Unless you’re a wine connoisseur, finding the right bottle can be tricky. It’s generally accepted that the more expensive a bottle of wine, the better it is.However, Ryan O’Connell fromNakedwines.com says belief is prompting winemakers to up their prices, sometimes unreasonably so.
Nakedwines.com is a customer-funded winery that helps independent winemakers set up a business.
O’Connel, a marketing manager-turned winemaker says that the day he entered the production side of wine, he began spotting patterns — ways that winemakers could potentially take advantage of consumers.
Here are three main indicators he gave us to tell whether or not you’re paying too much for a bottle of wine.
1. Award competitions
It doesn’t take much to convince the average wine buyer that a medal means high-quality.
“In the industry, we all know that medals and competitions of that sort, especially in the U.S., are pretty much luck-based. So many competitions award medals to 80 percent of the entrants, that it’s just kind of a money machine for the people running the competition,” O’Connell says. “Those medals are worth about as much as the blue ribbon on a PBR.”
He says that large production wines can pay a lot of fees to rack up awards in easy competitions. Good indicators of a trustworthy wine competition include locality, a diverse panel of judges and a low percentage of awards. Several good competitions O’Connell mentioned were the North Coast Wine Challenge and the International Wine Challenge.
2. Bottle packaging
Like most products, winemakers can get away with higher pricing just by spending more on the packaging. To tell if you’re paying for the packaging or the wine, O’Connell recommends feeling the weight of the bottle first. He says some companies use heavier bottles to make people subconsciously spend more.
Another embellishment winemakers add is the punt, or the indent on the bottom of the bottle. Luxury wine punts usually measure about 1.5 inches, which means more money spent on design. Although larger punts make for more stable shipping, O’Connell says it’s a pretty good indicator of how much effort was put into the packaging.
Even things opacity and color of the glass can cost extra. O’Connell says once you’ve noticed the differences once, it becomes easier to pick them out in the store.
“If you’re buying wine for $10-15 and it’s got expensive packaging, you’re probably putting more money into the packaging than the grapes. If you spend $100, then there’s a fair chance that the winemaker just spent a ton of money on the fruit, AND a ton of money on the packaging,” he says.
3. Regional acclaim
When buying wine from a famous region, you’re paying for the region’s brand just as you’re paying for the bottle.
“If a region is really world-famous, then it’s probably spent a lot of money achieving that world fame,” O’Connell says. “Then everything gets more expensive as a result of that marketing expense.”
Not that those regions don’t deserve their reputation. But O’Connell believes that it’s hard to extricate the costs of the marketing from the costs of actual wine production.
As a work around, O’Connell suggests finding a region nearby that makes a similar style of wine. You may end up paying a quarter of the price you’d find for a celebrity region.
For beginners, find some local wine stores. Talk one-on-one to winemakers who can open up some bottles and let you taste their wines. Once you familiarize yourself with the different regions and their tastes and prices, you’ll be able to better understand what you’re getting with your money.
I’m astonished at how much has changed in the past two years. One particularly conspicuous example is twitter use in and around Vinisud, a big wine fair that happens every two years.
Twitter at Vinisud
Two years ago, there were a handful of people tweeting at Vinisud. I actually got multiple journalists to visit the O’Vineyards stand just because we answered their tweets and invited them to come by. That’s a pretty big score for less than 140 characters.
This year, in the days leading up to the event, there is a massive flow of tweets about Vinisud, including the tweets of winemakers, interprofessions, syndicates, and the official @vinisud twitter account. Six people have tweeted about the wine fair in the time it has taken me to write the first three paragraphs of the post you’re reading. That’s a big change in just two years!
That’s incredible growth. It also explains why there’s so much more chatter this year. There are 40 times as many people to do the chattering. Plus when you think about it, the first 127,000 to adopt are generally in the tech & communications field. There are 700,000 informaticiens in France. So the odds are the winemakers don’t really join the conversation until those guys all do it. ;D
How useful is twitter at Vinisud?
And we come to the question, what use is tweeting for winemakers or anybody else at Vinisud? It’s not Fukushima. It’s not Arabian Spring. It’s a wine fair. Who cares what you’re drinking right now?
