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02 March 2016
California wine veteran Peter Mondavi dies

Peter Mondavi, part of the Mondavi wine family and one of the most significant individuals in the development of the California wine industry, has died aged 101.obituaries Peter Mondavi died at his home in St Helena, Napa, on 20 February, said Charles Krug Winery, the family estate where he served as chief executive for nearly 40 years.

Mondavi died surrounded by family members, the estate said.
He will be remembered as one of the leading lights of California wine of the last century and his time at the helm of Charles Krug Winery has coincided with the US sunshine state – and Napa Valley specifically – establishing itself on the global fine wine scene.
In 1986, the Napa Valley Vintners Association named him one of ’12 living legends in the Napa Valley’. He was the last survivor of that group.

He was particulatly known for innovation, a character trait that extended from his student days when he studied the effects of cold fermentation on white and rosé wines – a controversial approach at that time.
Mondavi was also happy to speak his mind. When asked by Decanter in 2010 whether wine had become too expensive, he said, ‘Basic wines no, but the premium wines are just crazy. There’s enough multi-millionaires who make so damn much money who created the problem.’
He added that wine should not be just an income for those making it. ‘You have to love the wine business, period. If you don’t, then get out.’
After studying economics at Stanford University and oenology at the University of California Berkeley, Mondavi served in the US military during World War Two and returned to the US in 1946. During his absence, the Mondavi family had acquired Charles Krug Winery, one of the oldest in California and established in 1861.
Peter initially worked with his brother, Robert Mondavi, but the two went their separate ways after a reputed falling out in 1965. The pair were reconciled later in life, several years before Robert Mondavi died in 2008.
Among his achievements, Peter Mondavi bought more than 320 hectares of premium Napa Valley vineyard land in the late 1960s and early 1970s, helping Charles Krug to establish itself as a family-owned, estate wine producer.
Mondavi also spent a further $22m to plant around 160ha of land with Bordeaux grape varieties in the first decade of the 21st Century.
Peter Mondavi was preceded in death by his wife, Blanche, and his siblings, Robert, Mary and Helen. He is survived by a daughter, Siena, two sons, Marc and Peter Jr, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Source: www.decanter.com

 
01 March 2016
Five new Masters of Wine announced

There are now 343 Masters of Wine around the world after five more students passed the rigorous entrance exams for the exclusive club.

The Institute of Masters of Wine announced five new members on 29 February.
They include a winemaker, two wine buyers, a marketing manager and the owner of a hospitality training business, it said.
The new Masters of Wine are:
• Ivan Barbic MW (Switzerland)
• Eran Pick MW (Israel)
• Jan Schwarzenbach MW (Switzerland)
• Lenka Sedlackova MW (Czech Republic, currently based
in the UK)
• Stephen Wong MW (Malaysia, now living in New Zealand)
MW hopefules must complete both theory and practical Exams before submitting a final research paper on a wine topic of their choice.
It is notoriously difficult to pass, but that does not appear to deter applicants. The institute said that 74 students from 14 countries were accepted on to stage one of the programme in September 2015.
Ivan Barbic MW: born in Croatia but grew up in Switzerland and graduated as a food technology engineer at ETH Zurich, with a diploma thesis in wine flavour analysis. He is currently strategic buyer for importer Bataillard.
Research Paper: An assessment of the sensorial, economic and analytical impacts of fining agents without allergen compounds on a commercially important red wine on the Swiss market.
 
Jan Schwarzenbach MW: Studied viticulture at Charles Sturt university and oenology in Adelaide, Australia, before working in wineries in both Australia and Switzerland. More recently, he spent several years teaching at the WSET accredited Académie du Vin in Switzerland, and is currently head of en primeur buying for Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône at the Co-op retailer in the country.
Research Paper: Buying behaviour of multi-channel retail wine consumers in Switzerland in store and online using the market leader Coop as an example
Lenka Sedlackova MW: Born and raised in Czech Republic but lives in the UK and currently works as marketing manager for renowned UK importer Fields, Morris and Verdin – part of Berry Bros & Rudd. She has a particular passion for Spanish wines.
Research Paper: An evaluation of the market position of Reserva and Gran
Reserva Cava in the London on and off-trade
Eran Pick MW: Born in Kfar Sava, Israel, and today lives in Tel Aviv. He learned about winemaking in the vineyards of Napa, Sonoma, Barossa and Bordeaux, and graduated from UC Davis with a BS in viticulture and oenology in 2006. He now works for Tzora Vineyards in Israel.
Research paper: The Quantification of the Variability of Meso climates among Important Vineyard Regions in Israel
Stephen Wong MW: Malaysian born Chinese, who originally studied law at the University of Otago in New Zealand. Despite completing his barrister exams in Wellington, Wong took a job as a sommelier and, after seven years, began a consulting role. He now runs a small hospitality education and support business based in Wellington, named Wine Sentience, training staff and managing wine lists.
Research Paper: The coincidence of a global financial crisis and oversupply an analysis of Marlborough’s controversial 2008 vintage and its consequences

Source: www.decanter.com

 
24 February 2016
Hugh Johnson donates wine manuscripts to UC Davis

Long-standing wine writer and Decanter columnist Hugh Johnson OBE is set to formally donate his research notes and manuscripts for books such as World Atlas of Wine to UC Davis at a ceremony in California this week.

Hugh Johnson, Decanter Man of the Year in 1995 and an Officer in the French Order Nationale de Merité, has chosen to donate his wine papers to UC Davis’ Peter J Shields Library.
The materials include annotated manuscripts and research notes for his books, including The Story of Wine and the World Atlas of Wine, now co-authored with Jancis Robinson MW and in its seventh edition.
There will also be examples of his journalism, television programmes, lecture notes and transcripts, and various other projects accumulated over his unparalleled 50-year career in wine.
A ceremony to mark the donation will be held at UC Davis on Tuesday 23 February, with 160 students and wine professionals in attendance.

