Posts Tagged ‘Review’

As he often does, wine scribe Joe Roberts wrote something relevant the other day. He explained that for those considering how they might make a name for themselves, for their writing and for their wine knowledge through publishing, this person should strongly consider SPECIALIZING.

By this, Joe simply means it’s much easier to get the attention of potential readers if your authority and wine writing revolves around a specific subject within the wine niche, rather than trying to publish information that broadly falls under the larger subject heading of “Wine”. In other words, the writer looking to gain an audience for his wine thoughts and ideas is more likely to achieve a larger audience by writing regularly and authoritatively on “Zinfandel”, than just on “wine”.

I’ve heard this advice before. I’ve been in seminars where this advice is given. I’ve given this advice myself. But what you rarely hear is advice on exactly what niche wine subject is ripe for owning by a smart, new writer dreaming of success as an author or blogger. What you don’t hear is someone pointing out a subject area that has largely been ignored, but that is also ripe for extensive examination and exploration because it’s a fairly large niche. Identifying that kind of subject matter would be a gift to the wine loving writer that wants to make their mark.

This is what I’m going to do right now.
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Ways to prevent this ...

Ways to prevent this …

 

In the world of wine, air is the enemy. Or more specifically, oxygen is the enemy.

Let me step back a second. Air serves a very important purpose when you’re drinking wine. Most importantly, it “opens up” a wine and helps to bring out its character. When you slosh wine from a bottle into a glass, a lot of air gets mixed in. This causes those aromatic compounds to fill the glass and makes the experience of drinking a good wine all that much better. There are decanters and aerating gadgets to speed up this process, too, if swirling’s not your thing.

But once air gets to the wine, the cat is out of the bag. While it will taste fantastic for a few hours, it will then slowly lose its fruitiness, its aroma, its body, and just about everything else. Eventually the wine will oxidize due to exposure to O2 in the air, which starts a chain reaction in the wine, forming hydrogen peroxide, then acetaldehyde, neither of which you want to be drinking a lot of. Once a wine is uncorked (or once the cork starts to fail), this process begins in earnest.

So what do you do if you want to drink a single glass of wine but not throw away the other four-fifths of the bottle? You turn to a wine preservation system. There are three main tactics to arrest oxidation, and gadgetry is available for each. They are:

1. Suck the air—including the oxygen—out of the bottle, leaving a vacuum.
2. Replace the bad air with good air; some inert gas that won’t interact with wine.
3. Form a physical barrier between the wine and the air. (You can also do this by pouring the remainder of a larger bottle of wine into a half-bottle and resealing it such that no air is left between the wine and the cork.)

Which one works best? I’ve been writing about wine for more than a decade and have tried all three of the above strategies many times over. I have developed opinions about each method, but until now I’d never done any formal, controlled testing between multiple devices. For this report, I used my informal test results as a guideline but am largely relying on this fresh, formal analysis.
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Bag-in-Box dispenser; chillers; aerator
 
Publications and other media are bombarded with unsolicited product samples from suppliers seeking publicity. As the North American wine business has surged, so has the flood of innovative “accessories” intended to enhance the drinking experience and enrich their inventors/promoters.

While some of these gizmos look like foolish or overpriced trinkets, others at least appear to have practical application. Wines & Vines editors evaluated a few recent entrants last week.

Most striking is the Boxxle: A sleek countertop container that dispenses bag-in-box wines while dispensing with the actual box. Designed and produced by Tripp Middleton, a former banker in North Carolina, the Boxxle would be especially useful for on-premise, by-the-glass sales.

First described in our October 2011 print edition, the Boxxle “came out in spurts,” according to Middleton. Seeking perfection for his vision, the fledgling inventor took time to refine and retool the Boxxle, which is manufactured in China.

“We really just started pushing in the last month,” he said. Already more than 200 of the devices have been sold through Boxxle website, Amazon.com and deals with Wine Enthusiast and Preferred Living.

Middleton is negotiating with distributors in Tennessee and on the West Coast, and, he said, has heard “a lot of interest from wineries themselves, plus wine and spirits distributors to the restaurant and bar industry.” His sales goal for this year is 10,000 units, a figure he considers doable.

Boxxle has a non-skid base and stainless steel/black exterior. Unlike conventional 3L bag-in-box packages where the spout at the bottom demands placement at the edge of a shelf, Boxxle dispenses the wine from the top: Even a tall glass fits under the spigot for a clean and easy pour.

Middleton believes the growing demand for on-premise by-the-glass service will fuel his sales. Any 3-liter BiB package can easily fit inside, where a spring-loaded dispensing devise pushes the remaining wine up and out. This helps ensure an oxygen-free environment that preserves wine for a month or longer and allows every last drop to be poured out as the package is depleted.

Middleton hopes that wine producers or distributors will begin to provide the Boxxle as a premium or an add-on to top on-premise clients. He said he can provide custom, peel-off, self-stick labels to identify the wine brand and varietal in commercial settings. He also hopes to tap winery tasting rooms, although it’s the rare winery that serves tasting room pours from BiB packages.
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The critic.

