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Link Bait or Ignorance? A Reporter Gets Spanish Wine Wrong

Thanks to our friend Richard at a Passionate Foodie, I was pointed to an article that made me laugh, and then cry, and then realize that I had been duped by some clever Link Baiting. The article is titled, Spain’s Wines Fall Short of their Potential and is written by David Falchek.

“I have no doubt that Spain has made strides in quality. I’ll keep checking back with Spain, hoping to uncover a winner…Until then, I’ll reach for Spanish sherry and stick with table wines from California, France, Chile and Australia.”

Let’s start with his ending quote, because it’s fantastic to see sherry highlighted as a great Spanish wine! As you all know, we’re absolutely in love with sherry, but David isolates this style as the only worthwhile Spanish wine, while good table wines can only be found in California, France, Chile, and Australia, but not Spain. Remember this, as I’ll come back to it later.

First off, he begins his article stating that Spain is a hot and an up and coming wine region. Yeah! He got that right! We an emerging wine country, and our quality is unbelievable, but wait until you hear his next statement:

That’s because Spain, long a wine-producing country, has been changing. Spain has more vineyards than any country in the world, yet is a B-lister when it comes to quality.

Many of the county’s 3 million acres of vineyards are old, unproductive and not very efficient. The industry is being modernized and recreated. Spain has the potential to make a more profound mark on the wine world than Australia had in the 1990s or Chile in this decade.

I have yet to taste the results….

Spain is very much two different wine industries: the old, low-production, shaky quality industry and the cutting-edge next generation that replanted vines and invested in the new equipment and techniques.

At this point I checked the publishing date. From the sounds of it, I thought I was stuck back in 2000 when Spain was emerging from a period of renovation and really starting to examine what they were doing and where they wanted to be as a wine producing country? Today, it is hard to find the old, traditional, unsterilized winemaking practices of the decades past . Everywhere we travel throughout Spain, the modern and clean winemaking practices used in those “other table wine producing countries” mentioned above, are fully employed and adopted. If he had stated the above quote 10 yrs ago, I might agree, but at this point in the article, I just figured that he was trying to rile me up by bending the facts a bit. It worked, so I read on.

I’ve been to trade tastings where hundreds of Spanish wines are being poured and my impressions were confirmed. The best wines, from a quality/value standpoint, were the $12 and under category where the wines were refreshing, enjoyable and unpretentious

Their most expensive wines were good, but not as outstanding as you would expect a $70 bottle to be. Fancy packaging and outrageous prices do not equal quality.

When buying Spanish wines, you may see the word “criança,” which means the wine was aged in oak. Some common grape varieties used in Spain include tempranillo, Spain’s answer to deep, rich cabernet sauvignon, and the lighter and fruitier garnacha (known as grenache elsewhere).

This is funny. First, don’t get me wrong, wines that fall under $12 are great values and yes, many of the $70+ bottles are worth their weight in bottle, but the sweet spot is often in between the two and if this guy is only tasting at trade shows, I don’t have much to say to him. But that’s not the part that bugs me. What bothers me is that by this point in the article, I know the author is generally ignorant of Spanish wines when he uses the word: “criança”, meaning “child” in Portuguese, instead of using, “crianza”, a Spanish word meaning “to be aged in oak”.

Second, Tempranillo is not Spain’s answer to Cabernet Sauvignon. That’s like saying that Zinfandel is California’s answer to Cabernet Sauvignon. We actually have great Cabernets here in Spain, many of which are truly amazing. On the other hand Tempranillo is a unique grape that cannot, and should not, be compared to Cabernet Sauvignon, other than to compare how different they can be. Simple as that! Would you compare Zin to Cab? Not if you had any taste buds left in your mouth, or half a mind in your head. Also, the comment on the “lighter…fruitier garnacha”, come on, what’s light and fruity about dense powerful Garnachas of the Priorat, or better yet, the 100yr old Garnacha vines found in the region of Calatayud. There is nothing light and fruity about them!

At this point, I knew the article was not worth the time I took to read it, but I figured I’d browse the tasting notes all the same. Red Guitar came out as one of his favorites, a product from the wine giant Constellation Brands. Ironically, I know the people behind this brand, and that their goal is to make Red Guitar the Yellow Tail (Australia) of Spain. Granted, overall, it’s a good, varietally correct wine that is not terroir driven, but by no means, the best Spain has to offer. Far from it! In fact, it’s only made for the American Market, and has no distribution here in Spain. Hmmm, maybe this was a planted article? Who knows, maybe I should check with my friend.

I also want to point you to his next tasting note on a wine from the Priorat: “The only wine I tried that came close to channeling the Bordeaux style so many strive to copy is the Morlanda 2002 Criança Priorat Red Wine…” I can tell you for a fact Priorat is NOT TRYING TO COPY BORDEAUX! If anything, they are trying to mimic the Rhone, a region with much more in common with the Priorat. Though if I said this to a Priorat winemaker, I might get slapped. The Priorat is a unique and incredible winemaking region with many, many years of winemaking history. With wines that reach the highest pinnacle of winemaking, they have no need to try to mimic Bordeaux, a region that doesn’t even grow Priorat’s principle grape, Granacha.

The rest of his notes are not even worth mentioning, but I will finish by saying this: Spain is not a region that is still trying to find the modern world. Everywhere I go I taste wines of high quality and showing a uniqueness that is solely Spain indicating an amazing terroir. To write something so dismissive without doing some comprehensive research is just plain reckless and dumb. At least get your fact checking straight. I feel bad for the individuals who read this and take it for what it is, full of errors and mistruths. I hope that at least a few of them find their way to Catavino so we can help set the record straight!

What do you think of Spanish wines? Is there anything you would like to say to David?

  • Andrew

    I have something to say – 'rubbish'! Also badly researched, lacking in tasting experience and knowledge. That'll do for a start.

  • Jill

    Yeah, it's a ridiculously inaccurate article. I don't know a whole helluva lot about Spain, but even in my limited experience I caught many of the untruths and factual errors that you point out. Plus, the fact that some of the most highly regarded wine importers have been focusing on Spain isn't even mentioned. Why would Eric Solomon waste his time in a vast wasteland? As for whether it's link-baiting, I'm not sure. It's hard to tell. It does say that it's a weekly column…so I guess you could look through past entries to see what the level of reporting is and whether it's as hyperbolic and instigative (is that even a word? I think maybe I just made that up!).

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  • http://www.spittoon.biz Andrew

    I have something to say – ‘rubbish’!

    Also badly researched, lacking in tasting experience and knowledge. That’ll do for a start.

