Give a Social Media Shout Out to Small Business during Coronavirus Crisis

I have seen many dire warnings and concerns for the restaurant industry during this crisis.  I have the same concerns for this industry as well.  I also have concerns for small businesses and I extended this to retail stores, art galleries, importers, food producers, hair salons, dry cleaners, small clothing businesses, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, coffee roasters and houses and many other business types.

I know quite a number of small business owners are trying to be optimistic and yet experiencing an extreme gravity of financing their ventures.  Many restaurants are trying to mitigate their circumstances with take away food and some restaurants selling their wine collections.

I know San Francisco at its economic best, small businesses had to contend with a runaway landscape of commercial landlords that have increased rents for business in the past decade at rates that are not sustainable.

Restaurant closure rates in San Francisco before crisis was at a very high rate.  Noteworthy it wasn’t lesser known restaurants but well known establishments.  Between high closure rates due to high lease rate terms and yearly increases was enough then there is San Francisco’s Soft Story Retrofit which is responsible for another wave of closures–I saw a soft story retrofit on 19th and Valencia Streets in San Francisco and it took out two restaurants Burger Joint and Valencia Pizza & Pasta which had been in business forty five years (combined years).  I saw a sign on both businesses that they would reopen and then the next sign a few week later was “we are closing permanently.”

San Francisco voters passed Proposition D this year to fine landlords for excessive non-leased ground level commercial property.  Even with Prop D passing the City and County of San Francisco, the State of California and ABC will have to work towards helping the small business to survive as it is not just in governments interest but in everyone’s interest.  This can, of course, be extended to all governments in the US.

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As of 2017, there are 6,266 craft breweries in the US and the overall beer marketing in the US is $119.3 billion dollars.  There were not 6,266 craft breweries a generation ago and what this offered is individuals and partnership of people to create an enterprise.  Enterprise creation was a way for people to create a job for themselves as well as for others and economic value to the community.  It was not just something that happened in a few places around the US but distributed in every state.  It was an opportunity to create a job perhaps in areas of the country where jobs were not plentiful or you wanted to stay in your community and this is one way of doing so along with having a passion for business and craft beer.

But in the wake of this Coronvavirus crisis these small business are endangered.  Sometimes the collective imagination only sees success but for many business it is the immediacy of transactions that keeps their businesses going.  While some may still be producing beer a lot would be sold out of their own establishments and not all had a distribution to retailers.  Many craft breweries do have small business loans and those don’t just stop because of this crisis.  While banks can recall loans, confiscate assets and landlords seize property that does not help the local economy it actually does the opposite.

And, of course, I am very concerned for all small businesses of all types.  Just a month ago businesses were open and so many have had to close and no one has certainty when they will open again.

There was consumer confidence prior to this crisis and no numbers are needed to show that is completely vanished.  I won’t get into it now but perhaps later the US’s ‘penny wise and pound foolish’ principal on lack of funding for CDC pandemic operations and it is noted that in 2009 during the Great Recession that Susan Collins et al. voted to remove $870 mm in pandemic funding.  We cannot just magically produce medical and healthcare scientist and professionals out of the air and solve a crisis in a second.  The investment in CDC is essential.  Having proper protocol and making the right steps at the right time was missed before, during and still while we are in this crisis.  When we contain and have a vaccine and I only hope that is soon; we will still have other viruses to fight and I hope the US will change it’s policies on pandemics and be prepared for the next.

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If you have favourite small business give them a shout on social media.  Your call out is something that may remind someone that a small business is still open, has online ordering options and it alerts people to small business that need help.  While many have cannot spend anything now there are households that can — give a shout to your favourite small business and here are a few hashtags that might be helpful to calling attention to the small business in your social media call out: #helpsmallbusinesses #supportsmallbusinesses or create your own.  The importance is to call attention.  I hope we can help so that after this crisis we are not missing small businesses in our community but have them with us.

Imagine if your tweet or other social media shout out helps bring one additional customer and if multiplied to hundreds if not thousands of similar actions this can help a small business in need.

Thank you,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Breweries, Distilleries, Restaurants, Small Businesses | Leave a comment

I am Now Podcasting – James Melendez/JamesTheWineGuy – Take a Listen

I have started to produce my podcast and you can find it now on Spotify and Stitcher and soon on Apple, TuneIn and IHeartRadio.

I started this podcast to talk more in depth about wine, food, travel, other beverages and lifestyle.  I had looked at the analytics of all my social medias and YouTube and I know that I have different followers/audience members per each media.  I also know like most people on YouTube know there is a limited view time–rarely do people watch through an entire video not just mine but any.  Most are in the 1-2 minute range on most videos.

I love video and will continue to produce videos and I know there is a limit of viewing time based on several reasons:

1) YouTube is constantly displaying suggestions

2) There is a lot of content to view and

3) Finding the video you are seeking is not always easy to locate hence quickly clicking to the next video in hopes of finding the right content

Also, the video medium is certainly a captivating media where people feel they need to watch and not just listen to content.

Hence podcasting has no viewing dependency or perceived dependencies.  Podcasting offers something written pieces don’t–the ability to hear the tone of the host.  Also, listening while you are doing house work is another way to consume or downloading a podcast when you are traveling.  The office is prime for podcast listening.  Many work environments are open environments hence the noise can be annoying–hearing your neighbours chomping and chewing and loud co-workers and constant calls add to a desire to escape.  Listening to music or even the news can get repetitive.  Podcasts now cover every subject matter possible and a great way to add to your working environment; which might make that dull, repetitive tasks a bit easier to complete.

