Wine Talk

Snooth User: Beaconheath

Conflicting Reviews, Continental Perspectives?

Posted by Beaconheath, Oct 15, 2010.

Obviously not all individuals have the same likes/dislikes, but if wine criticism rightly starts by describing and assessing the objective properties of a wine, it's hard to understand how one critic can call a wine "fruity" and another complain it has "no fruit."  I've seen this in the case of two popular imported brand wines from Europe, Rene Barbier Mediterranean Red, and Baron Philippe de Rothschild Mouton-Cadet Rouge (which claims to be the most widely distributed wine in the world).  If these wines really lacked fruit and flavor, would they sell hundreds of thousands of bottles year after year?  Is it possible that naysayers are just comparing them unfavorably to the richer, creamier, fuller-bodied style of some New World reds?


Reply by GregT, Oct 16, 2010.

Is the Mouton Cadet actually fruity? Ever?  I don't think it's differing perspectives - that's just not very good wine at all. Not only does it lack fruit and flavor, that fact was actually acknowledged by the owners! 

The fact that a  lot is shipped doesn't really tell us much - it's hard to think of any wine that's shipped in quantities sufficient to fill a small lake that are any good.

It started a long time ago and that's got something to do with the fact that it's still selling.  But it was originally started because the harvest was so bad, they didn't want to use the grapes for their top wine.  Later they started sourcing from all over and today I think a lot of the grapes are from Entre deux Mers, which isn't the best spot in Bordeaux for grapes.  Not 100%  sure about the sourcing tho.

Anyhow, now there is a lot of competition in the low end sector and as a result, the sales of Mouton Cadet have been dropping hard.  If I'm not mistaken, they're significantly outsold by Fat Bastard in the US, as well as Yellow Tail and probably a few others. So they may be the most widely distributed, but they're by no means the biggest sellers or the most popular.

They're no longer the only player in the low-end and the finally figured out that they either get better or they die.  So a couple years ago they issued a press release announcing that they were going to make fruitier wine and tweak their old-fashioned labels to make themselves more up to date.  They've even started a second line that's going to be sold by variety.

However, the problem is that they're in Bordeaux and it's not easy to make a wine in Bordeaux that's going to be as fruity and friendly as something from south France, Spain, Australia, or the US.  Those were competitors that weren't significant in the 1930s when Cadet started.

I've always felt that MC was undrinkable. Maybe it's better now, but there are dozens of cheap and good wines out and MC is essentially a vestige of an earlier time.  It may yet survive, but if so, it's work is cut out.


Reply by dmcker, Oct 16, 2010.

Yeah, Mouton Cadet was an affordable-for-students steppingstone on the way to real Bordeaux wines, back when I was a student. Haven't bothered to buy any once I could afford better on a regular basis from the '80s. If they're trying now to tweak Entres-Deux-Mers fruit to compete directly with California or Australian fruit, Good __ luck! Seems they need to be craftier than that and come up with a better angle for any real success.

All that being said, I'd certainly rather have a bottle of MC than of Yellowtail. Just doing my best to ensure I'm not in the position of having to make that choice... ;-)

And Beacon, as you've clearly identified, 'fruit' is a buzzword for awhile now, which also serves for me as a warning flag. Not a big fan of fruit-bombs....

Reply by GregT, Oct 17, 2010.

No question - positioning is key!  Avoid them all. That's a very sound and intelligent policy.  I'm with you there.

Anyhow, here's a quote from Business Week in April 2006, one of many times in which they acknowledged that their wine needed work.

The attempt at restoration, fittingly, began with the wine, starting with the 2003 vintage. Priced at $6 to $8, Mouton Cadet rouge went from an oak- finished cabernet sauvignon-dominant wine to one that's unoaked and 65% merlot. The result is a fruitier, less tannic wine created in direct response to Australian and Spanish reds. The white wine has more sauvignon blanc than the old blend and a fruitier profile as well. Rothschild also uncluttered its label and tried to demystify the wine by putting the percentages of each grape on the back. And despite a rising euro, Rothschild has kept U.S. prices low.

Hey everybody!  There's Sauvignon Blanc in there!  Cripes they're going from bad to worse. . .

Reply by zufrieden, Oct 17, 2010.

My goodness!  Savignon Blanc in a Bordeaux blend - one not intended to present itself as a white?  Wow!  Bad to worse is a complete diminution of reality. We do not expect this so-called fruitiness from anything calling itself a red Bordeaux...

In any event, the peculiarities of the this instance in time notwithstanding, everyone eventually sees the statistical inevitability of divergent opinion.  What you want is the kind of reserved (or restrained, if you prefer) objectivity of Andrew Sharp - the late Canadian wine critic.  There is objectivity of a sort out there, but it is a kind of probabilistic reality - the kind most of the radicals out there don't like.

I have spent a long, long time observing phenomena through a statistical glass and can advise, imperfectly of course, that all knowledge worth its salt is inductive in character.  Look at what is seen to be the quality distribution available to any wine type and see what sensible people say.  I may not, for example, like certain wines as a matter of personal preference but I can appreciate quality within those types I do not favor over others.

I could pontificate, which is not out of character for me, and suffice it say that I could give you the number of years since I had MC which would greatly impede my success with the under 30 set of women I admire.  My advice would be to move forward into the realm of the reputable Petit Chateau and see if you notice an improvement in quality.  If not, you may be considered lucky: you don't need much to please you and that is not necessarily a bad thing; there are advantages attached to every occasion. 

In any event, good drinking to you!

Reply by rolifingers, Oct 18, 2010.

Great question Beaconheath, I've been asking myself the same question for years. Three or four high profile wine experts can taste the same exact wine, and they all have completely different tasting notes.

Reply by ChipDWood, Oct 19, 2010.

People react to different wines just as people react to different people.

To begin judging each from the other is to know what it is to be human, judging another, however little or much we taste or absorb.

We each have our own sense of taste, sense of depth, and sense of where we each came from.

To know more about it all you can join the Virginia Wine Group, and question those who judge, as we all have our junk, and my junk, is you.

But beyond all of that pre-judgemental BS- know that your palate is the one that matters.

Unless you want to make money at it and stuff.  Then, you better get serious, or you're totally, eh, eh.... eh....

Back to Categories

Popular Topics

Top Contributors This Month

259386 Snooth User: zufrieden
40 posts
1413489 Snooth User: dvogler
26 posts
89564 Snooth User: GregT
6 posts


View All

Snooth Media Network