Bordeaux’s Cité du Vin
Recent visitors to the World Heritage city of Bordeaux may have done some head scratching as to the purpose of the large, molten, boot-shaped structure rising on the city’s outskirts. Wonder no more—the Cité du Vin, modeled after Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum, is due to open next June.
Its purpose is to promote the culture of wine around the world by providing an “immersive journey throughout the universal and living heritage of wine.” A projected 450,000 annual visitors will be invited to tour the vineyards of the world, while exploring the history of winemaking throughout the ages in 23 different display rooms.
The museum will employ cutting-edge technology such as 3D imagery, moving décor and olfactory design. Human guides and presenters will host live shows. Among the amenities will be a wine bar, a wine shop and a restaurant on the top floor, along with a huge wine cellar with upwards of 10,000 bottles.
New, Free App Turns Your Smartphone Into a Pocket Sommelier
Apps to help you catalog your wines, check on reviews, and build a wine tasting database have been around for some years. Wine Ring is raising the bar with its recent upgrade, launched late last month and available for both iPhone and Android operating systems. As Dr. Vino reports, there’s $4 million in private funding behind this venture, which prior to release compiled detailed tasting characteristics on over 100,000 wines. New in the latest version are group recommendations and image recognition.
The app is free, but only for those 17 and older. Once you start punching in pics of your own bottles, you rate them on a simple scale (Loves, Likes, So-Sos and Dislikes). Then the app’s algorithm takes over, making recommendations about other wines you may enjoy. The app also lets you keep a journal to track your own reviews, sorted by grape, region or producer. Will it replace your trusted wine critic and/or sommelier? Doubtful. But you can’t blame an app for trying.
Wrangling The So-called “Corkage Cowboys”
Writing for Munchies, Edna Ishayik calls out the cheapskate high rollers who, the article asserts, are pressuring New York sommeliers into dropping all corkage charges. These so-called “Corkage Cowboys” take over tables in high end restaurants, bring a half dozen or more trophy wines to drink, and offer the somms a sip or two in exchange for paying no corkage.
“Suddenly, the sommelier is enmeshed in a game of high-stakes diplomacy requiring the art of a United Nations sidebar,” says Ishayik. “The goal: keep big-shot wine collectors happy without losing too much money on the table.”
Yes the wines may be special. Yes, it’s quite polite (and generally customary) to offer the somm a sip. After all, she is the one opening your wines, providing top drawer stemware (one glass per wine times the number of patrons, which can add up), and generally fawning over some high roller customers whom the restaurant owner does not want to offend.
But here’s the rub—with no wine sales and no corkage, that table provides little or no profit, while draining the resource. A few of the city’s most desirable dining spots refuse to play the game, and either forbid bringing wines in altogether, or put exorbitant corkage fees on them, up to $150/bottle.
“You wouldn’t bring food, would you?” said one beverage director. “Like, walk in with a pizza and say, ‘Send a slice back to the chef.'”
In the Trade
Cockburn’s Releases Previously Undeclared 1977 Vintage Port
Why so late? And why now? Here’s the back-story.
Following the acquisition of Cockburn’s in 2006, the Symington family found 116 cases of 1977 Vintage Port in the company’s cellars, but Cockburn’s never declared a 1977 vintage, although virtually every other major Port house did. It seems that back then Cockburn’s management felt (for reasons unknown) that it did not fit their corporate plan.
Unbeknownst to their superiors, however, Cockburn’s winemakers quietly bottled two barrels, hiding them in the winery’s cellars for another 36 years. Now, to celebrate Cockburn’s historic 200th anniversary, the Symington family has released the long lost Cockburn’s 1977 Vintage Port.
“For 200 years, Cockburn’s has been on the cutting edge of the Port world,” says Rupert Symington, managing director of the Symington Families Estates. “What those Portuguese winemakers did stowing away this incredible 1977 Vintage is a continuation of that revolutionary spirit, and we honor them with this release.”
Suggested retail is $150. Roughly 1,400 bottles will be available worldwide, including just 360 bottles for the domestic market. In the United States, Cockburn’s is imported by Premium Port Wines, Inc.
The Winebow Group Acquires Noble Wines
The Winebow Group, a national importer and distributor of fine wine and craft spirits, has acquired Noble Wines of Seattle, Washington. The companies will combine their efforts in Washington and Idaho, and operate as Noble Wines, a member of The Winebow Group.
The Winebow Group was founded in 2014 with the merger of two companies with a focus on quality, education and customer service: The Vintner Group and Winebow. With the addition of Washington and Idaho, The Winebow Group increases its distribution network to 19 states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.
“It is with great pleasure that I welcome Noble Wines to our family,” says David Townsend, President and CEO of The Winebow Group. “Chuck Marush and Greg Nelson, who founded Noble in 1988, have… created an excellent organization that fosters the fine wine culture and dedication to customer service that are at the core of our business. We are thrilled to expand our distribution network to the Northwestern United States.”
Chuck Marush and Greg Nelson will stay on with the company, managing day-to-day operations.
Rain Is On The Way
Writing in WineBusiness.com, climate change guru Greg Jones confirms previous forecasts for a major El Niño impact this winter on the West Coast, bringing warmer than average temperatures on up into Alaska, and much-needed rainfall to southern California.
China’s Thirst For Red Wines Leads The World
According to a recent study by GSSI—a company working to introduce more American wines to the Chinese market—China will lead the world in overall consumption and growth of red wine drinking by 2017.
A chart showing the top 10 global consumers of red wine in 2017 puts China at 33 percent growth to a total of 207 million cases. In second place is the U.S., growing almost 14 percent to 158 million cases. France, Italy and Germany complete the top five, showing little or no overall growth.