John Legend Announces New Wine Project

The crooner partnered with Raymond Vineyards for a premium Napa Cabernet. Plus, read up on other news and notes in the world of wine, beer and spirits.
Photo by Bob McClenahan

Headlines

John Legend Announces His Own Wine

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome The Legend Vineyard Exclusive (LVE) label to the ever-growing ranks of celebrity wine projects. LVE, a collaboration between Grammy and Academy Award winner John Legend and Jean-Charles Boisset’s Raymond Vineyards, is a 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Legend announced the news to fans via Instagram.

Waxing a bit poetic, the winery describes the release as “the perfect harmony of passion, eloquence and Napa Valley tradition. A unique series of rich, soulful and complex notes inspired by true love.” LVE is available for $85 from Raymond’s Web site, and $68 if you join its Wine Club.

Shaken—Not Stirred!

A new James Bond film is always an opportunity to try a double agent-caliber martini or pop the cork on a bottle of Bollinger. In anticipation of the Friday release of the latest Bond film, Spectre, The Drinks Business compiled a “Top 10 James Bond Drinks Facts” slideshow that will keep you at the head of the Ian Fleming Trivia Club. For instance, Daniel Craig, now starring in his fourth Bond film, is the only Bond to have enjoyed more martinis on screen than kisses. Through Craig’s first three films, the scoreboard reads Booze: 9, Smooches: 7.

The classic James Bond martini, the Vesper, is three parts Gordon’s gin, two parts Russian vodka and a half-part Kina Lillet, a French apéritif. It should be shaken (not stirred) over ice, and served with a twist of lemon rind. Or, go out and grab a magnum of Bollinger R.D. in a limited-edition crystal wine cooler. Just 307 were produced.

Tour California’s Wine Country with New Interactive Guides

California’s Wine Institute is promoting a new series of road trips through wine country. First up is a tour of Mendocino County.

Where to stay, what to see, special events and, of course, tips on wining and dining are all in the mix. The online guide includes an interactive map that allows you to search for amenities like tours, gardens, art galleries, concerts and picnic spots. Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for more wine-touring guidelines.

Roll Out The Barrels

In April, a new event, Reveal Walla Walla Valley, will offer consumers a chance to taste and bid upon unique wines from premier wineries. Modeled on Napa’s Premier Barrel Auction, the event has tapped auctioneer Ursula Hermacinski to oversee the bidding.

Among the barrels to be offered are one-of-a-kind blends from Abeja, Doubleback, Gramercy Cellars, Leonetti Cellar and Woodward Canyon. Registration is now open, and attendance is limited to 150 people.

Brewhaha

PicoBrew, a pioneer in tabletop beer brewing, is introducing the Pico, which has been dubbed the “Keurig of beer.”

About the size of a tall microwave, it uses special pods, known as PicoPaks, which contain a mix of hops and grains designed for specific beers. You choose the alcohol content and bitterness, brew for two hours, then put the goop into a fermentation keg, add yeast and wait a week. Voila! Five liters of home brew… but you’re not done yet. The proto-beer needs to be carbonated and transferred to a storage keg for consumption. Although the Pico may reduce the required gear for custom home brewing, it’s not especially easy or cheap. The Pico will cost $1000, and is scheduled for release early next year. Or, you can jump on Kickstarter and reserve one for $499, complete with one PicoPak.

In the Trade

Ready… Set… Crush!

Decanter reports that the first American-style custom crush winery recently opened in the Côte d’Or. Burgundy’s Dominique Lafon and Pierre Merguey are behind The Wine Studio, just south of Beaune.

It’s designed for start-ups looking to make wine with limited funds. Not only is vineyard land super expensive in Burgundy, it’s also increasingly partitioned into smaller lots. For small producers, purchasing expensive winemaking equipment for just a few hundred cases of wine isn’t cost effective.

The Wine Studio is located in the Château de Bligny, owned by Evening Land Vineyards. It was previously dedicated to custom crush operations for French clients. Lafon and Merguey will use about a third of the studio’s capacity for their own projects. They’ll also offer consulting, equipment and space for up to 500 barrels.

Beer Industry Brews Positive Change In Pennsylvania

In the competition for the most wine-unfriendly liquor laws in the nation, Pennsylvania is certainly a title contender. However, money talks, and recent economic statistics are having a small impact. Among the relevant findings:

• The Pennsylvania beer industry generated $9.2 billion in sales last year
• Brewers, distributors and retailers employ nearly 41,000 people
• The industry paid over $625 million in federal taxes and more than $414 million in state taxes

Enter House Bill 189, which will allow wine producers (with the proper shipper’s license) to ship directly to Pennsylvania residents. But wait—there’s more! Earlier this year, beer distributors were granted the ability to sell 12-packs, not just by the case or keg. These are small steps to be sure, but you have to crawl before you walk, right?

Just For Fun

Last year, Terry Lovejoy, an Australian astronomy buff, discovered a pretty blue-green comet—his fifth—that was named in his honor. But this one turns out to be special. A NASA report notes some peculiar properties of the comet. It appears to be releasing a vapor stream the equivalent of 500 bottles of wine per second.

This is not exactly wine you’d want to drink (although maybe the Australians would go for it). But among the compounds in Lovejoy’s watery vapor trail are ethyl alcohol and a simple sugar, glycolaldehyde. The comet was analyzed on a recent pass by the sun by a group at the French National Center for Scientific Research.

In honor of this cosmic barfly, Lovejoy has been (unofficially) renamed Happy Hour.

Published on November 2, 2015
Topics: Industry News, Spirits Trends, Wine Trends
About the Author
Paul Gregutt
Contributing Editor

Reviews wines from Oregon and Canada.

Paul Gregutt is a Contributing Editor for Wine Enthusiast magazine, a founding member of the magazine’s Tasting Panel, and reviews the wines of Oregon and Canada. The author of the critically-acclaimed Washington Wines & Wineries—The Essential Guide, he consulted on the Pacific Northwest entries in current versions of The World Atlas of Wine and The Oxford Companion to Wine.

Email: paulgwine@me.com.




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