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WACKY NEWS FROM THE WACKY WORLD of WINE

MAN DIALS 9-1-1 POLICE HOTLINE OVER "WINE EMERGENCY"
(2013 September - Manchester City Centre, England)  A bar patron who ordered a glass of wine called police to complain about the wine and the service at the watering hole.

It seems the wine arrived and had bits of cork floating in it...The patron was dissatisfied and did not want to pay for the wine.

When the barkeep insisted on being paid, the fellow dialed the local constabulary, using their emergency hotline number.  The cops showed up but threatened to cite the fellow  for being a nuisance and using the emergency number for a frivolous matter.

Basically, they told him "put a cork in it."


 

LAWSUIT OVER SOMMELIER "SMACKDOWN"
(2009 USA)  The World Wrestling Federation is grappling with a Philadelphia wine "academy" over the use of the term "SmackDown."

The WWF routinely advertises various performances as a "SmackDown," a proprietary term they created to promote their theater.

The Wine School of Philadelphia promoted a wine wine class as a "Sommelier SmackDown," incurring the wrath of the World Wrestling Federation.

While it may seem a bit silly, it seems the WWF only put the moves on the wine school after the academy attempted to trademark the term "Sommelier Smackdown."

Would you pay money, though, to see Robert Parker in the ring, taking on Wine Spectator publisher Marvin Shanken?


CONTROVERSIAL AD CAMPAIGN
(2008 AUSTRALIA)   Billboards for a "critter" wine have caused an uproar Down Under as a former Miss Universe contestant says she didn't know what sort of "message" her ads would be sending.

Erin McNaught (or McNaughty, if you prefer) is depicted on billboards around Australia for the Cockatoo Ridge Wines company.

One of the ads, depicted on the left, shows Ms. McNaught with a critter on her shoulder and a bottle of critter wine.

"She loves a cockatoo" is the message being sent by the advertiser.  Other messages included "McNaughty but Nice" and "Who's a cheeky girl, then?"  McNaught says the ad agency e-mailed her the slogans but she did not see them in a timely fashion and the ads were posted when she did not respond.

The bottle-shocked McNaught signed off on the ad campaign and her attempt stopping the display of the suggestive poster went for, well, naught.




HOW MANY MILES PER BOTTLE, PRINCE?
(JUNE 2008)  The eco-friendly Prince Charles has told friends and family that he's doing his part to reduce damage to the environment by using fuel made, in part, of English wine.

We wondered if the Prince held some sort of Royal Wine Tasting Competition to see precisely which English wines tastes like gasoline.  He, according to various reports, prefers the wines of Wiltshire.

It's not been reported if any British wine critics have evaluated the exhaust emanating from the Prince's "Aston Martin" tail-pipe, but one wag near Warminster said "You can smell the Prince coming from a mile away."

It's nice to see someone driving a vintage automobile, fueled by vintage petrol.

 

 

 

ZEE FRENCH ARE VERY PARTICULAR ABOUT WINE
(March 2008)  French President Nicolas Sarkozy has perplexed the British monarchy prior to his visit and state dinner with The Queen.  Sarkozy's bunch demanded to know what wines were to be served with each course.

The Royal Wine Cellar dates back to the 1700s and one wonders if they'll be bringing one liter carafes of bag-in-box wine for the Queen and her guests.  Probably not.

Not that Sarkozy is much of a wine expert.  In fact, the newly-elected French President is a teetotaler!

 

DID HUGO JUST VISIT THE NAPA VALLEY, OR WHAT?
(Nov 2007)  Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez pointed out that hundred-dollar-a-barrel oil is cheap...compared to wine!

The snarky South American boss-man behaved much like some winery owners in defending their pricing.  Chavez pointed to the high cost of wine (he did not mention Cakebread, Far Niente or Opus One, by the way) as being out of control.  In contrast, crude oil from Venezuela and elsewhere is a mere $100 a barrel.

"Are they going to blame me for the high price of wine?" Chavez asked.

You betcha!


When a winery owner is paying $4 a gallon for 'premium' to fuel their Mercedes, that gets passed along to the consumer.  The Wine Spectator, meanwhile, rated Chavez's oil a 93 on its 100 point scale.

No word on rumors Chavez was buying Marvin Shanken's wine magazine and really changing the name of it to The Wine Dictator.


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SHE HAS A GOOD VOICE AND A GOOD PALATE
Canadian-born jazz giant Diana Krall is, apparently, a big fan of good wine.  We were delighted to see she's got good taste or a reasonably good sommelier assisting her when she's "on tour."

Catering firms are instructed to pick from a rather specific list of "approved" wines for service in Mrs. Elvis Costello's dressing room.
See what you make of this list...



D'Arenberg's "Galvo Garage," though, might drive her go-fers crazy, since it's a Cabernet-based blend and has no Shiraz.
Interesting, too, to see them list "Isole e Olena Syrah" as a "widely available wine."  Same for "Any from Carlisle" and "Any from Cayuse."

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"YOUR MONEY OR YOUR WIFE!  I MEAN, WINE."
(Washington, DC)  Police and an area family are still musing over the initial attempt at armed robbery that ended with a glass of wine and a group hug.

An armed robber breaks into the backyard of a Washington DC residence and holds a gun to the head of a 14 year old girl.  He tells the shocked guests and family "Give me your money or I'll start shooting!"

The people were horrified and one of the guests spoke up, saying "We were just finishing dinner.  Why don't you have a glass of wine with us?"

The would-be robber sat down and had a sip of Chteau Malescot St. Exupery and said "Damn, that's good wine."  (He did not, by the way, offer a numerical score in judging the wine, nor did he ask how many points The Wine Spectator awarded this vintage.)

Host and father Michael Rabdau then offered the bad guy the whole glass...or the entire bottle.  What the hell?!

The robber took another sip, had a bit of their Camembert cheese and slid the gun he'd been brandishing down his sweatpants.

The assailant then admitted "I may have had the wrong house."  That's when he asked if he could "get a hug."
Everyone got up and gave him a group hug.  He moseyed on out the back gate, wine glass in hand.
Police are still looking to apprehend the wine-drinking robber.

(Maybe they ought to hang out in wine bars or pay a visit to DC-area wine appreciation classes?)

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HALLELUJAH!  IT'S NOT FOR SALE.
(Los Angeles, California)  A California couple says they had no intention of marketing wine bearing a label depicting a likeness of Michael Jackson and branded as "Jesus Juice."   CBS news producer Bruce Rheins and his significant other, actress Dawn Westlake had filed with the United States Patent & Trademark Office to trademark their 'brand' of homemade Merlot, called Jesus Juice.

