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Hong Kong may import Bordeaux Fête le Vin

Date: Mon, Jul 7, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Hong Kong wine officials want to bring the Bordeaux Wine Festival to the island.

The three-day Bordeaux Fête le Vin attracted 450,000 visitors last week, and trade representatives in Hong Kong see it as a good way of developing the region's burgeoning interest in wine.

'We want to facilitate exchange between institutions, clubs, restaurants, hotels and we want to fill in the gaps in terms of the wine education courses that already exist in Hong Kong,' said Yvonne Choi, Hong Kong secretary for economic development.

'We need wine education for frontline staff, as well as for business people,' said Choi, who was in Bordeaux last week for talks with the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce. She also visited the Fête le Vin.

'We would need to adapt it a bit, add more of a gourmet food element, and make it a joint Hong Kong Bordeaux festival, maybe along the harbour, but the target would be visitors from mainland China and the rest of Asia,' Choi told decanter.com.

There are 7m people in Hong Kong, which earlier this year dropped tax on imported wines to zero, boosting imports by about 150% to date.

The island was ranked the 13th largest importer of Bordeaux by volume in 2007, and it is keen to become the wine trade hub of Asia. Trade representatives are also eyeing China and its population of 1.3bn people who, they say, are starting to open up to wine imports.

Sophie Kevany
Bordeaux, France

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Interesting Situation

Date: Mon, Jul 7, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Q: I have a collection of 200 to 300 California and Bordeaux reds from the 1970s thru mid-1980s, including first- and second-growths, Heitz Martha's, Mondavi, BV, Diamond Creek, etc., and would like to sell most of it. I have been away from collecting for well over a decade and do not know who the reputable auction houses and retailers are. How do I assemble such a list? -- Mike Dolan

A: Wine Spectator covers sales results from the country's seven leading auction houses. Print subscribers can find a list of the major auction firms in the calendar within the Collecting section, and online subscribers can access WineSpectator.com's Auction Calendar. Subscribers also receive the benefits of expert analysis and comprehensive coverage of the wine auction market, essential to making good decisions about buying and selling.

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Giscours case: court hands down judgement

Date: Mon, Jul 7, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

A Bordeaux court has handed down its judgement concerning a Dutch businessman accused of overseeing the blending of wines from two different appellations at Chateau Giscours in 1995.

However the ruling, pronounced yesterday, falls under the judicial amnesty clause in French law which prohibits details of the decision from being made public.

The amnesty is a French legal mechanism which protects the accused from public reporting of the sentence once the accused has complied with the judge's orders.

Eric Albada Jelgersma, a Dutch food entrepreneur who still denies the charges against him, is part-owner of the 140ha (hectare) chateau in Bordeaux's renowned Margaux region.
Jelgersma was accused of ordering the mixing together of AOC Margaux and AOC Haut Medoc in the chateau's second wine, La Sirene de Giscours, which should be made only with grapes from the Margaux appellation.

He now has ten days to decide whether to appeal, or pay €25,000 to have the judgement revoked.

The director of Giscours, Alexander van Beek, told decanter.com Jelgersma now had a dilemma.

'Eric Jelgersma is pretty disappointed by this decision which gives the impression, on one hand, that he is not guilty [by potentially silencing any reporting of the sentence], but still asks him to pay to have the amnesty,' said Alexander van Beek, the current director of Giscours.

'He [Jelgersma] came to Giscours will the best possible intent and he has invested over 15 million euro in the chateau,' he added. 'He would never do anything to alter the quality of a wine.'

Sophie Kevany
Bordeaux, France

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Zachys goes to Hong Kong

Date: Mon, Jul 7, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Zachys will hold its first auction in Hong Kong on 25 October.

Announcing this debut sale recently, the New York auction house said, 'The recent elimination of import duties has made Hong Kong unquestionably the trading hub for wine in Asia, and Zachys has already spent several months building its Far Eastern infrastructure.'

This internationalisation of Zachys' auctioning of fine and rare wines will translate into 'an elegant catalog distributed to wealthy wine enthusiasts in Asia and the rest of the world,' the house said.

Zachys is a major retailer in Scarsdale, New York, a blue-chip suburb in affluent Westchester County, north of New York City.

