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winetrends

Why Big Wine will keep getting bigger

Think this year’s wave of Big Wine buyouts was impressive? Just wait. Big Wine is only getting started. The wine industry is going through unprecedented consolidation, and even I’m surprised — and Read More »

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Wine of the week: Georges Vigouroux Pigmentum Rose 2014

Forget all this foolishness about brose and the hipsters drinking rose and the Wine Magazines giving 90-plus scores to rose. We’re coming up on Labor Day weekend, and what better way to Read More »

winenews

Winebits 401: Randall Grahm crowdfunding, grape diseases, craft wine

• Crowdfunding success: Randall Grahm, the Bonny Doon impresario, raised $167,857 in his crowdfunding attempt to develop 10,000 new grape varieties, beating the $150,000 goal. Which isn’t quite the same thing as the Read More »

great quotes

Great quotes in wine history: George Harrison

George Harrison’s reaction when he is asked what he thinks of a well-known member of the Winestream Media, whose word he is supposed to take as gospel about what to drink. And Read More »

winereview

Mini-reviews 76: Four $20 (or so) wines worth buying

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 whites Read More »

Oregon and pinot noir

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oregon and pinot noirOr, how a state that everyone laughed at when it first started making wine has turned into one of the best regions in the world for pinot noir. That’s the subject of a story I wrote for the Wine Business International trade magazine. Given Oregon’s success over the past 30 years, and how little too many consumers still know about the state, and it’s worth noting the story’s highlights about Oregon and pinot noir:

 • Oregon’s lesson for other states that want to be something besides a winemaking curiosity? Don’t be afraid to zig when the rest of the wine world is zagging. In this case, it was growing pinot when everyone else said it couldn’t be done, and not accepting the conventional wisdom that said they should do what California did. “The people who came to Oregon in the first place were pioneers, not just because it was a new region, but because they had a different spirit,” says Thomas Houseman, the winemaker at the 15,000-case Anne Amie Vineyards, who worked for Ponzi Vineyards, one of the state’s first producers. “They really didn’t have an idea about what they wanted to do. They just figured it out as they went along. And that’s still part of Oregon.”

• Legend says that a group of growers smuggled the first pinot cuttings from Burgundy in France, home to the world’s greatest pinot noir, to get around federal regulations. Ask about the legend, and you get a lot of winks and grins.

• Pinot noir isn’t the only grape Oregon’s producers do well. Its pinot gris, fruit forward and crisp, puts most of the rest of the world to shame, and I have always enjoyed Oregon sparkling wine. Ironically, chardonnay has never fared well, despite the state’s favorable terroir, but producers are making another effort with the grape, and have enjoyed some success.

• Price is also an important part of Oregon and pinot noir. My pal Wayne Belding, MS, a wine educator and reformed retailer, says that “at $50 and $60 for the top-end wines, they provide value not seen with pinot noir anywhere else in the world. There’s a common style, delicacy and nuance. They aren’t trying to make powerhouse wines.”

Want Oregon wine suggestions? Use the search box on the right side of the page and type in Oregon.

Wine of the week: Lamura Rosso 2013

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Lamura RossoYears ago, before the hipsters discovered Sicily, Lamura was about the only Sicilian producer with any kind of distribution. And even Lamura hedged its bets, marketing the wine as organic as much as where it was from. Who knew about nero d’avola back then?

Still, the wine (as well as a Lamura white) was an excellent example of what Sicily could do. And nothing has changed since — the Lamura Rosso ($10, purchased, 13.2%), a red blend made with nero, remains focused on value and quality when so many others are more concerned with raising prices and making the wine taste like it came from some massive fruity and oaky barrel.

Look for cherry and black plum fruit (more than I expected, actually), but where the fruit is balanced by the Sicilian earthiness that I so enjoy. And, despite its age, the wine remains fresh and interesting, without any of the cloying fruit or ashy-tasting middle that shows up in red wines at this price.

Drink this on its own, and don’t be afraid to chill it slightly; it’s made for a warm summer days on the back porch And, of course, if you want to pair the Lamura Rosso, it will match with anything from burgers to bratwurst to red sauce.

Winebits 400: Wine writing ethics edition

winenews

Wine writing ethicsWho knew we’d have so much controversy about wine writing ethics? But an increasing number of wine writers don’t understand (if events this summer are any indication) that their first duty is to their readers, and not to sponsors or advertisers, and that readers are more than someone to flog wine at.

Respect your readers: Too little content, either or on-line or in print, is traditional any more, so it’s not surprising that so few wine writers understand what traditional means: If someone pays you to run a story, you must tell your readers. No exceptions, no hesitations. Readers visit your site to get honest, unbiased reviews and commentary, and if someone is paying for placement, readers should be told. The Wine Curmudgeon has spent much of the summer writing polite replies to snippy emails because I don’t accept advertorial or paid posts, and this irritates the companies who sell this crap no end. One emailer was stunned that I wouldn’t take $50 to compromise the integrity of the blog. Guess these companies don’t understand the concept of honor. Or journalism, since I’m just a blogger.

The Munchkin of Ink: Chris Kassel at the Intoxicology Report discusses conflicts of interest, and doesn’t understand why people who sell wine think they are above conflicts — and why one of them called him stupid for discussing the subject. This, sadly, is exactly the point about treating your readers with respect. It’s bad enough to have that conflict, but it’s inexcusable to pretend that it doesn’t matter because you are somehow special. Wine is not complicated, and as my pal Dave McIntyre has pointed out more than once, those of us who write about wine aren’t smarter or have better palates than most consumers. We just drink more wine, and we pay more attention.

It’s not really blackmail: Also from the “I’m better than you” department, a food blogger in Britain didn’t think she was treated with enough respect by a bakery owner, and her review made that perfectly clear. Jamie Goode reports that the incident sparked a Twittter hashtage — #bloggerblackmail — and notes that “… if you take payment for content, then your work suffers. Readers aren’t stupid (well, some of them might be, but most are quite smart). They know when something’s amiss. The trust of your readers is a currency that’s not really yours to spend. If you want to be taken seriously, then you need to play it straight.” See, I told you it wasn’t difficult to figure this stuff out.

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