Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Kevin Bacon of American pinot noir has been freed from his golden ball and chain!

Every once in a while in the wine business you cross paths with a wine maker who has found his Nirvana. He has a peaceful way about himself and he just tells you about what he knows and loves. Greg Follette is just that kind of winemaker. Although in the past he talked about his night job with a sparkle in his eye now Greg can finally start sleeping again due to an Atlantan with a pile of cash and a good palate.

This from Steve Heimoff's blog

"Greg La Follette on selling Tandem

I spoke with Greg right after the sale was announced. To quote from the press release: “Pete Kight, proprietor of Quivira Vineyards & Winery, has acquired Tandem Winery in Sonoma County in partnership with Tandem owner/winemaker Greg La Follette, who remains with Tandem and will focus on winemaking and viticulture.”

This is an important transaction, not only because Greg, who is De Loach’s executive winemaker and consults all over the globe, is an important winemaker, but also because it testifies to the financial difficulties facing so many family wineries, as well as the nation. On a more personal basis, Greg is a standup guy and an inspiration to an entire generation of younger winemakers."


Read the Interview:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

When is bad news good?

From wine and spirits daily, a daily industry blast that is stock full of information.

"In the current economy, it seems like every news story is preoccupied with doom and gloom, but we prefer to look on the positive side. We’ll give you the statistics first, and then apply it to our own industry. As is widely reported, consumers weren’t spending money over the holidays, which prompted retail sales to fall for the sixth straight month in December. In fact, the National Retail Federation reported Wednesday that 2008 holiday sales for the combined November-December months fell -2.8%. Chances of an upswing in 2009 seem unlikely right now.

"This current situation is a reflection of a tough, tough environment," said chief economist with the International Council of Shopping Centers, Michael Niemira. "Consumers are buying only essential items. Credit restraints have really impacted sales of big ticket purchases."

However, other economists say the gloomy messages are overblown. Food and beverage sales dropped -1.4% while grocery stores logged a -1.3% sales drop in December. True, the numbers aren’t great, but food and beverages are doing considerably better than the overall retail environment. The wine and spirits industry is also proving much more resilient than other industries, with dollar sales of spirits growing 2.7% in the 52 weeks to November and wine up 4.5%, according to IRI food and drug scan data. We think as wine and especially spirits companies put more emphasis on advertising in the off-premise, they will continue to grow and compensate for a shift away from bars and restaurants."

Theise showers in killer wine......literially!


I found this wine doing my nightly reading on Dr. Vino's Blog. If it gets you to pay attention Terry theise then it was worth posting this!


Many people in the wine trade are taking bath because of the economic crisis. But not importer Terry Theise: he’s taking a shower.

Digging through the piles on my desk I unearthed this card from the illustrious importer of boutique wines from Germany, Austria and Champagne. After winning a James Beard award last year, Theise decides to bare mostly all on his year-end card. His caption is: “Theise Wines: so fresh & clean! Swirl. Smell. Taste. Repeat.”"

Monday, January 12, 2009

Vino Wire and Angelo Gaja

If you've never been to its time you go. For my time its the most complete view into what the current conversation is in Italian wine.

This was recently posted on

If there is anyone I'm willing to listen to babble about the DOC,DOCG laws its angelo gaja....


The following essay was published in Italian Weds., January 7, 2009, at I numeri del vino. It has been translated here by the editors of VinoWire.

What does the Brunello affair teach us?

By Angelo Gaja

Unlike France, Italy specifies the percentages of each authorized grape variety that can be employed in the production of every DOC and DOCG. There is an entire series of provisions that have proven to be ineffective in preventing violation of these laws and in combating commercial fraud: analysis of the wine during cask aging, sensory evaluation, monitoring of a plethora of registries, the application of government seals and authenticity labeling, etc.

