WAY Old 
Breaking News!



Congratulations! You have uncovered an archive of completely useless old news blurbs.  You should be very proud.  This page has old Breaking News! articles prior to 2003.  Some of this crap is not even dated!!!  Some of the links could be broken.  If so, don't bother informing me.  I don't care.

I don't know why you are here but remember, except for all the stuff I plagiarized from other sources, this is all original content and if you use any of it, you owe me like $6.  I have people tracking this stuff!

WinoJohn


Freebie Alert!

The Washington Golf Monthly is a lavish publication, featuring golf course reviews and golf articles oriented around the Mid-Atlantic states. The September 2000 issue has 136 pages. You can receive this magazine free of charge. Yes, that's right, free! There's no catch. Because the average golfer generally has a high household income and spends the big bucks, this magazine is funded by advertisers.

To get your free subscription, you must call: 800-318-4653 between 8am and 5pm Eastern time.

Incidentally, the September issue has an article entitled, "Red, White, and Greens", which tours vineyards in Virginia and nearby golf courses. That's a trip that sounds like it's right up the wino alley.

  WinoWally

 

The Plague

Batten down the hatches, winos, the plague is among us.  No, not that crusty rash which WinoBob has been trying to shake, this plague is threatening the very heart of our passion, the vineyards of Northern California.  

The plague is Pierce's disease, a bacterium which destroys a vine's ability to transport water from the roots to the fruit, thus killing the vine.  The bacterium is carried by a voracious little insect known as the  glassy-winged sharpshooter which is making its way up the coast from southern California towards the wine Holy Land in the north.  Its just a matter of time before this virulent little pest threatens to destroy the multi-billion dollar wine industry in California.

For more info on this very serious subject, see the October 15 issue of the Wine Spectator.

WinoJohn

Health Benefit or Horrible Mutation?

The August 31 issue of the Wine Spectator features an article in the "Wine and Health" section entitled Wine May Increase Bone Mass in Elderly Women.

Is this a good thing?  Do we really need more massive bony old women?  I don't think so, Tim.
I think we need to investigate this phenomenon more thoroughly.  The article states that drinking one to three glasses of wine per day is "associated with a significant increase in upper thigh/hip bone mineral density."  I don't know about you, but the women in my family already have plenty of upper hip/thigh density.  I've been drinking one to three glasses of wine per day for a long time and, while I've added quite a bit of mass, it's mostly in the midsection and it's certainly not bony. 

 What is it with these old women?  What would happen if we were to give their wine to our Olympic athletes?  Is wine a banned substance at the Olympic games?  These are the kinds of riveting questions that the Wine Spectator doesn't address.  These are the questions that we winos need answered!  Get on the ball, Wine Spectator!

WinoJohn

 

Chateau WalMart???

 If you've been following What's New! recently, you are probably questioning my sanity (or my sobriety). 

Well, check this out.  Mega-retailer, WalMart, is teaming up with jug wine pioneers, Ernie and Julie Gallo (aka the brothers Gallo), to market a WalMart house brand wine called Alcott Ridge Vineyards.  WalMart plans to sell this wine-like beverage substance at stores in the U.S. and overseas.  Production will be limited to only 1.21 giga-boxes per month.  No wonder the rest of the world laughs at U.S. wines.  OWEC is alive and well!

In an obvious defensive posturing, the ultra-premium wine producer, Caymus Vineyards, recently launched their own website.  (See related article, Winery of the Month)   The word on the street is that in retaliation against WalMart, Caymus plans to sell discount clothing and cheap plastic deck furniture via the web site.  Just a rumor...

WinoJohn

 

DON'T BUY NOW!!!

The Wine Spectator just released it's annual TOP 100 List in the December 31st issue.  (Wait, today is only the 4th of December.  How does that happen?)   Anyway, within days after the release of this issue, wino-wannabe's will start crowding the aisles of wine stores with the Spectator's pull-out list in hand, trying to buy up whatever made the list.  Wine stores, feeling that the chum has been released, start jacking up prices and wait for the feeding frenzy to begin.

Keep in mind that this past year saw the release of the '97 California Cabs, the '97 Tuscans, and the '98 Southern Rhone's, all of which were spectacular.  Keep in mind also, that I have not yet completely stocked my cellar full of these beauties. 

So, what's a real wino to do?  STAY AWAY!!! DON'T BUY ANYTHING THAT'S ON THE TOP 100 LIST!  That will show those opportunistic, price- gouging stores that we won't take it anymore.  To further refine the expression of our discontent, stay away from any store that sells wine in the Morris County, New Jersey area, especially along Route 10!  And if you see a slightly gray wino with a mustache buying up these gems without any competition, ignore him.  He's on a mission from God.

Wino John 
12/4/00

Quit Your Whining!

Is there someone in your life that is constantly whining?  (Other than WinoBob). You know, the old "Why don't you spend more time with your family?", or "Why do you spend so much time on that goofy website?"  You've heard it all before.

Well, now there's a gift item for the whiner in your life.   Give them the gift of a bottle of wine with a unique "whinelabel".  A couple guys in Florida came up with the idea for whinelabels and, while they say there is no venture capital behind the company (sound familiar, Bob?), they have applied for and received a trademark on the word WHINE!  So, obviously, there are lawyers involved.

Whinelabels.com is an interesting, fun site with an unusual wine-related product.  Their current whinelabel product offering centers around politicians and college sports teams but they are willing to add to their lineup and will even consider new whinelabel suggestions.  If they like your idea, they may send you a freebie.  (I can't make commitments on their behalf because, as I mentioned previously, there are lawyers involved.)

You can visit them at whinelabels.com.  Don't forget to tell them that WinoStuff sent you.  (The lawyers may go easy on us if we drive some traffic to their site.)

WinoJohn   
1/7/01

 

Time Has Expired

Put down your pencils, winos, time is up.  The big event has come to a close.  The deadline for entry intoWinoBob's gala book give-away extravaganza has come and gone.  No more entries will be accepted.  Hey, you snooze, you lose!

Now comes the hard part.  The team of winos here at WinoStuff must wade through the mountain of entries, carefully reviewing each submission for technical content, grammar, wine relevance, humor, and oh... say... any cash which may have inadvertently accompanied an entry to ensure "total impartiality" on the part of the judges.  It could happen. 

Stay tuned to these pages for the announcement of the big winner. It may take us a few days to determine the actual winner.  One of the judges, WinoBob is presently in a severe funk.  It seems that his team, the New York Giants had, shall we say, oh... a bad day yesterday.  WinoBob was last seen drowning his sorrows at a local watering hole, crying into a Reidel of  '98 Chateauneuf du Pape.

WinoJohn  
1/28/01

 

2000 Bordeaux!

I was waiting for one of my many kids to finish up one of their many extracurricular activities recently when another dad (who just happens to be in the wine business) informed me of the very high quality of the 2000 vintage in Bordeaux.  Apparently, Robert Parker is comparing the 2000 vintage to that of  '82.  Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but the '82 Bordeaux is generally considered to have been excellent!  I immediately thought of two things:

1) There goes the whole NASDAQ/Bordeaux conspiracy theory, and

2) I must inform all you winos of this breaking news.

To verify the validity of this report, I checked with some of my French technogeek counterparts who, after immediately surrendering, confirmed that 2000 should be "a good year for ze wines." 

So there it is!  Real Breaking News!  Now you can go out and pick up some first growth futures or invest in some wine stocks or do whatever you do when you get a hot tip.  Me? I'll probably just drink more wine.

WinoJohn   
2/17/01 ??

 

Y2K in CA!

The Wine Spectator reports that the 2000 vintage in California set a record in terms of quantity.  In a 3/9/2001 article, Jacob Gaffney writes that the Cal Crush (no, not an XFL team) was 3.3 million tons.  That’s a lot of grapes.  Red wine grapes made up 1.8 million tons according to a report from the California Agricultural Statistics Service (CASS), a subsidiary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Ideal weather conditions, along with 32,000 new acres of production, contributed to the record. 

The largest single varietal produced was Chardonnay, making up about 16.5% of all grapes crushed. But, get this, another white grape, French Colombard, came in second with 11 percent of the crush total! Who the hell drinks French Colombard?  What the hell is French Colombard?   Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot rounded out the top five with 10 percent, 9 percent and 8 percent of the grapes crushed, respectively.

WinoBob, I've searched through this site's entire wine tasting history.  No, French Colombard.  What seems to be the problem?

WinoJohn 
3/11/01

 

Zin Alert!

Remember my rant a few months ago about big mega- corporations buying up small, independent wineries and the resulting decline in the quality of the product? No? NO??   Here, refresh your memory.   Well now, its happened again.  This time, the zin- meister, Ravenswood Winery, is the victim.  It’s a sad day in the wine world.

In this instance, the acquiring company is Constellation Brands Inc.  Constellation Brands!  What kind of name is that for a winery? Rumors put the sale price in the $150 million dollar range.  Un-named sources say that the deal was initially set at $100 million.  Ravenswood was then named Winery of the Month on WinoStuff.com (February, 2001), thus elevating the brand recognition and the resulting "goodwill" valuation.    I figure our cut should be about $25 mil.  What do you think, Wally?

Anyway, I’m hoping that the braintrust at Constellation recognizes that Ravenswood makes a hell of a product right now.  Don’t go tinkering with the “No Wimpy Wines” philosophy.  Don't blend in grapes from all over the western hemisphere.  And DON’T put it in a box!

