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Winebits 344: Wine crime and wine shipping

And no, they aren’t related, thought they may often seem to be when you total the shipping charges. • If you can’t do the time…: Wine crime always makes the Wine Curmudgeon Read More »

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Expensive wine 65: Alain Hudelot-Noellat Chambolle-Musigny 2003

The Wine Curmudgeon long ago accepted the fact he would never get to taste most of the world’s great wines. Even if I could afford them, what with prices like $500 for Read More »

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Mini-reviews 63: Da Vinci, Fetzer, Villa Maria, Santa Cristina

Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. • Da Vinci Chianti Read More »

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Are you a wine snob?

The cyber-ether has been abuzz with accusations of wine snobbery, and even Blake Gray — who recently shared a bottle of $10 South African chenin blanc with me — has been accused Read More »

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Winebits 343: Dave McIntyre, wine scores, and wine in the movies

• 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 Read More »

Winebits 344: Wine crime and wine shipping

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wine crime

And no, they aren’t related, thought they may often seem to be when you total the shipping charges.

If you can’t do the time…: Wine crime always makes the Wine Curmudgeon smile, reminding me of my newspaper days and a very wise Treasury agent. “If criminals could do something else, they would,” he used to say, pointing out that most of them weren’t smart enough to understand that their career didn’t have much of a future. Hence this story, about two Seattle men who stole $600,000 worth of wine but failed to disable all the shop’s security cameras during the theft. Employees then recognized one of the thieves, who had been a store customer, and arrests were made. Not very clever, as my friend would have said, but he also would have asked the thieves two questions: First, where where were they going to fence the wine. It’s not like hocking jewelry. Second, did they not think the cops would question the shop’s customers and ask for alibis? Which is why, he used to say, prisons are so crowded.

Everything you need to know: The Wine Spectator gets a lot of criticism here, but when it does something well, it deserves praise. Such was the recent post detailing wine shipping laws for every state — and it’s not even behind a pay wall. The good news is that 40 states will allow winery-to-consumer sales next year, up from 27 in 2005. The bad news is that just 14 states allow their residents to buy wine from out-of-state retailers, down from 18 in 2005.

Just a penny: Amazon Wine, whose presence in the wine direct shipping business has been surprisingly limited (the service still can’t ship to all 50 states — just 22), has been offering 1 cent shipping. Regular visitors here know that when Amazon Wine debuted almost two years ago, the first thing I asked was if it could make an impact with traditional wine shipping rates. Apparently not. And the 1-cent shipping doesn’t seem to be that big a deal, with a lot of one-offs, previous vintages, and overstocks on the site when I looked at it. Still, if you need a bottle of Pink Floyd wine (and if you do, I don’t need to know about it), it’s $16.99 for “plush structure and rounded tannins,” plus a penny shipping.

Expensive wine 65: Alain Hudelot-Noellat Chambolle-Musigny 2003

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Alain Hudelot-Noellat Chambolle-MusignyThe Wine Curmudgeon long ago accepted the fact he would never get to taste most of the world’s great wines. Even if I could afford them, what with prices like $500 for a bottle of Cheval Blanc from an ordinary vintage, availability is difficult.

Which is why I’m always grateful when The Big Guy brings a bottle of Burgundy to the house. These French wines — the red is pinot noir and the white is chardonnay — are his favorites, and we always have a terrific time marveling at how well the Burgundians put them together, and always seem to get a whole that is greater than the parts.

The Hudelot-Noellat ($60, purchased, 13%) is no exception. The producer is one of the most respected in the region, one of those family businesses that make Burgundy We tasted it about 18 months ago, and it was still young and lively, with a zingy, almost tangy fruit aroma and a wonderful burst of red fruit (strawberry, as hard as that is to believe) in the middle. He brought another bottle over last month, and the wine had calmed down quite a bit. It’s probably ready to drink; the fruit is starting to become part of the wine, and isn’t something that stands out. It’s a wonder of oak and tannins, a lesson in how to use oak in pinot noir and how to craft tannins that give the wine structure but don’t overwhelm it.

This is an elegant, subtle wine, one that is gone before you notice what has happened, and then you wonder why there isn’t any left. It’s a reminder of just how good red Burgundy can be, and why it’s so expensive.

Mini-reviews 63: Da Vinci, Fetzer, Villa Maria, Santa Cristina

winereview

Mini-reviews 63: Da Vinci, Fetzer, Villa Maria, Santa CristinaReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.

Da Vinci Chianti 2011 ($12. sample, 13.5%): Much, much better than the past couple of vintages of this Italian red, with an effort made to make it taste more like Chianti and less like merlot from California. This means less soft fruitiness and more earthiness, plus sangiovese’s tell-tale sour cherry.

Fetzer Gewurztraminer Shaly Loam 2012 ($8, purchased, 12%): This white wine won a platinum at the 2014 Critic’s Challenge, and  if that seems to be a bit of a stretch, it’s still an excellent example of an off-dry gewurtzraminer (though it could be a little more crisp), and especially for the price. Look for apricot fruit and white pepper spice.

Villa Maria Unoaked Chardonnay 2013 ($14, sample, 13%): Surprisingly dull white wine from an otherwise fine New Zealand producer, lacking fruit, crispness, and with a very bitter finish. If it didn’t have a screwcap, I’d think it was corked.

Santa Cristina Cipresseto Rosato ($12, sample, 11%): OK Italian rose made mostly with sangiovese, but nothing special, and especially for $12. Could use a little more interest, be it fruit or elegance or even a little acidity. More thin than anything else.

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