When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

TOPIC: wine

food / travel

A Female Winemaking Revolution Breathes New Life Into Hungary's Historic Vineyards

For centuries, the region of Tokaj in Hungary was known for its intensely sweet dessert wines. Now female winemakers are making waves in what was formerly a man’s world, producing more elegant wines that appeal to a European palate.

BODROGKERESZTUR — In centuries past, the story went that the best wines in the world were made in France, Germany and Hungary. Then, in the 20th century, two brutal world wars redrew the map of Europe. Of the three traditional winemaking nations, only one remained: France, now joined by Italy and Spain.

The world order of wine was shaken up, and so locals here in Tokaj, Hungary’s best-known winemaking region, had to find a new approach to make a place for itself on the international market. The region in the northeast of the country was traditionally famous for its intensely sweet, expensive dessert wines.

Watch VideoShow less

Barolo 4.0? How Artificial Intelligence Is Making The Best Wines Better

The Viberti Barolo winery in the Piedmont region of Italy employs cutting-edge solutions to preserve tradition and craftsmanship regardless of severe climate change.

VERGNE — Barolo and Industry 4.0 seem like an oxymoron of winemaking. Any wine, with which we associate a taste or a memory, can be distinguished by so many attributes, but not the industrial one. It is a mockery, an insult, a diminutio of craftsmanship intelligence.

However, according to Claudio Viberti, third-generation barolista of the family business of the same name in the town of Vergne (in the northwestern region of Piemonte), one should not be suspicious of the term Industry 4.0: “When applied to our field, it is useful to safeguard and enhance the craftsmanship of a product that today, for a variety of reasons, including climate change, we can no longer make as we would like to,” he told us. “The goal of maintaining that taste of tradition forces us to behave differently. We can't do it with the same methods; that would be a mockery.”

Keep reading...Show less

Mendoza's "Recycled" Winery — Argentine Eco Architecture With A Splash

Architects in Mendoza, western Argentina, have used hundreds of tons of recycled building material, shipping containers and discarded decorations to create an otherwise high-tech winery.

MENDOZA — Winemaking and wine tourism installations are usually built with a tasteful nod at the landscape around them. In the case of the MAAL winery in western Argentina, its environment-friendly design includes use of 300 tons of discarded construction and decoration materials found in and around the district of Mendoza.

Local architects Mora Hughes wanted to make the project a badge of their "commitment to nature," but with all the "charm of a Mendoza winery." MAAL winery is in Las Compuertas, on the outskirts of the city of Mendoza and at the heart of a celebrated winemaking region.

Keep reading...Show less

Negev Terroir? Climate Change Pushes French Winemakers Into Desert Cultivation

More and more French wine growers are interested in the mechanics of growing grapes and producing wine in the world’s most arid regions—like Israel. Climate change is pushing the wine world to imagining all possibilities, including the most extreme.

On his family vineyard in the heart of the Negev desert — a vast expanse of sand and rocks that stretches from Israel’s border with Egypt to its border with Jordan — David Pinto and his team are getting ready to bottle the first white wine of the season.

The last harvest took place two weeks earlier, in September. “We closed out the harvest with two varietals that need more maturation time— Syrah and Muscat Canelli —which we use to make a really special dessert wine,” he explains.

Two years ago Pinto, the CEO of Pinto Winery, launched this adventure into Israeli wine. This year he produced 60,000 bottles, compared to 30,000 in 2021. His rows of vines spread out over ten hectares in this improbable terroir, a triangle amidst the Negev desert’s 13,000 km2 of dry and dusty earth.

“When the first producers set up in this desert 15 years ago, everyone thought they were crazy. Making wine in the desert? Back then people called it a hippie dream, but nobody's saying that anymore,” Pinto says. “There are 300 hectares of vines and 30 producers in the Negev, and the numbers grow every year.”

Keep reading...Show less
In The News
Shaun Lavelle, Anna Akage, Joel Silvestri, and Emma Albright

Ukrainian Navy Claims Success In Black Sea

Ukrainian officials say a fleet of Russian ships has been forced more than 100 kilometers from the Ukrainian coast, which could be used to alleviate the economic pressure of the Russian blockade.

The Ukrainian Navyclaimed yesterday that it had pushed a fleet of Russian ships more than 100 kilometers from the Ukrainian coast. Ukraine alleged that as a result, Russia had been forced to change its tactics in the northwest part of the Black Sea to rely on coastal defenses in occupied Kherson and Crimea, rather than seaborne air defenses.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

The U.S. think-tank theInstitute for the Study of War reported that it is likely Ukraine will try to use these successes to alleviate the economic pressure of the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports.

