User ID:

Remember me
Lost password?

Thursday Thorns: The Report Card
A Curmudgeon’s Take on The News of The Day

By Charles Olken
I like to take a break from writing and tasting by searching around the Internet for bits of newsworthy information that expand my knowledge or tickle my funny bone. Today I found a little of each.

Item 1: From the New Zealand Herald—A Quote From Randall Grahm

“It is more difficult to get rid of a case of Syrah than the clap.”

This by way of introduction to an article about why Syrah is going to become New Zealand’s third leading wine. Apparently folks are pulling out Cab. Sauv and Merlot and planting Syrah. No mention given to the fact that NZ Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are not exactly anybody’s darlings.

Our Grade: B+. I always say that if you don’t have a good argument on your side, then throw in a quote from Mr. Grahm who is not only the most inventive winemaker around but also the most erudite and the funniest.


Item 2: “Ascentia Wine Estates Announces Changes to Buena Vista Carneros Production Buena Vista brand will include new varietals”

Okay. I looked at that headline and said to myself that it made sense to expand Buena Vista beyond its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay focus. But, the truth lies somewhere else. Here is what the underlying public relations release really says.

“Ascentia Wine Estates today announced it will consolidate production and expand grape sourcing for its Buena Vista wine brand. Buena Vista operations will be shifted to the Geyser Peak facility, another brand in the highly-rated Ascentia Wines portfolio. This decision will allow for a more efficient and streamlined production of Buena Vista wines. The transition will be completed within 45 to 60 days”.

Our Grade: B/D-. In these difficult economic times, it is difficult to criticize any business that tries to improve its failing lot in life. No complaint there. But, Buena Vista has been a southern Sonoma/Sonoma town stalwart for 150 years. Now it is no more. It will go from being a winery to being a brand, and keeping the so-called history winery is nothing more than a sham now that Buena Vista is leaving the area and will make its home an hour away in the Alexander Valley.


Item 3: Look-Alike Wines Featuring Look-Alike Marsupials Duke It Out

Kangaroo, Wallaby, What's the Difference?

This is a headline appearing recently in the Wall Street Journal. It made me laugh because I don’t much like pictures of animals on wine labels. Is the Duckhorn duck more meaningful than the Smoking Loon loon? How many family dogs have adorned labels over the years? Perhaps that makes me a bit of a curmudgeon, but when a couple of five dollar Aussie wines start duking it out, it is at least a little bit amusing.

Grade: One slightly soiled rat. It could have been worse. The soiled rat rating system does go up to three rats.


Item 4: More on The Great Roo/Wallaby Dustup

As loath as I am to crib from another writer, I just ran across Tom Johnson’s ( take on the big crisis down under and wished I had written those elegant words. To wit—

“That’s right: Australians are suing each other over who owns the rights to the large, bouncing rodent that is to Australia what the bald eagle is to the United States”.

Grade: A. Kudos for making a funny situation even more amusing.


deceptive appellations
by John
Posted on:3/3/2011 6:39:15 PM

I believe the day will come when the demands of the institutional investors in publically traded drinks companies will utterly destroy the wine business as we have known it. Now that Ascentia has moved Buena Vista form Carneros the only way they will be able to call the wines "Estate Bottled" is if they label them with the utterly meaningless "Sonoma County" appellation. This is SO great for consumers! {Curmudgeons, unite.}

Leave a comment below, but please limit your comments to 1,200 characters or less. We find it helpful to make a copy of our comments to be sure that they fit. In that way, you can edit them if they run long.

(Please note: your e-mail address will not be visible after posting)



Note: Refresh your browser to see your latest comments.

Having technical problems with the comment system? Click here.