Since Zachys formed its auction arm in 2002, it has held 50 sales grossing US$195,232,250 in New York City, in Los Angeles with Wally's, a major retailer, and, recently, in Las Vegas and San Francisco.

Bonhams & Butterfields, based in San Francisco, was the first American auction house to hold a Hong Kong auction this year. Acker Merrall and Condit was the second. Zachys' sale will be held in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Howard G Goldberg
New York, USA

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The Chronicle Wine Selections: Paso Robles Zinfandel

Date: Mon, Jul 7, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

California's red wine king, Cabernet Sauvignon, has a contender for its throne. Last year, Zinfandel was second in tonnage to - and not far behind - Cabernet Sauvignon in amount of red grapes crushed in the Golden State. While Cabernet Sauvignon's 2007 crush tonnage remained about the same compared to 2006, Zinfandel's increased by 16 percent. The combined total of these two popular red wine varietals was more than 44 percent of California's total 2007 red grape crush.

I wouldn't bet that Zinfandel will ever overtake Cabernet in California, but according to the "Connoisseur's Guide to California Wine," only three counties - Amador, San Joaquin and San Luis Obispo - had modest increases in Zinfandel acreage planted during the past five years. Despite this increase, some wine regions, such as San Luis Obispo County's Paso Robles, have not experienced a huge Zinfandel boom, though about 50 percent of the appellation's wineries produce it.

Paso Robles is known for its riper, full-bodied Zinfandels with sweet, extra-ripe fruit and alcoholic warmth. This hedonistic style, though not unique to Paso, has many fans, who can usually be found at the annual Zinfandel Advocates & Producers tasting in San Francisco every January.

Many California wine regions known for Zinfandel, including Paso Robles, have hot climates that can quickly overripen grapes if the weather remains too warm for too long. Cooler night breezes help moderate Paso Robles' average daily temperature. Zinfandel's oft-high ripeness level can translate to alcohol levels approaching or exceeding 15 percent - lower alcohol can be accompanied by some residual sugar.

We tasted 27 Paso Robles Zinfandels. More than half were 2006s. Many of the wines we've liked in the past weren't submitted for tasting. But even with this modest sampling, Paso Robles seems to be staying its course, continuing to make dark-fruited, full-bodied, riper-style Zinfandel.

Rating: TWO STARS 2005 Calcareous Vineyard Twisted Sisters Paso Robles Zinfandel ($26) Paso Robles has areas of calcareous soil, after which this winery was named. Assertive American oak announces itself on the nose of blackberry and sweet plum, which is driven by dusty pencil lead and oaky spice with smoky char and tobacco overtones. The more rustic palate is brightly fruited and herby but shows some heat on the finish. Winery only.

Rating: TWO STARS 2006 Christian Lazo Paso Robles Zinfandel ($20) This winery - purchased in 2002 - is named after owners Steve Christian and Lupe Lazo. Twenty percent Missouri wood is used for 19 months of aging. There is slight bricking (a brownish-garnet color) on the edge of the wine's rim. Nose of coconut, smashed huckleberry, milk chocolate, stewed cherry and earthy spice with potpourri undertones. Tannins seem softer amid the ripe fruit and 15.5 percent alcohol.

Rating: TWO AND A HALF STARS 2006 Eberle Paso Robles Zinfandel ($24) Founded in 1982 by Gary Eberle, who is of German descent, this winery's wild boar logo reflects the Germanic meaning of the name "Eberle." Steinbeck Vineyards and Wine-Bush Vineyard each contributed half the grapes in this wine, which shows rich vanilla, toast and cinnamon stick aromas that bolster the sultry mix of red and black fruit. There is lovely tart acidity and less opulent fruit on the palate, with rather fine tannins and a dry earth note on the finish. A more restrained, elegant style.

Rating: TWO STARS 2006 Eos Paso Robles Zinfandel Port ($30, 375 ml) Eos was the name of a Greek goddess of the dawn, which seemed an appropriate moniker for a winery that harvests its estate grapes justbefore or right after sunrise. This wine includes 20.5 percent Petite Sirah. It is fortified to retain residual sugar, which accounts for its 19 percent alcohol. Toasted blueberry, prune/raisin, jammy dark-fruit aromas with carob and hints of wet earth and English breakfast tea. Not over the top and retains focus.

