Monday, September 21, 2009

Back from Champagne

I returned from France this past Friday, and have come away beyond impressed with what I saw and tasted in Champagne. From the most glamorous grands maisons to the most ardent grower-producers, this is a region of wonderful history, stunning beauty, and, it seems, better wines now than ever. Keep an eye out for videos, articles, and links here over the next several weeks as I transcribe my notes, edit my videos, and take stock of what was truly a remarkable experience.

In the meantime, a couple of items of note to start off the week:

This past Friday, Eric Asimov, the wine writer for The New York Times, ran a blog post on a climate-change study that has been conducted by Greenpeace. In it, he notes the report’s warnings on how rising temperatures can—and, in some cases, already have begun to—affect the great wine regions of the world. He writes:

“If climate change continues at its current pace through 2100, the report suggests, vineyards worldwide will be displaced by 1,000 kilometers to the north or south depending on which hemisphere they are in, and a swath of Mediterranean vineyards will be lost.”

Asimov continues: “The report pays particular attention to Burgundy, which has already felt the effects of a warmer climate. Around Beaune, the center of the Côte d’Or region, grapes were harvested generally 13 days earlier from 1988 to 2006 than from 1973 to 1987. Over the same period, the report states, the time it took grapes to progress from ripening to maturity dropped to 40 days from 50 days.”

And, finally, a birthday: Beaulieu Vineyards has released its 70th vintage of the highly regarded Georges de Latour Private Reserve, one of the great wines of California. (Click here for the press release on Reuters.)Year after year, this Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is a standout, and, in the way of great Cabs from all over the world, has the uncanny ability to stand the test of time. I’ve tasted bottles from 20 and 30 years ago, and have been very impressed by both their longevity and their ability to gain immeasurably in complexity and elegance. As one of the greats of the American wine industry celebrates this milestone, it’s worth taking note…and perhaps popping the cork on a bottle.


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