Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Wines & Vines Directory

With the release The 2008 Wines & Vines Directory/Buyer's Guide, which is available for purchase, we also now get a new website which features the Winery and PhoneBook Quick Search sections of the directory. On the site, aptly named Wines and Vines Directory, users can quickly search comprehensive listings for 5,000-plus wineries, and access pinpoint locations for each winery with the GoogleMaps integrated system. The newly added PhoneBook section will allow users to quickly search and connect to more than 18,000 industry people across the North American wine industry. Access is free, although subscribers to the print directory are able to access the fully expanded online reports. Who knew there were 23 wineries in Massachusetts?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Voting at the Brewry

While many Northern Nevadans argued for their candidate of choice or filled out an official ballot, others cracked a cold one and participated in another type of preference polling: beer caucusing. At Great Basin Brewery Brewing Co. in Sparks, the rules for caucusing were pretty simple: One ballot for each beer you ordered. In all, about 1,800 voters cast ballots in the Great Nevada Beer Caucus. And after a week of voting, the Democratic winner was U.S. Sen. Barack Obama and Republican Congressman Ron Paul. Great Basin plans to hold another beer vote this fall for the general election. Maybe this caucusing thing isn't such a bad idea.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Learn about beer at College? Naturally.

Starting this semester, the University of King’s College is offering a class entitled Brewing Science: The history, culture and science of beer. The course will be a seminar/lecture format and will also feature field trips to local breweries in the greater Halifax, Nova Scotia area. Additionally students have the opportunity for an extracurricular activity of brewing beer, replicating the conditions and equipment used to brew beer as it was done hundreds of years ago.

"It’s not just tilting the mug back," says Gordon McOuat, a professor at the University of King’s College. "Nobody’s going to come and drink beer, it’s going to be on their own time [that students would ever drink beer]" he said.

Even without imbibing, Mr. McOuat is excited about the course. "I’m going to fill their wee pint brains with all kinds of knowledge about the intersection of brewing and science and civilization."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The 76 chardonnay comes to Sundance

The 2008 Sundance Film Festival, which begins its 11-day run today, will feature a movie called Bottle Shock - a true life story of a Napa Valley winery and its surprising win at the prestigious 1976 wine tasting in Paris, France - better known as "the judgment of Paris." The film has a star studded cast including Eliza Dushku, Alan Rickman, Chris Pine, Rachael Taylor, Freddy Rodríguez, Bill Pullman, Bradley Whitford and Dennis Farina and some very beautiful scenery to back this amazing story of Jim Barrett and his Napa chardonnay.

Bottle Shock will be shown, starting tomorrow, at the following locations:

Fri. January 18, 8:30pm, Library Center Theatre, Park City
Sat. January 19, 6:00pm, Broadway Centre Cinemas IV, SLC
Mon. January 21, 11:30pm, Holiday Village Cinema II, Park City
Fri. January 25, Noon, Egyptian Theatre, Park City
Sat. January 26, 6:30pm, Redstone Cinemas, Kimball Junction

Stop in, relax, have a glass of chardonnay and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Home made" wine

Last night I opened a 2002 Cabernet / Merlot blend given to me as a Christmas gift. The wine was bottled 5 year's ago at IncrediBREW in Nashua, New Hampshire. IncrediBREW is a brewery and winery where customers use proven recipes, fresh ingredients, professional brewing equipment and our expertise to brew world class beer, make quality wine, super champagne or great old fashioned soda right at our store. A full Cabernet / Merlot batch costs $150 and yields 30-750ml bottles [750ml Green Bordeaux style bottles cost $1.25/each]. So including the bottle costs, your wine would be just $6.25 per bottle. The price also includes cork, shrink wrap and labels. And as wine goes, the 2002 Cabernet / Merlot blend was pretty tasty, especially given it only cost just over 6 bucks. I would recommend checking them out if you want to bottle your very own vintage.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Texas size step forward

In a 58-page decision, a Texas judge has ruled that retailers have the same protection from discrimination with regard to consumer-direct shipping that wineries do. Judge Sidney Fitzwater of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that laws precluding out-of-state wine retailers from selling and shipping wine to Texas consumers are unconstitutional. In an addition however, the judge wrote that the State of Texas has the option to force out-of-state-retailers to purchase wine from Texas wholesalers. "Texas can constitutionally require that wine sold and shipped to Texas consumers be purchased from a Texas licensed wholesaler," Fitzwater declared.

