Good Reads Wednesday

April 16th, 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.

Millennials spend on the media? Really? Wow.

Steve Heimoff

http://www.steveheimoff.com/index.php/2014/04/11/how-much-time-did-you-say-millennials-spend-on-the-media-really-wow/

“The most stunning finding from Ipsos Media’s new study on social media is that Millennials spend an average of 17.8 hours a day perusing (if that’s the right word) the media.”

Am I misreading something or what, but if I reading this correctly it can’t possibly be correct. But even if it’s off by quite a bit, it’s kind of mind-boggling for someone of my age to realize how much time younger people spend on social media.

The difference between marketing and PR

Wine Blog

http://www.wine-blog.org/index.php/2014/04/11/difference-marketing-pr/

This is a pretty interesting discussion about how the marketing and public relations departments fit together in a wine company much larger than anything I’ve ever been involved in.

What to wear in wine country

Wine Blog

http://www.wine-blog.org/index.php/2014/04/09/wear-wine-country/

I thought this was a little humorous in that the first picture of what to wear in wine country was a woman in a white blouse. The first rule of being in a winery is to wear only dark colors so that when you douse yourself with a red wine (as you invariably will) you still look okay, and save the cost of the ruined white garment to boot.

Kosher Wine and the Mevushal Process

Tom Mansell

http://palatepress.com/2014/04/wine/kosher-wine-mevushal-process/

Being Jewish myself, I feel I have a free pass to criticize my co-religionists. This whole Mevushal process is nuts. I always thought it was nuts, but if I ever had any doubts (which I never had) this post certainly put them to rest. To summarize: The Mevushal process involves heating the wine to what used to be boiling, but is now a little bit less. Why do this? For two reasons. First, to make the wine inferior (so that idolaters would never use it for their religious rights which has to be the first thing that I’ve ever heard of that warranted giving kudos to idolaters). And second, to remove any taint from its ever having been touched by a non-Jew. It strikes me as particularly galling that a group (my group at that) that has been at the forefront of the development of much of modern thinking feels itself justified in resorting to some of the most backward tribal practices.

The Israeli Wine Industry, a 4 Millennium Old Toddler

David Honig

http://palatepress.com/2014/04/wine/israeli-wine-industry-4-millennium-old-toddler/

Here’s the second post with a Jewish slant (I assume this plethora of Jewish related arguments is because Passover is coming up soon). At any rate, it does contain quite a bit of interesting information concerning the Israeli wine industry. One interesting quote:

“Fortunately, one of the newer trends in the country is for wineries to start experimenting with different varietals, in search of a grape that might someday be associated with Israeli wine, much like sauvignon blanc is associated with New Zealand and malbec is linked with Argentina.”

For what it’s worth, my vote is for Carignan, which based upon my somewhat limited experience just seems to produce incredibly good wines in Israel.

Should critics allow personal style preferences to influence their work?

jamie goode’s wine blog

http://www.wineanorak.com/wineblog/uncategorized/should-critics-allow-personal-style-preferences-to-influence-their-work

It’s always interesting to realize that there are people in this world whose views are so different than your own (how can they be so incorrect?). I believe how much someone likes a particular wine is such a personal, subjective thing that I can hardly believe that there are people who feel differently. But obviously there are. The thinking seems to be that even though this wine is quite awful, it’s quite awful in the way it’s supposed to be quite awful. I guess I can kind of follow the logic there, but I have no clue how to turn that theory into practice.

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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Telling wines apart

April 14th, 2014

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

As I was going over the week’s posts for my Good Reads Wednesday, I came across this one from Steve Heimoff:

The internationalization of style is no friend of blind tasting

http://www.steveheimoff.com/index.php/2014/04/10/the-internationalization-of-style-is-no-friend-of-blind-tasting/

The gist of the post is that trying to figure out what variety a wine is or which region it is from is made more difficult in light of the “internationalization of wine”.

I can understand this argument in theory. When we say the “internationalization of wine” basically what we mean is that wines have tended to be made in a more and more similar style which can roughly be characterized as very ripe, low acidity, softer tannins, too much oak, etc. Obviously, to the extent everybody’s trying to emulate the same style, it should make it harder and harder to differentiate one wine from another.

And while I would have to admit that the “internationalization” of wine has been going on for some time, I am old enough (unfortunately) that my wine drinking days started in the 70s and I tasted wines from even earlier than that on a number of occasions. While the “internationalization” of wines had probably started by then, it certainly was not in full swing.

