Let's Talk Wine!


grey NEED WINE?  JUST ADD WATER…We thought we had heard everything until we read about the Miracle Machine, a work in progress from the folks who brought you the flash site Lot18.  The idea sounds simple:  just add water and some proprietary ingredients to a carafe shaped device that is small enough to sit on your kitchen counter, wait 3 days and out comes wine.  And not just plonk; the founders claim their wine will go up against premium cabernets and top flight merlots.  Okay…

From the video it sounds like the business is still in the start-up phase and the founders are looking for investment capital.  Assuming they succeed and take the product to market, it will be interesting to see what Parker and the other scribes think of 3-day old wine, even if it is a miracle.





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Now for the third and final installment from the Drinks Business series Wine & Warfare.  If you missed anything here’s the first installment and the second installment.

Wine & Warfare Part XI — Beer and Madness

Wine & Warfare Part XII — Vineyards Under Attack

Wine & Warfare Part XIII – Divine Winds

Wine & Warfare Part XVIV — The Molotov Cocktail

Wine & Warfare Part XV — Marlborough Goes to War


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You gotta see this.  On January 21st in northern Italy three boulders broke loose from a cliff and roared down the mountainside.  One boulder ripped through an unoccupied part of the winery while a second stopped just inches from the main structure.  The building houses a catholic order, so it makes you wonder about divine intervention…







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Here’s the second installment from the Drinks Business series Wine & Warfare. We’ll post the third and final installment soon.  To read the first chapters click here.

Wine & Warfare Part VI – Death in Burgundygrey WINE & WARFARE  PART II

Wine & Warfare Part VII – The Vivandières

Wine & Warfare Part VIII – Battlefield Medicine

Wine & Warfare Part IX – Le Salut au Pinard

Wine & Warfare Part X – Rum & Blood

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Wine & Warfare–A Series Not To Be Missed

grey Wine & Warfare  A Series Not To Be MissedThanks to London based Drinks Business, our readers can now explore a fascinating online series depicting the enduring relationship between war and alcoholic beverages. The series, currently at 15 chapters, spans history from Rome to World War II.  The writing is superb with evocative images from period photos and paintings. 

While each chapter includes some form of alcohol, from wine to beer to rum and sake, it first and foremost is a historical chronicle of famous battles and military figures, with wonderful stories about how alcohol helped (and sometimes hindered) soldiers endure the horrors of war. There’s a great chapter about the gritty role women have played in war, going back to Napoleon.

We’ll feature all the chapters in clickable, bite-size chunks.  Here are the first five and look for the next installment soon.

Wine & Warfare Part I – Romegrey Wine & Warfare  A Series Not To Be Missed

Wine & Warfare Part II – Dutch Courage

Wine & Warfare Part III – Pedro Ximénez

Wine & Warfare Part IV – Sabrage

Wine & Warfare Part V – How the Barossa Got Its Name




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Overdoing Ripeness

During the past twenty years “Physiological Ripeness” has become a catchword among many California winemakers.  The idea is that all components of the grape, including stems, pips, skins and pulp should reach full ripeness before the grapes are picked.  But instead of producing better wines, the practice of waiting for physiological ripeness may have created more problems than it solved. 

grey Overdoing RipenessThink soft, overripe and flabby versus wines that show balance between fruit, acidity, tannins and alcohol.  Instead of an unintended consequence, the new style has become popular with drinkers who prefer powerful but soft wines with low acidity and tannin levels.

Author and wine columnist Paul Lukacs explains this phenomenon in easy to understand layman terms and effectively argues that the quest for physiological ripeness “…often has led to excess rather than equilibrium, let alone perfection.”

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Just desserts

grey Just dessertsThe verdict is in and Rudy Kurniawan has been convicted on both charges against him.  Sentencing is in April and he could receive up to 20 years on each count.  The jury took less than two hours to reach a guilty verdict.

While wine-searcher.com gives a good account of the jury findings, Mike Steinberger the Wine Diarist raises some great points on how Kurniawan’s lawyers failed to present evidence that could have helped Dr. Conti, as Kurniawan was known by his erstwhile wine drinking buddies.  Kurniawan’s lawyers say they will appeal, but perhaps his best bet will be to fire them and hire a more adept legal team that will show that his current lawyers dropped the ball.

Stay tuned!