Well, two years ago, it was exceptionally useful. As I mentioned above, we got tasted by the Wine Enthusiast and several blogs solely because of a tweet. We were on the Cité de Carcassonne’s communal stand and all the other producers were shocked at how busy we were. We were also rather shocked! In 2008, before social media (and before we had developed much of a reputation at all), we had virtually nobody come by the stand.
So Twitter was useful for drawing attention back then. It was pretty easy. Look who is talking about vinisud. Tweet them an invitation to taste your wines. The end.
But now that there are more of us, it’s harder to stand out from the crowd. Is this the point of diminishing returns?
The point of increasing returns?
Interestingly, more users also means more listeners! Sure it takes more time to stand out of the crowd. But the crowd is bigger so you get more return for your work too.
So all we have to do is figure out how to stand out from the crowd. So let’s take a look at the crowd.
Promotion of a group – A lot of the tweets are coming from organized groups like AOC syndicates, winemaker collectives, and PR agencies.
This strategy commonly involves tweeting out the stand of the collective group or the stands of individuals who belong to the group.
For example, the AOC Saint Chinian account seems to have been created very recently and specifically for the purpose of tweeting about their presence at Vinisud and similar events. There are only a few tweets and they’re generally self-promotional invitations. They only have a handful of followers, so logically they are not tweeting to those few who already follow them.
They are probably hoping to get the attention of folks who don’t already follow them on Twitter. And to the extent that they’re mentioned here, I guess that works.
This strategy is relatively common. You can find it again in the AOC Limoux, Groupe UVAL, and others. Limoux is notable for being more about social interaction most of the time (but they do this “list every winemaker routine” at conferences like Vinisud and Millesime Bio).
While I think a minority of people use this strategy, it tends to be highly visible because it fills the entire vinisud stream with short bursts of messages from the same people. As seen in the screenshot to the left.
Some groups like the Outsiders (which I belong to) separate these messages by several hours so that they don’t look quite as spammy.
Conversational Use – I think a lot of people are having simple conversations on Twitter. Like a form of broadcast text messages. It can be pretty hard to follow the stream of conversation, especially when multiple people get involved. But it does allow lots of people to get involved in the same discussion, and that is nice. Much of the conversation at this point is just “@soandso Are you coming to vinisud?” But there are more intricate dialogues too.
During the event, I anticipate this form of use will increase as Twitter just becomes an effective way to communicate with large groups (largely thanks to Twitter’s tiny data burden). This is often the kind of use you hear about in the news whether it’s in the context of vapid “I’m eating a muffin” posts or natural disaster and political upheaval articles. People use the tool for first hand communication/conversation.
Curatorial Use – Curators use Twitter to present things that they find elsewhere on the Internet. Obviously I am a big fan of this school (as should be apparent since we’re getting to the end of a lengthy listing of different uses of Twitter at wine conferences). For an idea of what this looks like, you can look at Andy Abramson, a blogger who is visiting the region in the time leading up to the conference.
I should note that there is a fine line (or no line?) between curatorial use and the group use mentioned above. In fact, groups are trying to curate their group members. But it just feels different. I can’t really put my finger on it. Maybe some other day.
If you want to stand out from this crowd, you’re going to need to do something eye-catching and different. Be the best curator, the most entertaining conversationalist, the coolest group, or invent a new use!
update: a reader has sent in a version with even higher contrast saying it works best:
Hopefully this version works a bit better. Thanks to Robert McIntosh for the excellent idea of desaturating the photo and increasing the contrast. And then making it smaller tends to help too. But not toooo small.
Anyway, here’s the finished black and white QR code made out of wine corks. Although, I must confess I like it much more in color!
Please let me know if it’s working or not.
It scans perfectly on my phone with Quick QR Reader, but then so did the original in color. And people say it works on Android and it works on iPhone!
But then some very competent people are telling me it won’t scan on their iPhones/Androids/etc. so I am sure it could be improved. Probably variations due to QR Code Reading App, monitor settings, how much you’ve had to drink, etc.
