NY Wine & Culinary Center Picks Boss

CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. -- A tourism industry veteran has been selected to be the first executive director of the $7.5 million New York Wine & Culinary Center, for which ground was broken here in August.

Alexa Gifford spent more than five years with the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance, most recently as president.

"The excitement is building for the opening of the New York Wine and Culinary Center, and naming an executive director is an important step," said Rob Sands, COO and president of Constellation Brands, and chairman of the NYWCC board. "Three months after breaking ground on the site, it is wonderful to begin to assemble a dedicated team of professionals to lead the center."

The center (shown in an artist's rendering above) is scheduled to open next summer on a plot of land next to Canandaigua Lake. Constellation Brands Inc., the Wegmans supermarket chain, Rochester Institute of Technology and the New York Wine & Grape Foundation partnered to establish the not-for-profit organization, which will be housed in the new 19,475 square-foot facility.

The project marks a major step in increasing the visibility of New York's wine industry to tourism and agribusiness interests. How significant the industry is to the state is shown in a just-released report from MKF Research, a consulting firm based in California but analyzing New York's situation.

With 31,000 acres of vineyards, 212 wineries and 1,384 grape farms, New York is the nation's second largest wine producer after California and the third biggest grape grower behind California and Washington.

Wineries, grape producers and related businesses in New York, from liquor stores to makers of bottles, glasses and labels, account for almost 36,000 jobs and a $1.3 billion payroll, the state-funded study reported.

In addition, it said that wine sales alone generate $420 million in sales, but the state industry's multiplier impact on the economy came to $3.4 billion in 2004.

A new state law that went into effect in August allows direct shipment of wines into and out of New York (click here for a wine trail connection) and is expected to provide a major boost in those numbers compared to what they were when New York's highly restrictive shipping laws were in force.

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A Bi-Coastal Wine Effort

Noted Napa Valley winemaker Scott Harvey took with him more than just pleasant memories after recently helping judge the annual New York Wine & Food Classic in the Finger Lakes.

Harvey, right, purchased a batch of Riesling grapes to be shipped by refrigerated truck from the Anthony Road Wine Co. on Seneca Lake to use in creating his own Riesling wine back in St. Helena, CA.

Harvey has long been impressed with "the quality and consistency of Finger Lakes Rieslings."

A Riesling has won the top award -- the Governor's Cup -- in the New York competition in six of the last eight years. This year's winner, however, was a 2004 Vidal Ice Wine from Casa Larga Vineyards that also was voted “Best Dessert Wine” and “Best Ice Wine” en route to the ultimate award.

I lunched with Harvey at the winemaker's quarters in August of 2003 when he was the winemaker at the Folie a Deux vineyard near Napa. At that point he had branched out with a sideline of his own wines en route to his current independent status. Even then he was enamored of the Finger Lakes Rieslings and mentioned his desire to create his own version.

Harvey comes by his fondness for German-style wines honestly. As an Army "brat," he lived with his family in Germany during his formative years and returned there for an education in winemaking.

Ever since noted wine writer Dan Berger annointed him one of California's best winemakers in the 1990s, anything Harvey does attracts attention. His bi-coastal Riesling should be the next such item.

According to Jim Trezise, head of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, Harvey and John Martini of Anthony Road will unveil the Napa and Finger Lakes versions of Riesling from the same vineyards during the Unified Symposium in Sacramento in late January.

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No End Seen To Aussie Wine Glut

Consumers who have been taking advantage of depressed Australian wine prices caused by oversupply can look forward to more of the same.

The latest forecast by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corp. (AWBC) says the excess can last another five years because of a succession of above-average grape yields.

AWBC spokesman Lawrie Stanford said that while the imbalance of supply and demand may not ease before 2010, the industry has already responded to the problem by reducing plantings.

