Wine Talk

Snooth User: spikedc

Pig in a Poke Wine Concept, agree or not ?

Posted by spikedc, May 18, 2011.

Just won a bottle of their red wine in an online competition draw.  Waiting for it’s arrival so I don’t know what it tastes like yet.

It’s a bottle that doesn’t name the country of origin or grape variety on their label, only the brand  ‘Pig In a Poke’ and  the name ‘Old Spot’  with either Red, white or Rose.

Pig  in a poke means   to buy (receive or obtain) something unknown because its true identity is concealed.

The founder  set about making a wine that had a known style but could be reproduced by sensitively sourcing grapes from any country. The ‘Old Spot’ red is made in Mendoza, Argentina, and is a blend of two grapes, Malbec and Shiraz  and more recently with combination of Syrah and Montepulciano from southern  Italy.

Quotes from their website

Pig in a Poke doesn't rely on country or grape variety to sell its wine - we just want to see, smell and taste an enjoyable drink. Most drinkers want something that relates to them rather than countries far away that they might like the sound of but never visit or have any relationship to.’

Our job is to maintain the same style of wine time and again so that you can enjoy Pig in a Poke every single time you drink it. So from time to time we may change the country of origin and/or grape varieties of wine to where we can maintain that same style, taste and flavour that Pig in a Poke wines have become famous for.

 we've called our red simply ‘Old Spot Red’. There are many reasons for this, but the main one is: we feel that much of the language of wine is irrelevant to the normal consumer. In our view, most wine drinkers want to know what the wine's about, what it stands for, what the experience of the wine is - not the intricacies of its make-up. The cheeky pig on the label and the name point to what the wine is - robust, meaty, stocky, no-nonsense. Naturally, we've nothing to hide and are very happy to talk endlessly about grapes, barrels, winemakers and the like if that makes our customers happy - but were not convinced that it does.

Not sure I agree, I’m just getting used to learning about Country, grape, makers, vintage etc  and enjoying every minute of it.

Replies

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Reply by gregt, May 18, 2011.

The concept embodies everything that is anathema to most wine lovers.

I don't have a problem with it actually.  Gallo and Rosemount and Yellow Tail have been doing something similar but they've pretty much stayed within one continent.  This guy is taking it to a new level. I'd imagine his wine will be much like those - innoffensive to the vast majority of people. 

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Reply by dmcker, May 18, 2011.

It sounds like it's all about contrarian, anti-intellectual (or -connoisseur or -geek or any noun you like better) marketing that tries glibly to turn glaring weaknesses into seeming strengths. The wine itself sounds like industrially standardized, mass-manufactured plonk with nothing to really let you know grapes from a real vineyard with real earth, located somewhere on God's green earth, were actually used to make the drink. So if you buy the marketing hype you can persuade yourself that's maybe cool. Sounds like an opening spiel for an infomercial on some shopping channel.

But anyway, drink it and let us know what you think. I myself prefer fresh squeezed orange juice from real trees to some pasteurized, homogenized frozen concentrate that is sourced from all over and then has to be mixed with tap water....

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Reply by gregt, May 18, 2011.

It's the Two Buck Chuck concept but I'm hoping he can make a better wine.  If he only does that, with the resources of the entire planet at his disposal, that's sad.

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, May 19, 2011.

Well said by all

I think we all have enough well made mass produced wines in each of our countries [either local or import] so I am not sure other than to satisfy curiosity why you would support this concept in the medium to long term?

Anyway has little appeal me

 

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Reply by Trotters, May 26, 2011.

Well, seems to have created a storm for some wine 'lovers'. So you don't like the concept - how about the taste? That is what matters to most people and we have the tarmac on our shoes to prove it. We have never claimed to be all things to all people - no product - wine or not can ever be. However to most people (and these may not be you) wine is a totally forgettable experience. How many times have we heard "I had a great bottle of wine last night - what was it - can't remember" or "I don't know much about wine but I know what I like". So Pig in a Poke may not be for the high intellects of this world, however there are plenty of ordinary people out there who just would like a recognisable, great tasting wine that they can rely upon and not feeled ripped off by and to those people we serve. Snout.

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Reply by spikedc, May 26, 2011.

Not received the bottle yet ( Just got an email saying it's just being sent today ). let you know what it's like when it arrives and I taste it.

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Reply by dmcker, May 26, 2011.

So Trotters, in the interest of full disclosure, what's your interest in the wine in question?

And do you think a naming/marketing gimmick can make up for dodgy plonk?

 

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Reply by Trotters, May 26, 2011.

Is this an interrogation or a bottle of wine? We have nothing to hide - www.piginapokelive.com. We produce Pig in a Poke and most people who try it enjoy it. Those that don't, don't buy again - simple. I am not so sure what your definition of gimmick is, but I do know that Pig in a Poke wines are no gimmick - they are very real. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed or we give you your money back - dead simple, easy to understand and real commitment to those that have chosen to spend their hard earned money on our wine. Of course such commitment is not available when you spend much more on many famous names of wine that don't want to have converstions like this with real consumers. What do you do with a corked bottle of First Growth Claret? Snout

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, May 26, 2011.

