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Sothebys released a glossy report on their 2017 wine auction year today: the house racked up $63.8 million at 21 auctions in London, New York, and Hong Kong. That was good enough for third on the list of 2017 wine auction housesin all, the global wine auction market rose 12.7% to $381 million last year (WS had a summary piece back in January).

At Sothebys, as elsewhere, Burgundy rose and DRC dominated. Last fall, six bottles of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Romanée Conti 1996, fetched $134,750, or $22,458 per bottle. Not too shabby for fermented grape juice! In total, $11.6 million worth of DRC sold at Sothebys auctions last year, making it the top wine for the fifth year in a row and more this year than Lafite, Pétrus, and Mouton combined (Bordeaux sales declined to less than 50% of total wines sold, by value). Whisky sales increased as some collectible consignments came up for sale. Asian buyers comprised 60% of wines sold by value.

Will DRC demand let up? It remains the most coveted wine at auction worldwide. Hopefully, someone out there actually pulls a cork from time to time to enjoy it in the glass, rather than on a balance sheet! (Above, evidence that this does happen from time to time.)

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Last nights state dinner in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte was the first of Donald Trumps term. Would the current occupant of the White House shatter wine protocols at state dinners? Would the teetotaler whose name adorns a Virginia winery serve his own wine?

The White House has a tradition of serving only American wines at state dinners. This president was not going to put waves in that particular chardonnay glassMAGA and all that. The menu included a chardonnay and a pinot noir from Oregons Willamette Valley, the white from Domaine Serene and the red from Domaine Drouhin. The focus on Oregon is apt since it is an area that has attracted many French winemakers and makes many wines in a Burgundian style. The Drouhin family was the first French family to buy vineyard land in Oregon back in 1987. And perhaps because the White House Events usher who selects the wine likes symmetry, he put Domaine Serene on the menu as the family behind it bought a property in Burgundy in 2015.

The official announcement of the menu had some interesting verbiage, noting the vines at Domaine Serene were a combination of French plants from Dijon. The statement continues that the wine was aged in 40 percent French oak barrels for more than 12 monthswhat of the remaining 60%? The Domaine Serene site clarifies that the wine was aged in 40% *new* French oak barrels. That makes more sense. On the Domaine Drouhin Laurène, the state dinner site says that the wine was fermented in French Oak barrels. (Can you believe they found two wines made in America that were aged in French oak? :P) By contrast, the Domaine Drouhin site says that the wine was first fermented with indigenous yeasts, and then placed into barrels (French oak, never more than 20% new). Details!

The White House Events usher also has a predilection for pairing off-dry sparking wine with ice cream. So he subjected the diners to an off-dry sparkling wine with dessert. Hopefully, someone can have a summit with him to lay down all off-dry sparklers with dessert!

Also, check out how Trump is holding his wine glasseegad, someone alert Robert Mueller of this wine crime!

Full menu after the jump.
Also, check out this video of Emmanuel Macrons wine tasting skills in action.

Full Menu:
First Course:
Goat Cheese Gateau
Tomato Jam
Buttermilk Biscuit Crumbles
Young Variegated Lettuces
Domaine Serene Chardonnay ?Evenstad Reserve? 2015 (find this wine)

Main Course:
Rack of Spring Lamb
Burnt Cipollini Soubise
Carolina Gold Rice Jambalaya
Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir ?Laurène? 2014 (find this wine)

Dessert:
Nectarine Tart
Crème Fraîche Ice Cream
Schramsberg Demi-Sec ?Crémant? (find this wine)

Full leaders and liters of wine coverage

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American wine has just gotten a dubious distinction: it features on a list of 128 items that may be subject to new Chinese tariffs. (spelling tip: tariffs ends in FFS!)

Saber rattling in trade between the US and China is escalating. The Trump administration announced $50 billion in tariffs on Wednesday and China responded yesterday with a more modest $3 billion. Of course, the two sides could be posturing and may come to an agreement before the tariffs hit the fan.

At any rate, wine featured on the list of items that would be hit with a 15% tariff into China. The US exports $79 million of wine to China, which seems like a drop in the Slavonian oak barrel of world trade. (Pretty small beer&) So even though it might sting in California, it is something of a backhanded compliment to US wine that it is seen as symbolically significant.

The US wine market is large and thirsty: by far the majority of wine produced in America gets consumed in America. California wine sold at retail fetched $35 billion in 2016. Beyond that, about a third of the wines consumed in the US are imported into what is a $60 billion market.

