Saturday, January 12, 2013

Oh Goddamn It....




I hate getting sucked into the flavor of the week or stoopidly unimportant wine controversy of the moment. I rolled my eyes at the Jay Miller nonsense, don't care if Robert Parker sells his quickly losing life rag that I never read in the first place, and that Natalie MacLean woman, whose name I just had to Google because I didn't care enough to even try and remember it...well I can't bring myself to be indigent and all miffed that someone I had never really even heard of reprinted other people's reviews, without their permission, on her pay to read website that I didn't even know existed. Had I been one of the writers she lifted words from maybe I would have gotten my crunders in a twist, although I can't imagine how I would even find out that she did, you know, seeing as I have not a clue who she is and all. Just can't bring myself to get wrapped up in this stuff and in large part I think it shows what a tiny and mildly obsessed with ourselves world we wine people live in at times. I bet you that I can ask every single one of the customers at my tasting this afternoon if they know who Natalie MacLean is and I'll be gobsmacked if even one of them has ever heard of her. Might just do that in fact, just to see if I'm out on a ledge here but I fear too many of us "Into wine" folks are a bit like that know-it-all kid at school that we all hated. 




The one that raised their hand for every question, volunteered to be hall monitor because tardy slips made them drunk with power and thought it was cool to work the copy machine and paper cutter in the principal's office. Not too far from the first blogger/writer to burst on the scene with some wine world scandal, the yanker that smiles with feverish delight as he pushes a wine glass across the table as he blurts out, (before anyone else can therefore making him champion of the world) "Corked! This wine's corked." or the first one to bounce on the wine boards so they can smear their insiderness and wine "knowledge" all around when there is any kind of feather flapping going on. Hate those asswads and I do my best to either mock or simply ignore them. Might be my lack of journalistic tendencies, I mean this was hard-hitting information in my book...



But I have just never been a gossip slinger or poo flinger as it were. Sure I can and will comment from time to time but for the most part I let the petty shit that doesn't make one iota of difference for me and my little corner of the wine world go and instead focus on our customers and the things that truly matter to them....which sure as shit isn't Jay Miller or Ms. Not-so-Clean. For me to spend too much time loading up on that hollow crap would mean I would be stuck chatting with the hall monitor folks that seem to feed off that noise. Um, no thanks dude. You keep preparing for the day that Jeopardy adds wine to one of their categories, "I'll take Tennat" for $800 Alex" and I'll keep ignoring you and the insignificant drama that gets your goo going. Deal? Sweet. Now that being said...





http://fermentationwineblog.com/2013/01/french-fight-epic-wine-battle-in-dcl-berets-fly/ 

http://wineoh.tv/sonoma-champagne-served-at-inauguration 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/obama-inauguration-champagne-french_n_2448408.html 



Not going to lean in too much on this subject, everyone here knows how I feel about this Champagne/sparkling wine business. I've written about it so many times that I am sick to death of hearing myself talk about it. (http://sansdosage.blogspot.com/2012/09/not-same-period.html)  Champagne is not a thing or style of wine, it is a place, period. The fact that there are companies here in the Untied States that have been allowed to use, through grandfather rights, appellation names, like Champagne and Chablis, is something that while a thorn in my side, as an educator, I can deal with. On the other hand, the snide and condescending attitude towards the French and the Champagne Bureau specifically, about a sparkling wine label that is NOT compliant with the EU treaty, being served at Obama's inauguration dinner, well that right there is really starting to piss me off. The bureau brought the subject up because that is part of what they are there to do, it's their job to protect the name of France's most famous sparkling wine region by making sure people are not robbing the name and misrepresenting themselves to consumers. Stupid gig? Maybe but it is their gig so whatever. I kind of brushed over the whole thing until I started hearing things like, "The French need to relax and have a glass of their own product" and "Oh big deal, the French are so uptight" and the one that spoke to me the most, "What's the big deal, Korbel will still sell millions of cases"....you know what, that's right. Korbel will continue to sell millions of cases so....how's about you take that Champagne bullshit off your label?



So everyone gets all pissy with the French, a favorite pass time of the many of the domestic wine loving world, making fun of them and calling them uptight but no one is asking what I see as a very important question, why aren't these California wine lovers all up in Korbel's shit for not promoting themselves, proudly, as a California sparkling wine?! The word "Champagne" doesn't matter, and "It's all the same anyway" well then, put California sparkling wine on your label and be done with the French all together. Easy right? Oh, that's right, you stole the place name of the world's most renowned sparkling wine producing region to peddle your bubbly plonk in the first place. Which brings us right back here. To use Champagne on your label when you make California sparkling wine is not only wrong, it shows a serious lack of pride in this country and the wines we produce here.....so you won't mind when a winery in Chile makes a Stag's Leap or Oakville Cabernet right? Yeah, that will fly. Sigh....

 

 Just this once I am going to say that I wish this Sonoma sparkling wine producer were more like the French and showed a little pride. Shame on you.       

13 comments:

Alfonso Cevola said...

And while we’re at it, let’s lose those place name rip-off’s too, like New “York”, New “York, “Italy”, Texas and “San Pedro” California…

;^0

Thomas said...

So glad that Sam doesn't get sucked into these things. Imagine how long the post would have been had she been sucked in.

This is one that I stayed out of--mostly. First, because the argument is tired and second, because PR people who support use of names that don't belong to them are largely being disingenuous.

Samantha Dugan said...

Alfonso,
Gotta love yer snark.

