[Home][Recommendation][News][Q&A][Site Info][Contact][Cellar Video][Wines origins][WDYLWYL The latest drop in the worlds markets is a not surprising. When it comes time to pay the bills Governments really do have to have money in the bank. All too few countries can balance their finances and politically appointed Finance Ministers cannot make their "political superiors" egotistical whims translate into economic reality.

Somehow a semblance of real value has to be achieved for the currencies of the world. Banks should be responsible to the depositors who trust them with their money and not be allowed to gamble with it.. Working people must be properly rewarded and have a decent life style, without being punitively taxed. Taxes should be for specific purposes, of limited duration and not allowed to be used for any other purpose.

The horrific attacks in Paris show up the flaws in "open border" policies. Gun control becomes practically impossible. Eight men can rent a car load it up with weapons, ammunition and suicide belts, drive across a border into the Capital of another country, shoot up random targets killing innocent victims. In this case the French authories had to react to a situation, which they might have been able to prevent, prior to the European Union, when their borders were closed and gun control was very well policed. They also controlled immigrant visas back in those days and foreigners could not just drive across the border of France.

Merkel and Hollande, both "lame duck" leaders of countries, which increasingly vote against involvement, in the Euro have managed to put off the day of judgement. Their blind arrogance and disrespect for the intelligence of the voters of Germany and France surpasses belief. The votes in the Germany's parliament supporting Merkel defy reality. Unfortunately in France the Socialists in Parliament are also lame duck and blind.

The voters in the few solvent European countries must wonder if their leaders need hearing aids, or weekly denial counselling. They are expected to pay higher taxes and accept lower social benefits, while the ECB has promised to print billions of Euros each month so that it can "afford" to bail out the "needy".

The Swiss could not justify the cost of maintaining parity with the Euro. The English are balking at being taxed for their economic success.Greeks have rejected all conditions for further bail outs, but are accepting bailouts. If politicians at all levels were less "professional"and "term limited" they might devote their attention to their constituents problems. They should be listening to the anti-Euro sentiment widely expressed in recent votes across much of the Continent. If the Anti-Euro representaives united the third largest bloc in the European Parliament would be ANTI-Europe.!

Germany and other so-called solvent countries of Europe should return to using their own currencies before the not so solvent members drop out due to long deferred defaults.( I have said this before, but more directly in fewer words). Saving the cost of the Euro Beaurocracy would more than offset their losses.

I consider Mikhail Gorbachev the bravest man of the 20th century and share his dismay that 30 years ago he put his life on the line to free all Russians from tyranny, just to see a man like Putin running the Kremlin today. He knew the price he might pay for freedom. However, he miscalculated the general population's fear of losing the security of totalitarianism; and the persistence of the inherent corruption within government and industry. The new freedom benefited the few, mainly the corrupt, and many foreigners who invested in Russia were also victimized.

Putin's strength is that he has been able to collect enough money from oil, gas and tax revenue to pay pensions, keep the military happy and maintain a strong body of supporters. While oil was selling at $110 per barrel the budget balanced. At $55  per barrel, Ouch !watch out! Remember what happened to Napoleon and Hitler when they fought against Russians in winter.

Instead of wavering, Western European countries have imposed sanctions on Russia in any way they can and helped the Ukraine without too many preconditiions.Other Eastern Europen Nations have been reassured in this process. NATO needs good winter gear!

Liberty, equality, freedom for all, democracy and the right to vote are great ideals with different definitions thoughout the world, but the Ukraine have held a very successful Presidential election under very difficult circumstances and have chance of healing the divisions between their peoples.

The US Congress, House and Senate, have almost met the fate of the Phoo Phoo Bird, whose left wing was slightly shorter than the right; this caused it's extinction as it flew in an ever tightening left circle until it flew up it's own posterior orifice. Unfortunately, the futile politicians are getting pay and benefits while doing nothing. The bird worked for seed.

The 2015 edition of the Pocket Wine Book continues to be the mine of information one expects from Hugh Johnson. However, there are some oversights in California; The Rancho California wineries around Temecula are totally ignored. Hart Family Winery is the class act of an area, which seems to be pretty well recovered from Pearce's disease. although I cannot go along with their emphasis on red varietals. In the Central Coast Adelaida,Baileyana, Wild Horse, Ken Volk and Byron surely should be included.

I am a longtime admirer of Hugh Johnson's views and knowledge of the world of wine. In his introduction to the 2012 Pocket book he describes his personal benchmark of value is a wine, which he can enjoy, for no more than the price of a good bottle of NV Champagne. He explains where, how and why he personally looks for wines and concludes that "a few wines need more than 14% alcohol, but they also need a damn good excuse." If you do not already buy each issue of the Pocket Book; you should, they offer invaluable insight to wine lovers at any level of interest.

