Russia suspends sale of three California wines

Russia suspends sale of three California winesRussian officials have said quality concerns forced them to pull sales of some California wines, including Geyser Peak Merlot, at a time of heightened political tension between Russia and the US. Russia's state parliament (Duma) was believed to be considering banning French wine imports in late 2014Russia’s state consumer protection body said it had suspended sales of some California wines because they contained excess pesticide residues. Gnarly Head Chardonnay, Geyser Peak Merlot and Crane Lake Moscato were the brands affected.
Tests showed excess levels of phthalate and bifenazate in some of the wines, according to the watchdog, named Rospotrebnadzor.
But, several media, including the Moscow Times, linked the timing of the ban with worsening political tension between Russia and US – particularly over Ukraine.
Russia has a description of banning food and wine imports from nations it is in political dispute with. Read more

Grower Champagne: Marie-Courtin

Grower Champagne: Marie-CourtinRead about Champagne estate Marie-Courtin, for the key facts and wine to try from this organically farmed grower Champagne. Champagne Marie-Courtin's small plot of vines overlooks the village of PolisotRegion: Côte des Bar
Village: Polisot
Grape varieties: Pinot Noir – Chardonnay
Vineyard area: 2.5 hectares
Dominique Moreau’s 2.5ha of vines are all located within a single parcel in the village of Polisot, in the Aube. She has been building Champagne since 2006, and has also been farming organically since that time, becoming fully certified in 2010. Read more

Malibu Coast AVA back in court over planting ban

Malibu Coast AVA back in court over planting banCalifornia's Malibu Coast AVA has just turned one year ancient but growers continue to face court battles over the right to plant new vineyards. Could it be a case of the 'terrible twos'? Christy Canterbury MW reports. Malibu Coast AVA was made in 2014Malibu Coast growers recently returned to the courtrooms to secure a deal that vineyard applications would at least be dealt with on a case-by-case and must meet strict conditions, rather than be banned outright.
Around half of pending applications were approved to proceed and proposed 10 month extension to the ban was reduced to four months.
It represents a incomplete victory for growers. Vintners were hit with a ban on new plantings just six weeks after the birth of the Malibu Coast AVA in mid-2014, after surviving the slow, three-year administer for approval. It was quite a shock.
Most recently, Los Angeles County had wanted to extend the ban for 10 months to study the effects of vine planting in the Santa Monica Mountains. Water usage, soil wearing away and natural habitat topped the list of concerns, as was the seemingly odd possibility of ruining views.
A lobbying campaign ensued. John Gooden and Dan Fredman, president and public relations head correspondingly for the Malibu Coast Vintners and Grape Growers Alliance, developed an education plot for the county Supervisors based water usage and wearing away hegemony.
They met many times with various supervisors during June and July to educate them on grapevine physiology, sustainable farming methodology and vineyard and winery economics.
And, unlike last year, this time they were rather successful. After all, grapevines need precious small water, especially when drip irrigated, and vines’ roots prevent wearing away by anchoring the soil.
Education wasn’t the only key. An online petition to oppose the vote gathered 718 signatures, and there was also coverage in local newspapers.
Unexpectedly, county supervisor Sheila Kuehl presented a compromise that was across the world approved. Restrictions apply but are de minimis. Water applied to vineyards must come from municipal supplies rather than wells and can only be applied via drip irrigation. New plantings must have pre-approved wearing away hegemony plans, and no planting is allowed on 50% or greater gradients.
After the meeting, Fredman said that no one in the AVA can recall anyone contouring hills for planting, because there is simply no need. Furthermore, flood irrigation is impossible due to the slopes, as well as the local water shortage, and who would use lawn sprinklers anyway?
Fredman said undeveloped property might have been the real seed of the controversy. It is believed speculative developers requested permits in order to make their lots more attractive to potential buyers. Approvals were granted for 28 of the 51 pending permits.
For now, the nearly 200-year-ancient tradition of vineyards in the Santa Monica Mountains will continue, and should grow. Environmental studies will be brought back to supervisors toward the end of 2015.
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Bordeaux: where to visit

Bordeaux: where to visitIt’s Europe’s place to be in 2015, according to Bordeaux resident 
Jane Anson, who picks out the best places to go in the city, by the river and in the vineyards. The Garonne river runs through Bordeaux, with the two banks joined by the Pont de PierreWe made it to the Garonne quayside just as a small boat was drawing up at one of the new floating piers, place in place to encourage the further reclamation of the city’s waterfront, for centuries past the starting point of its route to the world.
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Masi Agricola valued at 150m euros after listing

