Tag Archive - wine

No one wants to watch wine movies

Ok, so I got your attention. I’m sure some of you came racing over here to tell me I’m wrong. Sideways, Mondovino, A Good Year, French Kiss, and more … so many good, and not so good, films that speak of wine. I’m not here to debate the quality and accuracy of the films, but these films have something in common – story lines, emotions and entertainment.

I love wine movies. One of my favorite ways to enjoy them is curled up with my wife, sharing a bottle of good wine. By the end of the film, if the match works, the wine is often wedded with the film in such a way that when I think of one, the other is not far behind.

I say this because I don’t believe anyone, and I include myself, has EVER sat down with a bottle of wine or bowl of popcorn to watch your winery’s website video intro, the one that pops up annoyingly when I want to find something specific on your website. Your website is a tool to transfer information, not a place to hangout and watch movies. And it never will be. Your “wine movie” is not primarily about entertainment, it will not engage consumers emotionally. Let’s face it, it is not going to win an oscar or do anything to sell more of your wine. No one wants to watch these wine movies.

However, a winery can still benefit from the movies. The wine I open for a movie is often selected based on the mood of the movie, or the emotion of the evening. Romantic dramas might suggest a more elegant wine, or you might prefer a muscular Cabernet for the raw-meat of a classic Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

I want wineries to take the “think different” challenge. Don’t plan the film that you want to make about yourself and your wines, think instead of the movies that have already been made. This weekend, for example, try those that are up for an Academy Award (Oscar). Why not tell us which of the films is the best match for your wine – then cheerlead for it? Do some wine and movie pairings, then challenge your mailing lists to offer up better suggestions then link to a place to buy films or rent them online. Maybe even offer an “Oscar pack” of wines for the winning movies. Why not?

And to all you bloggers and engaged consumers, why not challenge yourselves to a movie and wine pairing event? You can match wine and films based on mood, labels, names, styles, even by the names of the winemaker. How would YOU  go about doing this?

It’s been a while since my last movie marathon with friends, but this could be a great way to do it again. Dim the lights, make some snacks and pair some movies!

Here’s a couple to get you started from all of us at Vrazon:

  • The Iron Lady” and Blue Nun – because the once great, popular lady in blue is now a bit frayed and confused. (Robert)
  • The Crying Game”  and any good Blanc de Noir – Not everything is what it seems to be, and yet it can still stir your emotions. (Ryan)

and of course what list would be complete without…

  • Silence of the Lambs” and a Good Chianti (or Amarone, if you read the book) – No explanation needed…though choose your accompaniments carefully!

If you have any ideas, especially if you are a winery and think there is a film that expresses your wine’s personality, tell us about it in the comments below.

Cheers, Ryan

Note: The Academy Awards take place this Sunday, February 26th 2012 at 19:00 Eastern US time (02:00 Central European Time)

Here’s a list of the main category finalists to get you started:

Best Picture: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse
Actor in a Leading Role: Demián Bichir, George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt
Actress in a Leading Role: Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Rooney Mara, Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams
Directing: The Artist, The Descendants, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, The Tree of Life

 

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Bordeaux: the biggest joke in the wine world?

Norman Wisdom Laughing

Image via Wikipedia

Something about the 2011 campaign told me that the Mea Culpas would come out this year – and I have a feeling I might be right. ‘We were arrogant,’ says Chateau Lafite MD Christophe Salin of last year’s wine pricing (and ‘timing’ – for which read ‘handling’).

And I think we can expect more of this in the run-up to the 2011 barrel tastings. Lots of hand-wringing and apologies and staunch, almost stoic, approaches to the current release. Yes, we behaved like greedy pigs, we’re sorry, we were shown the errors of our ways, now we can all look at the 2011 vintage with clean, clear, tear-dried eyes and tell the world that it needs to buy it. Fine, life as usual – only a little bit cheaper and with a bit more sober reflection.

