Daily Wine News: Drinking Local

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 04-19-2012

A map of the West Sonoma Coast.

Despite claims to the contrary, “SAQ, the state-owned wine entity that has a monopoly on wine retail in Quebec, paid wine critic James Suckling $24,000 last year.” So reports Dr. Vino. My take? This wouldn’t be a scandal – or even unethical – if the parties hadn’t lied about it.

Reuters and StarkInsider report on Silicon Valley Bank’s “Annual State of the Wine Industry Report.”

After chatting with Bill Harlan, Steve Heimoff concludes that “optimism [has returned] to Napa Valley, after a long, dark recession.”

“You’ve heard of eating local, but what about drinking local?” On The Kojo Nnamdi show, Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post, Todd Kliman of The Washingtonian, and Virginia Tech enology professor Tony Wolf discuss the local wine movement.

“In the United States, the “American Viticultural Area” (AVA) designation is based more on, well, politics and marketing. AVAs often seem to have no rhyme or reason except for their marketing value, which is questionable.” In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre explains why AVAs have “no rhyme or reason” by profiling the Sonoma Coast. Elsewhere, he offers some Sonoma Coast wine recommendations.

In Wine Spectator, Tim Fish details the “time-honored etiquette to BYOB that newcomers should learn, but even veterans need the occasional refresher course on.”

Tom Wark chats with James Conaway, author of Napa (1990), The Far Side of Eden (2002), and the forthcoming The Language of Cabernet.

Eric Asimov offers some wisdom: “It’s… wholly unnecessary to get overly caught up in the intricacies of wine and food pairing.”

W. Blake Gray profiles Melissa Burr, winemaker at Stoller Vineyards. (As regular readers know, we interviewed Melissa last May.)

Comments (2)

  1. Come on, David.
    Sure the Suckling/SAQ gets more traction because of the cover-up, but clearly there’s an ethical issue in play here. (Which is exactly why both parties lied about their business transactions). I’m sure their position is that they paid Suckling $19K for a short video about the rated wines, not for actually rating the wines. But from the outside it looks a bit like pay-for-play-for-ratings.

  2. The ethical issue is that he lied about it. There aren’t any accusations that he accepted money for certain scores (eg, “95 points will cost you $xx.”). He was paid money to go to Canada, taste a bunch of wines, and score them. That’s what he does for a living. And, to be honest, I’d absolutely charge for that. (Would you spend a week in Canada, tasting wines in a government office building, for free? I’d certainly need to be compensated for my time.)

    I just don’t understand why him and the SAQ lies about it. And the lie is what makes this a controversy.