China is also a large and growing market for wine. As small as the US exports are to China, they were up a very healthy 47%. Australia, by contrast, with its small domestic market, has aggressively provided wine to the Chinese market. A new free trade agreement between the two countries means that Australian wine will have no tariff next year. France remains the largest source of foreign wine to China both in terms of value and volume.

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Reboule du Rhone - 24Set2018 08:56:14


About five years ago, Dustin Wilson became the wine director at Eleven Madison Park and Thomas Pastuszak became the wine director at NoMad. At a similar point in their careers at restaurants in the same group, the two bonded over their many shared interests, one of which was a love of the wines of the Northern Rhone.

Last year, when they were visiting cellars in the region together, they hatched the idea to have a weekend celebration of Northern Rhone wines in New York City. Thus Reboule du Rhone was born with the first weekend of events slated for November 17-19. Pastuszak says that some of the dozen producers invited have never been to New York before. Part of their motivation was to give the sommelier community a chance to get in front of these heralded producers, he says.

?We get really excited to serve these wines and drink these wines. But the region is somewhat under the radar. So it is exciting to give them wider exposure,? Wilson says.

With other weekend fetes on the New York City calendar of Burgundy, Champagne, and others, there was an opening for a Northern Rhone event. ?For us, we felt it was only a matter of time until somebody jumped on this. We?ve hit a point in our career where we are very well positioned and the timing was right for us to do it.

One further way to stand out is that fully 100% of the net proceeds will go to charity. The nonprofit they are working with is No Kid Hungry, an organization that works to improve childhood nutrition that has worked frequently with chefs and the restaurant community.

The flagship event is the Reboule, a $600/head BYOB dinner bacchanal with winemakers who will be bringing back-vintages from their cellars. Participating chefs include Daniel Humm of EMP and Abram Bissel of The Modern. But perhaps the best value is the walk-around afternoon tastings where the winemakers will be pouring their current releases.

The best wines from the Northern Rhone, syrahs ancestral homeland, represent something of a Lorelei to me, with their alluring, savory call of black olives and herbs. The producers here a veritable murderers row of producers from the region. So its hard to imagine what the Reboule will do for an encore. But thats a problem for next year.

Participating winemakers

FRANCK BALTHAZAR, CORNAS

JULIEN CECILLON, CROZES-HERMITAGE

AURELIEN CHATAGNIER, ST. JOSEPH

JEAN-LOUIS CHAVE, HERMITAGE

GUILLAUME CLUSEL, CÔTE-RÔTIE

LIONEL FAURY, ST. JOSEPH

JEAN GONON, ST. JOSEPH

MAXIME GRAILLOT, CROZES-HERMITAGE

VINCENT PARIS, CORNAS

JEAN-PIERRE  GUILLAUME MONIER, ST. JOSEPH

ANDRE PERRET, ST. JOSEPH

PIERRE ROSTAING, CÔTE-RÔTIE

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Helping the wildfire recovery - 24Set2018 08:56:14

wildfire_recovery

The wine country fires caused a lot of damage, that we know. But as the fires come under control and some residents return to their greatly altered lives after mandatory evacuations, we are starting to get a handle on the extent of what happened. Here is a sad list of 22 wineries damaged by the fires in both Sonoma and Napa. And theres speculation that undocumented immigrant workers, vital to the system of wine making, may not return since they do not qualify for disaster aid and much of the low-cost housing was damaged.

Sadly, there have been reports of price gouging as well as insurance payouts being insufficient to cover some damage. One estimate put the total at $3  $6 billion.

Clearly, the regions need a lot of help. As wine consumers, the most obvious thing we can do is to buy wine from the affected areas. There are a variety of local charities to contribute too as well. And in the past few days, sommeliers and winemakers have organized a charity tastings to raise funds to aid the wildfire recovery effort. The first will be locally in Healdsburg, also in SF and NYC. I expect these will be very well attended.

