Wine News: January 2009 Archives

Ten-Buck Chuck?

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yellowtail-shiraz.jpgBy Robert Farmer

I suppose we are now officially in the age of Expectations Adjusted Downward. News from Down Under recently popped up about over-supply of and under-demand for premium wines. Australian wine makers have historically relied upon a consumer base outside their borders. And global demand for higher-end wine has been evaporating faster than a rain puddle in the Outback.

So, as has been the trend globally, Australian producers have had to adjust prices downward, setting a new threshold for so-called premium varietals. Have we entered the era of $10 premium wines? Probably not, but we're getting closer. And in Australia, the problem may have been self-inflicted --at least partially.

Wine Judging Gets Judged - And the Verdict's Not Good

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By Courtney Cochran

This news just in:  judges at the annual California State Fair wine competition are apparently more than a little inconsistent in their evaluations of medal-winning (and non-winning) wines. According to an in-depth report published by the Journal of Wine Economics, fewer than half of 65 judging panels at the fair evaluated over a three year period achieved "anything close to similar results" in their appraisal of wines submitted, and one group even awarded a gold medal to a wine it had previously thrown out of the competition - twice.

Cohn Walks the Walk

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Bruce-Doobies_large-771874.jpgBy Robert Farmer

In case you missed my recent profile of Bruce Cohn, it's worth pointing out again that in addition to his interesting backstory--as the manager of the classic rock band, Doobie Brothers, turned wine-maker and olive oil producer--Mr. Cohn is also one of the stalwarts in Wine Country when it comes to putting his (no doubt considerable) money where his mouth is.

World Wine Forecast Fair, In Spite of Economic Heat

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By Courtney Cochran

According to a study just released by The International Wine & Spirit Record, demand for wine is projected to grow roughly 6 percent to 2.8 billion cases between 2008 and 2012, a figure close to in synch with pre-recession trends.  Global production is also predicted to grow over the same period to an estimated 3 billion cases annually, an increase of approximately 3.83 percent over earlier levels.  The findings support a long-held belief that wine is more or less "recession-proof" - meaning that drinkers continue to enjoy the beverage even when spending power is down.

It's Jail Time for High-End Wine Heister

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By Courtney Cochran

Last year when I attended a gala release party for Verité Wines - a mega-high-end Sonoma property that's part of the Kendall-Jackson empire - I never imagined that the winery's directors would allow its wines to sell online at prices far below their stated retail price.  That's probably because the folks behind this critically acclaimed producer of elegant Bordeaux-style reds would never do such a thing - to do so would risk eroding the prestige of the brand and would almost certainly make it difficult to command full price for the wines elsewhere.

But, as it turns out, someone else would do such a thing - and did.  Illegally. 

Getting Pinched in Oregon

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By Robert Farmer

If you're like me you're by now a little tired of hearing about how bad things are economically in the world. And if you're like me, you probably help ease the sting of the daily bad news by indulging in good glass of wine or two at day's end - every day's end. But when it happens that the bad economic news is also related to wine, it leaves one not knowing where to turn.

Drought, Record Temps Worry Winemakers

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By Courtney Cochran

As if economic woes weren't already enough to worry about, California vintners are now coping with one of the most severe water shortages seen in decades, the result of several years of interminable drought brought on by prevailing La Niña conditions off the West Coast.  With many wineries reporting on-premise reservoirs at historic lows and dwindling well resources, the outlook is grim indeed for Golden State winemakers.

Let's Have a Ball: Inauguration Night Wines

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By Courtney Cochran

When President-Elect Barack Obama takes office next Tuesday, he'll take the reigns of our nation in the midst of one of the most tenuous economic and political climates we've seen in more than a half-century.  Among other tall orders, he'll be tasked with shepherding an historic financial bailout, reconsidering our position in Iraq and resuscitating our flagging reputation on the international foreign policy scene.  It's a lot to get ready for, and we're happy to hear he's preparing for the challenge the way any serious new president would:  

He's throwing an enormous party.

Recession Ups and Downs Trickle to Wine Country

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By Courtney Cochran

With our nation now fully entrenched in a recession, no one can deny the ripple effects of the economic downturn coursing through our lives and those of friends, colleagues and family.  And, though we'd all like to imagine the wine industry impervious to the nation's economic ills, the fact is that wine country, too, is feeling the effects of the crisis.  Fortunately, it's not all bad news when it comes to financial affairs and wine.  

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