I really love Catavino – it’s such an informative and innovative source of information on Spanish & Portuguese wines. The food of the region is key, but it’s just as vital to know about the great wines available too. This is the place to find out!
Jose Pizzaro http://www.josepizarro.com

Iberian News from Around the Web

Iberian Wine News!

Here’s a quickie of what being talked about around the web on Spanish and Portuguese wine:

Edward Deitch at MSNBC has jumped ship, conceding that even the cheapy’s from big wineries such as Marqués de Riscal can be both unique and tasty. I admit that I’ve fallen into that boat myself before moving to Spain. Often I cringed when offered a cheap wine from large producer, typically putt off by the lack of body or flavor, but as many of you well know, this is not the case in Iberia. Granted, there are always exceptions, but rarely, have we stopped ourselves from getting “cheap” Spanish wine as a result of it being from a large producer like Torres, Freixenet or Marqués de Riscal.

Heading north, we find ourselves heavy-hearted with news spreading from the fish eating and beer drinking country of Canada where we have now learned that Canadians hate us…oh wait, I mean…Canadians aren’t hot for Spanish sherry. What is it that we have to do to get Sherry appreciated around here? I’m at a complete loss?! Do we need half-naked women sprawled across a bottle of Manzanilla? According to the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, sherry sales declined more than 5% in volume last year as compared to a 5.3% volume growth for wine. Although I am elated that we’re accruing more wine fans internationally, I’m a little despondent about both the lack of popularity Sherry continually runs up against. Fabulous as an aperitif on a hot summer’s day; great with salty olives, meats and nuts; fabulous over vanilla ice cream; delicious with seafood; what’s not to like? Well I suppose if Sherry isn’t what’s hitting the pop charts, I should at least offer some suggestions of what our friendly northern neighbors might enjoy, Rioja wine.

Speaking of Rioja, Adrian Murcia reviews an article submitted on the Gothamist on a recent trip to Marqués de Murrieta, one of Rioja’s oldest wineries. It’s a fun, witty review full with a bit cultural humor tied up with just a touch of envy. Envy over what? you ask. Envy over a wine that he has only read about, but has never tried, Marqués de Murrieta’s Capellanía Reserva 2002. What makes this wine so memorable, desirable and almost impossible to find? Head on over to Adrian’s blog, Blame it on Rioja, to find out.

Finally, I’d like to call attention to a comment on a recent Decanter article about the success of Snooth. For those of you that don’t know what Snooth is, it’s a new online wine service that allows you to search over 2 million wine reviews submitted by users and not by professional wine critics. Using social networking programs like Facebook, they’ve become the most popular wine service currently on the net. With that said, as I was reading the article, I noticed a wee little comment on the bottom. I quote:

God help wine “literacy” and professionalism, that’s all I can say (and keep up the generally good work of defending and embodying them, Decanter!). But for me the really mystifying thing here is that, in a world where even most professional wine writers appear to be self-proclaimed and to have few or no formal qualifications or training for the job (with the exception perhaps of those who write for Decanter Magazine?), who on earth could possibly CARE what rank amateurs Joe Bloggs and Co. from Iowa City to Newbold-on-Stour (and thousands of points in between and beyond) have to say about this or that wine? “Cash in” says it all…
Gregory Sims, Berlin, Germany

Where do I begin with this comment? First off, it’s people like this guy that I dread meeting at any occasion, anytime. This is the definition of “narrow-minded”. Who lives their lives without relying on “amateurs”? If I had to only find “expert” opinions, damn, I’d never leave my house!

Should I buy the red or blue shirt?

Ms. I suggest you buy the red. It looks quite flattering on you.

What! Who are you? Are you a clothing designer? Who are you to tell me that this shirt looks smokin’ on me? Just because you “think” the shirt is flattering, doesn’t mean you can give me a “professional” opinion!

I rest my case.