But to those Chinese (I keep being told it was them that snapped up all the Bordeaux over the last few years but I’ll happily accept they weren’t the only dupes) and let’s also include all those billionaires, bankers and moneyed social pariahs from all continents, will you indulge me while I stick your noses in the H-word and rub you around in it?

The H-word is, of course, History. It’s out of fashion these days – and vastly underrated – but think about some of what the past now tells us:

1 - All this talk about Bordeaux En Primeur pricing reflecting the market is nonsense. If this year’s En Primeur campaign has already started with apologies, it isn’t because the Bordelais think that people will be less willing to part with stupid money for a bottle of wine, it’s because previous pricing has got them into a sticky and delayed situation. If – as lots of people used to claim – Bordeaux pricing (through the tranche system, etc.) simply adjusted to the market at the time of release, no one would be apologising and so publically self-flagellating in Bordeaux right now (see also John Kolasa’s bizarre ‘I have to follow the line’ statement – was that really passed by his bosses or was this a cry from the depths of the Bordeaux beast’s bowels?). No, this is happening because something from the past (ie. pricing policy) has come back to haunt them. Bordeaux pricing bears no reality to the real world – otherwise how could they be ‘arrogant’? And even if, in your tiny little mind, you think Bordeaux pricing reflects the market and is a perfect system, you surely must admit it’s quite clearly a very delayed system.

2 - Also think back to this time (and quite before) last year. Remember the Bordelais were already talking up the 2010 vintage. Not so this year. If one was exceptionally cynical, one might draw the conclusion that perhaps all this talk of past arrogance and inflated prices is only a ruse to sell a less-than-stellar vintage to an already bored/saturated market. But who would be so ungracious as to believe that?

3 - But it’s not just those in Bordeaux whose history we shouldn’t ignore. Look at the journalists and wine writers. They too are likely to re-hash a lot of this château-owner apologise-to-sell stuff. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of stringent opinions about past Bordeaux pricing policy come out of the woodwork over the next few weeks (to be fair to some writers, concerns were already being voiced last year). At this rate, my past writings and rants on wine-life.co.uk will soon take on what can only be called the blandness of the self-evident. But attacking Bordeaux pricing policy a few years ago felt like the occupation of a lonely and disenfranchised minority. Sure, a lot of wine writers weren’t happy with the prices many châteaux were charging, but they weren’t doing anything about it. Some were even encouraging you to buy this over-priced plonk. If these Mea Culpas from the châteaux continue, expect it to sound like wine critics were on the side of the consumer all along – that they always thought Bordeaux pricing was greedy and were doing everything in their power to tell the consumer, to let him or her know, and to fight the good fight. As I have illustrated many times on my blog before, they weren’t – and if they start to make such pronouncements, they should be held to account. At the very least, many were complicit in their silence. And if, on the back of their previous huge points and ravings, you bought several cases of greedily over-priced claret from them, pray ask yourself what you think their job is and whether you should be following them.

I don’t think we should forget this notion of using the past to inform the present (and even the future) – and I’m not talking about this kind of glossy “we were greedy last year but let’s move on and try the sensibly priced 2011″. I’m talking about actually taking some lessons from it.

Paul Pontallier said Margaux 2011 was ‘excellent’. Which is fine – he can say that and mean it at the time – (so can journalists…Parker can distribute 100 points to wines a case of which is more than many peoples’ salaries and then later – or in some cases even at the same time – tell people it’s overpriced).

But if, say, these qualifications somehow change over time, you then have to ask how much importance is to be attributed to their words in the future. I, for instance, doubt Pontallier means 2011 is ‘excellent’ like 2010 was ‘excellent’ but that’s not really the point; the point is that while we would probably forgive him if he changed his mind over the next few months, we have to then ask why we are giving his pronouncements (if they turn out to be untrue) any credence now and in the future.

