Featured on The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast has published a new article by yours truly. Check it out and leave some  (hopefully nice) comments: The Great Cabernet Ripoff.

This is a great honor for me. The Daily Beast is published by Tina Brown, who rejected two articles of mine when she was editor of  The New Yorker, and one when she was editor of Vanity Fair.

If enough people show some comment love, she may just ask me back.

Chateau d’Yquem


No one ever said wine folks are classy. This photo, by City Paper’s David Snyder was taken at Chateau d’Yquem in Bordeaux during our annual Cru Wine Club trip. Some people are awed by the prestige of visiting a 1st Growth winery. More often than not, wine school folks will hatch a practical joke. .

German and Austrian Wines

This just in from the department of shameless self-promotion: There are two seats left for our German and Austrian wine class next week, which promises to be a fantastic chance to taste wines you’ve likely not had before. I was in Austria last month on a spectacular wine trip, and I can honestly say that it is one of the single most exciting wine-producing countries in the world right now. This is the only time this year we’ll be offering the class, and I promise not to show you all 400 photos I took…

PA Budget and the PLCB

Talking about the PLCB – and the inane shipping laws that affect us wine-loving folk – is nothing new.  Newspapers, magazines, websites, and blogs have opined and complained and ranted and spewed on this very subject for years.  But let’s put the direct shipping issue aside for a moment as there is something that is even more unsettling about the state’s ownership of the PLCB.  It’s financial and fairly begs one’s attention:

Pennsylvania is $3.2 billion dollars in debt.

Now consider this:  the sale value of the PLCB’s holdings have been placed at $1.7 billion.

That’s a tad more than half of the deficit.

Selling the PLCB, privatizing it as it were, is not a new discussion.  And, as this article in Lehigh Valley Live points out, it’s much too late to pass any laws to help the state in its current financial crisis.  But with holdings of $1.7 billion dollars at hand – again, half the state deficit – it may be time to get noisy and educate all taxpayers, wine consumers or no.

1 Wine Dude (aka Joe Roberts) wrote a great piece on the subject earlier in the week.  Be sure and check it out here.  And I just stumbled upon the website Free the Grapes – a most excellent resource for those consumers wanting to educate themselves on labyrinthine wine laws throughout the lower 48.

All those arguments surrounding the PLCB are not soon to go away.  Yet as a Pennsylvanian (and voter), educating oneself and wrapping one’s head around all the madness involved, is worth one’s time.  The recession is not going away anytime soon.  And $1.7 bil?  That’s a nice cache of cash.

Down Under – Wine Australia to Shift Focus Away from “Brand Champions”

What with  their over-reliance on mass-marketing lower end products (damned critter wines!); and, of course, their relying heavily on those high ratings that Robert Parker so lovingly gave to those big bad-boy Shiraz’s; yep,  they kinda leaned on that too.   Now sales to Britain and the U.S. are down, and the dollar?  That’s levelled out as well.

Which all adds up to:  The Australian wine industry is in some trouble.

As The New Times Reports, Australians are going to have to pull back before recovery can begin.  (Thank god for the Asian market, where Australian wines are still a new phenomena).  Still, this is bad news for growers, winemakers, and winery owners alike.  Most likely scenario is that wineries will have to merge, vines will be uprooted, and many jobs will be lost. Read more here.

And perhaps enjoy a nice Torbreck GSM while you’re at it.