Rheins spent months covering the Michael Jackson trial in Santa Barbara, California.  Jackson had supposedly made reference to wine as "Jesus Juice" as a beverage offered to kids hanging out at the Neverland Ranch.  

Rheins claims he had not intended to profit from this satirical label.  Various news reports quote Rheins as saying he did not want others to make money on this, so he and Westlake applied for a trademark.  Still, Westlake had been offering a clock for sale with the label on it.

Given all the flack that's hit the fan at CBS, Westlake no longer accepts orders for clock with their wacky little label on it.  (Yeah, like they didn't want to profit from this little joke!)

Mr. Jackson reportedly is cross and not at all thrilled by this little attempt at humor and has asked his attorneys to crucify the perpetrators.  


 

NEW DEFINITION FOR "SHERRY BUTT" KILLS TEXAS MAN
(Lake Jackson, Texas)  A Texas woman has redefined the term "sherry butt," the typical cask or cooperage in which Sherry wines are matured.  As a result, she's been charged with Negligent Homicide in the death of her husband.

It seems since Michael Warner was unable to drink alcohol, for some reason Mrs. Warner administered a
"sherry enema" which may have killed the poor fellow.

It is unclear as to what these people were thinking and Spain's sherry producers are, no doubt, wondering what would cause someone to think of "imbibing" their product in such a fashion.

A police detective in Texas pointed out the fellow has a blood alcohol level which was six times the legal limit for "intoxication" in Texas.  "We're not talking little bottles, here," said Detective Robert Turner, adding "these had to be at least magnum-sized bottles."

The ancient Greek historian Metrius Plutarch is quoted as saying wine is "the sweetest of medicines," but he did also say is the "most useful of all drinks" and emphasizes the "drinking" aspect of wine.

We are reminded of Edgar Allan Poe's wonderful story entitled the "Cask of Amontillado," but in this instance Mr. Warner is not so Fortunato.  His demise makes it more like the "casket" of Amontillado.

Sales of Spanish Sherry have continued to plummet, according to statistics from the Spanish Sherry bureau.  We can imagine the spokesman for that agency pointing out something along the lines of "Spanish Sherry producers are up to their asses in Sherry, but we've never heard of anything quite like this!"

Sick story.  I know.  Don't remind me.--Thanks...the editor.

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WHO NEEDS A WINE GURU WHEN THE WINERY HAS RATED ITS OWN PRODUCT?
An Australian hotel offers its own private labeled wine which features its own assessment as to the quality of the wine in the bottle.

Such a radical idea could possibly make obsolete the likes of critics such as James Halliday, Robert Parker or the various eno-scribes at the Wine Spectator.


The Mittagong Hotel in New South Wales has a dining establishment as well as bottle shop on the premises where you can pick up a bottle of this tastefully appointed label.
What a concept!  Now you don't have to rely upon shelf-talkers proclaiming the number of points a wine has received.

 

 

 

FRENCH BAN A NICE AD FOR WINE
( PARIS, FRANCE )  A French court has ruled which photo may, indeed, be used in a print media advertisement for wine.

The banned photo

French laws were recently relaxed to actually allow vintners to promote their wines and mentioning the characteristics of their fine vintages.  Previously an ad could only display technical information about the product.  The law, called the Evin Law after former Health Minister Claude Evin, prohibits the use of "models" in promoting wine.

The woman in the photo depicted above is the owner of a Sauternes vineyard called "Clos Dady" (looks to me as though the property ought to be named Clos Mommy) and since she is a vintner, her picture is allowed...providing it's not too sexy!

Catherine Gachet-Dubourg is the 37 year old owner of Clos Dady, a wine produced at the interestingly-named Chteau Bastard.
(I'm not making up this story.  I swear!)

The approved photo.

The Evin law was passed in France back in 1991 as a measure towards combating alcoholism and the abuse of alcohol.  Banning the one photo probably has saved countless lives in France and made the world a much safer place.

**********************

A QUEER WINE MARKETING CONCEPT
(Sydney, Australia)  A New Zealand winery will be releasing a new pink wine aimed at homosexual wine drinkers.  The Kim Crawford winery will be marketing its new ros, called "Pansy." (Editor's note:  I kid you not...I don't make up this stuff...these stories are actually reported in the mainstream media.)

The winery's web site even goes so far as to describe this as  "A fruity little number. The wine has great fruit intensity, with juicy fruit and watermelon characters. Full bodied the wine finishes well with a hint of tannin."

It is unknown if this wine will be marketed in Great Britain where the BSC (Broadcasting Standards Commission) deemed the word "Pansy" as inappropriate for use on the airwaves.  It seems BBC's Radio 4 was broadcasting a news-related quiz program of sorts and the word "pansy" was used to refer to gays as the quiz covered some sort of gardening question.

The winery's Erica Crawford describes herself as "a straight mother."  Crawford and company are looking to tap into a rather substantial market: gay men are said to spend $3.1 million monthly on wine.

The winery seals the bottles with a screw cap, no pun intended.


NICE DOORSTOP!
(San Francisco, California - October 2004)  A San Francisco man was recently offered a discount on wines stolen from his brand new wine "cellar" by the owner of a neighborhood deli.
The victim was having his Noe Valley home remodeled and he had a modest-sized wine cellar added to his house.  Police think the burglar(s) was probably intending to steal the tools of the construction crew, which is a rather common crime.  Perhaps seeing the more valuable bottles in this fellow's cellar, the bandit(s) snagged all but ONE bottle of wine.  It seems the bad guy(s) needed to prop the door open so he/they could make a hasty exit, so they left a bottle of Ridge Zinfandel as their "doorstop."
This is certainly lovely publicity for Ridge and Winemaker Paul Draper.
Meanwhile, police got wind that some unusually collectible bottles had surfaced at a neighborhood deli.  They asked the victim to stop in this store and look at the wines.  He verified these as some of those stolen from his home.  When he told the shopkeeper nothing especially interested him, the deli owner ran out the door after him, offering a 20% discount.
It seems the bottles were traded to the thief for cigarettes and food, the bandit telling the store owner the bottles were from his recently deceased mother's cellar.  Police found fingerprints on some bottles and were able to arrest the bandit.
No word from Ridge Vineyards as to other uses for their wine bottles.