"We're not actually adding to the production significantly but we do have this stock overhang and we need to move it into the markets which currently exist," he said. "Our estimates are that over time, those markets can absorb this, but in addition to this we need to be developing new markets also."

One example of another way to cut into the glut is being seen with McGuigan Simeon Wines. Its report to shareholders says the company will suspend some wine grape grower contracts as a result of the oversupply.

Managing Director Brian McGuigan (above) told shareholders at the annual general meeting in Sydney that the company would prefer to no longer be a purchaser, but a partner with grape growers in wine production to share the risks and benefits over the long-term.

Meanwhile, a Wine Industry Outlook conference in Adelaide was told that slowing exports and a grape glut could see supply outstripping demand until 2010.

Lawrie Stanford, the Australian Wine and Brandy Corp.'s information and analysis manager, said while the red wine grape surplus was likely to ease, white wine grape oversupply would last at least two year: "It's anticipated that the rate of export growth will slow as Australia works off a larger base and competition from overseas wine producers intensifies."

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Massachusetts Wine Bill Vetoed

Backers of moves to lessen restrictions on interstate wine shipments may have been disappointed yesterday when Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney vetoed a bill that would have placed new regulations on wine shipments via mail.

Despite its passage by both houses of the state legislature, Romney said the legislation protected existing liquor distributors in Massachusetts rather than helping consumers.

Massachusetts (click here for a wine trail connection) consumers would have been able to buy wine from out-of-state vineyards, although their choices would have been restricted. It also would prohibit shipments by wineries producing in ex cess of 30,000 gallons a year if they had been represented by a liquor wholesaler in the state.

"This bill does not give wine lovers the opportunity to purchase the bottlings they want," Romney said in a statement. "It creates artificial barriers to protect Massachusetts wholesalers at the expense of a free market."

The Supreme Court ruled several months ago that a number of states, Massachusetts among them, had to treat in-state and out-of-state wine purchases by mail equally. Under current state law, only local wineries could ship by mail.

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Globally Speaking, the Best Wines Are Chosen

Photo by William M. Dowd

The results are in from the 2005 International Wine & Spirit Competition and the gleam in the eyes of numerous winemakers is a reflection of the gold medals.

The best-in-class golds, as opposed to the standard gold medals, for wines went to, in alphabetical category order (any classes not listed received no best-in-class golds):

AC Rouge Anjou-Loire:Château La Variere Anjou Villages Brissac AOC Prestige 2003.

Amarone della Valpolicella DOC-Veneto 2000: Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC Classico 2000 "Campo Del Titari" (Italy).

Barolo-DOCG, Piedmonte, 1999: Ca'Radice Argante Barolo DOCG 1999 (Italy).

Blended Red Wine/Australia: Haan Wilhelmus Barossa Valley 2002.

Blended Red Wine, Cabernet Dominated/Coastal Region: Boschendal Grand Reserve 2001 (South Africa).

Blended Red Wine, Cabernet Dominated/Stellenbosch 2001: Vergelegen Red 20091.

Blended Red Wine, Shiraz Dominated/South Africa: Guardian Peak SMG 2003.

Botrytis Riesling, King Valley/Australia: Brown Brothers Family Reserve Noble Riesling 1999.

Bottle Fermented Sparkling Wine, Chardonnay/Pinot Noir, England, Vintage: Ridgeview Merret Bloomsbury 2002.

Bottle Fermented Sparkling Wine, Rose/New Zealand, NV: Lindauer Rosé NV.

Bottle Fermented Sparkling Wines, NV, Pinot Noir-Chardonnay/New Zealand: Deutz Marlborough Cuvée.

Bottle Fermented Sparkling Wines/New Zealand, Chardonnay, NV: No. 1 Family Estate Cuvee No 1 NV.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Blend/Chile: Vina Sena 2001.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Clare Valley, Australia, 2001: 2001 St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon by Wakefield Wines (Taylors Wines of Australia).

