Continuing the significant changes unfolding at the Wine Advocate over the past six months, the publication has announced new terms and rates for trade subscribers. Previously, subscriptions were line-priced at $99 a year. Going forward, trade subscriptions will be $199. What do they get for the extra fee? Employees can use the same login. And trade accounts get to reproduce the WA’s scores and tasting notes as shelf talkers.
This is a bizarre choice for at least three reasons: it’s hard to enforce, any enforcement would breed ill-will among the trade, and it significantly reduces free marketing for the publication in the form of shelf talkers. Retailers who use scores are not loyal to publications; rather, they are mostly loyal to high scores and will use whichever is highest and free of legal entanglements/copyright issues.
Further, the new T&C insist on the shelf talkers use RPWA–Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate–for the publication as well as identify the critic by initials and use the publication’s logo.
I guess the new owners are making a calculated risk that by doubling the price, fewer than half the trade subscribers will bolt and they will still come out ahead on revenues. To me, it’s hard to see how these changes will expand the audience for “The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Fine Wine.” If you’re in the trade, what do you think of the new rates and terms?
The post The Wine Advocate introduces new terms for the trade appeared first on Dr Vino's wine blog.
Just catching up with this story…last fall, Rogue Ales in Oregon announced they had sourced a new yeast strain from an unusual place–the brewmaster’s beard!
Given the huge correlation between the hirsute and the hipsters, beard yeast could be the yeast El Dorado for “natural” wines. I guess the only question would be if it had to be labeled as such?
Another symbol of France–wine–is being threatened with a 1,000% tax increase. Will riots break out across the country?
Who is the man with a set of grapes big enough to dare provoke the ire of the French winegrowers and wine consumers? It’s Yves Daudigny, a socialist senator from Aisne (“The Fightin’ Aisne”) in Picardie. I bet they don’t even make wine in Picardie! Wait, what’s that, Jimmy? Champagne is partially in Aisne, Senator Daudigny’s district? Okay, scratch that.
The Senator is clearly a tough nut to crack. Last year he proposed a 300% tax on palm oil in what was dubbed the “Nutella tax.” Mmm, taxes so high you can spread them on your bread in the morning.
Now he’s unleashing his tax machine on the wine industry, proposing to raise the tax from three euro cents to €0.30-€0.60 a bottle! This would bring it inline with beer and spirits. But we all know that beer and spirits deserve that tax. Was there ever a black and white photograph of a child toting a six-pack and a bottle of Johnny Walker under his arm? Non, monsieur!
Senator Daudigny, taxing wine in France is like taxing being French! It’s un-French to even consider it! Moreover, why would you want people to drink less wine? The wine industry is struggling because French people are not drinking enough of the stuff. If you really want a radical reform, try uncorking a take-your-wine-to-work day. Or Hug a Vigneron day. Or how about a subsidy for French wine? It’s already so expensive that people in Hong Kong are bidding bottles to stratospheric levels! Or subsidize hipster wines from the Jura or the Loire to jumpstart exports to Williamsburg and San Francisco.
Don’t make the winegrowers stage protests outside your office with pitchforks and corkscrews!
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Robert Parker included some tasting notes on Bourbon in the most recent Wine Advocate. Over at the blog Scotch & Ice Cream, the author didn’t take too kindly to the fact that Parker put “his loafer-clad foot in our turf and has deigned to tell the masses what bourbon everyone should be drinking.”
I’ll leave you to discover the gems of the post yourself. But here’s one: “Apparently the wine world regards scarcity as a measure of quality.” Okay, and a spoiler: “The know-it-all wine critic has decided he is the arbiter of taste and quality on the American whisky scene while seemingly managing to not do even the most basic bit of research and self-education on the subject.”
FWIW: Scotch & Ice Cream thinks the Pappy Van Winkle 20 beats the snot out of the Pappy 23.
Rupert Murdoch, vintner? It’s true. Unlike fellow billionaire Warren Buffett who has invested on the less glamorous (but more profitable?) distribution side of the wine biz, the media magnate is going for the glitz–near Hollywood, no less. He’s buying what may well be the only winery in LA, the 16-acre Moraga Estate in Bel Air that was listed for $29.5 million. Murdoch broke the story on Twitter of all places; now the story has been picked up real estate blogs, which have abundant photos. The seller is Tom Jones, former CEO of Northrop Grumman.
I wonder if the wine will now have a certain, er, foxiness to it? If he were to rename it, what would it be called?
I was in Flatiron Wines last week and the staffer offered to sell me two bottles of Verset they were brokering from a collector. Verset? But didn’t he die a while ago? “Not Noël. They’re from his nephew Ira,” he joked.
He didn’t know that much about the producer (whose name is actually Alain but really is Noël’s nephew) and neither did I. Nonetheless, I bought the 2005 and said a quick prayer to Bacchus that it would actually be worth $49.95. Seemed like a reasonable bet given the quality of the appellation, the family name, and the store where I was buying it.
When I got home, I turned to The Wines of the Northern Rhone by John Livingstone-Learmonth. He writes that Alain has about one hectare (2.5 acres) of vines sprinkled over some to sites in Cornas–Reynards, Mazards, and Les Côtes, which is not enough to support his family of five children. Thus he works at a factory making garbage cans. Livingston-Learmonth writes that Alain Verset’s vinification is traditional–”whole bunches fermented for 10 – 15 days in concrete vats under the family home, and some pumping-overs.” Only indigenous yeasts power the fermentation and the wine is aged for up to two years in four- and five-year-old casks. Production is on the order of 900 bottles a year.