  • Chef Mark

    This type of article should come as no surprise. Much of our so-called journalism is based on a chauvinistic notion that somehow every culture's goal in life is to mimic "us", whether the "us' in question is America, or the established franco-influenced "haute culture". As you point out, the goal of these winemakers is not to imitate or strive to be like someone else, but to be the highest expression of ITSELF, with all it's uniqueness. There are those of us who get that the enormous diversity of culinary and cultural expression on the micro-regional level is where the beauty of human expression is really to be found. We're not stuck in a silly competitive game of Hollywoodization that implies that everyone and everything is competing to be #1, whatever absurdly twisted interpretation of what single thing we all should be striving for. Don't succumb to the bait, just keep doing your work. People are noticing, and appreciate the service you're providing by helping us to dig deeper, and get a better understanding of the micro-regional differences within Spain, and how by trying to compare Spanish wines to Bordeaux, we miss the point.

  • http://domaine547.com Jill

    Yeah, it’s a ridiculously inaccurate article. I don’t know a whole helluva lot about Spain, but even in my limited experience I caught many of the untruths and factual errors that you point out. Plus, the fact that some of the most highly regarded wine importers have been focusing on Spain isn’t even mentioned. Why would Eric Solomon waste his time in a vast wasteland?

    As for whether it’s link-baiting, I’m not sure. It’s hard to tell. It does say that it’s a weekly column…so I guess you could look through past entries to see what the level of reporting is and whether it’s as hyperbolic and instigative (is that even a word? I think maybe I just made that up!).

  • Janelle

    I have someting to say to David too. Have you ever even been to Spain? Its just so funny to me that people can make these wide generalizations about a country that produces such a wide variety of wines and is full of distinct regions and differences. One of those differences is language, Catalan is a language in the political country of Spain (sorry Catalan readers, please do not take offense, I know you are not "Spanish") I just think its funny that David insists on using the ç in Criança when making a generalization of "Spanish" wines when it is only used in the Catalan language, in Cataluyna, not in Spanish. But I'm sure he saw it on a label and went with that. Ok, a little mistake probably in good faith, we can accept it. On the other hand, we can invite David to come to Spain, and have the experience of discovery of some great wines. It reminds me of a friend I was talking to another day, she mentioned to a co-worker she had not yet been to Granada, instead of responding that she really must go her co-worker said, "Que suerte!, How lucky! Then you can still have the experience of discovering it for the first time!!" I just would like to say to Ryan and Gabriella, thank you for making it your mission to try to get the word out about wines of the Iberian peninsula. Its exactly what is needed when there is obviously so little relaible information avaliable in English about the great wines produced in Spain. Gracias! J.

  • http://www.culinarymedianetwork.com Chef Mark

    This type of article should come as no surprise. Much of our so-called journalism is based on a chauvinistic notion that somehow every culture’s goal in life is to mimic “us”, whether the “us’ in question is America, or the established franco-influenced “haute culture”. As you point out, the goal of these winemakers is not to imitate or strive to be like someone else, but to be the highest expression of ITSELF, with all it’s uniqueness.

    There are those of us who get that the enormous diversity of culinary and cultural expression on the micro-regional level is where the beauty of human expression is really to be found. We’re not stuck in a silly competitive game of Hollywoodization that implies that everyone and everything is competing to be #1, whatever absurdly twisted interpretation of what single thing we all should be striving for.

    Don’t succumb to the bait, just keep doing your work. People are noticing, and appreciate the service you’re providing by helping us to dig deeper, and get a better understanding of the micro-regional differences within Spain, and how by trying to compare Spanish wines to Bordeaux, we miss the point.

  • http://www.tapastalk.com Janelle

    I have someting to say to David too. Have you ever even been to Spain? Its just so funny to me that people can make these wide generalizations about a country that produces such a wide variety of wines and is full of distinct regions and differences. One of those differences is language, Catalan is a language in the political country of Spain (sorry Catalan readers, please do not take offense, I know you are not “Spanish”) I just think its funny that David insists on using the ç in Criança when making a generalization of “Spanish” wines when it is only used in the Catalan language, in Cataluyna, not in Spanish. But I’m sure he saw it on a label and went with that. Ok, a little mistake probably in good faith, we can accept it.
    On the other hand, we can invite David to come to Spain, and have the experience of discovery of some great wines. It reminds me of a friend I was talking to another day, she mentioned to a co-worker she had not yet been to Granada, instead of responding that she really must go her co-worker said, “Que suerte!, How lucky! Then you can still have the experience of discovering it for the first time!!”
    I just would like to say to Ryan and Gabriella, thank you for making it your mission to try to get the word out about wines of the Iberian peninsula. Its exactly what is needed when there is obviously so little relaible information avaliable in English about the great wines produced in Spain. Gracias!
    J.

  • Penelope

    I was just writing up in my newsletter about wine Competitions. I relate how this writer is talking about wines from Spain as the same thing I see in some of the competitions- they do not know the varietal(s) and so try to relate them to what they do know- Cabernet, Chardonnay, etc. I find myself having to explain Tempranillo in terms of Cabernet and Zin because that is what many wine drinkers(in the US)know. The author states that he has much experience with wines from Spain(large tasting venues?), but perhaps only with those large producers that can afford to bring their wines to the US? This is an unfortunate article, but he is entitled to his opinion even if it may be short sighted.

  • Mark V Marino

    Way to go Ryan! Sounds like another dabbler. Wine takes work and each region can take a life time to learn and experience! Sounds like this was a local wholesale liquor store foray into a wine region thousands of miles away. One must go to the region and then work to seek out the wines of merit! Follow the players, the wine makers and the vineyards. Taste the styles understand the different schools the oak and on and on. This wine is a life times work not a weekend essay! You picked this article apart with gusto, I bow to your effort!

  • http://www.coralmustang.com Penelope

    I was just writing up in my newsletter about wine Competitions. I relate how this writer is talking about wines from Spain as the same thing I see in some of the competitions- they do not know the varietal(s) and so try to relate them to what they do know- Cabernet, Chardonnay, etc. I find myself having to explain Tempranillo in terms of Cabernet and Zin because that is what many wine drinkers(in the US)know. The author states that he has much experience with wines from Spain(large tasting venues?), but perhaps only with those large producers that can afford to bring their wines to the US? This is an unfortunate article, but he is entitled to his opinion even if it may be short sighted.

  • el jefe

    So, those must have been some pretty yucky Spanish wines we were drinking years ago when we became inspired to produce our Twisted Oak Spanish varietals. Who knew?

  • http://winelimo.typepad.com Mark V Marino

    Way to go Ryan! Sounds like another dabbler. Wine takes work and each region can take a life time to learn and experience! Sounds like this was a local wholesale liquor store foray into a wine region thousands of miles away. One must go to the region and then work to seek out the wines of merit! Follow the players, the wine makers and the vineyards. Taste the styles understand the different schools the oak and on and on. This wine is a life times work not a weekend essay! You picked this article apart with gusto, I bow to your effort!

  • http://www.elbloggotorcido.com/ el jefe

    So, those must have been some pretty yucky Spanish wines we were drinking years ago when we became inspired to produce our Twisted Oak Spanish varietals. Who knew?

