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Father’s Day wine 2014

Father's Day wine 2014

You don’t have to buy Dad another tie. Wouldn’t he prefer wine?

Tired of ties? Worn out from from all those cheesy department store Father’s Day TV commercials? That’s what wine is for — to make Father’s Day 2014 more fun for everyone involved. Keep the blog’s wine gift-giving guidelines in mind throughout the process: “Don’t buy someone wine that you think they should like; buy them what they will like.”

Some wine to consider for Father’s Day 2014:

? Juv y Camps Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2008 ($14, purchased, 12%): Delicious and surprisingly sophisticated cava — sparkling wine from Spain — with all sorts of things going on, including honey in the back, some citrus in the front, and even a little minerality. Toast Dad with this one, and impress everyone.

? Ch teau du Donjon Minervois Ros 2013 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): Look for sour cherry fruit and some minerality, though a bit thin in the middle. This is not so much a problem with the wine but with the quality of $10 rose, because the wine is quite tasty.

? Robert Oatley Wild Oats Shiraz 2011 ($15, sample, 13.5%): Lots of spice to go with the fruity Australian style (berries?). This is a wine that shiraz lovers will enjoy, as well as those of us who don’t like the style. A fine value, and highly recommended.

? Solena Pinot Gris 2012 ($17, sample, 13.5%) Top-notch Oregon pinot gris (apples, crispy, refreshing) that shows what the state can do with this grape. A bit pricey, but a fine gift for dads who like this kind of wine.

More about Father ?s Day wine:
? Father’s Day wine 2013
? Father’s Day wine 2012
? Expensive wine 51: Stags’ Leap Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2010
? Wine of the week: Errazuriz Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Reserva 2010

Wine of the week: Chateau Recougne 2009

Ch teau RecougneThe Chateau Recougne, a French red blend, is an excellent example of the pricing dilemma facing U.S. wine consumers. At $10, this is a Hall of Fame wine, but increase the price by one-third, and it’s not nearly as impressive.

So what did I pay for the Chateau Recougne ($13, purchased, 13%)? One-third more than $10, of course. None of this means that the Recougne, mostly merlot from a lesser part of Bordeaux called Bordeaux Superieur, isn’t well made or enjoyable, because it is and especially for an older wine. There is more oak and fruit (black cherry?) than I expected, but there is also some earthiness and the proper balance between all of the parts. It’s a little New World for my taste, but I enjoyed it and would buy it again.

Which brings us back to price. Does the Chateau Recougne offer one-third more value than the Little James Basket Press or McManis’ gold-medal petite sirah? Not really, and that’s the dilemma: How do we decide what to buy, given the incredible selection of wine to choose from and the lack of information to help us make that decision? The Recougne label isn’t much help, though it looks very French, and since I bought it at a grocery store, there was no one to ask.

My colleagues and I regularly argue about whether Americans buy wine on price; the Recougne seems to be argument that we do. If there’s a similar $10 wine next to it on the shelf, given an equal lack of information, how many of us won’t pay one-third less?

Winebits 337: Coravin woes and crappy wine

wine news coravin ? Coravin says whoops: Far be it for the Wine Curmudgeon to say “I told you so,” but the $300 Coravin wine opener has hit a snag. As in exploding bottles. The system exerts so much pressure that some bottles, likely with minute defects, burst when the Coravin is used. The company has halted sales until it fixes the problem, and has sent those who purchased the opener a patch. Who knew wine openers would be subject to recalls?

? No more reviews: Lew Perdue, who runs the Wine Industry Insight news service, used to throw the occasional wine review in the mix. But no more: “…I ?ve grown weary of panning bad wine. You probably don ?t enjoy reading about it. Worse than that are all of the bad wines I ?ve had the misfortune of buying. And tasting.” I’m sorry to see Lew go, but completely understand. Those of us who buy wine to review and take our chances with what we buy have had the same thing happen to us. Over and over. And over. Or, as I like to joke, I taste more bad wine than anyone in the world. Which actually isn’t very funny, is it?

? Legitimate wine education: Or so promises a British supermarket chain, which is adding a taste test to its on-line store. Consumers will answer questions about their wine preferences, and the results will guide them to wines labeled sweet, fresh, smooth, or intense (as well as a numbered scale) that match their answers. Says the chain’s wine buyer: “Customers really love wines but they find buying it scary because they are really worried that they are going to buy the wrong products.” Wow. Who knew retailers knew that?

Expensive wine 63: Volta Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Volta Cabernet Sauvignon The email was straightforward: Would the Wine Curmudgeon review the Volta cabernet sauvignon ($60, sample, 14.5%), even though it wasn’t the kind of wine usually featured on the blog? “A review in your monthly expensive wine feature would be great if that works out for June,” wrote the winery representative. “I wouldn’t dare insist it be a positive one, only that you share your true thoughts with your readers.”