Hugh Johnson's 2011 Pocket Wine Book pointed out that there are 2,687 wineries in California, 1 for every 13,604 men, women and children living in the state. One must remember the size of the total US market, which would up the population per California winery to approximately 120,000. Since 7 wine conglomerates, who own about 200 of those wineries, make and sell almost 90% of the wine it makes one wonder how the other 2400 plus can get enough consumer exposure to survive. Luckily the 2400 plus are increasing their direct to consumer sales as more states allow direct shipping.

However, this realization is the key reason one can always find good wine bargains in the more enlightened markets in the US and around the World.

A:- The "Big Boys" are always fighting to gain a bigger share of the market and are constantly juggling the pricing of their wines to gain an edge. They do make good wines and frequently cut prices as much as 25 to 40%. in order to be promoted by  Grocery Chains , which then will give an additional 10% off on a 6 bottle purchase (in jurisdictions where this is legal).

B:- The "lesser fry" consequently have to squeeze their wines into the tiny gaps left between the Big Boys products. Believe me it is not easy to get your wine placed on a retail shelf, or restaurant wine list. Keep track of wines you fancy and snap up the bargains when you see them.

As a background to CELLAR BUILDING; I can offer myself as the typical one bottle per day consumer. My wife and I share a bottle with dinner; at home or dining out. Including entertaining we buy an average 3 plus cases per month and budget approx $4500 annually.We try to maintain a base cellar of 25 cases of wine in an assortment appropriate to our tastes and budget. In reality it varies between 20 and 40 cases.We typically buy 3 bottles to 3 cases of a particular wine mostly aimed at current drinking.We are constantly looking for very good, or better wines at bargain prices, but do not generally spend over $30 per bottle.  I am NOT the typical consumer thanks to my 30 years working on the mechanics of pricing and discounts at the Wholesale and Winery levels. I REALLY KNOW a good deal when I see it in a Supermarket, boutique store, or on a wine list. I can easily detect the "real" values and make my choice. Very few folks know the world of wine as well as I do on a quality/value for appellation basis..

Total Wine & More have more than 80 stores around the United States with huge inventories of wine, beer and liquor. Potentially confusing profusion, but they have very helpful people on the floor to help you. They offer some really good values from around the world. I hope they do not choke on what must be a very huge inventory, because I love to shop there.

In my ongoing search for high quality, good value wines I frequently buy direct from wineries through their Wine Clubs. Navarro in Mendocino Co's Anderson Valley is very pro-active and aware of the market. Join their mailing list at www.navarrowines.com . Their white wines are usually superb, especially Gewurztraminer, and the reds are very good. When they need to move some inventory they are not shy about it and offer good discounts and often 1 cent shipping on a mixed case.

Steele in Lake Co offers good values especially on Shooting Star and Writers Block labeled wines, which are made in small lots and are rarely seen in normal trade channels. www.steelewines.com .

I sign up for their periodic shipments, but ask them to make my orders "Winery Pick-up" so they notify me when and what wine they plan to ship. I can then add other wines to make a case of 12 bottles and qualify for bargain shipment rates. The more you buy the lower net cost per bottle.






SOAPBOX: You cannot create quality wines through legislation. Just look what a mess the French have made in mandating what wines should be made, where and how!  The Italians have done no better with the creation of DOCG and are contemplating further stupidity with IGT. Chianti Classico has now separated its' DOCG from other Chianti's just to cause further consumer confusion.

Laws to protect consumers from falsehood and adulterated wines are necessary. That is where the French began when the AOC system was instituted. They went astray however when the "guarantee of origin" was perceived by confused consumers as a "guarantee of quality", while nothing effective was done to ensure the integrity and quality of the wines was maintained.  Similar over-regulation in other Countries particularly Italy has done little to ensure quality for the consumer.

Matt Kramer, in the June issue of Wine Spectator ,lamented that many of Europe's fine wines are now"insanely expensive" and many have become "totems of luxury that happen to come in a bottle".

I absolutely agree with him. Take Bordeaux as an example the "insanely expensive totems" sell for 1000% of their true value as fine wines and the rest of Bordeaux is over-priced by default. As a result the Bordelais are losing their traditional customers, who really like to drink the wines. The long term damage to the economic interests of the vast majority of Bordeaux producers will be enormous. The "totem" wine producers cannot be blamed for the emergence of "totem buyers" ( in all conscience, I cannot call them discriminating wine drinkers!).

BUT is the customer always right?


In New Zealand it was interesting to see how the smaller independent grower/winemakers are faring in the current economy.  Approximately 640 wineries in a country with a population of 3.3 million equals nearly 5200 people per winery. One can see how vital exports are to their economy.

