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Winebits 330: Cheap wine, more cheap wine, and corrupt wine writers

Bet you never thought you’d see cheap wine in a headline with corrupt wine writers: • Nothing more than $10: That’s the verdict of the British wine drinking public, where 80 percent Read More »

winereview

Expensive wine 61: Adelsheim Elizabeth’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2011

The Wine Curmudgeon has long lamented the state of pinot noir, in which much of the expensive stuff doesn’t taste like pinot any more. And that the expensive stuff is way past Read More »

Winebits 321: NeoDry edition

Cash makes a much better bribe than wine

The Wine Curmudgeon, who spent part of his newspaper career writing politics and grew up in Chicago, thought he knew a few things about corruption. How could anyone not learn from Illinois Read More »

Second Cheapest Wine

Second Cheapest Wine

The Wine Curmudgeon has often lamented the quality of wine humor, but here is something that’s not only funny, but entirely too accurate. Consider just these two lines from a fake commercial Read More »

wineofweek

Wine of the week: Anne Amie Cuvée A Muller-Thurgau 2012

One of the most nefarious developments in the wine business is the $15 wine that is only worth about $10. You’ll see this a lot at grocery stores, but it shows up Read More »

Winebits 330: Cheap wine, more cheap wine, and corrupt wine writers

winenews

Winebits 330: Cheap wine, more cheap wine, and corrupt wine writersBet you never thought you’d see cheap wine in a headline with corrupt wine writers:

Nothing more than $10: That’s the verdict of the British wine drinking public, where 80 percent of the wine sold costs £6 (about US$10) or less a bottle. And less than seven per cent are willing to pay more than £10 (about US$17) for a bottle.This doesn’t surprise the Wine Curmudgeon, of course, who has long been an Anglophile, complete with Tom Baker Dr. Who videos, a Winston Churchill poster, and a London Underground coffee mug. And it shouldn’t surprise any intelligent U.S, wine drinker, who has followed the blog or seen the most recent Wine Market Council study (which found that even the richest wine drinkers buy cheap wine). But you know the wine business — someone, somewhere will claim it’s all a lie, and we’re actually drinking $25 wine that gets a 93. Nuts to them. I want some of the £4 Adli rose in the article in the first link.

Even the experts love cheap wine: A tip of the WC’s fedora to visitor Julia B., who sent this to me: Some of the hippest winemakers in the business drink wine that shows up on the blog. Like the Little James Basket Press red and whites. Like the Muga rose (recommended by a guy who used to make a $20 rose). This demonstrates two things: That people, when paying their own money, are fussier about what they buy, and that the quality of cheap wine — as preached here so many times most of you are probably sick of it — has improved dramatically.

The Chicago way? Last week’s post about wine as bribes turned this up: That a French author claims her country’s wine critics are regularly bribed and that winery ratings are influenced by “surreal criteria,” such as parking spaces. And you think we had disagreements over scores in the U.S. Isabelle Saporta writes in “VinoBusiness (Albion Michel, $23.75)” that the French wine business is a “cruel, medieval micro-society” where powerful chateau owners care more about profit than wine and that French critics write favorable reviews in return for cash. One, says Saporta, allegedly demands US$7,000 for writing nice things about a producer’s wine — something I do for free. It’s hell to have ethics, no? Think of all the white Burgundy I could buy with a glowing review of crappy cheap wine.

Expensive wine 61: Adelsheim Elizabeth’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2011

winereview

Expensive wine 61: Adelsheim Elizabeth's Reserve Pinot Noir 2011The Wine Curmudgeon has long lamented the state of pinot noir, in which much of the expensive stuff doesn’t taste like pinot any more. And that the expensive stuff is way past expensive, priced so that only tech moguls and Chinese generals can afford it. And that many winemakers get annoyed when someone asks them about this, as if we’re questioning their ability.

Fortunately, there are still producers who can remind us of pinot’s greatness, and Oregon’s Adelsheim Vineyard is one of them. The Elizabeth’s Reserve ($55, sample, 13%) is beautiful and classic Oregon pinot noir. Look for elegant red fruit, a subtle but full middle that is almost coy, and tannins the way they should be in pinot noir — a hint and not a kick in the teeth. The oak shows through more than I would like, but that’s probably a function of youth. The wine is still a little young, and could use another year or two in bottle.

This is not necessarily a food wine, but would be even better with it, including and especially the classic pinot pairing of roast lamb. Highly recommended; in fact, I found another bottle after I drank this one. Don’t know where it came from, but I’m glad it did. I’m going to let the second bottle age and save it for a special occasion.

Cash makes a much better bribe than wine

Winebits 321: NeoDry edition

Cash makes a much better bribe than wineThe Wine Curmudgeon, who spent part of his newspaper career writing politics and grew up in Chicago, thought he knew a few things about corruption. How could anyone not learn from Illinois Secretary of State Paul Powell, who died and left $800,000 in cash stuffed in shoe boxes? Or the Mirage Tavern, a sting set up by the Chicago Sun-Times to find out if Chicago’s code inspectors were as crooked as everyone thought? Which, not surprisingly, they were. Or that four of the state’s past seven governors have done time?

As newspaper columnist Mike Royko wrote: “This town was built by great men who demanded that drunkards and harlots be arrested, while charging them rent until the cops came.”

But none of this prepared me for news that politicians and related lifeforms have been caught taking wine in exchange for influence and favors. For one thing, this violates the cardinal rule of bribe taking — don’t leave a paper trail. Cash in an envelope, please, and not wine bottles that can be found by some eager young media type digging through the garbage or a fed poring over a stack of distributor invoices. For another, those Chicago politicians didn’t know wine from water polo. They were shot and beer guys, and it was the real estate developers who gave them the envelopes who drank the wine. And we know about real estate developers.

Nevertheless, an Australian state premier (similar to a governor) was forced to resign after accepting a bottle of Grange, the country’s best wine, worth US$2,800 — after sending the fixer who gave him the bottle a hand-written thank you note. You think Powell ever said thank you, let alone sent a note? Of course not. He just found another shoe box.

A Chinese general, meanwhile, was caught with what the news reports called crates of his country’s Moutai wine (which is closer to a spirit, actually, made with sorghum and not grapes). Given that aged Moutai can go for thousands of dollars a case, the general was no piker, and had also amassed an illicit fortune in real estate. But that didn’t make him Chicago smart — what would the cops think he was doing with all that booze? Shoe boxes, general, shoe boxes. What cop is going to look inside a shoe box?

The lesson here? If you want to bribe someone, use cash. Wine is economically and politically inefficient. How can you be sure someone who takes a payoff in wine is going to stay bought, and not demand a bottle with a higher score? Which is just the kind of thing a politician who wants to be bribed with wine would do.

A tip o’ the Wine Curmudgeon’s fedora to the late Louie Canelakes, a fellow Chicagoan, who was the inspiration for this post.

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