Winemakers and sommeliers for California wildfire relief

Participating wineries:
ARNOT ROBERTS
DOMAINE DE LA COTE
IDLEWILD WINES
JAIMEE MOTLEY WINES
JOLIE-LAIDE WINES
KOSTA BROWN WINERY
KRATER CELLARS
PAX WINES
SCRIBE WINERY
SAXUM WINERY
BOOKER WINES
RAFT WINES
ROOTDOWN WINES
RUTH LEWANDOWSKI WINES
RYME CELLARS
WIND GAP WINES
SANTA CRUZ WINERIES
DIRTY  ROWDY WINES
DOMAINE DE LA CÔTE
MATTHIASSON WINES
SANDLANDS
HIRSCH VINEYARDS

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Fires savage Napa and Sonoma - 24Set2018 08:56:14

On Sunday night, a fire got out of control somewhere north of the Bay. Seasonally dry conditions had left the area like a tinderbox. So when whipping winds of up to 70 mph hit the initial flames, they spread, well, like wildfire. Tragically, the blaze has now prompted the evacuation of 20,000 people, burned over 1,500 homes, incinerated 73,000 acres and left 11 people dead.

Santa Rosa in Sonoma has been hit particularly hard. The flames have also jumped to Napa and Mendocino counties.

The NYT has some shocking photos from before and after. SFgate has coverage toothe video with the homes crackling as they burn really pulls on the heart strings. And this video driving down a street after the Tubbs fire is haunting. And these photos&Esther Mobley of the SF Chronicle has been tweeting tons of updates.

The vintage 2017 may be tough in many parts of the wine world, but this is by far the worst.

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Climate change is a bitch. Severe weather events have roiled wine growing areas with depressing regularity in recent years. Burgundy seems to be on the forefront of this plagued by floods, hail storms, late frosts and other events that have reduced (or in some places even eliminated) the crop.

Jeremy Seysses, owner and winemaker at Domaine Dujac, posted the above photo to instagram along with this description.

Yesterday night, 10th July, brought heartbreak in the form of hail. Of our vineyards, the top of the hill of Morey was hit hardest, Monts Luisants worst, probably 30-40% damage; Clos St Denis and Clos de la Roche next, then Combottes. Bonnes Mares had minor damage. The rest of the domaine seems ok. The leaves like they were put through a shredder. The fruit is pummeled. The shoots battered. Well still make some wine, though!

There was also severe weather in Beaujolais for the second year in a row&gah! I feel sorry for the vignerons who try to make a living in this increasingly unpredictable endeavor.

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The Golden State Warriors won their second NBA title in three seasons last night. As a hoops fan, the most impressive stat for me was 147 assists on 216 made basketsteamwork! But as a wine geek, we here at the Dr. Vino World Headquarters had to wonder&what would the team pop to celebrate in the locker room?
Would the owners cheap out as so many MLB owners do and use bubbly that could be picked up at any 7-11 on the way to the stadium?

We asked a Russian to hack the feed from the locker room to see what they sprayed. (Okay, our source was actually ESPNs Darren Rovell.) This Warriors team did not hold back! To celebrate this title the doused each other with magnums (natch) of Moët Impérial Golden Luminousa limited edition of the Moet nonvintage that Rovell says are valued at $1,200 each. (Search for this wine) Given the size of the ice bucket, that could have set the owners back about $200k, if the bubbly wasnt donated by LVMH.

If you want to celebrate in a similar style, the regular Moet Imperial is about $40. Or get a more singular wine with a grower Champagne for the same price. (Or even a new wave sparkler from the Golden State!) And throw in a Warriors Champions locker room towel for $17.99 and you can have a similar experience for a fraction of the price. Ski goggles optional.

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Wine drip stains on white tablecloths have a new nemesis and his name is Daniel Perlman. The biophysicist at Brandeis University discovered that all it took to eliminate the bane of (red) wine pourers everywhere is to etch a small groove at the top of the bottle under the lip. We can but hope this catches on widely.

drip-free-wine-bottleProfessor Perlman studied slo-mo videos of wine being poured from a bottle. He found that drips cling to side of a bottle because bottles are hydrophilic! Now if that sounds more than PG-13, dont worry: it just means that the glass of the bottle attracts the drops of water (or wine) that then annoyingly cling to the side and make a big mess. He found that cutting a 2mm groove in the bottle with a diamond-studded cutting tool just below the lip was sufficient to break up the attachment issues between the glass and the wine. Behold the drip-free wine bottle! No wonder Perlman has 100 patents.

If this is effective and can be widely commercialized, then Perlman would have earned our enduring admirationas well as a hallowed place at the eternal (stain-free) table aside Bacchus.

Brandeis University media release

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The French presidential election is heating up. Polls show Emmanuel Macron defeating Marine Le Pen in the decisive second round on May 7 by 62-38 (yes, polls have been deceiving ahead of recent elections but this is a big margin).