Axel Borg, distinguished wine and food science biographer at UC Davis, told Decanter.com, ‘Hugh Johnson created the concept of world wine. He proved the popularity of wine atlases, and proved that you can make a living out of writing about wine.
‘Besides the historical benefits of this collection, we have an undergraduates’ writing programme at Davis, and for them to be able to study his writing process and revisions will be a great honour.’
The emeritus professor of English, Thomas Pinney, author of A History of Wine in America, will hold a filmed Q&A session with Johnson speaking about his career and the specifics of the work included in this donation.
The Peter Shields library holds over 30,000 wine books, with a special collections library of rare manuscripts, maps and imprints from 1450 to 1900. The library already contains the papers and books of legendary American wine writers Leon D Adams and Roy Brady.
‘It’s simply the greatest wine library in the world,’ said Johnson
Johnson’s horticultural papers have been donated to the Garden Museum in London.

Source: www.decanter.com

 
21 February 2016
Age and disease threaten Burgundy wine shortage

Burgundy wines may become even more difficult to find because of vine disease and smaller harvests from ageing vineyards, according to a new report by the region's wine council.

The future is challenging for Burgundy, according to a report by the Burgundy wine council, BIVB.
While demand for Burgundy is strong, and prices for top wines remain high, overall harvest size is set to shrink – and not just due to the perennial threat of hail storms.
Burgundy vineyards have ‘aged and the yields reduced significantly since 2000 in response to a range of factors’, said Corinne Trarieux, of the BIVB Technical Centre.

The first problem relates to degenerative vine diseases such as esca or fanleaf, which affect almost 14% of vineyards and ultimately kill many vines.
More than 100,000 hectares of vines across France were lost to disease in 2014, French government figures show.
The age of vines is a problem, too. In Côte d’Or and Saône-et-Loire, 60% of the vines are over 30 years old. The average age of a Burgundy vineyard is 50 years, Corinne Trarieux toldDecanter.com, which causes lower yields.
Turnover of vines is under 1%, according to Trarieux. The replanting of dead vines only and not the whole area – ‘complantation’ – is a factor in low production.

Trarieux concluded that, in the face of climate change, growers need to be proactive in addressing the various issues.
Relatively small Burgundy vintages in 2011, 2012 and 2013, have already reduced some wineries’ cash flow, preventing them from replanting, according to the report.
It also reports that owners of some areas of Burgundy Grand Cru or Premier Cru vineyards do not want to replant the whole area and reduce their revenues for four or five years.
To deal with this situation, the BIVB has launched a programme to help vine growers.
‘To increase potential production, a lot of things need to be implemented,’ said Corinne Trarieux. ‘But we must do this intelligently to avoid interrupting production.’

Source: www.decanter.com

 
15 January 2016
Concern as EU relaxes rules on vineyard planting rights.

Controversial new rules that make it theoretically possible for anyone to get commercial vineyard planting rights on any piece of land - such as on the banks of the Seine in Paris - have received a cautious reception from French winemakers. 

The long-mooted and much-debated deregulation of vineyard planting rights across the European Union came into effect on 1 January 1 2016. It means previous system of planting rights has been scrapped in favour of individual, ‘non-transferable authorisations’ that can be granted even on land that was previously not considered suitable for vines. Some fear that appellation systems could be jeopardised by changes to planting rules. Under the new rules, French regions such as Picardie or the Ile de France around Paris can legally bottle and sell wine commercially, whereas previously any wine produced in these zones could only be for personal consumption. But, intense lobbying from EU member states and winemakers has seen the introduction of ‘safeguards’.

New plantings cannot exceed 1% of the Member State’s existing vineyard area. For France, that means around 8,000 additional hectares in 2016. Plus, Member States have the power to limit vineyard growth in certain areas, ‘where properly justified’, the European Commissions said. Some producers were still concerned that the changes herald more to come. ‘Although very little will effectively change in the short-term, the new regulations set up the potential for bigger changes in the future,’ Jean Baptiste Bourotte, a négociant and winemaker in Pomerol in Bordeaux told Decanter.com. ‘It’s still important to ensure that vines will not be planted in unsuitable areas, and to protect the quality image of French wine.’

Under the new rules, the three levels for labelling wine will be AOC/AOP (appellation controllée), IGP (indication géographique protégée) and VSIG (vins sans indication géographique, replacing the former table wine category). Winemakers in all three levels can apply for planting authorisations. The changes are being brought in for a transition period that lasts until 2030, where all terms previously allowed on wine labels will still be permitted.

Source: www.decanter.com

 
13 January 2016
Michel Chapoutier buys Château des Ferrages.

Maison Michel Chapoutier, the well-known producer of Tain-l’Hermitage in Northern Rhône, has bought Château des Ferrages in Provence. 

The move gives Chapoutier, the pioneer of biodynamic farming in the Rhône valley, a stronger position in the fast growing rosé wine sector and is evidence of an expansion strategy in this area. Château des Ferrages is located in Pourcieux, between Aix-en-Provence and Saint-Maximin in the lowland of Sainte-Victoire. The estate covers 28 hectares and produces both Côtes-de-Provence and Côtes-de-Provence Saint-Victoire wines. With a 1,000-square-metre winery that has a total production capacity of 3,500 hectolitres, the estate currently produces 1,400 hectolitres per year. That is equivalent to around 187,000 bottles, with 90% dedicated to rosé. ‘To us, Provence is a natural continuation of the Rhône Valley,’ Corinne Chapoutier told Decanter.com.

Maison Chapoutier will retain the Château des Ferrages brand, and will not include its umbrella logo bottle  labels, Corinne Chapoutier said. She declined to provide any more details before an official press release. But in all likelihood, the Château des Ferrages estate will not operate using biodynamic farming methods, at least in the short term. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Château des Ferrages was previously owned José Garcia and had been in the same family for three generations. Global rosé wine sales are around 2.6bn bottles annually, according to the most recently released figures from research group The IWSR and trade show Vinexpo.

Source: www.decanter.com

 
11 January 2016
Australian wine veteran Bob Oatley dies.

Bob Oatley, Australian wine pioneer and founder of Rosemount Estate, as well as owner of the Wild Oats XI yacht, has died at the age of 87.