WinoJohn

 

el Queso Grande!

Brace yourselves, winos, the MAN is stepping down.  An industry leader and a legend in his own time, the MAN is moving into retirement.  No, I’m not talking about Wino Bob.  I’m talking about a man of even greater stature within the wine industry.  I’m talking about Robert Mondavi.

The 88-year-old founder of The Robert Mondavi Co., makers of everything from affordable bulk wine to ultrapremium brands such as Opus One and Luce, has turned over company operations to his sons, Michael and Tim, who have been pretty much running the business for the last few years.  Robert, aka the Big Cheese of Wine, plans to relax and work on the launch of The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in Napa Valley.

The man has been a pioneer in the globalization of wine production, a topic that I have spoken out against on several occasions.  The Big Cheese, however, did it right.  He partnered with prestigious winemakers around the world to produce some of the world’s best premium wines, albeit at premium prices.  He also produced a lot of  cheap" wine, but I suppose you have to pay the bills.

We wish you well, Robert.

WinoJohn

 

WinoStuff Editorial!

Memorial Day

I had an interesting conversation with my 3 kids at the breakfast table this morning.  I asked them if they knew what is the significance of Memorial Day.  My youngest daughter said, “It’s Uncle Wally’s birthday.”  My middle daughter said, “Is it the day we remember the Orioles?”  And The Boy, who is a straight-A student and a fine techno-dweeb in his own right, said “It’s the day we honor all the people who fought for our country.”  Interesting.  I wonder how many different responses you would get if you asked a hundred other average Americans.

While it is WinoWally’s birthday (Happy B-day, Wal), and while the O’s may be struggling, those are not the reasons for the national holiday.  And although nerd-boy was close, Memorial Day is not the day we honor all military veterans.  No, today is the day we remember all those brave Americans who gave their LIVES so that we can live in peace, with freedom and democracy. 

OK, so what’s the relevance to wine?  Just this.  When you are choosing a beverage to accompany your BBQ today, have a big AMERICAN wine.  A massive Napa cab or big Zin.  No wimpy import wines.  It’s only one day per year.  It’s the least you can do.

WinoJohn

 

Unabashed Self-Promotion !

There is a culinary web site,  Chef-of-the-Month.com, that is currently listing the Top 100 this-and-that as determined by their faithful readership.  One of the categories that they list is the Top 100 Wine Web Sites.

I was checking Chef-of-the-Month the other day (even though I hate to cook) and I noticed that Wineloverspage.com (hosted by world famous wine guy and Honorary Wino, Robin Garr) is ranked number 1!!!  While Robin's site certainly deserves the numero uno spot, WinoStuff was languishing somewhere around #67.  Number 67!!! What's that all about?  We have to fix this obvious oversight!  Number 67??  Damn!  I think we're rated behind wine.com and they don't even exist anymore!

OK, loyal winos, here's your assignment.  Click on this link http://chef-of-the-month.com and rate your favorite wine site (WinoStuff, you morons!).  If we all pull together on this, we CAN make a difference.  The wine world needs us!  WinoBob's liver transplant surgeon needs us.  So place your vote now.

What are you waiting for?  GO!!!  Geez... I gotta get a new job...

WinoJohn

 

Unique Gift Idea!

Loyal WinoStuff followers know that we are dedicated to bringing you the best in news, humor, reviews, and wine-related updates.  To date, however, we’ve been a bit deficient in bringing you actual stuff.  All that is about to change.  Wino Wally, in his tireless search for cool new gadgets, found an artist who hand-paints glassware. 

Gayle, the artist and proprietor of Just for Fun, sells her glassware in shops around the Rehobeth Beach, Delaware and Ocean City, Maryland area.  After stringent negotiations with Wino Wally, Gayle has agreed to make WinoStuff their exclusive web advertiser.  (We would be their merchandiser, too, but we recognize that you don't really want WinoBob anywhere near your credit card number).  

If you are interested in hand-painted glassware (glassware made in USA and painted in USA), call Gayle at 410-352-5709.  Tell her that you saw the ad on WinoStuff and that made all the difference. All glassware featured goes for $15/glass, a 25% discount from the standard retail price.

Winos John and Wally

 

Wine Guy on the Run!

Bob's idol (or his enabler, as Bob's shrink likes to say), Joe the Wine Guy, has bolted from Bacchus!  Officially, Joe left "to pursue the perfect grape."  Insiders, however, tell us that Joe was really forced out for allowing WinoBob to actually live in the restaurant.  

Up until Joe's departure, you could find WinoBob, perched on his favorite barstool, just about every night of the week.  Casual observers came to think of Bob as the "Norm" of the wine bar.  However, WinoBob's obsessions ran much deeper.   Bob had actually pitched a small tent near the wine room and was often seen foraging for scraps behind the bar.  It seems that Bob had become like a wild animal in the wine room, attacking waiters and patrons who strayed too close to the Rhone section.  It was as though Bob was defending his young. 

Poor Joe, unable to extricate the wild wino from the establishment, had no choice but to disengage from the restaurant  in hopes that Bob would eventually wander off in search of another wine bar.  

Joe, wherever you are, relax, enjoy, and drink more wine.   And keep in touch!!!

WinoJohn

 

Buzzards Circling !

The buzzards will be picking through the remains of wine.com as AuctioNet has announced that it has been chosen to auction off the "liquid" assets of the now defunct internet wine retailer.  This two-day auction will be conducted at the Napa Valley Airport on  September 15th and 16th. 

The auctioneer's note boasts a long list of big name Frog wines and "a vast selection of everyday wines, Reidel crystal wine glasses and over $2 million in select gift packages."  Let's see... eVineyard.com paid $10mil for the wine.com name and didn't get any of the wine??  No wonder "dot com" now elicits images of "engineer geek - business idiot".  (Hmmm... I resemble that remark...)

A couple of quotes on the AuctioNet site caught my attention.  "This one-in- lifetime event should not be missed!"  One-in-lifetime?  And, "No one under the age of 21, including infants and toddlers, will be admitted."  Well, so much for the family vacation.  It seems ironic that you can't actually bid on the assets of this internet casualty over the internet!

Anyway, if your interested, check out the auction info, but don't be surprised if the auctioneer suffers the same problem that wine.com did.  THEY CAN'T SHIP TO YOUR STATE!!!  I'm telling you, I gotta move...

WinoJohn

 

Call 711 !!!

Not to be outdone by Walmart's recent entrée into the wine retail business, the brain trust at 7-Eleven has determined that the American wine-consuming public is just dazed enough to purchase wine bearing the ubiquitous 7-Eleven logo.  Now, next to the familiar oldsmobuicks from Mondavi, K-J, Beringer, etc., "the Sev" will market its own house brand of wines under the Taillan name. No, I'm not making this up. You can't make this stuff up. To answer everyone's first question, the 7-Eleven logo is imprinted on the cork, which means that this beverage is not sold in a box! However, in keeping with the "Big Gulp" tradition of selling all beverages in containers large enough to house the homeless, the Taillan varietals are available only in double METHUSELAH's. (OK, I made that up.) 

"What wine do you serve with beef jerky?"  Or, "Hmmm… They have the February vintage of Taillan. That was a very good month!" Or here's one, "Taillan, the Wine that made Thailand famous!"  Go ahead. Just get them all out of your system. OK?  Feel better now? Well, don't get too comfy. It's just a matter of time before Exxon-Mobil jumps into the wine game. They already have the distribution network. Be prepared to hear,  "Uhhh… just give me ten bucks worth of the regular Merlot and check under the hood…"

WinoJohn

 

Terrorist Attack

It is our might that makes us a target.  It is our freedom that makes us vulnerable. 

Our thoughts and our prayers are with the families of the victims of the recent terrorist attacks here in the U.S.

WinoJohn
September 12, 2001

 

Become a Professional Wino!

In the Tuesday, October 2, 2001 Wall Street Journal classifieds, there is an ad for a Wine Business Team Leader. The ad reads as follows: "Fleming Packaging Corporation is seeking a professional to lead its Napa
based wine sales organization. Fleming, through its plants in Napa, Peoria, Orlando, and Mexico City, is the leading supplier of premium labels and packaging products to the wine and spirits industry as well as a growing participant in the food and beverage industries."

The ideal candidate should have the usual requirements: a solid background in sales management, ability to develop and implement sales and marketing business
plans, develop and maintain strong relationships, drive cross-functional value-chain initiatives, provide leadership to all sales and operational employees, blah, blah, blah. If you notice, sobriety is not mentioned as a prerequisite, so this position could be ideal for our own WinoBob.

If you are interested and meet the necessary requirements,  send your resume to Bob Pyburn, FP Label Company, 601 Airpark Road, Napa, CA 94558, or email Bob at bobp@fplabel.com, or fax 707-258-3924.

Tell Bob you saw this ad on WinoStuff.com and suggest that he place all of his classifieds here instead of the Journal.

(Note to WinoJohn: Create a Classified Ads page.)

WinoWally

 

Problems at RR

No, not Rolls Royce.  The management of noted zinmeister, Rabbit Ridge Winery, copped a deal with the ATF recently.  It seems that RR broke a few rules.  Here's the AP story:

HEALDSBURG, Calif. (AP) - Rabbit Ridge Vineyards has agreed to pay $810,000 to resolve federal charges that it misled consumers with its wine bottle labels.