  • Gerant

    Appellation America says: David started out drinking Boone's Farms in abandoned coal breakers and sneaking sips of Riuniti at family picnics. We all did but… Poorly researched and written.

  • Gerant

    Appellation America says: David started out drinking Boone’s Farms in abandoned coal breakers and sneaking sips of Riuniti at family picnics.

    We all did but…

    Poorly researched and written.

  • David Falchek

    Hi Everyone. I can certainly admire the passion Ryan and the posters have for Spanish wines. Indeed, anyone who read my column in its entirety would see that the majority of the column, the top half, speaks about the revolution in Spanish wine quality and about Spain's emergence as the dominant wine producing nation the next decade. My point I raised, eventually, was that the wines I tried were either mediocre or horrible. They were wines I randomly picked up, available in state-controlled stores in Pennsylvania. These are the wines my readers purchase, for good or for ill, as representative of what Spain has to offer. Does Spain produce better? Of course. I know it and I said it. Those five wines were not scientifically selected or intended to be representative of the nation. They gave me the opportunity to write about Spain for an entry-level wine drinking audience – daily newspaper readers. Unlike bloggers, I have 13 short column inches in which to write. Everyone seems to be criticizing me for not writing about wines I haven't tasted, wines probably not available to my readers in Pennsylvania, (a shortcoming of the state monopoly's Spanish selection I pointed out in the column.) Some of the other charges were just unsound: use of crizanca was the producer's, not mine. Visiting a wine region is not a requirement to writing about wine, no more than it is a prerequisite to drinking a wine. The comparison between Tempranillo and cab was to communicate the variety to someone who drinks wine once or twice a month. I had the horrible thought that perhaps a California cab drinker would consider a Tempranillio. And seeing Bordeaux in a Priorat? I am hardly the first, and I am in good company. As for Spain, I plan to visit there in late 2008 or early 2009 and spin the trip into more in-depth articles for magazines rather than entry-level wine writing, the simplicities of which have so enraged all of you. I speak Castilian and Ryan's photographs are so stunning, they have only increased my anticipation for the visit. Ryan, I will let you know when I am in town. Perhaps we can make peace over a few bottles. Regards, David

  • David Falchek

    Hi Everyone.

    I can certainly admire the passion Ryan and the posters have for Spanish wines.

    Indeed, anyone who read my column in its entirety would see that the majority of the column, the top half, speaks about the revolution in Spanish wine quality and about Spain’s emergence as the dominant wine producing nation the next decade.

    My point I raised, eventually, was that the wines I tried were either mediocre or horrible. They were wines I randomly picked up, available in state-controlled stores in Pennsylvania. These are the wines my readers purchase, for good or for ill, as representative of what Spain has to offer.

    Does Spain produce better? Of course. I know it and I said it. Those five wines were not scientifically selected or intended to be representative of the nation. They gave me the opportunity to write about Spain for an entry-level wine drinking audience – daily newspaper readers. Unlike bloggers, I have 13 short column inches in which to write.

    Everyone seems to be criticizing me for not writing about wines I haven’t tasted, wines probably not available to my readers in Pennsylvania, (a shortcoming of the state monopoly’s Spanish selection I pointed out in the column.)

    Some of the other charges were just unsound: use of crizanca was the producer’s, not mine. Visiting a wine region is not a requirement to writing about wine, no more than it is a prerequisite to drinking a wine.

    The comparison between Tempranillo and cab was to communicate the variety to someone who drinks wine once or twice a month. I had the horrible thought that perhaps a California cab drinker would consider a Tempranillio. And seeing Bordeaux in a Priorat? I am hardly the first, and I am in good company.

    As for Spain, I plan to visit there in late 2008 or early 2009 and spin the trip into more in-depth articles for magazines rather than entry-level wine writing, the simplicities of which have so enraged all of you. I speak Castilian and Ryan’s photographs are so stunning, they have only increased my anticipation for the visit.

    Ryan, I will let you know when I am in town. Perhaps we can make peace over a few bottles.

    Regards,

    David

  • Mark V Marino

    HAHAHA see Ryan I have done 1000's of tastings and tours and I can pick them, refer to my wholesale liquor store comment previous to this fellows response. Well Pennsylvsania is a state where if you drink wine you better move because you cannot get anything but what the state chooses and I have had some top people from there for tours and basically one guy calls the shots. Well I would not lose much sleep over that as here is some one that wants to drink w ine and has only one source to get it from, he cannot make chioce one, he cannot ship to himself from any where outside the state. He cannot join a wine club, he cannot even travel anywhere and ship wine back. It is the worst place in the US to live and try to get and drink good wine! So let it go and pity the poor guy…. he needs to move cause if he visits it will be really terrible when he cannot ship back I see regularly and it is really sad to see the frustration! This is one reason I wrote several articles on interstate shipping of wine as here doing tours to the great wineries people go nuts when they find out they cannot ship back home for state laws!<a href="<a href="http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/interstate-ship.htmlhttp://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/…/>”><a href="http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times…” target=”_blank”>http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/…<a href="http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/…“><a href="http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times…” target=”_blank”>http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/

  • Mark V Marino

    HAHAHA see Ryan I have done 1000's of tastings and tours and I can pick them, refer to my wholesale liquor store comment previous to this fellows response. Well Pennsylvsania is a state where if you drink wine you better move because you cannot get anything but what the state chooses and I have had some top people from there for tours and basically one guy calls the shots. Well I would not lose much sleep over that as here is some one that wants to drink w ine and has only one source to get it from, he cannot make chioce one, he cannot ship to himself from any where outside the state. He cannot join a wine club, he cannot even travel anywhere and ship wine back. It is the worst place in the US to live and try to get and drink good wine! So let it go and pity the poor guy…. he needs to move cause if he visits it will be really terrible when he cannot ship back I see regularly and it is really sad to see the frustration! This is one reason I wrote several articles on interstate shipping of wine as here doing tours to the great wineries people go nuts when they find out they cannot ship back home for state laws!<a href="<a href="http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/interstate-ship.htmlhttp://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/…/>”><a href="http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times…” target=”_blank”>http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/…<a href="http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/…“><a href="http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times…” target=”_blank”>http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/

  • Mark V Marino

    HAHAHA see Ryan I have done 1000's of tastings and tours and I can pick them, refer to my wholesale liquor store comment previous to this fellows response. Well Pennsylvsania is a state where if you drink wine you better move because you cannot get anything but what the state chooses and I have had some top people from there for tours and basically one guy calls the shots. Well I would not lose much sleep over that as here is some one that wants to drink w ine and has only one source to get it from, he cannot make chioce one, he cannot ship to himself from any where outside the state. He cannot join a wine club, he cannot even travel anywhere and ship wine back. It is the worst place in the US to live and try to get and drink good wine! So let it go and pity the poor guy…. he needs to move cause if he visits it will be really terrible when he cannot ship back I see regularly and it is really sad to see the frustration! This is one reason I wrote several articles on interstate shipping of wine as here doing tours to the great wineries people go nuts when they find out they cannot ship back home for state laws!<a href="<a href="http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/interstate-ship.htmlhttp://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/…/>”><a href="http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times…” target=”_blank”>http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/…<a href="http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/…“><a href="http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times…” target=”_blank”>http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/

