Category:Wine news

Regional wine:

Originally, the idea was simple. A handful of wine writers, including the Wine Curmudgeon, would blog about regional wine on the same day, score a few points for North American wine that isn't from California, Washington, and Oregon, and maybe attract a few new visitors to our sites

So how did we end up with, a week-long project next month that has attracted some of the best wine writers in the country, people like Doug Frost, Alfonso Cevola, and Gil Kulers?

I'd like to say it was my idea, but much of the credit goes to Dave McIntyre, who is not only a fine wine writer but someone with a professional and thorough knowledge of regional wine (though his lack of appreciation for the norton grape is mystifying).

So what is and why do you need to know about it? There ?s no link posted because the site isn ?t quite ready, but if anyone wants the press release announcing the project, email me.

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Kerrville wines: The Wine Curmudgeon had a terrific time at the 17th annual Kerrville Wine & Music Festival over the weekend, where I talked about Texas warm weather red wines with Llano Estacado’s Mark Hyman, my pal John Bratcher, and an enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience. We featured Homestead Red ($13), a blend of ruby cabernet, merlot and pinot noir, from Homestead Winery in Ivanhoe; and three Rhone-style blends: Llano’s Melange ($11), which used to be called Signature Rhone Red), Becker Vineyard’s Prairie Roti ($17), and McPherson Cellar’s Tre Colore ($13).

More on the fake wine award: An astute letter writer tells the San Francisco Chronicle: “If I said I had invented the world’s fastest computer and told fake details about it without ever having to prove it existed, would I deserve to get a high-tech innovation award for inventing the world’s fastest computer.” The comment is astute and should answer all questions about this dustup.

Free wine: Wineries send me samples to taste, which I have noted. Rodney Strong has changed the rules of this game for bloggers, and this has caused a bit of cyber commotion. Some of it is of the “Are bloggers really critics?” argument, which I’m quite tired of. I write for the mainstream media and I do this, and as long as someone does the work, their platform doesn’t matter. Some of it is the conditions Rodney Strong placed on the bloggers, which don’t seem onerous. This controversy strikes me as something else for wine people to argue about that no one else is interested in. We like to do that.

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? Mansion sommelier wins: Scott Barber of Dallas ? Mansion on Turtle Creek has been named Texas ? Best Sommelier for 2008 in the fourth annual competition. He received a $2,500 scholarship from the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation. Laura Atkinson of Horizon Wines in San Antonio was second, with a $1,500 scholarship, while Dallas residents Kim Wood of Pappas Bros. Steakhouse and D ?Lynn Proctor of Wine ?tastic tied for third, each receiving $1,000 scholarships.

? Sinkoff gets new job: Martin Sinkoff, a legend in the wine business, has been named director of marketing for the fine wine division of internationally known importer Frederick Wildman and Sons. I don ?t have enough space to detail how much Sinkoff has done to make it easier and cheaper for Americans to drink quality European wine, so let me add a personal note. He helped a very young and very inexperienced Wine Curmudgeon take his first steps as a professional wine drinker. His best piece of advice? If you think you know enough about wine, you ?re wrong. You never know enough.

? Big losses down under: The slowing economy, the weak dollar, and increased global competition added up to the first loss in 16 years for Foster's Group, Australia's biggest beer and winemaker. The company, whose brands include Beringer, Chateau St. Jean, Rosemount and Little Penguin, lost A$602.9 million (US$517 million). How bad were those results? Fosters says it may well its wine brands.

Wine scores: The Wine Trials author strikes again

Thursday update: The cyber-ether is atwitter with reaction, much of it supporting The Wine Magazine. The magazine has slammed Goldstein, calling him a publicity seeker and worse. One of the best discussions is at Dr. Vino.

The Wine Curmudgeon is in awe. I knew Robin Goldstein, whose Wine Trials has been chronicled here several times (and is one of the most popular posts), was a clever man. But this clever?

He pulled one over on The Wine Magazine, getting it to give a fictitious restaurant one of the magazine's awards for the quality of its wine list. It's one thing that a restaurant that doesn't exist won an award. But the best part? The fake restaurant's "reserve wine list" was mostly some of the magazine's lowest-scoring Italian wine from the past 20 years.

Scores don't matter. Right, Robin?

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? Texas case at center of wine shipping dispute: Expect to hear the results of an appeal by wine wholesalers later this year or early next challenging a federal court decision that overturned a Texas law that restricts Internet wine sales. In January, a federal judge said that the 2005 Supreme Court decision that allowed wineries to sell to out of state customers should also apply to retailers. Currently, most states forbid retailers not in that state from selling wine to state residents. And, just to show how weird the world is, the lawyer representing the retailer group is Ken Starr. Yes, that Ken Starr.

? Wine scores again: A Wine Curmudgeoner forwarded this, after my post about an alternative to wine scores. Beverages & More, a leading national retailer, has a unique approach to scores ? the chain does its own. The article does a nice job discussing the benefits and dangers of this approach, though it overlooks the solution: Get rid of scores.

? Wine and Facebook: The Wine Curmudgeon, who is reasonably cyber adept (wouldn ?t be here otherwise), will admit that he that he doesn ?t quite understand Facebook, the social networking site. So when I see that Four Napa and Sonoma producers are launching a Facebook campaign for green wine, I ?m intrigued. Can it really change our behavior? Or is this just some marketing fluff to get mentions like this?

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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.