Ah, the power of wine terminology in conveying cachet to food, drink or other luxury products never ceases to amaze. Today’s case in point: Nespresso, pre-ground espresso beans encased in tin pods that stay fresh for a decade.
As I wandered out of Grand Central Terminal one day last week, I was accosted by a phalanx of men and women in black suits with white shirts and black ties. I feared for a moment that I had walked on to the set of the latest Men in Black movie and considered taking cover, lest they be in pursuit of aliens. But one garrulous steward trotted over to me and offered me a coffee. Since I rarely refuse coffee in any form offered me before 3 PM, I felt my eyes open wider as I nodded approval. He guided me over to bins containing the colorful pods of Nespresso. The instantaneous, one-touch coffee has been tremendously popular in Europe; if they hung out signs touting sales as McDonald’s does, I’m sure it would say “billions brewed.”
As a wine geek, the thing that struck me the most was that they bins offered selections from the “16 Grand Crus” of Nespresso. Grand cru, says who? While I have seen the term handwritten on bags of beans at boutique roasters, it seems to more tolerable and chuckleworthy there as the bags tout a single coffee plantation. But the Nespresso pods on display had no visible connection with the place(s) of origin and their “grand crus” simply evoked flavor profiles.
If the Champenois went nuts about the mere rumor of a champagne iPhone, shouldn’t a defender of the grand cru system be flipping out over Nestle’s brazen marketing?
Oh, and as to the quality of the Nespresso cappuccino itself? While the system may be long (lungo?) on convenience, the quality was more akin to vin de pays than grand cru.
Registration for my fall wine class at NYU is open. It starts on 10/16 and runs six consecutive Wednesdays.
In the class, we survey the wine landscape, discussing they story of wine in several key countries and covering hot-button issues. Each class includes a tasting to highlight points from the discussion. It’s a non-credit course without grades, so you don’t have to worry about failing a wine class appearing on your transcript!
It’s always great to meet site readers in the class–so check it out!
The federal government has shut down “nonessential” services as of today. Surprisingly, that means that the federal agency that regulates the wine industry is also largely shut down. This is surprising because the agency collected $26 billion in revenues for the government–you’d think they would want to keep that flowing.
I spoke with a staffer at the TTB a few weeks ago while I was writing a story about wine label art. In the course of our conversation, he told me that the agency has experienced a surge in requests for label approvals. When they were formed ten years ago, they received 89,000 requests for label approvals whereas today they get 152,000 label requests. A 40% growth in wineries and a 60% rise in brewers have driven the surge. (Meanwhile, because of budget cuts, their headcount has been reduced from 520 to 471 over the same period.) I also spoke with some vintners who complained that the label approval process had slowed this year in the wake of the sequester. And now with the shutdown it will have ground to a halt.
Whenever TTB officials return to work they will have a ton of wine labels awaiting their review. The whole situation is enough to drive one to drink…
Before the shutdown occurred, the TTB did take a preliminary step to approving 11 new AVAs within the existing Paso Robles AVA.
This is what a wine trade group in France foresees on wine labels. Did you miss which country this is? FRANCE. You know, the country that might as well be the first child of Bacchus, a land that’s been growing vines since the Gauls were in charge, where kids in black and white photos carry flagons of wine and baguettes.
Earlier this year, we discussed the upbeat report entitled “Damage related to addictions and strategies for reducing the damage.” Among other things it recommended banning writing about wine on the internet. It doesn’t even take 140 characters to point out that this is both dunderheaded and unenforceable. According to a piece on La Revue de Vin de France, efforts to limit discussion and promotion of wine in France are growing and may come to a head later this year as an update to the 1991 Evin Law.
A trade group representing wine and spirits professionals in France just went live at www.cequivavraimentsaoulerlesfrancais.fr. Let’s hope they can harness the power of the internet to oppose the new possible measures on taxation, labeling and criticism — before prohibitions about discussing wine online are enacted.
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Why have the federal authorities rejected a wine label with a nude photo yet waived through several with nude art? Why is swearing and double entendre allowed while someone driving a car is not? And what about guns?
I explore the vicissitudes of wine labels that push the boundaries of acceptable in a post over on Details.com. Check it out for a look at some racy labels, including some rejected labels that have never been seen by a broad audience before.
If you were the all-powerful regulator of wine, what would be your litmus test for allowable art on wine labels?
“Wine labels gone wild” [Details.com]
SIPPED: vineyard views. SPIT: Vineyard maintenance
A property developer is buying large vineyards in Languedoc and turning them into “luxury” residences. Yes, part of the perk is 50 cases of wine. [WSJ]
SAVED: Ray Isle wanders California’s “historic” vineyards that are facing pressure to be uprooted and developed into housing. [F&W]
SIPPED: wine and music
City Winery opened during the depths of the downturn in 2008 in downtown Manhattan, will be opening new locations in Napa and Nashville. Given the demise of Crushpad, one could have assumed custom wine-making facilities were a difficult sell. But pairing an event space with the wine making has helped City Winery find a winning business model.
ZAPPED: a researcher says microwaving wine can improve it. While the piece is short on details, it seems cruel and unusual punishment for pinot noir, already at the forefront of global warming. [MSN]
SUBMERGED: speaking of global warming, Wine Island might be wiped off the map. [geogarage]
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