Naturally, it’s more likely to work if you’ve had a glass of wine. Which is why it works every time for me.
update: after hearing that the qr code didn’t scan properly on all phones, I made a black and white version that should be easier to scan! second update: most people are reporting that it works with certain QR code readers (presumably those with better error correction)
I made a QR code out of wine corks. I painstakingly placed the 25×25 grid (and then added a frame) so that the QR code uses over 625 corks. Each of them placed by hand wine side up or wine side down to represent the black or white of the QR code. Yes, pruning is so boring that I’d rather sit in and play an overly complicated game of wine cork dominos.
What is this? Why did I make a qr code out of wine corks?
A QR Code is like a two dimensional bar code. Most smartphones have applications that can scan these and interpret the data. Frequently, as in the case of this QR code, it will be a link to a website. In this case, it links you to the website where iPhone users can download an app called Wine Demon.
Normally QR codes look sort of boring. This is the original QR code that I decided to replicate:
I thought about making a QR code that linked to this very website or my other blog, Love That Languedoc, but on a whim I decided to link to Wine Demon. Actually, I’ve been meaning to announce some big news on the blog. I’m taking a sabbatical from O’Vineyards to continue my wine education and hunt out new business opportunities in California. This is a surprising move and a lot of people are harrassing me for details, but I cannot say yet. However, this QR code is a small hint.
That said, even if I had second thoughts about what to link to… it took me two hours to line up the 600+ corks and I don’t feel like redoing it any time soon.
Attribution – Creative Commons – Share alike
Please please please share this image and this idea with all of your friends. But please also mention me. If you use this particular QR code or if you decide to make your own QR code out of wine corks, I would greatly appreciate a small attribution for the concept. Just link to ovineyards.com and you will make my day.
Making the wine cork QR code
Basically, this QR code is a 25×25 grid where each square is either white or black. I drew out the grid on paper and then used a single cork for each square in the grid.
It turns out that the squares in the corners are the most important part. When a smart phone scans those corners successfully, it knows it’s looking at a QR code and then it can make a lot of assumptions to correct for errors. But if it doesn’t get those corner squares, then it won’t know to run the error-correcting calculations. So make sure the squares are perfect. Also, I ended up putting a frame of white corks around the whole thing, mostly to make the squares stand out more for the phone reader. This made a big difference and I recommend it to anybody trying to replicate this project.
“Enfin, il faudra accepter une certification des acteurs de la critique, de la notation, par une Autorité, sinon les technologies du numérique pourraient imposer la dictature d’une démocratie virtuelle. “
Roughly translated: Finally, we must accept a certification process for agents of criticism, of scoring, by some Authority, otherwise digital technology could impose a virtual tyranny of the masses.
The Tyranny of the Masses?
My natural instinct is to say that this is ridiculous. Ultimately, consumers know what they enjoy and they are the best people possible to decide what to buy. But let’s give the editor a chance. What are the potential downsides of a world without authoritative wine criticism? And what are the downsides of a “dictature d’une democratie virtuelle”?
I suppose there is a risk that we create a world where winemakers try to make bland and inoffensive wines that nobody hates (but nobody loves either). As I’ve discussed before, I wouldn’t want that. And it’s not an unrealistic proposition. Vast volumes of wine are already made this way.
Music that goes on the radio is often chosen in a similar fashion where the single release is rarely the best song on the album. It’s frequently just the least offensive song that is still a little catchy (but not too catchy!). There are stories about this where people organize a test group to listen to a CD and they intentionally pick the song with the most average score instead of the song that some people love and some people hate.
And when you see projects like Design A Sam Adams Beer, you see that some beverages are literally being ruled by a virtual democracy. And it is sort of preposterous.
But then the editorial sort of pines for the good old days when everybody’s pockets were full of francs and everybody’s glasses full of delicious wine. At one point, it feels like he’s even blaming the decrease in wine consumption on the absence of an authoritative voice in wine criticism:
“Et au 3ème et dernier acte, disparition de l’art de la critique du vin… Perdu par la multiplicité des références, des origines, des prix, le consommateur perd confiance et se protège en réduisant ses achats de vins !”
Roughly translated: in the 3rd act, the disappearance of the art of wine criticism… lost in a sea of choices, of denominations, of prices, the consumer loses confidence and protects himself by buying less wine!
