Reports from the magazine rack of wine journals:
In the national edition of his Jan. 7 "Private Guide to Wines," Robert Finigan blasted the trend toward "every year's a vintage year" in champagne, pointing out that wines of 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974 and 1975 have all been released without, in his view, "anything like the distinction of classic vintage champagnes of the magnitude of 1929, 1955 or 1961." Nonetheless his tasting notes single out half-a-dozen "outstanding" champagnes from the 1970 and 1971 vintages. A tasting of Pacific and American beers is included as well.
Finigan's 8-page Guide is published monthly. An annual subscription is $24 from Walnuts and Wine, 100 Bush Street, San Francisco, Calif. 94104. $2
From Texas, Moody's Wine Review of December reported on a tasting of seven BV Private Reserve wines mad by Andre Tchelistcheff between 1951 and 1970, a big bottle tasting of rare wines in San Francisco and evaluated jams made from wine grapes. The reports on tastings are in the form of essays with comments and evaluations by the editor, Denman Moody, and others. This is certainly the best publication in this country for tracking the state of rare of exotic wines.
Moody's Review is now published quarterly and will include a buying guide in each issue. An annual subscription is $20 from 1307 Post Oak Park Drive, Houston, Tex. 77027.
Closer to home, Robert Parker has just released the February edition of The Wine Advocate, which contains tasting notes of wines available in Washington and Baltimore. Categories of wines considered in the new edition are 1978 beaujolais, Rhone Valley red wines, petite sirah and dry French whites under $4. (He found some, including one that made it into his "very good wine" category.)
The Wine Advocate publishes six issues per year for a price of $15. For subscriptions write to Robert M. Parker, Jr., 1002 Hillside View, Parkton, Md. 21120.
More than a few oenophiles think the best of all wine newsletters is one put out by the suburban Boston Winecellar of Silene. It is the work of Lucie Hangsteffer, who with her husband, Jim, runs a distinctive wine company and retail store. Some of the material is information for customers, but there are valuable tasting notes and essays of considerable literary -- as well as informational -- value.The most recent edition to reach me reported on a tasting of 1970 Bordeaux and sauvignon blanc, and contained notes on sherry. The Winecellar of Silene is located at 320 Bear Hill Rd., Waltham, Ma. 02154. The 10-page monthly newletter is sent out free as bulk mail. Impatient readers here probably could obtain it sooner by sending a year's worth of postage.
Of local interest: The Wine Academy is offering a six-class "Whirlwind Course" in tasting beginning Feb. 25. The scedule is: Feb. 25, Johannisberg riesling; Mar. 3, chardonnay; Mar. 10, pinot noir; Mar. 17, zinfandel; Mar. 24, cabernet; Mar. 31, dessert white wines. Classes meet at the Capitol Hill Club, 300 First St. SE, at 7:30 p.m. The fee is $125 for each class, or $25 per class. Maximum of 30 students.To register send checks, payable to Ronald K. Zeller, Treas., to Connie Banford, 9209 Curtis Ct., Upper Marlboro, Md. 20870. For more information call 952-0545 or 638-5080.
The German Wine Society is sponsoring a tasting at the Capitol Hill Club at 7 p.m. on Feb. 28. Some places are available to the public for a fee of $15. Call 462-2950 for additional information and reservations.
Virginia's Meredyth Vineyards has broken into the international wine market. Six cases of Meredyth wines, seyval blanc and Marechal Foch, were sent by air freight to Oxford, England, last week to be served at a banquet. By this summer, arrangements should be completed with a leading London wine merchant who will offer some of the Middleburg bottlings to retail customers.
Impact, the influential wine and spirits trade newsletter, reports that in 1979 red table wine "exprienced its first 'no growth' sales year. Editor/publisher Marvin Shanken reports that during last year white table wine sales jumped 18.9 percent to 154 million gallons. Red wine sales descreased 6.8 percent. Red wines' share of the market has declined from 73 percent in 1960 to 30 percent last year. Obviously, however, total volume is much higher.
Meanwhile Italians exporters are celebrating their success during 1979. According to figures released by the Italian Wine Promotion Center (based on U.S. Commerce Department statistics), Italy accounted for slightly more than 55 percent of the wine imports to the United States last year and, for the first time, passed second place France (16.5 percent) in dollar value. Italy sent us 43.2 million gallons of wine. The French poured in 12.9 million gallons, a decrease of more than a million from 1978.
Impact's Shanken reported that the leading Italian import, Lambrusco, lost ground in sales. He wrote that the volume of red Lambrusco sold here dipped 5 percent. White Lambrusco sales increased, however.