In the current investigation in Montalcino, the Siena prosecutor has recognized as valid the analysis method employed by Donato Lanati and the Enosis Laboratory: using this method, Lanati is able to ascertain the presence of grapes other than 100% Sangiovese in wines that have been impounded. Never before has this type of analysis been used by monitoring agencies to ascertain the varietal conformity of a wine

The same analysis method can also be used to ascertain whether or not percentages have been illegally stretched in DOC and DOCG wines in which 15% of other grape varieties are permitted.

The application of this analysis method on a large scale would create no small number of changes: before bottlers complete their bulk purchase of a wine, they would have the opportunity to verify its conformity to appellation regulations; the current farraginous monitoring system for DOC and DOCG wines would be simplified and improved; it would finally become possible to monitor the wines “downstream,” in other words, sample bottles could be taken directly from the market (and no one would have to wonder endlessly how in the world bottles of Chianti, Piedmont Barbera, and Nero d’Avola are sold to the public at obscenely low prices).

But another side to this story is a cause for worry: random monitoring could lead to the explosion of contention between monitoring agencies and producers; when oversight authority is transferred to Brussels [i.e., to the EU], pressure could grow to change appellation regulations believed to be too rigid; disinterest in DOC and DOCG wines could grow as estate-branded wines became more popular; the same analysis method adopted in Italy could be used by foreign laboratories to verify conformity to Italian appellation law in wines imported to their countries.

One thing is certain: with the precedent set by the Siena prosecutor, nothing can be the same for Italian DOC and DOCG wines.

Producers need to be aware of this and they need to embrace the necessary leap in quality (and price). They will need to find strength and unity in their intentions and they will need to help to find ways to make the necessary changes."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bordeaux 1855 Classification

Disclaimer: Laws are always subject to change!!

The 57 appellations of Bordeaux are not classified in a single official ranking. But the Médoc, Sauternes and Barsac, Graves, and Saint-Emilion districts do have their own official internal classification systems. Pomerol, one of Bordeaux's greatest assets, was not included in the 1855 Classification, and remains unclassified to this day. However, Château Pétrus is often included with the First Growths (Premiers Crus) of the 1855.

Much like our World's Fair today, Napoléon III's 1855 Expositon Universelle de Paris was a chance for France to display its very best for the world to see. The Gironde Chamber of Commerce requested that a classification system be devised to accompany their display of the fine wines of Bordeaux. The Bordeaux Wine Brokers' Union went to work on the project and came up with what we now refer to as the Classification of 1855.

They came up with a five-class ranking system of the red wines from the Médoc region, with the exception of Château Haut-Brion from Graves, which had to be included due to its renown. The white wines of Sauternes and Barsac were also included in a two-class ranking. The list reflected the market's view of the relative quality between the wines in terms of the selling price and reputation of the various châteaux. Within each category, the châteaux were ranked in order of quality — or selling price.

Considering the fact that many châteaux have changed hands and with them the managment, thereby possibly effecting the quality of the wines for better or worse, the classification has held up remarkably well. The classification has only undergone one significant change in the last almost 150 years. By decree, on June 21, 1973, Château Mouton-Rothschild was promoted from a deuxieme cru to a premeir cru. At the same time, the premeir crus were to be listed in alphabetical order.

The 1855 Official Classification of the MÉDOC

First Growths (Premiers Crus) Commune

Château Lafite-Rothschild (Pauillac)
Château Margaux (Margaux)
Château Latour (Pauillac)
Château Haut-Brion Pessac (Graves)
Château Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac)

Second Growths (Deuxièmes Crus) Commune
Château Rausan-Ségla (Margaux)
Château Rauzan-Gassies (Margaux)
Château Léoville-Las Cases (Saint-Julien)
Château Léoville-Poyferré (Saint-Julien)
Château Léoville-Barton (Saint-Julien)
Château Durfort-Vivens (Margaux)
Château Gruaud-Larose (Saint-Julien)
Château Lascombes (Margaux)
Château Brane-Cantenac Cantenac (Margaux)
Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron (Pauillac)
Château Pichon-Longueville, Comtesse de Lalande (Pauillac)
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou (Saint-Julien)
Château Cos d'Estournel (Saint-Estèphe)
Château Montrose (Saint-Estèphe)