The settlement with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was the largest ever for a California winery, ATF spokeswoman Marti McKee said Wednesday.

It came after a six-month investigation when ATF agents found "significant violations'' at the winery from 1994 to 2000, McKee said.

According to the ATF charges, the winery mislabeled more than 17,000 cases of wine with erroneous vintage dates, geographical information and brand names. Federal agents also found more than 28,000 cases of wine that had no records to back up the information on their labels.

"It's pretty unusual that we take (settlement) offers this big,'' McKee said. "But for the period of records that we examined, we found problems in just about everything we looked at.''

By agreeing to the settlement, the winery does not admit any wrongdoing, and the payment closes the ATF investigation.

For RR's response to these allegations, click here.

WinoJohn

 

Wanted: Dead or Alive

In an apparent response to America's worldwide crackdown on terrorism, the French have announced a "worldwide crackdown on bad burgundies."   The Wine Spectator reports that several "leading Burgundy trade organizations have decided to crack down on inferior winemakers and hunt down their wines wherever they are sold."  (Those French are so bold!)  The project, code named Enduring Frogdom, aims  to identify poor-quality Burgundy producers and pressure them to improve their products, or risk losing their Burgundy AOC status.   (Click here for the full story.)

To achieve their goal, the Burgundy trade groups have earmarked more than $500,000 a year to buy 3,000 to 4,000 bottles of Burgundy wines in retail shops, supermarkets and restaurants in America, Europe and Asia.  The wines will be shipped back to Burgundy, where experts will check their quality.  Hmmm..., let's see..., they will pay about $150 a pop for BAD BURGUNDY!  That should scare those bad producers.  The concept of cutting off the money flow seems lost on the French.

In a related story, upon hearing that the Taliban are surrendering their strongholds, the French announced that they are ready to send troops to Afghanistan.  Unnamed sources quote French military personnel as saying, "If there is a surrender taking place, ze French will be there!"

 WinoJohn

 

Black Monday

Well, this was the week that we dread all year.  This was the week that the retail wine business gets turned on its ear.  Legions of drone winos are set loose on wine shops across the country, blindly following the instructions from the queen bee.  Yes, this was the week that Marvelous Marvin released his list of  the Top 100 Wines of The Year.

Marvelous Marvin and his band of merry Spectators have given instructions to the troops.  "Go forth and buy up everything on this list!"  And so it goes.  Blue haired ladies and neophytes alike are walking the aisles of wine shops across the country, looking for that bottle of Numero Uno to give as a gift to Hubby or to the boss.  It's a sad day for the rest of us.

This year, Marv named 40 French wines to the top 100.  Only 1 was from Burgundy.  (Marv obviously read last weeks Breaking News about the Bad Burgundy crackdown!)  I don't mind that 40 frogs are on the list.  With a few exceptions, they're not worth the money.  Let the spectators clear them off the shelves.  19 of the top 100 are from Italy.  Well deserved, my Italian friends, you guys are making some great juice.  Fully 73% of the wines to make the "Big List" are reds, mostly of the massive variety.  (Marv don't like no stinkin' girlie wines.) 

Check out this month's Spectator to read all the hoopla.  

WinoJohn

 

 

A Familiar Classic

 T'was the night before Christmas,
    and down in the cellar
I had hidden a wine that I knew to be stellar.
The glassware was arranged on the table with care,
    Awaiting the nectar that soon would be there.

The Boy was nestled all snug in his bed,
While visions of J. Lo danced in his head;
And the wife in her jammies, and I in my sweats,
were checking the gift list and totaling our debts.

 When down in the basement there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the LazyBoy to see what was the matter.
Away to the wine cellar I flew like a flash,
It seemed as though someone was into my stash.

I leaped down the steps and raced toward the racks
My heart was pounding, adrenalin to the max!
When, who to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a familiar old wino, quite full of “cheer”!

Chuckling to himself, so lively and jolly,
I knew in a moment it must be WinoWally.
An impromptu wine tasting was the reason he came
His speech a bit slurred, he recounted by name;
"The cabernet, the chianti, the syrah, and barolo!
A room full of big reds and I’m drinking solo!
A taste from each rack, a nip from each bin,
I didn’t even know Stag’s Leap made a zin!”

As dry winos that before the big tasting sigh,
When they meet with a bottle they are yearning to try,
So up to the living room the brothers-in-law flew
Glasses in hand and perhaps a bottle or two.
And then in a twinkling we heard on the roof
A faint voice pleading, “Save some Chateauneuf!”

Palm Pilot in his hand, Wally was turning around
when down the chimney WinoBob came with a bound.
He was dressed all in black, trimmed in black satin,
He’d attended a dinner party, apparently in Manhattan;
A travel bag of Riedels he had in his hand,
And he looked like a rock star in search of a band.  

His eyes – how bloodshot! Red as rasberry
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth full of teeth stained dark red,
His wire rimmed glasses sat crooked on his head;
The stump of a cork he held tight in his teeth,
And dozens more strung around his neck like a wreath;
He had a thin face, no body fat to speak of,
Alcohol is what this stick figure did reek of .

He was skinny and lean, a right sickly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the glasses; then turned with a jerk,

And lifting our glasses, “Cheers” we all chimed,
Waving good-bye, up the chimney Bob climbed;
He jumped from the roof, landing soft in the grass
Lucky for him, stick figures have no mass.
But I heard him exclaim, as I climbed into bed,
"MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A BIG RED!"

Happy Holidays from the crew at WinoStuff

WinoJohn
December 2001

 

Screaming Eagle Lite?

The Foster's Group, those Aussie beer and wine loons, have announced the release of the world's first DIET WINES!  Yes, that's right, diet wine!  What has the wine world come to?  

Foster's Cellarmaster division is marketing a line of lite wines under the Swaying Willow brand and they are reporting that these wines are selling like hot cakes in England.  (Do they even have hot cakes in Australia?)  It seems that British women are lining up to buy these wines which are purported to have only one third the calories of real... uhhh... regular wine.  

Not to be outdone, the other Aussie mega-wine merchant, BRL Hardy, is also pushing a line of low-alcohol wines targeted again at the female wine drinking population.  Their line of Wicked Wines includes catchy names like "Greed", "Envy", "Flirt" and "Lust".   Thus far, "Lust" seems to be the best selling of the four.

My question is, "What happens to a certain unnamed stick figure (OK, WinoBob) if he starts drinking nothing but diet wine?"  I'm afraid the results could be disastrous.  If he gets any thinner, he'll be invisible!  Worse yet, what happens if the cult wine producers follow suit?  Screaming Eaglet?  Diet Harlan?  Opus One Calorie?

This is too much.  I may have to switch to scotch...

WinoJohn

 

The Full Monty

A few years back, Clos Pegase winery owner, Jan Shrem, wanted to feature the 1943 painting Bedecked Nude on the label of his 1988 Cabernet Sauvignon  Hommage Artists Series Reserve. The brain trust at BATF objected, saying the painting of a nude male was indecent.  (I have to agree with the BATF here.  Who really wants to see male nakedness?)   The BATF denied label approval, so Shrem released the 1988 Hommage with the lower portions of the painting deleted.  (Amazingly, well known wino stick figure, WinoBob also had his lower portions deleted, but that's another story!) Later, the ATF relented and approved the use of the painting.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the big brouhaha, Clos Pegase has released a "Full Monty" version of Bedecked Nude on its 1998 Hommage. The controversial label is shown below.


...from an article in the Spec

WinoJohn

 

It’s All In The Genes

In late December, we decided to name 2002 as the Year of the Zinfandel.  With patriotic spirit at never-before-seen levels in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, what better way to show our jingoism than to spend a year honoring “America’s Varietal”.  Now, through the miracles of modern science, we find that America’s grape isn’t even American.  It’s Yugoslavian!  Damn, Zin’s an immigrant just like the rest of us.

It seems that Dr. Carole Meredith, professor of enology and viticulture at UC Davis, while poking around in some Zin DNA (don’t ask me why), discovered that our much beloved Zinfandel is identical to a Croatian grape called Crljenik Kasteljanski. Let’s see Ravenswood market that!

Most winos have long believed that Zin is related to the Primitivo grape of southern Italy.  Doc Meredith’s research shows that these two grapes are actually identical DNA-wise.  Conventional wisdom holds that we exported the zin grape to Italy sometime in the 1800’s.

Whatever it’s origins, this is the Year of the Zinfandel!!! So relax, enjoy, and have a nice glass of Crljenik Kasteljanski.

WinoJohn

 

Charles F. Wagner
1912-2002

Noted California winemaker, Charles F. Wagner, died this past week at his home in Rutherford, CA.  He was 89.

Charlie Wagner was the founder and the driving force behind Caymus Vineyards in Napa Valley.  He was known as a hard working farmer and a talented and passionate winemaker.  His Cabernet Sauvignon Special Select was twice selected as the Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year.  The Special Select is one of a handful of wines that define the category of California Cult Wines.

Charlie is survived by his wife, Lorna, his son and partner, Chuck, two daughters and numerous grandchildren.  Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the Wagner family.

Click here for the article from Wine Spectator.

WinoJohn 
February 23, 2002

 

A Call To Arms!