Bob Oatley established Rosemount Estate in 1969 and built it into one of the driving forces of the modern Australian wine industry before selling via a A$1.5bn merger deal with rival Southcorp in 2001.Five years later, he set up Robert Oatley Vineyards with son Sandy, and was also a keen sailing enthusiast whose yachts dominated the Sydney to Hobart race, and also won the Admiral’s Cup in Cowes. From modest beginnings in the Hunter Valley, Oatley made his first fortune in exporting coffee and cocoa beans from Papua New Guinea in the 1950s and 1960s.

He was named as an Officer of the Order of Australia in the 2014 Australia Day Honours. Fellow winemaker Bruce Tyrrell told the ABC News website: ‘He drove Rosemount into those early days of exporting Australian wine. ‘You know I remember in the early ’80s being thrown out of a New York liquor store because “they didn’t make wine” in Australia. ‘Bob and the crew at Rosemount were really one of the ones that did a huge amount of work to break that down.’

Announcing Bob Oatley’s death with ‘profound sadness’, the Oatley family said, ‘The Oatley family has been touched by the many kind words and tributes that have already been received from friends, colleagues and the wider Australian community. They thank everyone for their love and condolences.’

Source: www.decanter.com

 
06 November 2015
Italy overtakes France as world’s biggest wine producer

Italy is again set to become the world's largest wine producer country in 2015, overtaking France, after better weather ensured a bigger harvest than in 2014.

Vineyards in Piedmont, which has enjoyed a better growing season in 2015  Italy is likely to produce 48.9m hectolitres from the 2015 wine harvest, equivalent to 6.52bn bottles, which would see it re-claim top spot as the world’s biggest wine producer ahead of France, the International Organisation for Vine and Wine (OIV) said this week.

Better weather conditions during the 2015 growing season in Italy, particularly across northern areas such as Piedmont, mean that the country’s wine harvest is set to increase by 10% this year.  France’s wine harvest is estimated to show a 1% rise in 2015, to 47.4m hectolitres, equivalent to 6.32bn bottles.  However, in reality, both countries have spent the past several years seeking to reduce overall production of standard table wines.  Domestic consumption of wine is at an all-time low in both France and Italy, and producers have been keen to push a quality message in export markets. The European Union has provided compensation to entice unprofitable winemakers into grubbing up vines.  It has been a similar story for Spain, which is set to remain the world’s third largest wine producer in 2015 with estimated production of 36.6m hectolitres, equivalent to 4.9bn bottles and down 4% on 2014.

Outside of Europe, Chile is expected to see wine production rise by 23% from the 2015 harvest, to a record 12.87m hectolitres, or 1.7bn bottles.  Nearby Argentina is estimated to produce 12% less wine in 2015, at 13.4m hectolitres, or 1.79bn bottles.  The US, which the largest wine consumer nation, will remain the world’s fourth largest wine producer following the 2015 harvest, on an estimated 22.1m hectolitres – 2.9bn bottles – up by 1% on 2014.

Source: www.decanter.com

 
03 November 2015
Ornellaia Bianco makes case for Super Tuscan white wine

The Italian estate has launched Ornellaia Bianco - a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier - and clearly has lofty ambitions for white wines in Bolgheri.

In Ornellaia Bianco, estate winemaker and director Axel Heinz has created a white wine deemed worthy of the Ornellaia name; a name built on ageworthy, red Bordeaux blends from Bolgheri in coastal Tuscany.  The genesis of this new wine goes back as far as 2006. An end-of-harvest party – Heinz’s second at the estate – was celebrated with some white wine fermented just a few days previously, made from Sauvignon Blanc that had resisted grafting onto Merlot. Its promise prompted further experimentation, ‘with the aim of seeing how far we could go with white wines in that area of Bolgheri’, Heinz said.  ‘Nobody else was thinking of that, but then neither was anyone 20 or 30 years ago with red wine,’ he added.

Tenuta dell’Ornellaia clearly has lofty ambitions for Ornellaia Bianco. The first release has been priced around £130 per bottle, similar to its more established red counterpart.  There is a rarity factor, because only 4,000 bottles of white were produced. That is just 2.5 percent of the amount of red, and only 200 bottles were initially available for the UK, with a significant proportion kept back as ‘library stock’.  The estate also chose a favourable vintage for launch. ‘2013 was a cool year, with a late harvest,’ said Heinz, adding that it was especially good for whites.

 
01 November 2015
Hails fails to dent Chablis 2015 vintage

Winemakers in Chablis have joined a chorus of those predicting a very good vintage across France in 2015, despite some producers being hit with a hailstorm on the eve of harvest.

The Chablis 2015 vintage started off well and it was soon apparent that an early 2015 wine harvest was on the cards after the vines flowered in early June, followed by a long, hot and dry July and August. But, dreams of a good vintage were jeopardised by a hailstorm that hit several producers Chablis on the 1st September, just before the Chablis harvest. The storm, passing along a narrow corridor from Irancy, through Chitry and Courgis and right up to the Colline des Grands Crus, affected more than 300 of the 5,400 hectares of the Chablis winegrowing region. The Climats of Les Clos, Blanchot and Montée de Tonnerre were worst hit.

The remaining fruit on the damaged plots was bought in quickly and, despite a few estates being hard hit, producers said losses were kept to a minimum, according to a vintage report from Burgundy wine council, the BIVB. Jacques Lesimple, oenology advisor in Chablis, said that 2015 would be a very good vintage.

‘Some feared a lack of acidity but that’s not the case – very few wines lack vivacity. This 2015 vintage is a sunny one, which stands out for its fruitiness. It will give rise to wines that are very accessible for consumers. For me, it can be classified as a very good vintage.’  It is still early days, and a full assessment of the vintage cannot yet be made.  The Chablis 2015 harvest lasted two weeks. According to the BIVB, alcoholic fermentations produced fruity notes and it appears the 2015 vintage will be less saline and less chiselled in style than the 2014 vintage.  Chablis produced by Jean-Marc Brocard from the Premier Cru Côte de Léchet vineyard is set to become the first Chablis auctioned at the Hospices de Beaune auction later this month.