This seems like a pretty zany argument. The reason people drink less wine in France is because they have less confidence in their ability to pick a good wine? I’m doubtful. It seems more likely that consumption is dropping because people are afraid to get a PV (moving violation) for drink driving. Or because mixed drinks are more fashionable than a glass of wine at most night clubs. Or even because there are more choices of what to drink today than there were 20 years ago. The point is there is no reason to think that dropping wine consumption rates in France are a result of lack of confidence in wine buyers.
And what’s more, I don’t think the rise of blogs and the downfall of authoritative wine criticism do anything to undermine consumer confidence. If anything, the notion that everybody can publish an opinion online should give confidence to consumers. Whereas consumers would be intimidated in a world full of famous wine critics that they haven’t had time to read, they should be liberated in a world where the only thing that matters is what you and your friends think when you open the bottle tonight.
Anyway, I’m puzzled by the logic.
My experience with egalitarian publishing
One of the best things that ever happened to me was the customer interface on Naked Wines. Customers who drink my wine can leave a review on the web site. It’s as simple as that. The majority of them don’t consider themselves bloggers or gurus or experts. They just review wines. And most of them simply say Yes or No to the question “Would you buy this wine again.” And then some of them write in detailed comments.
I used to think that I would never let a critic influence my winemaking style. But once the clients became critics… I changed my tune. When thousands of people are tasting my wines and hundreds are leaving detailed comments, I’m actually very keen to hear what they have to say. Obviously, I still make wines based on my own inclinations. But I’ll take it into account that two hundred people were happy with the 2009 Trah Lah Lah that was a little less tannic than the 08. It gives me confidence in the future to make a blend that’s a little less harsh.
Obviously, I shouldn’t make a bland and inoffensive wine just to appeal to everybody. But at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with taking the pulse of the people who are actually drinking your wine. And I’m glad that these people can share their own opinions, independent of what “recognized” wine authorities have to say.
Who gives authority to the authority?
And the last logical flaw in this editorial is about who gives power to the “Authority” that certifies critics.
“Pour éviter le drame, journalistes et éditeurs, du papier ou du numérique, devraient se réunir pour redonner un sens au journalisme du vin, redéfinir l’art de la critique.”
Roughly translated: To avoid tragedy, journalists and editors, be they paper or digital, should unite to bring back some meaning to wine journalism, redefine the art of criticism
If all wine writers get together to agree on who should write about wine (and how we should write about wine), doesn’t that include all the bloggers and social media voices that the author is denigrating in the rest of the editorial?
And why do we even need to redefine the art of criticism? Will that actually help consumers enjoy wine more? Or increase their confidence about picking a bottle at the restaurant? Personally, if I were a normal consumer, the idea that there are certified wine specialists whose opinions matter more than mine would terrify me far more than the notion that everybody has different opinions and you just like what you like and you shouldn’t feel guilty for not reading all of the “expert” opinions that have been published before picking a bottle and enjoying it.
No, I’m fairly confident in the tyranny of the majority. I like this brave new world we live in.
One of the best parts of the recent European Wine Bloggers Conference in Brescia, Italy is the post trips. Wine regions like Franciacorta (the primary sponsor for the event), il Soave (the region I visited on Sunday), and many others invited bloggers to tour wineries, see historical sites, and taste local food and wine. These trips tend to be very informative, offering a window into the typicity of an area’s wine, the culture that surrounds the vines, and a lot of fun memories. My Sunday trip to Soave was also notable for making me really really jealous.
Jealous of Communication Efforts
Amazing sense of style
First of all, Soave had a great sense of flair for receiving people. They understood how to use the beauty of the land and how to play it up a little. A lot of the time, I feel like winemakers in my region forget how beautiful the place is. I’m reminded of a promotional trip billed as a walk in the Pic Saint Loup where we just walked a few yards in some vines in one of the valleys. And only when several of the journalists expressed disappointment did our resourceful winemaker/guides realize they could take us up on one of the higher plateaus from which we saw the entire area. Thankfully that trip was salvaged, but it came close to being a dud (if it weren’t for the resourcefulness of the locals). On the other hand, Soave did everything right. With a name like soave, it makes sense that they’d be smooth operators.