Which is what the Wine Curmudgeon does anyway, so a few considerations about the Volta cabernet sauvignon:

? It’s a good example of this kind of pricey Napa Valley wine, rich and full with a burst of sweet berry fruit, very smooth tannins, and a chalky finish. The grapes are top quality, but you’d expect that from a wine at this price. The oak is relatively subdued, and it’s not as over-extracted and over-ripe as many similarly priced and styled wines from this part of the world. Having said that, it’s not subtle, either, and is firmly part of the post-modern wine movement.

? The wine is hot, which means the alcohol shows more than it should. It’s most noticeable when you smell it, when there is a whiff of something that isn’t fruity; and on the finish, when it’s almost like a sharp bite. This isn’t unusual for this kind of wine, because it’s made with very ripe grapes that have more sugar to be turned into alcohol during fermentation. I don’t like hot wine, but many people consider it a good thing. I don’t know any, but I do know they are out there.

? This bottle did not hold up well after we opened it. After 30 minutes in the glass, the wine started to fade and it lost much of its fruitiness. I don’t know if it was just this bottle, or if the vintage has started to get old. This style of wine, given the grapes’ ripeness and the techniques used to make it, doesn’t always age well.

The Washington state lesson in drinking local

local wine trendsToday’s riddle: Which local wine was ignored, overlooked, and regarded as not real wine? The answer: Washington state wine, which got so little respect that a bartender at a Pasco restaurant once told me there was no such thing as Washington wine.

Hence the story I wrote for the Beverage Media trade magazine — that today’s best regional wine states are in much the same position that Washington was in two decades ago. Which means that retailers and restaurateurs who aren’t paying attention are missing a good thing (right, Texas?). The story ?s highlights:

? Too many still don’t understand how popular local is. It has been a “hot topic” in the National Restaurant Association ?s annual chef ?s survey since at least 2010, and local wine was the second biggest alcohol trend.

? It’s just not that wine is made in all 50 states, but the Wine America trade group reports that the number of regional wineries in the United States increased almost 12 percent between 2011 and 2014 — in the aftermath of the recession — and almost doubled since 2005 — during the recession.

? The business types who are part of the three-tier system have figured it out, which kind of surprised me. The biggest regional producers are distributed by the biggest companies in the country; in Texas, for example, the two biggest distributors in the state handle most of the state’s best-selling wineries. It used to be almost impossible, even just 10 years ago, for a local producer to get a distributor.

? Retailers who support local make money off of local. Marketview Liquor in Rochester, N.Y., carries some 800 New York wines, and that ?s not a new thing ?the store has invested in local since it opened 33 years ago. How long ago was that? Not even I was writing about regional wine then.

? Quality has improved, too, even if no one wants to believe it. Washington’s wines are among the best in the world, and so are New York rieslings, Texas viogniers, and Virginia red blends.

Cheap wine matters, says VinePair web power index

VinePairThe Wine Curmudgeon has made the VinePair wine web power index again, which measures the most influential wine sites on the Internet. This is always good to see, because it means my message is getting across: Wine is fun, it doesn’t have to be complicated, and anyone can enjoy it.

The irony about all this? That Google started taking an intense dislike to the blog about 15 months ago, and it only got worse when I changed platforms last fall. How this happened is a mystery, since I’m doing the same thing I’ve done for the past seven years. But Google, for whatever reason, rates the Wine Curmudgeon as less trustworthy than it did in April 2013 and is less likely to recommend the site when someone searches for cheap wine news, reviews, and the like.

Which means the site has an influence beyond Google, and I have everyone who visits here to thank for that. We’re going to get this cheap wine thing done, regardless of the obstacles in our way, whether the Winestream Media or a $50 billion company that controls two-thirds of the search activity in the U.S.

Is Texas wine at a crossroads?

Texas wineTexas wine may be approaching a crossroads, something that was evident during the 31st annual Lone Star International wine competition this week. That’s because some of the best wines at the competition weren’t Texas, but included California wines sold by Texas producers. Which is not supposed to be the point of what we’re doing here.

Years ago, when a lot of Texas wine left much to be desired, what happened this week wasn’t unusual. Or, as I told the competition organizer when I first judged Lone Star in 2005, “Give us better wines, and we’ll give you gold medals.”

Given the revolution in Texas wine quality and production over the past decade, I had hoped those days were gone. But the uneven quality of many of the wines I judged, this year and last, has me wondering. Has Texas wine reached a plateau, where quality isn’t going to get any better given the state’s resources and climate? Or is something else going on?

After the jump, my take on what’s happening: Continue reading