What Price Bordeaux: Bordeaux’s Loss of Identity By The Numbers

Vinted on March 29, 2010 binned in book reviews, commentary

Master of Wine and scientist Benjamin Lewin’s non-fiction book What Price Bordeaux has a title that, unlike many non-fictional works, is meant to convey a series of meanings or themes that are touched on at some point in the body of the work itself.

In this case, What Price Bordeaux refers, at turns, to

  • The skyrocketing prices of wines from Bordeaux’s top chateau, while its minor AOCs are in such crisis that they are forced to sell their wines for distillation in order to avoid bankruptcy.
  • The maddening opacity of Bordeaux’s wine business, which Lewin investigated intensely in the writing of his book, and where simple data points, such as the average price of a bottle of red Bordeaux in 2007, were hidden from him by the area’s professional organizations.
  • The 1855 Classification of Bordeaux’s top producers, which organized the “best” wines by price in the Medoc (Lewin boldly offers an updated, new classification in What Price Bordeaux, which contains some shockers in terms of who now ranks above whom in current Bordeaux market prices).
  • The loss of Bordeaux wines’ identities in favor of an “International” red wine style currently more popular with consumers and influential wine critics – resulting in skyrocketing price increases and occasional price crashes for high-end Bordeaux wines.

What Price Bordeaux contains enough fodder for a month’s worth of wine blog posts, but that would deny you the pleasures (and shock) of reading it (which I recommend that you do).  Instead, it’s the last point above that I want to talk about, concentrating on Chapter 10 (“The New Bordeaux”), which alone is worth the price of the book.

After reading Chapter 10 in Lewin’s book, I’ve grown increasingly convinced that Bordeaux wines are becoming more and more like those of the Napa Valley not just because they are chasing the elevated scores that wine critics give to that style of red wine, but also because they may have no other choice…

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Weekly Twitter Wine Mini-Reviews Round-up for 2010-03-27

Vinted on March 27, 2010 binned in wine mini-reviews
  • 09 Ducca del Frassino Garganega Pinot Grigio (Venezie): Crisp & refreshing if you dig aromas of artificially-flavored banana candy. $20 3L C #
  • 07 Dancing Bull Zinfandel (CA): Easy to like, & easier to drink, though the candied red fruit on the nose might wear out the welcome. $9 C+ #
  • 06 Brutocao Quadriga (Mendocino): 4 Italian grape blend but it's the 18% Barbera that *really* keeps things interesting (& red-plummy) $24 B #
  • NV Henry's Drive Vignerons "The Postmistress" Blanc de Blanc (Padthaway): Squeaky clean pears, she snuck in flowers & brioche, too. $19 B- #
  • 06 Story Winery Picnic Hill Zinfandel (Shenandoah Valley, CA): Ugly label, but solid old vine sipper. Tangy, w/ sweet black licorice. $25 B #
  • 07 Gramercy Cellars 'Lagniappe' Syrah (Columbia Valley): A magic carpet ride to berry-land; only the carpet is made of smoked meat. B+ $38 #
  • 07 Doyenne Syrah (Yakima Valley): Someone just blitzkrieged your senses Old World style w/ sandalwood & black fruit. And you liked it A- $49 #
  • 07 K Syrah "Phil Lane" (Walla Walla): They got the whole butcher shop, incense store, & blueberry bush in there, topped up w/ booze. A- $70 #
  • 06 Columbia Winery Syrah (Columbia Valley): Too funky for its own dang self. A shame, because the spice & supple texture are nice. C+ $16 #
  • 08 Hayman & Hill Chardonnay Reserve Selection (Russian River Valley): Solid as a barely-ripe peach; tastes just as good as one, too. $15 B- #
  • 08 Hayman & Hill Pinot Noir Reserve Selection (Santa Lucia Highlands): Oak, lees contact, & a big dose of Malbec. None of it helped. $18 C #
  • 07 Hayman & Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Selection (Napa Valley): Simple, but you won't be mistaking it for succulent anytime soon $15 C+ #

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Wine Gives Back: Relief for Haiti and Chilean Wine Workers

Vinted on March 26, 2010 binned in commentary

A few tidbits to end the week on some hopeful notes:

Palate Press Kicks Ass for Haiti Relief

Mad props are due to on-line wine e-zine Palate Press for their efforts (mostly spearheaded by yeoman David Honig, its Publisher) to raise money for the Red Cross’ Haiti Relief & Development activities

David organized a stellar wine auction catalog that leveraged the generosity of dozens of wine producers and wine industry stalwarts.  The result was well over $10,000 raised in donations to the Red Cross for the people of Haiti.  David’s work was nothing short of amazing and he’s really shown what the wine blogging world is capable of when it’s determined and focused. 

THANK YOU DAVID!

In a similar vein, the wine world is also reaching out to help Chile take care of its own after the recent earthquake there impacted not just wine production, but also affected the lives of many of Chile’s winery workers and their families

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