Several days ago, a lively discussion took place here in the comments on a post (okay, “rant”) that challenged wineries in emerging wine regions to focus on fewer, higher-quality bottlings, and not to pawn off poorly-made (or not-quite-ready-for-prime-time experimental) wines onto customers at their tasting rooms (a scenario which I’ve experienced first-hand).
In those comments, frequent-visitor and formidable-wine-blogger-in-his-own-right Thomas Pellechia raised a couple of fascinating related questions, about which he, in turn, challenged me to write:
“…is there or should there be a relationship between what the wine ‘press’ prefers and what the wine ‘tourists’ buy? And who’s got the upper hand when it comes to establishing the success of a winery?”
Put another way, if critics say a wine really sucks, how relative of a measure is it? Do people act on that assessment when it comes to buying wine? And if they do, should they? Could a winery still manage to pawn off its crappy stuff to newbie consumers in the tasting room, even if critics pan the bejeezus out of it?
Not easy questions to tackle. In fact, they’re like trying to tackle Jerome Bettis in his heyday. If I’d have had any clue just how deep a rabbit hole I’d be diving into after promising Thom I’d take on the topic, I would have told him (politely) to get bent and stop leaving such profound comments on my blog.
And this rabbit hole goes pretty deep, boy. What I found in my quick-and-dirty investigation reveals a lot about how we buy wine, calls into question the future relevance of wine criticism generally (including my own modest contribution to that sphere), and tells us why it still might be possible for wineries to close many a tasting room sale on their crappiest offerings.
So take the red pill, if you dare, and I’ll show you just how deep the rabbit-hole goes…
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I have a now well-documented love-hate relationship with holiday wine pairing recommendations; I recognize the need, and the hey-just-help-a-bother-out-already usefulness, but I also recognize their familiarity-breeding-contempt ubiquity. For me, holiday wine recommendations are one of those things where I can’t decide if they’re terrible or actually totally brilliant – you know, like Summer Breeze by Seals & Croft.
BUT… I like to help people when it comes to wine, and I kept getting twitter DMs and Facebook messages asking me the equivalent of “any good wine recommendations for a picnic this weekend?” in a run-up to the Memorial Day weekend. And so now that it’s officially too late to do anything about Memorial Day because lots of wine shops might be closed anyway for the holiday, I’ll be a stinker and share what I’ve been Facebook-ing and DM-tweet-ing with a number of people already.
For those sick of hearing about these types of recommendations: sorry, you’ve been outvoted by Inbox (for those sick of Seals & Croft: sorry, I’ve no real advice to help out with that, except maybe drinking a glass of wine and smoking one of those… funny cigarettes….). But before you send me angry emails (most especially in relation to my slightly-irreverent take on the dulcet, laidback tones of Seals & Croft), please note that Memorial Day wine recommendations aren’t any different from any other Summer holiday recommendations – we’re basically talking hot-weather, picnic-&-BBQ wines here, and so what I’m gonna tell you will hold true for any Summertime holiday party wine action that you’ll be facing as the mercury is rising…
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Uhm, like what is this stuff?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine sample tasting notes via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be fun and quickly-and-easily-digestible reviews. Below is a wrap-up of the twitter reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find them so you can try them for yourself. Cheers!
