Topical wine review:
Wine & Mother Nature
A hailstorm of epic proportion struck France’s Bordeaux and Cognac regions on the night of Saturday May 26th, causing the loss of grapes which potentially would have yielded 8 million bottles of wine. A counter to this story surfaced in July, as French officials approved the use of netting in an attempt to reduce hail damage. At the opposite end of the spectrum to the Bordeaux and Cognac issues, 2018 saw Burgundy reporting the biggest white wine harvest ever in Maconnais and Chablis. Washington Post’s Dave McIntyre reigns in the gloom and doom reports on the impact of the excessively rainy year around Virginia, which included the news that Barboursville has declared 2018 an Octagon-worthy vintage.
In April of 2018, Bordeaux’s Criminal Tribunal returned a guilty verdict against Grand Vins de Gironde (GVD) on charges of fraud for selling lesser wines labelled as more prestigious appellations, vintages and châteaus. The company was fined $500,000.
Virginia’s Firefly Hill Vineyards, located in Elliston Virginia, had 2.5 tons of grapes stolen off its vines on Monday, September 10th. The grapes were slated to be harvested the next morning. The perpetrators have yet to be found.
In October, the wine world was rocked by the notification from the Court of Master Sommeliers that 23 of the sommeliers who were awarded the honor of Master Sommelier would be stripped of their title only bestowed upon them a few weeks prior. One of the recipients had reported to the Court that a Master Sommelier, who was proctoring the exam, had provided information on the tested wines to at least one test taker.
Another hot topic was California winery Elouan and the use of Oregon appellation names Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue valleys on labels of its Pinot Noir.
April presented news that Napa Valley’s Heitz Cellars, a proponent of single-vineyard expressions and creator of the iconic wine Martha's Vineyard, have sold the winery to Gaylon Lawrence Jr.
In June of 2018, it was announced that E. & J. Gallo had bought Dave Phinney’s Locations Wine Brand. July brought news of the sale of Kosta Browne in Sebastopol, producer of high-end pinot noir, to Duckhorn Wine Company of St. Helena.
In June of 2018, Dennis Horton founder of Horton Vineyards in Gordonsville Virginia, passed away. Dennis was a pioneer in the Virginia winemaking industry and is probably most famous for bringing and planting the grape Viognier to Virginia.