We are single-issue voters around here and that issue is wine! Actually, thats not true but we will roll with it. Recent French presidents have hovered at or near zero when it comes to passion for wine. Jacques Chiracs tipple of choice was reportedly Corona. Nicolas Sarkozy famously didnt even like wine. Current president Francois Hollande sell off a chunk of the presidential wine cellarbut he also canceled a lunch with the Iranian president after the guest insisted no wine be served.

Macron, a former minister of Finance who is a mere 39 years old, exhibits some wine savvy. Although he was raised in Picardy, not a region known for wine growing, he says that his grandparents told him that red wine was guilt-free since it is an antioxidant.

The journalists from Terre de Vins and Sud-Ouest conducted a wide-ranging interview about wine. Among other things, Macron admitted that a meal without wine would be a little bit sad because wine is a part of the French table&our civilization. He even talks about the pleasure of food-wine pairings! It may not seem like it since youd expect all French presidents to support wine. But these are kind of fighting words right now as the rate of wine consumption has been in decline and the health crowd that takes a dim view of wine has been ascendant in policy circles.

Macron then submitted himself to a blind tasting with the journalists! (Video above) Can you imagine a leading presidential candidate doing that here? Usually they run away from it, heading toward beer, if anything. And a blind tasting? Thats high-risk stuff for anyone!

But Macron comports himself amazingly well, showing a breadth of knowledge (even though he did offer that the likes Miraval rosé, which comes from the estate of erstwhile Brangelina) as well as taste preferences (says he doesnt like high-acid whites). He correctly guessed both a Bordeaux blanc and a Coteaux de Provence by region, and even the red he guessed as a Bordeaux but was off by a few appellation (trust me, its easy to make mistakes&). Im sure he will pour some fun wines at the Elysée Palace over the next five years.

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Wine class at Schoolhouse - 24Set2018 08:56:14


How about some wine classes to shake off the winter blues (wait, what winter? Its 70 degrees!)?

Ive been doing a series of wine classes at Schoolhouse at Cannondale, a new American restaurant in Wilton, CT. Chef/owner Tim LaBantfriend of the bloghas been running some cooking classes and Ive been doing some wine classes on select Tuesdays. Two of my classes are in the bag but two more are coming up in the next two weeks. On 2/28, weve got Pinot Envy in which we will taste and talk through seven pinot noirs. And on 3/7, we will Drink Like a Hipster with tasting and discussing seven natural wines. It will be fun!

Reservations required. Timing is 7:00  8:30. Tickets are $75. Please email Francesca f2f@schoolhouseatcannondale.com for reservations.

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american wineEconomic policy has about as much clarity as a tank of Puligny after batonnage right now. There?s some reasonable certainty about various reforms (ahem, tax cuts) but one area that is shrouded in mystery: how imports will be taxed.

Trump made trade a big issue in the campaign and has continued in the same vein, doing industrial policy via Twitter since the election. Some policy wonks think that a huge change in the tax on imports may be forthcoming. A House bill from last year sought to impose punitive tariffs on imports to shame big box retailers such as Walmart, Home Depot and Target in their purchases from abroad.

Neil Irwin, writing in Sundays NYT sums up a relevant part of the destination-cased cash flow system:

A company that spent $80 making something that it sold overseas for $100 would pay no tax on its earnings. A company that imported goods worth $80 from abroad and them sold them domestically for $100 would pay tax on the full $100.

Perhaps there would be a carve-out for wine and gourmet items from abroad? Who knows. It?s not clear if this bill was targeting the retailers as importers or retailers, a key distinction in the wine world since the two ?tiers? are (mostly) legally separated. Either way, about one out of every three bottles of wine consumed in America comes from overseas and could be subject to a new import tax, if one becomes law. In certain areas, such as New York City, it?s more than one out of every three bottles that is imported. And certain wine lists and shops feature imports as perhaps eight or nine out of every ten bottles on the shelf/list.

Would such tariffs be legal under the WTO? Does Trump care? Would there be retaliation against US products in overseas markets? Again, not a lot of clarity here.

But if there were a wine import tax or border adjustments, would it make American wine better? Probably not. US producers cannot make enough wine to keep up with US consumption. And stylistically, imports can be quite different. So it might be craft beer producers that emerge as the real winners of such a policy.

Again, there?s so little that?s been fleshed out beyond 140 character nuggets or campaign epithets. More will come in the coming weeks and months. Until then, drink up, foreign or domestic.

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Apparently theres a real rivalry among airlines for first class wine servicealthough youd never guess it in the back of the bus where the wine selections are generally bad enough to drive a wine to beer.