**********************

HOW DO YOU SAY "LAMBRUSCO" IN LATIN?
(The Vatican - September 2004)  An Italian bunch at the Vatican in Italy has just published its new Latin dictionary to take the mystery of how the Pope might talk to Brittney Spears about her hot pants (brevissimae bracae femineae) or wine critic Robert Parker about his low numerical score for Lambrusco (acre vinum Aemilianum).  Rather than asking for a bottle of acre vinum Aemilianum, please simply stop by the shop and ask for Barbolini Lambrusco.  Our Weimax staffers is more likely to recognize what you are looking for!
It ought to pair handsomely with your placenta compressa (that's "pizza" in English, so-to-speak).
Since corkscrews were not part of the Roman culture back in the day, you'll need to know how to ask for one of those when opening many bottles of wine.  Please request an extrculum.
A store such as ours is known as a vinorum taberna to Latin speakers.  Probably "Weimaxus," come to think of it.
Even the Pope can now ask for a bottle of Chteau Petrus!  Well, not Petrus, precisely, but Merlot is vinum rubrum Burdigalense.  We find it interesting there is no entry for the word "Chardonnay."  The famous Hungarian wine now has a name in Latin: Hungricum vinum.    And they even have a word for a wine snob: vinum homo affectatus.


CARNIVORES TO BE "ENTERTAINED" BY A HUMUNGOUS WINE BOTTLE (filled with water!)
(St. Helena, Napa Valley, California - July 2004)  A Napa Valley winery and a national chain of steak houses are teaming up to auction off a damned big "bottle" of Cabernet Sauvignon with the proceeds going to charity.  Having had their bottle certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as "the world's largest wine bottle," a duplicate replica, filled with water, will be on tour and displayed in 27 Morton's Steak Houses around the county.

The bottle is pictured with Beringer winemaker Ed Sbragia.  I don't mind people putting a bottle of wine on a pedestal, as long as there's a corkscrew and a couple of wine-glasses in the vicinity.

The bottle holds 130 liters of wine, the equivalent of 173 (750ml) bottles.  It's 1.4 feet in diameter and stands 4.5 feet tall.  The empty bottle weighs 150 pounds.  When filled with liquid, it checks in at 340 pounds.  They're calling the bottle "Maximus."  Better have a "maximus" bank account if you're going to be bidding on the real bottle!

The "tour" begins August 19th and will conclude in November.  Contact your local Morton's if you want to go have a look at a big bottle filled with water.  I'm amazed, though, that anyone would go out of their way to have a look at a glass bottle.  Those people are, I'm presuming, easily amused.  Morton's?  I'd say take the "T" (as in T-bone) out of the name of the steak place and you've got your answer.

**********************

RESTAURANT CAN'T SERVE WINE IN EVERY DINING AREA...ONLY AT A FEW TABLES
(Bellaire Bluffs, Florida - July 2004)  If you're dining at the Farmhouse Restaurant you can have a glass of Cabernet at this table over here, but at that one over there, it's against the law!
Some restrictive city codes prevent serving beer and wine too close (500 feet) to other "similar establishments or within 200 feet of a residence."  The city pegs the place within the limitations as it's near a condo and a close to a food mart selling beer and wine. Naturally, some city official claims the restaurant is prohibited from serving alcohol due to these restrictions, but he doesn't actually have any documentation as to the precise location of the restaurant. But the current owners had measurements taken recently and they found they're 216 feet from the condo and 524 feet away from the food mart.
Still, until a city bureaucracy has its say, wine drinking can only take place in one particular dining area.  You could be arrested for bringing your glass of wine to another table!  Welcome to the 21st century.

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ACTOR DETAINED BY AIRPORT CUSTOMS OFFICIALS AFTER A RED WINE BINGE
(Los Angeles, California - April 2004)  A British actor was detained by U.S. Customs officers when he became agitated at having to wait his turn for inspection.  TV actor Neil Morrissey admitted he'd become a bit "exuberant" while waiting in line.
Morrissey, further, said he DID, indeed have something to declare:  "...too much red wine" on his Virgin Airlines flight from England to California.
Customs officials decided to detain Mr. Morrissey until he calmed down.
This incident should not be a surprise to those familiar with pop culture as Morrissey had been lead player in the TV sit-com: Men Behaving Badly.

**********************

 HE DRINKS LIKE A FISH !  WAIT!  HE IS A FISH !!

(Lake Opole, Poland  New Years 2004)  Some Polish divers are facing possible criminal charges for "abusing" a fish, according to law enforcement authorities.  It seems these guys were photographed pouring "Champagne" (wonder what Polish sparkling wine tastes like?) into some fish at Lake Opole.  They now claim the fish was half-dead anyway, so this was not really abuse.
We've always heard the expression "he drinks like a fish," so now we can say we've actually seen a fish "drinking."  No word as to how many "points" the fish gave to the wine.  And we don't know if this internal marinade enhances the flavor of seafood, but we're betting it doesn't hurt!

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THERE ARE A LOT OF BOOBS IN THE WINE BUSINESS!
(Sonoma County, California, December 2003) 
  A Sonoma couple is hoping to cash in with the launch of their new wine brand called "Cleavage Creek."  
Barbara & Jeff Connors have started this wine brand, though near as we can tell, they're bottled in 750ml format, not in "jugs."
A representative of the California Wine Institute is horrified by the idea of this label, though the promoters of the brand defend it, of course.  They claim to be donating a percentage of the proceeds to breast cancer research.
We have not tasted the wines, so we don't know if they're in for a boom or bust.
The wines are bottled by the Sonoma Wine Company and, no, the winemaker there is not Beaver Cleavage.

**********************

 

THEY SHOULDA BROUGHT THEIR OWN AND PAID CORKAGE!
(Mayfair, London, October 2003)  A British couple dining at a restaurant called "Petrus" was surprised when the bill arrived. It seems they had ordered a rather extravagant bottle of wine, something costing 160 British Pounds (about $268 in US money).    The sommelier, so the story goes, suggested the young vintage of Chteau Margaux they ordered was "too fruity" to pair handsomely with the Roasted Grouse, so he advised them to have something with a bit more bottle age.
They followed his advice and had what was reportedly a lovely bottle of a 1966 Margaux. (I've read conflicting reports...most journals contend the bottle delivered cost 800 Pounds and was Chteau Margaux 1966, but a British columnist named James Whitaker reports the couple drank a 1966 Chteau Palmer at the bargain price of 795 Pounds.)  However, while they were pleasantly surprised by the wine & food pairing, they were shocked when the bill arrived.  It seems the sommelier had neglected to tell them the bottle he was suggesting cost more than 4 times the price of the one they had chosen in the first place!
Never mind the idea of a corkage fee: this was out and out "screwage!"
Talk about a Vin de PAY !!!
These people certainly had something to grouse about as their wallet was roasted, big time!!!

