Charlemagne Wine Club

Charlemagne Wine Club - News

News 2009

Wine Spectator "Top 100 Wines of the Year"
Wine Spectator, the authoritative US wine magazine, has announced its choice of the Top 100 Wines of the Year. The selection is based upon a combination of quality, value, availability and an X-factor called excitement. The top 10 selections are almost exclusively red, and geographically split between Italy (4), North America (4), France (1) and Spain (1). The top 10 list is:
1) Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley Reserve 2005
2) Numanthia-Termes Toro Termes 2005
3) Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau 2007
4) Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2007
5) Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Castello di Brolio 2006
6) Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Signature 2006
7) Renato Ratti Barolo Marcenasco 2005
8) Fontodi Colli della Toscana Centrale Flaccianello 2006
9) Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley 2007
10) Brancaia Toscana Tre 2007
Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe is the only producer to appear in both 2008 and 2009 Top 10.

If simple quality is what interests you, Europe becomes pre-eminent, with four out of the top 5 wines:
. Fontodi Colli della Toscana Centrale Flaccianello 2006
. Domaine St.-Préfert Châteauneuf-du-Pape Collection Charles Giraud 2007
. Carlisle Syrah Russian River Valley Papa’s Block 2007
. Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2007
. Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino 2004

For more details, see

Bordeaux tonight, Josephine
A new museum exhibit at the National Museum of the Château de Malmaison shows that Napoleon’s Empress Josephine had a penchant for fine Bordeaux, particularly Latour, Margaux, Haut-Brion and Lafite. The inventory of Josephine’s cellar following her death in 1814 shows she had the equivalent of 13,200 bottles tucked away, 45 percent from Bordeaux.
It also included a great deal of fortified wine as well as Champagne, such as Moët and Ruinart. Josephine’s cellar also boasted generous amounts of Hermitage, Saint Péray and Côte-Rôtie alongside her collection of luxury Bordeaux wines.

New Zealand Wine Fair - 12th January at Lords Cricket Ground
A fabulous array of more than 600 New Zealand wines, winemakers, prizes galore, a showcase of New Zealand food, travel and lifestyle products. Tickets £25. For more information, visit

Christmas Gifts 1 - Charles & Diana champagne
If you’ve got one of those difficult-to-please wine collectors on your shopping list, consider going to the Reeman Dansie auction in Colchester later this month, where a magnum of Moët & Chandon Brut Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon 1961 will be auctioned. What makes this already-prized bottle particularly noteworthy is that it is one of 12 that were specially packaged for the 1981 royal wedding of Prince Charles to the late Princess Diana. Six of the 12 magnums were donated to charity, while the remaining six were presented to the royal household.
This bottle was later given as a 50th birthday gift in 1988 to Harrods manager Brian Ames. While the bottle’s royal provenance should be enough to drive up its selling price, it should be noted that the attempted 2004 auction of another bottle from the series failed to meet its £1,000 reserve.

Christmas Gifts 2 - La Tour d’Argent wine cellar
Anyone anxious to own a piece of Paris’ legendary La Tour d’Argent wine cellar will have the opportunity Dec. 7 and 8, when 18,000 bottles from the restaurant’s 450,000-bottle collection go on the block at Piasa auctioneers in Paris. Selected by head sommelier David Ridgway, the consignment embraces all of France’s major wine regions, with several vintages from the 19th century. Provenance is pristine, as the offerings were acquired directly from the properties.
Ridgway explained the sale will free up needed cellar space. There could be some values to be had: Château Cheval-Blanc 1928 is estimated at £700 - £850 a bottle, well below the £1,250 average listed in current auction records, and Château Gruaud-Larose 1870 is estimated at £800- £950 per bottle

Militant Languedoc winemaker group CRAV strikes again
Militant Languedoc winemaker group, the Comité Régional d'Action Viticole (CRAV), has claimed responsibility for an explosion outside a bottling plant run by a subsidiary of French cooperative group Val d'Orbieu in Maureilhan.
The group has been orchestrating protests targeting retailers and merchants who are accused of enjoying high margins despite the current crisis in the sector. The group has waged its campaign intermittently over the past few years. In March, it blew up a winery's visitor centre following an attack on a co-operative where a few weeks earlier vats were emptied.