Trotters, you miss the point many are making.

  1. The Pig in a Poke concept exists in various forms around the world and is a good opportunity for people to buy competent wines at very competitive prices.
  2. In Australia we have well in excess of 20 businesses which operate a variance of the Pig in a Poke concept.  eg Kemeny Hidden Label Wines, Dan Murphy's Private Label etc etc
  3. Personally I can access and I suspect many Snooth members have access to very good "unlabelled" wines from excellent businesses in their locale at great prices.
  4. We are all quite happy to drink exceptional bargain priced wines
  5. The reality is we also like to have our favourite brands which produce a wine style that pleases the individual.  Often their is a relationship with the wine based on an experience or just the ability to compare the wine over the years,its good vintages, its bad vintages.

The reason the concept does not interest me is that I have many opportunities to purchase excellent unlabelled wines and in many cases I am fortunate enough to know the winemaker or where the wine is from.

In summary, I am not critical of your concept or your business model, it just does not appeal to me as it does not provide me with any new wine purchasing opportunity that does not exist.

 

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Reply by Trotters, May 27, 2011.

And we celebrate the diversity and your right to choose it and enjoy it. However many of your points are ill guided

1) Pig in a Poke concept exists only in one country and that is UK. As a world travelled previous buyer and wine professional we have an acute understanding of how the world in many different countries markets wine. Hence we developed Pig in a Poke, because it doesn't exist anywhere.

2)The so called Cleanskins of Australia and/or 'own labels' are not a reasonable comparison to Pig in a Poke. They sell and reinforce a retailers brand and are traded on price only. Pig in a Poke is not a retailer brand and doesn't trade on price alone.

3)Pig in a poke is not an 'unlabelled' proposition. It is very much a labelled proposition which makes certain promises about taste and experience to its consumer. No other wine brand does this beyond place, grape and alcohol.

4)Bargain wines at exceptional prices - absolutley we are all up for that - who beyond a small niche knows what exceptional is and what is the guarantee of quality in language the consumer understands?

5) That's just the point - there are no brands in any real commercial sense in wine. Absolutley correct - most consumers relationship with wine is based on experience. And having just completed a piece of work here in the UK with a trade newswire we will demonstrate this - look out for the press release. Wine products/labels do not give their consumers an experience; they give them a commodotised liquid in a glass vessel, when really what they would like is a consistent, 'know what I am buying' good, reliable product.

So I cannot agree that we miss the point. It may not interest you, although it must be a new wine experience to you as currently Pig in a Poke is not available in any other country apart from the UK. However, for the benefit of the vast majority of consumers who may not know or want to know who the winemaker is or are not interested in where the wine is from, some of whom may be reading this, please don't mis-represent us - we are not 'unlabelled'. Pig in a Poke wines are made and designed to enjoy - after all that's what most people want to do with wine.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, May 27, 2011.

Trotters:  dmcker was right to ask what your interest was: It was obvious from your post that you were somehow involved with the wine.  Most Snoothers who have a financial interest in the wine they are discussing (e.g., GregT w/r/t some Spanish wines) disclose that up front.  It's considered good form to do that here.  Heck, we call the site's editors on it. If you haven't been on the site previously, it's a little suspect that you write about the one wine you have an interest in.  Most of us who read these posts are familiar with regular contributors and their interests.  StephenHarvey doesn't need to mention in every post that his company's practice works with a lot of Aussie vintners. It's already well-known, or can be found out.

SpikeDC started this thread because he wanted our opinions.  He's a regular contributor, and he has a lot of cred here.  These are just our opinions.  He bought your wine.  He wondered what we thought.  People spoke their piece.  Here's mine:

It's not a product that is likely to appeal to people like Snoothers who spend a lot of (too much?) time thinking, talking, and posting about wine.  It's not interesting to me to drink it, because I am looking for wine that teaches me about how grapes differ when they grow in different places and at different times and are (more or less explicitly) treated in different ways.  I am willing to drink wine I wind up not liking to have that experience, and I accept that wine can disappoint me as well as thrill me.

It is interesting in a scientific sense, in that I wonder how much you can measure the characteristics of vitifera grapes of different sorts, grown in different places, and so on, and create a wine just by choosing and blending.  Could you create a wine that had "cabernet" typicity, assuming we can agree on what that is (forget about syrah, although I think there is typicity, because it expresses so much of its so-called terroir) with absolutely no cabernet?  Could you create a wine that's good and can be created from two different blends with no overlapping varieties (hey, GregT, I have taken on your cause! I don't say "varietal" anymore), and do it so well that an expert palate could not tell them apart?  Not hacks like me, but the pros, including a few Master Somms and MWs who  are on Snooth.

