Good Reads Wednesday

September 17th, 2014

jeff-smby Jeff Miller of Artisan Family of Wines (Seven Artisans, Sly Dog Cellars, Red Côte)

No post this week due to harvest.

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Just a brief note

September 15th, 2014

jeff-smby Jeff Miller of Artisan Family of Wines (Seven Artisans, Sly Dog Cellars, Red Côte)

Way too busy to go in depth on anything. Harvest is fast approaching and we are planning on processing in our new facility. Everything is new and untried so I am in a state of near panic. Don’t know exactly when the grapes are going to arrive. Will need to arrange for rental of a forklift for that day. I’ve tried out our destemmer/crusher and it seems to work fine, but it still hasn’t seen a grape so I have no certain assurance that all will go well once we start crushing.

It is pretty hot so I think we’re going to start seeing things come through real soon. Getting a hold of my main contact for our supplier is difficult. He’s never great about returning calls and at this time of the year I am sure he is busier still. Of course, that makes me even more nervous, not less.

I do have pretty much everything I need to crush, but I am frantically cleaning and trying to sort stuff out.

As I’ve written about before, we have previously processed our grapes at a facility nearby. If anything went wrong with our crush, plan B was to move everything over there. Only they shut down and were bought by Gallo, so there is no Plan B at this point.

At any rate, I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I know pretty much for sure that everything will not go perfectly, but I’m hoping that any foulups are minor and correctable as opposed to major and catastrophic.

So stay posted.

No Good Reads Wednesday this week as I’m way too busy to deal with that stuff.

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Good Reads Wednesday

September 10th, 2014

jeff-smby Jeff Miller of Artisan Family of Wines (Seven Artisans, Sly Dog Cellars, Red Côte)

Every Wednesday I post my recommendations of the best of last week’s postings concerning wine, whether blogs or news. I list them in the order I read them, so you shouldn’t infer anything about the order in which I list these posts.

Behold…The Rational Wine Consumer

Fermentation

http://fermentationwineblog.com/2014/09/behold-rational-wine-consumer/

The general public really wants more choice when it comes to where and when it can buy wine. But vested interests have other priorities which all too often prevail.

The First Global Village ~ How Portugal Changed the World, by Martin Page

Wine Blog

http://www.wine-blog.org/index.php/2014/09/05/first-global-village/

Very interesting post on Portugal.

No Dessert, Please: Chenin Blanc Is the Loire Valley’s Sweet Rock Star

http://palatepress.com/2014/09/wine/desserts-please-chenin-blanc-loire-valleys-sweet-rock-star/

Chenin Blanc is one of those grapes that is world-class except for the fact that, because it’s not Chardonnay, it’s entirely ignored. That is unfortunate because it is capable of making some absolutely stunning wines.

For keeping up to date with what’s going on the in wine world, the best all around source is http://winebusiness.com.

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The glass ceiling

September 8th, 2014

jeff-smby Jeff Miller of Artisan Family of Wines (Seven Artisans, Sly Dog Cellars, Red Côte)

My primary profession is law and there was a time largely but not entirely before my time when a glass ceiling existed in the profession. If you were a woman, it hardly mattered how good you were. Sandra Day O’Connor, who eventually served on the US Supreme Court, had a really tough time getting a job. It had nothing to do with capability. It had only to do with a perception that certain people (i.e. women) could never cut the mustard. Or maybe it was even worse than that. Maybe it was that the men who dominated the profession didn’t care whether women could cut the mustard or not. They just were not going to be allowed into the elite club.

Of course, that was a whole lot worse than the glass ceiling that exists in the wine world today, but it does not make the wine world’s glass ceiling any less excusable. Two posts that appeared this last week discussed this point and they are well worth reading. The first can be found at:

Dark Secrets of the 100 Point Wine Scale http://gargantuanwine.com/2014/09/different-drinking-styles-different-values/

The second is Steve Heimoff’s comment on the first, and it can be found at:

Is there a “glass ceiling” when it comes to scoring certain wines? (Hint: yes)

http://www.steveheimoff.com/#sthash.mtSnCiF0.dpuf

Both posts acknowledge that if you are a particular type of wine you can forget about achieving a high score. It really doesn’t matter how good a wine you are, or how much pleasure you impart. You had better be a Cabernet or a Pinot Noir or you need not apply for one of those uberscores.

I can’t begin to say how pernicious this is. One can make the argument that certain wines are innately superior and that other varieties are innately of lesser worth and quality. If you are one of the latter, albeit one of the best, you are still second-rate.

Except there is no objective basis for saying any particular variety of wine is entitled to those presumed laurels. Or, even more to the point, there is no basis for saying that some other variety, even at its best, isn’t as good as the really good varieties.

If you define wine quality as being Cabernet and Pinot Noir, to the exclusion of other varieties, then you have a tautology, a self-fulfilling prophecy. The second rate can never be first rate because it is, by definition, second-rate.

As anyone can see, this is a ridiculous state of affairs. Ridiculous, except for the fact that it in fact represents the state of affairs that exists in the wine world today.

Suppose you were a wine explorer, a Christopher Columbus of viticulture, and found in some obscure valley in the Caucasus a variety hitherto unknown, transplanted it to California, cloned it, planted a vineyard, and produced wine from. It could be the best wine ever made (assuming there were some objective way to come to that conclusion). For your effort, you would probably get an 88 and a few words of praise on some obscure page of some wine review publication which would then bestow 95-100 point scores on the latest California Cabernets.

Of course, my fantasy about a Christopher Columbus of the vineyards is just that. By if you are a producer of Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Montepulciano, or any number of other varieties, you are essentially locked out when it comes to the ratings game.

If you are a member of the clique (Cabernet farmer, winery, critic, etc.) that profits from the feeding frenzy that attends each new vintage of Napa Valley Cabernet, then all is good. But the end result is a perpetuation of the perpetual. It is not revered because it is superior–it is superior because it is revered.

I do not intend to cast aspersions against California Cabernet and Pinot Noir. They are wonderful grapes and produce great ones. But there is without a doubt a glass ceiling that prevents others from entry. It is not a ceiling that I see disappearing anytime soon.

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Good Reads Wednesday

September 3rd, 2014

jeff-smby Jeff Miller of Artisan Family of Wines (Seven Artisans, Sly Dog Cellars, Red Côte)

Every Wednesday I post my recommendations of the best of last week’s postings concerning wine, whether blogs or news. I list them in the order I read them, so you shouldn’t infer anything about the order in which I list these posts.

Abraham Lincoln Was Right About Wine Laws

Fermentation

http://fermentationwineblog.com/2014/08/abraham-lincoln-right-wine-laws/

Pennsylvania has the most stringent, and therefore the dumbest, control state laws of any in the country. Like so much regulation, it gets hijacked by special interests who are more concerned with maintaining their favored position than in the general welfare.

For keeping up to date with what’s going on the in wine world, the best all around source is http://winebusiness.com.

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