Rating: TWO STARS 2006 Rosenblum Cellars Paso Robles Zinfandel ($18) Now part of Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines, Rosenblum Cellars specializes in Zinfandel. This Appellation Series wine includes 12 percent Petite Sirah and was aged in both French and American oak barrels. Blackberry, dry spice and a slightly waxy nose, which has underlying robustly rich fruit despite the big hit oak. Plum, blackberry/huckleberry tart and chewy tannins, with some dry leaf on the palate.

Rating: TWO STARS 2004 Rotta Giubbini Vineyard Paso Robles Zinfandel ($27) Founded in 1908 and claiming to be the only remaining family-owned "original" winery in San Luis Obispo County, Rotta was one of the first established in Paso Robles. A nose of spiced plum, chocolate, a bit of sachet, walnut skin and dry oak char. Bright, mouthwatering acidity and moderate raspberry and prune notes help balance the palate.

Rating: TWO STARS 2005 Stacked Stone Cellars Zin Stone Paso Robles Zinfandel ($28) Named after the elaborate stone stacks that are a part of its landscaping, the winery was started in 1998 by owner-winemaker Donald Thiessen. A slight dill pickle note on the nose punctuates the very ripe fruit on the aromas and flavors that include currant, plum and red fruit. Dusty, subtle finish with increased alcoholic heat. Winery only.

Panelists include: Lynne Char Bennett, Chronicle staff writer and wine coordinator; Jon Bonné, Chronicle wine editor; Zach Pace, manager and wine buyer, Foreign Cinema. For additional recommended wines, go to sfgate.com/wine.

Key: Rating: FOUR STARS Extraordinary Rating: THREE STARS Excellent Rating: TWO STARS Good

Lynne Char Bennett

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New brands

Date: Mon, Jul 7, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Most of the wine names we see regularly on store shelves and wine lists are well known to the vast majority of Americans.

Robert Mondavi, Beringer, Sutter Home, Fetzer, Kendall-Jackson, Gallo, Beaulieu, and a dozen more are more widely marketed than literally thousands of foreign and domestic brands, some of them so small that they get scant attention in magazines, newspapers and from wine shop operators.
A key marketing goal is to have a wine at eye level and easily visible, and that’s the way the top brands as positioned. But many smaller wineries enter the marketplace with almost no visibility.

But that may have nothing to do with the high quality of their wines. Some of the best wines I have ever tasted were from obscure producers who lack the funds to market their wares widely.
Here are just a few new ones:

Milbrandt Vineyards: Butch Milbrandt saw the soils of Washington’s Columbia Valley as a jewel, so in 1997 he began planting acreage. Today he farms 13 distinct estate vineyard sites on nearly 1,600 acres of land and is making a wide range of superb wines priced between $13 and $40.
Wine maker Gordon Hill has done a brilliant job crafting these wines into food-friendly stars. The lineup includes merlot, syrah and cabernet sauvignon and the wines are now being nationally marketed.

Example: The 2007 Milbrandt Pinot Gris, Washington, “Traditions” ($13) has a stylish pear/spice aroma and dramatic richness in a wine that’s dry but succulent because of phenomenal fruit. It is a wonderful wine for rich seafood dishes or fruit salads.

Stonestreet Alexander Mountain Estate: This is an older project owned by Kendall-Jackson’s Jess Jackson, but one recently relaunched. This handsome property is on the valley floor and gets all its fruit from a huge, dramatic hillside planting of grapes that makes concentrated wines.

The project has long been under the radar. Only recently, when the wines of Graham Weerts began to gain acclaim, did the property take a jump in image. Weerts, from South Africa, now makes some of the top wines in California, though still lacking in public recognition.

Example: Their 2005 Stonestreet Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley ($45) is a dense rich wine of black currant aroma and flavor, with complex nuances of olive, forest floor and spices. It needs a few years to develop, but is a superb aging wine.

Wine Guerrilla: After decades as a wine marketer, Sonoma County resident Bruce Patch decided to make his own wine, so he contracted with longtime wine maker David Coffaro to use Coffaro’s Dry Creek winery to make Zinfandel.

The Wine Guerilla label, with creative designs by Los Angeles designer Sean Colgin, will be entirely Zinfandel from older vines for more concentration.

