Category:Wine news

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? Top winemaker has had enough of overdone wine: And the winemaker is none other than Tom Eddy, one of Napa ?s leading cabernet sauvignon producers. "After 35 years of making wine I still can't tell the difference between a 91 and a 92 score, but I can tell the difference between a balanced wine and an overripe, raisined cabernet with 16 percent alcohol," he says. "Come on, if I really wanted the alcohol, I'd rather have a Cognac. ? This is news ? Eddy is not an outsider criticizing the industry, but an insider who has had enough.

? We ?re drinking less: The Wine Curmudgeon can never get enough of alcohol consumption surveys, mostly because most of them contradict each other. But I did notice something intriguing in this one. There's been a gradual decrease over the past 50 years in the average amount of alcohol people drink, and more people today don ?t drink than did five decades ago. Alcohol consumption among men has gone from about 2 1/2 drinks a day to 1 1/2.

? New Zealand wine exports: The standing joke about New Zealand is that the country has more sheep than people. Now, you can add wine to the punch line. The Kiwis expect to export about US$700 million by 2010, which works out to $170 worth of wine for each resident. By comparison, wine exports in the U.S. in 2007 were $951 million.

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? McPherson winery will open soon: Kim McPherson, who makes some of the best wine in Texas, will soon be making the wine in his own facility ? a state of the art building in Lubbock in an old Coke bottling plant, set to open later this year. "It’s not like I’ve never built something like this," says McPherson. "This is something I’m doing on my own and I think it will be incredible."

? Texas Sommelier contest:: One of the Wine Curmudgeon ?s favorite events is the annual Texas sommelier contest, in which a couple of dozen of the state ?s top wine types compete to be named the best sommelier in Texas. They do blind tastings for vintage and location and are tested on service. My only regret is that these are one-on-one events. It would be so much more fun to do the blind tastings in front of an audience, hollering and screaming like a football game.

? Italian wine in boxes:  Italy, which has mostly frowned on boxed wine, has decided to approve its sale. This is big news, since it will allow some of the country ?s finest wines ? those that get a DOC designation ? to be sold in boxes. There are quality box wines, mostly from Australia, but the the Italians have always been hesitant to cross that line.

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? The next big wine movie? Bottle Shock, the cinematic adaptation of the Judgement of Paris, in which California ?s best wines beat France ?s best wines in a blind tasting in 1976, debuted over the weekend. The esteemed Paul Franson of Wine Business News seemed less than impressed. The talk at the premier, he reported, was whether Bottle Shock would give the wine business as big a boost as Sideways did. The movie opens in the rest of the country on Aug. 6.

? Do you want to be a winemaker? The Wine Curmudgeon hopes not, but if so, PBS will give you a chance. It ?s looking for potential winemakers for the second season of its reality show, The Wine Makers. The series will hold a casting call Sept. 7-12 at locations around the country. The first season of the series will air at the beginning of next year. And am I the only who figures the end is near when PBS does reality series?

? Beer vs. wine: We ?ve heard a lot of PR hoo-haw the past couple of years about wine ?s emergence as the alcoholic beverage of choice among Americans. Yes, wine ?s popularity has increased, but nowhere near the level that a selective reading of the numbers has given us in breathless press releases. This has been reinforced by a Gallup Poll that says more Americans aged 30-49 prefer beer to wine, and the gap has increased the past couple of years. Those of us 50 and older prefer wine to beer, but that gap has narrowed as well. The survey doesn ?t note any reasons, but I ?d guess it has to do with the economic slowdown. And could there also be a backlash against the increasing amount of wine snobbiness we ?ve seen over the past couple of years?

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? Cheap wine stumps the pros: Sometimes, all the Wine Curmudgeon can do is smile. The San Francisco Chronicle runs an annual feature in which three sommeliers have to buy seven bottles of wine for $70 ? and suffer in the attempt. ?”This is harder than I thought,” said one. Of course it is. As the Wine Curmudgeon always says, ?Anyone can buy a bottle of expensive wine. What ?s tougher ? and more fun ? is to buy a good bottle of cheap wine. ? Among the choices was our long-time favorite, Toad’ Hollow ?s pinot noir rose.

? Aussie exports decrease: The weak dollar has done its job on Australian wine exports, which are down 12 percent his year ? the first decline in 14 years. Shipments to the U.S. fell 18 percent. The value of the Australian dollar has increased almost 25 percent since September.

? Sunday blue laws: It may be the 21st century, but 15 states still have laws restricting the sale of wine on Sunday. Why do these laws still exist? No one is quite sure, say several people quoted in the article. But it does reveal one intriguing piece of information: A recent paper published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics found that in states where blue laws have been repealed, there has been a 15 percent decline in attendance among weekly churchgoers, along with a nearly 25 percent drop in donations.

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? So you want to own a winery? Then be prepared to pony up piles and piles of cash. Forbes takes a look what it takes to go into the wine business, and the verdict is millions of dollars. Land prices, legal and business red tape, and the vagaries of farming call come into play. Says one successful executive turned wine entrepreneur: ?Before I knew it, I was into it for $15 million, It was like the blink of an eye. I didn’t see it coming at all."

? French court says no to St. Emilion classification: The court said that the wine classification system in the region on Bordeaux ?s right bank was flawed, and that it couldn ?t be used to rate wine by quality. The irony here is that the St. Emilion system is infinitely more sensible than the more famous system used on the left bank in the Medoc. In St. Emilion, the ratings are reviewed every 10 years. In the Medoc, they ?ve changed just once since 1855. But, as I used to tell my Cordon Bleu students, that ?s the way they do it in France.

? Southwest wine winners: Colorado ?s Guy Drew Vineyards won a gold and the best red designation for its 2004, while New Mexico Wineries won a gold and the best white accolade for its 2007 San Felipe Moscato. They topped the winners at the Southwest  Wine Competition, part of the Toast of Taos. I was impressed with a sherry-like wine from Oklahoma ?s Deer Creek called Trois Elise, which won a silver.

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? What wine will we be drinking in 2058? This forecast comes courtesy of Berry Bros. & Rudd, which has been selling wine for 310 years. How does wine from China sound? ?Cabernets and chardonnays of real promise will be made. With the right soil, low labour costs and soaring domestic demand, China is set to take the world of wine by storm. ? And you know all those expensive wines you can ?t afford to buy today? You won ?t be able to afford to buy them in 2058, either ? they ?ll be the province of the super-rich, says the report.

? French wine blog: Master of Wine Sheri Sauter Morano is blogging about French wine for Sopexa, which does marketing and public relations for much of the inexpensive wine that France sends to the U.S. She knows her stuff, and writes in an approachable, easy to ready style (and is not nearly as cranky as some of us).

? Wine and your health: Tired of all reading those stories that say wine is good for you? So is Brandon Keim, writing in Wired. He is discussing  recent reports that associate resveratrol, an anti-aging ingredient, found in red wine: ?But to receive an ostensibly therapeutic dose from wine, you’d have to drink yourself to death. … Tell your friends and family first: you’ll need to drink 750 bottles. ?