Last week, the annual Cochon555 competition kicked off in New York City, crowning its first regional champion of all things pork for 2016. A coast away, in Oregon, local Tempranillo producers use a combination of science and blind tastings to show that Spanish producers aren’t the only ones who can do the grape justice.
Meanwhile a number of apps have hit the market aimed at reigning in the cringe-inducing epidemic of inebriated texting, Pontet-Canet makes its entry into the Napa scene with a surprising purchase, and Kanye West decides he wants to make wine because of course he does.
Closing out the week’s news, Seven Hills, one of Washington’s oldest wineries, is bought by Crimson Wine Group. And in Sacramento, Fred Franzia gives a particularly energetic keynote speech at a wine symposium in uniquely Fred Franzia-like fashion.
Congratulations Angie Mar 2016 Cochon555 Princess of Porc!
Chef Angie Mar of New York’s The Beatrice Inn was crowned the Princess of Porc on Sunday, January 24th. Next stop: Snowmass/Aspen in June for Grand Cochon and Heritage Fire. Now into its 8th year, Cochon555 continues its commitment to the good food movement (this year’s NYC event raised over $2000 for the Piggy Bank, a genetic sanctuary that aims to provide free heritage breed pigs and business plans to emerging family farms). The signature event—sponsored by the likes of Wines of Germany, Anchor Distilling Co. and Buffalo Trace, amongst others—featured an all-star lineup of chefs, while judges, sponsors, and guests were granted behind-the-scenes access to the who’s who of the good food movement. Chef Mar will go on to represent New York City against the other nine cities’ winners at Grand Cochon, taking place in Snowmass/Aspen in June.
Apps Promise To Prevent You From Texting While Drunk
Ever send a text that instantly prompted remorse as soon as you hit send?
A new, free iPhone app called the Drunk Text Savior is here to help. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the app analyzes the contents of your text and will advise you not to press “send” if there are too many misspellings or explicit language.
Meanwhile, Joshua Anton, a recent graduate of the University of Virginia, built an app called Drunk Mode that temporarily discourages drinkers from texting and calling by making the user solve a math problem in order to proceed. Other features include “Breadcrumbs,” which helps you trace your precise whereabouts from the previous night, snd “Find My Drunk,” which allows groups to share their locations with each other in real time.
“I look at it as a drunken man’s tool kit,” said Anton, who added that he doesn’t drink himself.
Kanye West Joins The Celebrity Wine Crowd
Kanye West and wife Kim Kardashian are currently renovating their 3.5 acre Hidden Hills estate, purchased in 2014 for a reported $20 million. Having decided to rehab the existing vineyard, US Weekly reports, West has consulted a viticulturist to see what it will take.
West has been vocal in his love of wine over the years, name-checking Moscato in one of his tracks and rapping about “beasting off the Riesling” in the song Run This Town, featuring Jay-Z and Rihanna. Sadly for Kanye fans, the rapper has no plans to sell the wine, and instead will enjoy the fruits of his labor with family and friends.
In the Trade
Robin Williams Napa Estate Purchased By Fifth Growth Pontet-Canet
The Drinks Business reports that the owners of Bordeaux fifth growth Pontet-Canet have purchased the late Robin Williams’ Napa vineyard, reportedly for $18.1 million. The 653 acre Villa Sorriso wine estate is located in the Mount Veeder AVA. Some 18+ acres are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Pontet-Canet owners Alfred Tesseron and his niece Melanie have not confirmed the purchase price, but it marks their first foray outside of Bordeaux and into Napa Valley. Villa Sorriso, which means Villa of Smiles, includes a 20,000 square foot, 5-bedroom main residence, 3,200 square foot guest house, a horse barn, tennis court, hiking and riding trails, spring-fed pond and an olive grove.
Oregon Tempranillo Producers Gather To Talk Dirt
At an all-day conference organized by four leading Tempranillo producers, more than 40 Oregon winemakers gathered to hear Professors Greg Jones and Scott Burns compare the state’s Southern Oregon AVAs to various regions in Spain, where almost 90% of the world’s Tempranillo is grown.
Relentlessly upbeat, Jones pointed out that worldwide, Tempranillo is the third most planted red grape behind Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Seven wines from seven different AVAs were tasted, followed by seven more from seven different soils. Most interesting was a blind flight of Tempranillos from seven different vintages, 1999—2012. The two from pioneering winery Abacela book-ended this last tasting, showing that the grape not only thrives in Oregon, but can age gracefully.
Fred Franzia Ignites Crowd at Unified Wine & Grape Symposium
Speaking to a packed house in Sacramento last week, Fred Franzia, the outspoken president of the Bronco Wine Company, delivered Trump-worthy zingers while announcing that its iconic Charles Shaw brand (known colloquially as “Two Buck Chuck”) had recently passed the one billion bottle mark.
According to Wines & Vines, Franzia thanked The Wine Group, which bought the Franzia brand from Coca Cola, for allowing him to acquire the Petri name, joking, “Maybe we’ll be able to reclaim the Franzia name next.”
Other highlights included a staunch defense of the San Joaquin Valley,claiming it was “the origin of grapevines in California.” He also praised drip irrigation for saving 50–60 percent of water used, admonishing that drip and micro irrigation systems are only used on roughly 40 percent of California’s 7.54 million irrigated acres while flood irrigation is used on 60 percent. “That needs to be changed,” he said.
Returning to a favorite theme, he predicted that Americans could drink much more wine, and that wine must come from the Central Valley. “Every restaurant should offer $10 bottles of wine,” he said, which would improve demand. He predicted that the United States will drink 1 billion cases of wine per year by 2040, up from 327 million last year.
Crimson Wine Group Buys Walla Walla’s Seven Hills Winery
In a report published by Vineology, California’s Crimson Wine Group has purchased Walla Walla’s Seven Hills winery from owners Casey and Vicky McClellan. Casey McClellan, a fourth-generation farmer who planted the Seven Hills Vineyard with his father in 1982, will continue in his role as winemaker and general manager. Seven Hills is one of Washington’s oldest wineries, with the family’s history of farming in Eastern Washington dating back almost 100 years. The winery sources fruit from several of Washington’s best sites, including its own Seven Hills and McClellan Estate vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley, and Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun on Red Mountain. The purchase price was not revealed.
The Social Scene
While visiting Marlborough, New Zealand for the International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration, Managing Editor Joe Czerwinski was interviewed by the Food and Wine section of Stuff.co.nz about his love of wine. Check out the interview, during which Czerwinski dives into developing one’s palate, wine’s hedonism and making the subject approachable and more fun.