Friday, June 13, 2008

Billionaire's Vinegar 2nd Edition

And so the saga continues. As reported in Decanter, there is new evidence in the Jefferson bottles case. One of the main characters in the book is William Koch, a Florida billionaire, and he claims to have new evidence that will once and for all prove Hardy Rodenstock's guilt.
So perhaps Benjamin Wallace will have to consider writing a revised edition of his book. Since the film rights to the book have been optioned, the continuation of this story will make for an even more exciting movie. It will be fascinating to see who will play Michael Broadbent and who will be the actress taking on the role of Jancis Robinson.
Speaking of billions, the news that Foster's in Australia is considering shedding its wine division has investors and growers worrying and wondering. Foster's spent $6.8 billion getting into the wine business by acquiring Beringer Wine Estates and Southcorp Ltd. in the US. Flagging world wide beer sales triggered this expansion. Wine sales continue to increase world wide. Here in Canada, and we are a beer drinking nation, wine sales have increased yearly and beer sales are down according to Statistics Canada.
So it seems to me rather counter productive to sell off a potentially lucrative business. Another eyebrow raiser is the sale by the world's largest wine producer, Constellation Brands, of 5 well-known California brands, two Washington state and one Idaho winery. A strong Euro and increased wine consumption in the US has benefited American wineries. Again another puzzling corporate decision. So if you don't like the company that owns your favorite winery, wait a month or two, it is likely to change hands soon. Billions of dollars at play. In the meantime I will just continue to enjoy my daily fruit of the vine and since I am leaving for a week of visiting wineries in California, I am sure to be tasting my way through some fabulous examples. My camera and I are ready.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Wine, Vinegar....and Billionaires!

Just finished reading "The Billionaire's Vinegar"
by Benjamin Wallace,Crown Publishers, New York. A very impressive detailed book on the history and the mystery surrounding a 1787 Chateau Lafite which went at the incredible auction price of $156,00. The bottle was auctioned off by Christie's of London and was supposed to have been owned by none other than America's first wine connoisseur, Thomas Jefferson. I love mystery stories and I love
history surrounding wine. After all it has been around for over 6000 years. Benjamin Wallace has created a wonderfully detailed account of the Thomas Jefferson wines. A thriller from start to finish. Its rather sad that the great gift of the fruit of the vine should be turned into an object of greed. You soon know who the culprit is in this story. And of course well known figures in the world of wine are not spared in this saga either. The well known and respected Michael Broadbent is a key player in this whole affair. Mr.Broadbent claims there are many inaccuracies in the book. I doubt that he will come forward and tell us what they are. In the end the pathetic Hardy Rodenstock has not done the wonderful world of wine any favours and you can only hope that Bacchus and any other Gods of wine out there, show him some mercy.
Just when I finished reading this book I received the sad news of the passing of a dear wine friend of mine here in British Columbia. Claude Jacques Violet passed away on May 31st, 2008.
A true pioneer in the BC wine industry. Claude and his magnificent wife of 49 years, Ingeborg, known by her friends as "Ingy" dared to be different. Visit the Domain de Chaberton's web site to get the details about the Violets. Click on "winery" and then "about us"to get the history of
Claude and Ingy. More than 300 years of wine history can be attributed to the Violet family. What has always struck me and left me so very impressed was their sincerity, their honesty and their dedication to anything wine and their community. They say behind every good man, stands a good woman. Only in this case beside a "great" man stood a great woman. Claude you will be missed my friend.
Shady characters like the one in "The Billionaire's Vinegar" will come and go. But wonderful people like Claude will be in our hearts and minds forever. Rest in peace, mon ami and I am sure that right now you are having a great conversation in that big vineyard in the sky with the winemaker of the 1787 Chateau Lafite.