Source: www.decanter.com

 
07 October 2015
Italy wine harvest 2015 looking good

Winemakers across Italy appear confident about the 2015 wine harvest, despite a summer heatwave that forced some to use emergency irrigation.

The Unione Italiana Vini, which represents wine producers throughout Italy, reported ‘more or less negligible’ disease thanks to a ‘favourable climate throughout the season’, but reported ‘among highest July temperatures’ in the last few years.

An absence of rainfall also burned or dehydrated bunches in some vineyards, ‘requiring emergency irrigation operations.’

At Castello di Fonterutoli in Chianti, where the 2015 wine harvest is expected to end in two weeks, co-owner Marchese Francesco Mazzei said three weeks of heat provoked a halt to the vegetative cycle of his Sangiovese vines, but the sun and relieving rain at the end of August and September improved things.

‘We still have a couple of weeks to go… but it looks to be like a pretty good vintage,’ said Mazzei of the harvest, which started on 7 September.

Irrigation equipment was seen along slopes of vineyards in the northern region of Trentino, which produces nearly 75% white wine.

Annual rainfall is typically about 1,000mm, but it was only about 400mm in 2015, with July temperatures reaching up to 40˚C (104˚F), said Matthias Clementi, winemaker at Villa Corniole in Verla, although he reported very few cases of rot.

Clementi added that the cooler September nights helped retain freshness in his Müller Thurgau grapes, so ‘it will not be like 2003.’

Domenico Zonin, Chief Executive Officer of Casa Vinicola Zonin S.p.A, said that his Syrah and Nero d’Avola in Sicily are of very good quality, with good concentration as well as freshness, thanks to the cooler September.

Based on a survey of wine producers from end August until first week of September, the Unione Italiana Vini reported a production of 47m hectolitres for the entire country.

This is a 12 per cent increase on last year’s 42m, although the 2014 harvest was deemed ‘particularly modest’.

Source – www.decanter.com

 
05 October 2015
Beaujolais winemakers protest

Hundreds of Beaujolais winemakers have marched through the streets of Villefranche-sur-Saône to call for higher prices for Beaujolais Nouveau. 

Many negociants, who buy the wine in bulk for resale under their own labels, have offered just €180 per hectolitre of Beaujolais Nouveau, according to those at the Beaujolais winemakers protest. Around 500 producers took to the streets on 25 September.

Between 2011 and 2012, prices increased from €162.68 to €221.54, due to winter frost, before dropping to €217.95 last year.

 ‘A decrease to €180 for a great vintage like 2015 is absurd,’ Landry Collonge, of Domaine André Collonge et Fils told Decanter.com, ‘especially since the 2015 yields are 15% to 20% down due to the drought.’

At this price, ‘we will make no profit; we demand a revaluation in order to sustain our business and our family,’ he added.

In ten years, sales of Beaujolais Nouveau have fallen twice, reflecting a structural rather than an economic problem in the region.

The price per hectare ranges from €11,000 against €90,000 for the same area in the Moulin-à-Vent appellation, and ‘the power of the négociants is increasingly important and does not allow us to compete and to have strength in negotiating,’ concluded Landry Collonge.

Bulk wines represent 85% of the volume of each vintage produced in Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau, and two major players, Georges Duboeuf and Boisset, share the market with some co-operatives.

Source – www.decanter.com

 
02 October 2015
Sauternes high speed rail

Winemakers in Sauternes are incensed that France's government has approved what they believe is a 'ludicrous' plan to build a high speed trainline near to vineyards south of Bordeaux.

The fight against the Sauternes high speed rail line that will help to link Bordeaux and Dax/Toulouse took a serious step back this week when the French government approved the plans.

Winemakers were particularly angry that government officials appeared to ignore a survey published in March 2015 that saw 96% of 14,000 respondents opposed to the cost and environmental impact of the trainline.

‘The economic benefits for the entire Atlantic arc of southwest France outweigh the concerns,’ said French transport minister Alain Vidalies.

The president of the Aquitaine region, Alain Rousset, has long been in favour of the project, as is Bordeaux mayor Alain Juppé.

But local environmentalists and Sauternes wine producers vowed to fight on, and are set to contest the trainline plan in Bordeaux’s supreme court.

‘We have the backing of local politicians such as Gilles Savary, who will be taking the argument back to parliament,’ David Ornon of Château Guiraud told Decanter.com.

‘There is a contradiction perhaps because the vines themselves will not be affected by the train line, but their ecosystem will be devastated. The Cirons river will be cut through in three separate places, and that will have an irreversible effect on the noble rot that gives Sauternes wine its identity.’

The Ciron valley is the subject of studies by INRA (the French National Institute for Agricultural Research) and has also been placed under priority conservation by INRA’s Commission for Forestry and Genetic Resources due to threats to its genetic pool from climate change.

‘The argument put forward by [French rail network] RFF that there will be no adverse effects on the environment is ludicrous,’ said campaigners.

Source – www.decanter.com

 
23 July 2015
Sotheby’s NY to hold ‘landmark’ Margaux auction

Sotheby’s is set to hold a ‘landmark’ auction of wines from Château Margaux in New York this autumn – the first significant sale of wines from the property’s own cellars.

In all, 239 lots worth an estimated US$1-1.4m will be offered at the auction on 17 October, including single bottles from the celebrated 1900 and 1945 vintages, as well as vertical lots marking the ownership of the Mentzelopoulos family since 1978.

Château Margaux 1900-2010 Direct from the Cellars: A Celebration of the Menzelopoulos Era also includes a special charity lot offering eight people the chance to visit the château.

They will enjoy an in-depth visit to the cellars, as well as a tasting and lunch or dinner, hosted by Corinne Mentzelopoulos and/or Margaux MD Paul Pontallier.