**********************


THE PERFECT GLASS FOR SPUMANTE ???
(Friuli, Italy  September 2003)  A producer of Italian sparkling wine is gaining some publicity for its "contest" to find the perfect (we're supposing female) breast from which to create a glass from which to drink spumante (or Champagne).  Where does one sign up to be on this judging panel, we wonder?

The saucer-like "cups" often seen at weddings are, in fact, poor for sparkling wine service because there is so much surface area of the wine that the bubbles dissipate rapidly, rendering the wine flat.  Legend has it, though, that those wide glasses are copies of a glass molded from the breast of Marie Antoinette.  Numerous other beauties lay claim to this legend.

A company producing brassieres, Bravissimo, says Marie must have been rather small, since her "coupe" has a capacity for but 200ml of wine (or about 6 ounces).  They commissioned a larger glass, pointing out that most women require a "D-cup" in terms of size, instead of the smaller "A-cup".

So now you're abreast of the situation.

**********************

GERMAN GOVERNMENT FUROR OVER ITALIAN WINERY'S "HITLER" WINE
(Germany September 2003)  A German government official Brigitte Zypries has asked Italian Justice Minister Roberto Castelli to see about prohibiting the sale of a series of wines from Friuli's Lunardelli winery.
Lunardelli has several lines of wine, the controversy centering on his "Linea Storica."  These feature wine labels depicting Hitler, Mussolini, Che Guevara, Eva Braun, Heinrich Himmler amongst others.  Lunardelli also offers wines with labels depicting Communists such as Karl Marx and Vladamir Lenin, he also has one featuring Winston Churchill, Dracula and a line of "bikers."
German law prohibits the distribution or reproduction of Nazi images, so they're investigating to see if any of Lunardelli's wines have been shipped to Deutschland.
08  08  15  11  20  32  34
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Post script: After posting this story, we've received numerous requests asking if we sell these wines or where these can be purchased.  One person wrote saying these would be good "investments."
We do not sell these and would not sell such labels.

HERE'S A WINE DICTATOR LABEL THEY OUGHT TO HAVE, BUT DO NOT:



ROMANIAN DICTATOR'S WINE COLLECTION TOSSED BY THE CLEANERS
(Bucharest, Romania--September 2003)  The janitorial staff at the Ceausescu.jpgPeople's Palace in Bucharest disposed of a couple of thousand bottles of wine and spirits once the "private" collection of the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.   The cleaning crew decided it needed additional space for its equipment and so they simply tossed out some two-thousand bottles, figuring these would no longer be "any good."

It seems a sale for some 600 (or so) bottles had been made to a European collector for some 45,000 Euros.  Only when the palace staff went to pack up the purchase were they surprised to find no wine, but plenty of cleaning buckets and janitorial equipment.

Some critics claim many of the wines in Ceausescu's collection probably tasted like various cleaning products anyway.

FRENCH NOT KIDDING WHEN THEY SAY "NON MERCI" TO SOUTH AFRICA'S "GOATS DU ROAM" WINES
(South Africa--July 2003)  Winemaker Charles Back brought some peace offerings to the French Embassy in South Africa after the French INAO (the Appellation Contrlle governing body) asked him to stop labeled his wines as Goats du Roam and Goat Roti.
  
Mr. Back was joined by about 40 farm workers who carried placards reading "Save our Goat" and "Don't Buck Our Goat."  He presented the French with a package featuring goat cheeses and bottles of his wines, which they accepted.
He had one other little gift for them, a bag of goat dung, which they did not accept.

Back is quoted as saying the brand of wine is named after Fairview winery's herd of goats and that the similarity of wine names "Goats du Roam" and "Goat Roti" to French wines is "purely coincidental."
I'm certain the French would respond to that assertion saying that's much like the contents of Mr. Back's bag of goat dung: A bunch of merde.

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WILL THE REAL "TWO BUCK CHUCK" PLEASE STAND UP?
(SONOMA--APRIL 2003)  Attorneys for Ceres, California vintner Fred Franzia have sent poison pen letters to a Sonoma County vintner and a chain of liquor stores alleging copyright infringement.
The producers of the wine being sold as "Charles Shaw" claim a Sonoma winemaker/label designer has stepped on their turf with a wine labeled "Two Buck Chuck," the nicknamed given a $1.99 wine being sold exclusively through a chain of store which routinely features over-production wines.
The label designer, pleading ignorance, claims he didn't know the nickname of the wine sold as Charles Shaw is "Two Buck Chuck."  He says he was approached by a chain of liquor stores and asked to come up with a label for their version of "Two Buck Chuck."  He also claims he registered the name "Two Buck Chuck," along with "Three Buck Chuck" as well as "Two" and "Three Dollar Dave."

Anybody who actually appreciates a good bottle of wine will probably call this lackluster juice "Up Chuck That Ain't Worth a Buck."

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WINE-SOL?
(CORVALLIS, OREGON, February 2003)  Researchers at Oregon State University have concluded wine may be a good disinfectant or cleaning product.  Food scientist Mark Daeschel and associates Jessica Just and Joy Waite tested tested the germ-killing properties of wine against common "bugs" such as E. Coli and Salmonella.  The bacteria died within an hour and the researchers credit a combination of the alcohol and acidity with the effectiveness of wine, claiming vodka, for example, doesn't have the same germ-killing properties.  
Of course, the disinfectant would have to be made with white wine so as to not stain whatever it is you are attempting to clean.
I'm not sure what the market is for "Wine-Sol," but I know I have tasted some wines which would have been good candidates as the base for this product.