Second, social networking works because we all have an opinion and want to share it. Ryan and I recently listened to a fantastic podcast on Radio Lab called, “Emergence“. This particular episode is dedicated to the question, “how do societies organize themselves?” If there’s no expert, or leader, how do we function? They presented an interesting argument based a Adam Smith’s theory in 1776: when lots of buyers and lots of sellers get together, the resulting “market price” that emerges through all that buying and selling is in fact the work of an “invisible hand.” Put another way, individually, our ideas amount to nothing, but as a whole, we tend to find accuracy.

Now let’s apply this theory to Snooth. Sure, maybe Gregory’s right and we don’t know a Bordeaux from a White Beringer, but when we come together to review the 2004 Marqués de Cáceres Rioja, suddenly, we have a consensus. And it is with this consensus, the winemaker and the consumer have a better chance understanding the quality and nuance of the wine than they ever would with an “expert”.

I spare you my my dozen other points only to say that I wish Gregory well in his lonely, arrogant, isolated bubble!

Till next week,

Gabriella Opaz

  • Philip James

    I didn't even know Decanter allowed comments. But once I did, I was glad to stumble across this article. We may not all have English Language doctorates from Oxford, but there's an incredible value to single reviews in many cases, and to the aggregation of such data in all cases. Here's a great review that was left by one of our 'common users' yesterday:"Great color. Crushed red fruit, cassis, violet and anise nose. Big palate with layered smooth fruit. Complex. Great fruit character on finish. Still tight, but great potential here." and here's another, much simpler, one:'Delicious.' Do I care that some random person found this wine delicious? What about if 14 out of 16 did? Or, how about 1 out of 5? At some point, even the merest snippets of data become valuable when combined with others. How useful would a football chant be with just one participant?

  • http://www.snooth.com Philip James

    I didn’t even know Decanter allowed comments. But once I did, I was glad to stumble across this article.

    We may not all have English Language doctorates from Oxford, but there’s an incredible value to single reviews in many cases, and to the aggregation of such data in all cases.

    Here’s a great review that was left by one of our ‘common users’ yesterday:
    “Great color. Crushed red fruit, cassis, violet and anise nose. Big palate with layered smooth fruit. Complex. Great fruit character on finish. Still tight, but great potential here.”

    and here’s another, much simpler, one:
    ‘Delicious.’

    Do I care that some random person found this wine delicious? What about if 14 out of 16 did? Or, how about 1 out of 5?

    At some point, even the merest snippets of data become valuable when combined with others. How useful would a football chant be with just one participant?

  • Gabriella

    Better yet, how effective would the Internet be without another person, expert or otherwise, to share information with? I agree with you Philip, and I believe we all fall victim to Gregory's mindset. For years, our education has been linear, one-sided, coming directly from the "expert". Consequently, we have tended to believe that our opinions are worthless if not validated by a professional. Personal experience meant nothing as compared to a "scholarly" opinion. I still remember the door to door salesman who sold the "official" Encyclopedia Britannica series seducing my parents with terms like "facts", "experts", "statistics", "official". Times have changed, however, as a result of the Internet, forcing us to look to our peers for knowledge, truth, motivation, encouragement, etc, rather than our "certified" experts. Therefore a wine is only as valuable as consumer who buys it. Few of us read Decanter or know who Robert Parker is; yet all of us will trust the opinion of some good friends. If our friends share their passion of a wine, we buy it and share our opinions with our circle of friends, so on and so forth.

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

    Better yet, how effective would the Internet be without another person, expert or otherwise, to share information with?

    I agree with you Philip, and I believe we all fall victim to Gregory’s mindset. For years, our education has been linear, one-sided, coming directly from the “expert”. Consequently, we have tended to believe that our opinions are worthless if not validated by a professional. Personal experience meant nothing as compared to a “scholarly” opinion.

    I still remember the door to door salesman who sold the “official” Encyclopedia Britannica series seducing my parents with terms like “facts”, “experts”, “statistics”, “official”.

    Times have changed, however, as a result of the Internet, forcing us to look to our peers for knowledge, truth, motivation, encouragement, etc, rather than our “certified” experts.

    Therefore a wine is only as valuable as consumer who buys it. Few of us read Decanter or know who Robert Parker is; yet all of us will trust the opinion of some good friends. If our friends share their passion of a wine, we buy it and share our opinions with our circle of friends, so on and so forth.