Some recent items of interest from the Wine-o-sphere:
The FBI last week arrested flamboyant wine collector Rudy Kurniawan for wine fraud. It’s the first time the Bureau has taken wine counterfeiting so seriously. Mike Steinberger has some detailed analysis on his Wine Diarist blog, and Eric Asimov in the New York Times interviews Paul Wasserman, Kurniawan’s former business associate who believed in his friend’s innocence until he saw photos of Kurniawan’s extensive label collection.
How did Virginia’s vintners cope with last year’s rainy harvest? Necessity is the mother of invention, as Megan Headley tells us in C’ville – including Michael Shaps’ innovative use of a tobacco barn to dry out his grapes. That’s Virginia terroir for you!
President Obama welcomed British Prime Minister David Cameron to the White House for a State Dinner this week, and once again the White House declined to reveal which wines were served. As Bloomberg’s Margaret Talev reports, criticizing the president’s wine choices has become blogsport for wine geeks. Dr. Vino in particular has been repeatedly critical of the White House wine list, and he notes in the Bloomberg article that the non-disclosure policy may be a nod to tough economic times, given the penchant for pricey bottles for State Dinners. (Are we really “shocked! shocked!” to discover that the White House splurges for special occasions?) The White House could not have expected the wine list to remain a state secret, however, since they included Eric LeVine, founder of Cellartracker, on the guest list. LeVine of course took notes. He enjoyed his “first ever Virginia sparkler,” the Thibaut-Jannison Brut, with his canapés, then moved on to the Peter Michael “Ma Belle-Fille” 2009 Chardonnay from Sonoma County’s Knights Valley, the Leonetti Cellars 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from Walla Walla Valley, and Iron Horse Russian River Cuvée sparkler with dessert. Decanter smirked that LeVine was guarded, at best, in his praise of the wines, describing the Peter Michael as “prototypical Cali chard” and sniffing that the Leonetti was “not so civilized yet at this stage.” (This was at least the second time the Thibaut-Janisson was served at a State Dinner. It accompanied dessert in November 2009 at the dinner that was overshadowed by the White House Party Crashers.)
Robert M. Parker Jr. continues his Magical Vintage Tour with a rare interview published Friday on Liv-Ex. The first installment (more is due on Monday) focuses on Parker’s raves for 2009 Bordeaux, which he has called the greatest vintage of his 30+ year career, doling out a record 19 perfect 100-point scores in the Wine Advocate. Parker expresses some interesting perspective – and frustration – on his power to boost prices with high scores. “No one should have that kind of influence,” he says. Earlier, Mike Steinberger noted that Parker has used the “greatest vintage ever” formula for many vintages before and praises the Bard of Monkton for taking a risk so late in his career, “when prudence would suggest focusing on legacy preservation rather than legacy enhancement.”
Finally, a big hat tip to W. Blake Gray for posting this hilarious video from Gundlach Bundschu winery on the history of Merlot.