Third Growths (Troisièmes Crus) Commune
Château Kirwan Cantenac (Margaux)
Château d'Issan Cantenac (Margaux)
Château Lagrange (Saint-Julien)
Château Langoa-Barton (Saint-Julien)
Château Giscours Labarde (Margaux)
Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry (Margaux)
Château Boyd-Cantenac Cantenac (Margaux)
Château Cantenac-Brown Cantenac (Margaux)
Château Palmer Cantenac (Margaux)
Château La Lagune Ludon (Haut-Médoc)
Château Desmirail (Margaux)
Château Calon-Ségur (Saint-Estèphe)
Château Ferrière (Margaux)
Château Marquis d'Alesme-Becker (Margaux)

Fourth Growths (Quatrièmes Crus) Commune
Château Saint-Pierre (Saint-Julien)
Château Talbot (Saint-Julien)
Château Branaire-Ducru (Saint-Julien)
Château Duhart-Milon-Rothschild (Pauillac)
Château Pouget Cantenac (Margaux)
Château La Tour-Carnet Saint-Laurent (Haut Médoc)
Château Lafon-Rochet (Saint-Estèphe)
Château Beychevelle (Saint-Julien)
Château Prieuré-Lichine Cantenac (Margaux)
Château Marquis-de-Terme (Margaux)

Fifth Growths (Cinquièmes Crus) Commune
Château Pontet-Canet (Pauillac)
Château Batailley (Pauillac)
Château Haut-Batailley (Pauillac)
Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste (Pauillac)
Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse (Pauillac)
Château Lynch-Bages (Pauillac)
Château Lynch-Moussas (Pauillac)
Château Dauzac Labarde (Margaux)
Château Mouton-Baronne-Philippe (Pauillac)
Château du Tertre Arsac (Margaux)
Château Haut-Bages-Libéral (Pauillac)
Château Pédesclaux (Pauillac)
Château Belgrave Saint-Laurent (Haut-Médoc)
Château de Camensac Saint-Laurent (Haut-Médoc)
Château Cos-Labory (Saint-Estèphe)
Château Clerc-Milon (Pauillac)
Château Croizet-Bages (Pauillac)
Château Cantemerle Macau (Haut-Médoc)

The 1855 Official Classification of SAUTERNES – BARSAC

First Great Growth (Premier Cru Supérieur) Commune
Château d'Yquem (Sauternes)

First Growths (Premiers Crus) Commune
Château La Tour-Blanche (Bommes)
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey (Bommes)
Château Clos Haut-Peyraguey (Bommes)
Château de Rayne-Vigneau (Bommes)
Château Suduiraut (Preignac)
Château Coutet (Barsac)
Château Climens (Barsac)
Château Guiraud (Sauternes)
Château Rieussec (Fargues)
Château Rabaud-Promis (Bommes)
Château Sigalas-Rabaud (Bommes)

Second Growths (Deuxièmes Crus) Commune
Château de Myrat (Barsac)
Château Doisy-Daëne (Barsac)
Château Doisy-Dubroca (Barsac)
Château Doisy-Védrines (Barsac)
Château d'Arche (Sauternes)
Château Filhot (Sauternes)
Château Broustet (Barsac)
Château Nairac (Barsac)
Château Caillou (Barsac)
Château Suau (Barsac)
Château de Malle (Preignac)
Château Romer-du-Hayot (Fargues)
Château Lamothe-Despujols (Sauternes)
Château Lamothe-Guignard (Sauternes)

Other than Haut-Brion, the clasification of 1855 did not take into account the châteaux of Graves. It was first classified in 1953, but the classification did not became official until the 1959 ranking. The one class list is divided bewteen red wines and white wines, which means that some châteaux are mentioned twice, once in each category. To avoid disputes the châteaux within each category, are not ordered by quality.

