Crime pays – in good wine



Questionable wines for sale, fights with the police and devastating hail – it’s just another week in the wine.

After a week of covering everything from skulduggery in Bordeaux to Korean pop stars and “regenerative” farming trends, you’ll be amazed to learn that there was plenty of other news as well.

The world of wine can be a lot, but it’s rarely boring, as our roundup of this week’s other wine stories demonstrates.

Petrus and Romanée-Conti, linked to crime, auctioned

Two Lamborghinis, eight Rolexes, Cartier earrings and a Thermomix are among more than 300 items auctioned this Friday, November 5 as the French state seeks to sell 10 years of assets seized and confiscated in connection with organized crime operations. . Presented through the big French auction house Drouot Digital, the catalog also includes a Ferrari 348 TS, a Mercedes AMG GT Roadster and a € 50 mountain bike.

For the more storage-conscious, there are a number of silver, gold, and palladium bars up for grabs (albeit for “professionals” – although the discipline isn’t immediately clear and a diamond ring of three carats in the shape of a pear estimated between 40,000 € and 60,000 €.

And if you ever wanted proof that investing in wine could be a criminal hobby, in loot there are 44 that prove that wine collectors can be found in all walks of life. There are several classic mixed cases of 12 bottles of Romanée-Conti from the 2006, 2000 and 1996 vintages (with a few partial cases and individual bottles from the best Burgundy estate for good measure) as well as Petrus 1988, a 12-bottle case of Cheval Blanc 1998, two cases of six bottles of 2005 Ausone, two cases of six bottles of 2000 Margaux and one case of 12 bottles of 2000 La Mission Haut-Brion.

For those looking for more affordable lots, there is a Château Climens 2003 single-bottle with an estimate of € 400; a case of 12 bottles of Léoville-Poyferré 2005 fixed at 750 €; a case of 12 bottles of Smith-Haut-Laffitte 1999 a theft at 400 € and six bottles of Château d’Yquem 1997 at a criminal 700 €.

One can’t help but think that the estimates could rise if, perhaps, the original owners were known.

Vouvray prepares to do battle with the police – once again

The winegrowers of the Val de Loire de Vouvray appellation are preparing to do battle with the French gendarmerie over proposals for the construction of a new barracks complex in the heart of the region’s vineyards. According to the local newspaper La Nouvelle République, the current gendarmerie (near the center of the city of Vouvray, on the west road towards Tours) is floodable and too small to house the local contingent of 14 gendarmes and their families.

In a move proposed several years ago, and given the green light by the mayor last year, a new police complex is assigned to 0.67 hectares (1.6 acres) of former vineyards, just north of the town of Vouvray, in the heart of the region’s vineyards. . We can hear the bellicose sounds of winegrowers in the region, already grappling with progressive urbanization.

“Over the past 50 years, our appellation has already lost hundreds of hectares”, declared Monday Philippe Brisebarre, local winegrower, figurehead of the region and former president of the Vouvray winegrowers’ union. “We have very little land in reserve. At some point you have to say ‘stop’.”

The dead end has a certain history. It comes 40 years after winemakers successfully rejected proposals to run a high-speed train (TGV) line through its lands. Things came to a head in May 1984, when 80 gendarmes were dispatched to escort a squad of railway engineers and surveyors.

In the clashes that broke out (the police were bombarded with stones and sprayed with copper sulphate in vineyard spray), Brisebarre was arrested and detained in Vouvray. The media clamor was enough for the French National Railway Company (SNCF) to choose to dig a 1.5 km (0.9 mile) tunnel under the vines.

Winemakers must take the case to the Council of State (the Council of State) – the French version of the Supreme Court in the United States.

Label “Sonuvabitch” rejected

The Spanish Trademark and Patent Office (OEPM) rejected an offer from a La Mancha-based literary group to file the name “Hideputa” (roughly translated as “sonuvabitch”) for a wine label, despite the heritage literary signal of the word. The request was rejected by the office as being – unsurprisingly – too “vulgar”.

According to the Cervantes Society of the Alcazar de San Juan, however, the term appears in the classic Spanish novel Don Quixote, albeit in no less vulgar context. The word is spoken by the sidekick of the eponymous hero, Sancho Panza, when given a wine to taste.