The critic.

 

Influential critics have long played an important role in our discovery of many of life’s pleasures but are noticeably absent from others. Ardent fans of the movies, theater, literature and other areas of interest often look to familiar and trusted critics for guidance in unearthing new products and adventures as they emerge.

We tend to identify with a critic’s personal preferences and subjective direction on a range of important topics and use these “critiques” as suggestions, rather than point-driven rules, in steering the way to what might be appealing to us.

So why has the wine critic’s role taken on such a different and more rigid path in the appreciation, marketing and consequent production of wine by “awarding” completely objective scores behind a subjective facade?

A critic should be a reliable source of information for those interested, by conveying seasoned personal opinions through a review. But when a point score (without published derivation or computation) is attached, the review assumes the appearance of objectivity but remains couched in the more familiar subjective style.

Certainly there are expert reviewers and writers voicing their experienced personal opinions on what’s new in the market, but have you ever seen a dress with a 96-point rating or a perfume bearing an 85-point score? I doubt it. Yet the opinion makers in these industries do get their fair share of media time and space with detailed descriptions and observations that followers can accept or reject within their own frame of reference.

I guess this all leads to the basic question: “Is the critic’s role one of opinion or judgment?” And it’s often this question, phrased in different ways, that becomes the subject of many discussions I’ve had with others in and out of the wine industry.

 

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Robert Parker.

Robert Parker.

US wine critic Robert Parker has slammed the idea that wines have been made specifically to suit his palate, defending his tastes as “complicated and varied.”

According to AFP, during a rare interview with French magazine Terre de Vins published this week, Parker refused to accept the idea of the “Parkerisation” of wines and the emergence of a richer, riper style made to please the critic’s palate.

“My taste is more complicated and varied to be defined in such a black and white way.

“I love a number of styles of wine: the finesse and elegance of Pape-Clément to the rich unctuousness of Pétrus and Trotanoy,” Parker told the magazine.

While rejecting the concept of “Parkerisation,” Parker believes people will still be referencing the term in 30 year’s time: “There’s nothing I can do about it,” he said.

The Maryland-based critic did however concede that his wife acknowledges the existence of the Parker style.
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The 2012 Vintage report...

The 2012 Vintage report…

 

Although it is still too early for a clear consensus to emerge among the Champenois, a good number are getting so excited after the recent assemblage of the 2012 vintage that it is even being compared to those of 1959, 1969 and 1990.

 

Damien Le Sueur, director of production for Taittinger, has led the praise, declaring that “what seems clear about 2012 is that it meets all the requirements to be a great vintage”.

 

Le Sueur told Harpers that his own team’s sense of anticipation dated back to the harvest. “At the end of September, we really had great expectations. In tasting after tasting, we discovered that the ‘vins clairs’ were beautiful.

 

“The harvesting conditions were excellent with perfect weather with freshness in the morning, very healthy grapes and a yield far lower than usual. We have enjoyed working on the assemblage of each of our
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biggest-stories-2012-graphic-b_10844374

 

 

1. A picture-perfect year.

In Napa Valley, 2012 was a perfect year for growing wine grapes: Mild temperatures with no heat spikes, no rain during critical times including at harvest time, few bugs, fungus or other pests. With high quality and quantity, it’s a perfect year for growers and wineries and should lead to excellent wines and good prices for consumers.

2. The shortage that didn’t occur.

Observers predicted a shortage of grapes this year due to lack of planting in recent years, but growers left a few extra buds on the vines and dropped fewer clusters than usual, leading to a bounteous harvest. There’s no indication that the slightly greater yields harmed quality, either, though only time will tell.

3. Buying wine gets easier, albeit slowly.

It’s slowly getting easier to buy wine by mail as states reduce restrictions, and more and more states are killing blue laws and other rules that date to Prohibition. Direct sales to consumers from wineries reached $1.4 billion according to Wines & Vines, a leading trade magazine. This is especially important to Napa’s boutique wineries, that have trouble getting adequate distribution through traditional wholesalers – and make far more money from selling direct.
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Robert Parker, the wine advocate.

Robert Parker, the wine advocate.

 

The world’s most influential wine reviewer relinquishes responsibilities to Asian-based team.

Robert Parker is handing over the reins of his publication The Wine Advocate to its Asia-Pacific correspondent, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW.

The world’s most powerful wine critic announced the major shake-up on his website eRobertParker.com on December 9. He will step down from his role as editor-in-chief but will continue to play a part in the revised team, he told subscribers, “bringing you the world’s best coverage of great wines, no matter what their price.”

The company’s headquarters will remain in Parker’s native Maryland in the United States but a new office will open in Singapore, where Perrotti-Brown and three new investors in their 30s and early 40s are based. The location of the new office also indicates that The Wine Advocate intends to target the burgeoning Asian markets, as well as its traditional stronghold in the U.S.
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