I have begun listening to podcasts in November 2019–not that long ago.  According to some statistics there are between 750,000 to 900,000 podcasts that exist.  Even with a large number it is difficult to find a good podcast to listen to.  I can count on one hand good podcast producers: NY Times Book Review, BBC Intrigue Tunnel 29 (a short limited series podcast) and few others from BBC.

I did review wine podcasts to get a flavour of who is producing, content and to listen to their delivery.  I did find wine podcasts to be less-than-intriguing and either people gave up producing podcasts or the topical matter was way too specific or even came across as a commercial.  So I decided given what I have listened to that I would offer a point-of-difference view point and delivery.  I also want to be giving a good level of coverage of wine and everything associated with it.

I will, of course, be on every episode and I do plan on having guests.  So subscribe and take a listen.  And I’d love to hear your thoughts on podcast, subjects and any comments or questions you might have: james@jamesthewineguy.com

Thank you, Merci beaucoup, molte grazie,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Per Favore Aiutate Italia/Please Help Italy (Coronavirus)

I dread to open any news channel online or broadcast to see that there is no containment at the epicenter of the Coronavirus.

The epicenter is Italy. 

Italy is suffering.  I keep reading about a constant lack of simple things like masks, gloves, protective clothing, long hours of healthcare exhausted healthcare professional, not enough facilities, lack of ventilators and so fourth.

This diagram  shows cases of COVID-19 cases is growing – this waterfall diagram show this terrible progression and no containment whatsoever in Italy.

This waterfall diagram shows increases of active cases increasing daily in Italy.

I saw another statistics today saying that there is a 10% mortality rate if you contract the Coronavirus in Italy–that is 2.5 x higher than the highest mortality rate.  I have seen images of Italy’s healthcare community working 18 hours days–this is not only not sustainable and these professionals are directly in harms way without respite, nutrition and sleep–this feverish pitch decreases a body’s immune system.

And to further put this in context is a New York Times podcast with Michael Barbaro who is interviewing Dr. Fabiano Di Marco.  It is a must listen and the title of this podcast is “It’s like a warand this is how Dr. Di Marco describes his experience treating Covid-19 patients right now.

And I was going to put this at the end of the article but it is too important to not highlight prominently ways you can help if you are able to help: here are some organisations that you use your help:

And also please forward this list to people in your community who can help.

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I was in Italy this past January in Piemonte and there was a constant news reporting from Wuhan.  Everyone was concerned back then and I don’t think anyone wasn’t thinking it wouldn’t come there way–it was a daily conversation then.  I have read several theories of why Italy has been so affected.  One of them was the high tourism rate in Italy from Asian tourists.  But Italy is visited in almost all of it’s 20 regions from people throughout the word–wouldn’t the rates be the same throughout?  The Veneto and Lombardia Coronavirus clusters are still a centre of the outbreak even now.

Here is a map of the quarantined areas as of 8-March-2020.

Most affected areas in Italy of Coronavirus (Credit: Dario Crespi)

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While I keep hearing from US officials that they have no symptoms that doesn’t mean a person is not a carrier.  Only an officially sanctioned Coronavirus test kit can confirm.

I have looked for any data to see if someone can spread coronavirus without being ill themselves? I have looked from guidance from CDC and the answers are not there.  I have looked online for reliable sources and there is no one source of truth at this time.  And if I get any I will link to those sources of information.

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The map below shows average weekly air travel in the world.  While flights have been stopped and borders are shut–people have come in contact with people and have no doubt spread it to every region in the world.  We are a global village after all.  We need to be very concerned and be proactive globally and locally. This is something we need to think about even after Coronaviris (and I pray it is contained soon).  Global trade is not going to stop but it could be slightly changed in the future.  Europe is at the centre of this maps of flights.

Average Weekly Travel on Planet Earth – Europe is the Centre of Average Weekly Travel (Credit: news.com.au)

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The first person presented with Coronavirus was 38 year male from Codogno which is a small town (90,000 people) and is southeast of Milano (60 km/32 miles distance). He did come into contact with someone who had been in China recently.  Codogno is not Milano thought it is relatively close.  Look at the Lombardia and Veneto clusters which are northern Italy.   Codogno is not on any tourists maps but it is a city that is headquarters to MTA which a producer of automobile products, systems and electronics.  If you look at the first cases of Coronavirus and where they were reported those towns were not tourist towns.

Northern Italy and especially Lombardia are centres of production of electronics, pharmaceuticals, automobile goods, technology and, of course, food, wine, textiles, fashion goods, leather goods, etc.  Trade is not just something that happens somewhere in insolation.

