Short sips of wine news

I love e-mail. When I first started using this fantastic tool, I
was a very busy sales guy, and it immediately changed my workday
for the better, streamlining my interactions with clients and
making my life much easier.
I love e-mail. When I first started using this fantastic tool, I was a very busy sales guy, and it immediately changed my workday for the better, streamlining my interactions with clients and making my life much easier.

Perhaps the best part of e-mail is that it allows us to keep in touch with friends and relatives with whom we would otherwise communicate only sporadically. Such is the case with my Ohio cousin Bobby.

Bobby is quite a bit older than me. If he was aware of me at all, I was just another one of the many little brats (I have 29 cousins on that side of my family) crying all the time about this or that.

Fast forward 40 years or so, and guess who my most faithful e-mail buddy is? He keeps me in the loop about all the stuff going on in my diverse family, and regularly sends me jokes. Knowing I write about wine, Bobby sent me this little gem:

California vintners in the Napa Valley area, which primarily produces Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio wines, have developed a new hybrid grape that acts as an anti-diuretic. It is expected to reduce the number of trips older people have to make to the bathroom during the night.

The new wine will be marketed as – Pinot More.

Thanks, Bobby. You just can’t put a price tag on that kind of communication.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about a couple of South Africans who got busted for adding “flavourants” to some Sauvignon Blanc. Ian Nieuwoudt and Gideon Theron were award-winning winemakers with KWV, one of that country’s largest producers.

It was a scandal that rocked South Africa’s emerging wine industry, one that will taint the area’s reputation for years to come. Nieuwoudt and Theron were fined, fired and disgraced; KWV recalled the doctored wine.

But in a comeback worthy of Martha Stewart or Robert “Just One More Chance” Downey, Jr., the two scallywags have been hired by other wineries – Theron by Montpellier du Tulbagh and Nieuwoudt by Citrusdal Cellars (don’t feel bad: I never heard of them either). Citrusdal’s previous winemaker had left in a huff right after harvest, leaving the winery with a lot of grape juice and no one to turn it into wine.

Citrusdal’s General Manager De Witt La Grange (they certainly do have interesting names in South Africa), being an ethical sort, was not inclined to raid another producer’s staff at such a critical time of year, so he hired Nieuwoudt simply because he was available. Where else would one find a winemaker in December?

But don’t think that the wayward winemaker won’t be watched. “He has been given a second chance,” La Grange said, “and I can assure you if he makes himself guilty of something like this again, he will not get a third chance.”

Better keep it real, Ian.

When Robert Mondavi sold his winery to Constellation Brands last year, it was assumed that the 92-year-old Napa Valley legend would kick back and retire.

After all, having sold his company for $1 billion, he could light cigars with $100 bills and even afford to drink his own wine whenever he wanted to.

But Mondavi has decided to enter into a venture that combines fine wine with the healing of a 40-year family squabble.

Together with his brother Peter, he will create a barrel (60 magnums) of wine specifically to be auctioned at next summer’s Auction Napa Valley.

In 1943, Cesare Mondavi, a Central Valley grape business mogul, bought Charles Krug Winery for his two sons to operate. Robert and Peter bickered about how to run the winery.

Their feud came to a head in 1965, when Robert left to start his own company. Peter still owns and operates Krug with his sons Peter, Jr. and Marc.

There is no word on what kind of wine they’re making, or how much money it will raise for charity. But one thing is certain: if the venture brings two brothers back together, it will be priceless.

In another bit of corporate news, Down Under beverage giant Foster’s (“It’s Australian for beer, mate!”) has bid to acquire the 81 percent of wine powerhouse Southcorp that it doesn’t already own.

Southcorp counts among its brands Penfolds, Rosemount, Lindemans and Wynn’s. It owns and operates vineyards in virtually every major Australian growing region.

Foster’s list of wine brands contains some surprises. In addition to well-known Australian brands Black Opal and Wolf Blass, the company owns California classics Beringer, Stag’s Leap, Meridian and Chateau Souverain.

Foster’s bid of AU$4.17 (U.S. $3.23) per share, a total of U.S. $1.9 billion is viewed as “inadequate and opportunistic” by the Southcorp board. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – the government agency that regulates monopolies – is set to review the offer in early March.

I wonder if they’d be interested in buying some Pinot More?

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