Archive - April, 2008

Its Vintage, Darling!

How do you know when the Wine Conversation has started in earnest and joined the mainstream? Some tests of mine would be (in no particular order):

  • Wine is the main object in a reality TV show (check! Oz & James took care of that)
  • Wine is the key plot driver in a big movie (check! Sideways & A Good Year, plus Mondovino etc.)
  • Wine becomes the subject of a daytime TV Quiz Show
  • Wine gets mentioned on The Archers (I happened to hear them mention facebook some months back – I knew then it had “arrived”)
  • Two ‘blokes’ in a pub ‘come to blows’ over a wine
  • You can discuss the wine you drank last night with your barber, and he gives you new suggestions
  • Wine becomes the focus of a pulp fiction novel (check!)

I was in the checkout queue in the supermarket the other day and as I waited I was entertained by the image of an attractive woman carrying a champagne bottle. Nothing particularly unusual about that except that it was the cover of one of those mass market novels, and it was called “Vintage”.

I decided to explore further and read the back cover.

Three women who dare to make it in a man’s world. One sparkling prize.I was intrigued.

Competing to produce the world’s best sparkling wine, the three women are swept into a world of feuds, back-stabbing, sabotage and seduction. Have they got what it takes to survive?

Ooh! They joined the wine trade. How exciting! (only joking … no seduction around here that I know about).

Quite apart from the correct use of the term sparkling wine, I was quite taken aback that wine should be quite such a central theme of such a book. I guess I should really have bought the book to learn more, but I couldn’t bring myself to put it in the basket. However, if you are intrigued, you can check out the site here and even buy it on Amazon for £1.99.

How much more “popular” can you get?

Beyond the call of duty

I just have to point you to the kind of post you never expect to see, but exemplifies the future of retailing, one built on relationships and service and not on the “fast-buck” concept.

Price check: 2005 Caronne-Ste-Gemme Haut Medoc

Can you recall seeing anything like this before? I have had such conversations, but only face to face in the old fashioned local stores that know I’ll be back again and again. These are a dying breed in the ‘real’ world.

The difference here is that this post is up for ALL to see, not just for ‘best’ customers. It shows how committed Jill at domaine547 really is to her customers, current and potential.

Thank you Jill, and I hope you get the success you deserve.

Can you point me to anyone else who has done this?

Can you taste the difference?

Would you buy this wine? It costs £7.99

This price is WELL above the average of around £4 per bottle in this country. If you are willing to spend double that amount there are only 2 main reasons:

  1. You are a “wine connoisseur” and know what you are buying and regularly spend this much
  2. You are buying for a special occasion; a party, a gift, a really special treat

I found it on the shelves of a local shop. Barossa Shiraz is world famous. Whether you know about the red earth, the climate, the issues of water shortages or anything else at all about the region, you have probably heard of “Barossa Shiraz”.

Now, you wouldn’t expect it to be cheap – generally speaking, if you’ve heard of the region (Chablis, Rioja, Bordeaux, …) the wine isn’t cheap, but it is Australia after all, not … FRANCE, that place where all good wines are really expensive. Anyway, do the French even make Shiraz?

2006? Should be good. Not too old. Time to check out some more clues.

What about this one, at the bottom?

St. Hallett? Many will not have heard about this producer, but there is actually a name on here that can be checked out. If you know anything about Barossa then the name of St. Hallett should ring bells. Old Block? Faith Shiraz? If you search for the name you’ll find this is a top producer with a great track record.

£7.99 for one of the best known names in the region? Cool!

If I bring this home to my husband or wife, or bring it to that dinner party on Saturday, they’ll be really impressed.

But wait! What’s that? At the top?


You want me to spend twice the national average on a bottle of wine, and when I bring it to the dinner party, despite it being a well liked grape, despite the well known region and the world-class producer, it says “Sainsbury’s” on the front label?

Erm …

  • You could say that if I say I wouldn’t buy it I’m being snobbish.
  • You could on the other hand, argue that if I’m spending this much money, a guarantee from a trusted brand like Sainsbury’s would encourage me to try it.
  • On the other hand, with all the choices available, do I want this name on there?
  • Or, are they using their buying power to get a great deal?

There is no easy answer, but these wines run all the way up to £12.99 for an Amarone and more and I am told that they are not easy to convince customers to buy (this is from the shop floor).

I know what I think, but what do you think? Premium wines (good ones at that), at reasonable prices, but constrained by the fact that it carries a non-premium label.

Would you buy it?

Multiple Personality Issues

I’ll announce the details about the actual project in due course, but I am starting a new blog elsewhere so that I can cover some of the topics that I expressly forbade myself from covering on this blog.

My intention here was always just to “talk wine”, not drink it, sell it or even make money from it. There were few places to get some of these thoughts and I believed that I could have some fun putting my own point of view out there to see what happened.

I never expected it to get all that far, and really it was as much an experiment that would allow me to join the “blogging conversation” as much as it was my contribution to the “wine conversation”.

Now, I feel well and truly captivate by blogging. It makes a major difference to my life, where I make plans according to the time available for blog reading and posting. It opens doors to conversations with wine professionals in the UK and around the world. It even gives me excuses to plan exciting events.

I have always had more than one blog, having started a local interest blog right at the beginning of the adventure (now largely untouched), and also contributing to several others.

However, I will now have two personal wine blogs, both of which are important to me. The question is whether I will have to develop a full blown multiple personality trait to allow me to separate one from the other, or whether one will eventually win out over the other?

I will have to wait and see. I hope both turn out to have a role to play, however small. I trust you will forgive me if I split my attention between the two, and also stick with me while I find my feet blogging “over there” about things I have tried hard not to cover here in the time (almost 2 years) that this blog has been going.

More details soon.

List of Irish Wine Blogs

You may have noticed that among the updates to the blogroll I made a few days ago I also separated out the wine blogs that are written in Ireland.

The list is as comprehensive as I can make it (for the blogs anyway, plenty of retail sites), which is saying something as it only contains 4 entries [updated; there are now a few more; check below for the latest list]

Simon Tyrrell’s blog seems to be fairly intermittent and I only started following it recently, but I do recommend you check out the others that are all in my feed reader already.

If you know of any more out there, please do let me know as Ireland does need more blogs like these to develop and nurture the Irish wine culture.

Last updated: 22/07/2008

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