In the example of Pharmaceutical products they are centres that are constantly visited by the world Health Authorities (FDA, NMPA, MFDS, EMA) – site inspections are not infrequent–on the contrary they are frequent and before Coronavirus might be an activity that was happening somewhere at any given hour on planet earth.  Health Authority (HA) visits can be to inspect entire sites, a specific drug or even a specific process or systems.  Pharma organisation can host training teams, having team members rotating through from remote sites–and they can send those teams to say China or South Korea or Brazil, etc.  There is a steady stream of inspectors, buyers, and relevant company employees site visits, meetings and trainings.  The Lombardia cluster is intriguing–Coronavirus was most likely introduced by trade and not by tourist solely.  The subsequent connecting point was the elderly relatives of people working in a variety of industries who thus contracted Coronavirus and spread it.  It was not Italy’s elderly population in isolation that got infected without it being introduced through this route that I am explaining here.  The constant question is why is Italy so highly impacted and it is not just about a demographic (i.e. older population) –it is Italy in it’s daily course of making a living (and yes seniors are very high risk for Coronavirus).  Italy’s seniors were next in line to contract the virus when they were so close to the working population of Italy.

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Clusters of Coronavirus in Italy – the North has disproportionate numbers compared to the rest of Italy (Credit: New York Times)

The above map shows regional clusters through Italy.  I drew the red line which is the E35/E45 route going from Lombardia through Emilia-Romagna region to the Adriatic side–they are trade routes to the commercial port in Ravenna.  Emilia-Romagna has clusterings where there are large quantities of food–salumi, cheese, wine and even automobiles and electronics are produced.  This E35/E45 clustering is more pronounced that say to the ports of La Spezia or Genova.

What happens in the container business is consolidation of products prior to shipping to send worldwide—this trade route was harder hit than other trade routes simply because they are major centres along logical trade paths to the port.

I think the industry and reach of industry that Lombardia, Veneto and Piemonte have place in a such a risk position.  The “answers” I was seeking on the why were not accurate.  But I do think the long-term is to understand how not just Italy interacts with it’s customers worldwide is how we all do this.  And I hope we can mitigate a crisis like this in the future and also be prepared for the next viral outbreak.

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Italy is very much in need and I think the world can and must help to bring this to containment.  It is too much for me to lament and do nothing.  I hope we can all work to help Italy in it’s second, minute and hour of need.

If we in the world–regardless of where you are right now can help–we are helping people in need including ourselves.

Thank you/mille grazie,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in 21st Amendment, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Italy | Leave a comment

My Wine Tasting Table Is Open – JamesTheWineGuy

My wine tasting table is open!

It is always open but given this extraordinary time it seems there are two things going on—brands trying to go about business as usual as much as possible and brands where it has stopped operating or near stoppage.

I may be pointing out the obvious but I have always been in the business to sometimes point out the difference because our current state of crisis has made the usual something that is not there.  I am here and I am available to review beer, wine, spirits, coffee, allied products like wine glasses, openers, books, etc.  I have a bit more time which I never ever thought I would say.

I believe that an open and proactive position is important for everyone at any given juncture of life.

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I am also adding my sampling policy.

If you have any questions, thoughts, notions–let me know.

Thank you and Salute,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Extraordinary Times, Wine Review, Wine Sampling Policy | Leave a comment

Vintage Champagne and Global Climate Change – James Melendez

Clicquot’s cave in Reims with this fabulous Veuve yellow lit steps highlighting each vintage the house has ushered in

I love sparkling wine, I love Champagne and, of course, j’adore vintage Champagne.

I can never taste too often or too much and in this confessional I am a Brut Nature, Extra Brut and Blanc de Blanc aficionado.

Sometimes content finds me and not the other way around.

Let me explain.

I saw a video on YouTube that I thought at first was good but I was thrown off by an inaccuracy.  Here is the inaccuracy that started me on this data quest:

But thanks, in least, in part, to global climate change; warmer and milder years are more common in Champagne and you are seeing more and more vintages being called.”

Really?

First, I am not sure I would use the words of thanking global climate change for anything.

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I should also point out what I hope is obvious is that I am not a climate change denier–just in case there is a question.

But knowing Champagne the way I do and also a proponent of science I do prefer to see the data and documentation before proclaiming something that is not accurate. Champagne has and I believe will continue to be a challenging climate–challenge is a good thing for this king of wines.

The YouTubers statement about more vintage Champagne is unfounded and an arm chair quarterbacking is not helpful but harmful.  I had a hunch but I needed to back up this hunch and look at the data.  I sought the data and completed a comprehensive analysis to see if there are more vintages of recent times.  The overly and un-expertly view is done with a mere casualness versus a more thorough and diligent proof and building of documentation.

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Here is my research – I wanted to include the oldest producers of vintage Champagne and in doing so found some of the largest producers.  Here are the producers vintage wines I utilised; only one producer I used two of their vintage wines which is Clicquot.

Vintage wines represent 1-5% of all Champagne wines produced–very small and yet very telling as well.

