No, you didn’t see one of these selections coming, okay?
Don’t even try it. No one, least of all me, would buy it for even a second.
This Summer, I once again had the pleasure of judging at the Critics Challenge in (stay classy) San Diego, my second stint as a judge there. A more well-executed U.S. wine competition you’re unlikely to encounter, and the judging panels boast some impressive collective credentials. Before I get into the two most memorable (for me) wines coming out of this year’s incarnation of the event (full results are here), I should give you a quick primer on how Critics Challenge works.
The judges are paid (well… duh), and for two days each is given a series of wine flights organized by category and tasted blind (residual sugar, grape variety, and category are known, in some cases vintage as well). The judges work in pairs, awarding (or denying) medals as they deem appropriate, and each wine is officially awarded the highest of the two medals determined by the pair of judges. The assumption, of course, is that as judges we all know what the hell we’re doing.
For 2014, I was fortunate enough to be paired of with writer and educator Deb Parker Wong, someone for whom the term “consummate professional” was invented, and a judge with a methodically brilliant tasting approach. I’ll stop here before this turns into a Deb valentine, but I feel compelled to add that Deb also possesses the rare and uncanny ability to double the elegance quotient of any room into which she walks (since I possess the equally rare and uncanny ability to halve a room’s elegance quotient, our judging table vicinity essentially remained elegance neutral)…
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This month over at Wine.Answers.com, the following tidbits ensued for your wine reading/learning/geeking pleasure. While several numbers are involved, math is not, so if you find math mind-numbingly boring as I do, you can proceed to the following articles without fear:
The 411 on DCV:
I recently took a junket jaunt to Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma, more about which may unfold on these virtual pages later, but was impressed enough with some of the visits during that trip to offer up a quick take on 5 producers to watch in the area. Go forth, and Zin!
Bookish on 21 Wines:
In which I review yet another friggin’ coffee table style book about vino, “21 Wines.”This one has photos that are worth the admission price, though, and it’s a visual delight that manages to overcome the scattershot format of the text behind the Italian wine/producer recommendations (offered by the foodie authors).
The Surprisingly-Not-So-Weighty Power of 33:
Our product review this month comes via a sample of Angle 33’s concrete (yeah, that kind of concrete) wine bottle coaster. The summarized version is that I really dug this thing, which actually manages not to be too weighty, has a good deal of stylish options (provided you like Spartan, modern designs, which I do), and proves to be handy at ensuring your opened wine bottle doesn’t leave an irremovable stain from your furniture.
3 Things You Didn’t Know About Rioja:
Some of the tidbits that made it into my speeches during a recent gig in NYC with Wines of Rioja were just too geeky good to leave to the pages of my panel notes. So they made it to the virtual pages of Answers.com, in the form of three tidbits about the region of which you (most likely) were not aware.
Cheers – and enjoy!
We have (rather strong) anecdotal evidence that purchasing fine wines as investment vehicles is, for most people, an absurdly bad idea.
Those examples, as strong as they are, could be criticized as falling under the “fallacy of small numbers” category, however, which might lead the hopelessly duped eternal optimists out there to conclude that in their cases, investing in fine wine for profit will somehow be different.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, however, should dispel that myth for all but the most hopelessly duped. The bottom line is that the WSJ dug into what might be the most comprehensive scientific study yet performed on the returns of the fine wine investment market, going back over historical selling prices of the last one hundred years or so, and its conclusions are sobering (see what I did there?):
“After mining historical price data for top clarets going back to 1899, including the prices fetched in auctions before World War I, the researchers calculated that over the entire period, the prices of these wines beat inflation by an average of 5.3 percentage points a year.”
While that might sound encouraging, it’s not. Any such returns and performance have to be adjusted for expenses in order to show the actual rate of return. When that was done, the results looked a lot less profitable, particularly when compared to good old fashioned, boring stock index funds…
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