French Super Chef Alain Ducasse Reduces Wine Prices to Discourage “Dry January”

Internationally famed French Chef Alain Ducasse declares war on the “Dry January” trend.  At the beginning of January, Chef Ducasse was “horrified” to see New York diners drinking iced tea at lunch and not wine. Shortly thereafter he launched an initiative to entice patrons of his restaurants to drink wine during the first month of the year, not less.

“I’ve noted that trend, but I don’t want to see or hear of it, I am opposed to it,” states Chef Ducasse and he further adds that he wants to “rid consumers of their inhibitions” with regards to drinking wine.

In November, the French government abandoned a campaign urging people to give up alcohol in January after the wine industry pushed president Emmanuel Macron to drop it.

“Dry January” began in the UK in 2013 and has since been adopted around the world. Last year one in five Americans participated in the initiative, giving up alcohol for the first month of the year.

Alain Ducasse has runs restaurants all over the world, including the three Michelin star Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London and Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenée in Paris.

What are your thoughts on this ?

Exploring the Diversity of the Rheinhessen Wine Region [Part 2 of 3]

I recently traveled with fourteen wine journalists and industry professionals to Rheinhessen Germany, one of my favorite wine regions in Germany!

We soaked up Weingut Wagner-Stempel (wine festival in Siefersheim), attended a master workshop on the “Top Terroirs of Rheinhessen”, indulged in pinot noir tasting with local producers, along with other pleasant vinous, gastronomic and cultural surprises. The five-day program also took us to wineries in and around the heart of the region.  We were in the accompaniment of Ulrike Lenhardt and Ernst Buscher of The German Wine Institute, and Romana Echensperger, MW.

The following day we attended Winzerkeller Ingelheim to attend a Pinot Noir tasting with local producers.

This historic building epitomized Ingelheim’s history as the “red wine town”. Winzerkeller Ingelheim has just finished a three-year renovation project and we were lucky to visit it, upon its completion! Winzerkeller Ingelheim is not only home to a local vinotheque of 24 Ingelheim winegrowers, it’s also a distillery, restaurant, and a tourist information center.

We participated in a Pinot Noir tasting with the following wineries:

Winzerkeller Ingelheim website: www.ingelheimer-winzerkeller.de

Next on our visit was the wine festival in Siefersheim “Tage der offenen Weinkeller”.  Here we visited local wine cellars, tasted regional culinary specialties, and sipped some wonderful Rieslings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is Siefersheim?

Siefersheim is a village southwest of Bad Kreuznach, in Rheinhessen This quaint village has a population of 1,300 and it lends its name to a number of vineyards, two of which, Heerkretz and Höllberg, are highly regarded sites with VDP classifications. Of the district’s 628 hectares, 172 ha are under vine, with Riesling occupying the bulk of the vineyards.

On our next stop we visited Weingut Thörle, which is in the village of Saulheim. Saulheim is located in the north-eastern fringes of Rheinhessen. Thörle is a family-run estate since the 16th century and is regarded as one of the best producers in the region.

Now leading the winery are two brothers Christoph and Johannes. They tell us that their focus is mainly on Riesling, Silvaner, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. The vineyards are managed organically, and the estate has taken a biodynamic direction. The Soils are also varied with light clay, limestone, red sandy loam with some flint and schist. In our conversation, we learn that they obtain their distinctive, sappy Riesling characteristics and delicate Pinot Noir from the calcareous limestone-soils of Saulheim’s single vineyards Hölle, Schlossberg and Probstey.

 

Their wines are full of character, possess a depth of flavor and boast a high potential for maturing. Thörle’s wines have received international acclaim by leading wine guides and critics, as well as been selected by first-class airline wine programs.

Weingut Thörle website: http://www.thoerle-wein.de

 

At the end of the day, we attended a grand tasting at Weingut Hoffmann and Weingut Willems-Willems Estate.

Weingut Hofmann is jointly led and owned by the winemaker couple Jürgen Hofmann and Carolin Hofmann. This couple have taken over their families’ wine estates, Jürgen in 1999, and Carolin in 2001. Since 2006, both wineries have come under one roof, hence the two names: Weingut Hofmann in Weingut Willems-Willems.

Weingut Hofmann was founded in 1971 in Appenheim, when Jürgen’s parents converted their mixed agricultural operation into a winery  Jürgen pushed winemaking at Weingut Hofmann to new levels, by investing into new wine cellar equipment, focusing on the best vineyards, and planting new grape varieties, as well as built an ultra-modern winery including a tasting room.mHofmann’s 14 hectares. vineyards are limestone based.