  • http://winelimo.typepad.com/ Mark V Marino

    HAHAHA see Ryan I have done 1000′s of tastings and tours and I can pick them, refer to my wholesale liquor store comment previous to this fellows response. Well Pennsylvsania is a state where if you drink wine you better move because you cannot get anything but what the state chooses and I have had some top people from there for tours and basically one guy calls the shots.
    Well I would not lose much sleep over that as here is some one that wants to drink w
    ine and has only one source to get it from, he cannot make chioce one, he cannot ship to himself from any where outside the state. He cannot join a wine club, he cannot even travel anywhere and ship wine back. It is the worst place in the US to live and try to get and drink good wine! So let it go and pity the poor guy…. he needs to move cause if he visits it will be really terrible when he cannot ship back I see regularly and it is really sad to see the frustration!

    This is one reason I wrote several articles on interstate shipping of wine as here doing tours to the great wineries people go nuts when they find out they cannot ship back home for state laws!
    http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/interstate-ship.html
    http://winelimo.typepad.com/winery_times/2007/12/shore-to-shore.html

  • Gabriella

    David and Mark, As a consumer, and as wine writer, I'm conflicted over the justification that just because David cannot get a fair representation of Spanish wine that he has the authority to write on the subject. Yes, we could let it go and say that, unfortunately for David, he's incapable of scrounging up a good lineup of Spanish wine as a result of liquor laws, but I think that's a cop out. If he wants to write a piece on Pennsylvania's sampling of Spanish wine, I'm all for it, but to say that Spain in general doesn't have any distinguishing wines because he couldn't find it in Penn. is misrepresentation. Hence, my question is: what is David's responsibility as a writer publishing articles on Spanish wine, as a whole, while living in a wine monopoly controlled state?

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

    David and Mark,

    As a consumer, and as wine writer, I’m conflicted over the justification that just because David cannot get a fair representation of Spanish wine that he has the authority to write on the subject. Yes, we could let it go and say that, unfortunately for David, he’s incapable of scrounging up a good lineup of Spanish wine as a result of liquor laws, but I think that’s a cop out. If he wants to write a piece on Pennsylvania’s sampling of Spanish wine, I’m all for it, but to say that Spain in general doesn’t have any distinguishing wines because he couldn’t find it in Penn. is misrepresentation.

    Hence, my question is: what is David’s responsibility as a writer publishing articles on Spanish wine, as a whole, while living in a wine monopoly controlled state?

  • Mark V Marino

    Absolutely, when I first read the article it immediately struck me here is someone writing with little availability to the subject he chose to evaluate. He happens to come from the most controlled state in the US but it is an example of what is out there. To me it is silly to critize something you have no access to, hence I focus on the Napa-Sonoma Area of California as I have spent my whole life here studying it. I do have most of my clients coming from outside the state for tours here so I am continually exposed to these incredibily outdated laws of interstate shipping which is a huge reason why someone such as David has not a fair playing field when it comes to evaluating wines from anywhere, let alone Spain. For me it is a reoccurring theme I must endure time and again with entertaining clients from all over the world. I am not sure what we can do to change the laws, but if we live in a free and democratic society it should be expected that we are not told by the state or their representatives what or from whom we can ship wine to ourselves that we want to drink! Let alone, there might be one man that decides what millions of taxpayers will drink as in David's case! This seems to me a world wide problem and it is as usual all about money, there needs to be an international body built to support world exchange of wine back and forth, a UN Wine Distrubtion. This body would be non-profit and exist only to support and promote the world wide exchange of wine without restraint of borders or regions so all could partake of wines from anywhere. What an improvement that would be, I cannot imagine how it could happen but the fact that Blogging is raising the international awareness of this issue it might be the vehicle to launch the disscussion!

  • http://winelimo.typepad.com/ Mark V Marino

    Absolutely, when I first read the article it immediately struck me here is someone writing with little availability to the subject he chose to evaluate. He happens to come from the most controlled state in the US but it is an example of what is out there. To me it is silly to critize something you have no access to, hence I focus on the Napa-Sonoma Area of California as I have spent my whole life here studying it.

    I do have most of my clients coming from outside the state for tours here so I am continually exposed to these incredibily outdated laws of interstate shipping which is a huge reason why someone such as David has not a fair playing field when it comes to evaluating wines from anywhere, let alone Spain.

    For me it is a reoccurring theme I must endure time and again with entertaining clients from all over the world. I am not sure what we can do to change the laws, but if we live in a free and democratic society it should be expected that we are not told by the state or their representatives what or from whom we can ship wine to ourselves that we want to drink! Let alone, there might be one man that decides what millions of taxpayers will drink as in David’s case!

    This seems to me a world wide problem and it is as usual all about money, there needs to be an international body built to support world exchange of wine back and forth, a UN Wine Distrubtion. This body would be non-profit and exist only to support and promote the world wide exchange of wine without restraint of borders or regions so all could partake of wines from anywhere. What an improvement that would be, I cannot imagine how it could happen but the fact that Blogging is raising the international awareness of this issue it might be the vehicle to launch the disscussion!

  • Bill

    I'm all for unfettered wine distribution throughout the world. The current system in the US is the result of several factors, of which the majority of U.S. readers of this blog are probably aware. I know it's hard to believe, but, even though Prohibition was repealed over 70 years ago, the structures that arose following Prohibition are still with us. The multi-tiered system of producer/distributor/retailer is probably the worst. And let's not forget local customs and the attendant "blue laws" that have been around even longer than Prohibition and actually fostered the support required to get Prohibition passed in the first place. In Minnesota, both of these things impact my ability to buy wine: 1. I can't buy wine on Sunday, 2. I can't buy wine in a grocery store. Thank the ICC, I can still get wine shipped in! To come back to the topic at hand, I was actually hoping David would respond, and he did so with eloquence and restraint. Context is everything, and within the context of the story, he was certainly justified in his opinion. To answer the question posed by Gabriella, I believe David's obligation is, or was, full disclosure of his situation, which he fulfilled in his post. Maybe you could get the list of Spanish wines available in Pennsylvania and see if any of them are worthy of David's review. I already see the angle for another article by David on Spanish wine that would recount the outrage of a well-known blogger to the article, and the subsequent "peace-making" that would include the blogger's suggestions of other Spanish (or even Portuguese) wines to try. I'll be looking forward to more on this topic as time goes by. . .

