Gina Dallara: January 2009 Archives

Ten-Buck Chuck?

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yellowtail-shiraz.jpgBy Robert Farmer

I suppose we are now officially in the age of Expectations Adjusted Downward. News from Down Under recently popped up about over-supply of and under-demand for premium wines. Australian wine makers have historically relied upon a consumer base outside their borders. And global demand for higher-end wine has been evaporating faster than a rain puddle in the Outback.

So, as has been the trend globally, Australian producers have had to adjust prices downward, setting a new threshold for so-called premium varietals. Have we entered the era of $10 premium wines? Probably not, but we're getting closer. And in Australia, the problem may have been self-inflicted --at least partially.
By Courtney Cochran

This news just in:  judges at the annual California State Fair wine competition are apparently more than a little inconsistent in their evaluations of medal-winning (and non-winning) wines. According to an in-depth report published by the Journal of Wine Economics, fewer than half of 65 judging panels at the fair evaluated over a three year period achieved "anything close to similar results" in their appraisal of wines submitted, and one group even awarded a gold medal to a wine it had previously thrown out of the competition - twice.

Cohn Walks the Walk

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Bruce-Doobies_large-771874.jpgBy Robert Farmer

In case you missed my recent profile of Bruce Cohn, it's worth pointing out again that in addition to his interesting backstory--as the manager of the classic rock band, Doobie Brothers, turned wine-maker and olive oil producer--Mr. Cohn is also one of the stalwarts in Wine Country when it comes to putting his (no doubt considerable) money where his mouth is.
By Courtney Cochran

According to a study just released by The International Wine & Spirit Record, demand for wine is projected to grow roughly 6 percent to 2.8 billion cases between 2008 and 2012, a figure close to in synch with pre-recession trends.  Global production is also predicted to grow over the same period to an estimated 3 billion cases annually, an increase of approximately 3.83 percent over earlier levels.  The findings support a long-held belief that wine is more or less "recession-proof" - meaning that drinkers continue to enjoy the beverage even when spending power is down.

Getting Pinched in Oregon

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By Robert Farmer

If you're like me you're by now a little tired of hearing about how bad things are economically in the world. And if you're like me, you probably help ease the sting of the daily bad news by indulging in good glass of wine or two at day's end - every day's end. But when it happens that the bad economic news is also related to wine, it leaves one not knowing where to turn.

Drought, Record Temps Worry Winemakers

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By Courtney Cochran

As if economic woes weren't already enough to worry about, California vintners are now coping with one of the most severe water shortages seen in decades, the result of several years of interminable drought brought on by prevailing La Niña conditions off the West Coast.  With many wineries reporting on-premise reservoirs at historic lows and dwindling well resources, the outlook is grim indeed for Golden State winemakers.

Opening Silver Oak

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silveroak.jpgBy Robert Farmer

Sitting as it was without bothering anybody in my wine cellar, the bottle of 1999 Silver Oak had been resisted long enough. So on Christmas last year, I decided the time was right to open 'er up. Frankly, I have not been the rabid advocate for Silver Oak as are many folks among the legion of fans the winery can proudly claim. I've been impressed, but also under whelmed by some vintages. And while I know the oak notes are the wines' signature, my experience has occasionally been akin to running headlong into an oak barrel.

Let's Have a Ball: Inauguration Night Wines

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By Courtney Cochran

When President-Elect Barack Obama takes office next Tuesday, he'll take the reigns of our nation in the midst of one of the most tenuous economic and political climates we've seen in more than a half-century.  Among other tall orders, he'll be tasked with shepherding an historic financial bailout, reconsidering our position in Iraq and resuscitating our flagging reputation on the international foreign policy scene.  It's a lot to get ready for, and we're happy to hear he's preparing for the challenge the way any serious new president would:  

He's throwing an enormous party.

