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Winecast 22: Jerry Lockspeiser, wine guru

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Jerry LockspeiserJerry Lockspeiser has done many things during his wine career in the United Kingdom — producer, negociant, consultant, salesman, and writer. Through much of it, his focus on been on cheap wine and what Lockspeiser calls the normal wine drinker; those of us who want to buy a bottle to have with dinner and who don’t want to mess with any of wine’s foolishness.

The biggest lesson in wine over the past decade? That consumers discovered “they didn’t need to pay a lot of money for a good drink,” he said. That’s preaching the gospel, no?

Lockspeiser and I talked about:

• The improved quality of cheap wine, and that the improvement was led by the Australians and Californians.

• Why the wine business insists on selling expensive wine and trading up perfectly happy wine drinkers. Hint: It’s about money.

• How winespeak is one of the biggest problems facing consumers, and why the wine business doesn’t understand the problem.

• Some of the best advice I’ve seen for negotiating the Great Wall of Wine at the grocery store (yes, they have it in Britain, too), including tips on pricing.

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 16 minutes long and takes up almost 8 megabytes. The sound quality is very good, with only a couple of squeaks and hisses even though Lockspeiser was in London. Skype — the unofficial VoIP provider for the blog — was in exceptionally fine form.

Winecast 17: Peter Mondavi Jr., Charles Krug Winery

Yes, that would be that Mondavi family. Peter's father, Peter Sr., ran Charles Krug with his brother Robert, who left in 1966 to start the Robert Mondavi Winery (now owned by Constellation Brands). And yes, there was controversy.

Peter Jr. and his brother Marc run the family business today, and Peter Sr., who will be 97 in November, still keeps an eye on things. The winery, meanwhile, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

We talked about the state of the wine business today, about what consumers can do to find value in wine, and about the early days of the modern California wine business — when, says Peter with a laugh, a lot of the wine was not very good, and when many California producers weren't quite sure about what they were doing. (Note to my friends in the regional wine business as we prepare for DLW 2011: Missouri: Pay close attention to that part of the interview.)

Peter's best advice? It's OK not to like wine that other people say you should like. Really. Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is about 10 minutes long and takes up 10 megabytes.

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