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Tag Archives: California wine

Winebits 339: TechCrunch on wine and more lawsuits

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techcrunch wineWhat about those wine menus? TechCrunch, for those of us who are sort of computer geeky, offers mostly reliable tech news, reviews, and the like. Which made last week’s post about the WineGlass phone app so odd, and not just because Josh Constine, who wrote it, kept referring to restaurant wine lists as wine menus. The couple of dozen comments (including one from CellarTracker’s Eric LeVine) were at times snarky and mean, and included plugs for other phone wine apps. It’s as if I reviewed a wine here, and everyone who makes similar wine saw it and recommended their wine instead. The other thing that was fun? The quotes from the app’s creator that his effort will help end restaurant wine ripoffs. At the risk of sounding especially curmudgeonly, there’s about as much chance of that happening as there is of me writing for the Wine Spectator. For one thing, none of the hundreds of previous wine apps have made a difference; for another, most restaurants don’t care, or the system would have changed years ago.

Doing the duck walk: The lawsuit between Duckhorn, the high-end Napa winery, and a Long Island winery called Duck Walk, which was settled 11 years ago, has reappeared, reports On Reserve, a wine law blog that is essential reading for anyone who gets a giggle about these things. The details are, not surprisingly, difficult to understand, and seem to have something to do with whether Duck Walk is complying with the terms of the settlement. And, lest those of us who aren’t attorneys become even more confused, this complaint is completely different from Duckhorn’s current action against Duck Dynasty.

Don’t count on .wine just yet: The Wine Curmudgeon, who recently checked to see if he could buy the winecurmudgeon.wine domain name, has run into a hurdle — the French.  They are furious that anyone will be able to buy a .wine name, which they claim violates the spirit of the various trade agreements they have negotiated to prevent non-French producers from giving their wines French names, like Argentine Bordeaux. For instance, what would prevent someone from selling non-French sparkling wine under the champagne.wine domain? This would imply they’re selling French wine, even though trade agreements mandate that only sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France can be called Champagne. Boycotts have been threatened, which will probably dissuade me from buying the name. I want the French to read the blog.

Wine of the week: Toad Hollow Chardonnay 2012

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Toad Hollow Chardonnay One of the most difficult things about buying cheap wine is consistency. Given the way the system works, where production costs often matter more than quality, a great $10 wine one vintage is no guarantee of a great $10 wine the next vintage. Right, Meridian?

Fortunately, the Toad Hollow Chardonnay ($12, sample, 13.9%) is usually immune from that process. It has its up and downs since it was first made 20 years ago, but those are more likely vintage differences than pencil pushers squeezing the bottom line. When the wine is right, and the 2012 is the best vintage in several years, un-oaked chardonnay don’t get much better than this, even for wines that cost $15 or $18. It’s even a value at the suggested retail price of $12. If you can find it at $10, which it often is with grocery store discount cards, buy a case.

Look for green apple fruit in the front, a little tropical something or other in the middle, and some stoniness in the back. This is a clean and refreshing wine, without the fake oak used to make so many other wines at this price. But it also has some body, so it’s not as crisp as a sauvignon blanc. Drink the Toad Hollow Chardonnay on its own, or with summer salads, grilled chicken, and the like. If I can find it for $10 in Dallas, it’s a candidate for the 2015 $10 Hall of Fame.

Expensive wine 63: Volta Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

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Volta Cabernet Sauvignon The email was straightforward: Would the Wine Curmudgeon review the Volta cabernet sauvignon ($60, sample, 14.5%), even though it wasn’t the kind of wine usually featured on the blog? “A review in your monthly expensive wine feature would be great if that works out for June,” wrote the winery representative. “I wouldn’t dare insist it be a positive one, only that you share your true thoughts with your readers.”

Which is what the Wine Curmudgeon does anyway, so a few considerations about the Volta cabernet sauvignon:

• It’s a good example of this kind of pricey Napa Valley wine, rich and full with a burst of sweet berry fruit, very smooth tannins, and a chalky finish. The grapes are top quality, but you’d expect that from a wine at this price. The oak is relatively subdued, and it’s not as over-extracted and over-ripe as many similarly priced and styled wines from this part of the world. Having said that, it’s not subtle, either, and is firmly part of the post-modern wine movement.

The wine is hot, which means the alcohol shows more than it should. It’s most noticeable when you smell it, when there is a whiff of something that isn’t fruity; and on the finish, when it’s almost like a sharp bite. This isn’t unusual for this kind of wine, because it’s made with very ripe grapes that have more sugar to be turned into alcohol during fermentation. I don’t like hot wine, but many people consider it a good thing. I don’t know any, but I do know they are out there.

• This bottle did not hold up well after we opened it. After 30 minutes in the glass, the wine started to fade and it lost much of its fruitiness. I don’t know if it was just this bottle, or if the vintage has started to get old. This style of wine, given the grapes’ ripeness and the techniques used to make it, doesn’t always age well.

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