Well maybe not an actual call to arms.  (I could probably get arrested for that!)  More like a call to pens.  Or keyboards.  Whatever it takes.

Anyway, WinoWally, being the wine-deprived civil activist, is calling all Maryland winos to take a stand.  Get involved.  Take some action.  Help Wally in his fight for the right to have wine shipped to the palatial Wally Estate from outside of the state of Maryland.  (Maryland is one of those states that has made the interstate shipment of wine a felony!)  With WinoWally traveling all over these United States, visiting the finest restaurants, wineries, and wine shops, he cannot be expected to carry his new found treasures back to Maryland in his luggage!  The airlines won't let him carry it on.  He needs to have it shipped!  What's the big deal?  I don't get it!  We ALL need to get involved.

Click here to read a letter that Wally received from the good people at Free the Grapes!  It tells how all Marylanders can help Wally get wine shipped to his house so that he can review it.  

Do it for Wally.  Do it for yourself.  DO IT FOR ME, DAMN IT!!!  (Remember, I visit Wally frequently.)

WinoJohn

 

New wine.commander!

eVineyard, Inc., the big internet wine retailer that bought the wine.com URL for the fire sale price of only $10 million, announced the appointment of a new head honcho, Peter S. Ekman.  Mr. Ekman was named President and CEO of the nation's premier wine e-tailer on March 7, 2002.  Previously, Mr. Ekman held the position of Managing Director and Vice President of the Global Wine, Liquor and Tobacco Division at the multinational expensive-stuff conglomerate, Louis Vuitton: Moet Hennessy (LVMH).  (WinoBob, take note:  I want to be the "Managing Director and Vice President of the Global Wine, Liquor and Tobacco Division" at WinoStuff!)

If you recall, wine.com was criticized by analysts and experts throughout the industry (including yours truly) for blowing through hundreds of millions of dollars in VC funding before filing for bankruptcy in 2001.  eVineyards was at the front of the line to buy up the URL and other "goodwill" for only $10 mil.

I would like to make a suggestion to the new commander.  Mr. Ekman, the best way to look good in your new role is to make your predecessors look bad.  They blew, ...uhhh spent... $10 million on a web site name.  I think I know where you can get another highly regarded website URL, one that caters to Wino's and Stuff,  for half of what wine.com cost.  We'll throw in the goodwill for free!  Drop me a line...

WinoJohn

 

The land of fruits and nuts...

The California wine industry is faced with a plague of biblical proportions and the governor is sitting on the political fence.  During a recent state-wide conference call, California's Governor Gray Davis refused to take a stand on the single most important issue facing the wine biz in CA, the fight against the glassy-winged sharpshooter.  During the call, "The Gov" would not express his opinion on what the state needs to do to battle the dreaded Pierce's disease.  (The glassy- winged sharpshooter spreads Pierce's Disease which kills grapevines by choking their ability to feed.)  

Instead, Governor Davis let his ace underling, state Agriculture Secretary Bill Lyons, answer the questions. Lyons was also somewhat non-committal, expounding on the use of  parasitic wasps to fight the sharpshooter rather than the use of pesticides.  Parasitic wasps?  PARASITIC WASPS??  Oh, that's a good plan!  What happens if the wasps and the sharpshooters.., you know..., mate???  We'd have a bunch of mutant insects, madder than hell, menacing the vines and the vintners!  Get stung by one of those buggers and it could affect your ability to feed!!!  Geez...

Perhaps we (he) should rethink this plan.  Why not just make use of the technology at hand?  In this case, chemical technology!  Spray those little bastards!  Spray them right into oblivion!

When contacted at his swank governor pad, Davis stated for the record, "Dude.  Lighten up.  It's like, you know, an election year?"

WinoJohn 
March 24, 2002

The Spec buys 'Stuff!

The wine industry was shaken to its core today when the giant print and web publishing concern, The Wine Spectator, announced that it had successfully executed a hostile takeover of the lowly internet startup, WinoStuff.com.  The terms of the takeover were not disclosed but sources close to the deal indicate that The Spec paid well over $200 million for the highly sought after "WinoStuff.com" URL.  It is reported that "Marvelous Marvin" Shanken, CEO of the Spec, desperately wanted the URL and was willing to "go to any length" to secure ownership of the web address.  Marv stated in a press release that "if a lame-ass bankrupt company like wine.com is worth $10 million, a well run enterprise like WinoStuff, one that is not losing millions of investor dollars in these difficult times, is certainly worth a couple hundred mil.  

In a statement released by the new Chief Misinformation Officer, WinoBob, The Spec reports that they will take a one time charge against earnings during the current fiscal quarter in order to fund a "Detoxification and Liver Transplant" project that Bob has been studying for the past few years.   Furthermore, the new EVP and Chief Technogadgetry Officer, WinoWally, hinted at the new direction the magazine would be taking.  "You know, there just isn't enough golf coverage in the current Spectator.  I think we can address that little deficiency with the Master's coming up soon..."

As for me, I'll be enjoying a nice bottle of wine while I surf the net looking for that elusive red car and waiting for the check to clear.  ;^) 

WinoJohn 
April 1, 2002

 

Fraud in Frogville

There was a report on the newswire this week about an investigation by French officials into claims that the great chateaux of Bordeaux routinely rejuvenate bottles of their very old vintages by adding small amounts of new juice.  (I can just see Chief Inspector Clouseau fumbling around for evidence in the caves of Petrus...)  This investigation results from claims by Belgian wine merchant, Khaled Rouabah, that adding younger wine to bottles of the old stuff is a normal part of the process of reconditioning ancient vintages.  (You should be aware that Mr. Rouabah has been charged with fraud over the attempted sale of 360 bottles of what was purported to be vintage 1900 Lafite and Margaux.  These wines were later found not to be genuine.)

Technically, under the strict Bordeaux wine laws, very old vintages may be kept in condition by periodically replacing the cork and adding a small amount of wine of the same vintage to compensate for evaporation. 

Well, I don't know about you winos, but I find all this to be very, very troubling.  When I blow thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars on a single bottle of 19th century first growth Frog wine, I expect to get old wine!  Dammit, I expect to get old cork!  What is going on here (there)?  What kind of frog fraud is this?  If you take a 1900 Lafite and add 2% 2000 Lafite, does it average out to be a 1902 Lafite?  I'm not sure, but that's it!  I'm not buying anymore ancient Bordeaux until they offer a satisfactory explanation for this whole scandalous situation. 

WinoJohn 
April 7, 2002

Happy Anniversary to "the Wife"!

 

Progress on Free Trade!

I am very pleased to report that we are making some progress on the home front.  The Coalition for Free Trade reports that in two separate cases in one week, a U.S. District Court judge has ruled that a state’s prohibitions against interstate, direct-to-consumer wine shipments are unconstitutional.  Now, winos in Virginia and North Carolina can legally have wine shipped directly to their home without facing felony charges.  It's about time.

Founded in 1997, the Coalition for Free Trade is a non-profit legal foundation whose goal is to legalize direct-to-consumer shipments of wine from out-of-state wineries and retailers.  The foundation operates solely on voluntary contributions from members of the American wine industry and consumers. These funds support litigation in numerous states where petitioners (largely consumers and wineries, together) have the goal of removing discriminatory trade barriers that prohibit of-age consumers from receiving wine for personal enjoyment directly from out-of-state wineries and retailers.

Why do I care so much about this issue.  Besides being a staunch advocate of less government and free market trade policies, I finally got my name on a cult wine mailing list and I CAN'T HAVE THE DAMN WINE SHIPPED TO MY HOUSE!  Ahhhh!!!!  My head is going to explode!  

So, wake up, winos.  Write a letter.  Make a phone call.  Hook me up with some interstate wine smuggling operation.  Do SOMETHING to fight the injustice!  Do it now before I lose my allocation!!!

WinoJohn 
April 14, 2002

 

Packaging Breakthrough!

The Canandaigua Wine Company announced recently that their Arbor Mist brand of "wine with fruit"* is now available in unbreakable plastic 375 ml single-serving bottles.  Serious "wine with fruit" lovers already know that Arbor Mist is available in four flavors -- Blackberry Merlot, Exotic Fruits White Zinfandel, Peach Chardonnay and Strawberry White Zinfandel. Arbor Mist sold over 40 million liters of this stuff last year!

The introduction of this exciting new package marks the first time that "wine with fruit" beverages have been available for sale in plastic bottles in the U.S.  Before introducing the new packaging, Arbor Mist conducted "extensive testing" to develop a product that not only "looks great, but also maintains the product's great taste."

The company further reports that "Arbor Mist's recyclable single-serving bottles are perfect for the beach or poolside, golf courses, hotels, resorts, concerts, sporting events and other venues where plastic is preferable to glass."

You know, Wally, this is exactly what we've been missing.  Picture this...  There we are, it's a warm summer afternoon.  We're enjoying a little golf at the luxurious WinoWally Golf and Beach Resort.  We fire up a fine Cuban.  What could we possibly be missing?  Just one thing...  A great tasting "wine with fruit" beverage, conveniently packaged in a great looking plastic container.  It doesn't get much better than that...

WinoJohn 
April 27, 2002

* Industry jargon meaning "wine-like substance"

Parker Pans 2001 Bordeaux!