“Oh, sonuvabitch; it’s beautiful, and how Catholic, ”says Panza, in one of the world’s most controversial tasting notes. However, 17th century Spanish language students claim that the word, despite its vulgar roots, was used without malice and only for emphasis.

Nevertheless, the literary and linguistic background of the term did not seem to convince officials of the trademark office, and the name was rejected.

For those interested, the wine was produced by Bodegas Alort (also based in Alcázar de San Juan) under DO La Mancha. Blend of Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc, it was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels of medium toast.

Hailstorms hit South Australia

The Adelaide region of South Australia was hit by a large low-pressure storm on Thursday as wine regions of Barossa and Adelaide Hills were hit by hail, some the size of golf balls. According to 7News, “more than 72,000 lightning strikes were also recorded.”

The Tenafate Creek winery – in the One Tree Hill area on the outskirts of Adelaide, just northwest of Adelaide Hills, and previously at the center of a recent Covid-19 outbreak in the state – has lost between 70 and 80% of his harvest because of hail. According to ABC News: “Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills was worst hit by the storm.”

Things were also bad in Barossa, northwest of Adelaide. Wayne Farquhar of Dell’Uva Wines in Greenock, northwest of Barossa, told 7News “we have lost our harvest for this year”.

“The regions around Tanunda and Seppeltsfield have been particularly hard hit,” Nick Waterman, president of the South Australian Wine Industry Association (SAWIA), told the national publication WineTitles, “and some of these wineries could lose as much as 70 percent. cent of their product “.

It was reported that the offices of the famous Seppeltsfield winery were inundated by the storm. Waterman added that the southern areas around Angaston and Lyndoch had reported relatively light damage and that although the Adelaide Hills were in the path of the storm, they remained “relatively unscathed”.

A severe weather warning for winds remained in place for much of the state after the storms, including Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, but no other significant damage to the vineyard or winery was reported.

An ancient cellar discovered in Iraq

After the highly publicized and breathtaking Byzantine-era wine complex was discovered in Yavne, south of Tel Aviv several weeks ago, archaeologists discovered another wine complex in Iraq, dating back to the time of the Assyrian kings – some 2,700 years.

The cellar – several stone basins hewn from the rock, often with a drainage channel leading to a secondary basin for collecting the wort – was discovered near an already well-known Assyrian channel site along a hill in the place called Faida, near Dohuk, north of Mosul, in the north of Iraq. According to the AFP news feed, the crush plates date from the “reign of [King] Sennacherib, at the end of the 8th or the beginning of the 7th century BC.

This would be the first such winery discovered in the country.

“It was a kind of industrial wine factory,” Daniele Morandi Bonacossi, professor of archeology at the University of Udine, Italy, told AFP. “We found 14 facilities that were used to squeeze the grapes and extract the juice, which was then made into wine.”

The wider archaeological sites have faced many dangers since their discovery with both pervasive rural development and several years ago the Kurdish front line against ISIS / Islamic State forces was sometimes only more than 25 km (15 miles). A joint Italo-Kurdish recovery project was formed in 2019 with the aim of protecting and preserving the site.

University of Oregon gets $ 7.6 million to study smoke smell

Oregon State University (OSU) has secured a US $ 7.6 million federal grant to study the effects of the smell of smoke on grapes and winemaking, we learned this week. According to the Portland Business Journal, OSU researchers will work in conjunction with Washington State University and UC Davis in California on a four-year project funded by the Department of Agriculture.

“The industry expects that given climate change, smoke will be a problem that will not go away and better tools are needed to assess and manage it,” the publication said.

OSU has some history in the field, having already formed a so-called “smoke exposure team” to examine the problem last year, when the state – alongside its southern neighbor, California – was affected by forest fires. They were given $ 1.5 million to look into the matter at the time and additional funding arrived earlier this year.

The latest round of grants will see the University working in vineyards in California, Oregon and Washington, examining the volatiles in smoky grapes and identifying how these transfer to the resulting wine. Many types of smoke, coming from different woods, will be tested.

The team will also look at potential protective coatings for grapes.

“Smoke-related events are only increasing, and last year has made it clear that we need to be better prepared,” said Elizabeth Tomasino, associate professor of oenology at Oregon State and senior researcher.


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