Louis Roederer Cristal 2002 Magnum

Louis Roederer Brut 1980 Magnum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clicquot

Producers and specific wines in my study:

  1. Champagne Bollinger RD
  2. Champagne Canard-Duchêne Millésimé (total house production of 4.2 mm bottles; vintage and non-vintage)
  3. Champagne Dom Perignon
  4. Champagne Drappier
  5. Champagne GH Mumm Millésimé (total house production of 7.5 mm bottles; vintage and non-vintage)
  6. Champagne Gosset Celebris
  7. Champagne Lanson Millésimé (total house production of 4.2 mm bottles; vintage and non-vintage)
  8. Champagne Laurent-Perrier Grand Millésimé (total house production of 7.26 mm bottles; vintage and non-vintage)
  9. Champagne Louis Roederer Cristal
  10. Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Palme d’Or (total house production of 10.8 mm bottles; vintage and non-vintage)
  11. Champagne Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Rare (total house production of 4.3 mm mm bottles; vintage and non-vintage)
  12. Champagne Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque
  13. Champagne Pol Roger Winston Churchill Cuvée
  14. Champagne Pommery Cuvée Louise Brut Millésimé (total house production of 4.38 mm; vintage and non-vintage)
  15. Champagne Salon
  16. Champagne Taittinger Comte de Champagne (total house production of 5.5 mm bottles; vintage and non-vintage)
  17. Champagne Veuve Clicquot (total house production of 19 mm bottles; vintage and non-vintage)
  18. Champagne Veuve Clicquot La Grand Dame (total house production of 19 mm bottles; vintage and non-vintage)

I researched for the above vintages per producer and placed them in a spreadsheet.  This spreadsheet below is a “heat map” but I am careful with using this term as “heat” in this map is not to highlight actual temperature but showing where vintages land per year per producer.

Champagne Vintage Heat Map

This map was to show a relationship and chart what it does look like year-over-year.  While I could have mapped 19th century vintage wines like Veuve Clicquot which was the first in 1810 and also Perrier-Jouët and Louis Roederer Cristal; the case of Cristal as it was produced for Tsar Alexander II and it was not available to the general public until 1945.  There was not enough data to map for the 19th century and hence the biggest cluster of information is the 20th century.  It might be argued that Champagne vintage wine are a phenomenon of modernity and takes a hold in the last century.

There were epic events that were also problematic in the 20th century such as WWI and WWII which Champagne was in the middle of the these wars.  Notre-Dame de Reims Cathedral was bombed in WWI by Germany 1914 and received considerable damage and renovation was completed in 1939.  In WWII, the surrender of Germany took place 7 May 1945 at this former school which is now the Musée de la Reddition in Reims (Museum of the Surrender); when I stayed in Reims in 2016 my hotel was across the street from this museum.

Musée de la Reddition – The flags of the nation-states involved in WWII.  Probably one of the few places on earth where the Soviet flag is still flying

But even during both world wars Champagne was still being produced and few vintages were produced.  Even with difficult conditions people still endured to produce wines in Champagne.

Back to the heat map of Champagne vintages.  I thought this was a good starting point to see what the vintages against each producer and year might look like. This map charts 1921 when there are three producers with vintages in that year.  This data collection has 90 years of data (I did not include 2010s because not all vintages are declared or known yet).  But I think this set of 90 years worth of data was adequate to look at behaviours of Champagne vintages.  There are two notable colours in this map: orange showing vintages for all producers in one year (i.e. meaning all producers had a vintage for particular year) and blue denotes no declared vintages for all producers in a given year.

There are only three years where all producers had a vintage on the same years – those years are 1921, 1928 and 1934–this unto itself is not remarkable as there are only three producers those particular years.  But more interesting is that no other year after 1934 had an all vintage year by all producers.  If there were more vintages year-over-year as is supposed by  arm chair quarterbacks all producer vintage years would happen again and if not commonly.

The blue represents years where no vintages took place in a given year – those years are 1922, 1924, 1927, 1930, 1931, 1933, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1944, 1950, 1954, 1956-1958, 1963, and the last was observed in 1968.    The 1930 and 1940s isn’t too surprising given few producers and this is a WWII period and hence little demand.  The 1950s ushers in 5 vintages from a total of 9 producers with a vintage wine.  But looking at 1968 and even earlier it is hard to recognize a pattern and hence a numeric analysis is needed.

Also, keep in mind there could be many more producers with a vintage especially in the last half of the 20th century–they were not included simply because it is especially difficult to account for every single vintage by all producers–such data is not readily available or findable.  Perhaps the only body that could do this is the CIVC (Comité Interprofessionel de Champagne).  I do think this data set is relevant and important as many of these large producer have well known wines and well known vintage wines.

Another way to view this would be to look at total bottles of vintage wine produced by all producers; the difficulty there is to understand that quantity to weight the average of all vintages if possible–again this data would be very difficult if not nearly impossible to assemble.

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Some top line data points:

This study shows 411 vintage wines for the 20th Century of these producers and if I add 19th Century then there are a total of 423 vintage wines.  Vintage range per producer in this study are from 7 vintages to 64 vintages (only one producer can say this and that is Veuve Clicquot).  If all producers are averaged for total vintages produced that number is 22.83 or 23 vintages in total.  When you add Clicquot which is important to do–the total span of vintage possible years is 200 if measure to 2010.

The span of vintage production ranges from 30-200 years from first to last  vintages produced to the year of 2010 – the average if you use Clicquot is 59.5 years and if you remove Clicquot the average is 51.2 years.

The average time between vintages for 20th century production is 2.56 years meaning that on average there are four vintages per decade per producer.

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If there were more vintages being produced this would be most pronounced especially since say 1980, 1990, 2000 decades (or even earlier) if global climate change was inducing more vintages.  The gold curve represents total vintages possible per each given year (more precisely if each producer had a vintage every single year it would be the gold curve).

The blue curve show the total vintages per each given year.  This curve would have fewer valleys and it would be reaching to gold curve if not touching this line if Champagne was experiencing increased growing degree day temperatures.  In fact, 2006 to 2010 shows a decline in the number of vintages.