Arguably the world's most influential wine critic, Robert Parker has advised wine investors to pass on the 2001 lineup from Bordeaux.  (We argue that Bob Parker isn't even the most influential wine critic named "Bob"!)  "This is not a vintage that will draw interest from speculators, and it is hard to imagine these wines will be significantly more expensive a year and a half from now when they are bottled and released," Parker states in the most recent edition of his wine magazine, the Wine Advocate.  He lists no wines from the 2001 vintage that possess "extra- ordinary potential".  The usual cast of high-end characters are described as having "out- standing potential" including the first growths and other big name chateaux.

Parker further advises the chateaux of Bordeaux to set their prices before the Wine Advocate issue which reviews the vintage is released.  It seems that many of the Bordelais wait until Parker reviews the vintage and the wines before they set their first tranche prices.  

Christie's wine director, Anthony Hanson is also advising buyers to be very careful about 2001 Bordeaux.  Hanson states that there are successes to be found in 2001 Bordeaux but a lot of the wines are too dry.  He suggests anyone who already owns 1995s, 1996s and 1997s should be 'very prudent' about buying any more young Bordeaux, because they have 'shown little or no appreciation in value'.

 Looks like I won't be buying Frog wine again this year!

WinoJohn
May 4, 2002

 

Fill 'er up!

It's no secret that wine production in Europe, particularly in the Mediterranean region, grossly exceeds demand.  Recent reports of excess Mediterranean wines being sold to big US agribusinesses have upset a number of European lawmakers.   It seems that much of this cheap plonk is bought with government subsidies and subsequently sold (sometimes at pennies on the dollar) to commodity traders who sell it to large US companies to be distilled into ethanol.  The end product is ultimately blended into gasoline to meet Federal Clean Air requirements.  

How ironic is that?  The European community is subsidizing the fuel that goes into my gas guzzling, monster SUV.  Is this a great country, or what?  

Those sharp folks in Euroville are catching on, however.  Europe suspended its periodic wine-alcohol auctions last October and the anti-fraud office of the European Commission is investigating the trade, worried that a cartel of powerful buyers has been rigging the auctions and fixing prices.  

Damn!  There goes our cheap gas...  unless...  Wait!  What if these agribusiness geniuses could find a way to extract the residual alcohol from Wino Bob's liver?  There's enough ethanol in that one bloated organ to power all the SUV's in New Jersey for six months!  PLUS, this added source of cheap fuel would certainly cause reverberations on the world petroleum market.  Oil prices would plummet, gasoline prices would drop to 1965 levels, and we could all go out and buy early '70's muscle cars.  This is where we should be focusing our attention!  But, I digress...

WinoJohn
May 12, 2002

 

White Wine... It's Therapeutic!

A recent news article in USA Today reports that researchers have discovered that white wine consumption is beneficial to, get this..., your lungs!  Yes, that's right, an occasional glass of chard,  gewürzt, or riesling can slow the aging process in your lungs!  No, you don't have to inhale it.

In a study of red and white wine drinkers, Holger Schunemann of the State University of New York in Buffalo reports that, "people who drank white wine had greater lung function than those who consumed red wine, but both groups of wine drinkers had greater lung function than non-wine drinkers."  Apparently, both red and white wines have high concentrations of flavor compounds called polyphenols and flavonoids. Some experts believe that these antioxidants may protect lung tissue from minute atomic particles called free radicals that can, over time, damage lung tissue.  I'm feeling better already!

This news raises several important questions: 

1) Who the hell would name their child "Holger" and, 

2) if this lung capacity thing is true, I'll bet WinoBob could hold his breath for a year!  Factor in Bob's increased heart function from his voluminous red wine consumption and he could be some sort of super human

Wait... It's all making sense now...  White wine for lung function..., red wine for heart function..., stick figure for aerodynamics...  I think WinoBob may actually be... Spiderman!

Then again, I could be wrong.

WinoJohn
May 12, 2002

 

Wine Buying Champion?

Who is the country's largest wine purchaser?  If you guessed WinoWally, you'd be wrong.  Wally has a great cellar but he is not the largest purchaser of wine.  If you guessed WinoBob, again, you'd be wrong.  WinoBob is the largest consumer of wine in the country, but he's not the largest wine purchaser.  No, the largest wine purchaser in the U.S. is The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.  How do I know this?  I know many things...  (OK, so I grew up in Pennsylvania.)

Although the PA LCB buys more wine than Wally and Bob combined (I'm not exaggerating here!), the wine selection in most of Pennsylvania's state-run liquor stores sucks.  (Again, I'm not exaggerating here.)  However, the LCB is trying to improve its selection and service.  The fun-loving boys at the LCB recently hosted the (first annual?) Philadelphia Wine Festival.  The highlight of the festival, so I'm told, was a high-end tasting that featured more than 300 wines, including Tignanello,  Mouton- Rothschild,   Haut-Brion and Château d'Yquem.  Not a bad lineup.  I just wonder if you can even buy those wines in Pennsylvania.  

 In any case, it seems that the state is moving in the right direction.  Pennsylvania's governor is set to sign a new law aimed at making it easier for consumers to buy wine over the internet.  The law allows consumers to order one case of wine per month via the Internet, as long as the wine is not already available for sale in the state. Unfortunately, the law requires that buyers have the wines shipped to one of the 727 State Stores.  That way, the state is assured it's tax revenue and, after all, isn't that the most important thing?

WinoJohn
June 1, 2002

 

Napa Valley Wine Auction

The rich and famous packed St. Helena on Saturday for the 22nd annual Napa Valley Wine Auction which benefits health care programs in Napa Valley. This year, the highlight of the program was a lot of 26, 1.5 liter bottles of wine from various wineries in Napa Valley's prime Oakville region along with tours, tastings, lunches, brunches and a plane ride.  The wines included offerings from cult producers, Harlan Estate and Screaming Eagle.

The winner of this lot was a techno-dweeb, software entrepreneur David Doyle.  Dave forked out a mere $320 large for the prize. (I'm sure Dave now has many more friends than he did on Friday.  In fact, I'm willing to strip the "WinoDave" moniker from my own brother and award it to my new best friend, WinoDave Doyle.)  Way to go, dude.  
Note to self:  software...

There was concern that the weak tech sector and generally lackluster economy would slow the pace at this year's event.  Last year, eight 3-liter bottles of Screaming Eagle went for $650,000.  This year, nine magnums from perennial cult favorite Harlan Estate went for $300,000. 

Celebrities in the audience included actor Rob Schneider and former San Francisco 49er, Joe Montana.

Our own frequent visitor, Marvelous Marvin R. Shanken (also of  Wine Spectator fame), hosted two "Bring Your Own Magnum" parties, one in Napa and another in Sonoma, to kick off the festivities.

WinoJohn
June 9, 2002

 

The Big Get Bigger

The third largest wine producer in the world is getting a little bit bigger.  The Wine Group, most famous for their Franzia brand of "premium" box wines, is buying the Concannon Vineyard in Livermore Valley, CA.  Naturally, the two companies are not revealing the sale price.

While the two parties are both singing the "company song", (you know, "this is a great thing for both companies... blah, blah, blah...), I'm not sure this is a good thing for Concannon.  Concannon currently produces about 60,000 cases a year.  Notably, they produce one fine little Petite Syrah.  The Wine Group, on the other hand, currently measures their wine sales in the millions of metric tons.  Notably, they produce... uhhhh... some... uhhh... white zinfandel?  Hopefully, Concannon will not become just another drop in the proverbial wine ocean.  

In addition to Franzia, The Wine Group's portfolio also includes such memorable names as Glen Ellen, MG Vallejo, Corbett Canyon CanyonCanyon, Foxhorn, Austin Vale, Costa Vera, Altamonte, Mistrane, and Mogen David (yes, as in the ever-popular Mad Dog 20/20)!

In terms of overall table wine production, The Wine Group trails only Ernie and Julie Gallo's wine megalopoly and The Canandaigua consortium.  (We have "honored" Canandaigua on these pages in the past.  Gallo, your day will come.)  LVMH may be up there, too.

So, if you're a fan of Concannon Petite Syrah, as I am, you may want to rush out and stock up while it's still available in a bottle!

WinoJohn
June 22, 2002

 

The Frogs Crack Down

Amidst recent reports of widespread fraud and declining quality in the French wine business, one bold Frog is attempting to take action.   Jacques Berthomeau, a high-ranking French bureaucrat  has decided that it is time to get tough on France's mediocre wine products. Jacques recently submitted a report to the French government in which he describes "a massive lack of rigour among French growers."  France's vineyards, the report said, are increasingly being run without reference to quality.  

Let's see, where have we read about wine fraud in France?  Where did we see that editorial on the declining quality of French wines?   Hmmm... where was that...?  Oh yeah, right here on WinoStuff!!!

Maybe the French government will listen to Jacques.  They damn sure haven't been listening to us.  (Why do you think that is?)  I just hope Jacques' report doesn't sugar-coat the issues.  I hope he properly addresses all the problems with French wine production including the ridiculously exorbitant prices and the snotty attitude.  I tend to doubt it, though.  Jacques is, after all some, kind of politician.  

(You can probably tell from this little blurb that I haven't actually read Jacques' report.  That would be responsible journalism.) 

For a more detailed report on Jacques and his mission, click here.

WinoJohn
July 6, 2002

Wine - The Miracle Drug

Check this out, winos.  Yet another medical report has just come out asserting that red wine consumption is good for..., get this..., your prostate!  WOW!  That is good news! 