Bordeaux is now basically a joke – not funny ha-ha – but a travesty of the wine world. It’s a joke that everyone bar the person who buys the wine is in on. And all it takes to realise this is a half-decent memory, a questioning nature and a look at the facts. In fact, a longer-term memory tells you that this kind of thing happens in Bordeaux in almost perfect 10 year cycles. Some more regular cycles have taken on the regularity of tradition, namely that of wine merchants ask for a reduction in Bordeaux prices in the run up to En Primeur. Strangely, though, they still put the stuff up for sale.

A final point: I can be attacked (quite fairly and justly) along the lines of not understanding that in today’s ‘western’ society what something is worth is up to the consumer (a sort of ‘if they’re rich enough and stupid enough to buy it, let them’). I have a great deal of sympathy for this line of thought. However, if you want to stop speculation (as, apparently, lots of wine lovers do) you don’t do it by thinking (or even saying) these wines are too expensive while at the same time adding to their cachet by covering them in drooling press, gushing video interviews and slapping a huge score on them. No one has the excuse to be so short-sighted anymore.

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In 2012 please bring the 99% something different

There have been a few “New Years” posts that have tried to peer into wine tinted crystal balls and extract ideas of what the new year will bring us. When I say us, I’m referring to the wine world and its future trends, sales and “movements”. Will Bio-D continue to be a force? Will China finally begin buying other wines and not just help to drive the price of Clarets through the roof? Will the “up and comers” up and come?

I don’t think I need to join in. David Lowe, did one of the better wrap ups when he asked top movers and shakers what they thought. I heartily recommend clicking over to read the lengthy article.

Therefore, I just want to make one request of wine writers, wine pundits, wine authors and the rest. It’s two pronged the request, and does have some caveats, but I think it’s worth mentioning. Let me know what you think.

The request I have is quite simple: Please take yourself LESS seriously. Wine is a liquid with flavor. It’s not going to bring the end of the world, nor cause mass panic when priced incorrectly or when the author happens to share a lunch with the person who made it. I know this is hard to believe, but wine is supposed to be fun. Turns out the consumer, or the 99% of consumers who do not spend more than a 20 on a bottle of wine, don’t give a damn about wine beyond making sure it helps to lubricate the social situation they are currently in. It’s my wish that this idea, of wine being fun, can seep into wine communications in 2012.

That said, I realize there are a few of you out there who need to cater to the 1% of people who do care if the the total volatile acidity is greater than or less than the average wine drinkers attention span, or whether the choice of egg shaped fermentation vessels really has added a .00003% decrease in tannin harshness. I’m willing to bet that about 5 of you could manage to maintain this vital content. To you 5, please keep it up! You’re doing great.

To the rest of you wine writers who were not included in the elite group of 5 I mention about, there are still lot’s of options.  I’ll assume the rest of you are the ones complaining about the loss of column space about wine in the local papers, the downfall of a privlededged lifestyle which demands that one must enjoy long lunches and late night punditry over wines that they can’t afford unless offered to them, in a purely objective context, by the winemakers themselves. I can’t say I blame you, but as they say, “you gotta get paid”.

To do so I reply:  move on to new pastures, or get creative.

Give me, no give us, the 99% of wine drinkers, something to bite off and chew on, full of new flavors and ideas. Give us context. Give us stories. But above all, give me something we haven’t seen before. No more fruit flavored adjectives ladled over healthy helpings of regurgitated geek speak. It’s giving us indigestion, and for the most part, constitutes a lack of creativity and independent thought.

Don’t start another blog this year, with your thoughts on what  the wine you bought at the local corner shop tastes like. Do something different. Think outside the box. Or maybe get into boxed wines. Wine fashion, what dress pairs with Cabernet? Wine architecture. While a waste of money IMHO, there are plenty of killer buildings whose stories have not been told within this world of wine. How about beach wines? I always wondered what wine pairs best with the light saltiness that clings to my lips as I climb from  the Mediterranean on a July afternoon. Explore the world with a new perspective, one that acknowledges wine as beverage and not as a sacred cow.