- 09 Domaine Brazilier Rose Gris (Côteaux du Vendomois): An off-the-beaten path that’s lined entirely with flower petals & white pepper $13 B- >>find this wine>>
- 09 Pueblo Del Sol Tannat (Juanico, Uruguay): Fruity, brambly, lively & ordering a cheeseburger to pair with it like RIGHT NOW DAMMIT. $10 B- >>find this wine>>
- 09 Chualar Canyon Coastview Vineyard Chardonnay (Monterey): It’s an apricot car, but the minerals are drivin’. Honk if you luv value. $25 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 05 Michaud Syrah "The Pinnacles" (Monterey): Black-fruity & oh-so-forward, but earth, chalk & white pepper await the patient sipper. $34 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 10 Principessa Gavia (Gavi): Like a cool, citrus-scented breeze on an otherwise unbearably hot, sultry Summer-scorcher of an evening. $13 B >>find this wine>>
- 08 The Federalist Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley): Apparently the Founding Fathers had a thing for very jammy blackberry fruit. Who knew. $25 B >>find this wine>>
- 09 Tamas Estates Pinot Grigio (Central Coast): Picnic-ready, but probably playing 2nd fiddle to your Aunt’s casserole this Summer. $9 C+ >>find this wine>>
- 08 Tamas Estates Double Decker Red (Central Coast): Fare’s cheap, fruit’s driving aggressively, & we’re stopping at complexity station $9 B- >>find this wine>>
- 10 Tamas Estates Sangiovese Rosato (Livermore Valley): The entire watermelon’s somehow shoved into that glass (seeds and all). $18 B- >>find this wine>>
- 08 Murrieta’s Well "The Spur" (Livermore Valley): Sweet spices are janglin’, but it’s ridin’ a lil’ too high on *very* ripe red fruit. $25 B >>find this wine>>
- 08 Murrieta’s Well Anniversary Blend (Livermore Valley): Gritty & kik-ass like Eastwood wearin’ a dusty poncho in a spaghetti western $50 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 07 Morandé Edición Limitada Organico Pinot Noir (Casablanca): Like a lovely, sexy chick wearing a distracting, kinda-ugly green dress. $23 B >>find this wine>>
- 06 August Briggs Monte Rosso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma Valley): Blackberry & choc. mint await those who can stand the heat. $55 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 09 Alamos Torrontes (Salta): That pleasant sound? It’s the dolcet tone of future Summer nights spent drinking this expressive quaffer $12 B- >>find this wine>>
- NV Poema Brut Cava (Cava): Instant green apple party at a price allowing you to always keep one chilled in the fridge for emergencies $12 B- >>find this wine>>
- 08 Oscar’s Red Wine (Douro): Robust, dark, peppery & everything you’d expect from the Douro, but with a friendlier side. To the grill! $14 B >>find this wine>>
- 08 Casa Silva Quinta Generación Red (Colchagua): Sleeker than one of their polo horses, but the shy fruit has me sitting on the fence. $27 B >>find this wine>>
- 07 Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Syrah (Cachapoal): Juicy, bright & leathery, but we are getting shelled in fruit-bomb-ish territory here $26 B >>find this wine>>
- 09 Zuccardi Serie A Malbec (Mendoza): Dark reds, oaky, toasty, but a little on the reticent side. One wonders what he’s waiting for? $14 B- >>find this wine>>
Ok, I cannot, as the title suggests, guarantee the receipt of good karma if you participate in the nomination process for the 2011 Wine Blog Awards. As I understand those things, only Deepak Chopra has the power to do that. But nominating might make you feel good, both in terms of having your voice heard and in supporting your fave on-line wine writers.
2011 marks the 5th year of the awards, and while they’ve grown-up quite a bit, the overall power-to-the-people process has remained fairly consistent: you (yes, that’s you) go to wineblogawards.org and nominate which wine blogs you’d like to see considered as finalists in each of eight categories (Best Wine Blog Graphics, Photography, & Presentation; Best Industry/Business Wine Blog; Best Wine Reviews on a Wine Blog; Best Single Subject Wine Blog; Best Winery Blog; Best Writing On a Wine Blog; Best New Wine Blog; and Best Overall Wine Blog). Judges will vet the nominations and announce a list of finalists in each category on or about June 20, after which the public can vote to determine the winners.
I had the honor and quite humbling experience of winning the award in the Best Overall Wine Blog category last year, so I feel a sort of ambassador-like obligation to return the good karma and encourage you to nominate your fave wine blogs today (nominations close May 31, so hurry the hell up already!). Somebody get Deepak on the phone please, I’m having a moment here, people!…
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