Example: The 2006 Wine Guerrilla Zinfandel, Sonoma County ($18) consists of bright fruit of raspberry, violet and strawberry jam. Lots of fruit in the finish. Excellent with pasta or pizza.

Robert Oatley Vineyards: Oatley founded the wildly successful Rosemount Winery in Australia that, at its peak, sold 1.5 million cases of wine in the United States. Oatley, a successful tea and cattle entrepreneur and world-class yachtsman, sold Rosemount to Fosters Brewing in a complex deal, then ran Fosters for a time.

When he left the giant wine company, he founded a small operation based on 1,200 acres of superb vineyards in Mudgee and now is re-entering the U.S. wine market with a line of wines under his own name.

All wines are made by a brilliant team of wine makers and will be reasonably priced. The first wine in the U.S. market is a pink wine of remarkable quality.

Wine of the Week: 2008 Robert Oatley Rosé of Sangiovese, Mudgee ($18) — A dramatic re-entrance to the U.S. market for Oatley. This wine delivers delightful strawberry and pomegranate aromas, a dry mid-palate, but such succulence in the aftertaste you’d swear the wine has some sweetness.

Dan Berger

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New brands

Date: Mon, Jul 7, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Most of the wine names we see regularly on store shelves and wine lists are well known to the vast majority of Americans.

Robert Mondavi, Beringer, Sutter Home, Fetzer, Kendall-Jackson, Gallo, Beaulieu, and a dozen more are more widely marketed than literally thousands of foreign and domestic brands, some of them so small that they get scant attention in magazines, newspapers and from wine shop operators.
A key marketing goal is to have a wine at eye level and easily visible, and that’s the way the top brands as positioned. But many smaller wineries enter the marketplace with almost no visibility.

But that may have nothing to do with the high quality of their wines. Some of the best wines I have ever tasted were from obscure producers who lack the funds to market their wares widely.
Here are just a few new ones:

Milbrandt Vineyards: Butch Milbrandt saw the soils of Washington’s Columbia Valley as a jewel, so in 1997 he began planting acreage. Today he farms 13 distinct estate vineyard sites on nearly 1,600 acres of land and is making a wide range of superb wines priced between $13 and $40.
Wine maker Gordon Hill has done a brilliant job crafting these wines into food-friendly stars. The lineup includes merlot, syrah and cabernet sauvignon and the wines are now being nationally marketed.

Example: The 2007 Milbrandt Pinot Gris, Washington, “Traditions” ($13) has a stylish pear/spice aroma and dramatic richness in a wine that’s dry but succulent because of phenomenal fruit. It is a wonderful wine for rich seafood dishes or fruit salads.

Stonestreet Alexander Mountain Estate: This is an older project owned by Kendall-Jackson’s Jess Jackson, but one recently relaunched. This handsome property is on the valley floor and gets all its fruit from a huge, dramatic hillside planting of grapes that makes concentrated wines.

The project has long been under the radar. Only recently, when the wines of Graham Weerts began to gain acclaim, did the property take a jump in image. Weerts, from South Africa, now makes some of the top wines in California, though still lacking in public recognition.

Example: Their 2005 Stonestreet Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley ($45) is a dense rich wine of black currant aroma and flavor, with complex nuances of olive, forest floor and spices. It needs a few years to develop, but is a superb aging wine.

Wine Guerrilla: After decades as a wine marketer, Sonoma County resident Bruce Patch decided to make his own wine, so he contracted with longtime wine maker David Coffaro to use Coffaro’s Dry Creek winery to make Zinfandel.

The Wine Guerilla label, with creative designs by Los Angeles designer Sean Colgin, will be entirely Zinfandel from older vines for more concentration.

Example: The 2006 Wine Guerrilla Zinfandel, Sonoma County ($18) consists of bright fruit of raspberry, violet and strawberry jam. Lots of fruit in the finish. Excellent with pasta or pizza.

Robert Oatley Vineyards: Oatley founded the wildly successful Rosemount Winery in Australia that, at its peak, sold 1.5 million cases of wine in the United States. Oatley, a successful tea and cattle entrepreneur and world-class yachtsman, sold Rosemount to Fosters Brewing in a complex deal, then ran Fosters for a time.

