Just a quick-hit today to let you know that I’m the latest victim subject of the “Turning the Tables – Interviewing the Interviewers” series over at Wine Industry Network. In those articles, Carl Giavanti (who, I must say, has the coolest glasses in all of the wine biz) flips the script on us journalist types, asking us the questions.
You can read my little TtT feature at the WIN Advisor website, if you’re so inclined (and so foolish) as to actually want to get inside of my head for a few minutes. We tackle topics such as recommendations to wineries when working with journalists, my most memorable recent wine tasting experience, whether or not I consider myself an “influencer,” why my postmodern writing style is sometimes the publishing equivalent of (bad) experimental jazz, and how to effectively de-feather a live chicken while driving at high speed in a Ferrari (I might be lying about that last one). You know, the usual stuff.
It’s been nearly fifteen years since a flippant diatribe that disparagingly mentions Merlot came from the mouth of Miles, the main protagonist in the filmSideways (based on the book of the same title by Rex Pickett).
That off-hand and NSFW comment had the unfortunate – and lasting – side-effect of sending U.S. Merlot sales into the toilet; so much so that I had been told over the years by many PR, marketing, and winemaking professionals that they either stopped putting the word Merlot on their labels (or at least considered it).
Look, here’s the scenario with Merlot, people: You can find better (i.e., cleaner, fault-free, varietally-correct, tasty) Merlot at every price point now, and in some cases (particularly in South America) at prices that have better quality-to-price ratios than ever before. While you have to pay larger bucks for the transcendent stuff (Michael rightly suggests La Jota Vineyard Co.’s Merlot as an example), you can still find excellent incarnations in the $30-ish range (another of Michael’s picks, L’Ecole No. 41 Estate Merlot, fits that bill, and makes a good argument for considering Merlot as Washington state’s second best red fine wine grape after Syrah). Even the last five years have seen better Merlot samples cross my critic-lips than ever before.
In other words, despite the temporary corrections afforded by the Sideways effect, Merlot is now exactly like every other f–king fine wine grape in the world.
Merlot is no longer an exception, and it’s high time we stopped acting like it is.
My friend, fellow wine competition judge, and colleague (sorry, bro!) Michael Cervin recently asked me to offer up a comment or two (I agreed to do so on the record) for a piece he was writing for The Tasting Panel magazine, focusing on how (or if) political leanings impacted the wine business.
Michael published a screenshot of his interesting and well-written piece, which includes quotes from other people that I know and respect in the wine industry, and so I am also including it here (above) under the assumption that it’s okay to share.
I am quoted in the article as basically saying that I don’t think about anyone’s politics when it comes to wine, and that I happen to fine wine-industry-types among the more level-headed and reasonable folk when it comes to debating politics in a civil manner. Reflecting back on it, this isn’t entirely accurate, so I felt that I should include a clarification (or two, or three, knowing me), because, well, we live in some heated times when it comes to all of this political sh*t…
Those of you who have been following along with my Northern Italian antics might recall that we already compared Nizza Barbera wines to James Bond, and I need to warn you that I inject that comparison with a healthy dose of prose steroids in this most recent piece. You have been warned.
What I didn’t have opportunity to dig into during the penning of this article was the specifics of my personal experience with older Nizza wines, which came via the excellent talents (and, thankfully, well-stocked wine library) of the venerable Tenuta Olim Bauda. I close with a handful of pics from my 2016 visit to that beautiful estate, ostensibly to increase whatever jealous rage I’ve already induced by mentioning the library tasting (warning, cute winery-dog-eating-grapes included)…
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