Another celebrity wine and Italy’s newest appellation
Famous wines, new appellations and wine thieves getting away with it, it was another busy week.
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| Reese Witherspoon is expanding her foray into wine with a new rosé, just in time for summer.
Well, what a week it has been, with seizures, walkouts and deployments all making headlines.
In the biggest story of the week, a renowned Napa winemaker quit work over the quality of reds released from the smoky 2020 vintage, while French authorities were busy seizing the wine assets of a Russian businessman in the framework of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. On top of all that, we got an update on the release of the 2018 Barolos.
However, here are some stories you may have missed during such a hectic week.
Reese Witherspoon launches pink book club
Everyone does it, so why not join them? American movie star Reese Witherspoon announced this week that she is joining Post Malone, Jon Bon Jovi and Kylie Minogue and launching her own rosé wine. This one has a difference though, as the bottle is tied to Witherspoon’s Book Club (which operates under its Hello Sunshine company) and a portion of the proceeds will go towards promoting literacy foundations in the United States.
The rosé is produced by Simi Winery in California (itself owned by beverage giant Constellation Brands), which partnered with Witherspoon for its first wine release last November (a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon).
The rosé is part of the Editor’s Collection line and is produced from Sonoma County fruit (91% Pinot Noir, 7% Chardonnay and 1% Merlot, with the remaining 1% split between Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon White).
According to famed People magazine, the rosé was developed by Simi’s female-led winemaking team and “the heroines of Reese’s Book Club.”
Abruzzo obtains IGT and “Superior” status
The Abruzzo wine region in central Italy is set to get its own IGT (IGP under EU law) title, while four sub-regions will be allowed to add “Superiore” and “Riserva” titles to eligible wines, he revealed this week. These measures were approved on Friday by the Italian National Wine Committee and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (MIPAAF) in Milan.
According to the ANSA newswire, the decision was filed in 2019 but was officially presented by political and wine representatives from the Abruzzo region. Abruzzo will now join the likes of neighbors Marche, Lazio in having an IGT/IGP title directly linked to its regional name.
Until now (much like the regional neighbor to the south, Molise), the IGT/IGP of Abruzzo covered wines made in certain provinces, but there was no IGT/IGP for the whole region.
This week was also approved the possibility of adding the titles Riserva and Superiore to some IGT/IGP of Abruzzo (Colline Pescaresi, Terre de L’Aquila and Terre di Chieti) and Superiore to Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG (which has already a Reserve).
A restaurant stops the hunt for thieves in Romanée-Conti
Five months after the brazen theft of wines from the upscale Spanish hotel and two-star restaurant Atrio, the hotel’s owners announced they would give up the hunt for thieves and file an insurance claim. More than one million euros ($1.1 million) worth of wine was removed from the hotel in the early morning hours of October 27, 2021, after a couple staying at the hotel distracted the receptionist and left with the wine.
The transport included a number of 19th-century and early 20th-century Château d’Yquems, including an 1806 bottle that had Swarovski crystals added to fill a void created when the original bottle cracked. The thieves also took away 38 bottles of Montrachet from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti as well as magnums of other great white Burgundy wines.
After five months of investigation by the Spanish Organized and Violent Crime Unit, the wines have still not been returned (given the virtual impossibility of their resale on the secondary market, the wines would have been stolen on order). According to the press agency Europa Press, the owners of the hotel José Polo and Toño Pérez have therefore decided to file a file with the insurers.
“They [thieves] caused us a lot of pain and I will give myself a day of mourning, but life goes on and we will continue to tell our story and now even the theft will be part of Atrio’s history,” José Polo said.
With a wine list of 3,400 entries, Atrio in the city of Cáceres, in the Extremadura region of western Spain, is Spain’s best wine restaurant – and one of the best restaurants in wines from Europe, if not from around the world.
Burgundy shakes up its research budget
The BIVB announced this week that it is increasing its scientific research budget by more than 50% in order to advance the region’s fight against climate change. According to local newspaper Les Echos, the BIVB’s research budget has been set at 2.2 million euros this year, compared to 1.4 million euros in 2021.
The additional expenses will, among other things, allow the organization to hire two other permanent employees in the research department. As reported last year, trials are underway to examine the viability of alternative varieties and possibly consider reviving autochthonous (albeit rare) varieties such as César and Roublot de l’Yonne in cooler climates (the homeland of Chablis).
One of the research department’s main focuses is clearly the less glamorous (but no less pressing) topic of expanding rootstock options for growers in the region. Rootstock trials have the potential to develop new rootstocks that will help to favor certain aspects of vine physiology – a measure that could help the retention of already established landraces (mainly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) in the face of to climate change.
“The production capacity of our vineyard in the face of frost, hail, drought and vine diseases is today, more than ever, our main objective”, declared Albéric Bichot, president of the Fédération des Négociants and Winegrowers of Greater Burgundy.
However, the development of new rootstocks will not happen immediately. According to Philippe Gervais, head of the technical and quality division of the BIVB in Beaune, the process will take “between 10 and 15 years.
The region also collaborates with researchers from other French wine regions.
Rains in Languedoc but the Rhône still facing drought
While the Hérault department in Langeudoc only recorded five millimeters of rain and posted an 80% rainfall deficit in January (according to regional media France Bleu), things looked worrying for farmers in the south of France. . The situation over the next few weeks had barely improved and spread to vineyards in March, with local winemakers raising eyebrows at the start of the growing season.
Sighs of relief, therefore, with the deluge recorded in Aude and Hérault at the start of the week. From Famine to Feast:
“Within 48 hours, the ground went from exceptionally dry, with dryness levels similar to a normal July, to record moisture levels,” said Vitisphere.com, which added that while water levels would help kick-start growth in the vines, rain would still be needed further down the trail.
“The water will promote vegetative root growth and evapotranspiration, but the vines will not be able to survive the summer if there is not enough rainfall in April and May,” said agricultural meteorologist Serge Zaka. to publication.
A situation that only highlights the fate of winegrowers in the southern Rhône and neighboring Gard (eastern Langeudoc/western Rhône) who had experienced the same rainfall deficit. Rain was forecast for Avignon at the weekend although no update was available prior to publication.
Asti producers seek compensation for Russian losses
As the ramifications of the latest round of EU trade sanctions against Russia (see last week’s roundup) begin to be felt, Italian producers are weighing the potential costs. Italy is the largest wine exporter to Russia in the EU (France and Spain are second and third) and, according to market research firm Nomisma, wine exports to the Russian Federation amounted to approximately 345 million euros ($382 million) in 2021.
Asti and Prosecco are expected to be the hardest hit by the sanctions (and the wider conflict in Ukraine). According to the regional newspaper Quotidiano Piemontese, the two sparkling wine regions account for around half of the value of the country’s exports to Russia. Major national newspaper La Repubblica also said last weekend that Russia and Ukraine account for a quarter of all exports from Asti.
Cue a half-complaining, half-beligerent cry from Asti.
“The wineries concerned must be compensated for the economic losses caused by the decisions of the Council of the EU,” the president of the agricultural union of Asti, Mariagrazia Baravalle, told Quotidiano Piemontese on Tuesday.
“We are nevertheless optimistic to find new consumers and fans of our wines internationally to replace Russian wines,” she added. Asti wine exports reached 7 billion euros ($7.7 billion) in 2021.
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