Holy Wine
A Catholic priest in Wisconsin is taking the union of wine and the church a step further with the introduction of Holy Spirits wines. Father Dominic Roscioli has partnered with private label wine specialist Windsor Vineyards in Sonoma. The wines are named for saints whose attributes and earthly experiences purportedly match the contents of the bottles. The labels feature first-person descriptions of the wines from the perspective of their respective saints, such as Our Lady of Mount Carmel's explanation that "I chose a pure, clear Riesling wine to reflect the sweet bouquet of mystery whispered to me by God's angels during my life on earth." The wines are named for St. Patrick, St. Joan of Arc and St. Michael the Archangel, and eventually a wine for each of the 12 apostles. No word on whether the Judas wine will be sealed with a tainted cork. Profits are directed to various charitable organizations.

Smoking is bad for wine
In June 2008, thousands of lighting strikes sparked wildfires throughout California and smoke lingered over vineyards for weeks, casting a pall of anxiety over growers and winemakers. Now a research paper from Australia by Kristen Kennison (a viticulture R and D officer for Western Australia's Department of Agriculture) and Mark Gibberd (professor of viticulture and enology at Curtin University of Technology) for the first time connected smoke in the vineyard with tainted wine. The paper encourages developing a long-term plan, as droughts continue to trigger wildfires near vineyards worldwide.

Retirement for wine drinkers?
Thinking about different retirement? Consider Canada, specifically the Canterbury Gardens retirement home in Peterborough, Ontario. The retirement community recently employed its own sommelier to pair its seasonal menu with the appropriate wines, a feature available every night of the week to the community’s residents. If that wasn’t enough, the establishment has partnered with Ontario’s Colio winery to make their own private label, made up of four wines in all: a Cabernet/Merlot blend, Gamay, Chardonnay and Riesling.

Wine Tycoon - the newest winemaking computer game
Entirely Francocentric in scope, this simulation game has a lot to offer. You start your career off in Alsace and your “vineyard cred” increases from there as you make your way up the grape chain to big properties in Bordeaux and Burgundy, and the issues that come with them. There are budgets to keep, vines to select, bottling and blending, staff to hire, etc… All in all, probably the most faithful reproduction to date of the challenges of winemaking. The promised “enchanting French atmosphere,” is essentially a continuous loop of accordion music, which gets very wearing. Wine Tycoon is only available on PC for now.

Simply Red wines
Yet another celebrity wine producer is Mick Hucknall. His Sicilian wines aren't named for the rock group he fronted since 1985, but are called Il Cantante ("The Singer" in Italian). The winemaker is Salvo Foti, who has been making wine in Sicily since the early 1980s. Il Cantante's lineup includes three wines (Etna Rosso, Etna Bianco and a Nero d'Avola) grown in the volcanic soils surrounding Sicily's Mt. Etna.

Biodynamic Wine Tasting
As if the subject of biodynamic farming principles isn’t complicated enough, just try to fathom the world of biodynamic wine tasting. A new book, When Wine Tastes Best 2010: A Biodynamic Calendar for Wine Drinkers by German biodynamicist Maria Thun pinpoints specific days and even hours when wines are likely to show their best. The calendar begins with December 2009 to help wine drinkers plan the holiday wine drinking season. And just in case you’re curious, Christmas Day is not a particularly auspicious day for opening a prized bottle, but Dec. 27 shows great promise.

The Wine Show 2009 Thursday 22nd - Sunday 25th October
Touted as "The UK's Biggest Wine Show", The Wine Show will be at Business Design Centre, London N1. Attractions include
• Meeting the Experts (even An Hour with Oz)
• Wine Walks and Tasting Theatre
• Wine Market and French Growers Fair
• Opportunities to buy direct from producers.

For more information, visit

Sideways - again
Did you see the road-movie-meets-winetasting film "Sideways"? A Japanese remake of the film was premiered in the Napa Sonoma Film Festival this month. The film's location moved from Santa Barbara to Napa Valley, and its launch in Japan in October is expected to provide a fillup for Californian wine and tourism.

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