The Otter Badgers of Wine Reviews: Joining the Wine Rating Revolution

Vinted on August 25, 2010 binned in about 1winedude blog, wine review

Sorry – couldn’t resist.  I mean, just look at those cute, furry-cuddly, viciously-fanged mammals over there!

I mean “other badges” of wine reviews, of course – in my case, I’m the late-comer to the wine badge review par-tay masterminded by Vintank; that is, late-comer in terms of getting my badges ready for prime-time (I was part of the “wine badgers” group from the conceptual phase).

What the hell are wine badges? Essentially, they are intended to be a visual way to help you identify a wine that I think has something “special” going on, beyond the quality ‘grade’ and mini-review that I might give to a wine when reviewing it.  Here’s the overview from Vintank brainiac Paul Mabray:

As with everything the digital arena is transforming everything we used to know about wine.  I am fortunate to watch a group of talented bloggers bucking tradition and judge wine on new merits by creating a whole new movement for scoring wine.  It seems like a small thing, create a category for a wine that you believe in and assign a badge to it, explain the criteria openly and transparently, and only give those wines that you appreciate fit that category a badge.  Simple, elegant, but more importantly a TRUE representation of the quality you admire in the categories you create.  A wine fits or it doesn’t.  A wine earns an accolade or it doesn’t.

It might help to think of the badges as a cross between a score and a medal, but with more awesome.  The cool thing is that the badges are already in use by Mark deVere, Ward Kadel and Steve Paulo. The badges aren’t yet standardized, which I personally think might come back to bite us in the tushie somehow, but in terms of distribution these puppies are primed for successHelloVino, Cruvee.com, and Yourwineyourway.com are already signed-on and using the badges, which thanks to their distro. system are automatically being included in content like winery Facebook pages.  We often talk about on-line technology having the potential to change  things in terms of the wine world – this is an example where the potential is starting to actually be realized.

Some great discussion on the badges available so far has popped up over at Vinotology and at DrinkNectar.com, and I left a comment in the DN thread that sums up my view and vision behind the badges, so I’m reprinting it here:

If I give a wine an A- or a B+, does that tell you much aside from my view of its quality? Not really. If I categorize a wine as ‘Elegant’ or ‘Sexy’ does that tell you much? It does – it tells you which wine to try if you want to impress someone, or in the latter case if you want to get lucky on a hot date. So, by giving a badge to wines that meet some kind of minimum standard, I’m hopefully telling people a bit more about that wine without them having to read the entire post or review or whatever (unless they are curious and want to do that). I see no conflict between the badges and scores of any kind. I see them primarily as complimentary.

The main criterion for a wine receiving a 1WD badge is that I give it a “grade” in the B or A range; after that, if I think that they meet the criteria for a particular badge then tat wine will be “awarded” one.

So at this point you’re probably thinking “enough already, what the f—k do these badges look like?!??”

Well, my friend, read on for the badges and their explanations…

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“Deep” Freeze = “Deep” Discounts? Thoughts on N. Cal’s Strange Summer Days

Vinted on August 23, 2010 binned in California wine

It’s not really a deep freeze, of course – it’s simply been a wet and (very) mild Summer in Northern California.  Just about anything with leaves that produces fruit was weeks behind schedule in terms of ripening. If you scan the ‘global interwebs’ on the topic, it might strike you that the sky is about to fall with a thud on the entire wine business in Napa and Sonoma.

But most of the Napa and Sonoma vintners to whom I’ve spoken in the last few weeks don’t seem all that worried.  Which is a good thing, since the rest of the wine world was worried enough for all of them put together.

Certainly grape growers, already under pressure from the economic downturn, are feeling the heat (so-to-speak) about the late ripening, even if most of California’s residents aren’t.

Here on the Right Coast, we were baking as if in an oven for the better part of the Summer of 2010, and I enjoyed the cool breezes that came in recently on the heels of some long-overdue rainstorms; and with them, a breath of fresh air about the whole N. CA 2010 vintage doomsday prophesies, courtesy of Ed Thralls over at WineTonite.com.

In a (fairly) recent post, Ed did a little bit of comparative analysis on the 2010 vintage thus far, and came up with an interesting conclusion…

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Weekly Twitter Wine Mini-Reviews Round-up for 2010-08-21

Vinted on August 21, 2010 binned in wine mini-reviews
  • 06 d’Arenberg “The Sticks & Stones” (McLaren Vale): The violet nose will never hurt you. But the hot finish might sting a little bit. $35 B
  • 09 Frisk Prickly Riesling/Muscat Gordo (Victoria): Gives a whole new (fruity) meaning to having a fun, bubbly personality. $10 B-
  • 09 Xplorador Cabernet Sauvignon (Central Valley): I don’t mind green pepper, but this sucker had me green-peppered out way too fast. $9 C+
  • 09 Xplorador Merlot (Central Valley): Green Pepper Monster raises its ugly head, but only *just* over the black cherry & coffee horizon $9 B 5:36 PM
  • 09 Xplorador Chardonnay (Central Valley): Uncomplicated – not complex but it won’t drive you nuts looking for a good food match either $9 B-
  • 08 Xplorador Sauvignon Blanc (Central Valley): Short on aromatics but long on balance & food-friendliness. Needs grilled scallops. $9 B- 5:33 PM
  • 03 Judd’s Hill Estate Grown Red Wine (Napa Valley): I hear Judd can turn a mean magic trick. He certainly worked some magic on this. $70 A-
  • 08 Markus Molitor Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese (Mosel): The spice is ginger. The finish is lemon. And the kung-fu is strong. $30 A- #
  • 06 Emblem Oso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): More dark chocolate than a Dove bar, & thankfully not enormous for a big Cab $50 A- #
  • 08 King Estate Signature Pinot Gris (Oregon): Tropical fruits galore, but feels more like it belongs in the Prince’s estate instead. $23 B- #
  • 07 Aresti Cabernet Sauvignon (Curico Valley): The main pyrotechnics here? Those would be the green-pepper-pyrazine-o-technics. $11 C+ #
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