**********************


SWEDES SPEND A NIGHT IN A FRENCH JAIL, REFUSING TO PAY THE RESTAURANT TAB
(CANNES, FRANCE, OCTOBER 2002)  A group of Swedish tourists learned they should have been paying more attention to the wine list, especially the numbers preceded by the "Euro-Dollar" sign!
The group dined at the Cannes restaurant called Harem, celebrating an anniversary.  They discovered they were in over their heads when the bank wouldn't approve the credit card transaction.  What they estimated to be a $5,800 in Euros was actually $58,000!!!
The restaurant had offered the group its wine list along with a vintage chart.  Selected for this special evening were two magnums of Dom Perignon Champagne ($1550 each), five bottles of 1993 Chteau Petrus (only $3,900 each), a magnum of 1961 Chteau Margaux at $18,000 and a bottle of 1945 Chteau Cheval Blanc which cost $15,000.
The Swedes, claiming ignorance, said all the wines were "served out of a carafe."  Apparently they didn't understand the practice of decanting wines.
"We're not crazy." one of them reportedly said.
The group spent about 20 hours in jail.  No comment was recorded as to their hospitality or the wine list there.

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IRANIAN THEATER FINED FOR A SCENE FEATURING "DEATH BY WINE-DRINKING"
(TEHERAN, IRAN, SEPT. 2002)  A court in Iran has fined director Ali Rafi $190 for his production of a stage-play where a prince kills his wife by having her drink some wine.  It was not mentioned whether or not the wine was some 50-point swill or 90+ point "gobs of fruit, sexy, hedonistic" bottling from a winery with a cult following.
The court ruling says that since Islamic law does not permit its followers to drink wine, this French-educated fellow must be held accountable for producing a play which shows someone drinking wine.
Rafi says he is surprised by the court's ruling, saying his play does not exactly show wine in a positive light.  He points out that wine is an instrument in the death of the princess, not a hedonistic beverage of enjoyment and pleasure.  All of this taking place in the country which is said to have given the world "Shiraz"!

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YOU'VE HEARD OF "CULT WINES"
NOW THERE'S A "CULT WINERY"

(OREGON HOUSE, CALIFORNIA.  AUGUST 2002)  
Many collectors of California wines seek out those tiny production bottlings which have garnered high numerical scores.  This category of wine has been dubbed "cult wines."
Now a California winery has given new meaning to this term.
An Associated Press article says ex-members, neighbors and cult experts claim The Fellowship of Friends, owners of Yuba County's "Renaissance Winery," is a cult.
Described as following "The Fourth Way" tradition of spiritual development at it's winery/living quarters compound, Renaissance representatives are tight-lipped about the group's activities.
We first became aware of the winery many years ago.  Not having tasted many wines worthy of purchase, we did place a call to the winery to inquire about their "fellowship."   Responses to our questions regarding their practices were evasive.
The AP article, printed in the San Francisco Examiner on August 19, 2002, says former members of the group have sued the founder of the fellowship.  They claim they were brainwashed and abused sexually. The article says one law suit, for $5 million, claiming the founder of the group sexually exploited a 17 year old, was settled out of court.
The article contends the founder is portrayed as "an angel in a man's body" and he communicates with up to 44 angels, including Benjamin Franklin.
Maybe Ben ought to tell this fellow to go fly a kite!

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FRENCH MAYOR TIRED OF SMELLY TOURISTS INTERFERING WITH HIS WINE & FOOD!
(LA GRAND MOTTE, FRANCE == July 2002)  Mayor Henri Dunoyer is upset at having the beach-going tourists in his posh, seaside town coming to the local bistros and stinking to high heaven of suntan lotion or sweat!
In a report published on the Ananova website from Great Britain, Dunoyer reportedly wants the tourists to be given a clean T-shirt in hopes of covering the fragrance of suntan oils.  
Ananova's report included this gem of a sentence: "Mr. Dunoyer claims Britons are among the worst offenders, despite the fact the French use less soap than anyone in Europe."
The hoteliers of the town, as you might expect, are not thrilled with this new legislation.  One said that they're effectively branding the tourists with the gratis T-Shirt which may be interpreted to say "I smell."
In any case, old Henri ought to come join me at some local trade wine-tastings.  Some of the amateurs in attendance have bathed in perfume, making it impossible to get a sniff of what's in your wine glass!

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SEATTLE WANTS TO BAN SALE OF "FORTIFIED" WINES...Would Ban Most California Chardonnays, Cabernets & Zinfandels!
(SEATTLE, WASHINGTON == May 2002)  Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is asking the Washington State alcohol control board to enforce a ban of the sale of wines exceeding 13% alcohol in the downtown "Pioneer Square" area.  This would ban the sale of virtually every major California wine, since only a few contain less than 13% alcohol by volume.
Apparently Seattle has a problem with alcoholics in its downtown area (what city doesn't?) and figures the problem can be remedied by stopping the sale of wines such as Ridge Zinfandels, Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon and the like.  Of course, this would also prevent the sale of cheap, fortified wines such as Port and Sherry made by some small winery in Modesto, California.
Also included in the ban: Beer over 5.7% alcohol and, all beer in containers of more than 22 ounces as well as "single can" sales of beers in less than 16 ounce format.  No word about canned cocktails or half pints of vodka.  Two of three stores in the Pioneer Square area have voluntarily complied with the Mayor's wishes.  A grocery store called Safeway is not participating in this ban.

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WINE EXPERTS FOOLED AGAIN!
Can't Tell Red Wine From White Wine
(BORDEAUX, FRANCE...January 2002)  A French wine "academy" has awarded its top prize to a researcher whose study found wine experts can't tell the difference between red wines and white wines!
Frdric Brochet evaluated the terminology used in wine evaluation guides such as the French "Guide Hachette" and Robert Parker's "The Wine Advocate," amongst others.
He found certain terminology seemed to be reserved for white wines and other adjectives were more exclusive to reds.

One of the themes of the study was to see how "cultural information" affected the descriptions attached to the wines by the tasting participants.

To test and evaluate, Brochet coerced a number of participants (more than 50) to taste and describe wines.  In one phase of the study, for example, he had the panelists evaluate white wines and describe them.  A few days later he offered them the SAME WINES, but with a neutral coloring (so as not to affect the aromas or flavors).  He found the panelists were more likely to use "red wine adjectives" when they were able to visually identify a wine as "red."  On the other hand, "white wine adjectives" were more common when they viewed the glasses as containing "vin blanc."

Common red wine adjectives:
deep, intense, profound, raspberry, cherry, cassis, fruit, spice
Common White Wine Adjectives:
Gold, floral, fresh, pale, dry, apricot, citrus, straw, lively

Monsieur Brochet also set up the tasters by having them evaluate a wine which was presented as cheap "vin de table" and the other of the same wine (a Bordeaux Suprieur) which was presented as a prestigious bottling.
Keep in mind: SAME WINE.
Seventy-nine percent described the "prestigious" offering as "agreeable," while only 21% found the same wine as a "Vin de Table" to be so.
Seventy-seven percent described the prestigious wine as "good," while 23% found the same wine, presented as a less prestigious offering to be "good."
Sixty-five percent described the supposedly more costly wine as "balanced," while only 35% found the identical wine, passed off as a cheaper, everyday wine to be "balanced."