Cabernet Sauvignon, Coastal, Australia: Longridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2002.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, Australia, 2000: Katnook Estate Odyssey 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, Australia, 2001: Parker Terra Rossa First Growth 2001.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Hunter Valley, Australia: McGuigan Personal Reserve Cabernet 2000.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Australia, 2002: De Martino Gran Familia Cabernet Sauvignon 2002.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Australia, 2004: Vina Maipo Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2004.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Australia, 2003: Moss Wood 2003 Amy's Blend Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch, 1999: Asara 1999 Bell Tower Estate Wine Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Stellenbosch: Jordan Cobblers Hill 2002 Cabernet Merlot.

Champagne, Non Vintage, Blanc de Blancs: Piper-Heidsieck Brut Divin NV Blanc de Blancs.

Champagne, Prestige Cuvée, 1983, Blanc de Blancs: Charles Heidsieck Blancs Des Millenaires 1983.

Champagne, Prestige Cuvée, 1985: Champagne Charlie 1985 and Charles Heidsieck Champagne Charlie 1985.

Champagne, Prestige Cuvee, 1988: Krug Vintage.

Champagne, Prestige Cuvée, 1995, Blanc de Blancs: Charles Heidsieck Blanc Des Millenaires 1995.

Champagne, Prestige Cuvee, 1996: Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon.

Champagne, Prestige Cuvee, 1996, Blanc de Blancs: Lanson Noble Cuvée Blanc De Blancs.

Champagne, Prestige Cuveé, Non Vintage, Pinot Noir Dominated: Krug Grande Cuvée Brut NV.

Champagne, Prestige Cuvee, Vintage, 1993, Blanc de Blancs: Champagne de Venoge Grand Vin des Princes 1993.

Champagne, Vintage, Blanc de Blancs, 1995: De Saint Gall Cuvee Orpale 1995.

Champagne, Vintage, Blanc de Blancs, 1998: Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaique Blanc de Blanc Vintage 1998.

Champagne, Vintage, Blends, 1989: Charles Heidsieck Millesime 1989.

Champagne, Vintage, Blends, 1996: Champagne Duval-Leroy Vintage 1996.

Champagne, Vintage, Blends, 1998: Piper-Heidsieck Millesime 1998.

Champagne, Vintage, Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier/Chardonnay, 1995: Champagne de Venoge Vintage 1995.

Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, Australia: K1 by Geoff Hardy Chardonnay 2003.

Chardonnay, Russian River, Valifornia: Sonoma Cutrer "The Cutrer" Chardonnay 2002.

Chardonnay, Stellenbosch: Rustenberg Chardonnay Stellenbosch 2003.

Chardonnay, Western Cape, 2004: Rozier Bay Chardonnay.

Chateauneuf du Pape, Rhone: La Solitude Secrete 2001.

Chianti Classico, 2000: Nozzole "La Forra" Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2000.

Chianti Classico DOCG, 2001: Dievole Dieulele 2001 Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG.

Chianti Classico DOCG, 2003: Castello Vicchiomaggio Riserva La Prima Chianti Classico DOCG 2003.

Cotes de Beaune, Burgundy: Corton Clos Du Rois Domaine Pousse D'Or 2001.

Douro, DOC, 2001: Douro Doc Roriz Reserva 2001.

Ice Wine, Riesling, Okanagan Valley: Inniskillin Riesling Icewine Dark Horse Vineyard 2003.

Ice Wine, Vidal, Niagara Peninsula: Jackson-Triggs Vintners Proprietors Reserve Vidal Icewine 2003.

Malbec/Merlot Blend, Mendoza: Bodegas Trapiche Islay 2002.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC, Abruzzo: Tre Saggi Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2002.

Noble Late Harvest, Riesling, Stellenbosch, 2004: Neethlingshof Lord Neethling Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest 2004.

Pinotage, Stellenbosch, 2003: Simonsig Pinotage Rootil 2003.

