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Thursday Thorns: The Report Card
All The News That’s Fit To Spit

Here we are. Just days after the San Francisco Giants, a team of rookies, misfits, castoffs and never wozzers won the World Series-- and barely a day after the political season of 2010 has thankfully ended and followed it into the history books. You would think that after all that, the silly season had gone away and left us with little to contemplate beyond how much damage the strange weather in wine country this year has done to the quality of the wine. Well, it is time to think again because the wine business is sort of like Hollywood. It just keeps on giving and giving and giving.

Today’s report card leaves us gasping for breath. Rather than being treated to a three-run homer, the wine world has been treated to a series of wild pitches in the last few days, and it is our solemn duty to bring them to you, to examine their viscera and to spit them out faster than if they were Two-Buck Chuck. It is time for All The News That’s Fit To Spit—so hang on tight boys and girls because the ride might just get a little rough.

ITEM: New Zealand Wine First In World To Come With Carbon Footprint Label

A New Zealand wine has become the first in the world to display the carbon footprint of each individual glass serving on its label – laying bare to the shopper or drinker the full environmental impact of making and transporting it. On the new label the relevant emissions, which are calculated to reflect the environmental impact of factors such as transportation and refrigeration, will be measured separately for every export market. So bottles sold in New Zealand, for example, will carry a figure of 140g CO2, whereas bottles shipped to Australia will display 190g. A higher figure is due to be calculated for the UK market which will reflect the huge distance involved in shipping the wines there.

The Report Card Grade: D. It is not enough that that anti-alcohol forces want every bottle to carry multiple warnings, now we have to get used to measuring our pleasure by its carbon footprint. Sorry, boys, we love the planet and all, but the carbon footprint of a glass of wine according to most estimates in about equal to a trip to the grocery store.

ITEM: NBC Drawn To Power Of ‘Vines’

NBC is planning a supernatural prime time soap opera, “Vines,” set in the Napa Valley, according to Curt King, senior vice president at Universal Media Studios. NBC bought the script last week. The show, which has yet to be made into a pilot, follows a troubled family who buy a Napa Valley vineyard in hopes of a fresh start. Little do they know their “ancient vines possess dangerous mystical powers”. Some in the Napa Valley are worried about the show giving the vines a bad reputation, but leading Napa winegrower, Andy Beckstoffer commented, “Say whatever you like about the vines, as long as you mention me.”

The Report Card Grade: F. Maybe they are planning to shoot it at Screaming Eagle. In the famous words of Bill The Cat, “Aaack Pffft” !!

ITEM: Japanese Wineries Betting on a Reviled Grape

From the New York Times article by Corie Brown.

“THE Japanese have made wine for years; it is just that no one outside Japan wanted to drink it, particularly if it was sweet swill made from a native table grape called koshu. But Ernest Singer thinks koshu deserves a place among the world’s fine white-wine grapes.

Mr. Singer, a wine importer based in Tokyo, said koshu captured his imagination nearly a decade ago when he tasted an experimental dry white wine made from the grape. Light and crisp with subtle citrus flavors, it was a match for Japan’s cuisine, he said, and could become the first Asian wine to draw international recognition. “We have shown you can make real wine in Japan,” Mr. Singer said. The question remains, he said, whether established vintners will change their winemaking practices or “continue to sell their schlock”.

The Report Card Grade: A/C-. One cannot help but be interested in this story with such a brilliant title. Way to go New York Times.

Give Ms Brown an “A” for calling swill by its first name, and give Mr. Singer an “A” for calling schlock by its own name. But the notion that Japan should build a home-grown wine industry on something light and citrusy at best and schlock at worst deserves at best a “C-“ for effort. The parallel would be California making grapes out of Concord or whatever it was that was growing here two hundred years ago. Making love to native varieties is all well and good, but they need to have a reason for being chosen beyond their mere existence.

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