dogged bloggers

Friday, January 13, 2012

Anyone who reads the wine blogs regularly must agree – there are certain topics that get worked to death over and over, apparently with no end in sight. Unlike my dog Cookie, who eventually reaches the end of her chewstick and has to replace it with something new (and who knew that cow’s noses and pig’s ears could be so tasty?) – unlike the average pup, bloggers never tire of chewing on the same old topics. Forever...

Here’s the A list: Parker bashing. Parker stand-in bashing. 100 point system bashing. Blind tasting rules, dude! Critics suck. China rocks. Hey, have you tried (insert totally obscure wine from middle of nowhere here)?

Once in awhile, something truly unique crosses my blog-dar. Some bizarre food and wine matchup from Dr. Vino. A note from across the pond about a beer made especially for dogs. Something about penis wine from China. But by and large, it’s all pretty predictable.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that I don’t have it in me to do the STEVE! thing and post relentlessly every day. Been there, done that. I’m shooting for three a week, but if I’m traveling, may miss that target also. I hope you’ll find what is posted worth a moment or to of your time.

Today’s rant – wine judgings. They proliferate relentlessly. They cost the wineries a lot of money. They pile on more and more wines, claiming to be inclusive, when really they are just grubbing for dollars. You don’t see Leonetti, Cayuse, Quilceda Creek, Harlan, Ken Wright, etc. etc. entering these slug-fests. Because they don’t have to! So I don’t care how many wines you have entered, you are missing the really good ones. Your competition sets the bar really low.

Then there is the proliferation of categories and medals. Jeez, how many hundred medals do you need to award? Well, as many as possible. Otherwise, they won’t be back next year, right?

Don’t get me started on the inadequacies of stemware; the time constraints; the bogonic categories (I’ll take fruit wines harvested in January for $12, Bob!); the politicking and bullying that goes on within the tasting panels. Let’s go right to the final act, the announcement, with great fanfare, of the ultimate winners.

A recently-concluded, massive judging, awarded 80 best of class medals in dozens of categories, but ultimately came up with these Sweepstakes winners:

: Gloria Ferrer 2006 Blanc de Blancs Carneros ($28)
Dr. Konstantin Frank 2010 Finger Lakes Reserve Gewurztraminer ($25)
Barnard Griffin 2011 Columbia Valley Rosé of Sangiovese ($12)
: McGrail Vineyards 2008 Livermore Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($36)
Castello di Amorosa 2010 Anderson Valley Late Harvest Gewurztraminer ($35)

Just these five wines were given best of the best honors, out of 5500 entries. Good wines all of them, I am sure (I haven’t tasted the Frank , the McGrail, or the Amorosa, but the Ferrer and the B-G are very fine for their prices.) But SWEEPSTAKES WINNERS? Really?!?!??! This is the top? And two of them are repeaters – Ferrer and B-G. How does that happen? It defies any realistic odds. The top white is a Finger Lakes Gewhatstraminer? C’mon! Who drinks this stuff? OK, it’s a California competition and they managed to find a cabernet for the red. But LIVERMORE VALLEY? What are they smoking? Ever hear of Napa?

‘Scuse me while I hunt down a bottle of that dog beer to go with that cow nose that Cookie is eyeballing.


Anonymous said...


First off all, have you ever offered your dog dried Bull Penis? Our put loves it. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

However, you did for get to add into your list of topics, Defense of the 100 point system, defense of Parker and Defense of Critics...all of which are part of my well that I can go back to over and over...probably because the opposite, that you make note of, continue to pop up.

Tom Wark...

PaulG said...

Tom, you are so right! De-fense, De-fense! Hook 'em Horns!! Give us a P (P). Give us an A (A). Give us an R (R). Give us a K (K). Give us an E (E). Give us an arrrrgghh....

I will have to look more closely at the animal body parts section of my local pet shop. Somehow I missed the dried penis display. But thanks for the (dare I say it?) TIP!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Paul,

As further proof that wine competitions are on the bogus side, I was a judge at the competition you note above. But any consumer who believes that the great wines in the world need to enter beauty pageants judged by blind people is seriously delusional and uninformed. Does anyone think that Quilceda Creek got beat out by a cab from Livermore? Please. It's a silly argument. But those are five damn nice wines from several wineries who could use the attention, which the prestige of this competition provides. They are the best wines of the competition, not of the world. No one claims otherwise.

As to the repeaters, well, in a judging of Roses in January, just how many entries do you think there are? Most Roses are either sold out or utterly tasteless. So the Barnard Griffin stood out--just like it did last year. And it wins a Sweepstakes because it was only up against the winning Blush wine. So it's a coin toss, and judges won't vote for a sweet wine. At least this is a competition that puts Rose on a level playing field with reds and whites.

Wine competitions are marketing tools, and they exist because, just like scores in magazines, they are a guide consumers use to purchase wines. Beats me why. On both counts. We judges lend our palates because we love wine and because it's incredibly fun to hang around a bunch of serious wine folks for a week in January. We don't get paid, as you know, but, as you point out, with results like that, why should we?

I also plead guilty, and have been accused of, beating the dead horses known as Parker and the 100 point scale. But, honestly, Paul, there aren't any NEW subjects to talk about in wine. It's all been said before, and usually two hundred years ago. My approach is to say it in an interesting, hopefully unique, way. And to be a bit more fearless. It's not the subject matter that makes blogs boring, it's the dearth of talent.

And I'm hoping you used the word "dogged" as an hommage to my Poodle analogy.

Dave Larsen said...

Paul, Thanks for always telling it like it is. I'm sure your readers feel like they are getting the inside scoop from someone in the know.

Post a Comment

Your comment is awaiting moderation and will be posted ASAP. Thanks!