Wine Talk

Snooth User: shawkes

Wines to Know

Original post by shawkes, Feb 4, 2010.

What are some wines that are wines to know? Meaning, I here people rolling wines off and I was wondering were their any about maybe 30 that someone . What are the classics to be aware of?

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Reply by Cathy Shore, Feb 24, 2010.

Hey you guys completely depress me. I don't want to pay exorbitant sums of money on wines that everybody else thinks are good when clearly they are not worth it. For me the pleasure in wine is finding the little guy that makes great wine that I can afford. Call it reverse snobbism if you like. You can keep Parker too.

Reply by amour, Feb 24, 2010.

Well said Cathy Shore.....

At the same time...."May all ideas contend"

There are very few things, if any, that I am dogmatic about
and in any event "we are not all born or made alike, though we are
all equal as human beings."
This is getting too intellectual!

CHEERS!...a great inexpensive one in my hand from ...a little guy!

Reply by Cathy Shore, Feb 25, 2010.

Well then amour, what was the great inexpensive wine you were drinking from a little guy?

Reply by amour, Feb 25, 2010.

CathyShore....You are surely provocative and stimulating, indeed !!!

I was drinking Chateau La Courtiade !!!!

Reply by amour, Feb 25, 2010.

Vignobles peyverges...SMALL PRODUCER !

Reply by GregT, Feb 25, 2010.

Cathy - "exorbitant sums of money on wines that everybody else thinks are good when clearly they are not worth it."

I know that you realize that those concepts mean different things to different people. For some people, spending $10 on a bottle seems silly, for others $20, and for others $50 or more. Same with cars, blue jeans, etc. There's really no reason to spend money on a diamond since the prices of those are completely manipulated and any rarity is artificially induced. Yet, some people don't mind spending money on those things. I don't begrudge people the right to spend their money as they see fit, although I suppose sometimes the value is in the conspicuous consumption of the item, rather than the intrinsic worth of it.

Classified growth Bordeaux has become a product like diamonds and designer jeans - priced not on the intrinsic value of the product but instead on the "branding" and image. So the original question of the thread was "wines you 'should' know" and my instinct was to state that there are no such wines, which is what I believe. When the owner of a chateau states that his wine "SHOULD be a luxury product" and therefore raises his price to over a thousand dollars a bottle, why should YOU know about that wine? The owner is not a little guy, he's quite wealthy and intent on becoming more wealthy because the price increase doesn't go to the distributor or retailer, it goes to his pocket. So when people say you should know the classified growths, I wonder to what end? Are you likely to drink all of them frequently?

Now about Parker, and I don't want to cast myself into the role of his defender, but I think he's easily dismissed by people who may have had a fraction of the various wines he's had in his life. His contribution, as I've stated elsewhere, was challenging the supposition that there are wines you "should" know and that the quality of the wine was determined by its pedigree. By tasting blind, he said wine B is better than wine A and guess what, it was made by a "little guy" and wine A was the prestige wine. Of course that caused an uproar. And it caused many arrogant producers to improve the quality of their wines. Maybe wash their tanks, maybe pay more attention to the fruit they were putting into the wine, maybe pick at consistent ripeness, maybe watch the temperatures during fermentation, etc. At this point, perhaps Parker is part of the system and maybe has been co-opted, but he should not be dismissed.

I think it's a convenient myth to state that Parker only likes a specific style of wine. He sure didn't dislike the 2005 Bordeaux, which are tannic as hell, especially the first growths. Fruit bombs? Only if you have a very peculiar definition of those. Of course if one haven't tasted them, one really can't have a credible opinion on them anyway. OTOH, he didn't damn the 2007 Bordeaux, which I found fairly weedy and thin. IMO, he overpraised the 2007 S Rhones, which I found less compelling than 2006 in some cases, and surely less compelling than 2005.

Is there a way to categorize all that? No. But if Parker drinks an Australian shiraz from Barossa and likes it, it's easy to say "Aha! That's ALL he likes", when the reality is quite different.

Again, I don't need to defend the guy, nor do I necessarily agree with him all of the time. And I completely agree that the pleasure is finding the little producer who makes great but affordable wine. One of the problems in that regard is that when a little producer gets "discovered", the wine becomes something that everyone else thinks is good and the price goes up.


Reply by Cathy Shore, Feb 25, 2010.