Watch VideoShow less
Béatrice Brasseur

Blockchain Uncorked, Champagne And Fine Wine Hit The NFT Market

In just a few months, NFTs, the digital equivalent of collectables, have generated over $10 billion. Now, luxury champagne and wine brands are moving into the world of digital assets. But as investors and vineyards toast to the future, will the concept pop or fizzle?

PARIS — What's new in champagne? Tokenized bubbles!

In October, Dom Pérignon demonstrated it perpetual creative effervescence by launching limited edition boxes of its 2010 vintage and its 2006 rosé, which were "designed" in collaboration with the megastar Lady Gaga (available only on the French market). The 100 bottles — a few drops in the ocean of bubbles produced by Dom Pérignon — and their digital versions were offered for sale in a 100% virtual space. In search of new fans and eager to "create rarity within rarity," the champagne brand has thus become the very first in its sector to take the plunge into NFTs, the digital answer to collectibles.

Watch VideoShow less
food / travel
Benjamin Quenelle

Russia Thirsts For Prestige Mark On World's Wine List

Gone are sweet Soviet wines, forgotten is the "dry law" of Gorbachev, Russian viticulture is now reborn.

MOSCOW — A year after its opening, Russian Wine is always full. Located in the center of Moscow, it has become a trendy restaurant. Its wine list stands out: It offers Russian brands only, more than 200, signalled in different colors across all the southern regions of the country.

Russian Wine (in English on the store front, as well as on the eclectic menu) unsurprisingly includes Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula where viticulture has revived since Moscow annexed it in 2014.

Watch VideoShow less
Frank Niedercorn

When COVID Deprives French Winemakers Of Their Sense Of Smell

'Smell blindness,' or anosmia, a common coronavirus symptom, isn't a pleasant experience for anyone. But for an oenologist, it's also a serious professional handicap.

The first thing Nicolas Garde noticed that morning in March 2020 was that he felt off — "bizarre," in his words. "After an hour, I realized that I could only smell a few aromas," the resident of Alsace, in eastern France, recalls. "Two days later, I had completely lost my sense of smell."

Like many people affected by the COVID-19 virus, Garde experienced anosmia, also known as "smell blindness." The difference in his case, however, is that the loss of smell and taste had a direct impact on his ability to work. That's because Garde is an oenologist, an expert, in other words, in the science of wine and wine making. And, as it turns out, he's not the only one to have faced this particular predicament.

Watch VideoShow less
Alice Hérait

Tropical Terroir: The Man Turning Taiwan Into Wine Country

On this subtropical island, Chien-hao Chen fought typhoons and monsoons to develop his vineyards — and to produce wines admired by some of the most important oenologists.

TAICHUNG — How could anyone imagine any sort of viticulture on land that never experiences winter and is ravaged by an average of five typhoons per year? The island of Taiwan is much more famous for its tea and street food than for its vineyards. Producing wine is certainly possible, but producing very good wine is another story. And most of the bottles found in this hot country are closer to cheap plonk than great vintages.

Yet Vino Formosa, a sweet white wine, and Vino Formosa Rosso, its red equivalent — developed in this very tough environment by the eccentric Chien-hao Chen — are two notable exceptions. Their names evoke the island's former designation, Formosa. We meet the 53-year-old winemaker at the end of Oct. 2020, under a blazing sun. The winery, Shu-sheng, is located on the outskirts of Taichung, Taiwan's second largest city with 2.8 million inhabitants. Chen takes us on a tour of its five hectares of vineyards. Except for the Chinese characters that indicated the name of the estate, it feels like a summer afternoon in the Perpignan province of France.

Watch VideoShow less
Bertrand Hauger

Man Walks Into Barr, Steals A Letter: Bad Joke Or Lockdown Protest?

The almost aptly-named village of Barr, considered one of the wine capitals of eastern France, has been targeted by vandals who may have been making a political statement about pandemic lockdown measures. Last Saturday night, someone stole the final "R" from the main town sign, proudly standing on a roundabout near the famous Route des Vins, L'Alsace-Le Pays reports.

Barr thus became "Bar."

Watch VideoShow less
food / travel
Ophélie Neiman*

Climate Apocalypse Or Economic Meltdown, Wine Will Survive

Grapes grow almost anywhere, and they're easy to ferment. So don't worry, even if the world as we know it crashes and burns, we'll have wine to ease our souls.