Reuters Health reports that  researchers from Spain have found that certain polyphenols in red wine can inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells in a test tube.  If that's not enough, these brilliant Spanish prostatologists found that these compounds actually encourage cancer cells to "commit suicide" through a natural process called apoptosis.  (Apparently, not all the red wine was going into the test tube!)

Ok, we have long known about the benefits of red wine consumption for your heart.  Recently, we reported (right here on WinoStuff) that white wine consumption improves lung function.  Now, we find out, red wine is a cancer fighter!  This is truly incredible news.  WinoBob could well live to be 150 years old.  (Maybe it's not such incredible news for Mrs. WinoBob.)

I don't think the government is doing enough to inform the masses.  They should require that this vital health information be printed on all wine labels.  Warning:  The Surgeon General has determined that drinking wine is good for your health.  Drink with reckless abandon.  Or, better yet, they should fund some trendy, wine-related internet web site to spread the word.  I see an opportunity here...  Pack your bags, Bob and Wally, we're going to Washington!

WinoJohn
July 11, 2002

 

wine.com Update!

Those whacky guys at wine.com are at it again.  They just completed another round of private equity financing.  The goal this time around was only nine or ten million bucks.  That's chump change compared to the nearly $200 million that the original wine.com blew through before going bankrupt.  (As you will recall from the many Pulitzer prize-winning articles here on WinoStuff, the wine.com URL was bought from the original and now-defunct wine.com company by the financial geniuses at eVineyard.com for a mere $10 mil.)  That brings the total amount raised by eVineyard/wine.com to about $40 mil.

The inquisitive scientist in me wants two questions answered:

1) WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING WITH ALL THAT MONEY???  I'm beginning to think they are just burning it.  Perhaps the recent forest fires in Colorado and Arizona were just wine.com cash bonfires that got out of control.  I don't know.

2) WHY THE HELL CAN'T WINOSTUFF RAISE A FEW MIL?  I don't get it.  We have one of the brightest financial minds in corporate America on our staff along with one of the most resilient livers on the planet and yet we have no profits!  We don't even have any revenue!  

Hmmm... if Wally's not the problem and Bob's not the problem, that just leaves...   Perhaps the Boy is right...   Maybe the site is lame...   Maybe we need more idyllic pictures of  vineyards and happy people raising a glass in a toast...  Maybe it IS my fault...   No, that's just stupid!  But maybe it's worth a try...

If you start seeing new pictures and graphics on this site, you can contact me directly to find out where you can send your donation... er... investment.  

Stay tuned...

WinoJohn
July 20, 2002

 

Marvin Speaks Out

World famous wine and cigar- mogul, Marvin R. Shanken, recently published an editorial on WineSpectator.com in which he calls for restaurateurs to start rolling back the prices that they charge for wine.  Way to go, Marv!  It's about time that someone stands up for the wine drinking public!

We all know that wine in restaurants is often obscenely priced.  A bottle that you can buy at your local retail store for $25 may appear on a restaurant wine list for $50 or more.  The restaurant probably pays about $16 for this bottle so the markup is more than 200%.  TWO HUNDRED PERCENT!  Damn!  Margins in my dweeb-job electronics business are single digit at best!  I feel my blood pressure starting to rise...

While Marvelous Marvin's message to the restaurateurs is clear, his explanation as to the cause of increasing wine prices is a bit more subtle.  He states that, "As Bordeaux prices rise, California producers raise their prices so that the spread will not get too wide. As California prices rise, Italian prices go up, since their producers also want to build and maintain their international prestige. And so forth. The ripple effect on wine prices moves into high gear!"  

So you see, it all starts with Bordeaux prices.  That's Bordeaux, FRANCE.  Once again, France is the cause of all our wine-related problems.  Some Frog bastard decides to up the ante for his latest Old World style juice and I end up paying more for my big, New World style California Cab!  I don't get it.  The hell with Iraq, they don't even make wine.  We should be planning an attack on FRANCE!

Uh oh...  Maybe I've gone a little too far...  My apologies.  For what it's worth, we applaud you, Marvin.  Keep up the good work!

WinoJohn
August 4, 2002

 

Justin Meyer Dies

Justin Meyer, co-founder of Silver Oak Cellars, one of Napa Valley's definitive Cabernet producers, died of an apparent heart attack on Tuesday, Aug. 6. He was 63.

Meyer and Ray Duncan started the Silver Oak Winery in 1972 in an old dairy barn in Oakville, CA.  They focused on a single varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon, and first produced a bottling from Alexander Valley in Sonoma County.  They later adding a Napa Valley wine.  Total production reached 60,000 cases.

The Silver Oak cabs helped to define the term California Cult cab.  Although the production levels of these wines exceeds that of other cult cabs by several orders of magnitude, Silver Oak wines almost always show huge ripe fruit; silky smooth tannins, and just the right amount of American oak.  My review of the 1994 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cab was summed up in just one word.  WOW!!!

In late 2000, Meyer sold his interest in Silver Oak to Duncan for $120 million and retired to spend more time with his family.  Working in tandem with his son Matt, 23, Meyer was developing Meyer Family Vineyards to make Port-style wines.

Justin Meyer was the founder of the G.O.N.A.D.S. (the Gastronomical Order for Nonsensical and Dissipatory Society), a group of Napa vintners that met once a month at lunch to drink wine and fraternize.  He obviously had a good sense of humor.

Meyer is survived by his wife of 30 years, Bonny, and their children, Matt, Chad and Holly.  Our sympathies are with them. 

WinoJohn
August 11, 2002

 

Aroma Wheel Inventor Retires

Dr. Ann Noble, the sensory chemist who was instrumental in the development of the Wine Aroma Wheel, is retiring after 28 years on the faculty of the Department of Viticulture and Enology at The University of California, Davis.  

Dr. Noble developed The Wine Aroma Wheel in 1984 and it has been used ever since to train students in wine-tasting classes around the world.  The wheel features an array of sensory descriptors for both white and red wines. Dr. Noble created the wheel in order to develop a framework from which to objectively interpret what she and her students were smelling in wines.

Our own WinoBob was so inspired by the Wine Aroma Wheel that he based his own Liver Function Wheel on Dr. Noble's original concept.  The Liver Function Wheel is used by hardcore wine drinkers around the world to assess their remaining liver function.


The Liver Function Wheel

A small piece of liver is surgically removed from the subject wino and the color is compared to the various pie pieces on the Liver Function Wheel.  The patient can then determine his/her remaining liver capacity in an instant.  Bob developed the Liver Function Wheel in 1990 but lacked the sobriety to bring it to market until 2001.

The entire staff of WinoStuff, especially WinoBob, would like to wish Dr. Noble all the best in her future endeavors.

WinoJohn
August 25, 2002

 

WinoStuff Goes Commercial!

As you can easily see from the graphical links along the left side of this page, WinoStuff has gone commercial.  As of this date, we have officially partnered with industry powerhouses wine.com and 800wine.com to bring the ease and selection of online shopping right to your door.  er... computer.  That's right, we are now partners with two of the biggest online wine and wine paraphernalia merchants in the world.  (Uh oh..., "partners" may not be the right word.  I'm sure "partners" has some legal meaning that will just get me in trouble.  After all, they are big companies with lawyers and venture capitalists and annual reports.  We are just lowly winos with empty bank accounts and liver problems.)  Actually, we have three partners including the ubiquitous, Amazon.com.

Anyway, we are now affiliates of wine.com and 800wine.com (at least until someone there wises up and reads some of my old rants).  This means that, with a click of the mouse, you can pick up some nice Riedel, perhaps an informative wine book by wino babe Andrea Immer, or even a nice California Cult Cab for your business partner who spends so much time programming this damn web site that his wife and kids are about to leave him!!!  Arrghhhh!!!  Oops.  Sorry about that.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to click over to one of these fine retail partners ...merchants, and do all your gift shopping.  Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, Mother's Day, Arbor Day, Groundhog Day.  They are all good reasons to shop online.  Purchase wine, stemware, books, whatever.  Just buy something.  That's all we ask.  Do it for yourself.  Do it for your loved ones. Do it for poor WinoBob.  (Liver transplants aren't cheap, you know!)

WinoJohn
September 2, 2002

 

 

We Remember

September 11, 2002

 

Canadian Wine Soak, eh?

It has come to our attention that those wacky Canadians are at it again.  This time, their shenanigans involve wine (thus, the Breaking News!).

It has been reported that more than 100 visitors a month to the White Oaks Spa in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, are experiencing the "Nectar of Niagara Scrub and Massage." The treatment, which costs $55 for 55 minutes or $70 for 85 minutes, uses a wine- based concoction which is poured over the body and massaged into the skin.  Customers are then wrapped in plastic and a heated blanket for several minutes so that the mixture can penetrate deeper.  Finally, the customer is cleansed in a hydrotherapy bath. All this, while the patrons are either naked or wearing disposable underwear.

Naturally, we at WinoStuff want more information about this potentially controversial treatment.  (If it's not yet controversial, we'll make it controversial!)  We need a few very important questions answered:

·         What kind of wine is used for the rub?

·         What does the masseuse look like?

·         Can the client drink wine during the process?

·         Is the underwear boxer or brief? (or thong!!!)?