Pinotage, Stellenbosch, 99/98: Kanonkop Pinotage 1998.

Quarts de Chaume, Chenin Blanc, Botrytis: Château La Variere AOC Quarts De Chaume "Les Guerches" 2003.

Riesling, Auslese, Rheingau: Johannisberger Klaus Riesling Auslese 2003.

Riesling, Eiswein, Pfalz: Winfried Freyu Soehne Riesling Eiswein 2003.

Riesling, Great Southern Australia: Tesco Finest Great Southern Riesling 2003.

Riesling, Western Australia: Goundrey Wines Reserve Riesling 2004.

Sake, 15.5-16%: Junmai Daiginjo "Kuro no Mu" Sake.

Sake, 17-18%: Junmai-Daiginjo "Hakkoda-Oroshi" 2004.

Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, 2002/2003: Yali Gran Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2003.

Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, 2004: Casa del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc 2004.

Sauvignon Blanc, Constantia: Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2003.

Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, 2004: Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2004.

Semillon, Hunter Valley: McWilliams Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Sémillon 2000.

Shiraz, Adelaide Hills: Wolf Blass Platinum Label Shiraz 2001.

Shiraz, Barossa Valley, 2002: Wolf Blass Platinum Label Shiraz 2002.

Shiraz, Clare Valley, 2002: Jim Barry, The Armagh Clare Valley Shiraz 2002.

Shiraz, Coonawarra, 2002: 2002 Penley Estate Special Select Shiraz.

Shiraz, Heathcote: Heathcote Estate Shiraz 2003.

Shiraz, McLaren Vale, 2002: Wirra Wirra RSW Shiraz 2002.

Shiraz, McLaren Vale 2003: Pertaringa Undercover Shiraz 2003.

Shiraz, South Australia: Henschke Mount Edelstone 2002 Shiraz.

Shiraz, South Australia, 2002: Kilikanoon "Oracle" Shiraz 2002 and Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz 2002.

Shiraz, South Eastern Australia, 2002: Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2002.

Shiraz, Stellenbosch, 2003: Mount Rozier Shiraz 2003.

Shiraz, Victoria, 2002: Brown Brothers Patricia Shiraz 2002.

Shiraz, Yarra Valley, 2003: Yering Station Reserve Shiraz/Viognier 2003 and Yering Station Reserve Shiraz/Viognier 2003.

Silvaner, Eiswein, Franken: Franconia Silvaner Eiswein Nordheimer Vögelein 2002.

Tank Fermented Sparkling Wine, Brachetto d'Aqui: F.lli Dezzani Brachetto D'Aqui DOCG 2004.

Tokaji 6 Puttonyos: Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos.

Touriga Nacional, Alentejo: Hans Kristian Jorgensen Touriga Nacional Cortes de Cima 2003.

Trockenbeernauslese, Austria: Lenz Moser Prestige Trockenbeeren Auslese 2002.

Vin Santo, Italy: Tenute Silvio Nardi Vin Santo Val D'Arbia 1995.

Viognier, Victoria: Zilzie Estate Viognier 2004.

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Scotland Gets First Food & Wine Center

DUNDEE, Scotland -- Scotland's first food and wine center will open in early December, perhaps as a pilot project for a nationwide push for more such centers.

The Tasting Rooms, as the center will be called, was created by Scott's Wine World, a Dundee wine importer.

The center will be international in scope, offering virtual wine tours, a deli, café, wine trading floor, corporate conference facilities and an art gallery. Director Graeme Scott said inspiration for the project came from visits to the wine warehouses of Australia and Hong Kong.

"There's a lot of investment here at the moment and the timing is just right," Scott said, explaining why Dundee was selected as the initial Scottish site.

Events planned for The Tasting Rooms include specialized dinners pitched at the corporate market and featuring wine producers and celebrity chefs.

