? More than well deserved: Who knew the Wine Curmudgeon would know someone who had won the same award as a Mondavi? Or the legendary Konstantin Frank, without whom U.S. regional wine would not have been possible? But that’s my pal Dave McIntyre, who was given the Monteith Trophy over the weekend for his work as a wine writer. Dave has done much for the cause of wine, including co-founding Drink Local Wine with me when people thought we were crazy. So it’s more than time that the wine world recognized the effort Dave has made, not only for regional wine, but for wine drinkers everywhere. Dave will be in Dallas in a couple of weeks, and I have laid in some Texas wine that we will celebrate with. Congratulations, my friend. But couldn’t you have worn a tie for a big deal like this?
? End the tyranny: Or so says Michael Woodsmall at the Grape Collective, calling for an end to the 100-point scoring system. “It should be duly noted that these scales don ?t take actual wine’s nuanced characteristics into account; they merely assigned values to general traits. … Also, it is no longer the seventies and eighties.” This sentiment is something the Wine Curmudgeon has long advocated, and Woodsmall makes an intelligent argument for the end of scores, even throwing in a little political theory to explain why the debate generates such controversy. This is a revolution, and the scoreists will defend the ancien regime until the bitter end.
? Hollywood and wine: The Wine Curmudgeon, in discussing U.S. wine culture in the cheap wine book, talked about Hollywood’s complete indifference to wine for most of the 20th century, and how this indifference reflected American views of wine. So I was more than pleased to see an academic study of the subject, supporting my views. Raphael Schirmer of the University of Bordeaux, writing for the American Association of Wine Economists, has found that as wine has become more popular in the U.S., so has wine become more popular in film. This is not just about Francis Ford Coppola owning a major wine company or movies like “Sideways;” rather, it’s the idea that we drink wine as part of our everyday lives, and the movies that are made reflect this.
? Maybe it ?s all the gloomy weather: Tim Atkin, an English master of wine, has had quite enough, thank you. He goes off on British wine, which he calls disgusting; cheap wine, which he says is rarely a good value (what makes English wine types so sensitive about cheap wine?); and pinot grigio, a ?mostly dull grape variety ? in a 10-item rant. I can ?t speak to most of his broadside, but I can shed some light on the cheap wine parts, which are the first three items. Atkin, like Jamie Goode in the post linked above, is limited by the perspective of the British retail system, where cheap grocery store private label wine dominates the market and is often sold below cost. Maybe it is as awful as Atkin says, and maybe there isn ?t any Sicilian or Gascon wine available in Britain (and almost certainly no Bogle, Dry Creek, or Yellow + Blue), but dismissing all cheap wine is unnecessary. Take it from someone who knows a thing or two about rants.
? Let ?s try it again: A second movie version of the Judgment of Paris, the 1976 blind tasting in Paris where California wine beat French wine, is in the works. Turns out that many of the key figures in the tasting weren ?t happy with ?Bottle Shock, ? the first film version of what happened, and want to set the record straight. Steven Spurrier, who organized the tasting, was so unhappy with ?Bottle Shock" that he threatened to sue. No word yet on who will play George Taber, the U.S. reporter who covered the event, but I know several 30-something wine writers who would be perfect for the part.
? Bring out the bubbly ? sort of: How far has the Champagne market fallen since the start of the recession? So far that sales in the U.S. still haven ?t made it back to 2006 levels. Most of the shortish story is a lot numbers mumbo jumbo to make it look like things are going better for Champagne than they are, but the most interesting fact? That Mo t & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot combine for approximately 60 percent of the U.S. Champagne market. No wonder cava and Prosecco are doing so well.