Archive for July, 2012

What’s Next, Le Bastard Surpoids? (Consumers Might Pay More For Difficult-To-Pronounce Wines, So NPR Thinks You’re A D-Bag)

Vinted on July 31, 2012 binned in best of, commentary, wine news

First, let me say that I normally love NPR. In fact, I consider not having an opportunity to listen to NPR news during the morning commute as the thing that I miss the most about having a traditional 9-to-5 job. But when NPR runs a story titled “Fancy Names Can Fool Wine Geeks Into Paying More For A Bottle,” I cringe.

NPR’s story quotes Christopher Tracy, Channing Daughters Winery’s talented winemaker (for more on Tracy and his wines, check out the coverage of my 2009 trip to LI wine country), but only as a setup for introducing “difficult for Americans to pronounce” grape varieties like Blaufrankisch, and en route to covering the results of a marketing study performed earlier this year by Antonia Mantonakis, a wine researcher at Brock University in Ontario. As reported by NPR:

"Participants not only reported liking the taste of the wine better if it was associated with a difficult to pronounce winery name. But they also reported about a $2 increase in willingness to pay," Mantonakis says.

What’s more, apparently the more that test subjects knew about wine (or at least told Mantonakis they knew about it), “the more easily they got duped into thinking difficult wine names equaled pricier wines.” In other words, we expect Fat Bastard to be inexpensive, but not Le Bastard Surpoids.

I love NPR, but I hate this kind of reporting. I hate it because while there might indeed be meat on the bones in Mantonakis’s study for marketers to explore, the media angle instead is to jump on the all-wine-pros-are-douchebags bandwagon, and throw on non-pro wine geeks as well.

So you know what? Screw NPR for doing that. Screw them, because we wine geeks are not the problem; if a few of us thought fancy names equated to higher prices, than so what? Shouldn’t we be excited that the wines were actually less expensive than we thought? We need more people being excited about wine and getting all hot-and-bothered over those fancy names, not less. The media implication in NPR’s coverage that those wines are somehow bad or cheap and therefore shouldn’t be on the radar of wine geeks is itself insulting to the producers, regions, and wines involved (let alone to the people). And I won’t even get started on the “what constitutes ‘wine geek’ from this study?” arguments.

If you think I’m over-reacting, I invite you to watch coverage of Mantonakis’ experiment and then listen to the NPR coverage that followed, both embedded below after the jump, and then tell me if you think I got it wrong. In the meantime, I’ll go back to my temporary NPR boycott…

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For July 30, 2012

Vinted on July 30, 2012 binned in wine mini-reviews

So, like what is this stuff, anyway?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes with you via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be quirky, fun, and easily-digestible reviews of currently available wines. Below is a wrap-up of those twitter wine reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find these wines, so that you can try them for yourself. Cheers!