"It's a sweeping decision rejecting the argument that Granholm (the 2005 Supreme Court Ruling on consumer-direct wine shipping) does not apply to retailers," Specialty Wine Retailers Association Executive Director Tom Wark said. "Retailers may not be discriminated against if a state is going to give its own in-state retailers the right to ship."

Sounds like a step in the right direction [toward country wide consumer choice] however I'm not sure how the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is going to deal with new requirements that could create a distribution system where a Texas retailer could buy from wholesalers in several states. I'll bet there is continued legal activity on this issue in the months and years to come.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Beer could help fight cancer

The preliminary studies performed by researchers in Germany indicate xanthohumol, found in hops, inhibits a family of enzymes that can trigger the cancer process, as well as help the body detoxify carcinogens. "It's very healthy. I think the ingredients in the beer are very good," says Dr Werner Back, a brewing technology expert at the Technical University of Munich. It's actually kind of poetic that German researchers would come to discover something healthy in a liquid they have been producing since the 13th century.

"Xanthohumol has been shown to be a very active substance against cancer," says Dr Markus Herrmann, also of Munich. "It comes in small sticky beads, which you find within the hops." Here is the US, preliminary studies at Oregon State University show that xanthohumol can kill breast, colon, ovarian, and prostate cancers. Of course these tests were all done with high concentrations of Xanthohumol, as much as one would find in 60 pints of beer.

If science and brewers can find a way to raise the levels of Xanthohumol without sacrificing the taste, maybe one day we can lift and pint and honestly toast to our health.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Home Blending

Want to try something new this year? How about Home blending?

Wine blending allows for unique flavor profiles and combined tastes, while providing experimentation and fun. Here are some guidelines for blending wine:

1. Choosing wines. It is important to remember to purchase several wines that are as close to 100% as possible. It is also ideal for the wine to be made from grapes grown in the same region. Don't forget to use wines you really like for your mixing - two wrongs never make a right!

2. Tools. Regular glasses and measuring cups are just fine. You should have one glass for each different wine and at least one extra cup for blending. You will also need a pad for note-taking.

3. Start blending! Begin with equal ratios of each wine you are blending. Taste each different blend you create, taking notes as you go. Once you have a handle on the ratios and a sense of your preferences, blend accordingly.

4. Storage. Since all of this blended wine has been open to the air, you will want to consume is sooner rather than later. The best bet to to blend into a decanter and use for your next meal. Or you can bottle your concoction, top the creation off with a unique label and bring to your next dinner party.

5. Have Fun! And Enjoy the experience of being a home wine maker.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Parker influence, maybe too much

Robert Parker has been influencing the wine industry since 1975 but has his personal taste taken some wine makers too far? At least one person things so.

Adam Tolmach of Ojai Vineyard told the Los Angeles Times that his wines had "lost their rudder" in trying to please the palate of the American wine guru [Robert Parker]. He continued saying "I'd stopped drinking my own wines." Tolmach, who has made wine for 25 years, admits that although he got the scores he wanted, he found his wines moving further away from his own tastes. Moving forward Tolmach says he is looking to harvest his grapes earlier and pick less-ripe grapes in the search for balance.

This could be the beginning of a trend away from high-alcohol big wines toward something more drinkable with or without food.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

More Solar Power In Napa

"Everything we do is in honor of our mother and grandmother, Flora, for whom the winery is named," said third-generation vintner and marketing and communications manager Sean Garvey. "She's a strong believer in being both a good steward of the land, and a good neighbor. Converting our red wine production facilities to solar power helps us to do both."