Yes you have a point. Wines that are made by little guys get Parkerised and then become very expensive and inaccessible. Parker just has so much influence upon the market these days that I think it's unhealthy - after all he's just one guy and I do think he has a particular style that gets points. That's not necessarily fruit bomb but in the past he has preferred (Bordeaux in particular) with an up-front fruity style. The end result of that is that producers who want to hit the big time, try and make wines to suit the Parker style. I think there is a lot of good info in his books by the way - I don't have them but they do contain relevant notes about vintages, producers etc etc.
Anyway, moving on from Parker as he is not my main bone of contention. I just find it depressing that there is pressure to 'know of, have tasted' the cult wines. Wines that as you say have become 'luxury goods' like diamonds. I can count the times I have met someone who has found out that I work in the wine trade and the first thing they say is 'oh how interesting, have you tried Grange, have you tasted Screaming Eagle, have you tasted Chateau d'Yquem'. And the answer is by and large - no I haven't, I can't afford to 'try' them, I'm just an ordinary person who works with wine. It's not that I don't like or respect these wines (and I have tasted Yquem, Petrus and other such wines on a number of occasions) but I don't think they represent the interesting side of wine. If people have the money to spend then that's up to them but count me out. I'm much more excited to learn about smaller producers who are making great wine, I want to tell people about them - not about the wines that cost loads of money.
I worked with an amazing producer in Israel - my job was to find him a market in the UK. He makes Bordeaux style reds (one top wine and one second) and a Burgundy style Chardonnay. Truly fabulous wines but could I find anyone to buy them? No because they were expensive relatively speaking to the real thing. Why would anyone pay 25 pounds for a bottle of his wine when they could get a classed growth Bordeaux for the same price? I bumped into him recently in Angers giving a talk on wines from Israel - he's hit the 'big time' he told me, been Parkerised and now is selling all he can make to the USA and Japan. I'm pleased for him because he deserves it (he worked hard to make great wines from nearly nothing) but I'm a bit sad too.
Moving on, I'm now going to go and have a glass of Savennières from a little guy called Loic Mahe. He has just 2 hectares in Savennières - the 2006 is still very tight and mineral compared with his 2005 which is a flavour experience.

Reply by dmcker, Feb 25, 2010.

Tell me the Israeli vintner, Cathy, and I'll tell you if it's who I'm thinking it probably is... ;-)

Reply by Cathy Shore, Feb 26, 2010.

And.... the winemaker is - Eli Ben Zaken of Domaine du Castel in the Judean Hills. Is it him? I met him when I was working for an Australian winemaker at the London Wine Trade Fair - he has a most amazing history and as it happens was educated in Surrey close to where I was living at the time. Call it coincidence but that's how I started working with him. He was not making Kosher wines at the time and reluctant to convert but...has done since.

Reply by Cathy Shore, Feb 26, 2010.

Amour - the red or the white from Chateau la Courtiade? - I shall seek it out here.

Reply by dmcker, Feb 26, 2010.

Cathy, I was guessing someone else entirely, Victor Schoenfeld at the Golan Heights Winery, and their Yarden wines. His background is more California, since that's where he was born and raised (Rancho Palos Verdes) and spent the early years of his career (Mondavi, Preston and Chateau St. Jean in Napa and Sonoma before a brief stint at Jacquesson Champagne then on to Golan Heights from '91).

Not perhaps coincidentally, it's the Yarden cabs and chardonnays that have brought them the most international attention. He seems to have had the persuasiveness to get Zelma Long to sign on as a consultant from some time back. I've enjoyed their syrah, blanc de blancs sparkling and El Rom Vineyard cab offerings on several occasions, the first time an eye opener many years back when I had no expectations at all of wine from Galilee....

Reply by amour, Feb 26, 2010.

Cathy, I do appreciate all that you said.
I wish that I had the luxury of time to respond
fully today.
I do not, unfortunately.

But, I entered this thread on a particular premise.
Therefore, my contribution is based, quite logically,
on my platform.

I wil continue on this point.
Let me simply say, this time, once again.....
Socially, one may think one needs to know
certain things...It is like how some people joined GOLF-CLUBS
because socially, it did them good.

Like you, I honestly did not wish to particularly
join a thread on "WHAT WINES ONE NEEDS TO KNOW"
because like you I do not think that one needs to know
many that I have even mentioned
But I think that people think that they need to know!
This is getting philosophical...really.
I am helping people...and that is it..AMEN.
I am supplying demand.

As everyone knows by now...people like me, and several there are,
like to be thorough.....I am this way with all of my passions...ENGLISH LAW, POETRY.
CHARITY, ANTIQUES, PIANO, name it....CHEESES, as I was as a UN a journalist, as a mother...
and so a SAILOR, as the owner of a private island resort...and so on.

Love you all!


Reply by Cathy Shore, Feb 26, 2010.

I bow to your philosphy. It's just that sometimes, it's no bad thing to stand up and say 'hey, you don't need to KNOW about any wines - it's what YOU discover that's important".

I rest my case.

Good night and by the way, each to his own!


Reply by amour, Feb 26, 2010.

In Wine There Is Truth !

And CathyShore, you are so true !

I love you !


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