But I mean we’d visit a gorgeous vineyard overlooking the valleys below. And then we’d be confronted with a really unique style of winemaking like the Recioto di Soave. The tasting was held in the room where they hang all the grapes on string to dry them out before making their pasito. It is such a stunning site. Or later in the day, we were received in a beautiful old building in Monteforte d’Alpone with a piano in the courtyard before ascending to a tasting and lunch in the cloister of Carvaggio’s Palazzo Vescovile. Because that’s just how they roll in Italy.
In short, Soave demonstrated an amazing sense of style and even dramatics without falling into caricature. They didn’t try to cling to any “spaghetti and meatballs” kind of stereotypes to impress us. (Ask me about how often I have to eat cassoulet with journalists who visit my region).
But it’s not just fine aesthetics that made me jealous. Actually, that’s the least of the things I’m jealous of.
Increasing Visibility of Communication Efforts
What I loved most in Soave was their common sense approach to increasing visibility. They had gone to great expense to impress us and share their amazing culture and wines with us. So they went a little bit further and hired a video crew to film the entire trip and IMMEDIATELY put it online. Things were going up almost instantly. That video at the top of the page where I’m talking about soave was filmed at 10 AM and it was online before I could fill my face with risotto at lunch.
When you put money into impressing journalists/bloggers, you should also think about immortalizing that effort and experience on the Internet. That way, the small experience that went to a group of 20 journalists can now be rehashed over and over by hundreds or thousands on the Internet.
Using Local Brand Ambassadors
Futhermore… I feel like I’m buring this in the middle of an article when it’s really the most important point in here. Soave works with local brand ambassadors to amplify their communication efforts. That’s a fancy way to say they invite their biggest supporters to piggyback on promotional efforts for journalists. Such a simple idea. I wish my region did it more effectively. Right before we arrived to the first winery, our guide let us know that a small group would be joining us. I wasn’t sure what that meant. But I talked to members of that second group and it turned out they’re just locals who frequently communicate on the soave brand. Or people from other parts of Italy who are good spokespeople for soave. So any time Soave is undergoing the expense of having a group like the EWBC in, they send an email to their best brand ambassadors and allow them to join in on the fun. The CIVL has asked me to do this once or twice and Sud de France has as well. I’m grateful, but I think I’m in the minority. I really wish that I’d run into the people who contribute most to this region’s online communications. People like Rosemary George, Graham Tiggs, Chez Loulou, Nina Izzo, Michel Smith, Louise Hurren, and so on live really nearby. They should basically be kept abreast of everything. Actually some of the people on that list will be at many events, but that’s only because they’ve crossed some imaginary threshold to officially be labeled press or PR people. The marginal cost of inviting ten more people to a large tasting area is rather negligible. Of course, if you start including seated meals and hotel rooms, the costs are totally different and you can’t always offer those to everybody. But anyway, I’m jealous because I feel like the promotional bodies in my area don’t respect their local brand ambassadors as much as Soave does. That’s the heart of it. I don’t want somebody to misread this and think that I’m lamenting my personal travails. Again, several organizations have done really remarkable things for me and opened doors into fascinating events. But more could be done to make other brand ambassadors feel like they’re really appreciated.
And a final note: In Soave, even larger organizations like Borgo Rocca Sveva are on board with the importance of social media. I am seeing glimmers of hope and interest from Sieur d’Arques, Anne de Joyeuse, and so on. But the vast majority of the medium sized coops right up to the UCCOARs seem to be totally uninterested in communicating direct to consumer online. There are obvious exceptions like Embres & Castelmaure, master communicators who are keenly watching the Internet space. But these are exceptions. Borgo Rocca Sveva is enormous, but they still realize that it’s possible to have unique voices online even in an organization of that size. I wish we had co-ops with websites like Borgo Rocca Sveva’s blog. EDIT: okay, so while fact checking (I do that occasionally) I discovered that Sieur d’Arques does have a blog? http://sieurdarques.unblog.fr/ Updated on and off since 2009 with lots of different subjects that go beyond the typical “we won an award” type of post. How did I not know that? Anyway. Foot in mouth. My bad.