An interesting notation:
"Practices such as no fining or no filtration do not always have organoleptic repercussions, but it seems that knowledge of these elements influences representation."

I was at a Napa winery whose wines I have never found to be particularly stellar.  In poking around the cellar, I noticed a filter.  The proprietor nodded when I noticed this saying, "That's the filter Mr. Parker doesn't know we have."
No wonder the guy's wines get "extra credit!"

Another point made by this study:
"The subject perceives, in reality, what he or she has pre-perceived and finds it difficult to back away."

It gets down to perspective.
In visiting a German estate, we ran into a group of visitors from Wisconsin.  They were primed to appreciate a "97 point" sweet wine being poured by the host at a winery.
These guys had read a review of this wine and were anticipating this to be a monumental experience.

Our little group had just come from a small estate and tasted a flock of wines which were, to our tastes, superior to the "97 point" wonder.  These boys were primed to appreciate this wine, while our trio tasted and, certainly enjoyed the wine.  I mentioned something to the effect of "if that's a 97 point wine, the ones we tasted an hour ago are 120 point wines."

I recall a Burgundy tasting which featured an unusually dark-colored wine which had been high rated by Robert Parker.  Most of the Burgundy aficionados ranked this at the bottom, as it had little in common with Pinot Noir.  On the other hand, a couple of Parker devotees ranked the wine in first place, armed with the confidence of the high rating and, therefore, that the wine is exceptional.  

To further illustrate how pre-conceived impressions can color one's judgment, I recall participating in a tasting with the authors of Connoisseur's Guide to California Wines.  One of the editors ranked a wine in first place, claiming it was a textbook example of a Heitz' "Martha's Vineyard" which he knew would be in the tasting.  The rest of the group gave the wine a lukewarm reception.
Once the wines were unveiled, it seems the tasting organizer had forgotten (or neglected) to include the Heitz in the tasting!

For those not "in the know," the tasting was totally blind.  For those who know what wines are being tasted, it's easy to look for certain features and award (or deduct) credit accordingly.

Brochet's study found that, for many, tasting only what's in the glass, is a difficult task!

 

CHEEKY BRITISH BABES RULED TO BE "NOT IN BAD TASTE"
(London...November 2001) The British Advertising Standards bureau has rejected a complaint by some politically correct do-gooders.
Halewood International markets a pear wine called "Lambrini" (I suppose this is similar to Ernest & Julio's famous "perry" wine called 'Ripple.').
An advertising poster depicts "The Lambrini Girls" (and girls just wanna have fun, so they claim) at a get-together.
One of them says she lost a significant amount of "fat" last night.  One of the other gals replies, "So you dumped him, then?"
The Ad Bureau found "Because it considered that most people would interpret the advertisement to be a humorous portrayal of girls' conversation instead of a demeaning or undermining portrayal of men, the Authority concluded that the advertisement was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence."
Halewood has come under fire from the Italian wine commission, since this product is marketed with an Italian-sounding name.  The Italians feel it hurts the image of Italian wines to be associated with this product.

TRUCK "LADEN" WITH WINE STOPPED AT THE SWISS BORDER
(
ITALIAN-SWISS BORDER--November 2001) A truck driver at the Como-Brogeda border crossing was detained for ten hours while the customs guards huddled over the suspicious load of wine.
The driver's documents had the word "laden" on it and so the guards wouldn't let the truck pass the border.  The driver didn't speak Italian, the border guards didn't speak German.
They finally cleared up the matter when someone pointed out the word "laden" is German for "load."  The truck was "laden mit wein" and had nothing to do with Osama.

FRENCH TASTERS STUDIED
Can they distinguish between red and white?
(France...October 2001)  A French researcher studying the often colorful prose written by wine tasters, pulled a fast one on unsuspecting subjects.  It seems he was curious about the various descriptors employed by tasters when attempting to convey to others what they were sampling.  Researcher Gil Morot of the National Institute for Agronomic Research in Montpellier added coloring to white wines and, suddenly, the tasters were describing the wines as having aromas of "red fruits" instead of the "white" or "yellow" fruits and flowers they had encountered when the sample was "white."  Tasters used descriptors that corresponded to the color of the wine and the adjectives, apparently, changed with the color of the wine!  Instead of finding "honey," "apricots" or "straw," tasters found the same samples, when colored red, to have aromatics of "raspberries," "tar" or "tobacco."   Morot concluded that the aromas detected by the tasters are purely subjective.

To those who find much wine writing "poppycock," well, they may be right!

FRENCH GOLIATH SUES AUSTRALIAN DAVID
(Queensland, AUSTRALIA...August 2001) 
Attorneys for the humungous French Champagne firm Moet et Chandon are suing a new and tiny Australian winery over the use of the family name.  Apparently lawyers for Moet feel the Channon family is infringing upon the Champagne giant's trademark by wanting to use the name "Channon Estate" on wines produced by this "mom & pop" winery.
Peggy and Robert Channon submitted documents to register the name of their brand as "Channon Estate," but representatives of Moet think consumers will be duped into thinking Channon is Chandon!
Never mind that Moet et Chandon and most of its subsidiaries produce sparkling wine and the Channon family does not!
Why hasn't Moet et Chandon asked the Burgundy negociant firm of CHANSON to change the name of its song and dance routine to something less confusing?
What about the Burgundy firm called "Domaine CHANDON de Brialles"?

As for the argument about consumers possibly being "confused":
The various "domaines Chandon" around the planet now have similar label designs.  The Napa Valley facility stopped producing 187ml bottles of bubbly.  They've been re-introduced into our market, but only if you inspect it closely, do you notice the new bottling is made by Chandon, not in Napa, but in Argentina!
So...once again, tell me about possible confusion? 

Chandon's Australian label on the left and a Spanish bottling on the right.

