Category Archives: Industry News

Louis Roederer’s Cristal for 96% off?

Picture it:  You are shopping for a bit of sparkling wine for a weekend picnic with your peppy puggle, Hector, and a group of your best friends. All of a sudden you see a bottle of $7.99 Cava with 91 points from Wine and Spirits and a handful of great customer reviews. You look at the image and think, “OMG, I wonder if that $7.99 bottle of “Cristalino” Cava from Spain is actually Louis Roederer’s mind-blowing Cristal marked down from a $199 to just $7.99. Your picnic will be legendary and you, my friend, are awesome. Whether this has ever actually happened or not is irrelevant; what does matter is that you might confuse the two or think that Cristalino is related in some way to the legendary House of Louis Roederer.

The human race is both tragically and miraculously capable of anything and for that reason one of our favorite Cavas, Cristalino, was forced to change its label image from the gold label, to the futuristic, “beam me up Scotty,” label you see today. I bring this up because we have updated our website to include Cristalino‘s new label and don’t want Cristalino fans to think it’s no longer available.  This lovable Cava is one of’s most popular Cavas and Cristal is, well, simply one of the world’s finest Champagnes, so when this lawsuit made headlines we all kind of wondered if this was really necessary.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter in the end, it’s just a curious footnote to that strange disclaimer on the label. It reads, I kid you not, “ JAUME SERRA CRISTALINO is not affiliated with, sponsored by, approved by, or in anyway connected to Louis Roederer’s CRISTAL® champagne or Louis Roederer.”

C’est la vie. Honestly, I’d happily have either one in my glass right now. Check out both wines or, better yet, try them.

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Women in Wine: Laura Catena

lauracatenaWhat does a Harvard and Stanford degree-holding emergency room doctor mother of three do in her spare time? Make wine, of course! Laura Catena, daughter of wine pioneer, Nicolas Catena, obviously inherited some of her father’s genes. Her drive, spirit and passion for Argentina and its culture of wines are very apparent in her current role as President of Catena Zapata winery. Continue reading Women in Wine: Laura Catena

Women in Wine: Madame Veuve Clicquot

A Champagne that adorns tables at weddings and other celebrations worldwide, Veuve Clicquot is now universally known, all because of a tenacious, young widow who took her husband’s company global.

Veuve_clicquotBarbe-Nicole Ponsardin married Francois Clicquot in 1798. Francois was part of the family business with his father, who, among other things, ran a Champagne house. When Francois died just 7 years later, he left his young, 27-year-old widow (veuve, in French) in charge of the company. Taking up the reigns and renaming the house Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Madame Clicquot proved herself a shrewd businesswoman. During the reign of Napoleon and through the Napoleonic wars, Clicquot established her Champagne brand throughout Europe, including the courts of Imperial Russia.

Continue reading Women in Wine: Madame Veuve Clicquot

Women and Wine

cheersIt’s National Women’s History Month! And today is actually the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day! What better way to celebrate than by sharing some fun facts and stories on women in the wine industry. Women do make up over 50% of the country’s wine drinkers and purchasers, after all, and more and more are finding a place in what used to be a male-dominated industry. Stay tuned to our blog this month where we’ll be featuring some fantastic women in wine throughout the years.

To get you started, here are some notable women and their accomplishments in the wine world

Madame Clicquot is credited with, among other things, inventing the riddling rack and process that is crucial to the Champagne making process.

– Josephine Marlin Tychson became the first woman in to build & operate a winery in Napa by building what is now Freemark Abbey.

– Dr. Ann Noble, researcher and professor at UC Davis, created the world-recognized UC Davis Wine Aroma Wheel.

– Mary Ewing-Mulligan was the first American woman to gain the prestigious Master of  Wine credential and is the North American president of The Institute of the Masters of Wine. She also co-authored the ever popular “Wine for Dummies.”

– Dianne Nury became the first woman chairman of Wine Institute in 1998.

Wine writers like Karen McNeil, Andrea Immer-Robinson, Leslie Sbrocco and Natalie McLean have also transformed the industry with their innovative writing and winning personalities! We celebrate our women in wine this month – which women in wine have inspired you?

ZAP 2011

Went to the ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) grand tasting two weekends ago. This is the huge Zinfandel tasting that takes up 2 whole buildings in San Francisco's Fort Mason every year. Now this is an event which draws thousands of people and it can be a bit of a madhouse. There are so many producers showing that it can be hard to get a handle on which to taste. My strategy was to hit some of the ones I have liked in the past, yet try to taste some new ones as well. I tend to like the Russian River Valley and Mendocino and Napa Zins, along with the more restrained Dry Creek Valley producers. The reason is I like wines that have some acidity and balance to the fruit.

So I spent 4 hours there and here are some highlights, I won't bother describing the low points. From the wineries whom I am already familiar, I loved the whole Ridge lineup, in this case all 2009 Barrel samples. They were all good, but what really popped to me  was the Paganni Ranch, really fantastic. The fruit for that wine had a super zingy and blast of red fruits, but balanced.  Moving on to Ravenswood, I loved the barrel samples of the Old Hill and Teldeschi (year after year my favorites), these are cellar zins, which need a few years to combine the rather firm structure and loveley elegant and powerful fruit. On to Hartford where the Jolene's and Highwire were literally jumping out of the glass with their textbook Russian River character. Here we have high acidity and very vibrant brambly red fruits and spices. Over at Deloach the OFS was sprightly and again full of the RRV fruit I love so much, sadly they were not showing many of their smaller lot zins. Novy was  showing some gorgeous easy to drink wine. A producer whom I have never tasted before, Gamba really excited me with big yet balanced and wonderful wines. Seghesio as usual had some big boned yet wonderful wines. For me the Cortina and Home Ranch really rocked.  From Napa I loved the almost Claret like Chateau Montelena. Easton another producer whom I like showed a wonderful Shenandoah wine, and Claudia Springs rocked my world with all their lineup.  Another new to me producer was Bedrock, who had a wonderful wine and Gundlach Bundschu was showing some fine form as well.

Anyhow, there were actually many more who I enjoyed, and it seemed to me that many producers were pulling back from some of the port-like monsters.. although there were still many of these producers and they have many fans, just not me. I really feel that people who don't look that deeply into the world of zin are missing something, because they can be such joyful and exhuberant wines. Zap was great.