The region is also working strongly on communicating with consumers online. Find il Soave on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and so on.
I should also mention Franciacorta’s colossal effort in receiving the conference. We really had a top notch experience in the Santa Giulia in Brescia. Even the hotels chosen had a lot of character. No bland, corporate moments. An entire trip full of charm and quirks. And an enormous sense of cooperation between winemakers (perhaps reminiscent of the strict military style formations in Champagne houses) I’ll probably write about all this on a separate occasion. But let it be known that I can’t think of Soave’s hospitality without thinking of Franciacorta’s as well. Italy on a whole was very very good to me.
The Wine is Good Too
Let’s not allow the communication efforts to overshadow the wines. Simply put, I wouldn’t be writing about soave at all if their wines weren’t amazing. The reason I chose this trip in the first place is because I thought I could learn a lot about the calcareous soil whites (although I did fall for a few volcanic terroir wines too). And it was an added bonus that Soave faces a similar challenge to the Languedoc’s. Soave is a word that was used to describe vast amounts of generic Italian white wine of forgetable quality. And now the best winemakers in the region are trying to rebrand themselves without abandoning this once degraded name “soave”. If they can do it, so can the Languedoc. PS – I’m making white wine on limestone and clay soon so I wanted to steal some techniques too. ;D
Jealous of everything?
Well now, I put a question mark in there. I loved the wines we tasted, especially around lunch time (no big surprise, Ryan likes wine more with food ;D). I loved the communication efforts. I loved everything. But despite all my jealousy and the tastiness of their wines, I’m still very happy in the Languedoc. I think we have all the opportunities in the world. It’s just a good idea to look at neighbors like Soave to see what’s being done right in other regions.
As many of you know, O’Vineyards opened our Bed & Breakfast this summer. We got a lot of clients online and I thought I’d share some of the easiest free resources I found, especially free B&B listings.
Why use free B&B listings
Not only do these websites serve as useful guides to their readers, they also provide valuable search information to search engines. If your website is linked to by quality sites that focus on travel and accommodations, search engines like google are more likely to realize that your website is pertinent to search requests about travel and accommodations.
Of course, it’s often more effective to pay for ads on more upscale websites that are more carefully targeting their audience. But these are free and, unless the website is doing something very wrong, they can’t really hurt you. So might as well investigate.
List of Free Listings
GPS 4 touring – This website focus on GPS coordinates and mapping to organize different travel and accommodation offers. This is a perfect example of a free listing page. It’s not trying to do any crazy SEO games or make any type of commission. It’s just a free resource. It’s not as glossy as Mr and Mrs Smith, and it won’t send you as much traffic. But it’s free and it caters to a particular kind of traveler who wants to have GPS coordinates for all their travel destinations.
Global bed and breakfast links This site is pretty straightforward. It’s an index of all sorts of B&B sites around the world. That’s nice because a lot of resources are restricted to just UK B&Bs or just USA sites. Think about finding more limited scope directories like those too! But here’s an International directory that anybody can use no matter where they are located.
My B and B This one looks the glossiest out of the three I’m listing. They mirror the site in a lot of different places and in many different languages, all of which might send traffic back your way.
- A quoi devrait ressembler le vin dans 10 ou 20 ans ?
Wine is an end in and of itself. A lot of people use wine as a way to further their political or philosophical agenda. For example, people who believe in environmentalism think that wine production should be sustainable. I like to make good wine regardless of politics or philosophy. I hope that wine in 10 or 20 years still tastes great. Pragmatically, that probably means that it will preserve some of our longstanding agricultural traditions and a respect for nature while exploring new and exciting ways to delight drinkers. It should also get pretty girls a little tipsy.
- Qu’est-ce qui vous gêne dans le monde du vin d’aujourd’hui ?