When he left the giant wine company, he founded a small operation based on 1,200 acres of superb vineyards in Mudgee and now is re-entering the U.S. wine market with a line of wines under his own name.

All wines are made by a brilliant team of wine makers and will be reasonably priced. The first wine in the U.S. market is a pink wine of remarkable quality.

Wine of the Week: 2008 Robert Oatley Rosé of Sangiovese, Mudgee ($18) — A dramatic re-entrance to the U.S. market for Oatley. This wine delivers delightful strawberry and pomegranate aromas, a dry mid-palate, but such succulence in the aftertaste you’d swear the wine has some sweetness.

Dan Berger

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Bocce, the perfect complement to wine tasting

Date: Mon, Jul 7, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Here's the down side of the Northern California Wine Country: There are just too many wineries. Without expending any real effort, a semi-dedicated wine enthusiast could in a day or two consume enough wine to drive even Bacchus into rehab. Especially if that enthusiast is morally opposed to spitting out a nice, well-rounded Chardonnay.

This means that if you want to come back from your weekend in the Wine Country not looking like you stepped from the pages of the National Enquirer, you've got to pace yourself. You've got to find something to do between tastings.

This is where bocce comes in.

The backstory: According to the United States Bocce Federation, back in the time of the Punic Wars, Roman soldiers played bocce to unwind between confrontations with the Carthaginians. (Their version of the game largely involved throwing big rocks at a smaller rock.) Two thousand years later, the modern adaptation of this rock-throwing turns out to be just as therapeutic between confrontations with Cabernets.

Why now? In the last few years, winery owners have caught up with the Romans. Every week, a truck arrives at yet another tasting room and dumps a load of limestone and crushed oyster shells into a newly constructed bocce court. I consider this an excellent trend (preferable to the one that persuaded wineries to sell yoga pants) as it combines two of my favorite things: 1. a sport that requires no actual skill, and 2. wine. Better yet for those of us who live in the Bay Area, the Sonoma town of Healdsburg, only about an hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge, has five bocce courts, all within a 10-mile radius of the town center.

Spend your day: Here's how all five courts - and their accompanying vintages - stack up:

-- Seghesio Family Vineyards, just outside the town square. Playing bocce at Seghesio is like playing bocce in the backyard of your Italian uncle - if your uncle owned a state-of-the-art outdoor kitchen and beehive-shaped wood-burning pizza oven. The grounds here aren't manicured. You'll even find a couple of over-watered lemon trees, a staple in the gardens of Italian uncles everywhere.

Seghesio's two courts are among the few in the area that fall within the official 76-feet-to-90-feet length (87.6 feet is exact tournament length). There's no view to speak of - the courts sit right up against a residential street - but the big shade trees and perfectly packed playing surface make for excellent bocce.

And Seghesio's wine makes for excellent tasting. Its Sangiovese, from the oldest plantings in North America, made me regret ever maligning the varietal as the Merlot of Italy. And its Pinot Grigio, sipped while spocking (the term for an underhand throw), will seriously improve your score.

-- At Davis Family, the court is shorter (about 60 feet), but the setting goes a long way toward making up for it. The single court at Davis Family is located next to the Russian River, near enough for passing kayakers to check out whether you've mastered the four-step run and throw. There's an unfussy warehouse tasting room, six picnic tables and a three-story wine goddess. This last is the winery's homage to recycling. Her skirt is made from an enormous steel wine vat trimmed with hubcaps, her left eye was once a wall clock, and her nose started life as a bundt cake pan.

Davis Family's signature wine is its Pinot, but I was knocked out by the Old Vine Zin Port. Completely different from most Ports I've tasted, which tend to be sweet and syrupy, this one was light and peppery. The perfect libation to celebrate a win.

-- The collection of buildings at 4791 Dry Creek Road, just north of downtown Healdsburg, is a treacherous place for anyone attempting to practice moderation. Five tasting rooms perch on this hill (Amphora, Family Wineries, Kokomo, Papapietro Perry and Peterson), a situation rendered even more perilous by the fact that one of them alone, Family, pours wine from six wineries.

