About a year ago we wrote about James Suckling’s rating of Canadian wines, which was a monumental step for Canadian wines on the international stage. At last one of the well known names in the wine game had blessed some of the wines with high scores and praise.
So it’s unfortunate that, despite assurances from both Mr. Suckling and SAQ, the state-owned wine entity in Quebec, a large sum of money changed hands in association with the tastings in Quebec. And, apparently, instead of responding to contacts from La Presse and prominent wine writers, there was silence and then a stated consideration of libel action on Mr. Suckling’s part.
Some have said a wine writer of his stature would not come to a minor player in the world of wine like Canada unless money changed hands. That in itself takes some of the luster off the high ratings, but I’d like to think that despite any payment that has been made, the praise for these wines is genuine and rate with equal rigor to anywhere else from Bordeaux to Barossa.
In any case, it’s somewhat disconcerting and a bit of a spot on something that was, to repeat myself, a rather monumental moment for Canadian wine. …so in response to Joe Roberts at 1winedude.com, “Can we get these guys to write “transparency is good” 5000 times on a blackboard in a Catholic schoolroom somewhere?” Yes, let’s.
For more on this and on secrecy and bullying by a couple well known wine scribes, check out Evan Dawson’s article in Palate Press.
Shortly after visiting the Clos Du Val Winery in the Stags Leap District of California’s Napa Valley, we noticed one of their bottles on an episode of Two and a Half Men. There was a pointed finger or two and a happy “Hey!” on our couch, and then time passed. But over the next few months, that same bottle with its easily identifiable terracotta-colored label with the squiggles appeared on How I Met Your Mother, Entourage, and several other shows. Turns out Clos Du Val’s product placement had been some time in the making.
As far back as 2004, both the LA Times and Decanter declared Clos Du Val the winner (or perhaps A winner) of the product placement game. Apparently back then at least “no one tracks wine placements in films and television programs, but Aaron Gordon, president of the Set Resources entertainment marketing firm in Santa Monica, believes that Clos du Val appears in more shows than any other brand”, according to the piece.
This aggressive PR push came on the heels of Clos Du Val having in the past couple years fallen from the elite group of must-have Napa wines. The prominent placements combined with national ratings and reviews, new branding and a price push proved to be a winning combination. Even Wine Spectator, who had gotten down on Clos Du Val for not adapting to the fruit bomb era that customers wanted, praised Clos Du Val in an article titled Napa Mavericks for defying trends.
So now, almost ten years since this change in direction, Clos Du Val is going strong with a vibrant, recognizable brand and a solid product in the bottle. Personally, we are perennial fans of the Carneros Chardonnay and some other delightful discoveries have been their uniquely-branded and old-world leaning Primitivo, which I believe hasn’t been made since 2009, as well as the Carneros Pinot Noir. And the brand, well yes, it is in the back of our heads and catches our eye every time I spot the squiggles and terracotta on TV or at the movies.
With all this visibility, I dare say some of us should get into a long-term drinking game with this. If you spot a Clos Du Val bottle, pour yourself a glass of Cab or Chard in the California fashion!
Here’s Wineshout’s monthly run-down of some worthwhile blog reads.
Anthony Gismondi is one of the heavy hitters of the Canadian wine scene, and so full of insight into all aspects of winedom. Gismondi on Wine is the place to find him.
Jim’s Loire is a must-bookmark for Loire fans. Period.
Despite leaving the Canadian west coast for England, Winecouver from a couple of die-hard wine fans (and an actual couple) is full of so much solid info on wines. You can also catch a tweet or two from @winecouver and @mrswinecouver.
A sit we discovered only recently, Labeled ran one of the funnest and most refreshing wine events this spring with its March Madness of wine. Simply on that strength, and waiting for next year’s March Madness, let’s keep ‘em on our blogodex.
…and check our blogroll for dozens more.
The Coombsville appellation became the 16th appelation in Napa in December 2011. Tucked up against the foothills of the Vacas Mountain Range just east of the city of Napa, the AVA’s elevation ranges from almost sea level at the Napa River on the west to 1,900 feet at the ridge of the Vacas Range.
Mercury News did a piece that looks at some of the “common threads” in Coombsville wines, and it’s history from being a Chardonnay area in the 70′s to now being mainly a red wine growing area due to market demand.
The Coombsville Vintners and Growers website provides information on the growers and wineries in the AVA, with Silverado Vineyards being the most high profile of the group. Though some of the wines are hard to find, and certain growers only grow for wineries elsewhere, Coombsville is generally easily accessible. It is, after all, the closest AVA to the city of Napa. A recent Napa Valley Register article goes further into the peaceful and welcoming nature of this most recent Napa appellation.
We’d love to hear about your favorite Coombsville wines and wineries as we get to know this AVA and its wine.
“Free my grapes was the rallying cry on Parliament Hill on Tuesday as a committee heard from supporters of a private member’s bill seeking to erase a 1928 rule that restricts individuals from bringing wine across provincial borders.” according to Yahoo News today. For more on this story, click here.