People who think they know everything and have nothing more to learn. Wine, like all art, is constantly evolving and finding new ways to please people. But winemakers, like many artists, often fall into this trap of thinking that contemporary views on wine are the end-all, be-all. I just want to have fun making delicious wines and sharing them with drinkers around the world. And I’m willing to bet that my idea of what constitutes great wine will change dramatically over time. And hopefully I’ll have kids one day who think my idea of good wine is ludicrous and old school. And, god willing, their kids will make fun of their views one day. Art never stops evolving.
- Pourquoi s’intéresse-t-on au vin quand on a une vingtaine d’années ?
Haha, because that’s when you’re legally allowed to start drinking in the USA. I think wine is inherently interesting like music or movies. But consuming wine when you’re six years old is bad for your body so you can’t really get passionate about it. But when you’re twenty, you’re physically ready for it. And you probably have some coin to spend too. My allowance when I was six wouldn’t have covered many bottles of wine.
I’m joking around here, but there’s also a very serious element underlying this conversation. Music, movies, fashion, and lots of things are pushed forward by disenfranchised youth. These industries are kept young and changing because kids are always pushing the boundaries. No record executives in the 70s thought we should record young black men talking rhythmically about social issues in the inner city. But one day, that’s what kids demanded to hear and so the record execs followed suit. And now hip hop is one of the most commercially profitable music forms in the western world, dominating most of the charts. In wine, we don’t have those rebellious twelve year olds. Throughout the 70s and 80s, most drinkers started drinking at an age where they were already part of the system.
That said, I’m really happy to see more and more twenty somethings who drink wine while they still have a healthy disrespect for authority. That disrespect is important. It helps promote change.
– Il y a quoi de jeune dans le vin ?
Oh wow, that’s tough. Wine is an exploration for me. There are so many thousands of wines on earth and each one is different and interesting. So I think wine encourages people to explore and discover new things. That’s something we’re still really interested in when we’re young. Hopefully, when we’re old too!
- Selon vos propres critères, le vin est-il trop vieux, poussiéreux ?
The industry is decrepit. I talked about record executives earlier and I think you could say the same thing about film studios, art galleries, restaurant guides, and so on. As soon as you put commercial constraints on an artistic/artisanal job, there is a risk of developing an “industry”. Many parts of the wine trade are slow, unevolving, overly legislated, and corrupt. That’s what sucks about wine.
The good news is that old systems tend to die of old age. New mechanics are constantly popping up that better fit our needs. I’ll probably rant about how amazing Naked Wines is by the end of this interview.
- Le vin naturel, le vin nature, ça représente quelque chose pour vous ?
I think that’s an overly simplistic and misleading label. I understand how the term can be useful within a community of wine geeks to describe a specific style of wine or school of winemaking. But I think that, like the organic label, it is being misrepresented to the consuming public. When people have heard of vin nature, organic, biodynamic, raisonée, or any other labels, they generally misunderstand what the terms mean. I remember reading about how some organic farmers in the US vehemently opposed government certification of an organic label because they knew that terrible corporations would be able to lobby the politicians and pay them to have the right to do ridiculous things and still label their products organic. And that real indie farmers who did their jobs the right way with respect and a focus on quality would end up drowned in a sea of so-called “organic” competition.
All this said, I love that people are curious about natural wine, sustainable wine, biodynamics, etcetera. It’s really fantastic that consumers are concerned. I just also think we as farmers (and especially wine vendors) focus too much on labels and oversimplifcations.
- Vous vous voyez où dans 10 ou 20 ans ?
I don’t know, but I’ll be drinking.
– Le vin qui vous a le plus marqué ?
Every glass of wine has the potential to be great. Some of my fondest memories are over remarkably bad wine. It’s about who you’re sharing the wine with most of the time.
But I guess I’ll reveal my enormous egocentrism (perhaps another youthful quality) and admit that the most significant wine I ever tasted was my O’Syrah 2005. That was the first wine that finished its fermentation and it was officially the first wine I’d ever made. It tasted really young and I didn’t know how to taste young wine and so it felt sort of awkward and I was a bit worried, but it was delicious anyway.. There was this overwhelming sense of pride to know I’d followed this wine from the vine all the way to the glass. I knew where it came from and I helped it on its way.
– Le vigneron qui vous a le plus marqué ?
