Here’s what’s up this week in wine:
Wine Enthusiast has discovered that Virginia is for Wine Lovers. The magazine has anointed the Old Dominion as one of the 10 best wine regions in the world to visit. Quite a coup, and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), a vocal champion of the state’s wine industry, was quick to crow about it. Looks like our local secret is out – Virginia has scenery, history, and vino.
Could that have something to do with the Wine Bloggers Conference being held in Charlottesville last year? If so, Portland, Oregon, may have reason to hope. The Washington Post decided that Portland is passé and has named Pittsburgh, of all places, as the new hip city. Wine lovers, we’re soooo 15 minutes ago! But this year the bloggers conference – as well as the American Wine Society – will convene in Portland, so maybe the city will regain some luster.
The ever-cantankerous Tom Wark takes on the “natural wine” movement as “the ugly underbelly” of the wine industry. Not that Tom can’t stand a little funk in his glass, he just doesn’t like anyone telling him his other favorite wines are “unnatural.” As he writes: “Proponents of the Natural Wine movement … seem to be the anomaly in the wine business: in order to gain attention for the wines, gain legitimacy for the wines and in order to define the wines, proponents of Natural Wine have taken to denigrating wines and winemakers that, in their view, fall too far outside the Natural Wine orbit.” Much mayhem ensues in the comments.
TheDrinksBusiness.com reports that fine wine prices plummeted in the second half of 2011. The example given is Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2008, the one ostentatiously marked with the Chinese character for 8 on the label in a blatant ploy to appeal to China’s nouveau riche. Seems the ’08 Lafite fell 45% in price last year, to a mere £8,108 per case, down from £14,043 a year ago. I won’t even try converting that into dollars, because it’s still astronomical.
Back here in the Real World, my buddy Jeff Siegel, aka “The Wine Cumudgeon,” is out today with his 2012 $10 Hall of Fame. This is Jeff’s annual list of over-performing wines that manage to be widely available and still cost $10 or less. Even if we buy a case at $10 a bottle and find it on sale later for $6, we won’t have the same buyer’s remorse as the guy in Shanghai who bought Lafite last January.