The Fork Awakens in London; Spirit Watches Sell Out; Mad Scientist Invents Actual Jäger Bomb

Also, frost imperils France's 2016 vintage, Italy loses its taste for wine, and American political parties finally find a way to get along. This week in your world of wine.

Movie fans have two new watering holes to try this summer. Opening June 22 in a secret London location, a pop-up restaurant named The Fork Awakens will offer guests a unique dining experience set in a galaxy far, far away. Star Wars fans will “take an immersive journey through time and space, with many familiar encounters and interactive adventures along the way.” The evening’s menu includes Tattooine muddy soup with Alderaan olive oil, Tusken raiders lava soufflé and hutt dogs, to name a few. The Fork Awakens will open for ten nights only. Tickets cost £55 per guest and can be purchased here.

In New York, a Tim Burton-themed bar is opening, with a menu packed full of cocktails such as The Nightmare Before Christmas, Alice in Wonderland , and The Chocolate Factory Martini. Food includes Beetle bread (a kind of bruschetta) and Edward Burger Hands. Click here for reservations.

Old Spirits In New Watches

A rare bottle of Cognac Gautier 1762, officially recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest Cognac ever sold at auction, was used in the Cognac Watch. The first Swiss watch made with a few drops of the precious alcohol in a sealed sapphire capsure embedded into the watch face, just 40 were produced, in stainless steel, 18k rose gold and titanium cases.

If you missed your chance to own this piece of history you can now look forward to the Rum Watch, which is made with the 1780 Harewood Rum—the oldest rum in the world. The Rum Watch is intended to “combine the world of Swiss precision with the spirit of Caribbean seas and seafaring adventures.” Arrrrrr….

Do Not Try This At Home!

Jägerbombs are all good and fun [Editor’s note: Wine Enthusiast was unable to independently confirm this fact], but this mad scientist ups the ante by adding sodium and potassium to the mix, for those who like a little education with their inebriation. The results? Explosive.

Meanwhile, In the Trade…

Frosts Clobber Burgundy & Loire

On April 27, temperatures as much as six degrees below zero (Celsius) damaged vines across a wide swath of Burgundy and the Loire Valley. The higher vineyards in Chablis and the Grand Auxerrois appear to have been the worst affected, with the north of the Côte de Beaune (Savigny, Chorey and down to Meursault, Pommard and Volnay) severely touched along with Marsannay in the Côte de Nuits.

According to reports, in the Loire Valley the damage appears to be worst in Bourgueil, Chinon, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and Azay-le-Rideau. Vouvray, Montlouis and Noble Joué may have been badly hit, but the full extent of the damage will not be known for some time.

Another Miracle—Wine brings Political Parties Together

On April 25th, California Congressman Mike Thompson proposed a series of federal tax breaks for the wine industry. Among them is slashing a tax on sparkling wine that has lingered since the aftermath of Prohibition. Thompson, a St. Helena Democrat and vineyard owner, joined Rep. Dave Reichert, an eastern Washington Republican, to propose a sweeping overhaul of the laws. Producers of sparkling wine would see taxes lowered to $1.07 a gallon, the tax rate for still wine, down from $3.40 a gallon, where it has stood since 1955. “We are being taxed at three times the rate. The only reason is that we have bubbles in the wine,” said Gary Heck, owner of Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guerneville.

USA #1 While Italy Drops To #4

Though Italy still leads global exports, accounting for one in every five bottles of wine sold abroad, Italians themselves seem to be losing their appetite for the beverage. The United States topped the list of biggest wine-drinkers in 2015, followed by France and Germany, according to a new study from the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV). It’s the first time that Italians have been beaten to the podium by German drinkers.

Figures from Italy farmers’ association Coldiretti actually point to a modest rise in Italian consumption of 0.3 percent in 2015, whereas in France it fell by 1.2 percent. The US and Germany saw more dramatic rises of one percent and 1.1 percent respectively.

Barefoot Branches Into Cans

Barefoot Cellars has added 4 million cases within the last three years. Sales went up by 6%—nearly 1 million cases—in just the last year and it is currently the U.S. market’s second-largest wine brand, behind The Wine Group’s Franzia.

Also driving growth is the Barefoot Refresh line extension, a lightly carbonated range launched in 2012 and meant to be served over ice. This year, Barefoot is rolling out its Refresh line in 8.5-ounce cans at $9 for a four-pack, targeting casual outdoor drinking occasions. “We’re committed to wine in formats that fit with the lifestyles of our consumers,” says E.&J. Gallo’s vice president of marketing Stephanie Gallo. “Wine in a can is a relatively new concept for the category, and we look forward to seeing the response.”

Changes In Spain

At Marques de Vargas in Rioja Alta, Xavier Ausás, renowned for the excellence and elegance of his wines during his tenure at Vega Sicilia, will collaborate on an ongoing effort to “be part of any indisputable list of the 10 best Rioja wines.” Praising it as “a winery with a clear and differentiated philosophy, whose wines are high-quality, showing the typical Rioja Alta character and the unique terroir from this area,” Ausás promises that “together with the new team, my goal is to carry out improvements, both in the vineyard as well as in the winery, as part of a project which looks for growth and utmost quality.”

Passages

Jerez lost one of its finest winemakers on April 28, when Lustau’s Manuel Lozano passed away at the age of 61. Admired for his passion, commitment, expertise and dedication to the traditions of Sherry wines, Lozano is survived by a wife and three sons.

On April 25, Robert J. Cooper, founder of popular elderflower liqueur St-Germain, passed away at age 39 in Santa Barbara, California. Launching the popular brand in 2007, St-Germain quickly became a staple of bars everywhere, even being referred to by some as “the bartender’s ketchup” for being a ubiquitous fixture in cocktail lounges and many a bartenders’ secret weapon whenever a tipsy customer comes in and asks for “a fun drink.” In addition to developing St-Germain (which Cooper sold to Bacardi Ltd. for an undisclosed sum), the innovator also worked on a variety of other craft spirits, including the revived Crème Yvette—a berry and violet flavored liqueur originally discontinued in 1969—and Lock Stock & Barrel rye whiskey.

On The Scene

Here are some upcoming wine events that are likely to sell out in advance, so move fast!

On May 19th the Garagiste Wine Festival comes to Oakland. It dedicates the day to celebrating ultra-premium artisanal wines from micro-wineries. Tickets can be found at: www.garagistefestival.com

New after shows added to sold-out BottleRock Festival in Napa May 27-29: www.bottlerocknapavalley.com

Also, be sure to check out ZAP’s (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) summer calendar of events:

Elevating Zinfandel – Los Angeles – May 5, 2016

Greenwich Village Tasting – New York, NY – June 15, 2016

ZAP’s Big Apple Zinfandel Experience – New York, NY – June 16, 2016

Simply Summer Celebration – Geyserville, CA – August 14, 2016

More info on ZAP’s summer programming here: www.zinfandel.org

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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