  • Bill

    I’m all for unfettered wine distribution throughout the world. The current system in the US is the result of several factors, of which the majority of U.S. readers of this blog are probably aware. I know it’s hard to believe, but, even though Prohibition was repealed over 70 years ago, the structures that arose following Prohibition are still with us. The multi-tiered system of producer/distributor/retailer is probably the worst. And let’s not forget local customs and the attendant “blue laws” that have been around even longer than Prohibition and actually fostered the support required to get Prohibition passed in the first place. In Minnesota, both of these things impact my ability to buy wine: 1. I can’t buy wine on Sunday, 2. I can’t buy wine in a grocery store. Thank the ICC, I can still get wine shipped in!

    To come back to the topic at hand, I was actually hoping David would respond, and he did so with eloquence and restraint. Context is everything, and within the context of the story, he was certainly justified in his opinion. To answer the question posed by Gabriella, I believe David’s obligation is, or was, full disclosure of his situation, which he fulfilled in his post.

    Maybe you could get the list of Spanish wines available in Pennsylvania and see if any of them are worthy of David’s review. I already see the angle for another article by David on Spanish wine that would recount the outrage of a well-known blogger to the article, and the subsequent “peace-making” that would include the blogger’s suggestions of other Spanish (or even Portuguese) wines to try.

    I’ll be looking forward to more on this topic as time goes by. . .

  • Joe M

    What a misinformed article. Some of the more noticeable, misguided (and misguiding) statements: "It’s a crowd-pleaser produced by wine giant Constellation Brands, which rarely makes market missteps." [Constellation Brands and huge beverage companies like them produce and market largely homogenous, bad wines. Almost anyone in the wine business will concur] "Spain is very much two different wine industries: the old, low-production, shaky quality industry and the cutting-edge next generation that replanted vines and invested in the new equipment and techniques." [Many Spanish wine drinkers would take issue with this declaration. Where would the author place La Rioja Alta, Lopez de Heredia, and Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez? Also to associate low producing vines with poor quality wine is wrong. As many people know, older, lower yielding vines produce less, but tastier fruit. And to tie the 'cutting edge next generation' with what is good is not correct either. Ask anyone who tastes Spanish wines every week, sees the amount of new importers cropping up in the states, and is unable to differentiate between various wines from Toro, Montsant etc.] A few questions I would ask the author, who works in one of the worst states to buy wine in the country (possibly second only to Alaska?): Why not write about wines that are available in neighboring states such as Maryland and New Jersey? Why assume that your readers only drink wine a few times a month and want a dumbed down explanation of exciting, new types of wine? How often are you, as an advocate of the joys of drinking wine, voicing your disapproval of the current, un-democratic, unfair state control of wine and liquor in Pennsylvania? Not to be cruel or mean spirited, but I would suggest that any lover of wine who lives in the Wilkes Barre, PA area supplement their local weekly wine column with Eric Asimov (New York Times), or even Dorothy and John Brecher (Wall St Journal), a few obviously more experienced, more skillful wine writers.

  • http://oldworldoldschool.blogspot.com Joe M

    What a misinformed article. Some of the more noticeable, misguided (and misguiding) statements:

    “It’s a crowd-pleaser produced by wine giant Constellation Brands, which rarely makes market missteps.”

    [Constellation Brands and huge beverage companies like them produce and market largely homogenous, bad wines. Almost anyone in the wine business will concur]

    “Spain is very much two different wine industries: the old, low-production, shaky quality industry and the cutting-edge next generation that replanted vines and invested in the new equipment and techniques.”

    [Many Spanish wine drinkers would take issue with this declaration. Where would the author place La Rioja Alta, Lopez de Heredia, and Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez? Also to associate low producing vines with poor quality wine is wrong. As many people know, older, lower yielding vines produce less, but tastier fruit. And to tie the 'cutting edge next generation' with what is good is not correct either. Ask anyone who tastes Spanish wines every week, sees the amount of new importers cropping up in the states, and is unable to differentiate between various wines from Toro, Montsant etc.]

    A few questions I would ask the author, who works in one of the worst states to buy wine in the country (possibly second only to Alaska?): Why not write about wines that are available in neighboring states such as Maryland and New Jersey? Why assume that your readers only drink wine a few times a month and want a dumbed down explanation of exciting, new types of wine? How often are you, as an advocate of the joys of drinking wine, voicing your disapproval of the current, un-democratic, unfair state control of wine and liquor in Pennsylvania?

    Not to be cruel or mean spirited, but I would suggest that any lover of wine who lives in the Wilkes Barre, PA area supplement their local weekly wine column with Eric Asimov (New York Times), or even Dorothy and John Brecher (Wall St Journal), a few obviously more experienced, more skillful wine writers.

  • Ryan

    Joe, thanks for the comments. One thing though Constellation does not make "bad" wines. The wine in question is a very good wine but not one that I would hold up as the pinnacle of Spanish wine terrior. I'm in the business, and have been for a while and I do not concur on this point. Actually the 3 bodegas that you all mention have with much effort moved from old techiniques to new ones. THey are all wineries that have made the change, but there are many, many more who are already making new exciting wineries through out Spain, starting modern and staying that way. As to vines, we do still have too many and many of the old ones(producing crappy grapes) do need to go! Not all vines produce good grapes the older they get. Thanks for commenting!

  • Mark V Marino

    I just want to say one more thing this bothers me. Wine is a wonerful experiece and there is nothing about it that should be controlled. It is just not fair becuase of where you live that you should not be able to drink wines that are available in opposing states that you cannot, because of some 70 year old law, be able to enjoy! Wine has gotten so expensive because of regulators and rules, it is just Grape juice as my Grandfater used to say! We need as a community to start to raise our voices to level the playing field and make wine available to all! Regardless of where we live we should be able to experience Spainish, French, American,Australian, East Coast ,West Coast, we should be expecting our wines without Borders, based on their merit not their loacale! Let the best stand on its quality let us try and evaluate for ourselves! I am not outraged by David I am outraged by our systems of distribution, certainly your locale should not decide your wine, you should be free to drink any and all wines that are produced! Certainly, the fact that we can talk and express our feeling from one side of the world to the other is a sign that the time has come to stop these silly local regulations and create an international body that is based on a non-profit basis to promote the worldwide enjoyment of all wines, wines without borders! Just as information can now flow freely so must wine!

  • http://www.obiscoito.com Ryan

    Joe, thanks for the comments. One thing though Constellation does not make “bad” wines. The wine in question is a very good wine but not one that I would hold up as the pinnacle of Spanish wine terrior. I’m in the business, and have been for a while and I do not concur on this point.

    Actually the 3 bodegas that you all mention have with much effort moved from old techiniques to new ones. THey are all wineries that have made the change, but there are many, many more who are already making new exciting wineries through out Spain, starting modern and staying that way.

    As to vines, we do still have too many and many of the old ones(producing crappy grapes) do need to go! Not all vines produce good grapes the older they get.

    Thanks for commenting!

  • http://winelimo.typepad.com/ Mark V Marino

    I just want to say one more thing this bothers me. Wine is a wonerful experiece and there is nothing about it that should be controlled.
    It is just not fair becuase of where you live that you should not be able to drink wines that are available in opposing states that you cannot, because of some 70 year old law, be able to enjoy!

