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08-11-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
de charlus
Posts 94
Joined on 06-11-2013

Post #: 61
Post ID: 19910
Reply to: 19909
Wine privacy/piracy
fiogf49gjkf0d
Indeed. Funnily enough, I almost never recommend the Meo-Camuzet Blanc, for the reason that the quantities available are absolutely minute and I don't want it to become "popular", since the 20 cases I tend to buy every year could conceivably evaporate to 1 if it was generally acknowledged to be as good as it is by the wine-buying public. So, you're quite right; stellar bargains should be kept to oneself and one's friends. That said, a couple of years ago I stumbled into a butcher's shop and, whilst buying steak, noticed a few 12-bottle racks full of dusty bottles behind the counter. I asked about them, and was told that the wines were part of an inheritance that an aged neighbor had left him, and that he tried selling them, but knowing nothing about wine, and the same applying to his customers, they'd simply sat there for a few years gathering dust. Well, I went behind the counter, looked at the bottles, and found various 71 Muller-Catoirs, 59 and 82 La Chapelle and J.L. Chave Hermitage, 85 Cornas Clape, 71 JJ Prum Lange Goldcap Auslese and Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Spatlese No. 29, 88 Meursault Perrieres Comte Lafon, 70 and 75 Latour, 69 Clos Ste Hune VT Trimbach, 82 Cos d'Estournel, 85 Palmer etc etc etc. I asked him how much he wanted for them, to be told "$10 each sounds fair, doesn't it?" I just couldn't do it; I offered him a reasonable - but still utter bargain - price for the lot, and walked away from the deal with karma intact and a very happy butcher in my wake.
You're right about the Chablis; IMHO it should be unoaked, pure, mineral, redolent of wet slate and one of few extant examples of the pure varietal character of Chardonnay. Too many producers are trying to make market-friendly Chablis in which new oak all but obscures everything that's wonderful about it. Still, we don't want any more people getting a taste for the real thing, do we? It's hard enough to find decent quantities of it anyway.

de Charlus
08-11-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,367
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 62
Post ID: 19911
Reply to: 19910
Sleeping Dogs on Guard
fiogf49gjkf0d
Since we're among friends here, I often use Parker's (and the few influential others') reviews to my own advantage, tasting and buying "counter" to his/their taste (and "his/their" pricing), so let's leave well enough alone on that front, too.  Let the "Public" have their heroes.

de Charlus, I'll bet when you dusted off those labels in that butcher's shop you broke into a sweat!

Best regards,
Paul S
08-11-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
de charlus
Posts 94
Joined on 06-11-2013

Post #: 63
Post ID: 19912
Reply to: 19911
Poker faces..
fiogf49gjkf0d
Sweat I did, but put on my very best poker face which, funnily enough, I find much easier to maintain whilst playing poker than I did when confronted by this array of spectacular wines. It wasn't the monetary value either; one simply cannot get most of that stuff at any price - the obvious clarets aside - especially the mature Rieslings, which are among my most beloved wines. My one fear was that they'd been sitting behind that counter for years, gathering that dust and turning into vinegar, but I was much reassured by the tale of how they came to be there.
Yes, one can do well out of Parker taking a dislike to something; I live in constant fear of him giving my red vin de table - Crozes Hermitage La Guiraude, Alain Graillot - more than 95 points, which is possible given that it's very rich. The 09 got 94 points, and given that only about 600 cases are made, 20 of which are for me, things could easily get very hairy indeed. It's also good that Parker doesn't understand things like Chambolle-Musigny, meaning that my beloved Dom. Dujac is constantly underrated, although he did take a liking to the de Vogue Les Amoureuses, which really buggered that up. Ho hum.
Do you have a cooperative wine merchant, then? That's certainly a rara avis, and much to be cherished....

de Charlus
08-11-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,367
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 64
Post ID: 19913
Reply to: 19911
No Sooner Had I Posted...
fiogf49gjkf0d
OK, I did invert the results and response to "Parker" influences.  Obviously, if the "influences" were better in the first place, more winemakers would be trying to make better (ideally, singular) wine, which we might regard as a better situation in general, and perhaps most particularly so in the case of great properties that presently make (expensive!) "me too" wine.  I can remember when Vin Ordinare and "basket" Chianti had terroir, if anyone still cares.  All this idealizing does neglect the reality of the herd mentality, however.

And obviously, the same is +/- true of audio products, and even music and recordings, etc., ad nauseum.

