WOSA’s Response To ‘Bitter Grapes’ Documentary Tastes Like Sour Grapes

Vinted on November 9, 2016 binned in commentary, Uncategorized, wine news

By now, many of you will have heard of, read about, and/or actually watched the documentary Bitter  Grapes, a film that examines harsh conditions for workers in some areas of the South African wine industry.

The Washington Post has an excellent summary of the film, its impacts on the image of South African wine worldwide, and the response by the region’s wine trade:

“Danish journalist Tom Heinemann… found that some workers were allegedly being paid less than the minimum wage, exposed to pesticides, consuming dangerous amounts of alcohol and discouraged from joining unions, among other problems.”

The WP piece also puts the film’s findings in important context: like the USA, South Africa doesn’t exactly have a great humanitarian record when it comes to how farm workers were treated in the past. In more recent history, there was the terrible “dop” system (now illegal), under which S. African workers were paid partially in wine.

I’m not here to discuss the implications of the documentary, though for sure I have opinions on those given my past visits to South Africa’s wine country.

What I want to talk about is the Wines of South Africa (WOSA, the promotional body for the region’s wine business) response to Bitter Grapes. Because their response tastes a lot like sour grapes to me…

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For November 7, 2016

Vinted on November 7, 2016 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!

  • 10 Petrolo Galatrona (Toscana): Sits in silence, then bursts out laughing at your puny mortal ideas of what constitutes "massive." $80 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Felsina Berardenga Rancia Chianti Classico Riserva (Tuscany): The kind of odd mix of mature & youthful that seems almost brilliant $45 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia (Bolgheri): You say that you're in a hurry? Well, that's just too f*cking bad for you, tough guy. $200 A >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Principe Corsini Fattoria le Corti Don Tommaso Chianti Classico Gran Selezione (Tuscany): Tangy, chewy, & ready to grow on you. $45 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Pierre Sparr Gewurztraminer Mambourg Grand Cru (Alsace): Prepare your lychee-and-floral fix for a whole lot of "uhmmm… wow!" $55 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Cooper Mountain Vineyards Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley): While not deep, it is fresh, lively, and lovely; pass the veggie burgers $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Troon Red Label Zinfandel (Appelgate Valley): This is Zinfandel in one of its friendliest, freshest, and least fearsome forms. $20 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Trefethen Merlot (Napa Valley): Enticing. Even more so if you happen to have a rack of lamb soon coming off of a grill near you. $40 A- >>find this wine<<
  • NV Domaine Chandon Etoile Brut (California): You'll think fondly of apple pie more than a few times when chillaxing with this one. $45 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Windrun Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hill): Meaty and Savory are the names of star players in this down-to-earth show. $33 B+ >>find this wine<<
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In Defense Of White Wine (Thoughts On Expert Scores And Red Wine Bias)

Vinted on November 2, 2016 binned in commentary, wine news
Red wine bias

White wines get the review shaft (image: winecurmudgeon.com)

A little over a week ago, my friend Jeff Siegel published details by PhD Suneal Chaudhary, who analyzed over 64,000 wine scores, dating to the `70s, from “major wine magazines.” The study’s aim was to ascertain if red wines routinely receive higher point score reviews than white wines (other styles were presumably ignored).

Long-time 1WD readers know that I have become a big fan of statistically relevant data, and the data in this case (including how those data were handled) are, for sure, statistically relevant, in sample size, time duration, and applied analysis.

It’s dangerous to draw too many conclusions, but Jeff summed up the congruence of the findings with the common sense experiences of wine geeks everywhere nicely in his original post on the subject:

“We don’t pretend that these results are conclusive, given the variables involved. Red wines may be inherently better than white wines (though that seems difficult to believe). They certainly cost more to make, and that might affect the findings. The review process itself may have influenced the study. Not every critic publishes every wine he or she reviews, and those that were published may have been more favorable to reds than whites. And, third, the scoring process, flawed as it is, may have skewed the results regardless of what the critics did.

Still, given the size of the database, and size matters here, Suneal’s math shows something is going on. And that’s just not our conclusion. I asked three wine academics to review our work, and each agreed the numbers say that what is happening is more than a coincidence. That’s the point of the chart that illustrates this post – 90 percent of the 2010 red wines that we had scores for got 90 points or more.”

What to make of all of this?

Personally, I think that we wine geeks ought to be a bit more flabbergasted at the discrepancy, considering that, in general, white wines are superior to reds aromatically…

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For October 31, 2016

Vinted on October 31, 2016 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!

  • 14 Kim Crawford Small Parcels Favourite Homestead Pinot Gris (Marlborough): Their favorite is quite a compelling house white pour. $28 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Alexander Valley Vineyards Cyrus Red (Sonoma County): Ok, now this is what I call doing right by a namesake. Huzzah! Huzzah! $60 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Per Cazo Cellars Chenin Blanc (Paso Robles): Heady perfume gingerly spritzed onto peaches and chalk, with enviable results. $27 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Vina Robles Suendero Red (Paso Robles): Brooding, brambly, big, but ultimately balanced & bountiful with basically everything. $55 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Minassian-Young Vineyards Old Oak Zinfandel (Paso Robles): Dark Lord of the Sith levels of depth, power, & personality complexity. $28 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 15 Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch Gewurztraminer (Green Valley of Russian River Valley): A charming white for you charming lushes! $30 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Kruger-Rumpf Riesling Trocken (Nahe): Well, *that* is one biiiiiig bushel of fresh fresh fruits for a small-ish bushel of cash. $17 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 La Jota Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): The view from this lofty spot is simply, obviously, totally breathtaking $75 A >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Martin Ray Synthesis Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): The parts are coming together to make a compelling, modernly-styled whole. $50 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Joseph Drouhin Saint-Veran (Maconnais): Like picking fresh peaches, slightly under-ripe and with some of the blossoms still intact. $19 B >>find this wine<<
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