    Wine has gotten so expensive because of regulators and rules, it is just Grape juice as my Grandfater used to say!

    We need as a community to start to raise our voices to level the playing field and make wine available to all!
    Regardless of where we live we should be able to experience Spainish, French, American,Australian, East Coast ,West Coast, we should be expecting our wines without Borders, based on their merit not their loacale! Let the best stand on its quality let us try and evaluate for ourselves!

    I am not outraged by David I am outraged by our systems of distribution, certainly your locale should not decide your wine, you should be free to drink any and all wines that are produced!

    Certainly, the fact that we can talk and express our feeling from one side of the world to the other is a sign that the time has come to stop these silly local regulations and create an international body that is based on a non-profit basis to promote the worldwide enjoyment of all wines, wines without borders! Just as information can now flow freely so must wine!

  • Joe M

    I would downgrade Red Guitar from 'very good' to 'ok.' Just my opinion…. Constellation is reponsible for these 'fine wine' wineries: Hogue, Escudo Rojo, Ravenswood, Kim Crawford. Bad – maybe not. Boring, safe and branded – absolutely. Constellation also markets an assortment of cheap booze such as Arbor Mist, Paul Masson and Almaden. I don't trust a company who is pushing these types of drinks to produce and market fine wine.

  • Joe M

    Oh, and I don't doubt that LRA, LdH and Fernandez have benefitted from new techniques and equipment in the winery. But they certainly are not using 100% new French oak, using reverse osmosis, micro-ox or anything like that, either. They are of the old guard, but make authentic, excellent, typical wines of their region. And I did not feel that the author had mentioned that these types of wineries exist in Spain. Good point on the vines. Of course, old vines do not equal good vines. But old vines do necessarily mean that they are worthless and need to be replanted, either. Look at Toro, Jumilla, Barossa, Lodi, and many other regions producing good wines from 50 year old vines.

  • Ryan

    Red guitar, Hogue, Escudo Rojo, Ravenswood, Kim Crawford and others not bad, maybe boring for you but in reality they fill a niche very well. I sold wine in the states for many years and I'll say the that while a Parker score could sell out a stack of wine quick it never made me the money or got as many people as internested in wine as the solid stack of quality middle of the road wine did! Without COnstellation brands and other like them there would be a very small market, and it would be an elistist one(more than it already is). They helped convert a lot of people I know to wine that didn't drink it before, I'm glad I moved on but they aren't goinig to destroy the little guys like so many predict. BTW, I could give you a list of wineries here in Spain that use new oak, micro-ox and other techniques you might shun and I think you might be surprised with the names on it. Oh and the ones that are lauded as the old gaurd with "classic Wines" that use mechanical harvesters, that list is long!! But I ty to not gossip, it's their image and I just like hearing people say "They would never use….x…y…or …..Z!" …. All is not what it seems…the old gaurd often falls victim to the new ways

  • Joe M

    I would downgrade Red Guitar from ‘very good’ to ‘ok.’ Just my opinion….

    Constellation is reponsible for these ‘fine wine’ wineries: Hogue, Escudo Rojo, Ravenswood, Kim Crawford. Bad – maybe not. Boring, safe and branded – absolutely.

    Constellation also markets an assortment of cheap booze such as Arbor Mist, Paul Masson and Almaden. I don’t trust a company who is pushing these types of drinks to produce and market fine wine.

  • Joe M

    Oh, and I don’t doubt that LRA, LdH and Fernandez have benefitted from new techniques and equipment in the winery. But they certainly are not using 100% new French oak, using reverse osmosis, micro-ox or anything like that, either. They are of the old guard, but make authentic, excellent, typical wines of their region. And I did not feel that the author had mentioned that these types of wineries exist in Spain.

    Good point on the vines. Of course, old vines do not equal good vines. But old vines do necessarily mean that they are worthless and need to be replanted, either. Look at Toro, Jumilla, Barossa, Lodi, and many other regions producing good wines from 50+year old vines.

  • http://www.obiscoito.com Ryan

    Red guitar, Hogue, Escudo Rojo, Ravenswood, Kim Crawford and others not bad, maybe boring for you but in reality they fill a niche very well. I sold wine in the states for many years and I’ll say the that while a Parker score could sell out a stack of wine quick it never made me the money or got as many people as internested in wine as the solid stack of quality middle of the road wine did!

    Without COnstellation brands and other like them there would be a very small market, and it would be an elistist one(more than it already is). They helped convert a lot of people I know to wine that didn’t drink it before, I’m glad I moved on but they aren’t goinig to destroy the little guys like so many predict.

    BTW, I could give you a list of wineries here in Spain that use new oak, micro-ox and other techniques you might shun and I think you might be surprised with the names on it. Oh and the ones that are lauded as the old gaurd with “classic Wines” that use mechanical harvesters, that list is long!! But I ty to not gossip, it’s their image and I just like hearing people say “They would never use….x…y…or …..Z!” ….

    All is not what it seems…the old gaurd often falls victim to the new ways

  • Joe M

    True, Constellation won't destroy the little guys. And their brands get a lot of folks into wine. I mean how many folks out there can point to Manischevitz as their first sip of alcohol? I don't think I'd be too surprised to hear which wineries use mainly new French oak, micro-ox, and others because with some experience these are techniques which can readily be identified in wine. As for mechanical harvesting for 'old guard' estates, no surprises there. Especially in Rioja, I'd imagine.

  • http://www.oldworldoldschool.blogspot.com Joe M

    True, Constellation won’t destroy the little guys. And their brands get a lot of folks into wine. I mean how many folks out there can point to Manischevitz as their first sip of alcohol?

    I don’t think I’d be too surprised to hear which wineries use mainly new French oak, micro-ox, and others because with some experience these are techniques which can readily be identified in wine. As for mechanical harvesting for ‘old guard’ estates, no surprises there. Especially in Rioja, I’d imagine.

