’s interesting is that this special offer, only available to CVS cardholders who also purchase a 18(!)-pack of Bud or Tecate (do they mean orange wine?). Incentivizing wine purchases through beer. Soft economy be damned–we’re going to boost that rise in per capita wine consumption going one way or another!
It’s no secret that malbec has been on a tear in recent years. I had fun researching a piece on Argentina’s adopted grape for wine-searcher magazine. Check it out to read snippets about the transformation of the Argentine wine industry, the rise of malbec there and in export markets, and why Miles from Sideways may have helped open the door to malbec.
Argentina has been on a tear internationally this year with the new Pope, Lionel Messi’s passing and scoring acumen, the gracious Ángel Cabrera coming one putt away from a second green jacket, and malbec. One thing that’s perhaps not as well known here is that Argentina’s economy is suffering what The Economist calls a case of “gaucho blues.” In the face of high inflation–the unofficial rate hovers just under 30%–the government of Cristina Fernández has been trying to impose capital controls and mandatory schemes to boost exports by offsetting imports. But they’re not working: while the official exchange rate with the US dollar is 5.1 pesos, a side market for “blue dollars” currently is about 9 pesos to the dollar.
For the piece, I spoke with Ed Lehrman of Vine Connections, which imports estate wines from Argentina. He told me that for the first time in a decade, his growers have raised prices to him–some two or three times in the past year simply because they have to pay their workers 30% more than they did last year to keep even with the eroding purchasing power. Lehrman is working with his US distributors to maintain key prices points for his wines as best he can. But he said two things are happening in light of this inflation: more malbec is leaving the country in bulk to be bottled closer to points of consumption and more malbec is being exported at higher price points.
Malbec sales in the US have thus far weathered the economic storm in Argentina by posting strong growth in Nielsen data last year. But if prices rise or quality falls, will this be the year that malbec’s decade-plus run in the export markets leads producers to sing the gaucho blues? And, speaking of inflation, given malbec’s skew toward retail over restaurants and associated reliance on point scores, does point inflation also pose a threat to the category? What is your anecdotal experience with malbec recently?
The post Would a price increase take the wind out of malbec’s sales? appeared first on Dr Vino's wine blog.
A jury in Manhattan sided with Bill Koch in his lawsuit over 24 counterfeit wines. The collector extraordinaire and energy magnate had sued Eric Greenberg, a wine collector who at one point had a cellar of 70,000 bottles, for selling him the counterfeit bottles. The jury awarded Koch $379,000 in damages to cover the fraudulent bottles and will reconvene this morning to see consider punitive damages.
Bloomberg has the full story including some of Koch’s comments after the trial:
“I absolutely can’t stand to be cheated. Now we got one faker so we’re marching down our hit list of fakers. This is just a start.”
“Millions if not tens or hundreds of millions of counterfeit wines are sold every year. The counterfeiters don’t want anyone to know, for $100 they make it and mark it up to $15,000, I myself paid $100,000 for a counterfeit wine. To me the whole industry is corrupt.”
“What Greenberg did was treat me and Zachys the way you treat mushrooms–kept in the dark and fed manure.”
“I’m thirsty, I want a glass of wine,” Koch said before repairing to restaurant Daniel. “And if it’s not a good bottle, I’m going to sue them.”
SPIT: celebrity wine
Buzzfeed asks sommelier Michael Madrigale to taste and rate celebrity wines in a blind tasting. Hilarity ensues.
SIPPED: hermaphroditic Himalayan elderberries
A funny send-up of tasting note terms from Keith Levenberg.
SPIT: say pleas
Rudy Kurniawan went before a Manhattan judge yesterday; trial is set to start September 9, or thereabouts. [AFP]
True headline: “Your Wine Habit Is Threatening Endangered Pandas” #rolleyes
The post Celebrity wines, tasting terms, court date – sipped & spit appeared first on Dr Vino's wine blog.
In a surprising setback for selling wine online, the New York State State Liquor Authority ruled yesterday that the sale of wine by third-party “advertisers” violates its code. Some online sales and marketing companies, such as wine clubs and Lot 18, sell or market wine online without a New York retail license, instead rely on a licensee to process or fulfill the orders.
The SLA ruled on a January 17 request from ShipCompliant, a regulatory compliance company for the wine trade, that had sought clarification for the expansion of its “MarketPlace” product. Although not mentioned specifically in the ruling, Lot 18, which uses ShipCompliant, was the focus. Lot 18 does not hold a NY license to sell wine and had been processing orders through a licensee. The order fulfillment had been occurring off-site from the retailer’s physical location. The SLA states that, in their interpretation, selling wine includes soliciting or receiving orders for wine. It further states that licensees are not allowed to make their license available to a person who has not been approved by the authority. In this specific case, the licensee was not involved in choosing the brands to be sold or in determining the prices and the licensee had no control in discretion in dividing the proceeds of each sale, the ruling states.
“The best thing a state’s alcohol regulatory body can do is be clear about how it expects a company like ours — and our competitors — to operate,” says Dini Rao, Chief Merchandise Officer for Lot 18. “Clarity is better for us and, ultimately, better for consumers. We’re working on several legal and technical solutions to comply with the SLA’s ruling, which we expect to introduce soon.”