While deciding where to taste here takes some mental energy, deciding where to play bocce doesn't. There's one court, a bit shorter than regulation, with a spectacular view of vineyards and cypress trees. Rather than the usual oyster-shell surface, this court is topped with fine pebbles, which if necessary makes a handy excuse for a less-than-stunning bocce performance.

-- Farther north in Geyserville, Pedroncelli claims to be owned by the oldest continuous winemaking family in the Dry Creek Valley. Its bocce court, at 20, is probably the oldest as well. It certainly has one of the prettiest settings, pressed into a trellised hillside covered with grapevines, rosemary bushes and olive trees.

Twenty years worth of bocce-playing feet have stamped down the Pedroncelli court into an uncommon hardness, which makes it fast. Put any force behind your throw and you'll wind up with a dead ball (one that's hit the backboard and is out of play). This can be embarrassing, especially when the courtside wrought-iron tables are filled with picnickers enjoying a glass of Pedroncelli's continuously produced wine and watching you fling bocce balls like the Bionic Woman.

Pedroncelli has some of the most reasonably priced wine of all three valleys. Downing a glass of its deliciously dry and spicy Zinfandel Rose ($10 a bottle) is an excellent way to put some drag on your ball.

-- Hands down, the bocce court at Armida Winery has the best view. Up a steep, winding driveway and away from the road, it's all vineyard-covered hills and cypress trees. As long as you don't turn around and catch sight of the very Californian geodesic dome-shaped tasting room, you'd swear you were playing bocce in Tuscany. Armida also has one of the best picnic areas, cantilevered into the hillside on a wooden deck and surrounded by giant oak trees.

The court at Armida, decorated with a snarling Venetian-style stone lion at either end, falls into regulation length. The winery supplies players with a printout of the rules of bocce, with one quirk. According to the Armida rules, the game is played to 16 points, not the 13 dictated by the U.S. Bocce Federation. Be warned: Unless you are bocce maven enough to score more than 1 or 2 points per round, a game played to 16 could conceivably last as long as the Punic Wars.

Armida also makes some of my favorite wines. Its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are always fabulous. And the Pinot Gris, followed by a lengthy game of bocce, can render you relaxed enough to face a whole hillside of Carthaginians.

Janis Cooke Newman

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St Emilion classification finally ruled invalid

Date: Mon, Jul 7, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

A Bordeaux court has recently ruled that the 2006 St Emilion classification is invalid and can no longer be used.

Chateaux must now remove the classifications of Premier Grand Cru Classé A or B, or Grand Cru Classé - which should have applied from the 2006 vintage up to 2016 - from labels on wines dating from the 2006 vintage.

'The commission decided that the wine tasting mechanism was not an impartial system,' said Philippe Thévenin, the lawyer who acted for the châteaux that fought the new classification.

At the heart of the ruling is the interpretation that by tasting one group of already classified wines, and then another group of wines that were hoping to be classified, a taster could not remain impartial. 'The judge did not say the tasters were at fault, rather the mechanism,' Thévenin said.

A spokesperson for the St Emilion Wine Union (Conseil des Vins de St Emilion) described the situation as 'grave'.

The Union is currently awaiting a decision from INAO (Institut National des Appellations d'Origine), the body that manages French wine classifications, and the French Agriculture Minister, as to whether an appeal will be launched within the next two months.

Legal sources say an appeal would take about two years.

Wine producers have described the ruling as a catastrophe. 'We are in shock,' said Christine Valette of Château Troplong-Mondot, which was awarded Premier Grand Cru Classé status in 2006

Valette said the chateau had spent 20 years working to achieve the classification. 'And now, just as we are about to start the 2006 bottling, we have to cancel all the labels and all the cases and redo them.'

Valette said she didn't know what clients would think, but hoped they would be understanding. 'The wine in the bottle is still Troplong-Mondot,' she said.

Chateaux Cheval Blanc and Ausone were the only two Premiers Grands Crus Classés A.

Chateau Figeac's application to be promoted from Premier Grand Cru Classé
B to Premier Grand Cru Classé A was rejected on the specific grounds 'that Figeac does not sell at the same level of price as Cheval Blanc or Ausone'.

