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Mar 08

Chilean Wine, Post Earthquake

I was in one of my favorite wine shops on Friday (which I will not name) and the nice guy pouring wine started telling me about the dire straits the Chilean wine industry was in post-earthquake. Turns out, the nice guy interpreted a $250 million dollar loss a little too pessimistically. It’s certainly bad, but it could be a lot worse.

Image from Montes Winery, Chile

I found the Wine Spectator article he referenced and supplemented it with my favorite online wine magazine, Decanter. Turns out that $250 million is across the Chilean wine industry as a whole, and includes 125 million litres of what is basically spilled juice. So if you break that up between all the wineries, it’s a loss, but nothing like they had originally feared.

From Decanter on March 3:

After a board meeting today at Vinos de Chile and Wines of Chile, the domestic and international operations that represent 95% of the industry, the verdict is that some 12.5% of the country’s cellared wine has been lost.

That is about US$250m worth of wine – a figure that will not represent actual loss as the wine is insured, and moreover the country’s wineries were overstocked, Rene Merino, president of Wines of Chile told decanter.com‘This will not affect our supply to our importers at all.’

That last sentence is key, because it means that you can still buy Chilean wine over the next year without a problem. Additionally, the wineries may not have lost much wine, but their employees did lose their homes, electricity, and so much more. I may actually make a point to buy more Chilean wine in 2010 and hope that somehow, by helping the wineries, I can help their employees.

From Wine Specatator, March 3:

In addition, many wineries now have scores of workers in need of shelter. “What really concerns us now is our workers, as many have lost their homes,” said Merino. “This has to be addressed quickly. However, there is much that is out of our hands—electricity, roads, ports are obviously under government control, rather than ours.”

Wine Spectator also mentions that while the overall damage estimate is lower than feared, some wineries were indeed hard hit:

  • Viña Santa Rita: ~8 million L, 1 m of which was premium juice
  • Viña Montes (Purple Angel, Folly, Cherub): ~20% loss of icon level wines (Alpha M, Folly, Purple Angel)
  • Miguel Torres: ~ 100,000 litres
  • Viña Santa Carolina: ~ 200,000 litres
  • MontGras: ~ 5% tanks, 10% barrels
  • Viu Manent: Less than 15% of inventory
  • Concha Y Toro: Initial figure of 40 million was “wildly exaggerated, but losses will be significant.”

Update: I’ve also heard from Viña Los Vascos (a Lafite estate) in the comments.

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    Posted by Michelle at 10:33 am in Current Affairs, Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments (2)
    Oct 22

    A Little Bit of Politics: No on 9

    I try really hard to keep my personal politics out of this blog. You all don’t care (I hope) whether I’m Democratic or Republican or for whom I voted. But Issue 9 has a ripple effect across our city and our region, with consequences pretty far into the future.

    Kevin and I live in Northern Ky, and we’re pretty lucky in that the bus swings right by the house and drops off Kevin pretty close to his office downtown.  I contemplated a job in Mason for while, but the drive turned me off. I certainly can’t take a bus from Northern Kentucky to Mason without a whole lot of hassle, and having lived in the DC area, I no longer have the patience for traffic.

    When I lived near DC, I often worked projects in Princeton, NJ, and Philadelphia. To get there, I took a train (or multiple trains in some cases). Everything worked so well together: Amtrak, the New Jersey Transit, the DC Metro, and the Baltimore Light Rail. I could easily and comfortably get anywhere I needed to go, without worrying about weather or traffic. Everything connected. It was particularly wonderful when I wanted to go to New York City for an evening from Princeton or to the airport. One time I even took a train from upstate New York back to Baltimore. It’s so relaxing …

    The passenger rail in Alaska takes you across the state. We just went halfway.

    In Chicago, I usually take the Blue Line from the airport to Downtown. It’s so easy, and whereas a cab runs around $30 or a car includes renting + upwards of $25/day for parking, CTA costs me $3. The Blue Line also runs from downtown to a neighborhood I love with a great shoe store. And that’s just the Blue Line. Chicago’s public transportation is fantastic, running above, below, and around the city – making it a vibrant city, full of people from the surrounding suburbs who can easily get downtown to museums and shopping and work.