WINE POLICE OUT TO NAB CRIMINALS! 
(Jonesboro, Arkansas...September 2001)  The "Wine Police" are staking out various dining establishments in Craighead County, looking for patrons who are bringing their own bottles of wine into a restaurant!
Apparently Craighead (I'll bet some of the arrested folks are thinking of changing the name of the county to a familiar form of Richard) is one of many "dry" counties in that part of the planet and drinking alcohol in public any place but a "private club" is illegal.
Police in most counties have not enforced this old law, but some have asked law enforcement officials to crack down on this "bad behavior."
If arrested, you've not only paid a corkage fee to the restaurant, but also a $125 "corkage fee" (or "screwage fee") to the local bureaucrats for violating the law.

DNA-IMPREGNATED INK TO PROVIDE SECURITY AGAINST WINE COUNTERFEITERS
(Australia...June 2001) 
The Australian wine giant, BRL Hardy, is hoping to guard against wine counterfeiters by using a "security" label which has been printed with "DNA-impregnated" ink.
The world has fallen prey to wine-scamsters numerous times over the years, most recently stories of a large quantity of Penfolds "Grange" being found to have been counterfeited.
BRL Hardy, whose "Eileen Hardy" Shiraz is a much sought-after wine, will now be bottled with a special security seal incorporating a reflective ink which can be authenticated by a special scanning device.
Italian fraud squad officials uncovered a cache of counterfeited "Sassicaia," while British police nabbed a crew selling bogus French Champagnes.  In Asia, scamsters counterfeited a cheap wine: France's "Mouton Cadet."  What were these geniuses thinking about?  And many years ago bottles of "first growth" Bordeaux were sold to New York merchants;  the wine having been made from California-grown Barbera!
In any case, BRL Hardy claims the DNA comes from 100 year old vines in the McLaren Vale region.

WINE-TASTING IN EUROPE WITH GEORGE W. & LAURA

(WARSAW, POLAND...JUNE 2001) 
At a luncheon for "First Ladies," America's Laura Bush returns a glass of wine, saying "If I can't have one for Jenna and Barbara, too, I don't want this one.  By the way, how many points did this get?"

WINE DRINKERS ARE SMARTER!
(JAPAN) 
We like to think our customers are, for the most part, a bit sharper than those non-wine drinkers who pass by our portals every day.
It seems some researchers in Japan may have found that, indeed, wine drinkers ARE sharper than those who don't drink any form of alcohol.
Researchers at the National Institute for Longevity Sciences in Aichi Prefecture surveyed some 2000 subjects and found men between the ages of 40 and 79 scored about 3 points higher on IQ tests than male teetotalers.  Women drinkers managed to outscore their non-drinking counterparts by some 2.5 points.
The study did not pinpoint wine over other alcohols such as whisky, beer or sake as being more beneficial.  And they point out that no cause and effect connection can be established, either.
So, while wine drinking may not make you smarter, those who drink wine scored higher than the poor souls who abstain!
Someone arrived the other day with a bottle of "Smart Water."  I inquired as to whether or not they felt more intelligent drinking something called "Smart Water" (with 'electrolytes'!).  As they had paid more than two dollars for this small bottle, I concluded they were not so smart after all.

BRITISH SURVEY FINDS "FRASCATI" IS A TYPE OF PASTA
(LONDON, ENGLAND) JUNE 2001  Italians are amused by the results of a survey of British men that shows 20% of these blokes think "Frascati," a white wine produced near Rome, is some sort of pasta.  The study, commission by the Safeway grocery store chain, found British men spend, on average, no more than an hour in the kitchen each week.  Most of this is merely to boil water for tea or pasta.
We are certain if this survey had been conducted here in the U.S., probably an even higher number of respondents would suggest "Frascati" was some sort of pasta, Italian automobile or movie star.

BONNY DOON ZIN BANNED IN OHIO
(OHIO) MAY 2001 Bonny Doon Vineyards has, according to the State of Ohio, committed a cardinal sin by offering wine with labels which depict "children or religious subjects."
Bonny Doon's "Cardinal Zin," a California Zinfandel wine, features a label by the notorious artist, Ralph Steadman.
We have suggested to the proprietor of Bonny Doon, Randall Grahm, that he consider less repulsive labels by artists whose work encourages customers to try the wines, rather than Steadman's which, in our view, repulses more normal human beings.
Grahm explains that Mr. Steadman's creations come at a high price and virtually no input from the peanut gallery or his patrons is appreciated.
The State of Ohio is "protecting" its citizenry by not permitting its distributors from importing such a wine.
No word, at this time, from the Buckeye State's Ministry of Silly Walks regarding this standoff.

Here's a copy of label artist Ralph Steadman's "letter to the bureaucracy":

Reply:

"Thank you for contacting me regarding CARDINAL ZIN, one of the finest wines known to man. Why, I would even use it for Holy Communion. It is a sacramental wine as much as any other. If the blood of Christ is half as good as it is then I
am a believer. It is a wine blessed by the Gods and created by a master wine maker, Randall GRAHM, who himself must have been blessed by the good Lord with the gift of extracting all the rich complexities from a grape that the good Lord put into them. He is an artist, and a humorist too I guess. 

Just what is it that liquor regulators are there to regulate? Do they not know that the Catholic Church has claws? That they are also guilty of gross hypocrisy and blasphemous misconduct in the name of all that is sacred? They drip with
obscene opulence while two thirds of their followers worldwide live in poverty, and worse, must provide the world with as many children as they can manage to swell the ranks of Catholics everywhere. The religious far right are at the
bottom of this phony self-righteousness and we haven't seen the last of it yet. Spoilsports never give up in their quest to deaden the human spirit. To quote Neitszche: I can only believe in a God who can dance. Well, cheers to that! 

If God is watching he is also laughing at those who peddle their piety like a blunt weapon. He may also feel sad that his creation of a thinking man turns out to be such a miserable experiment. He probably hoped that the miracle of his work
contained within it the seeds of aspiration of the kind that Darwin had, and many others who spent their lives challenging the whole Universe, and with humility too. 

Anyway, do ring me on if you would like to talk about this deeply philosophical subject.

Kind regards

Ralph STEADMAN 

I have just recalled the two Neitzsche sayings which are part and parcel of all we are trying to say in our various ways. 
1. We possess ART lest we perish from the TRUTH.
2. It is only as an aesthetic phenomenon that existence and the world are permanently justified. 

Shoulda' remembered those. They lie at the heart of all I hold sacred.

OK. Just thought I would give you all the ammunition you may require.

Kick Ass

RALPH

Okay, so Ralph doesn't spell Nietzsche correctly.  Nietzsche didn't spell Ralph's name properly, either, we're told.