Thomas,
This was damn short and written in my "fuck you pompous asshats" early morning fog, so I didn't get too drug in. Plus I didn't even bother commenting over at Tom's which last I checked was full of eye-rolling, California wine promoters so disingenuous, and uninformed that they make me crave tight neck flesh in the palms of my hands. Ack! I think I might be annoyed and junk. I loathe comparisons and believe that there are beautiful sparkling wines made here in California but they aren't Champagne, just as Alsace and Jura sparkling wines aren't Champagne...and trust me, should one of those Domaines from Alsace or Jura try to label their bubbles as Champagne the French would come down on their French necks too. Not and us and them thing, it's a protection of place name thing, period and for Americans to act like they are being picked on when they were in the wrong from the git, well you are either full of shit or just dumb.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
And, frankly, I'm sick of McDonald's insulting the people of Hamburg too. Just call 'em meat doilies and be done with it.

Unfortunately for the folks in Champagne, it's become a generic word like Kleenex or Google (as in "wipe that Google off your nose with this Kleenex"). So they are in for a long fight, and one they'd be better off just ignoring most of the time. Korbel has gotten millions of dollars of publicity thanks to the Champagne folks. They should have politely contacted the person who wrote the menu, had it changed, and NOT sent out some stupid press release.

But, as always, you're right, Samantha, it's disingenuous and dishonest of Korbel to continue to put California Champagne on their label. However, it ain't foolin' anybody. You can throw a "Miss America" sash over STEVE!, but that don't make it so.

I love you!

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
And another defending of the dishonest practice in the form of, "Oh they should just get over it" and you are wrong Love, they are fooling lots and lots of people which is why people don't know that Champagne isn't bubbly wine, that it's a place, therefore making my job way the fuck harder. Kills me that you guys are defending this bullshit and acting like the French were wrong for pointing it out, rather than pointing out the glaring fact that Korbel is not only wrong...in the actual factual way, like incorrect, for using the name Champagne on the label, that they are saying that California sparkling isn't as good by not wanting to proudly display it on their label. But you're probably right, lets just ignore it. Funny no one ignored it when Franzia used Napa in the name of a wine that was not from Napa...but that's totally different, he's not French. I love you Baby but I disagree with you here...

Rogue Wino said...

The misleading label thing creates problems for people trying to sell and educate about wine. I've had customers straight up accuse me of lying when I've tried to explain that fume blanc was no more than a (stupid) marketing term for suavignon blanc.
As an aside, an out-of-state guest once asked me why we didn't have Korbel on our wine list. Isn't it one of California's premiere champagnes? he asked me. That threw me for a loop

Thomas said...

Why doesn't some enterprising French winemaker produce a Napa Cabernet somewhere in the Languedoc?

Samantha Dugan said...

Rogue Wino,
Exactly. The point, the whole fucking point, is that they are "fooling" people otherwise there would be none of this bull crap. To act as if this is somehow a French issue is like those republicans acting as if the heckling and pointing of a bony finger in Obama's face was not because he's black...just untrue. Bottom line is there would be no issue had the place names not been stolen in the first place. To continue the practice is either to mislead your consumers or because you feel that putting California sparkling wine on the label somehow makes it less prestigious....which in turn tells us how you feel about sparkling wine from California, as in, it's not as good. I mean, if it were, why wouldn't it be all over the label? Use Napa or Duck on your label and you get either sued or threatened by your fellow "Merikan" but the French are being dicks? Yeah, tells ms a lot more about the eye-rollers than the "snooty" French.

Thomas,
Right? I've tried not to get too pissy but it just kind of reminds me of the, "Maybe she shouldn't have dressed like that if she wasn't asking for it" kind of hollow thinking. A press release is stupid but stealing a regional name and using it on your wine, NOT from that region or country even isn't? Makes zero sense to me.

webb said...

You all are wy over my head, but fortunately i dont particularly like Korbel any way ,

And, who knew fume blanc was sauvignon blanc? I did learn something today, i think!

Samantha Dugan said...

Webb,
Yet another reason I don't get into this junk that often, way insider. I appreciate your plugging through however and hell, if you learned something then all the better!

TWG said...

Hell, the French stop growers from within the area labeling wine with the appellation name.

Ron, I'm guessing the commitee was contacted before the press release.

They steal the name because it sells. The Commitee is selling Obama to the public and they probably believe the controversy helps establish Obama as a "real" American.

gabe said...

For me, the obvious problem is that there is no sexy name for California Sparkling Wine and nobody who currently calls it Champagne is going to start calling it California Sparkling Wine just because they change the label.

In the Obama vein of turning a problem into an opportunity, maybe California winemakers can use this as an opportunity to solve this problem that has gone on for too long, while also promoting their brand. Hold some stupid convention with all the sparkling wine makers, come up with a fun new name, and use it as a chance to promote California "bubbly" or "fizz" or "whatever dumb name that is not Champagne".

Finally Samantha, let me say that I am the wine snob in my group of friends that makes sure everyone knows the difference between sparkling wine and Champagne. It's a thankless job, but an important one. Keep up the good fight

Samantha Dugan said...

TWG,
Yeah, it's hardly only the Americans that are restricted, we just seem to the only ones that get all hoity while accusing them of being...well, hoity. Not even sure what "Real American" means...

Gabe,
Oh I don't know, I think California is pretty sexy, not to mention kinda known for making world class wines so I'm not sure what the deal is...other than they are banking of the confusion my Beloved Ron doesn't think there is, and that is precisely why they won't remove Champagne from the label. Kinda shitty and I sincerely think more California wine folks should be pissed about that.

Thanks for fighting with me kid, it's all for the greater good and so people are informed..so totally worth it.