The 1959 Official Classification of the GRAVES

Classified Red Wines of Graves Commune
Château Bouscaut (Cadaujac)
Château Haut-Bailly (Léognan)
Château Carbonnieux (Léognan)
Domaine de Chevalier (Léognan)
Château de Fieuzal (Léognan)
Château d'Olivier (Léognan)
Château Malartic-Lagravière (Léognan)
Château La Tour-Martillac (Martillac)
Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte (Martillac)
Château Haut-Brion (Pessac)
Château La Mission-Haut-Brion (Talence)
Château Pape-Clément (Pessac)
Château Latour-Haut-Brion (Talence)

Classified White Wines of Graves Commune
Château Bouscaut (Cadaujac)
Château Carbonnieux (Léognan)
Château Domaine de Chevalier (Léognan)
Château d'Olivier (Léognan)
Château Malartic Lagravière (Léognan)
Château La Tour-Martillac (Martillac)
Château Laville-Haut-Brion (Talence)
Château Couhins-Lurton (Villenave d'Ornan)
Château Couhins (Villenave d'Ornan)
Château Haut-Brion (Pessac) (added in 1960)

The St-Émilion Classification
Saint-Émilion was omitted from the 1855 classification. As a result, the local Wine Growers' Union decided to formally draw up a Classification of St-Émilion in 1955. It was to be revised every ten years to keep it from becoming to rigid and outdated. Although this is not happening on schedule, it has been revised twice, most recently in 1985.

The classification was based on soil, a tasting of the wine, and the reputation of the vineyard. Work on a new revision is being done now and should be published any time.

The 1985 Official Classification of St-Émilion

First Growths (Premiers Crus) Classés — A
Château Ausone
Château Cheval Blanc

First Growths (Premiers Crus) Classés — B
Château Beauséjour-Duffau La Garrosse
Château Belair
Clos Fourtet
Château Figeac
Château La Gaffeliére
Château Magdelaine
Château Pavie
Château Trottevieille

Grands Crus Classés
Château L'Angelus
Château L'Arrosée
Château Balestard La Tonnelle
Château Beausejour-Becot
Château Bellevue
Château Bergat
Château Berliquet
Château Cadet Piola
Château Canon-La-Gaffeliére
Château Cap de Mourlin
Château Le Chatelet
Château Chauvin
Château Clos Des Jacobins
Château Clos La Madeleine
Château Clos De L'Oratoire
Château Clos Saint-Martin
Château La Clotte
Château La Clusiére
Château Corbin
Château Corbin Michotte
Château Couvent Des Jacobins
Château Croque-Michotte
Château Curé-Bon-La-Madeleine
Château Dassault
Château La Dominique
Château Faurie de Souchard
Château Fonplégade
Château Fonroque
Château Franc-Mayne
Château Grand-Barrail-Lamarzelle-Figeac
Château Grand-Corbin
Château Grand-Corbin Despagne
Château Grand-Mayne
Château Grand-Pontet
Château Gaudet-Saint-Julien
Château Haut-Corbin
Château Haut-Sarpe
Château Lanoite
Château Larcis-Ducasse
Château Lamarzelle
Château Larmande
Château Laroze
Château Matras
Château Mauvezin
Château Moulin-du-Cadet
Château L'Oratoire
Château Pavie-Decesse
Château Pavie-Macquin
Château Pavillon-Cadet
Château Petit-Faurie-de-Soutard
Château Le Prieuré
Château Ripeau
Château Saint-Georges-Coat-Pavie
Château Sansonnet
Château La Serre
Château Soutard
Château Tertre-Daugay
Château La Tour-du-Pin-Figeac (Giraud-Belivier)
Château La Tour-du-Pin-Figeac (Moueix)
Château La Tour-Figeac
Château Trimoulet
Château Troplong-Mondot
Château Villemaurine
Château Yon-Figeac

The Idea

As I find bits of information I think are worth remembering I'll post them here.