Recession Ups and Downs Trickle to Wine Country

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By Courtney Cochran

With our nation now fully entrenched in a recession, no one can deny the ripple effects of the economic downturn coursing through our lives and those of friends, colleagues and family.  And, though we'd all like to imagine the wine industry impervious to the nation's economic ills, the fact is that wine country, too, is feeling the effects of the crisis.  Fortunately, it's not all bad news when it comes to financial affairs and wine.  

Wine Country Personality: Bruce Cohn

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Bruce-and-Moose.jpgBy Robert P. Farmer

Music and wine have been living together in harmony since the beginning of music and wine. The iterations are both subtle and obvious. Wherever you find good wine, you will reliably also find good music. For one man in Sonoma County, the combination has provided the philosophical basis for a life that has spanned successful careers in each field. And today at B.R. Cohn Winery, each of those careers live in the kind of accord that can only be cultivated by someone who knows what it takes to create a good two-part harmony.

Part I -One Man's Rocking Wine Country Odyssey
Part II -Listen to the Music (And Drink the Wine)
SBwinetasting.jpgSanta Barbara's wine making history, like that of many areas in California, extends back to the days of the Spanish missions - 200 years ago. Today, the region is home to more than 100 wineries and some 24,000 acres of planted vineyards.

Recession Edition: Wines to Brood Over

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By Courtney Cochran

With the Dow marching steadily south, unemployment on the up and deflation dangerously near, it's easy to feel there's little source for cheer these days.  Still, if there's anything a trying economic clime coupled with an already frigid winter welcomes, it's uncorking a wine worth brooding over.  Read on for a list of our top picks for wines with which to weather the current season - whether your portfolio is up, down, or you just can't bear to look.  No matter what, we've got you covered.

Part I: B.R. Cohn Winery

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Bruce-Cohn-Photo-tn.jpgOne Man's Rocking Wine Country Odyssey

By Robert P. Farmer

For Bruce Cohn, life has been harmonious. Sitting with him over a casual lunch not long ago, on a poolside patio next to his winery's tasting room and just a few steps away from his own gracious abode, it was clear even to the casual observer that Cohn is a man at peace with life. He speaks easily and eagerly about things related to wine--this year's production, progress on this year's crush, getting new barrels delivered. And he speaks just as easily, if sometimes wistfully, about the interesting road he traveled to get to this comfortable poolside place. It's a story about wine that involves music. It's a story unlike any in Wine Country, which is saying a lot considering the myriad unique storylines in this part of the world.

Part II: B.R. Cohn Winery

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BRCohn_Logo.jpgListen to the Music (And Drink the Wine)

By Robert Farmer

Reading books on buses yielded a new career path for the Manager of the Doobie Brothers. Before long, Cohn's interests were divided between the wellbeing of the rock-and-rollers and the health of the vines on his newly acquired land. Cohn had an idea that the olive trees might have some value, but hadn't really considered the vines on his land had the same worth. "I knew people in these parts were making wine, but I just figured that was done by Sebastiani and other people making jug wine at the time." In fact, Cohn originally saw cash from his grapes by selling them to Sebastiani, entering into a contract with to sell to the mega-winemaker his grapes exclusively.
By Courtney Cochran

As with every new year, 2009 will bring the birth of new wine trends and the departures of others.  Some we'll be sad to see go (so long, cellaring for sport!), while others we'll barely miss (we're talking about you, overly alcoholic wines).  No matter what, we predict you'll find lots of things to relish about the wine scene in '09, and along with them excuses for uncorking many a new bottle.

OUT: Heavy, Oversized Bottles
Heavy wine bottles will continue to come under fire from climate change-conscious critics in 2009, with good reason.  Developments in '08 such as popular British wine critic Jancis Robinson's "name and shame" campaign - which prompted visitors to her subscription-basis website to list wines made by wineries using heavier-than-usual glass bottles, so others could avoid purchasing them - have already led to several large wineries' decisions to begin "lightweighting" their bottles going forward.  It can't happen soon enough.