Monday, April 22, 2013

2012 Bordeaux futures, and why the Chinese "Lafite Bubble" popped

The 2012 Bordeaux futures are coming out, at great discounts from previous years. This is happening for two reasons:
a. The 2012 growing season saw poor weather in SW France, and many of the lesser chateaux made poor wines. However, early scores for the better wines (First and Second Growths, and some others) are surprisingly high (such as 95-98 for Lafite).
b. Wealthy Chinese businesspeople  and people in government there are under pressure to stop spending a lot for wine at business and government functions. Whereas, a few years ago, they would drink several Lafites at a business lunch (!), now they buy at that level occasionally or not at all, and are asking their wine brokers to find them good wines for $6-$20 (which is a space I have worked hard to develop, for my own customers).

There are some (relatively) good values in 2012 Bordeaux. I'll search for them and offer some, as the price is not likely to go any lower in this improving economy.

Read the Spectator article here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Siberian Apple

Most apple blossoms are white, but on this Siberian Apple they are pink. Very pretty. The apple is small and tubular/elongated with red skin and dark pink flesh.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The rebirth of Spring!

Lest we forget what is the miracle of the rebirth of Springtime, I attach a photo of my New York Muscat vine budding out, in Portland OR in 2013. From within the dead-looking stick, the juices of life flow to meet the sun. Through these tiny leaves will erupt many feet of shoot growth, and clusters of fruit! Little wonder there is a grape variety (not the one in this pic) called "Phoenix"! 

Let's all take a moment to dwell on how lucky we are to be a part of this rebirth, and let's think on how we can rebirth ourselves, and what we can do to help preserve a healthy Spring for all (humans,and flora and fauna).

P.S. - Notice how the bud erupts above that darker ridge running perpendicular to the cane? If you are rooting a grape vine cutting and you aren't sure which end is the "leaf" end and which is the "root" end (and it absolutely does matter, critically), you can figure it out easily just by knowing the leafbud is above that crossing ridge in the cane. Stated another way, from that crossing ridgeline, the leaf's bud is on the "leaf end" of that ridge, so the roots will emerge from the other end of your cutting.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Growing grapes? Consider hoyos.

Look at this:

(photo credit:

Yes, those are holes dug out of volcanic soil, in the Canary Islands, which protect the grapes from wind and also collect some dew and the occasional raindrop.  This is yet another fascinating example of adapting to local conditions in grapegrowing. Just don't try it in western Oregon ;)

And: That is a Malvasia grape, a popular white grape that is almost unknown in the US.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Ecological effects of vineyards pushing into new places

See this article.

As the heat builds in the southern climes, vineyards are pushing northward. Whereas the Romans grew winegrapes in southern Britain, for 2000 years afterward it wasn't possible, until starting about 10-20 years ago, winegrapes are making a comeback there. In southern British Columbia, vast areas have been planted to winegrapes, with great success, in areas that were formerly just grassland/desert. Places like Greece and southern Spain will be the losers (as might also be Napa Valley).  In the Willamette Valley our grandchildren may see  Pinot Noir give way to Syrah, and Pinot might become more successful around the Puget Sound.

It would be wrong to bet against such trends.

Meanwhile, the planting of vineyards in former wild places does have an impact on flora and fauna. That can be mitigated somewhat by use of modern hybrid grapes, which require less or no spray to control fungal and other diseases, and by using organic practices and avoiding irrigation. But the grapegrower must fence to keep out animals like deer, and this changes the ecological system. Study is needed to learn how to minimize the adverse effects of such changes. Perhaps vineyard areas need to remain surrounded by woodlands and grasslands that remain accessible to wildlife. This is what we have at our Woodland WA vineyard, the Epona Vineyard.

(the photo is of a vineyard in Cornwall, England. Photo credit: The Guardian, UK.)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Bloomberg wrong on wine

John Mariani writes wine for Bloomberg. I think this piece by him is way off base:

He mentions just a few higher-priced Washington reds and finds them one-dimensional, too big, and too hot (alcohol too high).  My inference (perhaps he didn't quite mean this) was that he dismissed all WA reds with a broad brush.


I have had so many great WA red wines. They are nuanced, deep, not too alcoholic, and a great value compared to the CA or French wines which Mariani probably prefers. I've never thought much of Woodward Canyon's wines--every time I try them I come away underwhelmed. And for Mariani to refrain from mentioning some of Charles Smith's greater wines, while making an offhand reference to his $10 Riesling, is the height of ignorance, as Smith's top-end wines are outstanding. And why no mention of Cayuse or Quilceda Creek wines? It's almost as if this guy was hired to do a hatchet job on WA wines. No one who understands good wine could fairly write what this guy wrote.

Keep drinking WA wines! Maybe if the arrogant outsiders stay away for a little longer, we can continue enjoying great wines at lower prices!

How Climate Change's Extreme Weather Events Affect Grapes and Wine:

  We (Epona) joined the Porto Protocol a year or two ago; it's a collaboration of grapegrowers and winemakers, worldwide, who are focusi...