Italian drug ring wine capers

Drugs and romance dominate this week’s news roundup, and you can get involved with any of them.

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| What could be more romantic than a hotel in Bordeaux? You told us.

There are often difficult aromas and flavors to place in wine, but cannabis and cocaine?

That’s what Italian police discovered this week and while there’s a certain element of ‘high’ crime to our front-page story, there’s a whole lot more; we also have problems with labelling, French romanticism and sophrology. No, we don’t really know what it is either, but we’ll find out. Continue reading…

Tank truck used for drug smuggling through Europe

A Piedmontese oil tanker is at the center of a five-year Italian investigation into a Turin-based drug trafficking ring that has seen the country’s Carabinieri police make 19 arrests and raid dozens of properties this week.

The tanker, which was filled with Piedmont wine (there was no indication in the reports as to the identity of the wine), was one of the tricks by which hashish and cocaine would be smuggled into the country. Investigators say the tanker would leave northern Italy with the wine on board and head for the southern Spanish city of Málaga, where a sealed metal coffin-shaped container filled with drugs would be submerged in wine for the return trip.

Police found 800 kg of hashish (compressed marijuana) and three kilograms of cocaine in the tanker truck. Another trick was to place the drugs inside hollow concrete counterweights of the type used on cranes.

The tanker would return to Italy before heading south – mainly to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, where Cagliari-based carabinieri played a major role in seizing the drugs. Besides Piedmont and Sardinia, other later drug destinations included the Italian regions of Lombardy, Lazio and Abruzzo.

The system transported 1,500 to 2,000 kg of hashish every two months and three kilos per month of cocaine, imported from Spain,” Italian national newspaper La Repubblica said.About a quarter of this was destined for the Sardinian market. »

According to details announced in the Italian press this week, the drug money was laundered by the ringleaders of the Saint-Vincent casino in the Aosta Valley. The police operation was dubbed Operation El Dorado after a first seizure of cocaine destined for Sardinia at El Dorado airport in Bogotá, Colombia, in 2016.

Alsatian labels to show levels of sweetness

More Alsace wines will start showing residual sugar levels on their labels this year as a two-year law comes into effect with wines from the region of the 2021 vintage. The law, passed in 2020, requires all Alsatian labels to state whether they are dry (dry), demi-sec (demi-sec), demi-doux (moelleux), or douce (doux).

These terms correspond to EU legislation, according to which a dry wine is classified as having less than four grams per liter of sugar – or has up to nine grams per liter of sugar as long as the corresponding tartaric acid content is not is not less than two grams below the sugar level. In other words, a wine with 9 g/L of residual sugar is considered dry as long as it contains more than 7 g/L of tartaric acid equivalents.

A similar scale works for semi-dry wines that are rated between 4 and 12 g/L residual sugar, or up to 18 g/L residual sugar as long as the tartaric acid equivalent is not less than 10 g/L behind the sugar. level. The middle covers any wine up to 45 g/L and sweet wines are above.

Alsatian producers can choose how to display this information, either with the use of the single applicable word (Sweet, for example), or with the use of a sweetness scale.

“There is no rule on the size of the letters,” Raymond Lassablière of the Association des Vignerons d’Alsace (AVA) told vitisphere.com. “The only criterion is that the information must be clearly visible.”

“This standardized sweetness guide will not only help wine professionals create wine pairings, but give consumers confidence as they explore the breadth of what this region has to offer,” said Jenni Wagoner, director of wine pairings. group wines for London restaurants Zuma and Oblix, in a press release.

South Korea, the fastest growing Asian wine market

While the Chinese wine market is shrinking (falling 14% in value in 2021), South Korean wine imports are estimated to have increased by 76% last year, making it the “Asian wine market to fastest growing,” according to Hong Kong. wine writer Natalie Wang in Vino Joy News.

According to South Korea’s customs office and industry sources, the country imported more than $506 million worth of wine between January and November 2021, making it the first time the country’s wine imports exceeded the $500 million mark. South Korean wine imports have grown steadily over the past four years, with wine imports worth US$224 million in 2018 and US$332 million in 2020.

However, the news may not be as healthy, social or sustainable as one would hope. According to the local Yonhap news agency, IAccording to industry sources, the jump in 2021 is due to people “drinking at home alone instead of going to bars amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

The country’s imports seem to be a good mix of traditional and international wines. France represents the largest segment of imported wines with US$162 million, followed by the United States with US$81 million, Chile with US$68 million and Spain with US$38 million.

