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Bob Ross

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Wine Ratings Might Not Pass the Sobriety Test -- New York Times.

by Bob Ross » Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:44 pm

The "Times" published a major business section article on the use of the 100 point scale. None of it is really news to folks here, but I found the article well written and well researched. It's amazing that excellent retailers believe they can sell only of a wine rated 89 compared with a wine rated 90.

"THIS is what a blessing looks like in the wine business: Wine Spectator, a handsome glossy monthly that markets itself as a field guide for wine aficionados, recently bestowed a rating of 90 on a 2004 cabernet sauvignon from the Valentin Bianchi Famiglia winery in Argentina.

This is what a blessing does: After the wine received the 90, Brian Zucker, who oversees online sales for K&L Wine Merchants, a large retailer in San Francisco, decided to promote the Valentin Bianchi cabernet in an e-mail message to tens of thousands of customers.

If it had scored an 89, Mr. Zucker said, “we would have sold a tiny fraction of what we’ll end up moving.” But because of the 90, and considering the wine’s price, $12.99, he declared himself “absolutely confident” that K&L would sell out its inventory of the Argentinean cabernet.

Mr. Zucker said he was promoting the Valentin Bianchi because he thought it an attractive buy even before Wine Spectator treated it to a 90. But that is hardly always the case with a high-scoring wine. “A wine that is highly rated takes on a life of its own,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily represent the best value, but that doesn’t seem to matter.”"

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/13/busin ... f=business

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Thomas

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Re: Wine Ratings Might Not Pass the Sobriety Test -- New York Times.

by Thomas » Sat Aug 12, 2006 8:37 pm

It may be amazing to you Bob, but when I was on the road selling for a distributor I saw the phenomenon regularly. When I asked retailers what they thought the difference between an 89 point wine and a 90 the answer invariably was: sales.

At sales meetings, we were beaten over the head with those selling "points."
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Re: Wine Ratings Might Not Pass the Sobriety Test -- New York Times.

by Hoke » Sat Aug 12, 2006 8:41 pm

Mr. Zucker said he was promoting the Valentin Bianchi because he thought it an attractive buy even before Wine Spectator treated it to a 90.


Yeah. Right. Sure thing, Mr. Zucker.
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Re: Wine Ratings Might Not Pass the Sobriety Test -- New York Times.

by Lou Kessler » Sat Aug 12, 2006 9:08 pm

Hoke wrote:
Mr. Zucker said he was promoting the Valentin Bianchi because he thought it an attractive buy even before Wine Spectator treated it to a 90.


Yeah. Right. Sure thing, Mr. Zucker.


I do not know Mr. Zucker but unfortnately he's probably right. Spec will move lower priced wines in the store but a good Parker score helps the higher priced wines. That's been our experience, don't shoot the messenger.
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Re: Wine Ratings Might Not Pass the Sobriety Test -- New York Times.

by Dan Smothergill » Sun Aug 13, 2006 6:50 am

No surprise. The difference between an 89 and a 90 is the difference between a B and an A. We all want A's.
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Re: Wine Ratings Might Not Pass the Sobriety Test -- New York Times.

by Thomas » Sun Aug 13, 2006 12:45 pm

I just read my copy of the Sunday Times, and of course I read this article.

The "points" story is so old and used up I can't get excited over it anymore. But I was disheartened by the spelling of the word "palate," which in the article is spelled "palette."
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Re: Wine Ratings Might Not Pass the Sobriety Test -- New York Times.

by Bob Ross » Sun Aug 13, 2006 1:14 pm

I noticed that too, Thomas. I wonder if the word "fashion" in the sentence confused the proofreaders?

" ... many wine makers fashion wines to please the palettes of Mr. Parker, Mr. Laube and other high-profile critics. "

Good catch!
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Re: Wine Ratings Might Not Pass the Sobriety Test -- New York Times.

by Thomas » Sun Aug 13, 2006 5:55 pm

Oh Bob, you are so nice to people...and maybe the proofreader thought those people were painters or art critics.

I am all too aware of how easy it is for a writer to make a grevious mistake--I cringe at some of the ones that not only remained but had been inserted into both my books. Based on the errors I've found in my book--I'd have to say there are people who simply don't edit closely enough.

As my editor father-in-law used to say toward the end of his life: the publishing world has been compromised to the point of putting out too much bad product.
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Re: Wine Ratings Might Not Pass the Sobriety Test -- New York Times.

by Bob Ross » Mon Aug 14, 2006 6:01 pm

Quote:
Mr. Zucker said he was promoting the Valentin Bianchi because he thought it an attractive buy even before Wine Spectator treated it to a 90.


"Yeah. Right. Sure thing, Mr. Zucker."

Hoke, how would this work in practice. Would Zucker have purchased the wine at wholesale before he knew the WS rating?

Would he buy more once the rating came out (if he could)?

Retailers have told me that they have to make purchase commitments before the ratings come out, and that they either under or over buy as a result. True?

Thanks. Bob
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Re: Wine Ratings Might Not Pass the Sobriety Test -- New York Times.

by Paul Winalski » Tue Aug 15, 2006 1:20 am

Bob Ross wrote:I noticed that too, Thomas. I wonder if the word "fashion" in the sentence confused the proofreaders?

" ... many wine makers fashion wines to please the palettes of Mr. Parker, Mr. Laube and other high-profile critics. "


I dunno. Reading Mr. Parker's reviews of Burgundy and German wines, I've always thought that he must have a palate like a flat piece of paint-splattered wood (a palette). :twisted:

-Paul W.
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Re: Wine Ratings Might Not Pass the Sobriety Test -- New Yo

by Otto » Tue Aug 15, 2006 10:04 am

Paul Winalski wrote:I dunno. Reading Mr. Parker's reviews of Burgundy and German wines, I've always thought that he must have a palate like a flat piece of paint-splattered wood (a palette). :twisted:

-Paul W.


You know, I just heard rumours that Parker has very much liked Germans that I've recently been raving about: Karlsmühle, Biffar, Messmer, Karthäuserhof, Kees-Kieren.... If the rumours are true, then either he does have a palate in Germany, or I need to be scared for my palate... :?
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Re: Wine Ratings Might Not Pass the Sobriety Test -- New Yo

by Dave Erickson » Tue Aug 15, 2006 5:20 pm

I honestly don't care about scores, because I don't have to. I try to sell people what I think they'll like. A 90+ score is always helpful, but an 89 is not the end of the world. The end of the world is an 83. :mrgreen:

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