Unpacking somm spending: Courtney Schiessl discusses the wine purchasing habits of sommeliers, who tend to drink well above what’s typical for their income brackets. She interviews a variety of sommeliers to explore this trend and its causes and effects (also making good use of our salary survey data!). [VinePair]
The latest for To Kalon: Constellation plans to introduce a new brand focused on To Kalon Vineyard, with Andy Erickson making the wine. The company has applied for trademarks, but it’s likely that Andy Beckstoffer, who owns 89 of the 678 acres of the vineyard, will contest them. Esther Mobley dives into these new developments and the site’s long history. [SF Chronicle]
Understanding taste: Scientists have long understood taste-receptor cells on the tongue and the neurons that communicate to the brain what we're tasting, but they are only now discovering how the two are connected. Semaphorins are key for signaling, and a new study demonstrates that a few types of the molecule are connected to taste. [Popular Science]
Wine groupthink: Warning against the danger of groupthink, Robert Joseph points out that confirmation bias applies also to the world of wine. Groupthink distracts us from what is actually happening. When considering trends, it’s crucial to maintain a broad perspective. [Meininger’s Wine Business International]
Calera acquired by Duckhorn: Duckhorn has purchased Calera, a key Pinot Noir producer in California’s Central Coast. The deal includes the winery, brand, tasting room, and vineyards. The Calera winemaker, Mike Waller, will continue in his position, and founder Josh Jensen will join Duckhorn’s board of directors. [Decanter]
Gallo buys Germain-Robin: Ukiah-based Germain-Robin has been acquired by E&J Gallo Winery. The distillery, founded in 1982, is considered California’s first luxury brandy brand. Co-founder Ansley J. Coale Jr. and the current distiller and cellarmaster, Joseph Corley, will remain involved in operations. [The Press Democrat]
Remembering Dennis Martin: Dennis Martin, longtime winemaker at Fetzer, died on August 13 at age 69 after a journey with prostate cancer. A well-loved figure in Sonoma County, he was a mentor to many and worked for Fetzer for 30 years. [Wine Spectator]
What do you think?
Do you relate to the challenges that Schiessl describes in her article when it comes to drinking with industry peers? How do you think about your budget for wine? Are there issues here that should be confronted?
Mobley asks, “Could some vineyard names be too historic, or too inextricably tied to the earth, to be apt for a modern business’ trademarking?” What do you think? (And if you haven't yet read Matt Stamp's feature article on To Kalon, be sure to do so! Further, you can learn more about Andy Erickson via Kelli White's recent interview with him on winemaking directions in Napa.)
How have you seen wine groupthink in your circles? How can we pay more attention to what is actually happening, beyond our own passions and peers?
We’ve been discussing Duckhorn, Germain-Rogin, and the subject of mergers and acquisitions already on the forums. Read through and chime in here.
I find the somm spending article side by side with the groupthink article very interesting. I feel too often we can be in our own echo chamber and forget that our tastes can be far removed from what actually moves (there's a reason that big buttery Chard is still one of my top BTG items). By one upping each other and trying to be geeky and cool is how we got so much orange wine that people don't want to drink or much natural wine and petnat that is mousy (but still supported by people who celebrate it BECAUSE of those flaws - sorry, bad wine is bad wine), etc. Those wines are just a fraction of what really sells in restaurants and, in turn, restaurant sales are dwarfed by off-premise (almost 8 to 1 in my state). It's a reminder to me that I need to be even more excited about finding a quality $10 wholesale Cabernet than I am about that "Oh, you haven't heard of this undiscovered biodynamic Loire producer?"