By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at 6:04 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

It may seem strange to dedicate one day a year to a specific wine. Or it could be just as strange to let a day go by without a sip or two of wine. Such a dichotomy of feeling is today sandwiched between the holidays of Columbus Day and Halloween in October which now includes International Champagne Day.

Look it up if you’re so inclined. You’ll see the folly of the designation. There is no agreement on Champagne Day. There hasn’t been much disagreement over naming a day for Merlot or Chardonnay or Sangria, but those who produce, those who sell, and those who consume Champagne are all over the place on which is really their day.

August 4 comes up often. I don’t know why. Apparently no one else knows either. Somebody posted it, and it stuck. Some time ago a Champagne importer sent me a reminder that October 21 is National Champagne Day, so I put it up on my perpetual calendar and it shows up every year. But when I try to verify that date with other sources, the best I can do is see that most authorities claim it could fall between the 21st and the 24th, depending, I suspect, on the phases of the moon.

A much broader consensus over the years tweeted its way through the universe naming December 31 as Champagne Day. Probably it would have been more appropriate to call it Champagne Night, because December 31 does more for the promotion of Champagne than any other date.

And while all this goes on, I get a notice from the Champagne Bureau that October 25 will be International Champagne Day and another from a competition for the best toast on the October 21 Champagne Day. Both notices came from New York, so I went to a web site for Champagne producers in Epernay, who, one would think, would have the answer. They agree that a Champagne Day is a good idea and an important occasion but they do not affix a specific date. The site only indicates that a Champagne day is a fine time to drink Champagne and they include it in a list of other fine times for such drinking.

The list includes Valentine’s Day, Mothers’ Day, July 4 and July 14, and other such occasions but leaves the impression that just any old day will do for a glass of Champagne. Following the list is an explanation of the difference between Champagne and other sparkling wines.

Just as when I was six years old and realized that perhaps there really is no Santa Claus and kept believing just in case, so it will be with my observance of Champagne Day. I shall take no chances and pop a cork on the 21st and another on the 25th. To do otherwise would be folly.

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By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Sunday, October 9, 2016 at 3:05 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

Notes from the Pacific Coast, the river regions of France and Germany, and the mountains of northwestern Italy, resemble each other a lot. Laura Bremer says at the Bremer Family Winery atop Howell Mountain, picking started on September 9, and the grapes are of very high quality. The Thompsons report that the wines in Pommard look very good — and I’m sure some of you will recall the devastating frosts that tormented Burgundy last spring.

You may also recall news about harvests occurring earlier and earlier in recent years, something most wine producers say is the result of a warming earth. Ripening heat a month early is not necessarily a good thing for fine grapes. As you know, not long ago we wrote about Swedes producing wines. We are noticing Champagne producers touring England’s south coast to check on the increasingly high quality sparkling wines coming from vines across the Channel.

Climatologists have told us that during the last 12 years we have seen the hottest ten-year-period since records began. In the Piemonte and in Beaujolais, I have talked with vintners considering adapting their customs — gradually replacing traditional grapes with varietals that prefer warmer temperatures.

But for now I leave climate change to the politicians in order to report that even in places where weather patterns wreaked havoc last spring — frosts and hail in Burgundy, the Loire, parts of Bordeaux, and wild fires in California,  — the surviving grapes are well concentrated and promise good drinking. I expect more comprehensive reports in a week or two as the harvests up here in the northern hemisphere wind down. Sante.

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By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Thursday, October 6, 2016 at 7:31 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

My Scandinavian heritage and my love of wine seem to be working in my behalf. WINE SPECTATOR just reported on a study of Finnish twins after some thirty years indicates that moderate drinkers have a lower likelihood of prostate cancer than abstainers or heavy drinkers. Good news indeed for a male of a certain age!

Of course we’ve known for some time that consumption of alcoholic beverages in moderation does seem to offer considerable improvements to overall health — as well as overall well-being. Moderation, however, always is the elephant in the room. My great Uncle Oscar, when told by a doctor to limit his coffee intake to one cup a day, promptly bought a huge cup, almost the size of his coffee pot and followed his doctor’s order. He died in his mid 90s.

An Army general I admired very much one day stormed up to my desk and slammed a paper down in front of me claiming that we must all be “alcoholics.” He was reviewing a draft statement from the Surgeon General about the effects of alcohol, and what piqued my friend’s anger was a claim that more than one drink a day indicates possible alcoholism. My general, like many of us who use wine regularly, seldom limits his dinner wine to a single glass, and when out on the town, one can never be sure whether a restaurant server will be bringing a five-ounce pour or a three-ounce pour until you get it. Moderation is really hard to measure.

In any case, the news was welcome to me, though, as one would expect, there were contingencies from places as far apart as Boston and Barcelona where researchers raised questions about the differences in the nature of the alcoholic drink or the dietary patterns of the subjects under study.

So be it. Much of our daily news these days is most disconcerting. For the moment let’s enjoy a bit of good news.

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