Mini-reviews 79: Black Friday wine

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. This month, four wine Read More »


Wine of the week: Casteller Cava NV

Somehow, despite the Wine Curmudgeon’s passion for cava, the Spanish sparkling wine, and several reviews of the Casteller rose cava, I have neglected to review the Casteller brut. What better time time Read More »


Winebits 413: Local wine, craft beer, Lidl

• Drink local: Our old pal Andrew Stover, one of the world’s leading proponents of local wine, has a message for Thanksgiving: Think less California and more Texas, Missouri, Michigan, and Virginia. Read More »


Expensive wine 80: Grgich Hills Chardonnay 2012

Want a classic example of Napa Valley chardonnay, with the just right amounts of fruit and oak, a proper mouth feel, balanced alcohol, at a fair price, and that speaks to Napa’s Read More »


Thanksgiving wine 2015

This year’s “Why did they bother?” Thanksgiving wine press release offered two roses, costing $65 and $100, as the perfect holiday wines. We’ll ignore for the moment that the point of rose Read More »

Thanksgiving wine 2015


thanksgiving wineThis year’s “Why did they bother?” Thanksgiving wine press release offered two roses, costing $65 and $100, as the perfect holiday wines. We’ll ignore for the moment that the point of rose is to cost much less than that; rather, why would anyone need or want to pay that much money for wine for Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is the greatest wine holiday in the world because it isn’t about money or showing off, but because it’s about being thankful that we can be together to enjoy the food and the wine.

Needless to say, my suggestions for Thanksgiving wine cost much less and almost certainly offer more value. Guidelines for holiday wine buying are here.

King Estate Pinot Noir 2013 ($26, sample, 13.5%): I tasted this Oregon red at an American Wine Society dinner, where we also had a $160 California red. Guess which one I liked best? This is is not to take anything away from the California red, but to note the King Estate’s quality and value, and especially for pinot noir — lighter but with a touch of earthiness, cherry and raspberry fruit, and a wonderful food wine. Highly recommended.

Pierre Sparr Crémant d’Alsace Brut Réserve NV ($18, sample, 12.5%): Sophisticated sparkling wine from France’s Alsace that got better the longer it sat in the glass, and which surprised me with its terroir and sophistication. Look for stoniness and minerality with ripe white fruit.

Bonny Doon Le Pousseur 2013 ($26, sample, 13,5%): This California red is my favorite Randall Grahm wine, not necessarily because it’s better than any of the others, but because of what it is — syrah that somehow combines New World terroir with old world style. Lots of black fruit, soft tannins, and that wonderful bacon fat and earthy aroma that makes syrah so enjoyable.

• Domaine Fazi Île De Beauté 2014 ($10, purchased, 11.5%): A Corsican rose made with a grape blend that includes sciaccarellu, the best known red on the French island. Maybe a  touch thin on the back, but an otherwise more than acceptable rose with a little tart red fruit and that Mediterranean herbal aroma known as garrigue. And yes, I’d take 10 bottles of this over any $100 rose.

Muga Rioja Blanco 2014 ($13, sample, 13%): Spanish white made with mostly viura has some oak, tropical fruit, and refreshing acidity, and why the Spanish don’t bother with chardonnay. Muga is one of my favorite Spanish producers, and almost everything it makes is affordable, well-done, and worth drinking.

More about Thanksgiving wine:
• Thanksgiving wine 2014

Thanksgiving wine 2013
Thanksgiving wine 2012


Thursday birthday week giveaway: A VinGardeValise


vingardevalisethursdayrandomAnd the winner is: Pat Valas, who selected 602; the winning number was 611 (screen shot to the right). Thanks to everyone who participated. Tomorrow’s giveaway, the final for birthday week, are two copies of the cheap wine book.

Today, to celebrate the blog’s eighth anniversary, the prize is a VinGardeValise, the ultimate wine bottle suitcase (and many thanks to VinGarde, a long-time pal of the blog) This is the fourth of five daily giveaways; check out this post to see the prizes for the rest of the week.

Complete contest rules are here. Pick a number between 1 and 1,000 and leave it in the comment section of this post. You can’t pick a number someone else has picked, and you need to leave your guess in the comments section of this post — no email entries or entries on other posts. Unless the number is in the comments section of this post, the entry won’t count.

If you get the blog via email or RSS, you need to go to this post on the website to enter (click the link to get there). At about 5 p.m. central today, I’ll go to random.org and generate the winning number. The person whose entry is closest to that number gets the gift pack.

The end of the wine business as we know it?


wine businessThe one consistency about the wine business, as we celebrate the blog’s eighth birthday, is that the big get bigger, and that there isn’t any room for the small. Or, as a distributor friend of mine put it the other day, “It’s all about consolidating or dying in this world of global megacorps.”

Gone are dozens of companies that made wine that I enjoyed — producers that were bought or folded or absorbed by other companies, many of which are also gone. Remember Hogue, which made a quality $10 sauvignon blanc in the 1990s? It was purchased by the Canadian Vincor, which was soon gobbled up by Constellation. That entire process, three complicated financial transactions worth tens of millions of dollars, took place in just five years.

The difference these days is that the big are bigger than ever, and today’s  small companies used to be considered big. The 10 biggest wineries in the U.S. account for about 71 percent of all the wine sold, based on figures from 2014 from Wine Business Monthly, and this  amalgamation is happening on the distributor side, too, with the 10 biggest wholesalers controlling two-thirds of the market.

Throw in consolidation among retailers, and Big Wine will soon be selling to Big Retail through Big Distributor, and a handful of companies will control what we drink — the prices, the quality, even what it’s supposed to taste like. It will be the end of the wine business as we know it.

More, after the jump:

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