Mary Ann Graf dies: Mary Ann Graf died last week of pancreatic cancer. She was the first woman to earn an enology degree at UC Davis and the first woman winemaker of California’s modern era. After working at Simi Winery in the 1970s, she co-founded Vinquiry, a wine lab in Sonoma. [WineBusiness.com]
US-UK trade: The US and UK have signed two agreements ensuring undisrupted trade in wine and spirits upon the UK’s departure from the EU, planned for March 29. The UK is the fourth largest export market for American wine, and the top market for spirits, by value. [Decanter]
Supermarket wines: The latest Wine School highlighted supermarket wines, and reader responses reflected the “alternate universes” of the wine business: curious enthusiasts versus those who drink what they know and don’t want to be challenged. Wine choices don’t reveal character, cautions Eric Asimov. And while a critic is unlikely to speak approvingly of mass-produced wines, that isn’t a judgement of those who enjoy them. [NYT]
Harnessing Brett: Esther Mobley reports on winemaker Mandy Heldt Donovan’s unconventional use of Brettanomyces as a tool for achieving the profile of a sour beer. Her Merisi Manic White isn’t a “natural” wine; she uses commercial yeast and wants to control Brett. Chris Howell of Cain is known for his similar interest in working with Brett. [SF Chronicle]
Blind tasting study: A new study considers the impact of blind tasting training on accuracy and wine preference. Among other findings, the study suggests trained tasters use the areas of the brain involved in high-level cognitive processes, while novices use the primary gustatory cortex and emotional processing centers. [Forbes]
Supreme Court case update: The wine industry is waiting for the Supreme Court decision on the Tennessee wine retailer case, which won’t come until summer. Many think there’s a strong chance that the state’s residential requirements will be struck down but that the decision will be narrow; regardless, it will set precedence for future cases. [Wine Spectator]
Cocktail safety: Drinks writer Camper English has launched a website about cocktail safety: CocktailSafe.org. Modern experimentation has led to a revitalized cocktail culture, but there are also dangers in creating homemade syrups, using old mugs, and experimenting with unconventional ingredients. [NYT]
Our favorite SevenFifty Daily article this week
Tannin science: SevenFifty Daily tackles tannins, exploring their sources, development in the vineyard and winery, and role in the finished wine. Producers explain how they manage tannins, a process in which there are many possible choices and techniques available—and no single right approach. [SevenFifty Daily]
What do you think?
What do you think of the various viewpoints expressed in Asimov's article, from him and those quoted? How do you think about "supermarket wines"?
What are your thoughts on Donovan's unconventional use of Brett? Are there any constants in our always-evolving thinking about wine flavors and what constitutes a good wine?
Does this blind tasting study reflect what you've experienced and observed? Is there anything else you wonder about regarding blind tasting's impacts on wine experience and perception?
Have you encountered any unsafe cocktails?
Did you learn anything about tannins in this exploration of tannin science and management?
What else have you been reading this week?