Aug 31, 2011

Wine & beer tie in US consumer preferences

What's your preference?

For the first time since 1992, wine and beer have tied as the top choice among U. S. drinkers asked in a Gallup poll whether they most often drink liquor, wine, or beer. The poll found that nearly as many named wine (35%) as beer (36%). Liquor came in third, with a 23% preference.

That 36% preference for beer is the lowest recorded by Gallup since the poll began in 1992. Poll findings indicates that younger adults have a decreased preference for beer compared to their elders -- something the beer industry is no doubt paying lots of attention to.

If you'd like to read a detailed article about the study results, visit this Gallup page.

Aug 26, 2011

An online Q&A with a champagne expert

This 1891 poster is an early work by Pierre Bonnard.
If you've wanted to learn more about France's gift to the world--champagne--here's a great opportunity. Thibaut Le Mailloux of the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), the trade association representing the houses and grape growers of Champagne, France, is taking questions online through Google Moderator from now through Wednesday, August 31. 

So ask away! Want to know more about this year’s Champagne harvest or learn which Champagne tastes best with poultry? Or maybe you'd like to know what makes Champagne different from other regions that produce quality sparkling wines. You'll get answers to all your Champagne questions directly from the vineyards in France. 

Follow this
link to submit your own questions or to vote on questions submitted to Google Moderator by other Champagne fans. You can also send questions through Twitter or Facebook, or email them directly to (they'll be posted to Google Moderator for you). Use the hashtag #Champagne for all questions submitted via Twitter. 

Submit questions no later than Wednesday, August 31, and check back at the CIVC site for Thibaut’s answers during the week of September 5.

Aug 25, 2011

September is California Wine Month

For many of us, it's always California Wine Month, but that doesn't prevent the Guv from declaring September as the official month of wine -- something that's been done by governators for the last seven years.

And why not? After all, the state's wine industry accounts for an estimated 20.7 million yearly tourists, has created about 330,000 jobs, and brings in revenue from $18.4 billion in retail sales, including exports to 122 countries.

To celebrate California Wine Month, special consumer wine events are being held throughout the state, from special tastings and harvest tours, to wine education classes and wine and food festivals. You can find these events at Discover California Wine.

Aug 17, 2011

Two fun Bordeaux infographics

Snooth's "Most Prized Wines"
Curious about Bordeaux wine? The two infographics here are worth checking out. Click on each to get a larger, easier-to-read version.

The top infographic, "Most Prized Wines," was compiled by Snooth. It shows per-bottle auction value for various vintages of the top five Bordeaux wines (Mouton-Rothschild, Latour, Lafite-Rothschild, Haut-Brion, and Margaux). At $284.66, the 1985 Mouton-Rotschild is the bargain bottle in the bunch. The most expensive, at $12,551.36, is also a Mouton-Rotschild (1945).

According to the Anniversary Vintage Chart, which sums up good/bad years for Bordeaux vintages, 1985 was a "lovely year in Bordeaux, Port & Champagne, top Burgundy still good." On the other hand, 1945 is described as a "fabulous vintage. Candidate for 'vintage of the century', including Port." From lovely to fabulous is worth about $12,300!

My only quibble with the Snooth graphic is the cutesy way they tell you what various combinations of value could buy you in real-world goods. It would work much better if they gave specifications for those goods.

They say, for example, that you can "trade the combined value of every vintage of Lafite-Rothschild for 3 thoroughbred horses." When I visited EquineNow, the value of a thoroughbred ranged from $650 to $12,000. And if you're talking about a top-of-the-line thoroughbred such as Secretariat, the value is in the mega-millions. So that's basically a useless comparison.

EnjoyBordeaux's "Organic Wines 101"
 I like this infographic from EnjoyBordeaux because it gives a nice overview of Bordeaux's organic, biodynamic and sustainable winemaking.

Aug 15, 2011

My interview with Jean-Charles Boisset

Jean-Charles Boisset and his bulldog, Frenchie, at Buena Vista. Photo: Crista Jeremiason/PD.
 A couple of weeks ago I visited Sonoma's historic Buena Vista Winery to talk with its new owner, Jean-Charles Boisset. You can read the resultant article here.

As president of family-owned Boisset Family Estates, the 41-year-old has overseen the expansion of the Burgundy-based company into California, where it also owns Amberhill Wines, California Rabbit, DeLoach Vineyards, Fog Mountain, Lyeth Estate, Raymond Vineyards, Sonoma Cuvee and JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset.

Boisset first visited Buena Vista at the age of 11 on a trip to the U. S. with his family. He fell in love with the beauty and history of the winery, never forgot it, and ended up buying it 30 years later.

His plans call for returning Buena Vista to its past glory while showcasing its magnificent history--founded in 1857, it was not only the first commercial winery in California, but the first to do a great many important things in the state's wine industry. For example, more than a century before the famed 1976 "Judgment of Paris," Buena Vista wines were winning gold medals in France.

Often described in the wine press as "one of the most powerful people in the world of wine," and the possessor of countless awards and honors in France and the U. S., in person Boisset is friendly, engaging, and highly energetic. During our interview we sat for a while at a picnic table, and he took great delight from chatting up visitors to the winery who strolled by.

Boisset is married to winemaker Gina Gallo (the couple became the parents of twin girls this past May) and divides his time between Northern California and France.

My article about Jean-Charles Boisset appeared yesterday in the newspaper of Sonoma County, the New York Times-owned Santa Rosa Press Democrat. You can read the story here.