Baboons, biting hands, Bordeaux disarray, sommeliers – sipped and spit

SIPPED: headline writing
“Baboons give Chardonnay a thumbs up,” was a recent headline on Nice. How many baboon thumbs up could catch on as a new, powerful wine evaluation method. (See our previous baboon coverage.)

SIPPED: market disarray
“Bordeaux” and “discount” rarely appear in the same sentence. But with Diageo’s retreat from the Bordeaux marketplace, possibly over $100 million worth of wines are looking for a home, including the unloved 2007s. One buyer predicts a “bloodbath” (again); Bloomberg cites “a consensus” among retailers that the deals will last about six to eight months. Will this signal the end of the American market leading the way for Bordeaux?

SPIT: the old way (wine sales)
Another Bloomberg story focuses on the travails of the high-end wine market. One producer in Monterey, Chris Cutler, dropped his distributor and started selling directly, lightweighted his bottles, and lowered the price of his pinot noir from $49 to $35. His reaction? “It was the best decision I made.”

SPIT: Varietal labeling; SIPPED: the old way (winegrowing)
The process of growing different varieties in a vineyard, harvesting the grapes that ripen at the same time, and co-fermenting them is coming back. Check out this piece in the LA Times.

SPIT: oak; BITTEN: the hand that feeds
Seven bloggers went on a sponsored trip to Piedmont to taste some wines made from the barbera grape. They were served oaky “important” wines and juicy, entry-level ones. Their criticism of the first category was so loud that it made paper (local and national)! Tom Maresca, also at the Barbera meeting, has the tale.

SIPPED: social media satire
Blogger Hardy Wallace has a send-up of wineries’ latest obsession, using Twitter and Facebook to hype useless wines. His fictional case in point: Crazy Bear charbono-nay. [Dirty South]

SPIT: the old way (jobs)
Someone has fired up the robo-dialogue video machine again! This time we have an NYC sommelier who wants to quit and move to Walla Walla to start a winery. Check for the definition of winemaking… (via candidwines)

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13 Responses to “Baboons, biting hands, Bordeaux disarray, sommeliers – sipped and spit”

  1. The Barbera story is a GREAT example of why bloggers are, and will continue to be, relevant. It is sad to me to think that such a large group of producers missed the interpretation of the ‘market’s desires’ so drastically. But bloggers are frequently ‘the consumer’ more than the regular media, and I hope that their rejection of this overoaked juice is a nudge to these winemakers that will ultimately give us all a better product.

  2. Well – those of us who are fans of all things monkey-related do enjoy the comprehensive baboon coverage! 🙂

  3. I thought it was cougars that went for the chard…?

    Seriously though, field blends aren’t just for Zin. We’re making a Monastrell-Mazuelo-Graciano blend called Parcel 17 that is field blended by design. It’s one of the more interesting and complex wines we produce.

  4. Would Chris Cutter have still sold more if he had KEPT the same distributor and still cut the price and lightened the bottles?
    Selling directly is very pure and clean, but it is not always easy. Many vignerons do not have the time or inclination to press the flesh and always be a smiling happy ambassador for their wines! Being an ace winemaker, fastidious and caring guardian of the earth and vines and human dynamo (and proficient accountant) isa rare commodity!

  5. The Diageo dump came on the US market in fall ’09. Distributors started shopping the list to retailers at least as early as September. A segment went to cruise lines earlier (cruisers can get some unusually good deals at the higher end).
    This Diageo stock was already in the US. A lot of great wines, cellared for us by Diageo.
    The result: export/import figures may be askew. China bought more from Bordeaux than the US in 2009 (though at half the euro price – must have been bulk on those boats, too.)
    Meanwhile, there now seems to be a distribution gap with Diageo, the largest Bordeaux negociant, out of the picture (at least temporarily-said they weren’t out of the market and would be looking at ’09).
    Axa (the insurance company) through its Companie Medocaine des Grand Cru and Joanne Bordeaux are setting up US import. Diva may be a contender. Millesima, with a retail story on NYC East Side, is looking at more retail stores. One trend is for the chateau, often also a negociant, to set up its own import company. Bon courage.
    My take: Nervous chateau owners. To whom do they sell en primeur ’09? (I’ll be writing on
    My other take: Why do accountants (who else would have created such a fine wine fire sale) have such an impact on wine?

  6. the gal in the video, she sound just like the one in these video

  7. $5,000?!!! Now THERE’S a comp for you if you are looking to sell your winery.

  8. I think the Crazy Bear is gonna rawk the world! Seriously, Hardy’s point on the chardbono-nay is using the new marketing tools are useless (or should be) if you making crappy juice. Why aren’t wineries increasing the quality instead of increasing the hype? The bigger problem is that those “listening on the wire” don’t know the difference.

  9. Thanks for the mention Tyler!

  10. hmmm . . .
    the charbon-nay is a crazy idea- but if the wine sucks, its still won’t sell!!! transparency is the key- please tell the customers what you are doing- perhaps if you tell them, someone will buy it anyway.
    Field blends are kicking my ass- the best things i’ve tasted lately are the coturri alberello and the zahel and christ gemischter satz.

  11. oh my god, that is so funny. the NYC sommelier and his winery idea.

    “Do you know what wine making is all about? Yes 49 % moving heavy shit around and 2 % drinking beer..”

    I really had to laugh.

  12. […] subscribe to the latest posts by RSS, or daily email. Thanks for visiting!Last week we heard about baboons who give Chardonnay a thumbs up. This week we learn that cougars like […]

  13. Heavy Oak Tests Italian Wine Journalists…

    I read on Dr. Vino’s Wine Blog about a meeting of Italian sommeliers, wine journalists, and wine bloggers who were given blind tastings of a variety of fine Barberas.  It doesn’t seem like too much of a surprise that the……


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