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Colorado Governor’s Cup 2015

Midway through yet another enthusiastic debate during the sweepstakes round of this year’s Colorado Governor’s Cup wine competition, I asked Doug Caskey, who runs the event, “When’s the last time you heard Read More »

Memorial Day and rose 2012

Memorial Day and rose 2015

The blog’s eighth annual rose post, which runs every year at the traditional start of summer, is notable for two reasons. First, it may well be the only place on the Internet Read More »

wineofweek

Wine of the week: Domaine du Tariquet Rosé

What’s the perfect wine for rose week here on the blog? How about a rose from the Wine Curmudgeon’s favorite Gascon producer, Domaine du Tariquet? Tariquet, of course, is the Gascon producer Read More »

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Winebits 386: Rose wine edition

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 Read More »

winetrends

Wine availability, and how it drives readers crazy, too

The email from the reader (paraphrased here) was direct: “I put together a list of 15 of your recommendations and searched online at two big West Coast chains, two of our local Read More »

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.

Wine of the week: Chateau Sainte Marie Vieilles Vignes Rouge 2011

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Chateau Sainte Marie How is it, just when the Wine Curmudgeon has all but given up on finding quality, affordable French wine from Bordeaux, that I suddenly find some? The red Chateau Sainte Marie ($15, sample, 13.5%), like the white Chateau Martinon, speaks to Bordeaux wine that tastes like it came from Bordeaux and that wasn’t made to please Robert Parker.

Look for a certain earthiness, jammy black fruit that is modern in style but not offensive, smooth tannins, and a soft, merlot-like finish. In this, it’s an upgrade from the cheap red Bordeaux of my youth, which was often harsh and full of unripe fruit, the kind of wine we drank not because we liked it, but because we thought it made us sophisticated.

The Chateau Sainte Marie, from the less known Bordeaux Superieur appellation, is about three-quarters merlot, with the rest cabernet sauvignon, and it isn’t perfect. I would have liked a little more grip, the idea that there was more to the wine than the fruit. But it is solid, well-made, and varietally correct. These days, given its price, that’s more than enough of a reason to drink it.

Winebits 385: Whole Foods, Big Wine, Cameron Hughes

winenews

whole foodsA new format: Whole Foods, the word’s most powerful natural grocery store chain, said last week it would launch a second, less expensive version aimed at 20-somethings who can’t afford to shop at the grocer. This is mind boggling, if only because no one has ever attempted it — like Walmart doing an upscale grocer to attract aging urban Baby Boomers who think Walmart is beneath them. It also probably won’t work, or else it would get a separate post, because Whole Foods Jr. could wreak havoc with the wine business. That’s because, assuming wine will be as important to Whole Foods Jr. as it is to the parent, the chain will have to stock cheaper wines without the noxious markups it currently uses, like Chateau Bonnet for $16. That means private label wine on the scale of Trader Joe’s, which Whole Foods Jr. sounds suspiciously like. And if that’s the case, all the gloom and doom about the end of the cheap wine business in California will be over. All that Whole Foods Jr. $5 wine will have to come from somewhere, and that’s what California’s Central Valley exists to do.

No, no, Big Wine: The Wine Curmudgeon is finally and apparently not the only one who has noticed the role Big Wine plays. A group of northern California activists met last week to call for a halt to Big Wine’s growth in wine country. “They hire a chef before a wine-maker. This has to stop. We cannot let them pave over more of our ag land,” said one of the speakers. In this, the new group may be echoing what has happened in France over the past 20 years, with farmers and vineyard owners protesting Big Wine in its European guise of internationalization.

Bankruptcy? The company that owns Cameron Hughes, the wine geek’s favorite discounter, has been forced into receivership and a sale or merger is possible, reports Lew Perdue at Wine Industry Insight. The bank holding Hughes’ debt forced the action, which is often part of a bankruptcy. In this case, though, says Perdue, that probably won’t happen, and the receivership appears to be part of tug of war between the company and its bank over unpaid loans. The Hughes parent company issued a statement saying it was trying to reach an agreement with the bank to restructure its debt and would continue in business.

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