BBC Scotland Travel Guide
Bus & Coach Travel
Scotland's Golf Courses
Scottish Tourist Board
The Clans of Scotland
Scottish History & Culture
Distillery tours, tastings, information

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Pennsylvania Loosens Ties On Wine Sale

After sticking with its Prohibition-era restrictions on wine sales for generations, Pennsylvania will end its ban on Internet and mail-oder shipments.

The change comes about because a judge overturned the ban. Out-of-state wineries now will be allowed to ship directly to Pennsylvania residents rather than having to sell only through state-owned stores. That change leaves Utah as the only state with total control over wine and liquor sales.

Pennsylvania (click here for a wine trail connection) is No. 5 nationally in the number of wineries, behind California, Washington, New York and Oregon. Its wineries now rely on direct sales from tasting rooms, mailing lists and over the Web to compete with larger rivals in other states.

There are 24 states that prohibit direct-to-consumer shipping of wine. Thirteen, including California, allow the direct shipping of wine to another state that allows the same privilege.

A bill now before the state legislature in Massachusetts, where wine shipment restrictions recently were overturned by a court, would allow consumers to purchase wine online or over the telephone and have it shipped directly to them. The bill seeks to allow wineries which produce 30,000 gallons or less of their product per year to take orders and ship wine directly to their consumers. But some lawmakers oppose the legislation because of the requirement that only smaller wineries can do direct shipments, and that it discriminates between larger and smaller wineries.

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Gold Strike In New Zealand

Judges in this year's prestigious Air New Zealand Wine Awards competition were anything but reluctant to go gold.

A record 97 gold medals were awarded from among 1,550 sampled.

Chairman of judges Brent Marris said the Sauvignon Blanc class in particular was strong this year."

"Ripe crops and better fruit handling in the 2005 vintage contributed to the high number of gold medals; these are the absolute world benchmark for the style," he said.


Esvin Champion Sauvignon Blanc Trophy

  • Astrolabe Wines Ltd Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • Blind River Wines Ltd Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • Cardmember Matua Innovator Ponder Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • Cardmember Ponder Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • Coopers Creek Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • Gunn Estate Skippers Pool Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • Jules Taylor Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • Kim Crawford SP Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Spitfire 2005

  • Matua Valley Paretai Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • Mt Olympus Tuatara Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • Mudhouse Winery White Swan Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • Saint Clair Estate Wines Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • Saint Clair Estate Wines Pioneer Block 1 Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • Saint Clair Estate Wines Pioneer Block 2 Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • Tohu Wines Ltd Mugwi Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • Waipara Hills Wine Estates Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • Wairau River Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • Whitehaven Whites Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2005

  • O-I New Zealand Champion Chardonnay Trophy

  • CJ Pask Winery Reserve Chardonnay 2004

  • Cape Campbell Reserve Limited Edition Chardonnay 2004

  • Esk Valley Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2004

  • Gunn Estate Skeetfield Chardonnay 2004

  • Highfield Estate (1991) Limited Marlborough Chardonnay 2002

  • Koblefield The Distinction Chardonnay 2004

  • Kim Crawford Tietjen Gisborne Chardonnay 2005

  • Landmark Estate Wines Ltd Chardonnay (Earls) 2004

  • Montana Terrior Stuart Block Gisborne Chardonnay (Patutahi) 2004

  • Montana Terroir Waihirere Gisborne Chardonnay (Ormond) 2004

  • Morton Estate White Label Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2002

