Bubbly New Year

It has been a while, hasn’t it? Apologies for going AWOL, but 2014 was a busier year than expected. Job changes, a move, a few trips, you name it. Perhaps the biggest change in my life that relates to this blog is that I now work in the wine industry (insert cheer here)! I also took an unforgettable trip to Sicily, specifically the Etna region, where I had some of the greatest tastings of my life. I owe an entire post to this trip, and hope to update you more on that soon.

But 2015 is upon us, and that means wine resolutions. I’m attempting to keep things fun and simple this year. And let’s be honest, obtainable. I set my sights on Burgundy last year, and it was fun. But expensive. Reading about Burgundy proved to be far cheaper, and I’ve found some great tomes on the subject (perhaps another post?). So this year, let’s keep it fun. Here are my resolutions:

1. Blog more. Hey, it’s the elephant in this electronic room, right? I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been slacking.

2. Bubbles! That’s right. This will be the main focus for 2015. Not just Champagne. Sparkling wine from all over the world. What better was to keep 2015 fun than to be drinking bubbly all year long? I encourage you all to join me. Let’s make bubbly an everyday thing, not just for special occasions.

3. Hipster wines. I touched on this in the past, and it’s one I want to keep hammering away at. There are too many dark corners of the wine world that deserve more light. Let’s find some really great stuff and let the world know about it.

4. Wine and Coke. I’ve been meaning to attempt this for years. Rumor has it that the Chinese sometimes mix red wine with Coca Cola. Not true? Maybe, but where is the fun in that? Let’s try it. It’ll make for a good story.

So here’s to a new year, a fresh start, and lots of fun ahead. I hope you all will join me. Cheers.

Moët building a winery in China

Who woulda thunk it? Moët, one of the most famous champagne names in the world, is building a winery in China. This isn’t simply a facade of a building to help them sell more bottles in the country. This is a full-on winery. Growing grapes, making the bubbly in the Champenoise method, and they have even built an above-ground cellar to age the wines. Apparently the region is prone to flooding, so earth was piled up to create one above the water. I’d like to hear more about names, labels, price points and the like. Cheers, China.

Champagne to double?

Harper recently posted a story with data showing champagne growth predicted to DOUBLE in the UK. Say what? Double? No way. I find that impossible to believe, honestly.

I have no doubt that it could go up, and easily. Doubling though, would require some serious ramping up across the industry, both in production (that’s a lot of extra grapes…and bottles) and distribution (that’s a lot of extra trucks). And what drink will decrease when people start drinking more sparkling? There’s no way consumers will drink even MORE without cutting out another drink. Something will have to give.

We’ll see.

Hail damage on two continents

Hailstorms struck both the Finger Lakes wine region of upstate New York, and the Champagne region of France in recent days. While it sounds as though the New York hailstorm had a limited effect (but be sure to watch the video in the link above – I wouldn’t want to be in that hailstorm), the hail in Champagne caused significant destruction. So severe in fact, that Decanter reports that potentially “a third of next year’s harvest will be lost.” NEXT YEAR’S harvest. That’s some major damage to the vines.

Hip Hop and Fine Wine

Yep, that’s right. Don’t be shocked; it’s really nothing new. A recent Bloomberg Wine article made me think about it though. The article discussed Kanye West’s (he’s a hip hop artist, if you don’t know) influence on sales of moscato. He doesn’t promote his own wine label, like some artists do for liquors such as P. Diddy and Ciroq vodka. I’m not aware of any hip hop artists involved directly with wine actually. But what Kanye does have is millions of followers.

It seems, all Kanye has to do it mention drinking moscato and sales soar (pour?). If you’re curious, the line that did it was “Sarraco moscato it do taste better” in the song, Make Her Feel Good by Teairra Mari which featured Kanye. I don’t remember the song or line either, it’s okay. Kanye West has also made sure to mention reisling (“beasting off the reisling”) in more recent songs. Which I’m positive made sales jump there too, and made many sommeliers, who have been trying to pump the amazing grape for decades, very happy.

And this is nothing new. Rap enthusiasts are well aware of the sudden about-face that artist Jay-Z pulled some years ago. Jay-Z, rapper, producer, and production company exec had for years, been sure to mention Cristal – a very expensive brand of champagne that comes in it’s famous transparent gold wrapper. I still remember music videos depicting refrigerators swinging open to show it stocked top to bottom with the stuff. Jay-Z must have been benefiting with some cold hard cash for mentioning the bubbly, right? Wrong.

Cristal was promoted so much by the guys in fact, that after some time Frederic Rouzad, the head of Louis Roederer, which owns the Cristal brand, said that the hip hop community brought “unwelcome attention” (see the winebusiness.com article here, among a million others you can google) to the brand, which Jay-Z quickly thought to be racist. He announced, “I view his comments as racist and will no longer support any of his products through any of my various brands including The 40/40 Club nor in my personal life.” And that…was that. You won’t hear mention of Cristal in anyone’s music now. What Jay-Z says, goes.

And the new bubbly to be promoted? Perhaps the flashiest bottle of all. Ace of Spades, as it’s called, made by Armand de Brignac. Solid gold bottle (or other colors, like silver, depending on the specific one you get), with a giant ace of spades on the front, the bottle certainly commands attention. Cost? About $250 retail. It’s not just flash. It really is supposed to be nectar, along with Cristal.

Armand de Brignac Brut Gold

It’s not just the rappers that want in on this. This year, when the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA championship, they celebrated with a bottle of Ace of Spades…that was 15 liters (20 normal bottles) and $90,000. Hold your breath…the Boston Bruins subsequently won the NHL championship only weeks later and ordered a 30 liter bottle of the same juice, for $100,000. Only 10 grand more! What a steal.