  • David Falchek

    Debating in this format really is the Special Olympics. I'm trying to resist this "bait." But I think I have to clarify something for the Joe M up there who attempts to school me on the relationship between yeild and wine quality. For the record, I've contributed articles on viticulture regularly to Vineyard &amp; Winery Magazine since the early 1990s and irregularly to Wine Business Monthly and Practical Winery and Vineyards. All, I'm sure you will all agree, terrible publications. Before I was into wine criticism, I was writing technical articles. So Joe M, get your notebook out: Spain's "low production" was a function of vine and row spacing — not yeild. In the past (notice everyone I said "past") the majority of Spanish vineyards rows had incredibly wide spacing to accommodate out-dated vineyard equipment, even horse-drawn wagons!! Add to that very wide vine-spacing — the distance between vines within the rows — and you get very few vines per acre compared to rest of the world. (I'm being very general to pre-empt another lecture on this board.) So few vines per acre meant that Spain, which long has more ACRES of vineyard than any other country, didn't even make the top 5 when came to PRODUCTION (ton per acre/hectare.) The majority of Spain's vineyards were yeilding less than one-ton per acre and it sure as hell wasn't going into luxury wines. So Joe, at this point you are probably scratching your head and asking "what happened out there in those Spanish vineyards?" Well, you know that "new generation" everyone talks about? They replanted. They put rows much closer together since new tractors and mechanical harvestors are much narrower. Also, they planted vines more densly, you see, because now we know that closer vines actually increases below ground competition for water and nutrients, providing its own deterent for vigor and yeild. Add to that the cutting-edge application of VSP training, balanced pruning, a tight leaf pulling and hedging regime and more awareness and care of what's happening to the vineyard — it's a revolution. What do we have now? It seems counter-intuitive, to people like you Joe, but Spain's per acre yeild is way up but so is the fruit quality. It's because they added vines, they didn't diminish quality. Joe, I didn't come on this board, like you, pretending that I knew enought to speak authoritatively about the Spanish industry or criticize other for their impressions. I wanted to explain my views to fellow wine drinkers out of respect for Ryan and his work on this board. You, whoever you are and whatever you do, and some others, turned this into a ad hominem attack. That's sad, Joe. I hope wine brings you more joy in the future. David.

  • Joe M

    David, Thanks for clarifying and providing the history above. What I was trying to point out in my critique of your article, is that old vines and low production are not necessarily indicative of poor quality wine. Which, to me any, is what your article suggested. Your article also seemed out of step with the way that a lot of people view Spanish wine these days. Therefore many people on this site, myself included, thought it worthwhile to point this fact out to you. Including one of catavino's founder, Ryan Opaz, who originally offered his critical opinion of your findings. I do not pretend to speak authoritatively on the Spanish wine industry, which is why I consult this website and others like it to increase my knowledge. David – I regret that you consider tough, constructive criticism an 'ad hominem attack.' And I regret that all of this needed to happen on what is typically a very civil, informative blog.

  • David Falchek

    Debating in this format really is the Special Olympics. I’m trying to resist this “bait.”

    But I think I have to clarify something for the Joe M up there who attempts to school me on the relationship between yeild and wine quality. For the record, I’ve contributed articles on viticulture regularly to Vineyard & Winery Magazine since the early 1990s and irregularly to Wine Business Monthly and Practical Winery and Vineyards. All, I’m sure you will all agree, terrible publications. Before I was into wine criticism, I was writing technical articles.

    So Joe M, get your notebook out:

    Spain’s “low production” was a function of vine and row spacing — not yeild. In the past (notice everyone I said “past”) the majority of Spanish vineyards rows had incredibly wide spacing to accommodate out-dated vineyard equipment, even horse-drawn wagons!! Add to that very wide vine-spacing — the distance between vines within the rows — and you get very few vines per acre compared to rest of the world. (I’m being very general to pre-empt another lecture on this board.) So few vines per acre meant that Spain, which long has more ACRES of vineyard than any other country, didn’t even make the top 5 when came to PRODUCTION (ton per acre/hectare.) The majority of Spain’s vineyards were yeilding less than one-ton per acre and it sure as hell wasn’t going into luxury wines.

    So Joe, at this point you are probably scratching your head and asking “what happened out there in those Spanish vineyards?”

    Well, you know that “new generation” everyone talks about? They replanted. They put rows much closer together since new tractors and mechanical harvestors are much narrower. Also, they planted vines more densly, you see, because now we know that closer vines actually increases below ground competition for water and nutrients, providing its own deterent for vigor and yeild. Add to that the cutting-edge application of VSP training, balanced pruning, a tight leaf pulling and hedging regime and more awareness and care of what’s happening to the vineyard — it’s a revolution.

    What do we have now? It seems counter-intuitive, to people like you Joe, but Spain’s per acre yeild is way up but so is the fruit quality. It’s because they added vines, they didn’t diminish quality.

    Joe, I didn’t come on this board, like you, pretending that I knew enought to speak authoritatively about the Spanish industry or criticize other for their impressions. I wanted to explain my views to fellow wine drinkers out of respect for Ryan and his work on this board. You, whoever you are and whatever you do, and some others, turned this into a ad hominem attack.

    That’s sad, Joe. I hope wine brings you more joy in the future.

    David.

  • Joe M

    David,

    Thanks for clarifying and providing the history above. What I was trying to point out in my critique of your article, is that old vines and low production are not necessarily indicative of poor quality wine. Which, to me any, is what your article suggested. Your article also seemed out of step with the way that a lot of people view Spanish wine these days. Therefore many people on this site, myself included, thought it worthwhile to point this fact out to you. Including one of catavino’s founder, Ryan Opaz, who originally offered his critical opinion of your findings. I do not pretend to speak authoritatively on the Spanish wine industry, which is why I consult this website and others like it to increase my knowledge.

    David – I regret that you consider tough, constructive criticism an ‘ad hominem attack.’ And I regret that all of this needed to happen on what is typically a very civil, informative blog.

  • David Falchek

    Jeez, Joe M, My column was not in step with how people view Spanish wines? My column, in a nutshell, was Spanish wines are great , Spain is experiencing a revolution in quality, Spain will take over the wine world in the next decade, and I got five mediocre to crappy Spanish wines. So, what part of my column do you not agree with because I thought this was a blog for Spanish wine FANS. http://www.detestavino .net is a different site. As for the five wines I didn’t like, no one, in all these verbose retorts, defended them. What of the specific charges of incompetence, poor research, sloth, and the other deadly sins levied against me in this pile on begun by Ryan? In one of his histrionics about my column he rails against me for calling Garnancha fruity. I wonder if he went into seizure when he read Jancis Robinson’s entry on the variety? Or the Wines from Spain literature? Both call Garnancha fruity. Same with the comparisons of some Spanish wine to Bordeaux. From reading Ryan's shock-and-awe entry, one would think I compared Spanish wines to Arizona Green Tea. Guess what Catavino fans, Cab Sauv and Merlot are Bordeaux varieties. When you plant them, blend them, put them in oak, and bottle them in Bordeaux glass, it might look a bit like you picked some idea up from Bordeaux. Now, WE, WS, Decanter, everyone, has drawn the same comparison between some Spanish wines and Bordeaux. Where is Ryan’s outrage? Seems like he may have some uncompensated work to do. He faulted me for a word from a Spanish wine LABEL from chrissakes. I couldn’t even mention a wine without incurring his faux outrage. Let’s get down to brass tacks, then. Other than my unchallenged opinion on those 5 wines that let me down nothing in that column was new or not said before by many, many others far greater than I. (No one believes me, but I clip the work of others and I research my humble columns). The question then remains, why do you think Ryan singled me out when all I did was repackage? I think I know. Ryan can’t credibly tilt at titans like Robinson and Parker. So he, still a beginner, finds a straw man from the Keystone State, puts him up to a circle jerk of self-congratulatory bloggers, makes an outrageous (and in the end, inaccurate) critique, and looks oh so smart to his dozens of readers for putting some hick in the sticks in his place. Then the straw man gets pilloried for things he didn’t say about Spanish wines (poor, confused Joe M working out the vine thing in his head, still thinks I condemned, rather than praised, the Spanish wine industry). The straw guy gets blamed for every wrong in the world of wine, even Neo-Prohibitionist legislation and is told he can't write about wine unless he visits the countries they come from. And he gets slammed for not writing about some single vineyard, biodynamic, small lot, special cask, reserve wines no one outside of Manhattan can find. There’s outrage, give-and-take, lot of hits, and all is good in Opazland. Friends, bloggers, countrymen. Why not call an end to your pajama revolution against some small time scribbler from Pennsylvania? Some of us have paying jobs we need to get back to.