Hah, there’s a lot of characters in the wine world. Agriculteurs are so interesting. But I think it’s worth mentioning that some of the best farmers leave almost no impression on you when you meet them. And then you taste their wines and realize just how interesting the person is.
- Votre site préféré sur le vin ?
Vindicateur, of course ;P Seriously, I’m a shitty person to interview because I never know how to answer questions like who is your favorite…, what was the best…, and I always just answer the last thing I was thinking. Like my memory only lasts about twelve minutes. So right now, the only wine website I can even think of is yours. Clever to put the question so deep in the interview!
November 10th, 2011 is Languedoc Day. Show that you’re participating with a free registration on the LanguedocDay event page.
What is Languedoc Day?
Languedoc Day is an opportunity for lots of people to discover or learn about one of the largest winemaking regions on the planet. This beautiful stretch of land on the Mediterranean coast of the south of France produces more wine than the entire United States. We produce more wine than all of Australia too! Just in this one region!
While a lot of that wine has historically been bottled in bulk under vin de pays names that aren’t always recognizable (big brands like Fat Bastard, Red Bicyclette, and Arrogant Frog all come from here), more and more of our wines are being bottled under the controlled standards of the French Appellation system. And LanguedocDay is an opportunity for consumers to familiarize themselves with these Languedoc appellations.
What do you do on Languedoc Day?
Think Languedoc. Talk Languedoc. Drink Languedoc. And not necessarily in that order.
If you drink some Languedoc wine, you’re already doing your part!
Then think about telling your friends. Invite some people over to share the wine with. Or throw a picture of the bottle on facebook, twitter, youtube, or whatever websites you like. Let people know that you’re drinking Languedoc. And if you add “#languedocday” without the quotes, it will be easy for us to see your participation!
Which brings us to the last way to participate: reading about who else is enjoying Languedoc Day. Follow the conversation on Twitter to see who else is talking up my favorite wine region. Just follow this link: #LanguedocDay
Personally, I’ll be attending the Université du Vin in Corbieres, a beautiful mountainous region in the Languedoc. A lot of French winos will be meeting up to talk about different contemporary wine topics around the subject of notoriety. I think Languedoc Day is a perfect example of how we can try to build notoriety for the region!
Can I drink O’Vineyards on Languedoc Day?
You can drink O’Vineyards any day that ends in Y.
Unfortunately, my wines aren’t present in the US for the 2011 Languedoc Day celebration. But there are lots of delicious Languedoc wines you can get your hands on instead so cheer up and bottoms up!
Languedoc Day appellations
Here are some wine appellations from the Languedoc that you might be able to find at a wine shop or Whole Foods near you.
Coteaux du Languedoc
Who decides it’s Languedoc Day?
The CIVL (Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Languedoc) is a interprofessional group that represents the AOC/AOPs of the Languedoc. That means that everybody who produces appellation wines pays some dues to the CIVL, and the CIVL then uses that money to promote the entire region’s appellations.
In an attempt to increase the renown of our appellations in the US, the CIVL hire an American marketing group called the Benson Marketing Group to represent our products. This group has teamed up with Rick Bakas, who successfully nurtured Cabernet Day, to create a Languedoc Day. In short, this is a unilateral marketing effort. A lot of people gripe about this saying you can’t just decide it’s Languedoc Day without some consensus. My view is that you absolutely can. If you have energy and resources to spend on promoting the Languedoc, then promote the Languedoc already! No need to sit around making sure the date is okay with everybody. Just steam forward! Full speed ahead!
It’s got me thinking about doing my own video in this music video or movie teaser style. I looked back on 2011 to see what other music videos and wine themed teasers were catching my attention. Here are the top three:
So the question now is … should I make a music video for O’Vineyards or Love That Languedoc? I really like the idea. I’d be proud to have a cool video like the ones above. But I’m not sure it’s the best way for me to spend my time this winter. Other projects take precedence for now. But still… I’d like to do it. I also wish I had one of these camcorders. /drool
How to find us
Domaine O’Vineyards is just a few kilometres north of Carcassonne. GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910
Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou until the D118 (the last straight road) and the Dyneff gas station on the roundabout.
Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which goes up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire.
At the last juction, bear left at the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.