I remember hosting a party where a number of my wine drinking friends came over and we tasted quite a few wines blind. The whole point was to try to figure out as much as we could about each wine based upon tasting alone.

I would have to say that this group was a particularly adept group when it came to wine tasting. We all went to numerous formal tastings which were really quite common, even at that time, in San Francisco where I lived.

If you would hazard a guess that our abilities to identify a wine weren’t all that good, you would be wrong. Our abilities were far worse than you could ever imagine. Since, at that time, pretty much all wines were either from Europe or the United States (pretty much California), you would have to figure that we had at least a 50-50 chance of getting the continent right. But we failed to exceed even that incredibly low hurdle.

I would like to say that this was an isolated instance of incompetence, but even when I have tasted with wine professionals results have really been no better. Incompetence has been the norm.

And when you consider that numerous studies have been done with “wine experts” tasting white wines that had been colored with red dye, and the “experts” uniformly identified the wines as being red, and exhibiting flavors associated with red wines, my experience has hardly been unusual.

The thing that makes me wonder about this, however, is that I pretty clearly have in my mind what different varieties are supposed to taste like. A Pinot Noir is supposed to be light, with a strawberry like nose, and devoid of any raisin, prune, or even dark cherry flavors. So it should be a no-brainer to pick a Pinot Noir out from a bunch of other red wines. But it’s not.

I do have little doubt that Heimoff is correct that the “internationalization” of wine styles has made the task even more difficult. But considering how we are all universally awful at this task, and always have been, I’m not sure that the “internationalization” of wine styles really has made very much of a difference.

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Good Reads Wednesday

April 9th, 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.

The States That Love Wine The Most [MAP]
Andy Kiersz

http://www.businessinsider.com/wine-consumption-map-united-states-2014-3

This is a pretty interesting post showing wine consumption in the various states. For some reason, New England seems to be heads and shoulders above everybody else. Even California. Heading the list, though, is the District of Columbia, which came as something of a surprise to me, clocking in at 25.7 L per capita.

Wine: More Dangerous than Cocaine, LSD and Mushrooms and Pot

Fermentation

http://fermentationwineblog.com/2014/04/wine-dangerous-cocaine-lsd-mushrooms-pot/

It’s pretty surprising to me that the public’s general perception of alcohol is as low as indicated here:

Just to be clear, the Pew survey showed that Americans now believe the following substances are LESS harmful to use than alcohol: cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines, LSD, tobacco, and mushrooms.”

I do agree with Wark that it is important for the wine business to make the point that with other drugs the whole point is to get high. With wine, that’s not really the case (or at least it shouldn’t be).

Carneros Pinot Noir: a study i

Steve Heimoff

http://www.steveheimoff.com/index.php/2014/04/04/carneros-pinot-noir-a-study-i/

This post reminded me that Carneros was once an “up and coming” Pinot Noir region. But it never seemed to arrive for reasons that remain unclear to me. I have had a number of excellent Carneros Pinot Noirs, but I would have to say the region just isn’t on my radar screen the way the Central Coast is.

Superstar winemakers, blind tasting and bias

Steve Heimoff

http://www.steveheimoff.com/index.php/2014/03/31/superstar-winemakers-blind-tasting-and-bias/

I second Heimoff when he says: If I were writing a Consumer’s Bill of Rights with respect to tastemakers, especially critics, I’d insist that all tasting resulting in a review be conducted under formal blind tasting protocols–or, absent that, that disclaimers be published alongside the reviews!”

The Most Important Factor In Wine Club Success

SVB on Wine

http://svbwine.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-most-important-factor-in-wine-club.html#more

Some pretty interesting metrics concerning wine clubs. The main point: the most important thing isn’t how many you sign up, but how long you keep them.

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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What makes for news

April 7th, 2014

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

I respectfully disagree with the Wine Curmudgeon’s views in this post that appeared recently:

No wonder figuring out wine prices is so confusing

Wine Curmudgeon

http://winecurmudgeon.com/no-wonder-figuring-out-wine-prices-is-so-confusing/

First, let me summarize the post.  Depending on who you read, wine prices are soaring (due to the supposedly short supply of California wines) or plummeting (due to oversupply of European grapes in general, and Spanish grapes in particular). Of course, they can’t both be right. So why this schizophrenic situation where wines prices are going up and down at the same time?

The Wine Curmudgeon offers three explanations. First, journalists have a limited world view, not being able to see past their immediate environs. So if your immediate environs is in shortage, then prices are going up, and vice versa.

Second, the crutch of “conventional wisdom”. Once an idea takes hold, it becomes accepted even though it lacks any real evidence to support it.

