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Tag Archives: Decanter

Decanter gives a shout-out to wine bloggers

image from t1.gstatic.com Decanter magazine's biennial list of the 50 most powerful people in the wine business took a lot of criticism. As one wine type told me after reading the rankings: "Who are these people?" Lewis Perdue, the editor of Wine Industry Insight, wrote that the list "was based not so much on power, clout, or the ability to move markets, but on a snobbish gaze at a small self-indulgent world that is increasingly irrelevant to the vast majority of the globe’s wine drinkers."

It is an odd list. The usual suspects are there — Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson, Gary V. — as well as a host of European and Asian names who matter to Decanter's Bordeaux-centric audience. But there are a lot of names missing. Purdue emphasized the absence of the men who run three of the leading cheap wine companies in the U.S. and sell hundreds of millions of dollars of wine, Fred Franzia of Two Buck Chuck, Bob Trinchero of Sutter Home and David Kent of The Wine Group. Also missing: Eric Asimov of the New York Times and Jon Bonne of the San Francisco Chronicle, who have moved more than few markets in their time.

Yet Decanter somehow found room in all that rarefied air for what it called the "amateur wine blogger" at No. 16. "As social media continues its relentless online spread, everyone is now a critic," the magazine said. Why that is and what it means, after the jump:

Winebits 192: Private labels, wine critics, Decanter awards

What’s in a private label? We’ve had discussion here over the years about the difference between national brands and store brands and private labels. This article, from an Alabama newspaper, is a sound, easy-to-follow explanation of private label and who makes the wine for retailers like Walgreen’s, Wal-Mart, and Costco. And, notes wine columnist Pat Kettles, Dollar General is going to have to find someone to make the wine it wants to sell.

When critics collide: Eric Asimov in the New York Times has the story of two influential critics and their reaction to Chateau Pavie, a hip and with-it red Bordeaux blend that is usually well received. Robert Parker calls the 2010 Pavie brilliant, while John Gilman calls it, believe it not, bad and unpleasant. Which is, of course, one of the great things about wine, that two such reputable critics can completely disagree. The Wine Curmudgeon has actually tasted Pavie, and while it wasn’t the 2010, I can see where Gilman was coming from. Which means I can also see where Parker was coming from.

Love that cheap wine: Decanter, the British wine magazine, has released its annual wine awards. Many of the award winners will be difficult to find in the U.S. or too expensive or both, but one of them is a favorite around here — the French chardonnay, Cave de Lugny, which sells for abut $10 in the U.S. It was not only the least expensive among the top 10 chardonnays, but it shared the list with some high-dollar white Burgundies from Montrachet and Chabilis and an $80 Aussie label.

High alcohol: The controversy continues

What kind of a stir would a food magazine cause if it said it was going to list the ingredients in its recipes? None at all.

But the wine business is not the food business. Only in wine would a controversy ensue when the San Francisco Chronicle and Decanter magazine, two of the leading members of the Winestream Media, announced each would start listing alcohol levels for the wines it reviewed. Said the Chronicle's Jon Bonne: ".. [W]e resisted printing them regularly because the act of bringing alcohol into the discussion of a wine is inherently political."

Which says a lot about how screwed up the wine business is. Bonne is right — unfortunately, reporting alcohol levels in an alcoholic beverage has become political, because much of the wine establishment has made high alcohol its cause. Winemakers have pushed alcohol levels to 15, 16 and even 17 percent, even in white wine, and have been rewarded with glowing reviews from Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator. Those of us who object, like the Wine Curmudgeon, are called philistines and told we don't understand the issue.

Most wine drinkers want to know alcohol levels. As one commenter noted in the Chronicle story, "If I wanted to get sh*tfaced, I could do it for a lot less than $50 a bottle." But that's of little concern to the people who make and write about these wines. They know best, and they're going to tell us what to think. More, after the jump.

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