Bascaules Returning to Château Margaux & Remaining with Inglenook: Château Margaux has appointed Philippe Bascaules as managing director, a position held by Paul Pontallier until his death earlier this year. Bascaules worked at Margaux for 21 vintages before coming to Napa to work at Francis Ford Coppola’s Inglenook Estate in 2011. He will stay on as director of winemaking there. [Wine Spectator]
New Framework for Cava: Previously, nothing has distinguished cheap from fine Cava. But this summer, Cava de Paraje was introduced, a designation for single, fine vineyard sites. Along with maximum yield, aging requirements, and more, regulations stipulate that producers of Cava de Paraje must own their vineyards and vinify 85% of their base wines. Andrew Jefford further explains the new rules. [Decanter]
Constellation Purchases Charles Smith Brands: Constellation Brands will purchase five of Charles Smith’s Washington wine brands for $120 million. The brands are: Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Eve Chardonnay, Boom Boom Syrah, Velvet Devil Merlot, and Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon. Through this deal, Constellation will become the second largest supplier of Washington state wines. [Wine Spectator]
Reconsidering Bordeaux for Today’s Market: Despite its diminished lack of appeal in the current market, Eric Asimov argues that there’s still a place for Bordeaux. The NYT wine panel tasted 20 wines from the Médoc and Pessac-Léognan from the 2011 vintage, all of them under $100, and offers notes and conclusions. [NYT]
Tourism Booming in Oporto: Jancis Robinson reports on the uptick in tourism in Portugal’s Oporto (Porto), which has long been the home of most of northern Portugal’s wine businesses. New hotels, restaurants, and roads, along with EU subsidies and loans, have propelled the region’s recent success. [JancisRobinson.com]
Falconers Protect Napa Grapes: Vineyards benefit from biodiversity but are often threatened by small birds, many of them non-native species, who feed on ripe berries at the end of the growing season. In Napa, some grape growers turn to abatement falconers like Rebecca Rosen to scare them away. [Munchies]
What do you think?
What do you anticipate is ahead for Château Margaux, and for Inglenook, in light of these developments?
Share your thoughts on the new rules for Cava de Paraje. How much of an impact do you expect the new designation to have on Cava's reputation, and how soon?
Any thoughts on this latest Constellation purchase?
What's your overarching perspective on Bordeaux? How often do you drink it at home or with friends? Do you have any favorite inexpensive—yet still excellent—examples?
Have you traveled to Oporto recently? Do you agree with Robinson's assessment?
Are you familiar with other less well-known ways in which grape growers protect their crops?
What else have you been reading this week?
How does that differ from GC? Seems to me that declassification is always an option for a producer. The regulations just set parameters for them if they choose to use them. Comte de Vogüé Misigny [blanc] being labeled at Bourgogne being the famous example that comes to mind. I also don't mind large producers having icon wines. The grocery wines, in many cases, can afford a producer the luxury to make something great. We will see if this designation ever becomes relevant, but the idea seems pretty legit to me.
Because in Grand Cru it is an area delimited by by the governing body. You can only make Clos Vougoet in that specific area and indeed someone can choose to produce under it if they wish or label it under one of the other AOCs that cover the area. The difference in this new Cava certification is that say a winery has a property called Finca d'en Joan (Joan's vineyard), they can opt to register this name make a Finca d'en Joan - Cava de Paratge (sorry, I refuse to use Paraje) but it's them choosing to elevate this property to that name and tada, Cava Grand Cru. This is not Cava saying, "Yes, Finca d'en Joan is the bomb and at a level to make Cava de Paratge." There is a longer process for this that already exists in Catalonia called Vi de Finca and it is much, much more stringent and history of quality wine needs to be demonstrated. Yes, owners of the land nominate and champion it, but it is only officially recognized after a lengthy process at which point it is essentially a Grand Cru of Catalonia. There is also the Vino de Pago of Spain but they're separate entities.