Wine world notes

Wine world notes:

• Sadly, the 420-gallon, 2.6-ton, 9.8-foot tall überbottle of wine showcased at a restaurant in Austria is no more. The largest-ever wine bottle went on display in 2017. Value: more than $110,000.

This year, however, after a power failure at the restaurant, the climate-controlled display for the gargantuan bottle failed. Wine heated up and began leaking around the cork—same thing happens if you leave a standard bottle of wine in the hot trunk of your car. Except the Austrian bottle was 2,120 times bigger than your standard bottle.

Fire department arrived. Bottle was uncorked using an industrial-duty spiral auger drill, and 359 gallons of the wine was saved and proved drinkable. Saved wine was bottled in standard bottles to be served at charity events. Take solace if you have ever lost a $10 bottle of wine to heat. It could have been $109,990 worse.

• Donald Trump’s tariffs on European wine was supposed to punish those countries. It doesn’t work that way. United States wine merchants and consumers suffer—a 50 percent drop in French wine sales in the U.S. But Chinese wine merchants and drinkers happily swooped in to fill the gap.

French wine exports increased after Trump’s tariffs. When Europeans no longer could sell to Americans, they found a bigger market. French wine exports to China increased by more than 35 percent, more than making up the U.S. loss. American wine merchants lament destruction of decades-long relationships with European winemakers. Chinese wine merchants and drinkers toast our folly.

• To Kalon (Greek for “place of highest beauty”) arguably is the most important/famous vineyard in the United States. Except its main owner, Constellation Brands, asserts it is not a vineyard at all but a trademarked brand they control. Constellation even works to have To Kalon Creek, which runs through the property, removed from the U.S. Board on Geographic Names list of registered places.

You likely know To Kalon as the epicenter of Robert Mondavi’s wine operation. When Constellation purchased Robert Mondavi, they got much of the vineyard and rights to grapes grown there. But seven other players have To Kalon pieces, and they want to use To Kalon in their names. Thus begets a nifty Napa furious legal fandango. Watch this space.

Last round: The best part of holding hands with my partner is that it leaves the other hand to hold a glass of wine. Both lead to pleasurable things.