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Pinot Briefs —Newsletter 6.55

New Wine Shipping Packaging New Vine Logistics and International Thermal Wizards have developed “WineAssure” packaging that provides insulation during shipping that prevents temperature swings that can damage wine during shipping in warmer months. The packaging keeps wine cozy below 70° F and above 35° F throughout a five day period, regardless of the outside temperatures. This innovative packaging allows shipping of wine in most areas year-round and reduces shipping costs by eliminating the necessity of overnight shipping and replacing air shipping with ground shipping. The secret to the insulation is a water and salt solution. Two bottle packages cost $15 now and insulated boxes accommodating up to a case and magnums will be available before the approaching summer. The packaging and insulation is made from recyclable materials and can be re-used by the recipient, discarded with other recyclable materials, or returned to New Vine Logistics at no charge. For more information visit www.wineassure.com.

Wines of Burgundy Clive Coates has just released the sequel to his Cote D’Or: A Celebration of the Great Wines of Burgundy published ten years ago. Wines of Burgundy is a thoroughly revised and updated book detailing all of the major vintages in Burgundy from 2006 back to 1959 and includes thousands of tasting notes of the most notable wines. Coates is a Master of Wine who has spent much of the last thirty years in Burgundy. A book signing tour begins this month. Hardcover, $60 (available on preorder at www.amazon.com for $37.80).


Irreverent Newsletter W.R. Tish is a wine jack-of--all-trades - wine writer, standup comedian, speaker and wine event organizer. When his fancy strikes, he sends out an irreverent e-newletter, www.wineforall.com, which will make you laugh, guaranteed. The newsletter is billed as “my exercise in poking fun at this thing called the wine biz.” The companion site is www.wineskewer.com where this currently includes a hilarious spoof titled “100-Point Hall of Shame.” An excerpt: “These stark naked numbers - which remain no more or less than a single human being’s opinion - are imbued with guru-esque significance and tattoo-like permanence. Ratings are the wine world’s equivalent of tabloid pablum - the very opposite of intelligent discourse… .the obsolete relic of last century’s coming- of-age wine market.” Check Tish out.

Say What? A retailer, The Wine House, sends out periodic e-newsletters touting wines on their shelves. The latest one I received features a Pinot Noir from Languedoc-Roussillon for $11.49 per bottle. The wine is billed as “The Pinot Noir of the Languedoc.” but the newsletter starts off saying, “This wine tastes nothing like Pinot Noir.” Say what? Throughout the rambling, the wine is likened to Pinot Noir in every way, exalting its “soft, caressing mouth feel, soft tannins, and the subtlety and class of Burgundy.” The last sentence spills the beans: “Mostly Carignane finished with Grenache and Syrah.” It is a sad day when Pinot Noir is used to pimp other wines.

Chateau Petrogasm Benjamin Adams Saltzman and Andrew Stuart have founded a website, www.chateaupetrogasm.com, that “uses images to break down hegemonic language barriers.” Wines are described using colors, sketches, photography, and other visual media to convey the character of a wine along with an overall impression of it. It has been said that “Wine is art,” so the shoe fits.

La Paulee San Francisco The second La Paulee took place two weeks ago in San Francisco. The event is held annually in New York. Organized by sommelier Daniel Johnnes of Daniel Restaurant, over 300 burgphiles paid $1,400 for the Friday night six-course dinner prepared by luminary chefs Daniel Boulud, Michael Mina, Traci Des Jardins of San Francisco and Regis Marcon of France. Rare bottles of Burgundy were uncorked with abandon and wine writer and Decanter contributor Jordan Mackay said, “If they keep having events like this, there won’t be any old Burgundy in five years.”

Decanter as Art Say you have around $3,000 that is burning a hole in your wallet. Your 5,000 bottle wine cellar needs a conversation piece. The N°4 Decanter is the perfect choice. The decanter, pictured right, was designed by Frenchman Etienne Meneau and holds exactly one bottle of wine. For information, decanter.free.fr.

New World Pinot Noir a Pretender? In the February, 2008 issue of Decanter, Jasper Morris MW wrote an article titled, “Pinot Noir: The New Pretenders.” The premise was that “The New World’s many fledgling Pinot regions often look to Burgundy as the ideal to aspire to. But do any of them even come close in quality terms?” The conclusion was essentially that New World Pinot Noirs would never be mistaken for Burgundy and producers should not try to imitate the Old World. One caveat was that New World Pinot Noir can deliver plenty of pleasure but “we do not yet see the consistent track record which will surely emerge when the right sites have been tracked down in each of the budding regions, the ideal plant material selected and the roots given time to dive down deep into the soil.” Vigneron Stephen Pepe of Clos Pepe Vineyards and Estate Wines sent me the response to this article written by winemaker Wes Hagen of Clos Pepe. The following is a portion of Hagen’s comments. “Traveling to Burgundy every few years helps me understand where Pinot Noir has been. Burgundy is an initiation into the deeper wisdom and potential of the Pinot Noir grape. Burgundy crafts the most profound wines in the world … There are some Pinot Noir winemakers in the New World, and I would include myself in their ranks, that believe Burgundy should be left in Burgundy, and that the attempt to model New World Pinots on the Burgundian model is not only folly, but is antithetical to the attempts to establish our own regional identities. Much of Burgundy is steeped in winemaking mythology and anecdote. Stem-inclusion, viticultural romanticism, rustic production methods, native ferments, and the idea that providence can trump craftsmanship are all dangerous ideas for a New World winemaker to imitate. To bring that mythology to the Sta. Rita Hills and try to imitate Burgundian winegrowing or enology would be like trying to bring a fringe sect of Hinduism to Salt Lake City… So let’s leave Burgundy to the Burgundians… For now, let’s all try to accentuate the regional characteristics of Pinot Noir and stop this imitative nonsense… .The New World is trying to establish our autonomy, but instead of working tirelessly to hone our craft, many of us are trying to hitch our wagons to the style of the Cote d’Or, and this is distracting us from our true goal to produce wines of distinction and quality that represent THIS place. Pinot Noir reminds me of the Princess in the folk tale, ‘The Princess and the Pea.’ You can lay her down anywhere, but if she’s uncomfortable in the least, she will let us know. There are so few places where Pinot Noir can thrive, let’s celebrate the flavors and differences and what Burgundy cannot imitate (and vice versa) … Jasper, if you’d ever like to come visit us in Sta. Rita Hills, I would be happy to give you a dirt-kicking tour of the AVA and show you all the ways we are distinct from Burgundy (and why that may be a good thing).”
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