‘Any twinge of sadness I feel with these bottles leaving our cellars is overcome by the pleasure of knowing that they are destined to be enjoyed by Sotheby’s passionate and knowledgeable clients,’ said Mentzelopoulos.

‘This is a truly historic sale, that is only likely to happen once in a lifetime,’ said Jamie Ritchie, CEO, Sotheby’s Wine, Americas & Asia. ‘It provides a complete picture of the Mentzelopoulos era from 1978 to today, with a retrospective of the great vintages back to 1900.’

Highlights of the sale include:
•    One bottle of Margaux 1900 (estimate $10,000-15,000)
•    One bottle of Margaux 1945 (est $3,000-4,000)
•    One bottle of Margaux 1953 (est $2,000-2,800)
•    Vertical 10-bottle and -magnum lots covering the 2000s, 1990s and 1980s
•    Vertical 35-bottle and -magnum lots covering the Mentzelopoulos era (1978-2012)

Source: www.decanter.com

 
21 July 2015
Bordeaux winemaker death inquiry to focus on pesticides

A potentially groundbreaking criminal investigation is set to be launched in France over claims that the death of a Bordeaux winemaker was caused by exposure to pesticides.

The first steps towards a criminal prosecution came after Valerie Murat filed legal action over the the death of her father, claiming ‘involuntary homicide’.

James-Bernard Murat, a winemaker in Pujols in the Entre deux Mers region of Bordeaux, died of lung cancer in 2012. He believed the disease was caused by his use of a pesticide to protect against vine trunk disease esca for more than 40 years. Valerie Murat filed her case at the Tribunal de Grande Instance (High Court) in Paris, where a judge will hold an inquiry to assess culpability. A defendant has not been publicly named, described solely as ‘X’.

The case is more evidence that French officials are paying closer attention to the health effects of pesticide exposure among workers. The government recognised a link between pesticides and Parkinson’s disease in agricultural workers in 2012. Murat sprayed three different pesticides containing the chemical sodium arsenite that is now banned as a cancer causing poison. One year before his death, he won recognition that the cancer was officially ‘linked to his profession’, one of up to 40 winemakers in France who have received this.

Ms Murat said she wanted to ‘break the law of silence’ over the effects of pesticides. France accounts for around of quarter of all pesticide use in Europe. Vineyards represent just 3% of agricultural land in France, but the wine industry accounts for 20% of phytosanitary product volumes, and 80% of fungicide use.

Paul François, president of the association Phyto-Victimes, said: ‘This is a step forward not just for the Murat family but for all those affected by the application of pesticides within their profession.’ There is a national plan to reduce pesticide use in French agriculture, called Ecophyto 2018.

Source: www.decanter.com

 
19 July 2015
Scotland’s ‘undrinkable’ first wine has promise?

The first wine in memory to emerge from a vineyard in Scotland has been described as undrinkable, but producer Christopher Trotter says there are plenty of positives to draw on.

Grapes at what is believed to be Scotland’s first vineyard were left to hang on the vine too long and then were not chilled quickly enough, causing oxidisation to occur, said Trotter, who is also a chef and food and wine writer.

‘The first bottling was disappointing,’ he told Decanter.com from his estate in Fife. ‘It didn’t smell very good.’

English and Welsh vineyards further south have gained increasing prominence in recent years and Trotter remains determined to prove that winemaking also has a future in Scotland.

‘I set out to prove that it was possible to ripen grapes in Scotland and I’ve done that. Now I want to make a drinkable wine,’ he said.

Trotter and a business partner planted 100 vines in 2010 and a further 100 in 2011. The first vintage, from the 2014 crop, was produced from the original 100 vines and only 10 bottles of wine were made.

Grape varieties planted are Rondo, Solaris and Siegerrebe. ‘Because we harvested too late, we lost a lot of the Rondo in 2014,’ Trotter said, adding that he also planned to experiment with small doses of sulphur dioxide in the 2015 vintage.

‘It’s extremely encouraging that a critic like Richard Meadows of Edinburgh wine merchant the Great Grog Company – who has a great palate – said that once you get beyond the horrible nose there’s a good balance, with good acidity and structure,’ Trotter said.

He said he was seeking a new investor after his previous business partner left, because of time commitments elsewhere. ‘There’s space for 5,000 vines here,’ he added.

Source: www.decanter.com

 
13 July 2015
Laroche launches first single-vineyard village Chablis

Domaine Laroche has launched the first village-level single-vineyard Chablis.

The Vieille Voye 2014 is from a seven-hectare vineyard beneath the Vaillons premier cru on the left bank of the Serein river, which cuts through this northern Burgundian appellation. Grands crus and premiers crus are single-vineyards in their own right, but village-level Chablis are usually blends of grapes from many sites.

Laroche winemaker Grégory Viennois, who launched the wine in London, said the Vieille Voye vineyard was planted before the 16th century by the Pontigny abbots, who named it after the old Roman road that connected Burgundy with Champagne – Vieille Voye means ‘ancient path’. He was excited by the potential of these 70-year-old vines when he started at the domaine in 2011. Even though it is a north-facing plot, the organically farmed vines are on the rounded top of a small hill so enjoy both morning and afternoon sun. The handpicked and sorted grapes are then fermented in a 15-year-old, 55-hectolitre oak foudre.

Grapes previously went into the St-Martin cuvée, of which 200,000 bottles are produced annually – 70% of Domaine Laroche’s Chablis production.The domaine owns 90ha, including vineyards in three grands crus and 25ha across seven premiers crus. Just 7,000 bottles (a fraction of potential total production) will be made of Vieille Voye 2014 which is currently finishing its 11-month maturation in an old oak foudre. When released in October, the wine will be available from UK agent Liberty Wines for £20 a bottle. The first taste of a barrel sample shows a big step up in concentration and quality from the St-Martin. It has the ripe nectarine, tropical fruit and sweet spice notes typical of Vaillons along with firm acidity, grip and structure plus a slatey mineral tang. Arguably as good as many other left bank premiers crus at this stage of its development.