Sophie Kevany
Bordeaux, France

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Wine Lovers Say Ooh La La! to French Maid

Date: Mon, Jul 7, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business



French Maid Wines From France's Languedoc Region Blend Old World Tradition with New World Sophistication

Who better than a French Maid to entice wine lovers with a marriage of Old World sophistication and New World style? White Rocket Wine Company, whose mission is to launch creative new brands targeted to Millennial Generation consumers, is introducing French Maid – five classic varietal wines from the renowned Languedoc region of southern France. Pampered by the Languedoc’s warm sunny days, cool Mediterranean breezes and rich, dark soils, French Maid Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc are coddled from vine to bottle, creating a stunning expression of what the French call terroir and wine lovers worldwide call Ooh La La!

With over $1.4 billion in sales in 2007, France is the #1 wine exporter to the United States, with a 31% share of total imported wine value. A new generation of high-quality, moderately priced and varietally labeled wines is helping France solidify that dominance and fuel the spectacular growth of the import wine market in the U.S.

“Imported wines now account for nearly one-third of the U.S. wine business, an all-time high,” says White Rocket Vice President of Marketing Mark Feinberg. “In 2007, dollar sales of imports rose 9%, outpacing the growth of the total U.S. wine market. As a quintessential high-quality, high-value French wine brand, French Maid is destined to charm the sophisticated Millennial Generation consumers who are fast embracing super-premium wines, especially imports, as their beverages of choice. In addition, French Maid carves a new niche for the French Category by providing an exciting high quality value brand in the fastest growing $12 premium price point.”

French Maid wines are crafted by Melissa Bates and the Bonfils family of Languedoc, France The Bonfils family-owned winery has extensive vineyard acreage in the Languedoc-Roussillon district of southwestern France, an enchanting region of ancient castles, cathedrals and cobblestones that was colonized over 2,000 years ago by the Greeks and Romans, who planted its first vines. Occupying the heart of a larger appellation known as Vin de Pays d’Oc, which was created in the 1970s to encourage the production of superior, regionally distinctive wines, Languedoc has enjoyed a renaissance in quality over the past 20 years.

White Rocket winemaker Melissa Bates says the wines seductively marry Old World winemaking traditions with the New World style of lush fruit, smooth tannins and savory oak.

“French Maid truly is a marriage of old and new, tradition and innovation, sophistication and sass,” says Bates. “It’s a thrill working with our French partners to create a collection of stylish wines appealing to both Old and New World palates.”

About White Rocket Wine Company

Launched in 2006, White Rocket Wine Company focuses on developing new brands that appeal especially to Millennial-generation wine consumers, who comprise a large and ever-growing segment of the premium wine market. In addition to French Maid, White Rocket markets Geode, Horse Play, AutoMoto, Pepi, Silver Palm, Camelot, Dog House, Ray’s Station, Tiz Red and Tin Roof Cellars. The company is located in Napa, CA.

Napa, California

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Testimonials From Very Healthy Wino Friends

Date: Thu, Jul 3, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

"I drink wine every night (red)along with lifting 4 days a week and cardio 2-3 times during the week.At 66 I teach skiing and snowboarding full time during the Winter months and this regimen keeps my resting heart beat in the 40`s and I feel that red wine is a major component of fitness. Here in California you can buy Charles Shaw wine for less than $2.00 bucks at Trader Joe`s so we call the wines "Two Buck Chuck" and they are on par with wines that are 5-10 times pricier. So put me down as going along with JimmyC32 on his evaluation of wines in general."

George

"I drink wine every day, but then again, I'm 1/2 Greek and 1/2 Italian. That said, I think it's important to educate you guys even more about wine: The wine that comes in a box. I know, there's a stigma associated with it, but that is really unfair, especially when you consider the fact that one particular boxed brand, Peter Vella, has fooled MANY a "wine snob" at several cocktail parties I've hosted in recent years. Boxed wine (especially this brand)is delicious, fairly inexpensive, and has been very well-liked by everyone I've served it to. By the way, it will also stay fresher far longer, due to its packaging, which prevents excessive oxidation once opened."

Jimmy

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Lightning in a Bottle

Date: Thu, Jul 3, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business



Health Benefits of Wine

Ordering the right wine can impress your bosses, your dates, and even your cardiologist. Here's how:
Wine has so many health benefits you'd think doctors would be prescribing the stuff by now. Drink a few glasses a week -- particularly red, but white has benefits, too -- and you'll lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and even cancer.

