A Mixed Case: February Wine News Round Up

As some of you may already know, I’m housebound thanks to a fractured foot. The bad news is, I’m on crutches for another week and in one of those damn boots for a month. But the good news is, I’ve had more time to catch up some recent wine news to share with all of you. So here goes:

1. Chilean wines and the earthquake. This weekend’s earthquake in Chile occurred offshore of Maule, one of the country’s wine regions. According to reports I’ve read, (this is one fairly typical) there have thankfully been few casualties, but there has been a lot of damage to the wineries themselves and stocks of wine. Traditionally a source of mediocre bulk wine, in recent years Maule has been shifting to higher quality wines. One can only hope that this earthquake hasn’t set their progress and prosperity back too far. Yes, of course, right now there are much more important things to think about than wine. But once everyone is accounted for and the rubble is cleared, people will need jobs. And money. Which is why I’ll be picking up a bottle (or several) of Chilean wine this week, and I encourage you to do the same. Watch this space for some tasting notes.

2. Pinot Noir (fake). I spend a lot of time defending the wine industry from people who think it’s shady, devious, and out to get the average consumer. Sometimes though they’re right. Take the recent Red Bicyclette scandale. Earlier this month, a dozen wine producers and executives in the Languedoc in Southern France were convicted of selling fake Pinot Noir (it was really a blend of other, cheaper, grapes) to U.S. wine behemoth E&J Gallo, who bottled it as Pinot Noir under the Red Bicyclette brand. Now the US Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is looking into it as well.

3. Pinot Noir (real). I recently discovered that a high school classmate of mine, Serena Lourie, started a winery called Cartograph Wines in northern California. They’re sourcing Pinot Noir from a variety of top vineyards and trying their hand at Gewurztraminer and Syrah as well. They just bottled their first vintage and I can’t wait to try their wines. When I’m not overcome with insane jealousy, I love following their exploits on their Facebook page. (A Web site is coming soon.)

4. Wine in NY supermarkets. New York’s train wreck of a governor, David Paterson, recently re-introduced legislation that would allow supermarkets to sell wine and liquor. A recent poll shows that most New Yorkers support it — and so do I. Yes, it would put the squeeze on some of the small wine shops that I like to frequent. But I’m in favor of anything that makes it easier for people to purchase wine alongside food. After all, we consume them at the same time — shouldn’t we be able to buy them at the same time, too?

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