Bordeaux producer launches "New World-inspired" wines


(Jason Brandt Lewis) #1

From the drinks business: A Bordeaux producer is breaking from tradition and simplifying French wine with the launch of a range inspired by the New World, whose wines he says are continuing to grab market share from old world producers.


#2

Hmm. It appears that the “inspiration” is in marketing and labels. I couldn’t tell whether he’s making new-worldish wines, with their higher alcohol and heavier textures.


(John) #3

I really hoped for an article about celebrating the grape and the process but it was more a stance on marketing. My winseller carries many unconventional small maker French wines that buck tradition but the focus of the story is generally on celebrating a grape, a location or a process. I have a general policy of distrust for wines with frenetic animals on the label and a cute story on the back. They are hitting a very accessible pricepoint though if its tasy it should sell. I do get that traditional Bordeaux can be confusing but so can sorting through all the modern cute labels.


(Jason Brandt Lewis) #4

How so?


(John) #5

because if you are selling a wine to a novice buyer as most are, including myself the large selection and scant information can challenging . For Bordeaux and the labels are often a name and a picture of a Chateau - no fun little story nothing “memorable” or cute to distinguish bottle from bottle - there is a required knowledge - if you don’t have it yourself like me you can rely on helpful staff to guide you to the right bottle at the right price. If I go to my preferred large wineseller’s website search for bordeaux blends, France, 2014, there are 130 options from 12 appellations ranging from a $2500 Chateau Margeaux 94-97 Points to a $15 bottle of Chateau Cantermerle 93-94 points and a whole sea of Bordeax to choose from in between.

My point was however that all of the “modern” cute labels with stories and adorable graphics do not actually help you know what is in the bottle any better they just make you think you know something. The consumer has the illusion of feeling informed. I usually prefer to rely on advice form knowledgeable staff and my taste buds. This is among the reasons why I do not prefer to buy wine at the PA state stores.

The whole article was about marketing wine differently not actually making it differently basically slapping a cutesy label on a cheap bottle of wine to help it stand out at the store and be memorable


(Jason Brandt Lewis) #6

Hmmm . . . I find far more information on that bottle of Bordeaux with a picture of the château than I do on the typical New World label, but . . . .


#7

Well YOU do, but the average American wine shopper has only a cursory knowledge of wine, largely based on grape variety. Few French wines provide that specificity on the label, so my thought is that they have very little by which to orient themselves to a French bottle.

I’ve been around a bit, but mostly with new world wine, so I could probably make a couple of decent guesses if I came upon a bottle of Dry Creek wine with no variety shown. I AM, though, interested in whether the difference is that (with French wine) people don’t need the comfort of variety specificity but trust in the terroir and familiarity with producers. Has the apparent lessening of some restrictions on what grapes can be used in some regions changed anything re French wine? Has that made a difference, or is it not impacting the ‘better’, more traditional, wine areas?


(Jason Brandt Lewis) #8

Yes, of course, but it is only because they (“the average American wine shopper”) are familiar with varietal labeling. To the average Western European, however, varietal labeling is an anomaly – not the norm.

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But wouldn’t/shouldn’t you be able to do that with not just a bottle of wine from Dry Creek Vineyard, but from any producer?

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Here are three “labels” from the “2018” vintage:

  1. Dry Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, California, USA; 13.8% alcohol by volume.

  2. Dry Creek Vineyard “The Mariner,” Dry Creek Valley AVA, California, USA; 13.8% alcohol by volume.

  3. Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France, 13.8% alcohol by volume.

From that information, I know more about Wine #3 than Wine #1 or #2.

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It isn’t just French people (and French wine). The same holds for Portuguese, Spanish, Italian . . .

Not specifically addressed to you, as you are in the trade, but you know that variety specificity is useless on its own. If I tell you that I had a “Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon” last night, what did I drink? (At last count, I think they make at least six different ones. In contrast, there is only one Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste.)

It’s not really allowed within the top appellations.

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Disengage yourself for a moment from varietal labeling. Again, it has to do with what one grows up with, is familiar with. Had you grown up in Western Europe, you’d be more comfortable with Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, Denominación de Origen, Denominação de Origem Controlada, Denominazione di Origine Controllata and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita – etc., etc., etc. And it wouldn’t matter what grape(s) went into that Bordeaux or Sancerre, that Rioja or Priorat, that Douro or Alentejo, or that Chianti or Bardolino . . .

But had you grown up in, say, New Zealand or Australia, Chile or Argentina, or the US or Canada, you’d be more familiar with varietal labeling. And you’d be more focused on the what (of a grape variety) than where (those grapes were grown) or how (the wine was made).

Six of one, half a dozen of the other . . . .


#9

I don’t see anywhere that we disagree on this. It’s always seemed to me that I’d need either a much better memory or have had to grow up much more around European wine for non-variety labels to come easy to me. When I’m selling a US wine with a house name and no listed variety info I have a similar memory need, though certainly it’s even more necessary in that situation since there’s less to go by.


(Jason Brandt Lewis) #10

I don’t either. (Part of my response is written for others who may be reading this, not necessarily directly to you – if that makes any sense.)

And I don’t deny at all my “advantage” – although I grew up in California, I’ve been tasting and learning about wine since 1963 (when I was 10), and began working in a WINE store (versus a liquor store). The vast majority of wines that were considered “great” in the mid-1960s, and even through most of the 1970s¹, were European wines. As a result, I grew up knowing and understanding both European and Californian/American labels.

I guess I’m ambidextrous that way . . . ;^)


¹ Cabernet Sauvignon was, of course, the first California varietal wine to “dare” to claim greatness – dating back to the 1940s, and even before Prohibition. Chardonnay began to catch on in the mid-1970s, but other varieties didn’t arrive until the 1980s (or even later).