Curious and impatient, we uncorked the 2005 over the weekend. It was, indeed, a traditional Cornas, with little in the way of fruit notes, just stony minerals and a stiff backbone of tannin. Over a couple of hours it opened up but on the next day it had softened further. Savory and delicious syrah, the bottle was well worth the tariff. As M. Verset approaches retirement age from his factory job, perhaps he will make a few more bottles a year.
From North Carolina to Connecticut, billions of creatures with eyes the color of blood and bodies the color of coal are crawling out of the earth. Periodical cicadas are emerging en masse, clambering into trees and singing a shivering chorus that can be heard for miles.
What makes this emergence truly remarkable, however, is how long it’s been in the making. This month’s army of periodical cicadas was born in 1996. Their mothers laid their eggs in the branches of trees, where they developed for a few weeks before hatching and heading for the ground. “They just jumped out and rained down out of the trees,” said Chris Simon, a cicada biologist at the University of Connecticut.
Those Clinton-era larvae then squirmed into the dirt and spent the next 17 years sucking fluid from tree roots. NYT
Welcome back! I’m sure after 17 years of sucking fluid from tree roots–as sweet as that is–you’re probably read for something a little stiffer, like a good glass of wine.
A lot has changed in the wine world since you were born in 1996 and then stumbled into your Rumpelstiltskin impression. Let’s start with that Bordeaux that your parents bought you back in the summer of ’96. While Bordeaux on the shelves was still reasonably priced at that time, that was about the start of a big price escalation in Bordeaux. While that’s good for people who bought the wine and held (maybe that’s what you did during your stupor), it has also priced Bordeaux out of a lot of restaurants and relevancy and into the world of investors and luxury products.
Since 1996, a world of wine has opened up. First it was indigenous grapes in old world countries, rediscovering things like Aglianico in Italy and Albarino from Spain, just to stay with the top of the alphabet. The wine hipsters (look form them as you descend on Brooklyn) had a fling with orange wine but then one prominent somm said he preferred Tecate to these wines, so don’t waste your precious time this month on that. But the key point is that the diversity of wines today is tremendous, much more than 1996, from more countries and grape varieties. You’re probably interested in value wines since compounded interest from 1996 has been pretty poor and you don’t have a lot of purchasing power. So stay within the $12 -$20/bottle range for the sweet spot, particularly for imports.
Here in the US, all 50 states now have at least one winery! And those big, oaky chardonnays that you may remember from 1996 have fallen out of favor. Now, some domestic chardonnay producers invoke acidity, minerality and Chablis as key reference points. And Chardonnay is far from the only game in town. As you flap around the best shops and restaurants, you’ll see domestic Trousseau Gris, Semillon, and vermentino just to name a few whites. And Riesling! If you descend on the Finger Lakes area upstate, do try the local Rieslings.
Wine in America is also a heartwarming story, not just from the production side. We’re also drinking so much of the stuff–a steady annual increase since even before you were here last–that we’re now the largest wine-consuming country in the world. Break out the #1 foam fingers! (Do you guys do that? It would probably get in the way of rubbing your back legs together.)
You or your parents probably bought all their wines on critics’ scores back in 1996. That’s okay: Everybody was doing it. But it was toward the end of an era. Now people buy wines more from recommendations of friends or from web sites. Oh yeah, since 1996, this thing called the Internet has really taken off. Wine consumers of all stripes use it to find info about wines and also to fritter away precious hours talking about wines and posting pictures of wine bottles they are currently drinking. Sounds goofy but it is fun–you should get a Twitter handle and join in.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that some of the biggest distributors still try to prevent wine consumers from buying wine from other states. Fortunately the Supreme Court stepped in mid-slumber for you and opened up shipping for wineries. But for shops, the market remains frustratingly closed–crazy when you think of all the stuff you can buy on the Internet.
Anyhoo, you’ve probably got enough to chew on and suck down for this month. Good luck with the mating and remember that if your partner says he or she likes bug eyes, it’s probably the Moscato talking.
See you in 2030! Hopefully America won’t be in financial ruin, wine writing will still be a profession, and Americans will still be drinking wine, hopefully with a higher per capita consumption rate than Equatorial Guinea.
Finger Lakes wines, particularly Rieslings, have gotten a lot of recent attention. So I thought I would check in with them for a piece currently on wine-searcher.com.
One wine that came up repeatedly was the Ravines Dry Riesling (as well as their Argentsinger Vineyard one). I picked up two bottles of the 2012 for $14.99 each and poured them for discerning audiences. First, my wife, who is not generally a huge Riesling fan but she gave this one a thumbs up. I rated it a leading patio pounder for Summer of Riesling 2013. Then I opened the second bottle for my NYU class and poured it blind. Before revealing what it was, I asked them how many of them liked it. All hands went up. When the bag came off the bottle, they were all surprised and doubly impressed.
It seems to be a common reaction with the best Finger Lakes wines, as Thomas Pastuszak from NoMad shares in the piece.
Which are your favorite Finger Lakes wines? Do you think the region is overrated or underrated?
When I was in Chicago a few months ago, I met up with Alpana Singh at her new restaurant, The Boarding House. Alpna has reinvented herself, stepping down as host of “Check, please!” and from a corporate job at Lettuce Entertain You to open her own restaurant. Stretched vertically over three public floors, the main floor bar area at The Boarding House serves wine and pizzas made to pair with wines under the arttistic installation of 9,000+ wineglasses (only takes about 36 person hours to clean!). Although I didn’t eat there, I checked the availability of a table for two in the vaulted dining room: they were booking 10 weeks out. I think that officially makes it a hot spot.
She told me about how she got into wine, what she’s doing to resolve the dearth of sommelier jobs, wither Chicago wine is restaurant-driven or shop-driven, and which wines make people say “wow.” Oh, and which is the greatest country in the world to be in as a wine consumer. Check out my interview with her over on wine-searcher.com.
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