Jurgen produces Riesling as well as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Silvaner. His Rieslings and Sauvignons that really wowed me. The limestone dominated soils surrounding Appenheim in his Riesling burst with stony spice and minerality. Aromas of dried apricots and exotic spice dance hand in hand in a racy yet breathtakingly elegant tango.

Jurgen’s Sauvignon Blanc grapes are harvested sequentially from multiple sites (as each vineyard reaches its own optimal ripeness). Tasting notes include notes of gooseberry, elderberry, and green asparagus blend with a tropical breeze reminiscent of the variety’s origins.

Weingut Hoffmann and Weingut Willems-Willems Estate website: www.schiefer-trifft-muschelkalk.de

Michelin Guide Acquires Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

Michelin bought a 40% stake in the Wine Advocate back in 2017 and their full commitment to expanding into wine was realized this year. Nicolas Achard, CEO of Wine Advocate and as Managing Director of Michelin Experience Asia, announced last Friday in New York, with respect to full ownership, “We got to know each other for the past two years before we decided to complete the acquisition and we realized that Michelin and the Wine Advocate had the same culture in regards to the importance of their independence [from the restaurants/hotels and wineries they are reviewing].”

Achard further states that both companies also follow a rigorous methodology when it came to giving Michelin stars or Robert Parker Wine Advocate scores.  He goes on to say “Leading RPWA’s passionate teams is not only thrilling, but also an incredible opportunity to combine the strengths of the Michelin Guide and The Wine Advocate.”

The full integration would ensure, “long-term synergies between oenology and gastronomy through the pursuit of experiences based on food and wine pairing, as well as the creation of new digital content and services”.

The main vintage has started in Germany

The main vintage has started a little earlier than originally expected in many German wine-growing areas. The German Wine Institute (DWI) announced yesterday, the vines have experienced an enormous development spurt during the very sunny days in late August and early September.

Promising vintage 2019 expected

The ripeness of the grapes are ahead of the long-term average. The summer brought lots of sun and was rain-free. The grapes are still very healthy at present. The weather forecast predicts warm days and cool nights. This favors the formation of aroma in the grapes. In terms of quality, the German wine producers are looking forward to a promising vintage in 2019.

Among the first grape varieties that are harvested for the actual winemaking, include the precocious Müller-Thurgau or the Frühburgunder. Pinot Noir is currently being harvested for rosé and sparkling wine. The Riesling grapes, which dominate the Moselle, the Rheingau or the Middle Rhine region, generally mature a little longer, so that the main harvest of these varieties is expected later on in September.

Volume: presumably below nine million hectolitres

The heavy precipitation from last weekend has had a positive effect on dry vineyards and the juice content in the berries. Before, the grapes were still relatively small-berried due to a summer with little rainfall. In addition, sunburn damage to the grapes and regionally limited hailstorms have brought a slight yield-reducing effect. According to current estimates, the 2019 vintage is unlikely to reach the level of an average crop yield of around nine million hectoliters.

Vinexpo New York Launches 2020 Brochure

Vinexpo New York has released its brochure for its March 2-3, 2020 trade show, which provides details for those attending the event.

Vinexpo is urging exhibitors to join its regional pavilions which it says gives produces “added presence and recognition within the exhibit hall” and helps top buyers “seek products from specific regions.”

To view the brochure https://www.vinexponewyork.com/visitor-brochure/
Vinexpo New York made its debut in 2018, followed by 2019 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center March 4-5.

The 2019 show featured more than 400 exhibitors from 26 countries and 3,000 wine and spirits professionals – including a mix of importers, distributors, wholesalers, buyers and e-commerce specialists from over 40 US states and seven Canadian provinces. Its conference program included six sessions addressing issues such as global climate change and its impact on the wine industry, emerging technologies in the wine and spirits industry, and trends in the US wine market.

The 2019 edition also saw several new additions, including the WOW! World of Organic Wines pavilion, which hosted more than 20 organic wine producers from five countries; a Wine & Spirit Education Trust Pop-Up classroom; Uncork New York, sponsored by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation; and the Wine Spectator 90+ Showcase and Tasting Bar, highlighting wines to have earned 90 points or higher in its blind tasting reviews.

Previous exhibitors include Diego Bertolini, manager of Wines of Brazil, who said of the show: “Our expectations were exceeded on the first day: we met more than 50 distributors and 10 importers. It’s a great opportunity to develop and increase awareness and sales in the US.”