Tuesday tidbits 50: Munson bio, wine shipping, Beaujolais nouveau

? Munson bio wins award: Roy E. Renfro Jr. and Sherrie S. McLeRoy have won the international Gourmand Award ?s Best Wine History book for their Grape Man of Texas: Thomas Volney Munson & the Origins of American Viticulture, published by the Wine Appreciation Guild. This is a big deal; Munson was the Texan whose pioneering work with grapevines helped save the French wine industry during the phylloxera epidemic a century ago.

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Cap*Rock Winery

image This is one of an occasional series detailing Texas wineries. The complete list is here.

What ?s noteworthy about Cap*Rock Winery is not so much the wine that it ?s making, but that it ?s making wine at all. The past couple of years have not been kind, and have included changes in ownership, marketing and distribution, and production. In all, it has not been an easy time for the Lubbock winery, one of Texas ? oldest.

Still, when I tasted the wine in September, progress had been made. The winery is still making only about a third of the total that it did at its peak about a decade ago, but several of the wines had promise and the current ownership has started an Italian wine program.

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Wine review: Bonny Doon Bien Nacido Syrah 2005

image This is an intriguing, almost quirky wine that ?s difficult to describe. It doesn ?t much taste like a California syrah, because it ?s not nearly as ripe or jammy as most. It doesn ?t taste like a French syrah, because it ?s too fruity. And it certainly doesn ?t taste like an Australian shiraz, because it ?s too subtle. Plus, it ?s $40, and what is the Wine Curmudgeon doing reviewing a $40 wine?

Mostly because it ?s made by Randall Grahm, and he almost always gets the benefit of the doubt. So here ?s what I suggest. Buy it as a holiday gift and put it away for two or three years. Seriously. Come back to it in 2011 or so, serve it with steak frites, and marvel at how unique, unusual and well made it is. If you have to drink it now, decant it for at least 30 minutes before serving, and have it with food. If you drink it by itself, you ?ll wonder what I could possibly be going on about.

Wine terms: Room temperature

White wine should not be served at 35 degrees -- that's too cold to taste all its flavors Americans drink red wine too warm and white wine too cold. As such, we have a difficult time tasting the wine the way it ?s supposed to taste.

How can this be, you ask? Isn ?t there one basic, simple wine rule left, and isn ?t it that red wine should be served at room temperature and that white wine should be chilled?

Yes, but there is room temperature and there is room temperature.

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Wine of the week: Segura Viudas Brut Rose NV

imageHow much did the Wine Curmudgeon like this Segura Viudas? I went back to the store and bought a second bottle the next day.

This is classic cheap wine, as well as pretty good bubbly in its own right. It ?s $10 and well made, balanced, bone dry and fruity, with an almost pinot noir berry-like flavor. Which is a neat trick, since it doesn ?t have any pinot in it.

Segura Viudas is best known for its more expensive sparkler, the bottle with the pewter fittings (which is even more dry than this). It ?s part of the Freixenet cava empire (cava being the term for Spanish sparkling wine), and I don ?t know that I ?ve had a Freixenet bubbly that didn ?t have something to recommend it. Serve this on its own for holiday toasts or with seafood (lobster rolls would be terrific) or roast chicken.

Tuesday tidbits 49: Wine fraud, Aussie wine woes, wine scam?

? Wine fraud: Four British wine dealers who scammed Americans by selling them wines for ?investment purposes ? that turned out to be quite ordinary have been sentenced to as much as four years in jail. One of the investors spent one-half million dollars, reports Decanter. How many times has the Wine Curmudgeon said this? Wine is made to drink, not to buy and sell like real estate.

? Australian wine woes: The continuing shakeout in the Aussie wine business continues, with too many grapes and not enough water. Says one official: The industry ?is in a catastrophic state, partly because of the drought, but the real issue is the oversupply. And that is impacting on everybody in all regions." What does this mean for U.S, consumers? Less cheap Australian wine, as wine producers and grape growers go out of business.

? Another wine scam? An English inventor claims to have devised a machine that can make ordinary wine taste like it ?s a fine French or California vintage. The ?secret, ? besides a cost of more than $600, is ultrasound technology, which supposedly ages the wine in a matter of minutes. Maybe he should call the fellow who paid 500 grand for the cheap wine noted in the first item. What the inventor doesn ?t say is that 90 percent of the wine in the world isn ?t made to age, so making it ?older ? isn ?t going to make it better. What it looks like he ?s doing is aerating the wine; you can accomplish the same thing in a $20 blender.

Wine drinkers like cheap wine

Yes, I know ? one of those dog bites man headlines. But sometimes, in the wine business, not everyone gets the obvious.

Hence the headline, from this story: ?"The consumer has definitely changed buying habits," says a buyer for a major American liquor chain. "They are buying wines, which is good for us, but they are being more careful. People don't need another $50 cabernet. What they need is a really good wine at $10."

Note to major American liquor chain: Look here. Sigh. How long has the Wine Curmudgeon been saying this? When can I get quoted as an expert?

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