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I didn’t include the earlier period with three producers each having the same year vintages: 1921, 1928 and 1934–as this behaviour didn’t repeat itself.  So I looked for years where there were highest percentage of vintages.  The above line graph captures these vintages and they are as follows:

1985 and 1988 is the only decade with two of the highest percentages in this study of 20th century vintages.  There is a decade gap between 1966 and another gap in decade for the 2004 vintage.  The 2004 vintage is only 1 percent higher than the 1985 and 1988 vintages.  These high percentages would be at this level especially in the 2000 decade but it is 16 years if we include our current year of 2020.  Wouldn’t we see more vintages in the late 80 and 90 percentiles as evidence of global warming–if those conditions were increased growing degree days in Champagne?

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This intriguing line graph starting from 1900 to 2010 depicts average vintages by decade and producer.  This line graph highlights a large amount of historical data and each line is a different producer.  While this seems erratic–it is and it would be disappointing if it weren’t–Champagne has an irregular climate to produce routine vintage wines.

The orange line is integral as it is an average of all producers.   The dotted purple line is the trend line which is showing an upward tendency i.e. increased vintages from 1900 to 2010–while the answer is yes from a longer historical period of 110 years it might be the answer one might use to show more vintages of recent times.

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While the above graph is important–I thought that a more focused view would be an interesting and a valuable view.  This graph below depicts 1960 to 2010 – the longer view did have a particular and predictable trend line because it would show an upward trend–it would have to for very logical reason–more producers entering with vintage wines.  And hence a trend line loses value in this example because it is capturing entrants in vintage producers as well as increased vintages.

Hence the 1960 to 2010 vintages has a normalized trendline because this cut of data shows a majority of vintage producers.  The trendline has flatlined if not slightly tilting downward.  This graph below does not show an increase number of vintages which I believe is accurate.  Champagne is as unpredictable in this study period as one might expect and it does fit the reputation of Champagne.

When the next decade of vintages becomes available and when added to this current data set will it show if there is an increase, decrease or equivalency–that will be interesting to see.

The CIVC does not declare a vintage–a producer does–the CIVC does have requirements for a vintage wine such a minimum of three years aging in bottle and a house that is a mix house of non-vintage and vintage wines cannot use all of their wines produced in one year solely for vintage labels–wine must be saved as reserve wines.

I suspect that in the entire history of wine making in Champagne there has never been a decade where a vintage wine could have been produced in every single year of any decade.  What keeps a Chef de Cave from declaring every year a vintage wine?  Simply reputation–no Chef de Cave would risk their reputation along with their house.  Reviews of a producer where there are constant year-over-year vintages would show in those scores.

Champagne as I suspect even with global climate change will not produce more vintages–in fact the opposite could also become a reality: potentially fewer vintages.

Why potentially fewer?

If there is more rain, wind, colder weather, less sun, more frost, late budding, reduced growing period, etc. i.e. challenged growing degree days.  Global climate change is not always or only about increased temperature but much more than that.

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Champagne is complex (both wine and region) for several reasons–it is at the frontier of a northerly latitude: 49°5, a predominate oceanic climate with continental accents.  But increased global temperatures will not be a 1-for-1 ratio of average global heating units will not evenly translate to Champagne.  I do think and I have believed that Champagne is at an intersection of challenge and beauty.  I speak glowingly about one of my favourite wine regions on the planet–I love the story and I love what difficulty can produce: greatness, elegance and finesse lyrically served by the glass.

Clicquot Crayere

Champagne Drappier

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

Louis Roederer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Here is my podcast on this topic on Spotify.

 

Santé

James

James the Wine Guy

Special thanks for the CIVC – Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne, Champagne Louis Roederer, Champagne Veuve Clicquot, Champagne Lanson and Champagne Drappier.

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Champagne, Climate Change, Vintage | Leave a comment

Buy Made in Italy Goods Now; Especially Now in this Very Perilous Moment – James Melendez

Io Amo Italia!

I am sure it is no secret that I have a profound love for Italy–it’s history, art, food, wine, geography, geology, designs, accomplishments and people and so much more.

I was just in Italy in January in Northern Italy–and by the way Italy is lovely year round–it was romantic with the beautiful snow capped Alpi.  I have seen Italy only when it has plenty of tourists.  And now with Coronavirus and I saw constant broadcasts while I was there and I could not imagine just one month later how Italy has been affected.  I was thinking and hoping the virus would be contained and controlled though I had a lingering fear.

Italy is now reporting 1,694 cases of Coronavirus and 34 deaths.  Milan and Venice are empty–the tourism trade is filling the grips of people cancelling their travel plans to Italy.  When you are in Italy–you can figure out quickly how the tourism trade is not a trade but a major industry.  I keep reading how this will send Italy’s economy southward.

*****

While many may not be planning to Italy or have cancelled their planned visits–Italy is still and always open for business.  While many people will stay away I do think it is important to plan your purchases of Italian food, wine, clothes, art, books, ceramics and anything with Made in Italy.  While I always promote Made in Italy not just for the label but for the merits of thoughtful and compelling and high quality products.