Source: www.decanter.com

 
09 July 2015
Louis Roederer in alleged UK vineyard bid

“Louis Roederer has been looking to acquire land in Southern England, but so far growers have only wanted to lease the land,” a senior UK industry source told Decanter.com

Decanter.com understands that growers in the UK have been reluctant to sell land. Louis Roederer’s alleged acquisition bid comes amid growing international recognition of English sparkling wine. In 2007, fellow Champagne producer Duval LeRoy attempted to acquire land in the UK, but negotiations with producers fell through according to consultant Stephen Skelton MW.

Louis Roederer’s cellar master Jean Baptiste Lecaillon has so far neither denied nor commented on its acquisition plan for the UK. In September 2014, the company told French business daily newspaper, Les Echos, that it was it was looking to expand through acquisitions outside of France.

As well as Champagne, Louis Roederer produces sparkling wine at the Roederer Estate in Anderson Valley in California and still wine at its Ramos Pinto winery in Portugal. Louis Roederer has not made an acquisition outside of Champagne since 2007, when it purchased Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in Pauillac in the Bordeaux wine region.

Source: www.decanter.com

 
07 July 2015
Champagne and Burgundy recognised by UNESCO

Burgundy and Champagne have both been recognised by UNESCO, in the latest round of new inclusions to the cultural world heritage list.

The 39th assembly of UNESCO, held in Bonn Germany on July 4, saw five cultural sites accepted – two in Denmark, one in Turkey and two in France. Both French sites are recognised for their viticultural heritage; the hillsides, houses and cellars of Champagne around Reims and Epernay, and the 1,247 climats, or individual terroirs, of the Côte d’Or in Burgundy. Also recognised are the historic centres of Beaune and Dijon. Both regions are now eligible for financial assistance to help preservation projects.

‘We are duty bound to preserve and maintain this landscape, know-how and heritage,’ said Pierre Cheval, president of the Associations Paysages du Champagne. ‘This means that the trilogy of great winemaking regions of France – Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne – have all been recognised by UNESCO,’ Pascal Loridon, marketing director of the Burgundy Wine Bureau told decanter.com, referring to the inclusion of Saint Emilion in 1999.

Other wine regions to have UNESCO protection include Piedmont in Italy and the Mosel in Germany. The two French regions have either begun or are planning celebrations – with a Paulée de Climats in the Château de Mersault on July 9th, while impromptu crowds gathered upon the news in the Champagne town of Hautvillers, the birthplace of Dom Perignon. An indepth exhibit centering around the climats of Burgundy is planned for the new Cité des Vin in Beaune, expected to open in 2016.

Source: www.decanter.com

 
29 June 2015
Suspected Bordeaux wine theft gang facing trial

Thieves suspected of stealing hundreds of bottles of Bordeaux wine produced by some of the region’s top chateaux have been put on trial this week.

Seventeen suspects will go before a court in Bordeaux accused of playing some part in a series of wine thefts, France Bleu Radio reported.

The case follows on from a mass police operation involving 300 French gendarmes and months of detective work, which led to dawn raids and arrests across France in February 2014.

Nicknamed ‘Casse vin’, police believe the suspects were responsible for a string of burglaries at chateaux in including Yquem, Palmer and Leoville Las Cases.
It is thought the total value of wine stolen is around 1m euros.

At the time of the police raids last year, Colonel Ghislain Rety, who led the operation, said officers recovered some bottles worth more than 1,000 euros each.

Police recovered ‘many hundreds’ of bottles, he said. It is also believed that thieves attempted to sell some wines abroad.

Source: www.decanter.com

 
25 June 2015
Anderson Valley can be Burgundy of California

Long Meadow Ranch winery has purchased a 59 hectare estate in California’s Anderson Valley, where it intends to emulate Burgundy by focusing on single vineyard Pinot Noir and also Chardonnay.

Named Anderson Valley Estate, the site is already planted with 20 hectares of Pinot Noir, as well as seven ha of Chardonnay and just under one ha of Pinot Gris, Long Meadow Ranch said. It did not disclose financial details of the deal.

It has recruited native Burgundy winemaker Stephane Vivier (pictured) specifically for the newly acquired vineyards, which lie at the ‘deep end’ of Anderson Valley close to Philo, around two hours north of San Francisco by car.

‘Expanding into estate-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is a natural fit, and we believe Anderson Valley is the ideal location to produce premium, Burgundian varietal wines,’ said Long Meadow Ranch’s chief executive and president, Ted Hall.

‘We’ve [already] established strong positions with the classic Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot at our Rutherford and Mayacamas Estates in Napa Valley,’ he said.

The vineyards are planted in several distinct blocks with varying elevations, soil composition, sun exposure and proximity to the Navarro river, said Long Meadow Ranch.

Winemaker Vivier said, ‘The subtleties and complexities characteristic of the Burgundian varietals are not always easy to achieve in the United States. Pinot Noir here can have a tendency for high alcohol and can be overly fruit-forward, in part because that’s what the climate allows.

‘But in the Anderson Valley, and specifically in the deep end of the valley, the possibilities are intriguing.’

Source: www.decanter.com

 
23 June 2015
Red wine weight loss theory is ‘nonsense’

The UK’s National Health Service has spoken out following a series of media articles claiming that drinking red wine may help people to lose weight.

Health officials moved to quash hopes among wine lovers that their passion could have an unexpected health benefit.

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found a link between mice being given resveratrol — a polyphenol found in grapes — and lower weight gain.
The research is one of several studies on resveratrol, which has been associated with a range of health benefits.

But, it remains unclear whether the amount of resveratrol in most red wines would be enough to have any health effect, particularly when set against the health risks of drinking too much alcohol.

With this specific research, ‘based on mice studies only, we don’t know whether resveratrol will have the same effect in people,’ said the NHS on its NHS Choices website.

‘And drinking plenty of red wine [as one headline claimed] will not lead you to lose weight — if anything the opposite will occur. A standard 75cl bottle of red wine contains around 570 calories, which is more than is found in two McDonald’s hamburgers,’ it added.