  • David Falchek

    Jeez, Joe M,

    My column was not in step with how people view Spanish wines? My column, in a nutshell, was Spanish wines are great , Spain is experiencing a revolution in quality, Spain will take over the wine world in the next decade, and I got five mediocre to crappy Spanish wines. So, what part of my column do you not agree with because I thought this was a blog for Spanish wine FANS. http://www.detestavino .net is a different site.

    As for the five wines I didn’t like, no one, in all these verbose retorts, defended them. What of the specific charges of incompetence, poor research, sloth, and the other deadly sins levied against me in this pile on begun by Ryan? In one of his histrionics about my column he rails against me for calling Garnancha fruity. I wonder if he went into seizure when he read Jancis Robinson’s entry on the variety? Or the Wines from Spain literature? Both call Garnancha fruity.

    Same with the comparisons of some Spanish wine to Bordeaux. From reading Ryan’s shock-and-awe entry, one would think I compared Spanish wines to Arizona Green Tea. Guess what Catavino fans, Cab Sauv and Merlot are Bordeaux varieties. When you plant them, blend them, put them in oak, and bottle them in Bordeaux glass, it might look a bit like you picked some idea up from Bordeaux. Now, WE, WS, Decanter, everyone, has drawn the same comparison between some Spanish wines and Bordeaux. Where is Ryan’s outrage? Seems like he may have some uncompensated work to do. He faulted me for a word from a Spanish wine LABEL from chrissakes. I couldn’t even mention a wine without incurring his faux outrage.

    Let’s get down to brass tacks, then. Other than my unchallenged opinion on those 5 wines that let me down nothing in that column was new or not said before by many, many others far greater than I. (No one believes me, but I clip the work of others and I research my humble columns). The question then remains, why do you think Ryan singled me out when all I did was repackage? I think I know. Ryan can’t credibly tilt at titans like Robinson and Parker. So he, still a beginner, finds a straw man from the Keystone State, puts him up to a circle jerk of self-congratulatory bloggers, makes an outrageous (and in the end, inaccurate) critique, and looks oh so smart to his dozens of readers for putting some hick in the sticks in his place.

    Then the straw man gets pilloried for things he didn’t say about Spanish wines (poor, confused Joe M working out the vine thing in his head, still thinks I condemned, rather than praised, the Spanish wine industry). The straw guy gets blamed for every wrong in the world of wine, even Neo-Prohibitionist legislation and is told he can’t write about wine unless he visits the countries they come from. And he gets slammed for not writing about some single vineyard, biodynamic, small lot, special cask, reserve wines no one outside of Manhattan can find. There’s outrage, give-and-take, lot of hits, and all is good in Opazland.

    Friends, bloggers, countrymen. Why not call an end to your pajama revolution against some small time scribbler from Pennsylvania? Some of us have paying jobs we need to get back to.

  • Ryan

    David Joe please we both love wine, civil discussion gets us much farther and lies and falsehoods don't. 3 to point out, then I'm done: David our "dozens of readers" equaled 10,000 last month! If working in the wine industry 10 yrs with 3 years of it specializing in Spanish wine is "still a beginner" as you say, so be it. Finally I have taken on the "titans" as you say many times in other articles, not only that but I have spoke with, met with and consider some friends such as important Spanish wine minds, like Gerry Dawes, John Radford, and Victor de la Serna… So David there is still a glass to share if you do make it to BCN any time in the near future. I'm happy to talk, but don't take out your frustration here. Cheers to both! BTW I was wrong on the Crianca/Crianza sort of, yes it was on a bottle of Cava where it's meaning has nothing to do with wood aging and the spelling is in Catalan not Spanish. As to the wines you tasted, they need no comment.

  • http://www.obiscoito.com Ryan

    David Joe please we both love wine, civil discussion gets us much farther and lies and falsehoods don’t. 3 to point out, then I’m done:

    David our “dozens of readers” equaled 10,000 last month! If working in the wine industry 10 yrs with 3 years of it specializing in Spanish wine is “still a beginner” as you say, so be it. Finally I have taken on the “titans” as you say many times in other articles, not only that but I have spoke with, met with and consider some friends such as important Spanish wine minds, like Gerry Dawes, John Radford, and Victor de la Serna…

    So David there is still a glass to share if you do make it to BCN any time in the near future. I’m happy to talk, but don’t take out your frustration here.

    Cheers to both!

    BTW I was wrong on the Crianca/Crianza sort of, yes it was on a bottle of Cava where it’s meaning has nothing to do with wood aging and the spelling is in Catalan not Spanish. As to the wines you tasted, they need no comment.

  • Joe M

    Ryan – You're ever the generous and patient host to still share a glass with this 'strawman' who writes such poorly written, and misunderstood articles for his poor 'small town' readers, and then gets all bent out of shape when he is taken to task for writing a poor, misleading article. Geez, this guy is more sensitive to criticism than the Man of Monkton. David, I'm new to wine blogging and relatively new to this site, but I am pretty confident that most folks outside of the self congratulatory crowd you speak of would read your article and be confused as to what Spanish wines are about. Maybe your talents would best be served writing for the trade pubs you previously mentioned and not for newspapers or consumer publications. And that's it from me on this thread. Feliz y prospero ano nuevo, Ryan. Looking forward to what you've got in store for '08 on catavino. -Joe

  • Joe M

    Ryan -

    You’re ever the generous and patient host to still share a glass with this ‘strawman’ who writes such poorly written, and misunderstood articles for his poor ‘small town’ readers, and then gets all bent out of shape when he is taken to task for writing a poor, misleading article. Geez, this guy is more sensitive to criticism than the Man of Monkton.

    David, I’m new to wine blogging and relatively new to this site, but I am pretty confident that most folks outside of the self congratulatory crowd you speak of would read your article and be confused as to what Spanish wines are about. Maybe your talents would best be served writing for the trade pubs you previously mentioned and not for newspapers or consumer publications.

    And that’s it from me on this thread.

    Feliz y prospero ano nuevo, Ryan. Looking forward to what you’ve got in store for ’08 on catavino.

    -Joe