  • Mudhouse Winery White Swan Chardonnay 2004

  • Northrow Chardonnay 2004

  • Saint Clair Estate Wines Omaka Reserve Chardonnay 2003

  • Summerhouse Chardonnay 2004

  • Vidal Wines Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2004

  • Villa Maria Estate Reserve Barrique Fermented Chardonnay 2004

  • Villa Maria Estate Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2004

  • Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Waldron Chardonnay 2004

  • Villa Maria Estate Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2003

  • W5 Chardonnay 2004

  • Wither Hills Chardonnay 2003

  • Nissan New Zealand Limited Champion Sparkling Wine Trophy

  • Hunters Wines Miru Miru 2002

  • Palliser Estate Methode Traditionelle 2001

  • Air Sea Global Champion Pinot Noir Trophy

  • Capricorn Wines Struggler's Flat Pinot Noir 2004

  • Fairhall Downs Estate Wines Pinot Noir 2004

  • Fairmont Estate Block One Pinot Noir 2004

  • Mount Riley Winemakers Selection Pinot Noir 2004

  • Northrow Pinot Noir 2003

  • Palliser Estate Pinot Noir 2004

  • Terrace Heights Estate THE Pinot Noir 2004

  • Vidal Wines Estate Marlborough Pinot Noir 2004

  • Villa Maria Estate Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2004

  • Villa Maria Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2004

  • Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Pinot Noir 2004

  • Waipara Springs Pinot Noir Reserve 2003

  • Label and Litho Champion Gewurztraminer Trophy

  • Allan Scott Wines & Estates Ltd Gewurztraminer 2005

  • Corbans Private Bin Hawke's Bay Gewurztraminer 2004

  • Hunters Wines Gewurztraminer 2005

  • Lawson's Dry Hills Gewurztraminer 2004

  • Villa Maria Estate Cellar Selection Gewurztraminer 2005

  • Dish magazine Champion Pinot Gris Trophy

  • Astrolabe Wines Ltd Pinot Gris 2005

  • Kathy Lynskey Wines Ltd Single Vineyard Pinot Gris 2005

  • Lawson's Dry Hills Pinot Gris 2005

  • Triplebank Awatere Valley Pinot Gris 2005

  • Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Seddon Pinot Gris 2005

  • AMPM Marketing Limited Champion Riesling Trophy

  • Cardmember Delta Marlborough Riesling 2005

  • Cardmember Hunter's Stoneburn Marlborough Riesling 2004

  • Cardmember Kahurangi Estate Heaphy Series Moutere Riesling 2004

  • Coopers Creek Vineyard Marlborough Riesling 2005

  • Forrest Estate Dry Riesling 2002

  • Grove Mill Marlborough Riesling 2004

  • Hunters Wines Riesling 2004

  • Soljans Wines Riesling 2005

  • Villa Maria Estate Cellar Selection Riesling 2004

  • Villa Maria Estate Cellar Selection Seddon Riesling 2002

  • BDO Spicers Champion Other White Varieties Trophy

  • Cardmember Cooper's Creek Limited Release Gisborne Viognier 2005

  • Coopers Creek Vineyard Gisborne Viognier 2005

  • Marlborough Bottling Company Champion Medium Sweet or Sweet Wine Trophy

  • Canterbury House Noble Riesling 2004

  • Villa Maria Estate Reserve Noble Riesling 2004

  • Hort Research Champion Rose or Blush Trophy

  • Esk Valley Estate Black Label Merlot/Malbec/Rose 2005

  • Huka Lodge Champion Merlot Trophy

  • Capricorn Wines One Tree Merlot 2004

  • Mills Reef Elspeth Merlot 2004

  • Villa Maria Estate Private Bin Merlot 2004

  • Villa Maria Estate Reserve Merlot 2002

  • Fruitfed Supplies Champion Merlot Predominant Blend Trophy

  • Capricorn Wines Red Rock Gravel Pit Red 2004

  • Esk Valley Estate Black Label Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec 2004

  • Karikari Estate Merlot Malbec Cabernet 2004

  • Mills Reef Reserve Merlot Malbec 2004

  • Matua Valley Ararimu Merlot/Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

  • Mills Reef Reserve Merlot Cabernet Syrah 2001

  • Vidal Wines Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

  • Vidal Wines Reserve Hawkes Bay Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2000

  • Carter & Associates Champion Cabernet Sauvignon or Predominant Blend Trophy

  • Kingsley Estate Gimblett Road Reserve 2004

  • Mission Estate Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

  • Newton Forrest Cornerstone Cabernet/Merlot/Malbec 2002

  • Business World Travel Champion Syrah Trophy

  • Bridge Pa Vineyard Hawke's Bay Syrah 2004

  • Capricorn Wines Red Rock The Underarm Syrah 2003

  • Unison Vineyard Ltd Syrah 2004

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    Beat It

    It was only a matter of time.