When you are out shopping keep Italy in mind–here is a thought starter:

  • Wine – just an idea starter–there are so many Italian varieties and regions:
    • Barolo
    • Barbaresco
    • Etna
    • Vittoria
    • Sagrantino di Montefalco
    • Chianti Classico
    • Soave
    • Alto Adige
    • Cirò
    • Lambrusco di Sorbara
    • Alta Langa
    • Taurasi
    • Prosecco
    • Franciacorta
    • And, of course, there are many more wines
  • Food – most if not all of these should be widely available:Pasta
    • Oregano
    • Olive oil
    • Calabrian peppers
    • Prosciutto
    • Coppa
    • Fontina
    • Grano Padano
    • Pomodoro – dried, canned – whole and sauces
    • Parmigiano-Reggiano
    • Coffee
    • Mozzarella
    • Chocolate
    • Gianduja
    • Finocchiona
    • Modena Balsamico
    • Taleggio
    • Provolone
    • Assagio
    • Burrata
    • Lardo
    • Candies-Cookies – Loacker
    • Brassiola
    • Mortadella
    • Truffle oil
    • And there are hundreds of more Italian ingredients available

Piemonte Hazelnuts

Prosciutto San Daniele and Burrata

A peppermint from Fida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calabresse Ground Red Pepper

Dolci di Laboratario di Risistenza Dolciaria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Sparkling and still waters – well known brands and there are a good number of private labels of Italian waters
  • Appertivo-digestivo beverages Amari – Cynar, Averna, Ramazzotti, Lucano, and many more
    • Aperol, Campari

Amari di Averna, Meletti, Ramazzotti and CioCiario

  • Italian Spirits – Grappa, Limoncello, Amaretto, Gin, Sambucca
  • Beer – Peroni, Ichnusa,  Moretti, Minabrea, Birrificio Lambrate – to name a few
  • Coffee – Lavazza, Illy, Caffe Vergnano, Segafredo, Caffe Borbone, Kimbo – to name a few

Italian spirits

*****

Clothing – there are so many well known brands (Fendi, Prada, Gucci, Ferragamo, Valentino, Giorgio Armani etc.) and there are private label lines at US department store retailers like Neiman-Marcus and Saks who have their Italian lines and in general are well priced.

  • Hats – Borsalino, Portaluri
  • Belts
  • Gloves
  • Shirts
  • Pants
  • Sneakers
  • Dress shoes
  • Boots
  • Sandals
  • Sunglasses
  • Backpacks
  • Weekend bags
  • Scarves
  • Pocket squares
  • Ties
  • Wallets
  • Sweaters
  • Jackets
  • Vests
  • T-Shirts

Hats by Portaluri from Apulia, and Borsalino; scarf by Bally.

And many items for your home and self:

  • Ceramics – decorative and tabletop
  • Home fragrances – candles, oils
  • Soaps, lotions and shampoos
  • Glassware – Bormioli
  • Household – furniture–my dining room table is from Italy, chairs, couches, rugs, beds, bookshelves and media cabinets
  • Household fabrics – Frette
  • Art, sculpture and antique
  • Journals/diaries – Fabriano

****

There is so much you can find in your market place for Made in Italy goods.  I do shop for Made in Italy all the time not just now.  Given the situation in Italy will be my Made in Italy food products meals that I prepare myself–so that I am doing my part and pulling for products from Italy.

So I hope the list above is helpful and in thinking about products from Italy and so think about creating your Made in Italy dinner for your table.

*****

I hope there is containment, control and cure for this terrible contagious and fast moving virus.  I hope that the US will do it’s part and provide help via the CDC to all nations that need assistance.  And I do hope the CDC/NIH are pivotal in changing the potential course in the US and around the world.  I hope that Italy is back to where it was when I was last there and, of course, for all nation-states and people affected for containment and cure.

Salute,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Food, Food and Wine, Italy | Tagged | Leave a comment

January-February 2020 Wine Review – James Melendez

Here are wines that I tasted in January and February of the first two months of this new decade.

Also, I was delighted to have attended both Nebbiolo Prima and the Grandi Langhe in Alba, Italy and ZinEx (Zinfandel Experience) in San Francisco.  More exciting experiences to come in the next few months…. so stayed tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starmont Carneros Chardonnay 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This wine presents with a nose of fresh granny smith apple, pear, almond and flowers.  The palate is presenting notes of pear, flowers and toasted almond.

****

Silverado Carneros Chardonnay 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nose of heirloom apple, pear and fresh flowers; palate of Comice pear, Granny Smith green apple, and hint of spice.

****

Walter Hansel Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Nose of fresh green apples, flowers, and beeswax; palate of passionfruit, green pear, almond and crushed oyster shell.

****

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Nose of red-black fruit, underbrush, suede, and dried violets; palate of Loch Ness blackberry, pepper, dried herbs and rose petal.

 

 

 

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nose of bright red fruit, freshly sanded wood, and fresh flowers.  Palate of early season red cherry, pepper, red pepper, and ground spice.

****

Kenwood Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc 2018 – SRP  – $11.99

 

 

 

 

 

Such a good value; this wine’s nose exhibits yellow-green citrus zest, oyster shell, and flowers; palate of Meyer lemon citrus, moist minerals, and fresh flowers.

