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Bogle edges Barefoot to win 2014 cheap wine poll

• Order by noon Monday for holiday delivery for the cheap wine book Talk about a hanging chad. Bogle won the 2014 cheap wine poll by a margin so thin that the Read More »

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Wine of the week: Tiefenbrunner Pinot Bianco 2011

• Order by noon Monday for holiday delivery for the cheap wine book Many of us who were liberal arts students in the 1970s spent a lot of time with European history, Read More »

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WC will teach wine class at El Centro College

What’s the best way to reach consumers and undermine all the foolishness that the wine business and its allies in the Winestream Media foist off on them? Get ‘em while they’re young. Read More »

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Winebits 364: Corks, liquor stores, restaurant wine

• When will they learn? The cork business, as has been noted previously, doesn’t understand wine in the 21st century. And their problems with quality control haven’t helped, either. Hence yet another Read More »

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The 2014 Curmudgies

Welcome to the 2014 Curmudgies, the third annual, presented to the people and institutions that did their best over the previous 12 months to make sure that wine remained confusing, difficult to Read More »

Great quotes in wine history: The Prisoner

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No. 6’s reaction after being told that he has to taste each wine, in order, in the 2014 Wine Spectator Top 100. Unless he tells why he resigns.

A tip o’ the Wine Curmudgeon’s fedora to the Dedoimedo website; this post is based on his “My reaction to — ” series. The video is courtesy of The TruthWealthFreedom Foundation via YouTube, using TubeChop.

Wine of the week: Melini Chianti Borghi d’Elsa 2013

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Melini ChiantiThis summer, the Wine Curmudgeon attended a big-time Italian trade tasting, which included five Chiantis from the Melini producer. None of them cost more than $25 or $30, which is saying something for big-time Italian trade tastings.

All of which means that the 300-year-old Melini knows a thing or two about making quality cheap wine, and the Borghi d’Elsa ($7, purchased, 13%) amply demonstrates this expertise. It’s a red wine made with sangiovese from the Chianti region of Italy, and every time I taste it, I’m surprised by how well done it is. Look for berry fruit, more black than red, clean and fresh, and just enough character — some tannins and earthiness — to let you know this is wine from Italy. It’s a simple wine, but as I have noted before, simple does not have to mean stupid.

The other that impresses me about the Melini Chianti? The company doesn’t waste money on the bottle, which is lightweight and without much of a punt. Would that other cheap wine producers did the same thing.

This is winter red sauce wine, and braised pot roast wouldn’t be so bad, either. If it’s not quite a $10 Hall of Fame wine, it’s still better than most of the $10 wine on store shelves, and shows just how much great cheap wine there is in the world.

Winebits 363: CDC, lawsuits, Big Wine

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CDC excessive drinkingSaving us from ourselves: The Centers of Disease Control is at it again, reassuring those of us who drink too much that there is hope. Says the head of the health agency’s alcohol program: “Many people tend to equate excessive drinking with alcohol dependence. We need to think about other strategies to address these people who are drinking too much but who are not addicted to alcohol.” This strikes me like being sort of pregnant, but what really matters is that the CDC’s definition of excessive drinking is wine with dinner, and this fact doesn’t appear in the story. For which the Wine Curmudgeon must call out Tara Parker-Pope at the New York Times for repeating that assertion. Which, as near as I can tell after doing the reporting, is scientifically unfounded.

When is Champagne not Champagne? When it’s the name of a wine writer, reports Decanter, the British wine magazine. Hence the lawsuit filed by France’s Champagne trade association against Australian Rachel Jayne Powell, who goes by Champagne Jayne. Since Powell also writes about other sparkling wine, the Champagne group says her name violates European Union rules. Their logic? That Champagne can only come from the Champagne region of France, so a writer who uses Champagne as a name can only write about Champagne. The case is scheduled to go to trial next week in Melbourne, believe it or not, and Decanter reports that it could set precedents. The Wine Curmudgeon, whose aversion to silly lawsuits like this is well known, has a suggestion: Settle by letting Powell call herself champagne Jayne with a small C, since every wine geek knows Champagne only comes from Champagne with a capital C.

Yet another million case producer: One of my goals with the blog is to help consumers understand that most of the wine we drink doesn’t come from artisanal producers, but from Big Wine — the multi-million case producers who dominate the business. That’s why this two-part interview with someone I’ve barely heard of is worthwhile. In it, Vintage Point’s David Biggar talks about his company’s 17 brands, the best known of which is Layer Cake. In this, what the wines taste like barely comes up, though there is plenty of discussion about pricing, distribution and the three-tier system, and margins. Which is what the wine business really is, and not all that foolishness that the Winestream Media would have you believe.

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