Thursday, September 09, 2004

Of TCA, Tempests and Teapots - Chateau Montelena's "Cellar Funk"

Another good article by Carol Emert, this one on the TCA contamination at Montelena:

When Jim Laube (rhymes with Snobby) "outed" BV in 2002, he did it with all the journalistic aplomb of someone who was out to protect the consumer from a evil corporation out to foist sub-standard, third world products on an unsuspecting consumer. He tasted a few BV wines during his reviews, found them to be "corked" and send them in for testing to a lab. They came back with TCA levels at a threshhold that could be tasted by some (Laube has a very low tolerance/threshhold for TCA) but not by the VAST majority of consumers. As a result, BV's sales slumped over 20% in the months followed the announcement by Wine Spectator.

Sales decreases were a reaction by the trade (wholesalers and retailers) to the negative publicity in Wine Spectator. Consumers don't read WS in any significant numbers, so the slowdown in sales was directly a result of wholesalers' concerns over the WS story. However, since 90% of consumers cannot taste TCA below 5 parts per trillion (ppt), why is WS destroying a brand's reputation for levels of TCA that averaged 2.7 ppt? BV had no unusual problems with consumer complaints, yet the "watchdog" of the industry went after them for a problem that didn't exist for 90% of consumers.

Then, WS did it again. They "outed" Gallo Sonoma in 2003 causing a huge cleanup of a problem that may not have been a real problem.

Now, they're doing it again to Montelena. What service are they providing? Selling copies or serving the consumer?

This reminds me of a consumer report gone bad: "There's a dangerous consumer product that kills thousands of Americans each year and you might have one in your own backyard. Details on the swimming pool crisis at 11"


Blogger Jack's Shack said...

I am not real familiar with wine, but I'd like to know more. It looks like your blog might help.

September 09, 2004 8:03 PM  
Blogger Huge said...

Well it's only one man's observations/ rants/ experiences, but I do try to be somewhat educational in how I approach wine. Being here in the Wine Country does have certain advantages (proximity to the wineries, availability of different wines, hear the gossip, etc).

Wine shouldn't be mysterious...after all the pretentiousness and elitism evaporates, it's still just a fruit beverage. It's about enjoyment by the consumer, not what some stuffy-shirt critic says it has to be.

Welcome, I hope my blog leads you to a whole new world of enjoyment!

September 11, 2004 7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't really sea any tempest in teapot here...

November 26, 2007 9:17 AM  

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