Vol 3 No 7…4,000 bottles of Bordeaux on the wall, 4,000 bottles of wine

Just when you think you’ve heard it all along comes a new scam. This one on the Chinese government by the way. Smugglers have managed to bring in wine from Macau since the island killed the tax on wine in 2008. Since then at least 210,000 bottles of first growth Bordeaux, mainly, have been smuggled in  They also discovered a second ring that may have brought in 1,800 tons of bottled wine (why they report it that way is beyond this wine geek). Since 2011, more than 210,000 bottles have been smuggled in.

The wines were mainly first growth Bordeaux, including Mouton Rothschild,Lafite Rothschiled, and even a 2008 Petrus ($3,900+ a bottle in China!!!), plus Margaux, Pichon Baron, and Calon-Segur. Ay chihuahua! …or more appropriately, sacre bleu!

Here is a link which includes a video clip…nice: https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2017/06/huge-wine-haul-in-chinese-smuggling-crackdown/

Now the question(s) are the following: what will the Chinese government do with the wine? Will it hurt the market for Bordeaux? Will it affect other wines if buyers shift to these if priced a bargain prices? I dunno, but it won’t be good for anybody. Remember the Chinese market for Bordeaux has not just become the primary market, due to what they have done to prices and their destruction of the three-tier system, could be the biggest thing since the 1974 Italian salad oil scandal which destroyed Bordeaux prices for several years. Let’s see how this plays out.

As the article stated there is only one piece of good news in all of this: there were no counterfeits!!! Ponder what that might have meant for a while…

3,000 bottles of wine on the wall, 3,000 bottles of wine…sell one and what do you have left? 2,999 bottles of wine on the wall…and all of it the best Bordeaux has to offer. Cheers!


Vol.3 No.6 – What’s in a rating?

Dear readers, thought you might enjoy this…sort of, like a root canal! Here is a link to the latest article from The Wine Gourd which mathematically analyzes many facets of wine. Also, in it the link to the prior article that started this is interesting.

To recap, TB still prefers the UC Davis system, why? Because it rates the quality of the wine in various degrees to come up with an overall quality rating. I have used it with novices and it works even with them. The problem with the others is subjectivity.
Under the Davis system, there are just two subjective points, under Parker:
• Color and appearance have 5 points.
• The aroma and bouquet receive up to 15 points.
• The passage of mouth and aftertaste receive up to 20 points.
• Finally, the overall quality level and the potential for future evolution and improvement receive up to 10 points.
I have been in tastings with other 100 point systems that can have 20-25 subjective points. That is the problem: we aren’t judging wine quality, we are letting the taster tell us what he/she likes and frankly, who cares? I certainly don’t since I differ greatly in what Parker looks for in a wine and have been disappointed at times when I buy (used to) based on his or anyone’s ratings.
I would be interested in your opinions and will end with a study that was done showing point escalation or ’rounding up’ to 90 which this article illustrates, although not stated, to me.
For my 50th birthday, we had a party on the Napa Wine Train. Waiting to board I saw this in a gift shop:
Man in tasting room: This wine is awful…worst I have ever tasted!
Pourer: Really? Parker gave it a 90.
Man: I’ll take two cases!
Just as Sideways tarnished Merlot, and embellished Pinot’s (the joke being that Mile’s favorite wine was Cheval Blanc which is predominantly Merlot), ratings are leaving a lot of good wines sitting on retailers shelves.
While I applaud Parker for creating a system that has improved quality of wine (in his early publications there were many wines with mid-80’s scores and until the ’82 Bordeaux, I can’t recall any wine with a rating of 99 or higher), and Michel Rolland’s efforts (although I fear all wines would taste alike if everyone made them to his standards), it is time for the consumer to take control and have the confidence to drink and pour for guests, wines they feel are high quality. The same goes for vintages: there are winners and losers in each one and terroir does make a difference.
That’s how I see it.
P.S. tasting note: last week I opened a bottle of wine, a Rioja I bought a couple of years back, Marques de Riscal Reserva 2007. It was marvelous, particularly for a $20-25 wine. The current release is 2011, I believe. It was full of luscious fruit flavors yet stood up well to a grilled steak. We drank half the bottle that night and using a trick I learned from Carles Pastrana at Clos de l’Obac, a fine Priorat wine, I merely recorked it and left it out, finishing it the next night…and guess what? It was even better, more developed and more intense. No signs of oxidation. A beautiful wine. For those of you not familiar with this wine, it is in the central part of La Rioja, was the first to export the wine, and has a beautiful hotel with it designed by Frank Gehry who designed the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Quite a sight in the middle of nowhere!