Category:Podcasts

Winecast 44: Clara Klein, Sunday Vinyl

Clara Klein

Clara Klein, Sunday Vinyl

Stuck at home? Then there’s nothing wrong with $12 white Bordeaux, fast food, and pantry staples, says Clara Klein

Clara Klein, the lead sommelier at Sunday Vinyl in Denver, bought a house in October. Six months later, she was unemployed, courtesy of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hence, the reason for this podcast — Clara offers smart, insightful perspective on wine and the restaurant business during the duration. I’ve known Clara for a couple of years from judging the Colorado Governor’s Cup, and she understands that not all wine costs $100 or needs to be Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon. How many people in her line of work are willing to admit that?

Clara is also a passionate supporter of local restaurants, local jobs, and local food. And her plea for federal aid to help save local is one of the best I have read or heard. If four out of five restaurants close because of the pandemic, do we really want the one restaurant left to be a national chain?

The good news is that she has plenty of inexpensive wine at home, and she and husband Ian Palazzola (laid off from Denver’s Acorn) have been able to cook, drink wine, and spend time together. Which, she says, doesn’t happen much. Finally, a mea culpa: Sunday Vinyl is in Denver, despite my saying it was in Boulder twice.

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is almost 11 minutes long and takes up 4 megabytes. The sound quality is very good; we’re back with  Skype, the blog’s unofficial podcast software.

Photo courtesy of 5280, using a Creative Commons license

Winecast 43: Rob McMillan and what happens when all this is over

rob mcmillan

Rob McMillan: There are going be better quality grapes in cheap wine, even as wine prices decline.

“What’s going to happen to demand? People are still going to drink”

The good news? Rob McMillan of Silicon Valley Bank, perhaps the foremost financial analyst in the wine business, says wine can survive the coronavirus pandemic. The bad news? It’s not going to be a lot of fun during the duration.

The highlights of our conversation:

• Expect to see weaker wineries fail, as well as some grape growers who don’t have producers to buy their grapes. In this, there probably won’t be bankruptcies or foreclosures as much as there will distress sales. There are always people wiling to buy wineries, says McMillan, even in a recession, and prime vineyard prices probably won’t decline all that much.

• Wine prices were expected to fall before the pandemic hit the U.S., and the stay at home orders and layoffs will only hasten the process. In this, though, since there are too many grapes, expect to see better quality grapes going into cheap wine. One rumor? That a major $3 producer snapped up Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon at bargain prices.

• Look for more producers to try to sell their wines at mass retailers and supermarkets. The loss of tasting room business needs to be made up somehow, and retail wine sales haven’t slumped as much as some thought.

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 18 minutes long and takes up 11 megabytes. The sound quality is very good; it’s my first podcast with Zoom.

The WC on the Lake Geneva Country Meats podcast

Lake Geneva Country Meats

Can’t talk about wine trends 2020 without talking about the European wine tariff.

The WC talks about wine trends in 2020 with Nick Vorpagel of Lake Geneva Country Meats, the blog’s favorite wine store and meat market

Nick Vorpagel of Lake Geneva Country Meats, a long time friend of the blog, asks me about wine trends 2020 as part of the store’s podcast series. We talk about prices, premiumization, great cheap wine to drink, and even the tariff — and have a good time despite that topic.

Click here to go to the Lake Geneva site to listen to the podcast.

 

Winecast 42: Jay Bileti and the AWS Drink Local program

jay bilettiJay Bileti talks about the American Wine Society’s program to help its members Drink Local

The American Wine Society is one of the largest consumer wine groups in the country, so that it’s helping its members discover regional wine is one more victory for Drink Local. The AWS’ Jay Biletti, a long-time advocate for regional wine, discusses the chapter sharing program and how it works. And you don’t even have to belong to the group to participate.

For more information, click this link to find a chapter near you (scroll down to the map). Then, you can contact the local group to find out how they are participating.

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 9 minutes long and takes up 3.6 megabytes. The sound quality is excellent, even though we had to try several different ways to make the recording.

Winecast 41: Liz Thach and wine trends 2020

Liz Thach

Liz Thach: $12 to $20 is the sweet spot for U.S. wine.

Liz Thach of Sonoma State University talks about premiumization, the wine tariff, wine prices and what else to expect in 2020

Sonoma State University’s Liz Thach, MW, PhD, is one of the most respected wine business analysts in the country, so her take on what will happen next year with wine prices, premiumization, and the tariff is worth a podcast. And Thach  doesn’t offer much hope for those of us who appreciate quality cheap wine:

• Yes, the grape glut in California is good news for consumers. But she also expects wine prices to continue to thrive between $12 and $20, as premiumization continues.

• The tariff will benefit California producers, and especially hurt Spanish wine. Australia, long out of favor with U.S. consumers, may also benefit.

• French wine won’t be hurt as badly as Spain, given its higher prices.

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 9 ½ minutes long and takes up 3.6 megabytes. The sound quality is almost excellent, despite Skype’s refusal cooperate.

Winecast 40: Roberta Backlund, consumer wine advocate

Roberta Blacklund

Roberta Backlund

Consumer wine advocate Roberta Backlund says there are values to be found – the key is not to be shy about what you’re looking for

One of the biggest problems facing consumers when they buy wine, says Roberta Backlund, is a lack of confidence. “Don’t be shy,” she says. Know what you like, and don’t be afraid to say so. Why buy a $15 bottle of red wine when you want an $8 bottle of white wine? Or vice versa?

Backland has been a wine retailer and consultant, and has worked for producers and distributors. In this, she has seen almost everything that goes on in her 22 years in the wine business, and her advice is real world – no scores, no winespeak, and no foolishness.

Did you know, for example, that the trade calls the system where the same product gets three different prices “pulse pricing?” Or that Chilean wine, once one of the world’s great values, may be staging a comeback, so its sauvignon blanc and pinot noir may be worth buying? And that box wine is better than its reputation suggests?

We recorded the interview at Metro State College in Denver, when we were judging the 2019 Colorado Governor’s Cup. Backlund included advice on how to spot, older flawed wines, where to find bargains at your local retailer, and how to get around premiumization.

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 10 ½ minutes long and takes up 8.6 megabytes. The sound quality is good; there’s a little popping, but nothing that gets in the way.

Winecast 39: Mark Greenblatt and the sommelier cheating scandal

sommelier cheating scandal

Mark Greenblatt

How did the sommelier cheating scandal get to the point where people are afraid to talk about what happened?

Newsy’s Mark Greenblatt broke last week’s story detailing the possibility of more trouble at the Court of Master Sommeliers in the wake of last year’s sommelier cheating scandal. That’s when someone gave the list of wines for the blind tasting portion of the test to at least one candidate. Then, the results of the exam were “invalidated” and the sommelier group insisted all else was fine. We’ve heard nary a word since then.

That’s when Greenblatt, a long-time investigative reporter, got interested. There should be more transparency when something like this happens, he says, just as with any sort of accreditation process. People who work hard to get the MS initials deserve at least that much. And that it hasn’t happened, says Greenblatt, may speak to larger problems within the court, including possible conflicts of interest.

What struck me during our conversation was that so many sommeliers and candidates are afraid to talk to Greenblatt for fear of retribution from the court. Hence, the need for anonymous sources and leaked documents – hardly something that should happen in the wine business.

We talked about what has happened in the wake of the Newsy story, the followup that Greenblatt is working on, and why no one in the wine media did much with the story after it first became public. If you want to email Greenblatt, click this link.

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is almost 11 minutes long and takes up 4.3 megabytes. The sound quality is excellent.