The ruling has ramifications for wine clubs too. The Wall Street Journal wine club is run in a similar manner: their web site states that orders are received and fulfilled by the licensed retailer Shermer Specialties of Carmel NY. The NY SLA fined Shermer $50,000 last month for third-party internet sales. Shermer has not responded to a request for comment. Global Wine Co. based in San Rafael, CA, operates several wine clubs including The New York Times wine club, Food & Wine wine club, Williams-Sonoma wine club. Global Wine Co has yet to respond to a request for comment about how they will react to the ruling.
The ruling has national implications. Previously, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control ruled that it was illegal for unlicensed third parties to profit from the sale of alcohol. This stymied online wine sales in the state and nationally for years. However, after a lengthy review, the state reversed its position and deemed the sales as legitimate, liberalizing wine sales with a less restrictive view of sales. According to one person at the January 17 New York meeting, a participant pointed out the new California position to the Board; the chairman was unmoved.
The ruling states that the SLA will be issuing an advisory providing more comprehensive guidance.
Ruling: 2013-01006A Internet Advertising Platform(pdf)
Climate change threatens to redraw the wine map over the next few decades. That we know. A new paper suggests that the establishment of new vineyards in cooler areas will endanger the habitat of animals ranging from grizzlies to pandas.
The findings seem to be structured to grab headlines and cause alarm–who would ever want to hurt pronghorn elk or pandas in the quest for a glass of pinot noir? Sure, the wine industry might need a prod to improve water management or reduce pesticide use. But are there concrete examples where vineyards have threatened habitats and how the potential conflicts were resolved successfully or not? In the absence of such concrete examples, it seems a bit like a bogeyman. I visited vineyards in Constantia last year, right up against the Cape of Good Hope nature preserve, which has abundant biodiversity and the vintners there spoke of living with baboon raids on grapes and how there was little they could do about it.
The paper largely ignores practicality and politics. If the climate is changing, wouldn’t there be other (e.g. housing) development pressure in cooler areas? Would other shifts in the environment of the wildlife alter the habitat more than a fenced-in vineyard? And what about preservation efforts–land use regulations in Napa, for example, essentially rendered hillside vineyard development impossible over a decade ago. And pointing to the declining vineyard area of Algeria is a red herring since it was once administratively part of mainland France at the height of French wine consumption, only to have the market removed after independence.
The map of the world’s vineyards will indubitably include new lands 50 years from now and it’s good that the paper again brings this into the popular discussion. New vineyards should be developed in a responsible way, using policy and including consideration for wildlife. But if we’re all drinking grand cru Montana in 2050, we’re going to have a lot more to think about than wine–and so will the grizzlies.
Drew Barrymore, wine curator, comments on her wine label to KSBW:
“I love pinot grigio. I’ve been a pinot grigio drinker most of my life–after 21, of course.”
“It has beautiful notes and it is lacking in acidity but full of fruit.”
“Women love rosé and pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc. And we like to put ice in it.”
Discuss! Here’s a reaction from Twitter to kick things off: “she threw all the ladiezzz tasting wine back by about 20 years.”
In a surprising move, Amazon did a volte face a while back: instead of fighting collecting sales taxes, which was creating an image problem, the online retailer decided to collect taxes and move its previously isolated warehousing closer to metropolitan areas. So, in 2014, Amazon will open a mammoth fulfillment center (one million sq.ft.) in New Jersey as a staging ground for fulfilling orders both to the Garden State and NYC.
Will anyone in NYC who orders books, breakfast cereal, or basketballs from Amazon care that they first touched down in New Jersey? No, it makes no difference. Would New York authorities prohibit those products from being delivered to NY residents? No, they would have no cause to discriminate against those products that started the last leg of their journey to consumers in NJ; Amazon surveyed the competitive landscape and chose to build its warehouse in Jersey.
The New York Post had a story yesterday about a scary bill that has reappeared in Albany that has parallels for wine enthusiasts to the amazon warehouse. The story reports that Empire Merchants LLC, a large wine and spirits distributor, is trying to grease the wheels to pass a state law mandating that all wine delivered to NYC must stay “at rest” in an NY warehouse for 24 hours prior to delivery.
Clearly, this is absurd, and it serves no-one’s purpose other than a large distributor such as Empire. As with Amazon, most of the small and mid-sized wine distributors have chosen to warehouse in New Jersey. To force that warehousing to NY would create jobs–always appealing to politicians–but it would doubtless raise the cost of business to the small and mid-sized distributors, likely raising prices for consumers or forcing distributors to trim their portfolios. The worst case scenario is that they would go out of business. Ironically, the 2005 Granholm decision on direct wine shipping could be invoked since this law discriminates against out-of-state products, violating interstate commerce.
New York City is currently the greatest wine city on the planet. And it’s not the big distributors who make it that way. So go make some noise, write your state senator (here’s text from last year) and tell them you are opposed to S3849-2013, known as “at rest.” The bill’s sponsor is Senator Jeff Klein who, the Post points out, received $33,000 in contributions from Empire over the past four years.
Related: “Wine company ‘buys’ NY bill – that could cost you $7 a bottle!” NY Post
“Put “at rest” to rest in NY” DrVino.com