Friday, January 29, 2010

Chinese Wine Made in Australia...!

Before I delve into today's topic, just a quick update on my last post. It seems that Brussel's concern about labeling is not impressing European consumers. In a report just released by the European Food Information Council and published in the Journal of Public Health, it states that only 16.8% of consumers looked at nutritional information on labels. Say no more.
We all know that the Australian wine industry is going through a bit of a hard time and we also know that there is a potentially sizable market in China, but is selling out to the Chinese the answer? Doing business in and with China runs into many governmental snags. It is after all a communist regime running the show. Good for Google for taking a stand. Google stated that hackers had tried to infiltrate its software coding and e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Of course the Chinese immediately condemned the US and Google.
China has a "one child" policy whereby only one child per family is allowed to be born. Forced sterilizations and abortions, especially of baby girls, are not uncommon. Boys are favored over girls. Now there is a problem in the making. Women in the wonderful world of wine are becoming increasingly more important. Starting with some outstanding women wine makers, sommeliers and above all consumers. Maybe that trend will not be possible in China. There won't be enough women around.
Meanwhile back in Australia.... It seems that Chinese communism with a small 'c' is embracing Capitalism with a big 'C'. Chinese companies loaded with cash from state owned banks are on a buying spree in Australia.
Australia pioneered the cute and cuddly critter labels. Look no further than the very successful Yellow Tail with the Wallaby on its label. So can we expect to see the Koala bear replaced by the Panda bear? Click on the pics to get a closer look at these two famous icon bears from both countries. Good luck and best wishes to our Aussie friends!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wine Labels Under attack by Brussels...!

Are government wine regulators somewhat akin to restaurant food critics, who feel it is their job to be critical of every restaurant they review? Do regulators feel they must foist obnoxious rules on the wine community or they are not doing the job they are paid to do? North America may have their neo-prohibitionists but it seems Europe has a whole gang of neo....(fill in your own blanks ).They feel
humanity must be saved form this harmful beverage that has been around for thousands of years. The latest outrageous proposal from Brussels will see dramatic changes to wine labels for wine produced in Europe. Calories? Does anyone really care? Does Sally turn to Harry and say look dear 'I know you don't really like this wine, but it has 20 calories less per serving'. When you buy your bacon do you check each label to see which one has the lowest fat content? What fat headed thinking is going on here? Perhaps beverages that have been around for more than 200 years should be exempt from this idiocy. Wine would certainly qualify. What about Sacramental wines? Will they be exempt? Forgive me Father, for I have Zinned. We made a mistake on the label. There are a whole lot more calories in that wine then what shows on the label. Does Father care? If this became mandatory in Canada, it would me a nightmare. Canada is bilingual and all product labels have to show both the English as well as the French versions. Then of course there are the huge costs associated with this folly. Wine is not a standardized product that is exactly the same each year. Variations will occur each vintage. Another needless cost for the consumer. I hope sanity will prevail and bumbling Brussels will back down from this bomb shell.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Wine Predictions for the New Decade...!

As we begin 2010 and a new decade there are some fascinating predictions out there. Two I found particularly interesting were Steve Heimoff's "My Ten for the Next Ten" and Julie Brosterman's "Was 2009 the Tipping Point for Wine & Social Media."
But let me begin 2010 with a needed correction to my last blog entry. If you look at the picture I posted, courtesy Philippe
Durst of the Dopff Au Moulin winery in Alsace, you would have to believe that there was a lot more pressure inside that bottle than the 2-3 atmospheres of pressure I attributed to Crémants.
I am again indebted to Philippe for the celebratory picture but mostly for pointing out that since Crémants in France are made in the traditional method, previously known as Méthode Champenoise, they all attain 5.5 to 6 bars of pressure. And to quote Philippe here are the correct details.
"Originally the term crémant was in use for wines of lesser pressure in Champagne (such as in Crémant de Cramant) but since it was traded by French producers in exchange for no longer using the wording "méthode champenoise" on the labels, it is now used since 75 in Loire and Burgundy and since 76 in Alsace for fully sparkling wines made with the local grapes.
So while we are in correction mode, I hope that this will be the decade that wine writers and media types will use the words "variety" and "varietal" correctly. Look them up in Jancis Robinson's Oxford Companion to Wine or check out this
article on Snooth.
Click on the pic for a closer look at the Sangiovese grape "variety" I took while visiting Tuscany.
So do I have any predictions for the new decade? Yes, two of them. We will see a much greater involvement of women in wine and deservedly so. I will go into more details on that in a future posting. My second prediction is that as the the North American palate evolves and becomes more educated we will see the producers of multi million bottles of wine, such as Yellow Tail, adapt and make their wines in a less sweeter fruit bomb style of wine. Who will be asking for that? Why women of course!