·         Does the treatment include the "happy ending" (very popular in oriental full-body massage)?

·         Can the staff of WinoStuff get a "special" trade discount?

We'll be tracking this new, highly controversial treatment over the next few months and we'll report back to you (maybe).  

WinoBob, gas up the Bob- mobile, we're going on a road trip!

WinoJohn
September 12, 2002

More Health Benefits!!!

Yes, wine fans, we have even more positive news high- lighting the health benefits resulting from moderate wine consumption (i.e. one or two glasses of wine per day, not the one or two bottles per day consumed by WinoBob).  This time, researchers report that men who consume moderate amounts of wine on a regular basis seem to have a reduced chance of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

According to Dr. Nathaniel C. Briggs of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, and lead author of the study which describes the wine/lymphoma connection, "non-Hodgkin's lymphoma refers to several types of cancer that start in the lymphatic system but often spread throughout the body. It is the fifth most common cause of cancer in the US." 

The investigators found that men who regularly drank an average of one or more glasses of wine per day had a more than threefold decrease in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma risk compared with non- drinkers.  Once again, a chemical called resveratrol (which, as we all know, is a phytoestrogen produced by grapes, and a natural ingredient in wine) has been shown to inhibit the initiation,  promotion, and progression of cancer.

Dr. Briggs pointed out that the findings can't be extrapolated to consumption of more than one or two glasses of wine per day, probably because there are too few Bob-esque wine drinkers to investigate the benefits at extremely high consumption levels.  Briggs also noted that the study population was restricted to men, and thus, the findings may not be generalizable to women.  Sorry, ladies.

I know what you're thinking... "Is this for real?  You winos are just trying to justify your addiction."  To that, I can only respond, "How can you argue with the brain trust at the world renown Meharry Medical College?"  And, why would you want to?   Just take this information for what it is... another good reason to relax, enjoy, and drink more resveratrol-filled wine!

WinoJohn
September 22, 2002

 

Wine Worker Tragedy

A 19 year old worker was found dead in a 29,000 gallon fermentation tank last week at a winery that is owned and operated by the gargantuan wine producer, Canandaigua Wine Company.  The worker had been employed at the winery for just three weeks spokeswoman Lisa Farrell told the press.  Apparently, the worker was standing on a grating over the huge tank when the grating gave way and he fell, Cal-OSHA spokesman Dean Fryer said.

Canandaigua Wines was spotlighted recently by WinoStuff, having been "honored" with the prestigious Winery of the Month award for their groundbreaking development of unbreakable plastic 375 ml single-serving bottles for their Arbor Mist brand of wine-like beverage.  Canandaigua is estimated to be the second largest wine factory in the world, producing just over 1.21 gigatons of wine per day.   

In a similar accident in July 2000, a worker at the Bear Creek Winery south of Lodi, CA was found dead in a 20,000 gallon vat of red wine.

These unfortunate incidents raise a few questions that we at WinoStuff want answered!  

1) What happens to the wine that is in the tank at the time of the accident?  (I'm guessing that it's moved from the "bottle line" to the "box line", maybe even the "375ml single-serving line".)

2) How many workers fall into huge wine vats each year and are never recovered?

3) What is the legal limit for human contamination in wine?  At what level can the average wine drinker detect a little "worker" in his wine?

4) How much "human taint" is actually blamed on TCA or cork taint?

OK, I know this whole news blurb was in bad taste, no pun intended, but that's what we do best here at 'Stuff.  In reality, this story has made me realize that, when my time comes,  I want to go face down in a vat of red wine (preferably a smallish vat located somewhere in the Stag's Leap area of Napa).

WinoJohn
September 28, 2002

 

Great Harvest in Britain?

According to a recent article by Adam Lechmere at decanter.com, "English wine producers are looking forward to an excellent year thanks to a perfect Indian summer."   Apparently, the early growing season in Britain was difficult this year with heavy rains in May and June.  However, the weather in September has been fantastic according to Christopher White, managing director of Britain's biggest vineyard, Denbies Estate in Dorking.  He indicated that the harvest would begin late in October and 'it should be one of the best crops ever.'

What?  You didn't even know that the Brits made wine?  You thought they were all a bunch of snotty, frog wine drinking boors, unable to produce a single bottle of their own juice?  You thought that they didn't have the weather, the terroir, or the business sense  to produce a drinkable vino of their own?  (You may be right.)  A little research reveals a few reasons why those zany Brits may be operating below the wine industry radar.  Get this:

1) As I mentioned, Britain's biggest vineyard, Denbies Estate, is in Dorking.  What self-respecting wino would buy a wine from Dorking?

2) It seems that the Brits focus their efforts on the relatively unkown but "immensely popular" German varietals Huxelrebe, Reichensteiner and Muller-Thurgau.  You know, there's nothing like a nice glass of Huxelrebe except maybe a good Muller-Thurgau!!!

3) There is no number three.  I think the previous two reasons pretty well tell the story as to why the Brits are not a major force in the wine industry.  Oh yeah, and the weather sucks.

This year about two million bottles of  British wine will be produced.  Those whacky Limeys are even considering experimenting with some radical new varietals, Pinot Noir and Chardonnnay!  Watch out, wine world, the British are coming!

WinoJohn
October 7, 2002   

 

"Premium" Box Wine!

Watch out, low-end box wine producers.  Those whacky Australians are planning to encroach on your turf.  The heretofore well-respected Australian wineopoly, BRL Hardy, has announced that they will be the first to introduce "premium, vintage- dated varietal wines" into the U.S. market in "bag-in-the- box" packaging.    The US national release of Hardy's "Stamp of Australia" wines is planned for November.  Be calm, my anxious little taste buds...

The first release of Hardy's Stamp of Australia includes a 2002 Chardonnay, 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2001 Shiraz, each available in "vintage-dated" 3 liter packages.  (Excuse me, but aren't we in the year 2002 right now? What did they do, ferment the Chard in the box?)  The 3 liter "box-o- primo-vino" has a suggested retail price of $15.99.  If you do the math (don't worry, I'll do the math!), that comes out to about $4.00 for the equivalent of a 750ml bottle.  Keep in mind that this is not your average low end wine!  This is "premium, vintage- dated, varietal wine!"  Check this out... You get a "premium" wine, the convenience of box packaging, and the prestige of "vintage dating" all at a price that will allow you to share a glass with everyone in the trailer park!  What a deal!

The US cheap wine market is not going to take this news lying down.  The Wine Group, producers of the definitive box wine, Franzia, have been marketing their juice as a "premium" box wine for ages.  (Apparently, you must have a vintage-dated box in order for it to be real premium box wine!)  Rumors persist in the industry of an imminent counter to the Aussie mongul hordes by the boys at Franzia.  Utilizing their Nobel Prize-winning technology for making white zin from red grapes, don't be surprised if Franzia launches a nice white shiraz soon (with the handy American "born-on" dating...)

WinoJohn
October 19, 2002

 

More Health Benefits!

If you're a regular WinoStuff reader (as opposed to an irregular WinoStuff reader), you know about all the health benefits associated with drinking wine.  I have waxed on ad nauseum about these many benefits which include improved heart function, lung capacity, prostate health, cancer fighting, blah, blah, blah.  It really has become the miracle drink of the new millennium.  Well, if all that isn't enough to get you to pop a cork, get this:  Wine, particularly white wine, appears to kill E. coli, salmonella and other potentially deadly bacteria in the stomach!  I knew it!  You can treat illness with wine!!!  This is too good to be true.

Apparently, Oregon State University food scientist Mark Daeschel, has been doing some "research" with wine.  (I tried the "research" angle, Mark.  It works for awhile but they catch on sooner or later...)  Mr. Daeschel has produced some evidence that white wine's high malic and tartaric acids, along with its high alcohol content, attacked and killed the germs.  The same results, he said, could not be accomplished with other low-acid libations such as beer or unfermented grape juice.

Now you would think that a wino-genius-scientist such as Mr. Daeschel would be using this information to promote the healthful, moderate consumption of wine, perhaps while secretly investing in a winery.  But what is Mark really planning to do with this new info?  Recognizing the glut of cheap, unexciting, industrial plonk that is being sold as "wine", he's trying to develop a Chardonnay-based disinfectant to be sprayed on countertops!  What???  He wants to use the juice of the "fruit of the vine" as an industrial cleaning agent? This is an outrage!!!  (Damn, this has Nobel Prize written all over it.)   It's a... a...  a sacrilege!!!  (Mark, call me if there's any money in it.)  This is an insult!!!  (Note to Mark: Think "France", think "deodorant"!)  We can't let this happen!!  There has to be limits!!  

So join me, fellow winos, in a protest against this crime against the grape.  Write a letter.  Call your Congressman/ woman.  Get involved!  We all have to pull together on this!  (Mark, a groundswell of opposition is a sure-fire way to generate corporate interest.  Count me in on the IPO!)

 WinoJohn
October 25, 2002

 

Terror Alert!

In these difficult times, when the threat of terrorism is all around us, we all need to pull together to fight the threat.  I was watching CNN this morning and the news anchor was discussing the possibility of a biological attack.  The report discussed the various biological agents that might be used by terrorists. Anthrax, smallpox and other biological agents were identified as potential terrorist weapons. The point that I found particularly  disturbing was the fact that the US intelligence community suspects three countries of harboring secret stashes of the  smallpox virus.  Those three countries are Russia, North Korea, and France.  FRANCE!!!