Wine's magic ingredients come from the skin of the grape. Resveratrol protects the body's cells, keeping them young and strong. Saponins bind to bad cholesterol and usher it out of the body. And flavonoids interfere with the multiplication of cancer cells.

Problem is, buying wine can feel like an Olympic event -- as if you're being judged. And don't get me started on the wine culture, which is steeped in pointless snobbery. As if not knowing the difference between chianti and chardonnay makes you a lesser man.

Understanding wine is easy. It comes down to a few basic principles, which I've laid out here. So read on, drink up, and live long.

3 Moves Every Guy Must Master

1.Serving: Serve both red and white at room temperature. A chill can mask a wine's flaws and strengthen the astringent taste of the tannins. At room temperature, the wine's unique flavors -- fruit, oak, whatever -- are more obvious.

2. Decanting: Let wine breathe for 2 to 3 hours. Aeration speeds up the oxidation process that takes years to occur in a sealed bottle. This smooths out the taste and brings out complex flavors and aromas.

3. Tasting: First, give it a sniff, which primes your palate. Take a sip and let the wine hit every part of your mouth. You'll taste several flavors at once. The wine will evolve as you eat, as certain foods bring out different flavors.

How to Navigate a Wine Store

Treat it like a barbershop. Stay loyal to one store, and befriend a clerk who knows about the wines you like. Once he or she understands your tastes, your options will become endless. Here are a few other dos and don'ts.

Don't . . . Buy The label

There's a saying in the wine industry: "Put critters on the label, sell cases." Labels are designed by marketing companies who know how to trick you into buying juice that doesn't pack the thunder. Playful labels and cartoons are major warning signs. Be wary of red or yellow labels, which are designed to stand out.

Do . . . Double-check the ratings card

Often, wine shops post ratings for the wrong year. How much can the quality of wine vary from year to year? A ton. Most 2000 California cabernets are just average wines, for example, but the 2001 vintage is exceptional.

Don't . . . Choose from a display near the counter

Chances are, they're trying to unload wines that didn't sell as well as expected or are aging quickly. Either way, these won't be among the best bottles in the store.

Do . . . Pick up four new wines for every one of your old favorites

This is the key to expanding your palate--and be sure to keep good notes.

Gary Vaynerchuk, Photograph by: Jonathan Kantor

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Red wine beneficial for red meat eaters

Date: Wed, Jul 2, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

The red meat and red wine combination may have more to do with health benefits than a taste sensation, scientists say.

Research on rats using red wine with red meat has shown the drink cancels out some of the harmful substances produced by the meat.

Chemicals released during the digestion of fat have been linked to diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Parkinson's.

Rats were fed either only red meat or red meat with red wine concentrate. The wine mixture was found to reduce two toxic chemicals, the scientists report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The Israeli research is not the first to extol the health benefits of red wine previous studies credit it with a reduction in the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Redcliffs butcher Brian Jennings said he was feeling fit and healthy with a diet that included red wine with meat.

"But I always eat broccoli and things like that that are supposed to be anti-cancer stuff," he said.

"When I started butchering 25 years ago, red meat had a bad name because of the fat but it's only in the last 10 years it's been promoted as a health food.

"We trim it a lot harder these days."

Butcher Brian Jennings said he occasionally checked whether a customer had a nice red.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said historically New Zealanders were a white wine-drinking bunch.

"Red wine is something that is more challenging for consumers to get into as a wine stock," he said.

"When people are beginning to drink wine, they drink white wine first and I think New Zealand is still in that phase.

"Historically, people have always said `drink red wine with red meat' from a taste perspective and it's really interesting that this research has shown there may be something to it from a chemical perspective. It's a nice linkage."

BECK ELEVEN

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RAZOR'S EDGE

Date: Tue, Jul 1, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business



RAZOR'S EDGE

Shiraz-Grenache McLaren Vale 2006 (91 points, $13)

Polished, round and expressive. A gorgeous mouthful of ripe blackberry, plum, cherry and exotic spices, with hints of leather and brown sugar nibbling at the edge. The finish rolls on and on against superfine tannins. Drink now through 2016. 5,000 cases imported. From Australia.

Wine Spectator's editors have selected this wine as the best buy of the week.

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