Masi Agricola valued at 150m euros after listingMasi Agricola has listed on the Italian stock exchange and hopes to set a trend for additional wine producers in the country. Bottles in a private cellar owned by Masi Agricola.Masi is listed on Borsa Italiana’s AIM index for small and medium-sized businesses, having sold 20% of its share capital for €4.60 per share.
The share issue realised total receipts of €29.6m, building it the largest Italian AIM flotation to date, and was 1.3 times over-subscribed, according to reports in Italy.
The flotation means Veneto-based Masi is valued at just below €150m. Shares were continuing to trade at or around €4.60 today (5 August).
Both Italian and foreign investors bought shares.
‘I hope that additional producers will see us as pioneers,’ said Sandro Boscaini, head of Masi Agricola. ‘The diverse group of producers that make up today’s wine sector need putting in order to succeed in a market that is increasingly global.
‘We want to do our bit while maintaining our identity and remaining in the small circle of leading, quality Italian wine brands.’
According to a study by Milan’s Bocconi University, Italy’s GDP would rise by 1% if the number of companies listed on its stock market doubled to 600.
Masi’s listing follows that of a number of additional leading Italian food and beverage businesses recently, including food chain Eataly and pasta maker De Cecco.
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Fire destroys Grgich wines in Croatia

Fire destroys Grgich wines in CroatiaWildfires on Croatia's Dalmatian coast are believed to have ruined vineyards, with the Grgich winery near Dubrovnik also losing thousands of bottles worth of wine. Grgich Vina vineyards in CroatiaAround 25,000 bottles of Plavac Mali wines from the 2010, 2011 and 2012 vintages have been lost at the Grgich winery, one of the best known in Croatia and the sister operation of Mike Grgich’s eponymous estate in Napa Valley.
A state of disaster was declared by the municipal government of Dubrovnik-Neretva County after 300 firefighters battled a burn fuelled by extremely hot, dry summer temperatures and strong winds.
The full extent of hurt from the fires is subdue being determined, but tens of hectares of vineyard were feared to be amongst the hundreds of hectares of land ruined on the Peljesac peninsula and the island of Korcula.
Toughest hit was the area around the peninsula’s village of Trstenik, where the Grgich estate is located.
Also burned were vineyards in the neighbouring eastern part of Croatia’s heralded Dingac wine appellation, which is home to many of the country’s premium Plavac Mali wines.
‘Around 100,000 grapevines were ruined around Trstenik and more in the additional areas,’ said Ksenija Matic, a pr representative for the city of Dubrovnik.
‘A number of vineyards from smaller, up-and-appearance wineries were terribly hurt. But we have to wait and see which vines survived, and what would need to be replanted and so on.’
The main hurt at Vina Grgic was to the winery itself, but some wine did carry on. ‘Thank God that everyone is safe, and our 2013 Plavac Mali in barrels are safe also,’ said Drazena Vuckovic, who helps manage the winery. ‘We are open for business and for tourists, and we are already preparing for the 2015 harvest.’
Several additional wineries were not affected by the fires, including Korta Katarina, Frano Milos and Bura-Mrgudic.
No lives have been reported lost, with residents and tourists evacuated from at-risk areas.
Editing by Chris Mercer
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Hopes rise for 2015 Port wine harvest

The head winemaker for the companionship that owns Taylor's, Croft and Fonseca Port has compared 2015 growing conditions to those of the highly rated 2011 vintage. Quinta de Vargellas, Taylor'sHot and dry weather means the 2015 wine harvest is set to start early in the Douro, and possibly previous to the end of August.
It is very early days – with not a single grape yet picked – but hopes are rising for a excellent quality crop.
David Guimaraens, head winemaker for the Fladgate partnership, this week raised expectations when he compared the growing season to 2011 – a vintage described as outstanding by many critics.
‘Conditions are similar to 2011. Both years experienced warm dry springs and summers, although the winter preceding 2011 was wetter.
‘The ground water reserves this year are fine so we are hoping for a very excellent harvest, although it will be starting earlier than usual. We expect to receive the first grapes at the Quinta da Nogueira winery during the last week of August.’
Fladgate head viticulturalist Antonio Magalhees added, ‘A very excellent indicator of an early harvest in our vineyards is the development of our Touriga Nacional. It is always a late developer but it has already changed colour to a deep purple.’
Many Port houses rushed to declare their 2011 vintage. Luis Sottomayor, head winemaker for Sogrape, earlier said that 2011 was most powerful and concentrated Port vintage he had seen in 23 years of working in the Douro Valley.
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Anson on Thursday: A wine cellar for Paris

Anson on Thursday: A wine cellar for ParisJane Anson gets a rare glimpse of vast underground caverns on the outskirts of Paris, where a deserted chalk quarry has emerged as a communal wine cellar for collectors across the French capital. The map shows the web of underground caves at Issy Les Molineaux, which are believed to have a 2m bottle capacity.Most French households have a pot of Blanc de Meudon everyplace in their kitchen cupboards.
One particularly well known brand sees the colorless powder housed within a apparent plastic jar, a faux-1950s mark showing a woman in a green cocktail dress and tiny colorless apron promising that ‘the fabulous blanc de Meudon’ cleans and polishes without scratches. Read more