Wednesday, July 21, 2004

French Winemakers Hold Crisis Meeting
France's agriculture minister pledged Wednesday to inject more money into the promotion of French wines as the industry braces for a new dilemma: a bumper harvest.

After meeting with winemakers, Herve Gaymard announced plans for a 50 percent increase in public funding just two days after his ministry forecast that the country will produce 1.5 billion gallons of wine in 2004 — 20 percent more than last year. Production was hurt last year by a record-breaking heat wave that scorched Europe.

For an industry that's already overproducing, a good harvest can be bad news. MORE>
Emile Peynaud dies at 92
Professor Emile Peynaud, the forefather of modern oenology and a former Decanter Man of the Year, has died aged 92.

Over a career spanning 46 years, Peynaud wrote nearly 300 scientific articles as well as books on tasting and oenology. He played a key role in influencing winemaking practices in Bordeaux for several decades.

Peynaud, who was born in 1912, started his career at the age of 15 working for the Bordeaux n├ęgociant Maison Calvet. At 20 he published his first article in the Revue de Viticulture and in 1946 he presented his thesis on oenology. He went on to work alongside professor Jean Ribereau-Gayon at the oenology research department of the University of Bordeaux.

His most famous books include The Taste of Wine (1980) and Knowing and Making Wine (1982). MORE>

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Who was Australia’s First Wine Connoisseur?
On recent visit to Virginia I had the opportunity to visit Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the US. Among his many interests and achievements was a great love of wine; Jefferson considered wine a "necessary of life". Jefferson is also considered America's first wine connoisseur according to James Gabler’s book. Although this may in part be due to the extraordinary amount of material available about Jefferson; he is said to have written 20,000 letters and to have kept detailed notes and lists on his daily life. Jefferson tried to make wine from his vineyards at Monticello but never really succeeded. However he was confident that wine could be made in Virginia and encouraged several different attempts using the native and introduced varieties. The current 80 plus Virginian wineries attest to that confidence.

Having just finished Nicholas Faith’s Australia’s Liquid Gold, I’ve begun to wonder who might be considered Australia’s first wine connoisseur. James Busby brought many of vine cuttings into Australia, and is considered the father of the Australian wine industry but was he a connoisseur?

A little research on James Busby shows that he was not only interested in vines and wine but also co-wrote the New Zealand Treaty of Waitangi! Certainly makes him a contemporary of Jefferson, who is mostly known for writing the first draft of the American Declaration of Independence.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Australia. Oh, Lucky Country
Just returned from a 10 day visit to the East Coast where I was lucky enough to taste a few wines including two shiraz/syrah. There are only two shiraz on the East Coast? Well, no! In the area I visited there are about 5 wines made from shiraz/syrah grapes and about 80 wineries. Not anywhere on the East Coast that you know? Probably not as I’m talking about the East Coast of the USA, Virginia to be precise. What’s so special about Virginian wine and what has that got to do with Australia being a lucky country? Ever tasted Virginian shiraz/syrah?