After college graduation, I moved to New York City, where a classmate offered a patch of her studio apartment to me until I found my own crib. At her door, she greeted me, “I have good news and bad news.” The bad news: a transit strike had been called. Even if I could afford taxi cabs, drivers were striking in solidarity. So, I’d have to navigate apartment hunting in a big, scary city with its near-zero rental vacancy rate, on foot. “What’s the good news?” I ask. She replies, “It hasn’t started yet.”
In this vein, I have good news and bad news about wine.
The bad news: 2021 world wine production is historically low, 7% below the 20-year average, according to the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV). While record highs in the Southern Hemisphere offset global figures, France Italy and Spain – which account for 45% of world wine – report as much as a 27% drop. While uncertainties brought about by health concerns have yet to be studied, U.S. wine lovers can expect a European wine shortage coupled with spiking prices. The good news? It hasn’t started yet.
Chicagoland’s competitive wine market requires sales agreements to be signed, sealed and/or delivered, sometimes years in advance. Retail shelves are full, and holiday sales tags are posted for the lowest prices of the year, including at The Chopping Block Lincoln Square. Check out our holiday wine case of wine that has been discounted at 15% and will meet all of your entertaining needs.
Here are some of the hardest hit regions, along with wine that we should be drinking now while we can.
Here’s to Champagne, the Drink Divine, that helps us forget all our troubles. It’s made from a dollar’s-worth of wine and three dollars’-worth of bubbles!
It’s no surprise that Champagne, once the wine grape’s most northerly home, would be hit hard by hail, frost and mildew, with producers reporting as much as 50% of their crop lost. Therefore, here’s to that shrewd Benedictine monk and money manager – Dom Perignon - who instituted Champagne’s cuvee – a blend of grapes, vineyards and vintages – as an insurance policy against Mother Nature at her meanest.
I make it a habit to drink Champagne regularly, for health and peace of mind. Like Champagne Bollinger’s Madame Lily Bollinger (1884-1977): “I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it if I am; otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.”
Whether for a special occasion or to make any day into a special occasion, TCB offers:
Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs, Champagne Pierre Moncuit-Delos
NV, Champagne 60.00
Rich, round and creamy, 100% Chardonnay matured on lees to express toasted brioche with evocative hints of truffle. A classic aperitif and elegant complement to dishes from appetizers to entrées.
To discover sparkling wines from around the world, join us for A Celebration of Champagne and Bubbles on New Year's Eve. Join us on December 31 at 5pm at Lincoln Square for this festive class!
Nel vino c'è la verità (In wine there is truth.)
Italy retains her title as the world’s number one wine producer, even suffering a 9% drop. Regions including Abruzzo feared total disaster due to frost, so are encouraged by losses of only about 30%. Our TCB price holds firm, to offer Italy’s most gulp-able red:
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Barone Cornacchia “Casanova”
2016, Abruzzo, Italy 18.00
Plump and luscious with cherry, herb and currant complexity and velvety tannin. Serve as a rich cocktail and complement to flavory dishes including meaty pasta, rich poultry and the heartiest vegetarian fare.
The Prosecco region faces a different challenge. With sales topping Champagne in bottles sold, pressure comes not from inclement weather but soaring prices. According to Andrea Verlicchi, President of the Association of Wine Commissioners, “The price cannot go down because demand is increasing every month. Despite the price, sales are continuing every day.” To avoid price increases, visit TCB for:
Prosecco Superiore, Adami, “Bosco di Gica,”
2020, Valdobiadenne, Italy 20.00
This Italian sparkler is a world-favorite for delicate, dry, and refreshing flavors, perfect to pair with international antipasti and light dishes. Guaranteed to add festivity to any occasion.
Italy epitomizes the expression “If you’re not a little confused, you’re not paying attention.” To understand how Italian wine morphed from straw-wrapped jugs to the world’s leader in quantity and quality, join us for The Italian Renaissance of Wine on Friday, December 17 at 6:30pm at the Mart.
Todo el mundo debería creer en algo. (May you continue to live all the days of your life.)
Rising temperatures in Spain - the world’s largest vineyard area – have speeded up the wine harvest by 15 days over the past decade. Sadly, that means the grape loses 15 days to develop flavor and acidity. But Spain’s Sherry region tops even Champagne in emergency survival by allowing wines to be blended over centuries. In Sherry’s criadera (nurseries), young wines are “educated” by a blend with older wines, the older wines “refreshed” by the young.
TCB features one of Spain’s most historic properties, dating back to 1264 and their ethereal ‘Isabela’ and its century-old blend, the perfect complement to the season’s pumpkin and apple pies!
Cream Oloroso Sherry, Bodegas Valdespino, “Isabela” 21.00
For dessert and sweet memories, with complex flavors of dried fruit and brown spice. Serve room temperature, chilled or over ice!
Want one of our famous Apple Pies and classic Pumpkin Pies on your Thanksgiving table this year? Pre-order your pies for pickup from Lincoln Square now.