I know this request will be laughed at by some of the “serious wine writers” who will claim that they are doing “serious business” here. And while I my disagree, I’m willing to play along. Let’s look at one of the big news stories from last year: Bordeaux and its ability to price itself out of the market.

My take on this is simple. I heard far more whining about Bordeaux losing their minds and the harm that the pricing will do to the Bordeaux market than I heard about people offering alternatives. From my perspective, Bordeaux is selling fine. It’s value is over inflated due to the string of “once in a century” vintages, but  really, who is maintaining this market?  The journalists themselves? Most likely. Every year, they are invited and coddled at tastings during En Primeur, journalists accept their invitation, “forcing” them to cover a historic wine region. Thus giving much of their time to a region that does not really need the help.

I say let Bordeaux go this year. I like Bordeaux, but give them a reason to work for their reputation. Take a risk, stick your neck on the line and help build a region that is not stuck in history, where the marketing of its wines are not linked to 100+ year old competitions.  If you want to do the “serious business” of wine writing right, cover the news that as of late Bordeaux is more of an idea than a wine.

Do we really need more long lists of tasting notes from Bordeaux? Burgundy? Napa? Others? Do we really need more speculating about what the old guard is doing today?

The 99% says no.

If a smart and influential wine writer wanted to do some good for the average wine drinker, they would spend more time putting pressure on the local retailers to up their game; to make the supermarkets take responsibility for their appalling selections and pricing; to help the growers demand fairer prices in the market; to help educate consumers to upgrade their purchase and thus kill the evil 3 for 10 virus that seems to spread like a cancer.  Why not give us a week of consumer focused writing and punditry, rather than complain about lazy wine regions that coddle the wine press.

2012 is going to be amazing. I know it. A blank slate waiting to be filled with stories and travels. I just ask all of you “communicators” to reach out this year and try something different. Just because you always have doesn’t mean you always have to. There is plenty of opportunities in the world today to make a buck or two writing about the things you love, you just need to make sure you put a new twist on it.

Cheers,

Ryan

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A gift for the best of 2011

It is the time of year for giving gifts. If you think of Christmas gifts, you might imagine a box, lovingly wrapped in paper, with a bow on the top. You might, if you are like me, imagine a well crafted (but last minute) email with a voucher attached, but gifts come in many forms.

“Dear Blogger, Thanks!”

English: Danboard holding a Christmas gift.

Image via Wikipedia

One under-appreciated gift is a simple “thank you” to a person, friend or stranger, who has done something for you that you have gained from.

You’ve probably guessed that, since I am writing on this site, I mean the wine writers and wine enthusiasts that spend hours each week writing articles, blog posts, tweets, status updates and more, to spread a knowledge, appreciation and access to wine.

Most of those who benefit from this activity, especially online, do not have to pay anything for this benefit.

Unfortunately, because it is free, its actual value is not appreciated by everyone. We are used to there being experts available at the end of a Google Search or on Twitter and Facebook who can answer our questions or suggest what wines to bring to our friends’ dinner parties.

“You are the best!”

So this year there is an extra thing you can do for your favourite wine content creator. A simple “thank you” will do wonders, but what greater compliment to a writer, videographer or photographer could there be than their fans nominating their content as “possibly the best in the world”?

The second edition of the Born Digital Wine Awards (BDWA) is now taking submissions for entries, and we would love to share YOUR favourites along with great content from all over the wine world. What’s more, your favourite could win the originator €1000 in the process.

Please, revisit your favourite content and encourage the author to submit their content to the BDWA.

The BDWA only accepts submissions from the originators of that content, but your comments on your favourite sites, blogs & networks, or send tweets, emails or private messages will let them know what you think of their content and encourage them to participate in the awards.

We all benefit in the end from better content and a greater sense of community.

Thank you!

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@BVWines protecting minors from the existence of wine, since Nov 18th 2012

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