In the Wine News!
It’s been a while, so let’s see what’s happening in wine news!
First up, someone bucking for coal in their Christmas stocking broke into Sparkman Cellars in Washington State and destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of wine! According to Wine Spectator:
The surveillance cameras at Sparkman Cellars in Washington state recorded the masked intruder entering the winery at approximately 10:30 p.m. on the night before Thanksgiving. The trespasser entered through a side door, then moved into the room where fermentation vats are housed before disappearing from view. Moments later, a gush of wine could be seen spilling all over the floor.
The damage? Two tanks holding 4,800 gallons of a white blend from the 2023 vintage. All the wine—approximately 1,800 cases worth—was ruined, costing Sparkman an approximate $600,000 in revenue.
No word as to why someone would do such a thing. Thankfully no one was hurt during the break-in. So if you’re in the Washington area and run across someone whose shoes smell of wine, alert the authorities!
Next, all the cool kids are playing with artificial intelligence (AI), so why should wine be any different? According to Decanter.com:
A team from the University of Geneva in Switzerland used artificial intelligence to assess the chemical composition of 80 red wines from seven different châteaux.
They used wines from 12 different vintages between 1990 and 2007, all from renowned estates in Bordeaux.
The researchers vaporised the wines and broke them down to chemical components, resulting in a readout for each wine. The readout is known as a chromatogram, and it has around 30,000 points representing separate chemical compounds.
The team then used 73 chromatograms to train the AI, along with data on the vintage and the estate that produced the wines.
Researchers then tested the algorithm on seven chromatograms that were held back to see if it could guess which estate had produced the wines.
It managed to do so with 100% accuracy. The researchers repeated the process 50 times, changing the wines used each time, and the algorithm consistently earned full marks.
These chromatographs can be used like wine fingerprints, to crack down on counterfeiting. And hey, maybe they can be used to identify people who were standing in 4,800 gallons of wine!
And sadly, we must pour one out for Mike Grgich. Reported in multiple outlets but quoting Wine Spectator again:
Miljenko "Mike" Grgich, a longtime Napa Valley winemaker who was best known for crafting the famed 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that won the Paris Tasting of 1976, died on Dec. 13. He was 100.
Over his decades in wine, Grgich worked at several trailblazing California wineries. He also helped perfect several winemaking techniques in California, including cold sterilization and controlled malolactic fermentation. He also spearheaded research with U.C. Davis professor Carole Meredith into the roots of California Zinfandel, eventually tracing it back to his native Croatia.
And he founded his own Grgich Hills Estate winery in Rutherford, CA. RIP, sir.
Got any questions about wine gifting or what to pair with your holiday dinner? Hit me up in the comments!