Source: www.decanter.com

 
15 June 2015
Lynch Bages trials tool to monitor wine inside barrels

Chateau Lynch Bages will be among the first to trial new technology that claims to help wineries better monitor what is happening to the wine inside a barrel or vat.

The system uses sensors within barrels and vats to take continual measurements, from the evolution of sugar levels and turbidity to alcohol, temperature and colour.

Chateau Lynch Bages is set to begin testing the 'Winegrid' technology for the Bordeaux 2015 vintage.

The estate’s general manager, Jean-Charles Cazes, is part of the entreprenurial mentoring programme that seeks to help food, wine and tourism start-up companies to develop.

Winegrid is owned by Portugal-based Watgrid, which originally created the technology to measure water purity.

The company believes that it has huge potential for the wine industry, first developing the product for producers in Madeira who were specifically looking to monitor the wine as it passed through the estufagem process — a tradition first discovered through lengthy sea voyages when the wine would be repeatedly heated and cooled.

‘Currently a winery will typically monitor temperature, and take samples a few times a day to send to a laboratory,’ Watgrid founder Rogerio Nogueira told Decanter.com.

‘Our interface allows producers and consultants to track a number of parameters direct from the vats — with the possibility to track numerous chateaux or vats at the same time, sent wirelessly to a smart phone or compute.'

The sensor is made of glass and stainless steel.

Source — www.decanter.com

 
10 June 2015
Burgundy grand cru vineyard prices still rising

A single hectare of a Burgundy grand cru vineyard cost more than 4.3m euros on average last year and some fetched up to 10m euros, show new figures that reinforce the wine region’s reputation as the world’s most expensive.

The average price of Burgundy grand cru vineyards rose by nearly 9% in 2014, to 4.35m euros per hectare, according to France’s Safer agency, which governs agricultural land deals.

But, it said prices ranged from 2m euros to 10m euros per hectare. That compares to a top price of just 60,000 euros p/ha for vineyards certified as regional Burgundy AOP.
Last year, luxury goods group Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton bought the 8.66 hectare Clos des Lambrays grand cru vineyard and associated estate in Morey St-Denis. Local sources said they believed LVMH paid close to 100m euros on the acquisition, but an official fee was never disclosed.

The French government figures suggest that collectors’ seemingly inexorable thirst for top Burgundy wines has been reflected in the price of the area’s best vineyards.
Bordeaux’s Pauillac appellation trailed Burgundy’s grands crus, but still weighed in at 2m euros per hectare on average, level with the previous two years. Vineyards in Margaux, St Julien and Pomerol cost 1m euros p/ha last year, with Pomerol up 11% and the other two broadly flat.

Against this, St Emilion and St Estephe looked relative bargains at 220,000 and 350,000 euros per hectare respectively.

Further north, Champagne vineyards sold for around 1.2m euros p/ha on average last year, Safer said.

Elsewhere in France, some of the cheapest vineyards were in Languedoc-Roussillon, traditionally the productive powerhouse of French table wines, although more recently improving its quality image via a new generation of winemakers in several appellations. Vineyards in Corbieres, in western Languedoc, cost 5,000 euros p/ha on average last year, Safer said.

Further east, Beaujolais Villages vines cost 11,000 euros p/ha on average, albeit Beaujolais Crus cost 57 euros p/ha.

Source — www.decanter.com

 
08 June 2015
Spanish wine tourism trail to open on ancient trading route

One of Spain’s oldest wine export roads has been revived as a wine tourism route by 12 producers in Catalonia.

The producers from the Penedès region, Catalonia’s biggest winemaking area, have funded ‘The Mediterranean Wine Road’, which opens on 13 June. Tourists will be guided along it by mobile apps and road signs.

First used about 2,700 years ago, the road starts inland at Sant Marti Sarrocca, near Vilafranca del Penedès, and leads to Sitges on the coast, from where wine was once shipped up the coast to Barcelona and across the Mediterranean Sea.

Tourists paying for a premium app alongside a general ticket will have access to premium wines offered by the producers, as well as other discounts en route. The 12 producers are Torres, Mas Bertran Viticultors, Rovellats, Parés Baltà, Colet, Heretat Mas Tinell, Pinord, Torreblanca, Finca Viladellops, Clos Lentiscus, Torre del Veguer and Puig Batet.

As well as the wineries, wine tourists will be able to visit archaeological and historical sites such as Olerdola Castle.

The Phoenicians and the Greeks are thought to have been the first wine producers in Catalonia, but Xavier Esteve, Historian at the Institute of Penedès Studies, said the Romans increased production and made wine popular with all in society. They also used the wine road to supply wine across their empire.

'This wine road was used 2,700 years ago, right up until the introduction of the train, here in the late 19th Century,' Esteve said. 'It is one of the oldest wine export routes in the Western Mediterranean.'

Source — www.decanter.com

 
05 June 2015
Burgundy is the dream for winemakers

Burgundy has topped a chart of where leading winemakers around the world would love to make wine, outside of their own region, shows a Decanter survey.

More than one in four (23) of the 85 winemakers who responded to the survey named Burgundy as the wine region where they would most like to put their skills to the test.

The results come in the same week that French government figures showed the average price of a grand cru vineyard in Burgundy’s Cote d’Or rose by 9% in 2014, to hit 4.35m euros.

The question was one of several put to leading winemakers around the world as part of a survey published in Decanter magazine’s July issue on which producers around the world are the most respected by their peers.

There were 133 responses and Aubert de Villaine, co-director of vaunted Burgundy Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, was one of several names high on the list.

Other winemakers making the top five, all profiled in Decanter’s July issue, were — in alphabetical order — consultant Alberto Antonini, Ridge Vineyards' Paul Draper in California, international consultant Michel Rolland and Christophe Roumier, of Burgundy’s Domaines Georges Roumier.

Winemakers were also given the chance to answer a series of other questions, including whether climate change had affected their vineyards and whether they had begun producing wines intended for earlier drinking than in the past.

Source — www.decanter.com

 
05 June 2015
Sauternes producers to open wine co-operative

Members of the Sauternes and Barsac union have voted to create a co-operative wine cellar, as part of efforts to re-vitalise sales of Bordeaux’s signature sweet wines.

