Ancient winemaking site found in Armenia

The ancient winemaking site. (Hans Barnard/The Epoch Times)
From The Epoch Times

Archeologists from the United States, Egypt, and Armenia have unearthed an ancient winemaking facility in the cave complex Areni-1, located near a southern Armenian village. It’s the same complex where the oldest known leather shoe, dated to 3500 B.C., was discovered.

A chemical analysis paper, published online in the Journal of Archeological Science, has confirmed the unearthed unit to be a complete wine production site.

[Go here for the full story.]

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Scottish distiller using Crimean wine barrels

Crimea region is shown in dark green, Ukraine in light green.

The widespread practice of employing such used barrels as American white oak bourbon and Spanish Olorosso sherry casks in finishing the maturation process of Scottish whiskies is getting a new twist: used Ukranian wine barrels.

The Glenglassaugh Distillery in Portsroy, Scotland, recently received its first shipment of barrels used by the Massandra winery, the oldest in Ukraine.
The casks already have been filled at the Highlanda distillery, some with new spirit for maturation, others with older spirit for finishing.

Sampling is planned for a year's time to check on the progress of the maturation.

The peninsula in the Ukraine that juts unto the Crimean Sea has been home to a wine culture since the 4th century B.C., according to analysis of artifacts such as grape presses and urns found there. Wine grape cultivation didn't begin in the northern part of the country until about the 11th Century A.D.

Massandra is a state-owned facility that in the days of the Soviet Union was the largest supplier of the wines in the USSR. According to Wikipedia, "It came to a disaster in 1986. About 800 km of the vineyards were destroyed, when Mikhail Gorbachev started a campaign for the delimitation of the consumption of alcohol in USSR. Since 2000, the production as well as the export of the wines increased rapidly."

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Revving up for Virginia Wine Expo

RICHMOND, VA -- The state's growing wine industry will be showcased to the tune of 60 wineries and 400 different wines during the upcoming Virginia Wine Expo.

The three-day event is schedule for Friday through Sunday, February 25-27, at the Greater Richmond Convention Center Feb. 25-27 for a weekend in wine country.

Here's a quick rundown of the event, with further details available online.

Day One: 

6 p.m. -- Governor's Cup and industry awards presentation.
7 p.m. -- Grand Tasting Opens, with 400 wines presented, including reserve wines served only on this night, along with food tastings from local restaurants.

Day Two:

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. -- Richmond Walk-Around Grand Tasting: sample and purchase, plus food pairings.
11 a.m. to noon -- Seminar, "The Sensual Pairing of Wine & Chocolate."
Noon to 1 p.m. -- Seminar, "East Meets Virginia: Sushi & Virginia Wine."
1 to 2 p.m. -- Seminar, "Big Reds, Rich Whites & Bold Cheeses."
2 to 3 p.m. -- Seminar, "Wine & Spicy Indian Cuisine."
9 p.m. to midnight -- "Sparkling & Sweets," a finale featuring a dozenb or more desserts from pastry chefs and chocolatiers paired with Virginia sparkling wines, dessert wines and select dry wines.

Day Three: 

11a.m. to 5 p.m. -- Richmond Walk-Around Grand Tasting:.
1 to 2 p.m. -- Seminar, "Best Wines with Burgers," elevating the American favorite to a gourmet delight.

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Rioja marketing campaign paying off

The "Vibrant Rioja" marketing campaign created to push that particular Spanish wine, appears to be paying off.

The organization announced today a 33% overall increase in Rioja wine export volume to the United States market in 2010, compared to the same period in 2009.  Total shipments from January to December 2010 reached 857,000 cases.

"Export increases ranged across the four DOCa classifications, with the youngest Cosecha wines performing the highest with a 50% growth. Aged less than one year in barrel and bottle, Cosecha wines are often fresh, fruity and intended for everyday enjoyment. Aged for at least five years, the classically elegant Gran Reserva category showed 34% growth, while the younger Crianza category (aged for a minimum of two years) grew over 21%.  Rioja Reservas, aged for at least three years, were also up nearly 12% from the previous year, Vibrant Rioja said.

