BKWine Brief nr 49, August 2007

This is a summer when I feel very English: always talking about the weather. Will it change or not? For most people a summer like this year’s is disappointing but for wine growers it can have much more drastic consequences (as, of course, it has had for many non-wine growing people in England too). It is still far from certain if wine growers will face any such dramatic consequences this year. July has been very cool and rainy in many places in France, but if August and September turns out a little bit better there should be no grave consequences. So, let’s hope for the best.

It has become illegal to put Cru Bourgeois on the label in Bordeaux (read more below). The new Cru Bourgeois classification of 2003 was annulled and many people thought that they would simply revert to the old classification from 1932 (still much more recent than the still valid general Médoc classification of 1855). But no. Let’s hope that the chateaux have not pre-printed too many labels. And what will happen with the classification in Saint Emilion? They had a new classification in 2006 that also has been annulled by the courts (after complaints from some of the chateaux that were not included, just like with the Cru Bourgeois). And since the “old” classification in St E only was valid from 1996 to 2006 there is no more any classification on Saint Emilion. Or?… And what about Pessac-Léognan/Graves? They have been working on a new classification since a few years back. Will they dare go ahead with that in the current climate, knowing what it can lead to? We asked some time ago one of the wine growers in Graves how they would do a classification. He said that the only real “measure” to base a classification on is how much the consumers are prepared to pay for the wines. But for the consumer it is very easy to see how much a wine costs so why do we then need the classification(s)? Perhaps time to scrap them altogether?

Being summertime, this month’s Brief is a little bit shorter. But considering this summer, perhaps it is time to start thinking about next vacation.

I certainly recommend that you take a look at next year’s first wine tour, which actually is a wine, truffle and foie gras tour. The final and official program has just been released. It may sound luxurious, and that’s exactly what it is. On top of the gastronomic highlights we will stay at a very nice little chateau-hotel (I’m keeping up the British theme here – this is an understatement). If this trip won’t brighten up a dreary February for you nothing will. And I’m happy to say that it is also at a very affordable price. More info below.

In the last Brief I wrote some comments about wine scoring with some references to Wine Spectator that had scored the same wine very differently at two different occasion. Wine Spec’s Executive Editor Thomas Matthews wanted to clarify a what had actually happened and wrote us the following note:

“Just a point of clarification: The wine referred to in the San Francisco Chronicle article (not WSJ, as cited in the blog) on wine rating, which received different scores from Wine Spectator in two tastings, was not exactly the “same wine.” It was a Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon tasted on two occasions nearly 10 years apart. It’s no wonder it received different scores — as wine lovers know, wines change with age, and only the very best improve over such a long period of time. From our point of view, the two different scores show the integrity of our evaluation system, reflecting real differences not necessarily obvious, given the wine had the same label. I don’t argue that wine ratings in themselves should be the only information wine drinkers use to choose the wines they decide to buy and enjoy. But using an expert’s experience as part of a personal evaluation seems reasonable. We do it for many goods in many fields. Why not wine?
Thomas Matthews
Executive editor
Wine Spectator”

If you are curious you can read what our reply was in the blog here:


PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief or forward it to them !

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