As it turns out, A LOT!
It’s easy to understand how certain names of star athletes and famous actors and entertainers can elicit stirrings within us. We see and hear about how great they are and how, maybe in some small way, we like to think that “that could be me.”
While not exactly the same thing, the wine world has its own list of famous wineries. Names that whether you are a wine connoisseur or just a casual imbiber, still ring out as having “IT.”
How many times have I heard that this wine or that wine is the pinnacle of great wines? EXCEPT! In a number of cases, and from here any reference to wine quality should be noted as only my review, I have come to realize that a number of wines out there, sell more on their name than on their quality.
Shouldn’t come as any surprise though as many different products and services may cost more when you attach a “name” to it. Heck, marketing as even shown that if you want to exude the quality of your product, you mark it up to almost astronomical prices as people will perceive that it also represents quality and the “best of the best.” Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
Wine tends to be no different. There are labels out there (for my blog I tend to stay away from naming the guilty) that, for me, come with a price tag commensurate with the name and not the quality. Not saying any particular wine is bad, just that I wouldn’t pay inflated prices for wine that is only decent. I’m sort of a wineries worse customer as I do tend to use the “you’re only as good as your last vintage” remark. Side note; there are winemakers out there that make great wines no matter what Mother Nature has thrown at them.
Why is this coming up now? Interesting story. Or at least I hope so.
I received an email recently indicating that this particular wine shop was having what most call “A Big Red” wine tasting. Now by the name you’d get a pretty good picture of what was happening. This email caught my eye as it also started to “name drop” a number of winery names that are synonymous with that higher quality and higher price, so much so, that I decided I’d attend. So far so good, right?
EXCEPT! The names they were dropping lead you to think that the wines might be what’s considered to be called their first label of these big named wines. Now with all my time in the business and having had many a high end tasting to my credit, I was a little dubious that all these wines would appear. After all, some of them sell for well over $100 or even $200 a bottle. Let me tell you, those are difficult, although not impossible, to obtain for tastings. Knowing the shop as I do, it added to my apprehension of what was really to be poured.
As I said before, nothing that I’m mentioning is a reflection of the wine poured that evening, in fact, after trying all the wines at the tasting, I can honestly say that all of them were very good to excellent.
As one example, they dropped the name Rothschild in their email. Now a First Growth Mouton or Lafite Rothschild for 2015 can sell for well over $500 a bottle. Like I said, not likely that’s the one. There’s a Mouton Cadet that generally sells around $10, but I’d give the shop more credit than that. Turned out to be a winery named Chateau Clark owned by Baron Edmond de Rothschild, of Rothschild fame. There are some phrases that pop into my head about this time, but I’ll keep those to myself and let you draw your own conclusion. There were a couple more examples in my opinion of “stretching” the names used.
From a purely marketing standpoint, the email did what it was supposed to do, get me into the shop. Also, I did find a wine that I bought (that further down) that also made the ad effective. But I have to ask “at what cost?” For me, I’m going to be a little more dubious about their emails from here on. Not to say I wouldn’t go, I just won’t expect much.
I guess things like this have always bothered me. Being raised trying to live my life by being fair and honest, it hits me the wrong way when something like this comes up. I know it’s not so egregious (stole that from Captain Jack in Pirates of the Caribbean, and yes, I see the irony in my fair and honest while stealing the word) that I’m going to petition the shop or even make my opinions known to them (unless of course they read this and recognize themselves). No, it’s just my way of getting things off my chest and maybe bringing a little light on the subject.
So what wine did I purchase? A wine that, first off, was correctly identified in the email by the winery’s name. Second, without any preconceived ideas or research ahead of time, a wine that I eventually learned received a 96+ Review from Wine Advocate; the 2016 Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon. Hands down best wine of the tasting, and as I have told others, the Chappellet Signature Cab has ALWAYS been a great wine AND at around $60 or so, tends to be one of the “Best Bang for Your Buck” wines if you’re into Napa Cabs, like I am.
So in my final farewell (don’t worry, I’m only talking about THIS post), I’m going to say thank you to the wine shop, albeit with my caveat to “choose your words carefully” for future marketing. As I think it’s obvious “What’s in a Name.”