As you may have heard, forest fires are devastating Chile’s vineyards, including 100-year-old vines in the region of Maule, an area that has been undergoing a winemaking renaissance, with dozens of terrific small vintners. (They were also hammered by the earthquake in 2010.)
As I write this, the Chilean grape and wine growers association is in an emergency meeting to determine just who and how many vineyards are involved. It’s too soon to say what effect this natural disaster will have on the country’s exports, including its high-end Cabernet and Carménère. Stay tuned….
Over lunch with Bloomberg restaurant critic Richard Vines at London’s Grain Store Unleashed, we worked through all the wine by glass selections. Vines included my tasting notes in his don’t-miss review.
Levi Dalton interviewed me for one of his much visited I’ll Drink To That! podcasts. The link is here.
James Tarmy, who writes on arts and culture for Bloomberg Muse, interviewed me recently on the subject of Sauternes, the great sweet wine of Bordeaux. The interview is here.
One of the worst wine crimes I’ve heard about occurred last Sunday night in Montalcino at the winery of one of the top producers of Brunello di Montalcino, Gianfranco Soldera.
According to various accounts – I read about this at Jeremy Parzen’s dobianchi.com, the first in the U.S. to report the event – someone broke into the Soldera cellars and opened the valves of big oak casks aging the last six years of Soldera’s superb Case Basse Brunello, allowing the wine to flood out over the floor. Soldera only makes about 15,000 bottles a year, which sell for $200 to $350. Destroying much of the vintages 2007 to 2012 seems to me far beyond vandalism.
What kind of person would do this?
Soldera is a strict traditionalist, and the maestro of Brunello. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a number of vintages of his cult red, including the sublime 1980 Riserva.
Rumor has it that it might be vengeance, or, as they say in Italian opera, una vendetta. Soldera was outspoken in his objections to any change in traditional Brunello, such as aging in small French oak barrels or deviating from the concept of Brunello as a wine made from 100 percent Sangiovese grapes. That’s embodied in the regulations, but in 2008, it was discovered that various producers were illegally blending unauthorized grapes into their Brunellos. Several were indicted, in a scandal that became known as Brunellogate.
Sadly, even if whoever is responsible is caught, that won’t bring back all that beautiful lost wine.
Last week I was in Izmir, Turkey to moderate a communication workshop at the EWBC digital wine communications conference, and had the chance to taste an amazing array of wines from Turkey and surrounding countries—and while I was there visit Istanbul, Ephesus, and Cappadocia. More all on this in coming columns….
After my column on 2011 Bordeaux futures prices went out on the Bloomberg Newswire earlier this week, some of my top wines of the vintage finally released their prices: The deep, polished, rich, and truly delicious Ch. Ducru-Beaucaillou, a St. Julien 2nd growth, is just over $110 a bottle (£800 a case in the U.K.). That’s a pretty good price, even less than the 2008, which wasn’t nearly as good.
Next came one of my faves, Vieux Chateau Certan, a wonderfully scented, very complex and silky Pomerol. With its return to a high percentage of cabernet franc, it’s even better than the superb 2009 and 2010. Price? $145 a bottle (£1050 in the UK, if you can find it).
These are two wines definitely worth buying as futures.