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Hugh Johnson Uncorked

grey Hugh Johnson Uncorked

To say that Hugh Johnson, the iconic British wine writer, can be outspoken is an understatement.  When it comes to shelling out opinions on all things wine, he is as unfiltered at a Kermit Lynch Bandol.

Dave McIntyre, who writes a wine column for the Washington Post, recently caught up with Mr. Johnson in New York while the latter was promoting the latest edition of the World Atlas of Wine, co-authored with Jancis Robinson.  Johnson let loose on a wide range of subjects, including high alcohol, heavily extracted wines; the importance of geography, and exploring new wines.  Here are a few extracts:

  • Choosing wine: “Some of the richest people I know are some of the meanest. I always know when somebody has mega-bucks because he starts telling me how little he pays for his wine. How vulgar!”
  • Changing wine styles:  “And for years I’ve been saying for God’s sake I don’t want oak, I want to taste the wine, not the barrel. And I want wine which doesn’t clobber me on the first glass – I hate over-strong wine…Balance is everything.”
  • Are tastes changing now?: “The classic Napa Cabs of olden days didn’t have to be made to taste delicious to the first taster, because there weren’t all these competitive tastings. There wasn’t a Robert Parker sniffing and writing down his scores in a big hurry. Nobody was in a big hurry.”
  • Favorite wines: “One of the developments that’s been quietly going on almost unremarked is the improvement in the quality of Burgundy in general, and red Burgundy in particular. And we now realize how poor it was for decades.”

Here’s the complete interview for your reading pleasure.

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Would you pay $10,000,000 for an acre of grapes?

grey Would you pay $10,000,000 for an acre of grapes?Burgundy winemaker Alex Gambal was recently featured in an “Ask a Winemaker” video where he discussed land prices in the Côte de Beaune.  His basic premise was that Grand Cru vineyard prices have become so expensive (he paid $1 million USD for an acre of Bâtard-Montrachet) that there is less than a 2% return on investment.  According to Mr. Gambal people buy these properties today simply for the cachet it adds to their vineyard portfolio.  So it’s a status purchase, kind of like winery owners’ bling.




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grey BUYING WINE?  THE WEB IS YOUR FRIENDThe shipping season for wine is upon us.  The weather has cooled down and wineries, clubs, and retailers are filling orders their clients placed during the dog days of summer.  Here at San Diego Wine Storage we will receive and sign for 20 to 30 shippers a day at our San Diego and Solana Beach locations.  And the number keeps growing. 

So what’s causing the surge?  While direct shipments from wineries are part of it, the biggest source is the internet.  Simply put, The web has leveled the playing field for consumers seeking greater choice and competitive prices for their favorite wines.  And for those adventurous wine lovers searching for lesser known regions and grape varieties, the internet is often the only place where they will find that bottle of Assyrtico or Mencía. 

Let’s take a look at the players who are making all this possible.

Online wine retailers—The number of online wine retailers has mushroomed over thegrey BUYING WINE?  THE WEB IS YOUR FRIEND past five years.  Whereas wine.com and a handful of others once ruled the roost, consumers now have literally hundreds of reliable, high quality online retailers to choose from across the country.  In California think JJ Buckley, Woodland Hills, Benchmark, Premier Cru, and a bunch of others.  Some are also brick and mortar wine shops and draw from their retail stock.  Others specialize in buying and selling private collections and are great resources for older, hard to find vintages of sought after wines. 

Amazon.com—A lot of people were skeptical of Amazon’s third foray into online alcohol sales, given the two false starts that preceded this latest attempt.  But after a year in operation it appears the site has gained traction and, hopefully, is here to stay.  With the recent addition of four new states including New York and Michigan, Amazon Wine now delivers to 20 states plus the District of Columbia.  Wine lovers can purchase wine directly from 700 sellers offering more than 5,000 labels.  And with a flat $9.99 shipping fee for up to six bottles, transportation costs won’t eat you alive.

grey BUYING WINE?  THE WEB IS YOUR FRIENDWine-searcher.com—If you haven’t bookmarked this site you should do it now.  Look up a wine and see who is selling it in your area or anywhere in the world.  Compare prices and contact sellers directly by just clicking on a link.  Without picking up a phone or leaving your office, you can find the best deal for the wines you want to buy.  And as a source of up-to-date wine information, wine-searcher has become the go-to website for wine enthusiasts and members of the trade. 

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