when everything wrong is right

Monday, May 20, 2013

Luther Ingram probably wasn’t sipping a bottle of Blue Moon Riesling when he sang this country classic:

“If loving you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right;
If being right means being without you...”

But if ever a wine was wrong in all the right ways, it’s this one.

There are actually three different Blue Moon Rieslings, and a passel of other Blue Moon offerings, including Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. All come in blue bottles. The bottles, with their simple, emblematic labels, certainly stand out on a grocery shelf. But that doesn’t make them any less unattractive.

I have not tasted the entire lineup recently, just the Rieslings. But they go against the grain of what is “right” in just about every way. Blue bottles? Check. Ugly labels? Check. Sweet, sweeter and sweetest styles? Check check check.

There is one nod to contemporaneity, which is the use of the Riesling sweetness chart on the back of the bottle. And they feature screwcaps, of which I am increasingly fond. As for the wine inside, well, it’s like a time travel wine. It’s a taste trip back to 1984, when sweet Rieslings ruled the Northwest, and Bridgeview was just getting started.

The thing is, a lot of people love these wines. Bridgeview is in the Top 20 producers in Oregon, listed at 39,000 cases annually. Of that total, more than 30,000 cases are Riesling. Clearly the warhorse wines of the group.

Are they the sort of wines that get high scores? Doubtful. My own tasting notes are brief and simple. So are the wines. As far as I can recall, they truly haven’t changed in decades. If the label is any different, or the bottles any bluer, than they were 20 years ago, I can’t tell. And yet, a whole lot of people would agree with Luther.

Which is why I have to tip my hat to Bridgeview. Their own website acknowledges that they have been called “rebels without a cause” and maybe so. But they have a much rarer commodity – long term success in the wine business. So who’s right and who’s wrong here?

“Blue Moon, you saw me standing alone

Without a dream in my heart

Without a love of my own...”

Blue Moon

1 comment:

Rene Eichmann said...

Thank you for your kind words Paul.
I am amazed how long this "ride" has been going already and there seems no end in site. Our "ugly" blue bottles keep drawing average consumers to our table at recent tastings and their positive response to the wines and purchase tell me we are on the right track.
Btw current production of all combined Riesling's is 20000cs, but still over half of entire production.
Kind regards Rene Eichmann winemaker and Bottler of all those "ugly" blue bottles :)

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