  • 08 Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir (Carneros): Yeah it’s jammy, but it’s like spreading homemade jam on homemade bread at a country inn. $35 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 05 Domaine Carneros Le Reve (Carneros): That spicy, lilting, ethereal mouthfeel is elegant enough to suggest a royal bloodline claim. $95 A >>find this wine>>
  • 05 Bodegas LAN Culmen Reserva (Rioja): Savory, toasty, floral, tangy & successful take on Graciano; mind the heat (& the sandalwood). $65 A- >>find this wine>>
  • 08 Bodegas LAN Edicion Limitada (Rioja): Ripe plummy fruit so lovely that it will make you wish it had been a bit less ripe, actually $45 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 05 Bodegas LAN Vina Lanciano Reserva (Rioja): They don’t shy away from oak here, but the figgy, cocoa-lade finish might win U over. $25 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 07 Bodegas LAN Reserva (Rioja): X-mas spice is nice, but deal here is sealed by the gritty-but-still-vibrant, classy mouthfeel. $20 B >>find this wine>>
  • 08 Bodegas LAN Crianza (Rioja): Tose dried red fruits might be a tough too dry, but hard to argue with the tobacco, spices & price. $12 B- >>find this wine>>
  • 01 Senorio de Pecina Reserva Special Harvest (Rioja): Savoriness rules the day, stewed fruit at 1 hand, leather & spice at the other. $50 A- >>find this wine>>
  • 01 Senorio de Pecina Gran Reserva (Rioja): Spices, herbs, smoked meat, licorice; you’ll cover just about the entire meal w/ this baby $45 A- >>find this wine>>
  • 01 Senorio de Pecina Reserva (Rioja): Probably reaching end of its freshness journey, but savory, earthy view from here is gorgeous. $32 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Senorio de Pecina Cosecha Blanco (Rioja): Focused, clean, full of citurs & served over flinty rocks; result is that it also rocks. $15 B >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Sonsierra Crianza (Rioja): Won’t quite find its dark cherry & dried herb footing, but at this price is doesn’t really need to. $12 B- >>find this wine>>
  • 10 Martinez Corta Cepas Antiguas (Rioja): Modern, poised, fending off oakiness with freshness & should have more pricey wines sweating $10 B >>find this wine>>
  • 11 Martinez Corta TenTacion Garnacha (Rioja): Sexy, spicy, juicy, & not yet fully delivering on the promise of those 90+ yr old vines $40 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 11 Reichsrat von Buhl Armand Riesling Kabinett (Pfalz): Seesaw of sugae & lime pith eventually finds spicy, pear-like equilibrium. $20 B >>find this wine>>
  • 10 Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux Brut (Cremant de Limoux Protégée): High-end apple muffin meets flowers meets peach meets bargain. $15 B >>find this wine>>
  • 07 Swanson Merlot (Oakville): Almost too broad, almost too ripe, almost too herbal, but also almost too much good wine for the money. $36 B+ >>find this wine>>

 

 

Weekly Wine Quiz: Pressing Matters

Vinted on July 27, 2012 binned in wine quiz

Welcome to the Weekly Wine Quiz!

Based on feedback from ever-so-vocal-and-intelligent peeps like you, I supply the quiz question each week, but do *not* supply the quiz answer directly in the post – YOU supply the answer in the comments. You can then to tune back in later today in the comments section for the official answer which I provide. Got it? Great, now let’s get crackin’!

As previously reported here, I was recently touring around the Greek island of Crete and so today we will test your knowledge on a bit of European and Cretan wine history…

Pressing Matters

The Greek island of Crete houses Europe’s oldest known throne room. It also is the home of some of the world’s most ancient wine presses, believed to be how many years old?

  • A. 1200
  • B. 3500
  • C. 4000
  • D. 4300

Cheers – and good luck!

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“Measured And Forceful”: Bodega Contador Recent Releases (And Whether Or Not A $400 Wine Should Evoke Place)

Vinted on July 26, 2012 binned in kick-ass wines, on the road, wine review

“Lento y fuerte.”

This is how Benjamin Romeo – possibly Rioja’s most celebrated modern winemaker since his 2004 Contador red wine received a 100 point score from The Wine Advocate – described how he speaks.

Measured and forceful.

Which, it turns out, is a perfect descriptor for most of Romeo’s wines, as well as for his general approach to life.

To wit: when I met him at the delivery area of his state-of-the-art winery in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Bodega Contador, there was very little in the way of introduction, and literally nothing in the way of ascertaining what my group wanted to get out of our visit.

“Mira, mira,” he said, “es el plan,” while then launching into a description of what we’d be doing that day together. We would be touring his vineyards, hilltop church bell tower cellar, then back to the winery. Romeo even dictated when and where we’d be taking photos during the tour.

My Spanish isn’t great, but I garnered three things about Benjamin Romeo during our meeting: he curses (a lot – for example, roughly translated on the 2010 vintage: “2010 is f*cking incredible… it’s the bomb… the sh*t!… they’re very thick…”); he is fiercely proud of his wines (to the point where he seems to have trouble understanding why anyone wouldn’t like them); and he packs those wines with so much bombastic, hedonistic flavor that they’re just about bottled reflections of the man himself and are almost guaranteed to be… divisive

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