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Monday, March 19, 2007

The great wines of BurgundyBurma

This little article is fascinating for two reasons. First the entire notion of starting a vineyard in the tropics, particularly in a country run by a secretive military dictatorship, is interesting in and of itself.

Also of note is mention the fact that China is shaping up to be a big wine consumer. Does this bode well for our wine industry? Does it make sense to plant more vinifera for $50K an acre in California--or someplace riskier and more novel like, say, Missouri--with a burgeoning market overseas? Or will new Burmese producers and their ilk flood our local stores with even more quality budget wines from developing countries and win away some of our customers?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Grading on a curve

Does Robert Parker's 100-point scoring system blaspheme the noble pursuit of producing and consuming wine? Mike Steinberger's latest article seems to make that claim. I like Steinberger...he's one of the few wine writers I read regularly. He is more of a storyteller than a critic, and I enjoy his work.

But I suppose I don't care one way or the other about the 100-point system. Face it, wine consumption is and always has been a rich man's game, particularly in the States. I'm more interested in the vineyard itself, and then the more traditional practice of placing wine on the table as part of a meal rather than as some kind of prize concotion to be sipped, studied and collected. I'm also somewhat dubious about charging more than twenty--at the most thirty--bucks a bottle. I'm also more impressed by a great wine in the $5 to $12 range than an excellent wine that costs $25. But then I work for the state, and I'm always looking for a good deal. If I were back in the corporate world, perhaps things would be different.

But rich people go with wine, and $250 bottles go with the territory. I'm not a believer in the cost-benefit-ratio of such a purchase, but hey, if you got money to burn, I suppose it's worth it. I have much greater respect for someone who spends $15,000 per year on wine rather than someone who sinks their disposable income in something completely ridiculous like, say, a Hummer. And they help the industry thrive through their ability to blow lots of cash on boutique wines. And Parker's scale adds to this phenomenon. He likes a wine, and its price rises. While this silly rating system doesn't necessarily apply to me and my plans for a part-time vineyard operation as I don't live anywhere near Dijon or Napa, neither does it hurt my endeavors.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

News roundup

Ernest Gallo died. While know for their much maligned gallon jugs, the Gallo brothers have nevertheless helped many of us keep wine on the table until the next payday. And his story is a good, old American rags-to-riches tale with a touch of Citizen Kane thrown in.

The victims of this kind of conterfeit scam probably deserve it. I mean, 15 grand for a bottle of wine? Hemingway said, "Some people drink wine, and some people drink labels."

Okay, instead of $15K, how about just $700 a bottle? This story almost has me convinced.