PARIS — What if it all goes to hell in a handbasket? Well, at least we'll still have wine, of that I'm sure. Survivor of extremes, wine has seen plenty of bitter times. And it'll keep on keeping on, even in face of climate change, war, or the collapse of the capitalist system. As long as there are humans, there will be wine.

Humanity invented wine before it invented writing. The first traces of wine date back 8,000 years ago in Anatolia, in modern Turkey. As grapes are the fruit easiest to ferment, it's not absurd to believe that our ancestors quickly understood the benefits of stocking them in pots. Similar wine storage vases were discovered in Iran and Georgia, aged between 7,000 and 9,000 years old. In Armenia, excavations revealed a 6,100-year-old site consecrated to winemaking. In comparison, writing is a youngling at just 5,300 years old.

The first hangover in history: when Noah ended up naked in an ethanol coma (Genesis 9: 18-27).

Wine has seen its share of catastrophic events. Do you know the first thing Noah did when the flood was over, according to the Hebrew Bible? He didn't run to buy new clothes at Zara or enroll in a comprehensive insurance plan or put his savings in a bank or invest in stock. No. Fruitful living starts with grapes, so he planted vines. This led to the first hangover in history, when Noah ended up naked in an ethanol coma (Genesis 9: 18-27). Because you know what? After an apocalypse, you need a good drink.

Our era is no exception. When there's nothing left, there will be wine, because it's easy enough to create and vines adapt to almost every climate. Wine is produced in Canada, Ethiopia, Chile, Switzerland, South Africa, Japan, Morocco, Mexico, Cape Verde and Brazil. They even make it in Tahiti (OK, fine, there's one only producer there) where it's possible to have two harvests per year if you let the vine grow.

Noah and his sons making wine — Source: Holkham Bible

Wine is useful. When we wanted to purify water in the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance, we cut it with wine, even if it wasn't great for kids. But for Louis Pasteur, the father of pasteurization, it was the "healthiest of all drinks." Above all, vines are a symbol of civilization, made to be taken everywhere.

Georgia, one of the cradles of wine, is already dreaming about the beverage's future — and wisely preparing for the final frontier. Indeed, the University of Technology in Tbilisi is currently constructing a laboratory where it will soon test a variety of Georgian grapes in an environment similar to that of Mars.

Everywhere that wine strongly influenced culture, it has persisted — even in times of war. Don't forget that 1945 was a fantastic vintage in France. That, of course, was the year World War II ended. The vintage, consequently, became a symbol of peace. But even in Syria, where war is ongoing, people continue to harvest wine grapes.

In the Château Marsyas in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon, brothers Karim and Sandro Saadé remotely direct the harvest on the Bargylus estate, their vineyard 200 kilometers away, on the other side of the border. It's too dangerous for them work in the vineyard itself, so they import their samples by taxi all the way to Beirut where they test the juice in a laboratory.

If only a small portion of humanity survives, even then there'll still be wine.

"We keep in contact with the teams there every day, by whatever means available," they explained to me by phone. "WhatsApp helps a lot." Even at the peak of the war, they haven't stopped producing. Bargylus is now exported to 24 countries.

If the collapsologists are right and only a small portion of humanity survives, even then there'll still be wine. Sure, there would be challenges: Without oil there's no plastic, so no bag-in-box wine. But there could still be amphoras, the original wine vases, which are more charming anyway. And there would be no lack of people willing to produce it. In my own travels I've met winemakers who were previously DJs, journalists, bankers, CEOs and teachers. Their wines are good.

Everyone is game — even the guy sitting next to me at a restaurant yesterday, who announced to his table that one day he would leave everything and start making wine. I resisted the temptation to interrupt and suggest that the apocalypse would be the perfect occasion. That brings to mind another potential benefit of the post-apocalyptic world: no Netflix! That means no more procrastinating, and no more excuses for making that professional reconversion a reality.

Watch VideoShow less
food / travel
Guia Baggi

Meet The 'Heroic' Vintners Conserving Italy's Violet Coast

A group of dedicated growers grapple with difficult terrain, scorching heat and the area's gradual population drain to produce a unique variety of wine called Armacìa.

BAGNARA CALABRA — Rosario Morello inspects the cultivated rows of Zibibbo, a white wine grape also known as Muscat of Alexandria.

In a few days' time, on these steep ridges connecting the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Aspromonte Mountains and spanning a roughly six-mile stretch between the coastal towns of Scilla and Bagnara Calabra in Southern Italy, the grape harvest will begin.

Watch VideoShow less