The Marlborough area, which comprises nearly half of the entire wine grape acreage of New Zealand has approximately 38,000 acres of vineyard within its four major sub-regions.

Almost 70% of the vines are Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. The balance is mostly Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling. Merlot, Syrah and Viognier are minor players.

Over 100 winemakers are licensed, but many share facilities in the 25 plus wineries. Wineries in other areas of N.Z. purchase grapes and/or wine from Marlborough.

Villa Maria is one of the three largest producers with a great winery in Marlborough. The main winery in Auckland bottles all the wines made in various parts of the country.  Villa Maria maintains very high quality  in all their ranges of wine. Their Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir have been given the high accolades in many International Wine Competitions.  I particularly like their Reserve Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs from Awatere Valley in the southern Marlborough area. In fact I regard the Awatere Valley appellation as one of the finest  in the world for Pinot Noir . Try Triplebank, Vavasour and Clifford Bay if you come across them.

Spy Valley, Brancott (formerly Montana), Nobilo, Mount Riley and Kim Crawford offer good values.

In the North Island Kumeu River produce fine Chardonnay, Craggy Range wines are very fine in general. Herons Flight Winery  in the Matakana north of Aucklland makes a world class Dolcetto.


                        Wines: Gloria Ferrer Sonoma, Carneros Pinot Noir , Chardonnay and NV Blanc de Noir Sparkling.

Wine Books

Anything by Hugh Johnson, but you should start with the "Pocket Wine Book  $14.99 at most good book stores. His comments are very insightful and show his concern for the future of wine around the world.Amazingly succinct, sound information on just about everything in the world of wine. www.mitchell-beazley.com

Peter Saunders "a Guide to New Zealand Wines 2007" Clarity Publishing, Auckland.NZ. His 25th edition is really superb.


Masters of Wine & Wine Writers

Jancis Robinson based in England-www.jancisrobinson.com                                                       

Bob Campbell based in New Zealand-www.bobcampbell.co.nz

Dan Berger, Very interesting wine commentary. www.vintageexperience.com

Duffy Waldorf, Professional golfer and Wine Writer in Golf Magazine. Commonsense drinking advice.

Wine Business Consulting

Peter W. Le Fort of Winefax: I enjoy analysis to the extent that it enables individuals or organizations to realize where the focus of their activities should be directed, in order to positively benefit the bottom line.

All aspects of your business need attention, but FOCUS on the top two or three priorities until you have achieved significant progress. Different areas of responsibility may have alternate focii, but they should be synergistic and complimentary to the overall aims of the organization.

If you need help to achieve focus within your business ask for my fee schedule. Peter@ winefax.com.



Why is white wine white?

White wine can be made from any grapes which have white juice. White grape juice, unlike milk, ranges in color from pale green, thru green-gold  and gold to almost having a pink blush.The juice is pressed from the grapes after destemming. In the case of red skinned grapes the press is done gently to avoid color pigments being extracted from the skins and pulp immediately below the skin. Sometimes the grape skins are allowed to steep in the juice to extract additional aromatics and flavors prior to fermentation.

How are Rose, Blush, or Pink wines made?

They are made in a very similar process to white wines, but generally from red skinned grapes, which give some color to the wine when pressed, or by additional skin contact for a few hours at the beginning of the fermentation. They can also be blended from white wine and red wine to achieve the "right" degree of color. The technique used is controlled by law in many countries.

Where does the color, flavor and astringency in Red wine come from?

Red grapes are crushed and destemmed prior to fermenting. The skins and pulp are left in the juice while it ferments into wine until the winemaker decides that enough color, flavor and other desirable compounds have been extracted to give the wine the character he wants. At that point the wine is seperated from the skins and solids, which are then pressed to extract any juice left. This portion of the juice may then continue to ferment as a lot, or added back to other juice depending on the style of the producer.

What wine should I drink with my favorite food?

Simply, your favorite wine(s). Your taste is determined by your brain. Trust yourself!. Wine is a beverage to enjoy as you see fit.

Hugh Johnson gives some guidelines on food pairings and affinities in his Pocket Wine Book, which may give you some ideas for experimentation outside your normal pattern.




Peter W. Le Fort

I founded Winefax in 1975 while I was lecturing on Wine at Orange Coast College. I enjoyed teaching "WINE, Why do YOU drink the wines YOU LIKE".

I have worked in most levels of the Wine Trade, but mainly in Marketing at the Wholesale level in California.



Prior to emigrating to The United States I was a Russian Linguist and Intelligence analyst in the British Royal Air Force. I am proud to be a member of RAFLING an association of Linguists who have served in the British Armed Forces.


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