More Americans are drinking wine today than ever before. However, increasingly confident and interested wine consumers are thirsty not just for wine, but for reliable information about the wines they consume. Sadly, winery (and importer and trade association) websites don’t always provide the information we now crave. Forget social media and “web 2.0″–too many wineries haven’t even mastered web 0.9 yet.
Consider the recent discussion about Corbieres that emerged following my post about a wine from the region last week. Readers debated the percentage limits for the grape Carignan in the wine. Since this is a statute of the AOC regulations, you’d think it would be on the AOC/syndicat web site. But it’s not.
Or consider the six wines I was putting together my NYU wine class for last night. I was looking for some basic information about the wine I was serving, the vineyards, the cellar masters, and a photo for the slide show. Here’s what I found:
Philippe Foreau – Domaine du Clos Naudin, Vouvray, brut NV: A chenin sparkler form one of my producers; the wine was surprisingly shut down though and the class wasn’t wowed by it. The winery doesn’t appear to even have a web site; the importer’s undated web page provides only rudimentary facts about the estate. No photos, no further links.
Hermann J. Wiemer, dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, 2008: the class almost unanimously liked the wine from our own Empire State; the winery website provided the basic useful info I was looking for, including photos, history, and tech specs and the wine.
Clemens Busch, “Vom Roten Schiefer,” Mosel, 2008: great wine, richer than the Wiemer but, surprisingly, not as popular in the class. The winery website is a little spare, the “English” button doesn’t work and the’re no information on the “Vom Roten Schiefer” wine. Also, the one photo of the site, I’d be willing to bet doesn’t do the place justice. However, the importer’s site has lots of useful info about his wine.
Roagna, dolcetto d’alba, 2008: an amazing wine for $16 with lovely, intriguing bitterness on the aroma and tannins much more manageable than in my experience with dolcetto. The class really liked it; one person said she wanted to have it for Thanksgiving. gorgeous site with images, tons of information about all their wines, including the one we had last night. Very helpful!
Lucien Crochet, “La Croix du Roy” Sancerre rouge, 2006: quite a lovely wine that, for $26, gives a lot of comparably priced pinots a run for the money. The web site is spare and there’s no elaboration of how this wine is different from the others. Also, only the 2005 gets any discussion. The importer’s site doesn’t offer much more to go on.
Napanook, Napa, 2007: the site is due for an update to the interface but lots of helpful information about this wine is on the site, including harvest dates, percentage of new barrels and blend composition. The wine itself is a gorgeous example of Napa cabernet with complex aromas and a good core of mineral and acidity; for $48 (or less online) it is money very well spent for a wine from this zip code. The class went gaga over it.
Anyway, it’s great to make excellent wines. But I think a lot of us consumers would raise glass to web sites that met some minimum standard of information and presentation for the 21st century. The investment is minimal on the part of wineries and importers and the return would be happier, more informed consumers.