And third, if I understand him correctly, the wine world has changed so much in ways that people don’t understand.   The resulting confusion leads to prognostications that are wide of the mark.

I don’t know whether any of these three factors have any merit at all. But even if they do, I think they pale beside another factor. To paraphrase a writer (name long since forgotten) commenting on the Democratic primary season which ended with the triumph of Barack Obama, there are only two stories in a presidential race. Story one: candidate so and so is surging. Story two: candidate so and so is crashing and burning.

It only takes a second’s thought to realize the truth of that statement. After all, journalists aren’t in the business of providing balanced, reasoned articles. They are in the business of selling newspapers, TV advertising, or whatever. An article entitled, “Candidate so and so pretty much doing as well this week as last” isn’t going to sell a whole lot of newspapers.

The same holds true in the art world, the pork belly world, and, of course, the wine world. If you are going to write a story on where wine prices are going, then the answer is simple: they are either going up or they are going down, preferably way up or way down. Wines that will cost pretty much the same next year as they did this year? Not newsworthy. But suppose all the available information in fact indicates that wine prices will be stable? Who cares?

The same applies to pretty much any issue in the wine world (or any other world). In a particular wine region, it’s not much of a story to say the quality of wines from a region has plateaued. Not getting a whole lot better but not getting any worse. Again, who cares?

Unfortunately, when it comes to terroir, it’s hard to make the case that a region’s terrior is getting a whole lot better or worse. But, then again, with global warming may be even this will change.

If you listen to the evening news, it’s floods and drought, polar vortexes and heat waves, that get the headlines. “Continued mild weather”. Not very interesting. “Wine prices stable”. Ditto.

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Good Reads Wednesday

April 2nd, 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.

Checking On Some Older CA Pinot Noir

VINOGRAPHY: a wine blog

http://www.vinography.com/archives/2014/03/checking_in_on_some_older_ca_p.html

I thought this post was particularly apropos considering that I did a similar post several weeks ago concerning a Joseph Swan California Pinot Noir. I would disagree with Alder about the general age worthiness of California Pinot Noirs in particular, and California reds in general. I don’t think they really age, again as a general matter, as well as European wines. But I think that has more to do with how farmers grow the grapes, and particularly when they harvest them, and how winemakers choose to process them, than from any inherent differences between the old and new worlds.

Some thoughts from a recovering wine critic

Steve Heimoff

http://www.steveheimoff.com/index.php/2014/03/27/some-thoughts-from-a-recovering-wine-critic/

More on the hundred point system which I discussed in my Monday post.

How do you consider the three-tier system in the wine world of the US to be functioning?

Wine Blog

http://www.wine-blog.org/index.php/2014/03/25/considering-three-tier-system-wine-word-us-functioning/

You can spend a lot of time reading about the three-tier system for wine marketing in this country, but this simple post pretty much says it all. The bottom line: everything is stacked in favor of the big guys.

Batali and Bastianich group threatened with suspension

Dr. Vino

http://www.drvino.com/2014/03/20/batali-bastianich-group-wine-suspension/

Eataly wined and fined & the three-tier system

Dr. Vino

http://www.drvino.com/2014/03/26/eataly-wined-fined-three-tier-system/#more-13663

The prior post addressed the downsides in general of the three-tier system. These two posts concern one company (or more accurately a group of interrelated companies) in New York that has run afoul of the system. It doesn’t seem particularly “evil” to me that someone who has restaurants and a wine store should decide to start producing wine and then sell it through his own outlets. But New York State feels differently. You can understand historically how these rules evolved. But they really and clearly don’t serve any purpose in 2014 except, perhaps, from the point of view of those who benefit from the rules which in effect limit competition.

Nielsen’s Emerging Trends In Beverage Alcohol 2014 (“Wine Is Winning”)

1 Wine Dude

http://www.1winedude.com/nielsen-emerging-trends-in-beverage-alcohol-2014/#more-13153

This is an interesting potpourri of facts, or perhaps more accurately described as near facts, concerning the alcohol industry. While not perfect, it certainly better than the total mis-information that is common, and widely accepted as true despite the complete lack of any effort to verify anything.

Are Standing Tasting Bars Better than Seated?

SVB on Wine

http://svbwine.blogspot.com/2014/03/are-standing-tasting-bars-better-than.html#more

I’m kind of surprised that according to the Silicon Valley Bank survey, tasting rooms where the server is seated do better than those where they stand. I guess I’m even more surprised that anyone would ask the question.

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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