A piece in Bloomberg details how Emirates has splashed out over $40 million a year on wine for the last twelve years. No comparative metric is given in the story (how much do other leading airlines spend on wine?) but it sounds like a big number to me.

Joost Heymeijer, who runs in-flight catering at the airline, details their buying strategy, which, interestingly, involves buying and then storing wines in a Fort Knox-style facility in Burgundy: The Emirates stash currently has almost 4 million bottles slumbering, some of which have escalated in value.

Sadly, that seems to be the point as Heymeijer said in the story: It?s an investment. We look at it like a commodity. Ugh. When they buy, they buy in 10,000 bottle lots, often from Champagne and Bordeaux. But they have even snapped up Burgundy, buying 2,000 cases of Corton-Charlemagne, cited as a tenth of the total production of the appellation.

They do pull some corks though, serving 9 million glasses of champagne last year, among other things. Check out the story for more details.

One amusing item appeared in the kicker. Asked about the Bordeaux 2015 vintage, Heymeijer replied Not as good as 2010, but in Saint Emilion, Passat, and Margaux, it will be very good, probably better than the 2010. Ah, yes, the renowned Passat appellation&probably a transcription error, but, yes, a case of top Bordeaux does sometimes go for about the same as a new Passat.

(On a side note, there is something incongruent that Emirates spends such a sum on alcohol given that orthodox Islam frowns on drinking alcoholsee comment section for discussion.)

Photo: Emirates

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rougeardWinery X, in family for generations, sold to billionaire is a headline that would normally barely raise an eyebrow. But the winery in todays news is Clos Rougeard from the Loire.

Located in Saumur, Clos Rougeard is the Bentley of the Loire. The wines, almost all red, are expensive, rare and of exceptional qualitythe kind of wines that can turn haters of cabernet franc into ambassadors. (search for Clos Rougeard at retail)

The 27-acre estate was owned by the Foucault brothers Bernard (a.k.a. Nady) and Jean-Louis (known as Charly). They were the eighth generation to run the estate and made it a pioneer of organic viticulture in the area as well as hands-off winemaking.

After Charlys death in 2015, La Revue de Vin de France reports, the family resolved to sell the domaine. The buyer is Martin Bouygues, French telecom billionaire and 481st richest person in the world.

In a way it is kind of surprising that a billionaire is attracted to the Loire, which is generally a region that favors low-key wines and hasnt attracted big fortunes to be tossed around since the day of Francois I. Perhaps that is changing? Doubtful. Clos Rougeard is arguably the pearl of the Loire, now snatched up as bauble for a billionaire. But at least he is discerning! And the estate doubtless cost less than one in Musigny. Bouygues owns Chateau Montrose in Bordeaux.

LARVF doesnt report on changes in the wine making.

UPDATE: Yes, another Winery X sold to billionaire story appeared todayat this rate, will there be any family-owned and operated top wineries by the end of the year?? Stan Kroenke, owner of Arsenal football club and the LA Rams and Screaming Eagle, is said to have bought a majority stake of Bonneau de Martray. [Decanter]

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sour_grapes_kurniawan
Sour Grapes recently went live on Netflix. Has Netflix recommended it to you yet? If not, youre clearly not watching the right shows!

After speaking with one of the directors and seeing the trailer, I was ready to fire up the documentary when I saw it was available.

Sour Grapes tells the story of Rudy Kurniawan, the convicted (spoiler alert!) wine counterfeiter. We in the wine world know the story of how he came from nowhere in the early 2000s, ingratiated himself with some of the biggest collectors in the land, poured tens of millions of dollars into fine wine at auction, and then reversed and sold tens of millions of dollars of wine wine, including many fakes passed off as the worlds top wines.

But what is particularly compelling here is a trove of video of Kurniawan in action. Not only does he actually speak as opposed to the many court drawings we have seen of him, they actually have him utter the priceless linein jest!I refill and put the cork back! This old footage alone is reason for wine enthusiasts to see it. Its fun to see some cameos for people in the wine world. (Though I still would like to see a movie version of this story told as fiction, with actors.)

It works as a movie too. I had a non-wine friend check out the film and he gave it a thumbs up. The film crew decamps to Burgundy to get some beautiful B roll footage; Laurent Ponsot comes off great in his role as inspecteur.

So put it in your queue, make some popcorn cooked with extra virgin coconut oil, and pop some champagnejust make sure its not a fake.

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