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Category Archives: Wine news

Winebits 387: Syrah, canned wine, Chablis

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canned wineSo long to syrah? Talk to retailers, and they’ll tell you they can’t give away syrah. Now there are Nielsen figures to back that up. Syrah’s sales in grocery stores are down 16 percent over the past year, the worst performance of the nine wines surveyed and three times as bad as the second worst, merlot (also interesting, and probably worth a post on its own). How did this happen? Chalk it up to the usual short-sightedness from the wine business and its allies in the Winestream Media, which kept telling consumers they should  drink wine that was undrinkable. And when consumers said they’d had enough, which they’ve done, there was no Plan B.

Can I have that in a can? What do you do if you’re a Big Wine company and sales tank? Put your wine in a can. That’s what FlipFlop, the Barefoot knockoff from The Wine Group, is doing. The producer will do a four-pack of 250-milliliter cans (about 1 1/3 bottles) for $12. Canned wine, other than as a novelty, has never been popular in the U.S., and this may be an attempt to breathe life in a brand that hasn’t done as well as The Wine Group hoped.

Fake Chablis: A French wine producer has been accused of using grapes from other parts of the country to make Chablis, chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France. All of which is bad enough, but he has apparently been doing it for a decade without anyone noticing. Wine-Searcher.com reports that the Maison Fromont winery put grapes from Provence and the Rhône Valley, where there is very little chardonnay, in the company’s Chablis. How they got away with this for 10 years, until tax records tripped them up, is stunning. Did no one taste the wine? Chablis’ taste is unique, even for white Burgundy. One clue: The company exports 95 percent of its wine.

 

Winebits 386: Rose wine edition

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Rose wine We mark the blog’s eighth annual rose week with these notes about rose from around the Internet:

Nine recommendations: And nine solid recommendations as well, from Laurie Daniel at the San Jose Mercury-News. Among her choices are so the blog’s favorites, including Bonny Doon, Pedroncelli, and Muga. As Laurie, who I’ve judged with and who has a fine palate, notes, there is no reason to spend a lot of money on rose. That’s not the point of it.

Restaurant choices: The Boston Herald has a piece by one of the city’s restaurant types touting his locations’ roses, and one of them is a $10 rose from blog favorite Sascha Lachine that I haven’t been able to find in this part of the country. Lachine’s Single Blend Rose follows through on his other value wines, offering lots of quality (strawberry fruit) for not much money.

Even the glasses: How do we know, as has been widely reported over the past year, that rose has finally been accepted by mainstream wine drinkers? Riedel has developed a pricey glass for it. Acceptance in the wine business doesn’t get more accepting than that. Of course, it begs the question of why a wine that rarely costs more than $10 needs a $69 glass, but I’m just happy there is a Riedel rose glass. Pink wine, no matter how hard the snobs try, is something they can’t take away from us.

Wine Curmudgeon will return to El Centro, and not just for wine

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el centro wineMissed the Wine Curmudgeon’s El Centro wine class this semester? Never fear — you can take it in the fall, as well as a beer and spirits class next spring. Call me the adjunct instructor for the beverage program in the college’s well-respected Food & Hospitality Institute.

Not bad for someone who got a C in advanced reporting in college (a grade I’m still eager to dispute 30 years later, because I damned well did B work).

I wasn’t sure I’d be back after finishing this semester, given how strange the ways of academia are to someone who has worked for himself almost continually since 1991. For instance, I’m still not sure what went on at one faculty meeting, other than everyone kept using the word rubric. But Steve DeShazo, the institute’s director, and Swee-Hua Goh, my faculty team leader, apparently figured I did something right. Plus, most culinary schools these days are moving to a full beverage program, and they saw their school needed to as well.

For which I am grateful. Teaching the class was huge fun, and my students were a treat. I say this not just because they gave me the benefit of the doubt when I went off on one of my rants about wine scores or terroir, but because they wanted to learn about wine. Two students, who came into the class not having tasted much wine and not liking what they had tasted, figured out enough to know why they didn’t like it, and even found some they did. What more can a teacher ask for?

I’ll post more about registering for the 2015-16 fall and spring semesters this summer; the wine class is RSTO 1319. Until then, know that you can take both classes as continuing education students — $177 for 15 or 16 weekly classes, which includes tastings most weeks. As someone who has always preached value, that’s about as good as value gets.

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