Do you care which wines Obama served British Prime Minister Cameron at the White House? I don’t. But some muckraking journalists do. They’re making a big fuss over the secrecy because the President’s staff is all mum’s the word. Even BloombergBusinessWeek has waded into the pseudo-controversy, as if this were another “Gate” scandal akin to Watergate. People, get a grip. We have more important things to worry about than which wine was poured and how much it cost.
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In a related absurdity, the inevitable has finally occurred in China, as concerns over fake Bordeaux mount following the bubble-like price explosion of Lafite, etc. Why nobody saw this coming is beyond me. China bootlegs everything else of value; why not fine wine? When I was at Screaming Eagle on Wednesday we had a long talk about counterfeit wine. The management of Screaming Eagle, understandably concerned (the wine sells for $750 a bottle on the mailing list), described to me in some detail the steps they go through to avoid it. I’ll skip some of the details, but let’s just say that every bottle is “tagged” in the same way my dog, Gus, has a microchip in him that’s exclusive to him.
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I’m seeing a lot of mold on the 2010 Pinot Noirs, which are now rushing in for me to review. In my Vintage Diary that year, I quoted, on Oct. 28, an article from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that said “Last weekend’s rain added to an already miserable season. It spawned mold…Damaged fruit was left hanging on the vine.” I’ve encountered it particularly in Sonoma Coast and Carneros Pinots.
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Yes, the price on California wine is going up. We all know that. It’s due to several factors: light crops due to the weather, a lack of new plantings due, in part, to the recession, and increased demand. This article describes how it’s playing out in the Central Coast, but the same is true of the North Coast. That doesn’t mean consumers won’t be able to find inexpensive California wine. They will, but it will increasingly come from Central Valley grapes. Central Valley grapegrowers are aware of this, and are reacting accordingly. They’re planting new vineyards, improving quality and are no longer content with being known as a source of inferior jug wine. As a result, “the wine grape industry in the Central Valley has strengthened,” according to the Porterville Recorder.
Don’t forget, the Feds require only 75% of a varietal wine to be made from the named variety. That means 24.9% can come from someplace else. Next time you drink a nice coastal California wine, remember that factoid.