****

Salute,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Chardonnay, Chianti, Chianti Classico, DOC Etna, Grillo, Lambrusco, Lodi, Nerello Cappuccio, Pineau des Charentes, Russian River, Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, Wine Review, Zinfandel | Leave a comment

ZinEx San Francisco Tasting Scores 2020 – James Melendez

Another nice showing of Zinfandel/Primitivo producers from mainly California, one Primitivo from Puglia and one Plavac Mali from Croatia.  The Pier 27 location which serves as an embarking point for cruise passengers to San Francisco is also the City’s wine hall.  I do miss the old Ft. Mason pier where many of the ZAP tastings had been held–an old timey place and it reminds me of positive experiences there.

 

ZinEx is a very nice event where unlike many tastings features food from restaurants, food brands, caterers, etc. It is nice to see an even for both media/trade and consumer to have a nice selection of food.

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Questions I asked at this years tasting:

  • Is your Zinfandel 100% if not what else is in the wine?
  • If you use Petite Sirah – why?
  • Tell me about vinification

I do get why Carignan is utlised as it has to do with long term practice and/or heritage.  I am interested if it is for heritage reasons OR “I use for colour” or I hear often “to add balance or richness” for Petite Sirah.  For the colour reasons, I am not sure why Zinfandel needs to be darker–if I wanted a Petite Sirah–I’ll certainly reach for one.  Petite Sirah over expresses itself in Zinfandel even in a small percentage while I do not think that is the case for Carignane.

I am not a fan of Petite Sirah; you can look at number of acres of Zinfandel* at 40,770 acres and Petite Sirah* at 7,602 acres.  It is interesting online the number of acres for Petite Sirah is all across the map in including one writer who says there are “10,00 acres” which I think this person meant 1,000 but that is far off the current number as documented by the California Department of Agriculture.   I do not think there will ever be a day when the number of acres increases to the level of Zinfandel production–just no where near the complexities of Zinfandel.

I like ZinEx format–a comfortable place–a good experience of food and wine.  I wish I could have tasted everything. I do hope to do more Zinfandel tasting this year in my favourite wine glass.

Here is what I tasted at ZinEx:

Amador County The Native Zinfandel 2015 92 Points
Amador Cellars Amador County Zinfandel 2016 93 Points
Amador Cellars Family Reserve 2016 92 Points
Scott Harvey Amador County Zinfandel 2017 91 Points
Bellagrace Vineyard Estate Amador County Zinfandel 2016 – 92 Points
Bella Block 10 Russian River Valley Zinfandel 2014 – 91 Points
Carol Shelton Monga Zin Old Vine Lopez Vineyard Cucamonga Zinfandel 2017 93 Points
Carol Shelton Peaceland Vineyard Fountaingrove District Zinfandel 2016 92 Points
Carol Shelton Cox Vineyard Old Vine Mendocino County Zinfandel 2016 92 Points
Carol Shelton Wild Thing Old Vine Mendocino County Zinfandel 2016 93 Points
Easton Amador County Zinfandel 2015 92 Points
Easton Fiddletown Zinfandel 2016 92 Points
Easton Old Vine Rinaldi Vineyard Fiddletown Zinfandel 2016 92 Points
Easton Shenandoah Valley of California Estate Zinfandel 2016 92 Points
Easton Shenandoah Valley of California Estate Zinfandel 2000 93 Points
Elyse DCV Zinfandel 2014 92 Points
Elyse Korte Ranch Vineyard Zinfandel 2014 92 Points
Elyse Morisoli Vineyard Rutherford Zinfandel 2014 – 92 Points
Fields Family Stampede Lodi Zinfandel 2016 – 92 Points
Fields Family Stampede Lodi Zinfandel 2015 – 92 Points
Fields Family Stampede Lodi Zinfandel 2014 – 91 Points
Grgic Plavac Mali 2016 – 93 Points
Hartford Family Old Vine Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard RRV Zinfandel 2017 93 Points
Hartford Family Old Vine Hartford Vineyard RRV Zinfandel 2016 – 93 Points
Hartford Family Old Vine Jolene’s Vineyard RRV Zinfandel 2012 – 92 Points
Hendry Vineyard Napa Valley Primitivo 2017 – 93 Points
Hendry Block 7 & 22 Napa Valley Zinfandel 2016 – 92 Points
Hendry Block 28 Napa Valley Zinfandel 2016 – 92 Points
Hendry Block 28 Napa Valley Zinfandel 2010 – 93 Points
Miraflores El Dorado Estate Yellow Block Zinfandel 2016 – 92 Points
Miraflores El Dorado Estate Zinfandel 2015 – 92 Points
Moss Roxx Lodi Ancient Vine Reserve Zinfandel 2016 – 91 Points
Oak Farm Vineyard Block 417 Mohr-Fry Ranches Lodi Zinfandel 2018 – 91 Points
Oak Farm Tievoli Lodi Red Blend Wine 2018 – 90 Points
Oak Farm Lodi Zinfandel 2017 – 92 Points
OZV Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel 2017 – 92 Points
Ridge Oatman DCV Zinfandel 2017 – 92 Points
Ridge Mazzoni Home Ranch Zinfandel 2016 – 92 Points
Ridge Jimsomare Monte Bello Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Zinfandel 2017 – 93 Points
Rombauer Fiddletown Zinfandel 2017 – 92 Points
Rombauer Sierra Foothills Zinfandel 2017 – 92 Points
Rombauer El Dorado Zinfandel 2017 – 92 Points
Rombauer Napa Valley Zinfandel 2017 – 92 Points
Accademia dei Racemi Sinfanrosa Manduria Primitivo 2016 – 93 Points
Steele Pacini Vineyard Mendocino County Zinfandel 2017 – 92 Points
Steele Catfish Vineyard Lake County Zinfandel 2016 – 92 Points
Terra d’Oro Amador County Zinfandel 2017 – 90 Points
Terra d’Oro Home Vineyard Amador County Zinfandel 2017 – 90 Points
Terra d’Oro Deaver Vineyard Amador County Zinfandel 2017 – 91 Points
Terra d’Oro SHR Field Blend Amador County Zinfandel 2017 – 90 Points
Tonti Family Russian River Valley Rosé of Zinfandel 2018 – 91 Points
Tonti Family Old Vine Russian River Valley Zinfandel 2017 – 92 Points
Tonti Family Artisan Reserve Russian River Valley 2017 – 92 Points
Tres Sabores Ingrid and Julia Napa Valley Rosé 2019 – 92 Points
Tres Sabores Rutherford Estate Zinfandel 2017- 91 Points
Tres Sabores ¿Por Que No? Napa Valley Red Wine 2015 – Napa Valley Red Wine – 92 Points
Turley Ueberroth Vineyard Paso Robles 2013 – 93 Points
Turley Hayne Vineyard Napa Valley Zinfandel 2013 – 92 Points
ZO Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2017 – 91 Points