Flora Springs contracted with Integrated Power Corporation to install a total of 435 Sun Tech 170W solar panels on the hillside behind its stone winery. The panels take up approximately 6,500 square feet, and are mounted on a custom-designed structure that doubles as a storage and shade area. The panels will generate 100,000kW hours annually, which will cover all of the energy needed for Flora Springs' red wine production.

"Upgrading our practices at the winery with the solar energy is the next step in ensuring our winery is a viable business that resides harmoniously with the land and community where it exists," said Flora Springs president and co-founder John Komes.

I hope the green trend continues into 2008 because every sunny day that passes in Northern California, is another day of missed solar energy.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Ketel One and Michael Buble

For the third consecutive year, Ketel One Vodka is sponsoring Michael Buble's United States tour. Canada-native Buble is best known for his smash hit Home and current hit Everything. His new single Lost was released late in 2007.

"Michael Buble is a class act who not only enjoys Ketel One Vodka, but also shares our passion and commitment to excellence," said Carl Nolet Jr., executive vice president of Nolet Spirits U.S.A. and an 11th generation Nolet family member. "We are pleased to support Michael's tour and would also like to congratulate him on his recent well-earned Grammy nominations."

What's better than listening to your Call Me Irresponsible CD while enjoying a Ultimate Ketel One Citron Martini!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Buy more than just their beer

Vietnam’s largest brewer, state-owned Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage, aims to raise at least $557m by selling a 20 per cent stake in an initial public offering that would value the company at about $2.7 billion.

Sabeco, which brews Saigon Beer and Beer 333, says its business will grow an average of 10 per cent a year for the next decade, and is aiming to double its beer production to 1 billion litres a year by 2010. It is likely to face tough competition in the beer market, which is drawing increased interest from foreign interests now forging joint ventures with other state companies to establish a toehold.

Vietnam's stock market, however, is not as rich as its beer counterpart these days. After rising 144 per cent in 2006, the Ho Chi Minh City stock exchange ended 2007 with just a 23 per cent increase amid concerns about a glut of new shares entering the still relatively small market.

Maybe the Ho Chi Minh City stock exchange needs something to quench it's thirst and help build the local appetite for new stock offerings. Maybe they just need to have a few more pints of Saigon.

Friday, January 4, 2008

p.i.n.k is the new clear

The p.i.n.k. Spirit's Company has taken the popularity of mixing alcohol and a stimulant [like Vodka and Red Bull] and created a new type of vodka: 80 proof pure Vodka produced in Holland that is infused with both caffeine and extract from the Brazilian guarana plant. Their business approach is interesting and summed up perfectly in their vision statement: "We envision a world where just as people ask for regular or decaf coffee, people will ask for their cocktails the same way".

Their website not only offers information about the company and products but a great list of recipes [with pictures], events, press releases [including their latest announcement about expanding their work force] and some nice video of their very own mixologist, David Brogan [who specializes in creating one-of-a-kind cocktails].

What's next for the p.i.n.k brand? Tequila, Run, White [although I'm sure they will call it pink] Whiskey, Gin and Sake are all planned for the 12 months, so keep your eyes open for more p.i.n.k products in 2008!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Is oak on the way out?

The Wine Opinions Core Track Volume 5 [December 2007] contains data on consumer usage of, attitudes toward, and taste preferences for Chardonnay wines of all styles, with special inquiries into unoaked or low-oak input Chardonnays. The report shows the following data regarding unoaked Chardonnay:

Even though more than a 3rd of survey respondents were not aware of the unoaked segment, 86 percent of them are more than willing to give this kind of Chardonnay a try. This might be a signal that the market is shifting away from the oak and buttery rich Chardonnays toward lighter and cleaner white wine.