OK, Russia is the Evil Empire. The fact that they may have smallpox is no surprise.  North Korea, Axis of Evil, ditto.  But France???  FRANCE???  What the hell is France doing with smallpox??  

Think about it.  We know that Russia and North Korea have the technological know-how to safely contain the virus, probably in some cryogenic chamber closely guarded by secret police.  But France???  FRANCE???  They probably have some old bastard in a bell tower somewhere who actually HAS smallpox.  That's their containment program.  This is scary.

The potential for this old bastard to fall into the wrong hands is alarming.  I can imagine some terrorist organization threatening to blow up a building somewhere in France if the government doesn't free some terrorist prisoner.  And France's response?  "Please, take ze prisoner!  Take ALL ze prisoners!  Take ze wine!  Take ze man with smallpox.  We give up!!!" 

So once again, I'm calling on all responsible winos to take a stand.  We must boycott all things French.  No more French fries.  No more French toast.  No more French wines!  We need to send a message to this rogue state that we won't tolerate this behavior.  

Are you with me???

WinoJohn
November 5, 2002

 

Shipping News Update

A law banning out-of- state wineries from directly shipping to New York ruled unconstitutional by federal judge Richard M. Berman on November 12, 2002.  New York's law, similar to 28 other states, requires that imported liquors be distributed only through licensed wholesalers and retailers.

Berman found that New York's law discriminates against out-of-state wineries since in-state wineries can ship wine directly to New York consumers.  He concluded that New York law "constitutes a cut and dry example of direct discrimination against interstate commerce."

Berman also ruled that the "important goals of temperance and prohibiting the sale of wine to minors can be addressed in a nondiscriminatory manner for out-of-state as well as for in-state wineries, which are currently able to sell their products over the Internet and to ship directly to homes in New York state."

Another ruling with promise.  To stay current, visit our link site, "Free the Grapes" and continue to write.

Wino Wally
November 18, 2002


Editor's Note:  My apologies to the staff of 'Stuff and to the loyal readers.  I have been in a third world country for the last week or so and I have been unable to update the site.  I'll catch up in the next few days.

For now, here's a totally unrelated soccer update:

HSC Arsenal U17 soccer team from Hackettstown, NJ, defeats the Honduran U17 National Team by a score of 1-0.

WinoJohn
November 19, 2002

 

A Nice Burgundy Blend??

What? Blending?  In ze Burgundies?  Sacre bleu!  Blending is for ze Americans and ze other non-French vintners!  We cannot allow zis!

Au contraire, Frog Boy.  Many Burgundians are supporting a proposed plan which would allow vintners in Burgundy to blend Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot with their traditional Pinot Noir in an attempt to make some of their plonk more drinkable.  Under the proposed plan, any wines which fail to earn the appellation d'origine contrôlée label (which might be best suited for distillation into ethanol or industrial disinfectant) could possibly be blended with drinkable wine and sold as a new category of wine called vins de cépage de France. 

In an article posted on the Spectator’s web site, Pierre- Henri Gagey, president of the Syndicat des Négociants en Vins Fins de Bourgogne, stated, "We are acknowledg- ing that some wines from AOC vineyards are not all that good.  And now and then, due to climatic conditions or human failures, you make average wines."  (Translation: I think he just said, a) “We are acknowledging that some French wine sucks”, and b) “If everything goes wrong in the vineyard and the winemaker actually vomits in the wine, the worst that France can produce is still an average wine…”)

The article in the Spec goes on to state that “The French feel it's time for some of their wines to compete on the same playing field as varietally labeled wines from other places. The new rules would be more in line with regulations in countries such as Australia and the United States.” 

Let’s see…,  the French think that if they take their shit wine and blend in a little Cabernet Sauvignon, they will able to compete with good wine from the US or Australia.  Those arrogant little frog bastards!!!  The Burgundians also said they want the right to use oak chips and most other methods used by their New World competitors to fashion what they call "technological wines."  Here’s a suggestion: Stop making wine that has essence of barnyard and horse stable!!!  Technological, my ass.

So, winos, the boycott is still on!  Until we get a little respect from Frogville, there will be no peace!!!

WinoJohn
November 25, 2002

 

Top 100 Craziness

Yes, wino friends, it's that time of year again.  The Top 100 is upon us.  No, not the Top 100 Wine Sites List (on which we currently appear at number 5!).  No, it's time for the 2002 version of the Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of the Year.  Let the craziness begin.

Every year around this time, Marvelous Marvin and the gang publish their list of the top 100 wines of the year.  And every year around this time, all the "Spec-taters" clamor into their local wine establishments, list in hand, trying to buy up the elusive numero uno.  This year will be no exception.

The top wine on this year's list is the 1999 E. Guigal Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the mere mention of which gives our own WinoBob a certain "tightness" in his black pants.  I'm sure that WinoBob's groundbreaking expose on the use of technology at the Guigal winery contributed to their earning of this very prestigious honor.  (See Bob's 2/23/01 Winings)  The wine is probably pretty good, too.

So, anyway, the top 10 wines of 2002 consist of 3 Frogs, 3 Italians, and 4 good old California wines.  Just for the record, here are the top 10:

1) 1999 E. Guigal CdP
2) 1999 Ch. St. Jean Cinq Cepages
3) 1997 Banfi Brunello di Montalcino
4) 1999 Pine Ridge Stag's Leap Cab
5) 1999 Whitehall Lane Cab
6) 1999 Duckhorn Cab
7) 1997 Antinori Brunello di Montalcino
8) 1997 Frescobaldi Brunello di Montalcino
9) 2000 Ch. La Nerthe CdP
10) 1999 Ch. Leoville Las Cases St.-Julien  

So, my advice to all you wine drinkers is to go out and buy up all those Frog and Italian wines.  You don't want to go near any of that California stuff.  (At least not until I've had the chance to stock my cellar...)

WinoJohn
December 4, 2002

 

Bravo, New York!!!

In a landmark decision this week, a federal judge has ruled that out-of-state wineries can ship their product into the state of New York.  That is obviously very good news to all the winos in New York.  And trust me, there are plenty of winos in New York. 

The judge (and soon to be Wino of the Year), Richard M. Berman of United States District Court in Manhattan, delayed immediate enforcement of his ruling in order to give the New York attorney general (and soon to be Douche Bag of the Year), Eliot Spitzer, an opportunity to appeal the decision.  "We are going to appeal," said Marc Violette, a spokesman for Mr. Spitzer.  All I can say to Mr. Violette is, "What kind of a girlie name is Violette?"

Judge Berman ruled on Nov. 12 that the law, which requires wineries to sell through wholesalers in New York State, created an unconstitutional barrier to interstate commerce. He said it was discriminatory and was intended to protect the wholesalers.  Yesterday, he issued the ruling allowing wine to be shipped into the state.

Opponents of the good judge's ruling argued that "the judge has opened up New York to unregulated, unlicensed parties, who can now ship directly to consumers without any ability on New York's part to regulate their activities, to prevent shipments to minors and to collect taxes."  And what's wrong with that?  Some of the best parties I have ever been to were "unregulated" and certainly "unlicensed".

The ruling is being closely monitored throughout the country because at least 28 other states outlaw the direct sale of wine from out-of-state vintners, and New York State is the second largest wine market in the United States, after California.

So, boys and girls, when you sit down to dinner tonight, raise a glass and toast Judge Richard M. Berman.  Your state could be next.  Click on the freethegrapes.org link below and let your voice be heard!

WinoJohn
December 12, 2002

 

Please! No Bob-elians!

While we wait for WinoBob to sober up and cast his vote for the grape variety to be honored during 2003, we look around to other newsworthy events.  Recently, one news item has dominated the headlines:  HUMAN CLONING!!!  Hey, I know this is not wine-related but it's  HUMAN CLONING!! And it involves the French!  That alone should be enough to justify positioning as "Breaking News!"  

Now, unless you live under a rock (or in some dank, third floor hideaway), you have seen the reports of human cloning coming from a group known as "Clonaid".  They are claiming that an American woman gave birth to a cloned baby girl somewhere in Europe and that mother and daughter are both doing well.  They also claim that there are five more women about to give birth to these little clonoids.  

If you saw the press conference, you were no doubt impressed with the professionalism of the CEO of Clonaid.  Tie-died hair, mini-skirt, French accent.  All the qualities you look for in the chief executive of a "high tech" operation.  But the real story behind the story is that Clonaid is affiliated with some religious cult known as the Raelians.  The Raelians, as it turns out, are followers of some French lunatic called Rael.  Rael claims to have been abducted by aliens in 1973 and the aliens let him in on the secret of human origin: Humanity, apparently,  is a little science experiment being conducted by the aliens.  Rael is assisting the aliens in this experiment by fine-tuning the cloning process so that humans can enjoy eternal life.  It all makes perfect sense now...  In fact, I believe I saw this whole thing play out on The X-Files.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to France...   Why doesn't this surprise me?  

As disturbing as the whole human cloning claim may be, there is a bright side to this whole situation.  If a bunch of Frog alien-worshippers can clone human life, then matter- antimatter reactors, time travel, and actual human creation (a la Weird Science) can't be far behind!   (Think Kelly LeBrock...)

Happy Holidays from John, Bob, and Wally!!!

December 29, 2002

 

 

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