Castilla – La Mancha will fight the EU for health warnings

The regional government of Castilla – La Mancha in Spain has said it will “fight tooth and nail” to defend its wine producers as EU officials discuss cigarette-style health warnings on wine bottles. According to reports, Brussels is considering placing cancer warnings on all alcoholic beverages, potentially featuring graphic images similar to those found on cigarette packs in many countries around the world.

The European group Beating Cancer (BECA) already fueled controversy in the wine world in December when its report said there was “no safe level of alcohol consumption”. The report is expected to pave the way for increased restrictions and rules on alcohol promotion and communication initiatives.

Some commentators have indicated that Brussels could consider stronger health warnings on wine labels.

Much of the wine industry’s recent pushback has toed the line that studies linking alcohol consumption to cancer have often used neutral alcohol in labs. The European wine industry body CEEV had said that the EU Parliament’s proposal was “misleading and based on a single study harshly criticized by the scientific community for its methodological and analytical flaws”.

“Wine is not carcinogenic,” Castile-La Mancha government spokeswoman Blanca Fernández told the Europapress news agency. “It cannot be a direct equivalent of distilled beverages.”

Valencian winemakers were less combative, reacting with “bewilderment” and “surprise”, according to local Valencian newspaper, Levante.

The European Parliament will vote on the report of the BECA group in February.

Sophrology and wine tasting in Mâcon

Get ready for what could be a revolutionary – and in some cases, indispensable – addition to the standard wine tasting format. Before examining color, smelling bouquet, tasting wine, evaluating structure and length, we can now banish bad thoughts, take a few deep breaths and give ourselves a “body reading” to eliminate stress. and connect fully with our five senses.

This is a new tasting format set up and supervised by a sophrologist Isabelle Francès once a month at the Domaine des Deux Roches in Davayé in the Mâconnais in southern Burgundy. Since last December, a special tasting sees Francès take guests on a special tour of the cellar in which she invites participants to touch, listen, smell and see objects from the estate. Sophrology is defined as a “dynamic relaxation method”.

“I ask them to be aware of what is happening around them,” she told Terre et Vins last month. “So they can start to amplify their sight, their hearing, their sense of smell, their touch. For example, they feel the more subdued atmosphere of the barrel cellar, compared to the fermentation room and its stainless steel vats. breathing exercises, where you can close your eyes.”

Once ready, the stress of the day released and the senses prepared, tasters are invited to taste the wines in silence. Indeed, visitors are not encouraged to talk to each other until the end of the tasting. “I tell them the names of the wines and that’s it,” she says, before her guests embark on the actual tasting.

“We stop at the color”, says Frances, “that we take the time to observe; then we smell the aromas before taking a sip. The important thing is to take the time to pause between each step so that we can read what we are reading. feel and welcome the thoughts that are provoked.”

The sophrologist – who admits she’s not an oenologist – says her attendees regularly say they realize they haven’t paid enough attention or taken the time to appreciate the finer details of the wines they taste. they drink.

Don’t miss the appropriate amendment to the WSET wine tasting format soon.

The most romantic hotels in Bordeaux

French travel site generationvoyage.fr recently published its top eight most romantic hotels in Bordeaux and, while we recognize that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, see if you can spot a problem with the list:

  1. Hotel de Seze
  2. The Boutique Hotel Bordeaux
  3. Quinconces Hotel
  4. InterContinental Bordeaux – The Grand Hotel
  5. Singular Hotel
  6. The Palais Gallien Hotel & Spa
  7. Hotel
  8. Villas Foch Bordeaux

It’s true: all are in the city center of Bordeaux and none are in its vineyards. Granted, the “quays” of Bordeaux are steeped in wine merchant history, but surely that can’t beat a boutique hotel in the Sauternes vineyards?

Now, while romance doesn’t have to happen in a hotel room – legendary British writer Michael Broadbent has declared his ambition to make love “necessarily stealthily, and at night, in a famous vineyard” – we wondered if international Wine-Searcher readers could offer more wine-friendly recommendations – and not just limited to Bordeaux?

So, as Valentine’s Day approaches, share with us (subject to anonymity, if you wish) your favorite romantic vineyard or wine-related hotels anywhere in the world (not just Bordeaux). We’ll publish our selection of the best on February 13. Email your choices HERE.

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