As it is, it certainly helps to have some sense of both where one is, personally, and where one wants to go.

OTOH, if one is happy with a sort of "mediocrity plus", and one is prepared to pay the price for it, there has never been a better time to be a wine-o.

Paul S
08-11-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,367
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 65
Post ID: 19916
Reply to: 19913
Merchants
fiogf49gjkf0d
de Charlus, the wine guy I have mostly dealt with for years is supposedly from "The Bay Area", but he was staked by his parents to a business in Rancho Santa Fe, where he caters mostly to the nouveau riche, who happily gobble up anything Parker likes, along with anything M recommends.  He is also supposed to have family in Bordeaux, which I am not concerned about, since he somehow manages to attend the important tastings, in any case.  For my purposes, he is mostly either honest or predictable, and he has grown to enjoy coming up with things that delight me.  Since I no longer have the means to buy in to his operation, I have spoken at length with those who have done (to no avail...); so, I  rely on his own sense of adventure, though it be spawned by ennui, due to his principal clientele.  And... the guy L-O-V-E-S a bargain!

And funny, but this also basically describes the guy from whom I purchased most of the "normal channels" hi-fi gear I've acquired, including my big Marantz amps.  Hmmm...

Yes, it is good, I think, to have "a relationship" with the people with whom one does business.  Like family, we learn to live with them.

Best regards,
Paul S
08-11-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
drdna
San Francisco, California
Posts 523
Joined on 10-29-2005

Post #: 66
Post ID: 19917
Reply to: 19895
Parker love-hate
fiogf49gjkf0d
Agreed that Parker has jammed up the works.

Never the less, I applaud him for giving me access to much of the wine world and making it manageable. His efforts we forget were in many ways a "fight the system" newsletter that ultimately exploded and became an establishment unto itself. If he had been blessed with the palate of say, Michael Broadbent, instead, we would be singing a different tune. It is just that he became The Man, so his personal preferences have corrupted the wine makers. The idea and the system were good ones.

Adrian
08-12-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,367
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 67
Post ID: 19922
Reply to: 19917
The Gift of Prophesy
fiogf49gjkf0d
Adrian, I have heard some ghastly accounts of the tastings in France, with wind and weather that would make livestock turn tail.  Of course we all learn to deal with the trials and tribulations of our respective professions; yet it amazes me that these guys can so summarize their experiences after tasting hundreds of wines, let alone "predicting" based on such limited exposure under such variable (and sometimes horrendous) conditions.

Again, I remember the "Pre-Parker" wine world as better in only one way: Basically, terroir was once way more of a factor than it is today, since, apparently, exactly the techniques most likely to produce the qualities Parker most rewards are consistently antithetical to the development of the tastes, smells and textures that some of us still recognize and appreciate as "terroir".  This idea can even be broadened somewhat today to account for the "merging" of the special, particular qualities and potentials of a given variety or blend of grapes that go into a wine.  These also tend to be obscured, or they are simply "gotten around" by winemakers looking for that sought-after "Parker Style" of wine, which can result in the "points", which will result in the sales that business people everywhere depend on, from vintners, to brokers, to merchants.

That about sums it up, I think.


Best regards,
Paul S


By the way: "Jam-med up"; good one...
08-13-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
drdna
San Francisco, California
Posts 523
Joined on 10-29-2005

Post #: 68
Post ID: 19924
Reply to: 19922
Go bold, go Parker
fiogf49gjkf0d
 Paul S wrote:
it amazes me that these guys can so summarize their experiences after tasting hundreds of wines, let alone "predicting" based on such limited exposure under such variable (and sometimes horrendous) conditions.
Paul, it's called "chutzpah."
08-15-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
de charlus
Posts 94
Joined on 06-11-2013