Sauternes union president Xavier Planty, also co-owner of Chateau Guiraud, confirmed at the general assembly this month that 'the statues should be officially signed on June 15’.

Moves to create a cooperative cellar in Sauternes follow much discussion about how the region can re-connect with more drinkers following years of muted demand, particularly outside of the classified estates' wines.

‘The idea is not to unload unwanted grapes,’ Planty said, ‘but to pool resources and ideas to create a powerful body that draws interest due to its volumes and the quality of its production.’

Planty confirmed that the creation of a cooperative cellar — the first in Sauternes — has come after requests from Bordeaux négociants, who are looking to create brands and have more of a control over the marketing of Sauternes wines.

Allan Sichel, the president of the négociants’ union, is a member of the association that will be launching the co-operative cellar.

Currently, around half of the volume of Sauternes is sold in bulk each year, and the hope is that this co-op will allow the creation of commercially interesting brands. Between 20 and 30 winemakers are ready to become members, with an expectation of the first wines becoming available for the 2016 vintage.
There is currently no dedicated building, and vinification will take place across the cellars of members until a permanent base in found. It is also expected that the co-operative will produce dry white wine and the base for sparkling crémant alongside the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac. Initial contracts with winemakers will last five years and chateaux will be able to continue also bottling under their own names.

‘We would welcome having access to well-made and cared-for generic Sauternes at competitive prices,’ said Bill Blatch, the semi-retired, veteran Sauternes negociant.

‘There is currently too much sub-standard bulk Sauternes produced by small growers, to provide just subsistence for themselves and cheap own-label wine for the big négociants,’ he told Decanter.com.

Source — www.decanter.com

 
02 June 2015
Marlborough 2015 harvest worsens Sauvignon Blanc 'squeeze'

The reduced 2015 crop in New Zealand has exacerbated the on-going squeeze of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc grapes, says Cloudy Bay Estate Director Ian Morden.

‘The Wairau valley is changing and Marlborough is not infinite. So it’s more important than ever for us to secure good grapes because there are only certain places that are suited to our classic cool climate style such as Renwick, Fairhall, Brancott and Rapaura,’ he told Decanter.com in London.

Following on from last year’s bumper crop, Morden explained that 2015 will be more like 2012 in terms of volume. ‘In general, New Zealand is 20–30% down. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing because the quality is there. I think you’ll find more palate weight and slightly lower aromatics on our Sauvignon Blanc than in 2014. I do expect the quality to drive value in the premium sector.’

Cloudy Bay owns 50% of its Sauvignon grape supply having bought a number of vineyards in Marlborough over the last three decades. But now it is becoming tougher and more expensive to acquire suitable sites. ‘So we also rely on strong relationships with growers, added Morden. ‘Some growers have been with us since the very beginning.’
‘The squeeze on Sauvignon fruit has meant that prices have risen by 30% over the last five years,’ added Morden who joined Cloudy Bay in 2008. ‘Plus we also pay a premium for top quality low yield fruit to get good concentration and balance.

‘These are exciting times for Cloudy Bay and not just because we are celebrating our 30th anniversary this year. We continue to develop new markets and cross into a new generation of wine drinkers. The UK remains very important to us and Asia is developing well. But now the US is our biggest Sauvignon Blanc market.’
According to Morden, Sauvignon Blanc is still ‘the engine room at Cloudy Bay'. And he admits that Cloudy Bay’s Sauvignon Blanc production has increased over the same period. ‘Yes, we have grown but we don’t discuss volumes,’ he pointed out.

The focus on its core offering of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir also remains firmly in place under LVMH’s Chateaux & Estates supremo Jean-Guillaume Prats. As a result, varietals like Gewurtztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris have been discontinued.
Source — www.decanter.com

 
29 May 2015
Stephan von Neipperg invests in South African property

Baron Stephan von Neipperg, owner of classified Saint Emilion estates Château Canon la Gaffelière and La Mondotte, has taken a stake in Capaia Wines in New Philadelphia near Durbanville, South Africa.

The 58 hectare property has been owned by Baroness Ingrid von Essen and her husband Baron Alexander since 1997, with vines planted since 2001.

‘I first visited South Africa in 1995,’ von Neipperg told decanter.com, ‘and have followed this estate closely for some time. The terroir is exceptional, with schist on steep hillsides, and the young vines are gaining in complexity with every year. But there are plenty of things still to do, from refocusing the planting in the vineyard to helping with the marketing and commercial strategy, making this a fascinating challenge’.

Neipperg confirmed that he expects to visit Capaia four or five times per year, and that the estates’ technical teams will regularly exchange information and spend time between South Africaand Saint Emilion. ‘We will start this September, with my cellar master and vineyard manager heading over to South Africa with me,’ said von Neipperg, ‘to help with the harvest. The intention is to ensure a long-term exchange.’

The von Essens were defrauded in 2011 of significant sums of money by their general manager Francois Austin. In a high profile trial held in Bellville Commercial Crimes Court in Cape Town, Austin pleaded guilty to 132 counts of fraud worth 17 million rand (close to £1 million), although at least 3 million rand was subsequently recovered.

Source — www.decanter.com

 
27 May 2015
Course «Wines of Italy»

East European Sommeliers and Experts Association and Aсademy of sommelier Mozart Wine House continue their educational process during the evening course «Wines of Italy».

Course «Wines of Italy»

The course is a detailed overview of principal wine-making regions of Italy and makes part of evening course for wine-lovers and connoisseurs, who are interested in getting new information about wine-making of Italy as well as in systematizing of existing data. It is a great chance to know more about history and culture of the country and to enrich your tasting experience.

Evening courses are previewed for working people of students who can meet with interesting people and spend free time with use and pleasure.

Attested students will get an accredited certificate of the Academy of Sommelier Mozart Wine House.

You are welcome for our next day and evening courses! For detailed information see: http://mozartwine.com/eng/academy/programs/