    All the giggling inspired by trial testimony about Michael Jackson's use of something he called "Jesus Juice" -- essentially, wine he put in a soft drink can and allegedly gave to underage boys -- may pay off for a pair of Los Angeles entrepreneurs.

    Dawn Westlake, an actress/producer/writer of things you've probably never heard of ("A Day Without a Mexican," "Fake Stacy," "Dottie: The Little Girl With the Big Voice"), and Bruce Rheins, who oversaw the Jackson trial coverage for CBS, are seeking a trademark for a wine they want to produce, called "Jesus Juice."

    The label, shown here, portrays a Jackson-like image in a crucifixion pose. Although the couple came up with the idea last year, it wasn't until now that they submitted the label to the U.S. Trademark & Patent Office for consideration.

    Right now, Westlake and Rheins seem to be concentrating more on the name and the label than on what they will put in the bottles. Two of their Web sites are advertising for a merlot maker (preferably "a vintner with a sense of humor, but a seriously good line of wines") or someone to purchase the "Jesus Juice" trademark rights.

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    Red wine helps combat Alzheimer's

    Photo by William M. Dowd

    The health-enhancing properties of wine are common knowledge these days -- lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, promoting cardiac health, de-stressing the imbiber, and so on.

    Now, a study just published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry shows that resveratrol, a compound found in grapes and red wine, lowers the levels of the amyloid-beta peptides that cause the senile plaques of Alzheimer's disease.

    "Resveratrol is a natural polyphenol occurring in abundance in several plants, including grapes, berries and peanuts," explains study author Philippe Marambaud. "The polyphenol is found in high concentrations in red wines. The highest concentration of resveratrol has been reported in wines prepared from Pinot Noir grapes. Generally, white wines contain 1% to 5% of the resveratrol content present in most red wines."

    Philippe Marambaud and colleagues at the Litwin-Zucker Research Center for the Study of Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders in Manhasset, Long island, NY, administered resveratrol to cells that produce human amyloid-beta and tested the compound's effectiveness by monitoring amyloid-beta levels inside and outside the cells. They found that levels of amyloid-beta in the treated cells were much lower than those in untreated cells.

    Conclusion: The researchers believe the compound stimulates the degradation of amyloid-beta peptides by the proteasome, a barrel-shaped multi-protein complex that can specifically digest proteins into short polypeptides and amino acids.

    That doesn't mean, however, that eating grapes will cure Alzheimer's disease.

    "It is difficult to know whether the anti-amyloidogenic effect of resveratrol observed in cell culture systems can support the beneficial effect of specific diets such as eating grapes," Marambaud said. "Resveratrol in grapes may never reach the concentrations required to obtain the effect observed in our studies. Grapes and wine however contain more than 600 different components, including well-characterized antioxidant molecules. Therefore, we cannot exclude the possibility that several compounds work in synergy with small amounts of resveratrol to slow down the progression of the neurodegenerative process in humans."

    Additional good news is that resveratrol may also be effective in fighting other human amyloid-related diseases such as Huntington's, Parkinson's and prion diseases. Studies by a group at the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale in Paris, France headed by Christian Néri have recently shown that resveratrol may protect neurons against amyloid-like polyglutamines, a hallmark of Huntington's disease.

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    Web site review: StarChefs.com

    This food-and-beverage site has a lot going for it, in particular its good archival service for consumers with wine questions. Its sommelier search utility allows visitors to access a variety of Q&A sessions with top-notch wine experts.