FIRE EXTINGUISHING CHAMPAGNE?
(DECANTER.COM Website, December 6, 2000) This sounds like one of those Great American "Urban Legends" to me.  I couldn't find this story confirmed or reported in any other "news" media outlet.
Decanter reported, in what seems to be a public-relations piece, that some British couple was "saved" by the Champagne in their "drinks refrigerator." 
The story asserts:
"As the fridge burned, the corks burst and the frothing Champagne doused the flames. The couple were woken by the sound of popping corks and came down to find their fridge destroyed - but the danger over....And experts agree it was the Bolly that saved them. The quality of the wine increased its fire-retardant properties - the better the Champagne is, the more carbon dioxide-filled bubbles it carries. Carbon dioxide naturally starves fire of oxygen. Like all Champagne (as opposed to many cheaper sparkling wines), Bollinger is fermented twice in the bottle. As it lies on its side, yeast reacts with sugar and creates alcohol and carbon dioxide. The gas is unable to escape and dissolves into the wine. According to Champagne expert Tom Stevenson, a bottle contains an average of 250 million bubbles."
I remain skeptical.

 

NAME THAT WINE !
(Lodi, California  August, 2000)   A California winery has withdrawn its California State Fair-award-winning "Roussanne" from the market since the wine may not be made of Roussanne grapes after all!
Tim Spencer, proprietor of Lodi's St. Amant Vineyard and Winery, planted what he thought was Roussanne back in 1995.  He received a letter in the summer of 2000 from Sonoma Grapevines of Santa Rosa saying the vine cuttings they sold to St. Amant may have been mislabeled.
The story involves Caymus and Bonny Doon wineries, too.  Caymus purchased more than 6,000 vines from Sonoma Grapevines and propagated cuttings from their initial planting.   A viticulturist touring the vineyard planted by Caymus' proprietor Chuck Wagner (at their Mer Soleil vineyard in California's Central Coast) pointed out these "Roussanne" vines appeared to be more similar in appearance to Viognier.   Caymus' suit against Sonoma Grapevines alleges genetic testing proves these vines are Viognier!
Bonny Doon's involvement stems from its providing the original budwood to Sonoma Grapevines.  Either they provided the wrong budwood or the cuttings were mislabeled.   There's litigation pending on that score, too!
So....if you have a suggestion for Mr. Spencer as to what to name his Viognier/Roussanne/Mystery White, please give him a call at (209) 367-0646.

YOU CAN BUY WINE IN LOS ANGELES, BUT YOU CAN'T MAKE IT THERE!
(Los Angeles, California  Aug. 1, 2000)  Though it was the "center" of winemaking in California in the 1700, Los Angeles County has had a prohibition on wine production since the 1920s!
The owner of the Malibu Hills Vineyard, whose wine is being made at Sanford's facility in Santa Barbara County, asked a county supervisor about building a winery.
It turns out Los Angeles has never changed its law prohibiting wine production! A plan is in the works which would allow "boutique wineries," those with a production of less than 5,000 gallons annually, to operate within the county limits.

DIG THIS!
(GREAT BRITAIN)  Discovering Archaeology reports that some British Archaeologists dug up a couple of old bottles of Madeira in a place call (appropriately for winetasters) Spitalfields.  The bottles are said to be from the 17th century and were stashed in the cellar of the Master Gunner of England who lived at this location.  Scientists, confirming the beverage was safe, extracted a "wee bit" from the bottles and professional tasters pronounced the wine as "quite drinkable." 
No 100-Point scoring system was used and there's no truth to the rumor they shot the wag who tasted this stuff and said ,"Needs another 6 months of bottle aging." 

VINTAGE 2000 "Looks Good."
(WASHINGTON STATE)  The Public Relations Machinery at Stimson Lane (Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest and Snoqualmie wineries) are trumpeting the virtues of the 2000 Vintage.   In April of 2000!
Why wait?!
A press release was issued on April 14th saying "...early signs are good."
Yeah....the 2010 harvest shows much promise at this time, too.  Wait until you see the 2012 Ports!  Whoa!!


"SIZE MATTERS!" SAY ALTO ADIGE WINEMAKERS
(ALTO ADIGE, ITALY) They're up in arms over the size of their wine bottles and the right to their precious "DOC" (denominazione di origine controllata) designations.
Much of the wine sold in the German-speaking Alto Adige (Sdtiroler, if you prefer) is sold in liter bottles and closed with a "crown cap," much like a beer bottle.
Some producers feel these wines, often costing very little, hurt the image of the wines produced in the area.   Many of the wineries in this region are grower's cooperatives, producing modest, "everyday" wines.  Some coop wineries make very good quality wines, by the way.
So...there's a proposal from some corners to only allow wines sold in 750ml bottles and stoppered with a cork to be sold as "DOC" wines (such as Santa Maddalena,   Lagrein, Pinot Nero, Chardonnay, etc.).

So then what?  The same wine put into a magnum bottle is no longer entitled to the same "DOC" designation?  What about half-bottles?

HAUT NO!
(Bordeaux)  The owners of Chateau Haut-Brion, who also own La Mission-Haut-Brion, La Tour-Haut-Brion, Laville-Haut-Brion and Bahans-Haut-Brion tried to sue a grower who was labeling his wine as "Chateau Moulin de Brion," the name of the particular piece of dirt he owns in the Medoc.
The Haut-Brion owners, Societe Clarence Dillon, won their suit.  But the grower counter-sued and his sharp lawyer pointed out a law prohibiting the use of the word "Haut" as part of a brand name unless a zone actually exists with that designation (such as Haut Medoc).
There are 400 chateaux which have the word "haut" as part of their name.   Ooops!
The court ruled in favor of the little grower who can now retain the label "Chateau Moulin de Brion."
The Dillon gang is marshalling its resources and will be taking the case to France's Supreme Court of Appeal.

COUNTERFEIT CHAMPAGNES FOUND IN BRITAIN
(Great Britain)  Decanter Magazine reports of seizures by government authorities of "counterfeit" Mot et Chandon magnums.  Probably the people at Mot were also having a seizure, upon reports of cheap French sparkling wine being re-labeled as Mot et Chandon Brut. 
Bollinger was also being sold by con artists.  The cops found cases of faked Bollinger Special Cuve.  It turns out the crooks used "perry wine" (wine made from pears--in this country Gallo made a fortune on "perry" wine with a product called "Ripple").  The Bollinger-want-to-be stuff was being sold at less than half its normal price.  That might have been a slight clue to customers.

 

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