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Field Notes from a Wine Life – Autumn Rain Pt. II

More odds and ends from a life lived through the prism of the wine glass …

It Has Only Just Begun

There’s an old business management saying (paraphrased) from Peter Drucker that goes, “If it can’t be measured, it can’t be managed.”

Score one for luxury wine producers.

I received an email today for a new Cabernet release (name withheld to protect the innocent) and it mentioned that the wine had received a high Enologix Index score—indicating the wine “is predicted to garner a score of 95 or above on a traditional wine critic’s scale of 100.”

That’s a first. 

Usually the actual critic’s scores are touted, but this one indicates that it should score well based on testing.  Since it was couched in an email inquiring about my desire for a sample, it’s actually a nice Jedi mind trick.  I can almost hear Yoda saying, “The Force is strong with this wine, young Jedi.  Review it well, you will.”

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Speaking of the Force, I also feel like I’ve been focus grouped on the latest summer blockbuster.  “Based on our polling data, Transformers 2 should have an $80M opening weekend and do $250M domestically scoring strong word of mouth with young adult males…”

Methinks that while many small, boutique wineries think that fortunes can be lost (or never made) based on wine reviews, there are a bunch of deep pocketed folks who use Enologix and are laughing as they pull the lever behind the curtain.

This of course begs the question—who really rules the roost in the industry?  Is it critics or the science behind the wine?

Sidebar thought – I’m not sure what the phraseology will be in the future, but I’m pretty sure that the word “cult” has reached the point of diminishing return for high-end luxury Napa reds.  It’s a word that has too much in common with the cabal of greed on Wall Street.

If you couple the above with a mention of the 2005 Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace in Wine & Spirits magazine noting:

“The best Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon we’ve ever tasted on release.  Bar none.”  And the fact that Robert Parker, as reported all over, has said:

“Throughout the southern Rhone, 2007 is the greatest vintage I have tasted in my thirty years working in that region.” 

It would seem that areas of the wine industry are doing their part to ensure that the high-end of wine recovers.

Separate thought, same general vein:  Given that we’re headlong into football season, and college football’s BCS rankings were released for the first time over the weekend, all of this thinking about scoring, critics and superlatives has me wondering if the wine world is one statistician away from changing the game.

In the realm of sports, sure there are statistics that make for objective review, but then you have the super number wonks that turn the game – and numbers—into something different entirely and in doing so they change the way we view the game entirely. Quarterback ratings and strength of schedule come to mind, as does the value of on base percentage in baseball.

Guys like Bill James in baseball, Jeff Sagarin for rankings, and others have had a profound impact on the sport of games.  Wine is one dedicated statistician and uber-math formula away from making critics just another link in the value chain.

Condé Nast

My wife would like to take a moment and thank Condé Nast magazine for her new subscription to GQ magazine. 

Her original subscription to Domino magazine was switched to Cookie magazine when Domino folded.  Cookie then folded, but before it did is was the so-called, “stylish parenting magazine for the new mom” (despite the fact that our kids are mere twinkles in my loins).  With Domino and Cookie now kaput, she has been migrated to GQ, despite the fact that, well, she’s clearly not the market for GQ. 

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On the other hand, I love the cleavage shot of the cover model this issue. 

I can’t wait to see how they handle our Gourmet magazine subscription (Which is paid through 2012 because, hell, who pays attention to their subscription?  I kept writing the renewal checks because they came every two months).  Will we get a continuation of our existing subscription to Bon Appétit, or will they give us Teen Vogue?

Gary Vee

Gary Vaynerchuk’s myth-making is in full effect with the release of his new book.  I’ve read several blog posts that assert that Vaynerchuk built Wine Library from $5M to $60M AFTER he started the video blog.  While that inconsistency is a nice bit of legend for social media gurus, I do believe the truth is that he built up to that amount of revenue since taking over the family business in the mid-to-late nineties.  This master of the Internet, a guy who never misses a Google Alert with his name in it (with several different spellings), should proactively try to clear up this falsehood.

No, Gene Simmons from the rock band Kiss doesn’t have a cow tongue grafted onto his own tongue and Gary Vee hasn’t grown Wine Library 10X in the last three years.



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Posted in, Free Run: Field Notes From a Wine Life. Permalink | Comments (9) |


Comments

On 10/20, Thomas Pellechia wrote:

Jeff,

None of it is real—not even the cleavage.

Love the reference to receiving subscription notices every two months—I’ve noticed that lately and wondered how many people fall for it.

Someday, I’ll tell you how I beat the subscription game…before the rag folds!

Have to say, however, that the loss of Gourmet is truly sad. Maybe there is something to this dagblasted Internet thing.

On 10/20, Dr. Horowitz wrote:

Re: Gary Vee…

I think the importance of social media and the Internet is that it has forced the big boys to distribute their content Online.

Now I can choose between watching WLTV or Saturday Night Live on HULU. It wasn’t like that a little while ago. This is going to make it tougher for video bloggers to rise like Vaynerchuk did. Now you’re competing with the pros.

On 10/20, Arthur wrote:

“I received an email today for a new Cabernet release (name withheld to protect the innocent) and it mentioned that the wine had received a high Enologix Index score—indicating the wine “is predicted to garner a score of 95 or above on a traditional wine critic’s scale of 100.””

Sent the unopened bottle back with a postit with”

“95 points, Jeff Le Fevre, GoodGrape.com”

On 10/20, Arthur wrote:

sorry, make that:

Send the unopened bottle back with a postit with”

“95 points, Jeff Le Fevre, GoodGrape.com”


How @#^%ing presumptuous and arrogant of them!
In effect, they are telling you what score to give their &$@#ing swill.

On 10/20, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Diamond Creek Rock terrace, pretty good wine but not a 95.  Great points above.  I am interested in this social media stuff.  I heard this guy Chris Riccobono from http://pardonthatvine.com/...has done some amazing things through it.  Although his site is tremendous so that could be another reason.

On 10/20, Dylan wrote:

I don’t think its a statistician away as much as a consumer review away. I have a feeling that word-of-mouth is going to be the paradigm shift in millennial wine purchases, and the internet has only made this a greater possibility.

On 10/20, Thomas Pellechia wrote:

How coincidental that pardonthatvine gets mention on a number of wine blogs across the past day or two.

Note to Riccobono’s press agent: drop me an email…

On 10/20, jeff wrote:

Dylan,

I might explore the statistician thing a bit more—the problem is I’m only smart enough with math to balance a checkbook and employee bonuses (the employee bonus skills have grown dormant lately, too).  But, that said, I don’t have it exactly clear in my head just yet, but there is a lot of meta data in wine that can be parsed in a meaningful way.

TP—Re:  Pardon that Vine—people that comment and nakedly try to get traffic to their site are no better than spam commenters, no matter if it’s done by hand. Huge turnoff for me. 

Jeff

On 05/20, TN Pas Cher wrote:

nus skills have grown dormant lately, too).  But, that said, I don’t have it ex


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