If you have someone on your Christmas list who is a winelover, perhaps instead of a bottle of wine a good book on wine would be a good choice. There are a lot of new ones out there this year. Too late you say? Perhaps not if they have a Kindle…available instantly.
Readers know I like Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible, just revised and a great reference when traveling, not just the U.S.but the world.
Also, there are these books,
Vino Business – The Cloudy World of French Wine by Isabelle Saporta – cloudy??? Very Dark Clouds! This book was written by a French investigative reporter with a wine background. The things she says about Bordeaux would be libelous if not true. Question is: why haven’t they sued her…or why is she still walking? Beats me, because she blows the lid of Bordeaux wine production and price increases which can be blamed by Chinese buying. But more than that they are buying (little or run-down) chateaus, but why? They are grossly overpaying but this might be a clue: the counterfeit wine business in China is off the charts. The name of choice there is Chateau Lafite Rothschild. So the counterfeiters use names like Chateau Laffite, or Lafite Harmony…just enough variation to get the non-wine savvy Chinese to buy it. Worse, some of it is made with either inferior grapes or table grapes with sugar and some horrible chemicals added. If you are like me, you will never buy a classified French Bordeaux again. Overpriced and not worth it. Note that this is not happening in Burgundy where the plots are too small to be able to control the market. If you can afford them, stick with the best names there.
Thirsty Dragon China’s Lust for Bordeaux and the Threat to the World’s Best Wines by Susanne Mustacich. She is a wine journalist now living in France, and the tone of this book is damning but not chilling like the first one. I recommend reading the other one first…as I did.
Another good book on wine is The Winemaker by Richard G. Peterson. I haven’t had time to read this but I spoke with the author on the phone and his experience is incredible. It was recommended by Mike Veseth of The Wine Economist blog and should be interesting to anyone wanting to get down to the nuts and bolts of the wine industry.
One of my favorite books this year is Tangled Vines by Francis Dinkelspiel and is about the fire at the former Navy torpedo factory on Mare Island, California. After the Navy abandoned it they turned it into a wine storage facility. It was huge with three-foot thick walls, the ideal place to store wine…unless of course there was a fire…which there was. This book is about a wine ‘snob’ who torched it destroying perhaps 350,000 bottles of wines from Napa and elsewhere, some of which were the entire library of wines for vineyards. But the book goes much further, to Los Angeles in fact, where the author’s relatives had a huge vineyard and some of those wines were lost in the fire. A fascinating read.
The last one is Shadows in the Vineyard by Maximillian Potter. A true story that reads like fiction of a plot to poison the vines of the great Romanee Conti vineyards. It also contains some interesting parts about how the vineyard came to be and about the pre-revolution French royalty.
The best to you all for a happy holiday season…make it merry…with wine!
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How did Trader Bill originate?
It was conceived by me as a way of providing information summaries of global financial markets so that friends and associates could bring themselves up to speed on events and changing market conditions upon their arrival at work. In addition, it provides information on speakers and economic releases that day with consensus estimates and level of last release so that the reader is prepared to react, or knows how the market might react upon the release of information.
Who is Trader Bill?
Initially any reference to me was as ‘i’. This is to remove the aura of ego and to suggest that i am but a humble reporter, albeit with 35 years of investment experience. Investments are demanding of ego, however, or one would not feel that he was qualified to manage someone else’s money in the first instance. Therefore i needed an ‘alter-ego’. Like Winchell and Mahoney, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy and especially Trader Vic and Mai Tai’s! Why Trader Vic? Because he was a likeable man who delivered pleasure to his customers and knew exactly what their desires were. The reason for the alter ego became obvious once I introduced Trader Bill into my commentaries: people started asking what Trader Bill thought. They had never asked me what I thought before, but suddenly they wanted to know what TB thought! Now mind you they KNEW that I was Trader Bill but for some reason he became bigger than life. Maybe it was the small ‘I’?
What does Trader Bill try to do?His goal is to educate from his years of experience. Consider that most of the traders and people managing investments weren’t even around in 1987 for the crash! Consider that Graham and Dodd, and even Warren Buffet are not relevant to them, too old hat. Their historical perceptions of markets and fundamentals (earnings, price/earnings ratios, bonds, debt service coverage) are irrelevant in this fast moving world. This is the NEW ECONOMY, or is it?
How did your style originate?Years ago i found that i had a knack and talent for writing. In addition, i developed an ability to analyze market news about 15 years ago. It took the Crash of ‘87. Prior to that i was just listening to what others said about the economy. But bond yields had been soaring in ‘87 yet the stock market just kept hitting new highs. That was when i began to learn about markets. i have both a dry and witty sense of humor (some call it inane!). Therefore i
attempt to make even the worst news somewhat amusing: whether it is the absurdity of an economic release, or the comments of a CEO. This is trading desk humor (or gallows humor). It isn’t politically correct but it does ease tension. Ironically, it is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (in the Navy they say: it’s always darkest before it’s pitch black!), that allows you to be more objective in your analysis, as bad as a situation is there will still be a tomorrow! You will see that i practice three-dot journalism, a style made famous by San Francisco reporter Herb Caen, whom i idolized. At least to me it is effective.
What is so special about your analysis?Frankly, i don’t know that it is special, but at least it beats “the market closed down today on profit taking.” What i do know is that most of what you read is spat out without considering whether or not it is rational, like the above statement. Is it right? Sometimes yes and sometimes no, and that is the key to what is different about my analysis: it is meant to make you think. Is Dan Rather right or is Trader Bill right? If it causes you to stop and think about it, regardless of whether you agree, i win! Because THAT is my goal…not to have you think i am a guru, got that? Bet you never heard that ANYWHERE before in my business! Instead they want you to think just how smart they are but remember in this business if you are right 60% of the time you ARE a genius! Another thing that is different is when i am wrong on an analysis i will tell you, not hope you forget what i said. So now you have the tools to do what the speculators and hedge funds do: challenge authority, and if you make money it is because YOU did it not me. i was just a tool, your flunky to do the grunt work and let you decide…course you could be wrong too but at least you looked at the big picture. But the goal is also to have fun! This shouldn’t be a business of hushed tones and grim faces. It is a living, breathing thing and nowhere else in the world do you have the odds as much in your favor as here. Just beware of the guy who wants to put his arm around you and tell you he is your friend.
So there you have it. I hope you select me as one of your sources for market information. If you do I promise to work my best for your financial success.
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