February 1, 2016 — When bids for the first Rolls Royce Dawn reached $750,000, the wealthy crowd at the glitzy Naples Winter Wine Festival 2016 charity auction went wild, shaking tambourines and fancy rattles.
This glamour car, not a stellar wine lot, was the monetary peak last Saturday. The winning bidder Julian Movsesian, who’s from California, told me, “I came intending to get this, no matter what the price.”
Most of the live auction’s 64 lots, many offered by famous vintners from five countries, included rare wines paired with fabulous trips, sparkly jewels, lavish golf holidays or VIP sports or concert tickets.
The auction was only one piece of a glittering, non-stop $10,000 per couple weekend that included vintner dinners hosted at private local mansions, with food cooked by all-star chefs, and, for an extra dollop of cash, a panel tasting celebrating the 1976 Paris Tasting….
from BLOOMBERG NEWS:
January 25, 2016 — It was twilight when Alejandro Pedro Bulgheroni first saw a 2,200-hectare property for sale in rural Garzón, just north of Uruguayan resort Punta del Este, where he has a beach house. The peaceful green hills reminded him of Tuscany. “The place had magic,” he says. “I had to have it.”
He bought it in 1999. “My wife was upset that almond trees on land her grandfather had given her were dying. So we planted them, plus olive trees for me,” he says. He finally added vines in 2007—his first step in creating a wine empire that now includes 12 vineyards on four continents….
January 8, 2016 — Maybe you’ve been turned off by the auction numbers (“case of Romanée-Conti brings $59,000!”) and think wine collecting is just a one-percenter’s status game.
It’s not just for those with the fattest wallets. Although major price inflation has hit first- and second-growth Bordeaux and grand cru and premier cru Burgundy, under-the-radar collectibles are still out there for those starting out or trying to decide what to do with this year’s bonus.
Here’s what you need to know and what to collect now….
December 30, 2015 — The impact of climate change and new technologies (like the ability to check wine prices on smartphones) are on my vinous radar for 2016. Sparkling wine, especially ubiquitous prosecco, is still going strong, but “premiumization” is coming. Ditto for rosé.
The future for wine looks bright, though craft beer and craft ciderare siphoning off plenty of attention. Still, more people than ever (in the U.S. and UK especially) are drinking more expensive bottles—although you can get by quite splendidly under $50, too. The fact that “wine red” is the new fashion color for shoes can’t hurt either.
Here’s what else I see in my crystal (glass) for the coming year….
December 21, 2015 — I’m always asked if I drink inexpensive wines. Of course, I do–if the wines are really good. Happily, I can report that it’s easier than ever to buy great stuff without spending a fortune. From my tastings this year, I’ve picked 50 wines that cost less than $50 a bottle and also deliver plenty of value for the price.
Tricks for finding the biggest bang for the buck? Look in low-buzz regions that aren’t luxury brands themselves, such as Beaujolais instead of Burgundy. Try unusual grape varieties, like assyrtiko and mencia. Above all, shop around. (That’s what the Internet is for.)….
December 9, 2015 — In 2015, I sampled about 3,500 wines from every continent but Antarctica in my never-ending search for the recommendable. My 10 most memorable bottles range from a great vintage of a rare riesling, to a pet-nat bargain from the Hamptons, to California’s über-classic cabernet. Taken as a whole, they communicate what’s important in the world of wine today (the rise of traditional winemaking styles and unfamiliar grapes, the new appeal of old champagne) and what might happen next (more hot young things out of Australia, among others).
Arranged by price, my top picks of 2015….
from LE PAN:
November 6, 2015 — People buy wine with their eyes, the late Napa Valley vintner Robert Mondavi once told me. He was talking about how a label design influences what wine we choose to drink. Part symbol, part source of essential information, part marketing and sales tool, a label is like the cover of a book, a clue to what’s inside the bottle and a way to stand out on retail shelves.
A handful of prestigious wine estates take the idea further, enlisting a celebrated artist to create a painting or sketch for the label as a way of announcing that a great wine is also a work of art.
When Château Mouton Rothschild recently revealed its label for the 2013 vintage by Korean-born Lee Ufan, I began thinking about why so many wineries have copied the Bordeaux first growth’s lead. The château has spotlighted a different artist almost every year since 1945, thanks to the ambitious Baron Philippe de Rothschild, a brilliant marketer.
Now his grandson Julien Sereys de Beaumarchais, who, with his brother and sister, inherited the château last year, has taken over the art-beat task. “Our only requirement is that the artist we pick should have a global reputation comparable to that of Mouton Rothschild in the world of wine,” he explains.
Linking wine with fine art elevates it as a key part of culture – or so the thinking goes….
October 14, 2015 — From Hirsch Vineyards, on a high ridge of Sonoma’s coast, I can see the blue Pacific just a few miles away. The wind is strong and cold, and the vineyard rises above a blanket of fog like a sunny island.
This verdant outcropping is one of the most famous Pinot Noir sites in California. A dozen wineries have sought out its grapes in their quest to make great wines and Hirsch has long been on my shortlist of ‘grand cru’ Pinot Noir vineyards.
Notoriously finicky, the so-called heartbreak grape doesn’t fair well everywhere. California winemakers have struggled for decades to identify the spots where the grapes produce wines with the tart, crushed-cherry flavors and seductive textures you get from Pinot’s home, Burgundy.
In Sonoma, Pinot Noir paradise is in the coolest areas….
from BLOOMBERG MARKETS:
October 15, 2015 — This past spring, Joost Heymeijer arrived in Bordeaux with the Emirates airline wine team for a four-day marathon of tasting barrel samples. They ended up purchasing almost 1 million bottles as futures, zeroing in on 60 famed crus classés, such as Château Cheval Blanc. When the wines are ready to drink, they’ll be poured gratis in Emirates’ first and business classes.
“A long journey looks a lot better with a glass of fine Bordeaux or champagne,” says Heymeijer, who’s in charge of the airline’s in-flight catering. “That’s why we’ve spent half a billion dollars on the wine program over the past decade.” Two million bottles are aging in a warehouse in Burgundy; the rest are stashed in Dubai.
Emirates is one of many airlines adding elite wines to the list of luxury perks like massage beds and Michelin-starred cuisine as a long-term strategy to win wealthy travelers’ loyalty.
March 3, 2015 — Australia’s thick, jammy Shirazes, cheap fruity/oaky blends from industrial producers, and cellar-wizard winemaker philosophy have long shaped that country’s wine image abroad – and never appealed to me.
So what turned me into an Aussie wine fan? The stunning new wave reds and whites I tasted not long ago on visits to two cool-climate valleys. They reminded me once again how diverse a wine country Australia is and showed me what I hope is the face of its vinous future.
I found dozens of ambitious young-gun winemakers, who are ignoring fruit-bomb styles and lashings of oak for leaner, subtler wines. And instead of blending grapes from different regions, they’re embracing single vineyards….
from The World of Fine Wine:
Issue 47 – 2015 — I admit it: I’m a wine romantic. I respond to those special landscapes in wine country, the rows of gnarled vines tended by passionate families attached to their land for generations, the ever-repeated miracle of clusters of grapes being transformed into a drink that reflects their patch of ground, the dark cellars of cobwebbed barrels that hold history in liquid form. The wines that most capture my imagination seem imbued with a kind of meaning that no other beverage can match, their tastes conjuring cultural values that often tap into deep emotions.
My first visit to a California winery, several decades ago, was just the type of wine experience that fosters that kind of romantic view…
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