    The total Web site has, in my view, come a long way from a minimal, sometimes-stale site that it was in its formative years. In addition to an easy-to-navigate design it offers such things as "Ask the StarChefs Editorial Team Your Culinary Questions," professionals' tips for effective wine, spirits and food shopping, and a week-long menu from a chef of the week.

    Who is the site designed for? Its subtitle is "The magazine for culinary insiders," thus the links to cooking schools, industry jobs and other such information. However, there are so many buying tips, recipes, beverage details and the like that the site is of value to anyone interested in food and drink.

    By the numbers (5 the highest, 0 obviously the lowest):

    Eye Appeal (5): An attractive, professional look throughout the site.
    Content (5): Deep and broad in a variety of food and beverage categories.

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    Ottawa Wine Competition Truly Global

    OTTAWA -- Canadian winemakers took a surprising 41 medals at the annual Ottawa Wine and Food Show this week.

    Twenty-nine judges sampled more than 400 wines and awarded a total of 111 medals -- roughly evenly divided among gold, silver and bronze -- to winemakers from 11 different countries.

    The wine producers of California won 13 medals, including golds for Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir 2003 ($19.95), Best California Red Wine; E&J Gallo Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 ($16.95), Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 ($22.95) and Fetzer Zinfandel 2002 ($14.95), Best Value Red Wine.

    Silver medals went to RH Phillips Toasted Head Chardonnay 2003 ($19.95), Best California White, and a pair of California reds -- Niebaum-Coppola Claret 2002 ($29.95) and E&J Gallo Frei Ranch Zinfandel 2000 ($25.95).

    Host Canada's top medalists were Konzelmann Vidal Icewine 2004 ($44.45 for the 375ml bottle), Best of Show Sweet White Wine, and Colio Estate CEV Merlot Reserve 2002 ($24.95), Best of Show Red Wine.

    Australia won 21 medals, with the popular Yellow Tail label taking two golds, each for under-$12 reds -- Merlot 2004 and Shiraz 2004. In the mid-priced Syrah/Rhone blends category, Australia collected a gold for De Bertolli Deen Vat 8 Shiraz 2003 ($14.95).

    New Zealand garnered Best of Show Dry White Wine with Nobilo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2004 ($15.40) and France on the Best Value White Wine and a gold for Yvon Mau Combard/Chardonnay 2004 ($8.50).

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    Kanonkop South Africa's Best

    LONDON -- Kanonkop Wine Estate was named South African Wine Producer of the Year at the annual International Wine and Spirits Competition held here earlier this week.

    The IWSC is the largest and most authoritative international competition for wines and spirits. More than 5,000 products from 50 countries were entered at this year's competition where various panels of wine and spirits specialists judged the wines, whiskies, brandies and other spirits on grounds of quality and technical soundness.

    Kanonkop winemaker Abrie Beeslaar (pictured) said the healthy state of the South African wine industry made Kanonkop's winning the Dave Hughes Trophy for Best South African Producer a tremendous honor.

    "South African wines and wine producers are not only increasing in quantity, but the quality of our country's wines are going from strength-to-strength," said Beeslaar.

    Apart from winning the Dave Hughes Trophy, Kanonkop's wines had a great run at this year's IWSC. The Kanonkop Pinotage 1998 won the trophy for Best Pinotage. In the South African wine class, the Estate's Paul Sauer 1998 was deemed Best in Class for Red Blends (cabernet sauvignon dominated). Kanonkop's Cabernet Sauvignon for the 1995 and 1998 vintages were also named the best wines in their respective classes.

    Kanonkop co-owner Johann Krige said, "We rely on unirrigated bush vines from the unique terroir on the slopes of Simonsberg. In the winemaking process the team sticks to the basics: open tank fermentation, maximum skin contact and use of French oak. ... The traditional techniques allows us to produce a more classical and elegant Old World style of wine."

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