Spring 2008

May 6-10 : Santé : Bloor-Yorkville Wine Festival 647 999-0550,, or Steve Thurlow, 416 878-7955,,

May 15: New Zealand Wine Fair, Toronto, 888 993-9927,  

May 25-28: Vinoble '08, Jerez, Spain, international exhibition of fortified and dessert wines,   

June 13-15: Niagara Wine Weekend and Auction, Canada's version of the prestigious Napa Valley Auction,

Celebrate Spring California-Style

Save the air fare and fill your glass, California coming to town April 28-May 25 with the LCBO and the Wine Institute of California teaming up to promote California wines, more than 140 of 'em, plus a special release of 24 from Napa and Sonoma April 26.

The promo, in 600 LCBO stores, features 1,100 tastings, and the 11 event kitchens pairing California cuisine and wines.

You're invited to join the celebs at a Malibu pool party starring wine, food and music sampling from the Golden State at the official kick-off at Brookfield Place (formerly BCE Place), Bay St, Toronto, May 2, 11:30 am-1:30 pm. It's free!

In addition, the California Wine Fair kicks off the promo April 28 at the Fairmont Royal York, Toronto - where wine fans sample 450 wines from 130 wineries – and the Sante Wine Festival spotlights California at the ROM May 8.

There are typically 100-125 California wines in stock at Vintages, where California accounts for 15% of business, #3 behind France and Italy. It's America's largest producer by far with 2,300 wineries and 90% of production - the fourth

largest producer in the world, behind France, Italy and Spain.

At $234 million, Canada is California's #2 market after the UK. and

Winemaker Nose

Bordeaux winemaker Ilja Gort has insured his nose for $8 million with Lloyd's of London. He bought the policy after hearing about a man losing his sense of smell in a car accident.

Gort, of Château de la Garde, is not allowed to ride a motorbike or be a boxer, knife thrower's assistant or a fire-breather...


In Your Cups!

Britain's Firebox Co. sells a bra called WineRack for women on the go.

It holds 750mL of your favorite vintage and adds two full cup sizes to your bustline. You quaff the wine via a tube although whites apparently tend to get warm after a while.

It's out of stock but in the interim you can order a Beerbelly – looks just like a spare tire. Talk about off the radar!

Heavy Going

Heavy reserve wine bottles have no place in modern winemaking and are simply an indulgence, according to Oz Clarke at the 2008 Climate Change and Wine Conference in Barcelona.

"I'd like to say to the people who put wines in bottles that give you a sprained wrist – I'd like to break every single one of those over the heads of the marketing men who promote them.

"It's nonsense when the empty bottle weighs as much as a full bottle from another winery. Companies are doubling the energy needed to move such a bottle from one market to another."           

Why You Look At The Cork!

A diner at Zafferano in London sent back a wine worth $35,000, calling it a "fake". Zafferano GM Enzo Cassini said the diner didn't find a mark of provenance on the Petrus 1961. "The customer had a problem because when he saw that there was no mark on the cork he didn't want to drink it any more," Cassini said. The restaurant had an expert examine the bottle but the results were inconclusive. Normally, the domain's brand is on a cork.

The customer ordered Mouton Rothschild 1945, which cost nearly $39,000.


Add Hock

For the first time, Paris pawn shops are taking wine for cash. More than 350 bottles worth €60,000 have been pawned – including a €5,000 Domaine de la Romanee Conti.

Crédit Municipal is storing the wine in its 18th-century cellars with 80% humidity and 12-13ºC. Minimum value is €60, for which the client receives 50%.

Credit Municipal has been running for 230 years, with 140,000 clients, and 93% of the items pawned are redeemed by their owners. Wine not redeemed is sold at auction.

Bottom Line

Georgi vodka wants to put Eliot Spitzer's sweetie's bum on the backside of every bus in New York and is in talks to pay Ashley Dupre a six-figure amount to be this year's Georgi "butt girl."

Screw Off

Italy's Allegrini has quit of Valpolicella Classico over not being allowed to bottle under screwcap. The wine will be known simply as Valpolicella.

"We've been waiting for the regulations to be amended," says winemaker Franco Allegrini. "But they haven't, so we have decided to pull out of Classico. The closure is more important to us."

Allegrini feels that the screwcaps help to retain freshness better than natural or synthetic cork and market demand has prompted the move.


Not Too Late

Middle-aged people can cut their heart disease risk 38% by drinking alcohol, says, the Medical University of South Carolina.

"Most people are aware that moderate alcohol use can be part of a healthy lifestyle, yet current guidelines caution non-drinkers against starting to drink in middle age," says Dana King, lead author of the study. "We were excited to find that one to six servings of alcohol a week lowered cardiovascular risk for our participants." The study showed no increase in blood pressure for participants.

Vice Versa

A Friuli winery has launched a wine poetry competition. Poets will submit original verse on wine, peace and multiculturalism to Filari in Versi, sponsored by Cantina Produttori Cormòns. 'We want to send a message of peaceful coexistence of different cultures, from the land where Latin, German and Slavic heritages converge,' says the NE Italian winery.

The winning verse will be the back label of Vino della Pace (wine of peace). Yoko Ono designed the front label for the 1998 vintage.


Top Drop

Perrier-Jouët, the prestige cuvée owned by Pernod Ricard, which just bought vodka giant Absolut, has launched the world's costliest champagne, 100 cases of 12 at £40,000 a case, which includes a trip to meet cellarmaster Herve Deschamps.

A three-litre Dom Perignon sold in 2005 had held the record at £9,365.

Mr. Big

Who`s the worlds biggest wine and spirits buyer? Systembolaget in Sweden or the LCBO in Canada

Actually, it`s UK supermarket Tesco, which retails €4.3bn of alcohol, almost double the LCBO`s €2.5bn ($3.7bn) and more than double Systembolaget`s €2bn.

Ebb & Flow

Wine production is falling, says the International Organization of Vine and Wine. About 267 million hectolitres was produced in 2007, 6.9% down, while consumption was unchanged at 241 million. About 7.9 million hectares (19.52 million acres) of land was given over to wine production.

Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain have seen their share of world trade slip to 61.8% from 78.8% in the late 1980s while the share held by Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand climbed to 28% in `07 from 3.1% in 1986-1990.

Importing Message

For a decade, Steven Trenholme has offered a superb day-long seminar entitled Importing Wine for Pleasure and Profit. Over 500 people have benefited and the next is June 9: $295, 416 883 3580 or

Wine Roots

Crushing the theory that Syrah (alias Shiraz) originated in Shiraz in ancient Persia (now Iran), researchers have traced this lovely grape as the offspring of Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche vines.

Grapevine geneticist Carole Meredith of UC Davis and Jean-Michel Boursiquot at Montpellier set the record straight using DNA testing. Mondeuse Blanche is from France's Savoie region. Dureza is grown in the Ardeche, west of the Rhône River. The union is most likely a random event, but they don't often result in such spectacular offspring. DNA profiling has already found that the noble Chardonnay is the chance scion of Pinot and a Central European grape called Gouais Blanc.


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