"We anticipate another record-breaking year as we continue to expand existing markets, establish new markets, and formulate sound alliances," said Ana Fabiano, trade director of the campaign. "In 2010, we experienced tremendous growth through our campaign and branding activities, including carefully formed strategic partnerships across all restaurant and wine industry levels.  Over 61% of the total Rioja wine shipments to the U.S. were aged, demonstrating the rising demand for matured, ready-to-drink wines."

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V. Sattui stars in San Diego test

The Winner!

SAN DIEGO, CA -- V. Sattui's 2008 Pilgrim Vineyard Zinfandel from Lodi, CA, came away with "Wine of the Year" in the 2nd annual Winemaker Challenge international competition.

The Zin, which sells for a suggested retail price of $30, was the best of the winery's wines that also took major honors. V. Sattui also earned a "Best of Class Cabernet Sauvignon," its 2008 Morisoli Vineyard, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($55), and Platinum awards for its 2008 Petite Sirah, North Coast ($26) and 2008 Syrah, Napa Valley ($32).

Overall, V. Sattui won 18 medals, including two Gold awards to go with its four Platinums.

The Winemaker Challenge reserves Platinum recognition for the wines that advance through the judging to the championship round. This year only 40 of the 705 wines entered made it to the finals and attained Platinum status.

Go here for the full list of awards:

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'Bar Rescue' coming to Spike TV

Host Jon Taffer
Watching Gordon Ramsay harangue people on his "Kitchen Nightmares" Fox series makes me want a drink. I wonder if a new Spike TV series called "Bar Rescue" will make me want a sandwich.

Spike TV, which has ordered 10 episodes, says "Host Jon Taffer will use his in-your-face style along with his renowned method of management called Taffer Dynamics to transform the bar into a vibrant, profitable establishment. He will utilize everything from state-of-the-art science such as eye tracking technology, monitoring of body temperature and even reading pheromone output in patrons in order to create an ambitious plan of action.

"Taffer will focus on one establishment per episode from cities all around the country. Taffer’s wife, Nicole, will appear in the show along with a rotating group of experts."

Taffer’s resume lists owning and operating bars, nightclubs and restaurants as well as serving as a consultant in those fields. His client list includes Ritz-Carlton Hotels, InterContinental Hotel Group, Marriott Hotels, Molson-Coors Canada, DB Brewery-New Zealand, Rainforest CafĂ©, The Hollywood Palace and Hooters.

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Cuomo budget ignores wine-in-markets idea

Gov. Andrew Cuomo
ALBANY, NY -- Don’t go looking for renewed debate anytime soon on the topic of selling wine in New York State supermarkets.

The proposed 2011-2012 budget released on Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not include a proposal on the highly controversial idea even though he emphasized his desire to cut spending and increase state income.

Unless the State Legislature introduces the idea when it begins work on the budget, an unlikely occurence given the "anti" lobby’s deep pockets and success in derailing the idea when former Gov. David Paterson introduced it last year.

Sample reactions:

New Yorkers for Economic Growth and Open Markets:

"(We) called on the Legislature today to include a proposal to reform Prohibition era liquor laws and allow consumers to buy wine in grocery stores and allow liquor stores to sell new types of products. The budget proposal would generate hundreds of millions in revenue for the state by charging licensing fees to grocery stores to sell wine. By opening new retail outlets for wine sales, the proposal will provide New York wineries and grape growers more places to sell their wine, consumers greater choice and convenience and lower prices, liquor stores more products to sell, and the state hundreds of millions in franchising fees to avoid devastating cuts."

Last Store on Main Street, a coalition of liquor store owners and others:

"By rejecting wine in grocery stores, Governor Cuomo has closed the book on a bad idea that would have cost thousands of private-sector jobs, hurt New York wineries and increased underage drinking. Given that the State Legislature also rejected this job-killing idea in two consecutive sessions, Governor Cuomo’s decision correctly recognizes that it’s time to focus on smart ideas that can lift the entire New York wine industry."

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