I don't think this wine is an attempt to do any of those things.  Rather, it's an attempt to find a mass market product not in any way constrained by sourcing and therefore resistant to some vagaries of currency exchange rates, weather, and other things.  Given the examples of Gallo, YellowTail (which now seems in oversupply in the US--being sold at discounters at even cheaper prices) et al, there may well be a market. After all, buyers of those wines don't really much care about vintage or appellation.  Your product may be fine, but by definition, it's generic.

The response here on Snooth is likely to be less than enthusiastic.  Trotters, stop worrying about it--your market is unlikely to listen to or read what's written here.  Same holds for Silver Oak, Artemis, most Clos du Bois product, all of which have been criticized for appealing to folks who have little knowledge and, in some cases, more to spend... People here love a bargain. Vinho verde? $7 Cotes du Rhone?  We love to explore that stuff. You want wedding wine for $5 a bottle? We'll do our best for you. But Snooth is, for better or worse, a little geeky.  Not elitist.  It's great for a new wine drinker trying to expand his/her horizons.  But probably not where your wine will find its best audience.  I think you will do fine without positive press here. If Spike likes it, you'll see a tiny uptick in sales from Snooth. But I wouldn't bet the company on what happens here.

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Reply by spikedc, May 27, 2011.
Edited May 27, 2011

Ok, finally got the wine, opened it about an hour ago, whilst cooking dinner. Here's my honest opinion !

In the glass it looked slightly see through and thin looking, gave it a swirl not much in the way of legs. On the nose, not much, had trouble picking out any distinct aroma's only a slight chemical smell and a little whiff of dark fruit. Taste didn't do anything for me, again very watery and thin, if they are basing this on a shiraz style it's like no shiraz i've had lately, no sign of the richness and spice, no lasting taste in the mouth.

Unfortunately i didn't like anything about it, maybe i've been spoilt with recommendations from fellow Snoothers. But compared to The bottle of Kangarilla Road Shiraz I finished recently there is absolutely no comparison for a similar price.

Sorry Trotters, i'm by no means on a par with any of the wine lovers on this forum but i am discovering that there are many great wines out there for the same price as Pig in a Poke and this is Old Spot red is not one i will be trying again.

Australian Shiraz, NZ Pinot, Spanish Rioja i love trying these and will continue to take advice and recommendations from the knowledgeable people on here.

Pig in a Poke is not for me

 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, May 27, 2011.

spikedc: Love the fact that you are in a different time zone and are drinking this while I finish the morning coffee and donut.

I have to think that any wine that is all about consistency is going to favor manipulation over natural processes, something a lot of us get a little silly about.  (Jon Rimmerman at garagiste is positively batty about it, as if wine wasn't the world's first manufactured agriproduct... but I like that kind of zealot better than others.) On the other hand, as GregT points out, if you have sources of all types and are blending, you can make up for the faults of one batch of grapes with another.  That is, if you choose to.  Thanks to lax standards (oh, right, if this could come from anywhere, whose rules apply?  Chaptalization or not?  Oak chips or not? Added grape concentrate or not?) it's probably cheaper in many ways to manipulate chemically than to test every little batch (little being relative) in a venture like this.

spike is of course being waaay too modest, but his central point is taken by pretty much everyone here:  With so many choices of wines with character at already reasonable prices (LAN rioja just $10... and nothing bad about that... Castillero del Diablo carmenere for $8-9 is a favorite winter quaff of mine), this just isn't a place where Pig in a Poke has a snowball's chance in Snooth, since we can get recommendations from each other at a moment's notice.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, May 27, 2011.

What the wine's about?  What it stands for?  What the experience of it is?

And they think talking about grapes and other stuff isn't relevant... Not even sure what they mean by "what the wine's about."  What could possibly be more subjective than "what it stands for?" 

Some people just drink their wine, although it's kind of hard to drink it like you would water, milk, or even beer--it's just not a gluggable beverage.  You don't have to talk about it endlessly.  But when people talk about wine, is the best talk about some vague first-year-at-university-stoned-out-of-your-mind-discussion-of-existentialism-by-someone-who-has-only-read-Camus's-The-Stranger?  Or is it better to say, "wow, this Fess Parker Frontier Red has no cabernet but through skillful blending of old-vine carignane from the Central Valley and de-appellated Syrah from the Central Coast, you can really get the tannins and the fruit in the right proportions, with that cassis thing going on. And it's only ten bucks" Then you have an idea of what you are in for.  You might disagree, you might hate the wine, but "It's all about the working man's struggle to assert his identity in a mechanized world" doesn't tell me squat about the wine I am about to drink or buy.

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Reply by dmcker, May 27, 2011.

Bottom line is Spike's tasting notes/review: thin, watery plonk with no character and zilch sex appeal. Even though the discussion here has been interesting, I think it's now OK to say "'nuff said".

Back to the laboratory, Trotters....


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