The Hopeless Quest To Define Wines Of True Character (Or “Screw The Ratings, Even Mine”)

Vinted on August 17, 2011 binned in best of, commentary, going pro, zen wine

Roughly two months ago, in the follow-on discussions on a feature on the wines of Lodi producer Matt Powell, a reader named Olivier chimed on with some though-provoking questions, the kind that, for me, define the 1WD readership because they exponentially increase the value of the content on this little ol’ website.

The discussion was around how we might define wines of “true character,” and it ended with a bit of a challenge from Olivier:

“…[It] would be nice to dig into detailed info (taste/aroma/flavors) that differentiate wines of true character and C+/B- wines. I have my own idea, but listening to others and getting examples would be great and very educational.”

That’s the kind of request that often sends me so far down the wine world rabbit hole that I’m seeing Jules Verne style dinosaurs.  In other words, the really fun kind.

We are certainly rabbit-hole bound, because in the course of thinking about this question, I had to get deep into the very heart of wine ratings.

And I’ve determined that all of them (mine included) kind of suck, even if they do provide value to a lot of people (and they do), and even if they help sell wine (and they do).

Once again, don your miner’s hat, the one with integrated flashlight bulb and intercom link, because you’re gonna need it where we’re going

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Not Much Gold In Them Thar Hills (Inside The 2011 Lake County Wine Awards, Part Three)

Vinted on August 16, 2011 binned in on the road, wine industry events, wine review

[ This is part three of a short series covering my tenure as a judge in the 2011 Lake County Wine Competition – for more details, check out Part The First and Part The Second. ]

The Gold Rush in California dried up more-or-less 150 years ago. And the 2011 Lake County Wine Awards results didn’t do much as far as opening the floodgates back up when it comes to CA gold: out of 180+ entries, we awarded eleven gold medals – roughly six percent of the total entries.

While one might not expect a wine competition to result in a large number of gold medals (and one might cast a wary eye on any competition that did dole out a high volume of golds, anyway), I suspect that having a relatively low number generally in this case is a result of two things: 1) the as-yet-unrealized potential of Lake County’s fruit, and 2) the fact that it’s not really practical to decant the big red wines prior to the competition, and so those that need time in the glass to fully develop just didn’t have a totally fair shake to strut their real stuff.

But we shouldn’t ignore the fact that golds were, in fact, handed out – as it turns out, those gold medals were awarded to a pretty interesting cast of vinous characters, each worth discussing in a bit more detail

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NJ Assembly Majority Leader Disses His Own Wine-Buying Constituents

Vinted on August 15, 2011 binned in commentary, wine shipping

I know that a lot of people like to jokingly poke fun at New Jersey from time to time (c’mon… admit it… they even had a NJ joke in Madagascar 2 and that was a kids flik), but do some people really think that NJ’s citizens are actually that dumb?

Apparently, some of them do – including Joseph Cryan, Assembly majority leader and representative of NJ’s 20th Legislative District. Whoops!

Tom Wark alerted me to this little ditty, an Opinion piece published in the Times of Trenton (that’s in NJ, for all you West Coast people) and written by Cryan, in which he attempts to justify a bill that he sponsored – one that basically doesn’t allow direct wine shipping in NJ. Cryan also goes on to lambast a separate bill that I’m assuming he opposed – one that does allow for direct shipment of wine to NJ consumers.  Here’s an excerpt of Cryan’s OpEd:

“…in New Jersey, we have a three-tier distribution system in place to protect our great state’s citizens, children, safety and revenue. The system has worked since 1933, and we should not be bullied by out-of-state wineries that seek to destroy it. The three-tier system has led to 60,000 retail jobs in our state; if we were to allow direct shipping, those New Jersey jobs could all but disappear.”

Wow.  So, let’s get this straight: according to Cryan, if they allow direct shipping in NJ, then they not only succumb to the “bullying” of out-of-state wineries, but will lose upwards of 60K jobs, will put the state’s children into rehab (supposedly they’re getting smashed on La Tache at, like, $3K/bottle?) and will miss out on an ungodly amount of revenue?

Save the children! Board the windows!! Annie, GET YER GUN!!!…

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