    Imagine how great it would be to take a train/light rail to the airport, or to the outer suburbs, or downtown without having to deal with parking?

    Those for Issue 9 play up the Streetcar, but that’s not the only thing Issue 9 covers. Basically, if you vote yes for 9, you’re saying you don’t ever want passenger rail connecting our fair city to Columbus and Cleveland. The 3C line would be dead to us. Heck, the fun train at the Zoo (within Hamilton County limits) would even be a problem. Yep, this measure affects the Zoo train too.

    I can’t vote on this. I really wish I could. And in the interest of keeping this brief, I’ll direct you to Wine Me, Dine Me and the Hoperatives. Both of those blogs have written wonderfully informed posts about how voting yes for 9 will slow down development in Cincinnati. I’m just telling you how much I love trains. Vote No on 9.

    Update: I recommend everyone read CityKin’s great mythbusting post on Issue 9.

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    Posted by Michelle at 6:16 am in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments ()
    Jul 28

    Ethics and Integrity

    This isn't a wine post. It's an ethics post.

    You see, I just got back from BlogHer, where I was disappointed in a lot of things. In particular, I was a bit floored to find all these women wanting to have sponsored posts. Now, in all fairness, it wasn't everybody, but it was enough to turn me off. In session after session, this topic came up and well, I just don't understand it.

    You see, pay for post or sponsored posts mean that someone is being paid (in either product or money or both) to write a positive review post about the product. In my mind, this compromises credibility.  I simply cannot comprehend why anyone would want to do that. With that in mind, I've signed the Blog with Integrity pledge, just to reinforce the Disclaimer & Sample Policy I already have for this blog.

    And just so you all know exactly where I'm coming from, here are the key points of my review policy:

    1. I do accept samples, as it's a great way to be exposed to new wines. However, I do not guarantee a positive review. I may hate it or just find it okay, not great. It's the risk someone takes when sending free wine into the blogosphere.
    2. I may not get to the sample right away, although I'll try to be fairly timely.
    3. I will always inform you – my readers – when I'm reviewing a complimentary meal or experience, or a sample wine.
    4. I will not take payment for posting a review of any sort.
    5. If a winery or company advertises on my site, I will not review their products during the time in which the ad runs. If the ad runs forever, I won't review their products at all.

    I'm also a pretty big supporter of Creative Commons. That means that my blog is licensed under Creative Commons – Non Commercial. Aside from the Enquirer, to which I've granted special permission, you can use my content but you cannot edit it and you must credit me with the creation.

    I use Creative Commons photos all the time. Previously I used any and all images licensed under CC, but since the Enquirer deal, I'll only use photos licensed for Commercial use. I will always provide attribution to the photographer as required under the license.

    This all boils down to Don't Steal and Give Credit where Credit is Due.

    Finally, you all are pretty timid in the comments, often preferring to email me. I've never really had any trouble. "Gentle readers" is a phrase that truly applies to you, and I appreciate that. But just in case, a quick reminder that we live by the Bill & Ted Rule here: Be Excellent to Each Other.

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    Posted by Michelle at 2:23 pm in Current Affairs, Knowledge, Legislation, Life | Permalink | Comments (5)
    Apr 23

    “Green Wines” for Earth Week: Alternative Packaging

    For Earth week, Kevin and I decided to try two different wines in alternative packaging. One of these wines you'll appreciate, the other – not so much.

    We started with the Bouchard Beaujolais Nouveau 2008 from Boisset. We picked this up because it's in a special PET plastic bottle. Why is this important? Because every year, tons of wine is shipped over from France in a hurry, and the weight of all those bottles is a drag on jet fuel. Beaujolais Nouveau takes a lot of heat for this, so this year, the producers went a little green. In fact, Boisset is a leader in the field of green packaging, having released a California wine in a PET bottle and they pioneered the French Rabbit tetrapak. According to the press release for this particular bottle,

    "Were all of this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau imported to North America
    similarly packaged in PET or other alternative packages, we estimate
    saving literally millions of pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from
    entering our atmosphere," notes Boisset. Life-cycle analyses conducted
    by third-parties have suggested that PET bottles produce 40% fewer
    greenhouse gas emissions than a traditional bottle. For all the
    Beaujolais Nouveau imported to the US and Canada, this translates into
    an estimated reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of more than
    2,000,000 lbs2. For the world’s total Beaujolais Nouveau production of
    5 million cases, Boisset estimates savings of more than 37,000,000 lbs of CO2.