More information from Zinfandel Advocates and Producers can be found here.

* Data source for acres planted in California – California Department of Agriculture

Salute,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Last photo courtesy of Cantina Enotria.

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Cleto Chiarli & Figli Vecchia Modena Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco DOC ’18 93 Pts James Melendez

A very nice well priced Lambrusco–this dry Lambrusco by Cleto Chiarli & Figli. Cathedral stained glass coloration; expressive nose of strawberry, fresh flowers and crushed sea shells.  Palate of mountain strawberry, creaminess, fresh flowers, and crushed oyster shell.

Salute,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Last photo courtesy of Cantina Enotria.

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Posted in Lambrusco, Sparkling | Tagged | Leave a comment

Pineau des Charentes & Food – James Melendez

Pineau des Charentes is a truly unique beverage–I try to avoid using the term wine because it is not.   It is grape must (juice) blended with Cognac eau-de-vie.   The grape juice are from familiar wine grapes such as Ugni Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Columbard and Sémillon for white Pineau des Charentes and Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot for red Pineau des Charentes and, of course, there is a rosé version as well.

I have reviewed Jean Filloux Vieux Pineau des Charentes Rosé and the label says dessert wine.  My guess is the US alcohol regulator TTB required them to place this on the label.  The reality is wine begins when must is fermented.  Simple grape must does taste quite different than fermented wine.  There are always hints or clues to a wine must as it relates to it’s variety but it does take experience to assess that on a blind tasting.

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Legend has it that in 1589 a wine maker placed wine must in a barrel that he thought was empty but instead it contained eau-de-vie. But my guess is that it was intended.  It was the height of the renaissance I do think a lot of experimentation was taking place.  Simply trials of both fermented and non-fermented juice with eau-de-vie was to see which was the most pleasing–hence the wine must and eau-de-vie combination was the first in class.

****

I was fortunate last year to have an entire dinner paired with a different Pineau des Charentes per each course.  I loved this bold statement and then the refinement of plated food with this fine beverage.  The dinner was in a private home staged by Place Invaders event productions.  The meal was prepared by Nissa who is a herb educator but she is much more than that she is a chef.  Nissa has such a wondrous love of fresh herb and for food–she finds any opportunity to place fresh herbs in her cooking and cocktail craft making as well.

This is my second dinner where Nissa has delighted my palate with her food.  A true delight a pleasure to be at this dinner.

The cocktail was a Supersonic Flight of the Concord – a rye and Pineau des Charentes by Bach Gabrielsen drink accented with concord grape sour and fresh delightful sage and grapefruit and Cardamom bitters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The roasted apple and red kuri squash soup paired with Pineau des Charentes Normandin Mercier.  A fantastic pairing of autumnal flavours.


A Chicory Waldorf salad was paired with Pineau des Charentes Normandin Mercier – nice bitter greens balanced with apples and a very light apple dressing.


This pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi with sage butter pesto was a delight for this meal and the flavour of pumpkin is autumnal but I could enjoy this year round effortlessly.  Feather light Gnocchi–a great tension between fresh herbs, butter and the sweetness of the pumpkin and Ricotta.  This dish was paired with Réviseur Pineau des Charantes


This is the turkey breast with Mezcal cranberries with orange rosemary gravy and a lovely marshmallow mint leaf.  This gorgeous dish–the best turkey dish I have ever tasted was this dish.  This was paired with Jean Filloux Pineau des Charentes.


And to finish this stellar dinner was with a Rosemary lemon Quince Mille-Feuille.  This dessert was paired with David Ramnoux Pineau des Charentes.


The food presented along with each fine Pineau des Charentes was not about did the Pineaus kind of work with each dish?  But the success was compelling and it was effortless to enjoy this beverage as part of a meal.  This experience showed me this delightful beverage can compliment each plate during a dinner and not just the beginning or end.

A lovely, lovely beverage that I would suggest to put on your must taste list for 2020.

 

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Food, Food and Wine, Pineau des Charentes | Leave a comment