Post #: 69
Post ID: 19926
Reply to: 19924
Tasting capacity
fiogf49gjkf0d
I absolutely agree; whilst one's palate does expand its capacities over time, and whilst experience leads wine professionals to - on the whole - be able to predict what a young wine will do, I know that I myself cannot usefully taste more than about 100 wines in a day, and that refers to mature or light-tannin, low-acidity wine. At the Bordeaux Primeur tasting, on the other hand, when one is tasting barrel samples of very rich, tannic and acidic wines, one should bring that number down by an order of magnitude. I used to simply take a list of the 50 or so wines that meant the most, economically, to my company, (all the "big names", and a few we expected to be in any given year) and restrict myself to tasting perhaps 25 of them before lunch and 25 after. To see certain, highly respected persons in the wine world almost running down the tables, tasting everything at a rate of knots and dashing off one-line, or epithet, notes, later to be fleshed out into the "mocha, cigar box, leather etc etc" things that the public expect is a most disillusioning spectacle. Any detailed notes are produced after the fact, and are generally "generic Cheval Blanc" or "generic Cos d'Estournel" adjusted for vintage conditions and including whatever epithet they jotted down during the en primeur dash. People like Parker pretty much have to taste everything available at such tastings, which makes me even more skeptical of their opinions.
As for his influence on the wine world in general, I would say that there's less outright crap around, but that quality is rising to a kind of uniformity that discounts and undervalues those styles that Parker dislikes or simply doesn't get. Of course, I personally much preferred things before such critics had risen to their present level of influence, since great wines were much cheaper and yet it was still fairly easy, as an individual, to make a lot of money out of buying en primeur and selling later. These days, unless one is one of the fortunate few who have the right contacts, one can pretty much forget about getting allocations of great Burgundy in good and above vintages, and a lot of Bordeaux en primeur merchants insist that if one is to receive a case of a 1st growth, then one needs to buy a "spread" of lesser things too. This hasn't happened to me, but I've seen it happen to others, so I would also assert that the colossal number of persons seeking these wines, be it to profiteer on or drink - as well as all those wine investment firms - is a direct consequence of Parker and co, and on the whole not positive.

de Charlus
08-15-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,367
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 70
Post ID: 19927
Reply to: 19926
The Spread
fiogf49gjkf0d
The "minimum purchase of lesser wines" requirement is not just a French custom, of course, but has also long been practiced in California, Douro, etc., etc., etc. for many, many years, wherever top appellations are to be found.  As for purchasing "connections", some of the CA connections go back over 50 years, and some of the French "relationships" go back for many generations, so getting "in" can take "quite a while", indeed.  When considering wines that are consistently favored by the critics, basically, none of that wine is just "up for grabs", ever.  Hell, I'd love to pick up a "leftover case" of a any number of top wines; but it's never going to happen as long as that vineyard/winemaker delivers "the goods", and the "system" remains in place.

Germane to "availability", is it still possible to get and follow up on "underground" information about "secret seconds"?  I've had a few pretty good wines that supposedly came from "overage" that was not destroyed.  I've also had some wines that obviously capitalized on people's tendencies to petty larceny...


Paul S
08-16-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
clarkjohnsen
Boston, MA, US
Posts 298
Joined on 06-02-2004

Post #: 71
Post ID: 19930
Reply to: 19927
"The Assassin in the Vineyard"
fiogf49gjkf0d
Finally found an article down in my files that I had recalled would be highly appropriate to this discussion. And so it is. Besides a story of intrigue it contains an excellent backgrounder on Romanee. And best of all... it's now online!

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2011/05/vineyard-poisoning-201105

Votre sante.

clark
08-16-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
de charlus
Posts 94
Joined on 06-11-2013

Post #: 72
Post ID: 19931
Reply to: 19930
Spreadeagled
fiogf49gjkf0d
Paul, yes, good vineyards frequently hold back substantial reserves even of their top wines, which then magically "appear" on the market when prices hit their apogee following the en primeur kerfuffle, or a certain critic saying a certain thing.
I know what you mean about the contact issue; the only reason I've historically been able to secure more or less what I wanted was that my father, his father, and his father before him have been buying the same things, from the same estates, from a time well before there ever were wine critics to muddy the waters. Then, I parleyed my position in the wine trade into getting allocations of the few things that I coveted but couldn't access previously - easy enough when the estate produces more modest wines that I may, or may not, list - and so now get pretty much what I want. That isn't to suggest that people don't try to claw back parts of my allocation on a yearly basis - only six bottles here and six there, but it's the thin end of the wedge - and that I don't have to fight to maintain my position, especially now that I'm no longer an influential member of the wine trade. How other people lacking the dynastic and leverage things go about securing good wine I have no idea, but I cannot imagine that it's easy. As for the "spreads", sometimes a few cases of Forts de Latour or Carruades de Lafite on the back of a couple of cases of 1st growths can be a good thing - in really good vintages - but in lesser ones the "spread" thing amounts to little more than theft. I've seen what goes into these second wines in bad vintages and it's far from illuminating.
Clark, thanks for posting that article; looks interesting, although I haven't had time to read it yet since I'm busy this week.

Regards

de Charlus
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