    Not a bad wine for earth week, right? Well, not really. It's a bad wine. Happily, I think it's just the wine that's bad and it doesn't have anything to do with the packaging. We both found it to be a little fuzzy and having no finish. I also thought it was a little sour. We served it chilled, as directed, but I think I'd rather use this wine for Sangria than drink it on its own.
    Our review: Happy4

    Next we tried the Bota Box Old Vine Zinfandel. Yes folks, a wine in a box. Don't judge it – Franzia is no longer the norm. Off the top of my head, I'd recommend the Black Box Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, the Rain Dance Shiraz from South Africa, or this Bota Box Old Vine Zin.

    Are these knock-your-socks off wines? No, but they have a lot going for them. If you like an everyday table wine, but can't finish a bottle on your own, a box is perfect. It's the equivalent of about 4 bottles (3 litres) but you can take a month – sometimes two months – to work your way through the box. The wine stays fairly "fresh" the whole time. I have a couple of girlfriends who would benefit from having a box wine sitting around.

    Our friend Mike, from The Naked Vine, recommended this particular box to us. He took it with him on a cruise (1 container of wine per cabin, you see). Since we're headed on our own cruise this summer, we thought we'd try it. Our verdict is that its not bad at all. It's got a lot of big fruit up front, very punchy and full of various dark berries. It has a full feel in your mouth, although it does have a fairly short finish. It's pleasant.

    Our review:
    Now, Kevin and I have a disagreement on this one. He gives it extra points just for being in a box, with his final assessment being a Happy1.
    Alternatively, I look at it as I would any glass of wine. If I hadn't known it came from a box, I would have scored it a Happy2, so I'll stick to that regardless of from whence it came.

    Happy Earth Week!  Go a little green, if you can!

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    Posted by Michelle at 9:18 am in Current Affairs, Wine Notes | Permalink | Comments (4)
    Mar 31

    Local News: Discounts, Tastings, and Paella

    There are three interesting events / offers coming up at local wine shops. These are in order of occurrence, but make sure you RSVP soon for the Liquor Direct event listed at the end.

    Tomorrow is the day when the new Kentucky tax goes into effect, raising
    your taxes in the middle of a recession. That's right everyone. Go buy
    your alcohol today!  In response to the tax, The Party Source is launching a new program effective April 1: The Party Source New Deal, which will help you combat the tax and save money when buying in bulk.


    • 10% discount on solid cases of wine (previously 5%)
    • 5% discount on mixed cases of wine (new)
    • 10% discount on solid cases of spirits (previously 5%)
    • 5% discount on mixed cases of spirits (new)
    • 5% discount on mixed cases including both wine and spirits (new)

    It starts to get a little more complicated when you start adding in sizes. For instance, a 3-5L bottle or a box counts as 3 bottles towards your case.  But if you hate math (like me), don't worry. The Party Source has provided a cheat sheet you can download
    that details the whole program. One last fun item on this – any wine or beer spirits orphans in your cart, outside of the case, gets a 5% discount.


    Next, our friend Hector Esteve of Paella at Your Place
    will be at Chateau Pomije in O'Bryonville this Friday, April 3, for
    Casual Friday. The accompanying wine tasting will showcase the medal
    winners from the recent Cincinnati International Wine Festival. The
    tasting runs 5:30-8:30 pm and costs $15 per person.


    Finally, Liquor Direct
    is having a nifty event on April 7 (next Tuesday). From 5:30 – 8 pm at
    the Fort Thomas location, you can enjoy a special event led by Bruce
    Neyers, owner of Neyers Vineyards
    near Rutherford (Napa). Bruce is also the National Sales manager for
    the excellent Kermit Lynch Wine Selections.  Bruce will lead the
    tasting and discussion centering around some of his own wines as well
    as some selections from the Kermit Lynch French portfolio. You can show
    up early for appetizers and a meet and greet. Spaces are filling up
    fast, so call 859.291.2550 or email Kevin to make your reservation. Oh, and like so many events at Liquor Direct, this event is free.

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