@betanmich versus @sucklingpig…

30.3.2011billn

Got to have some sympathy with Michel Bettane here.

I guess His-RMP-ness of Monkton might have been a long-time exception, but he never rocked the boat or caused problems as he wasn’t out to scoop anyone; of-course that’s not @sucklingpig’s game. The current situation is heading for a disorganised free-for-all – come to think of it, a bit like Burgundy! 🙂

The difference is that Burgundy never had ‘a system’; people taste all year-round to their advantage or the wine’s advantage, or not – usually not! For instance I’m proud to have tasted 2010 Romanée-Conti, but sad too; pre-malo it’s just a fruity cordial – not Romanée-Conti – that takes away some of its mistique. But anyway, mere details compared to the ‘scoop factor’ – I should have made a video that costs everyone 4.99 Euros to watch(!)

It seems clear to me that this Bordeaux ‘system’ has always reinforced their ‘next-big-thing’ marketing machine and built up a well of comment at exactly the same time each year, and notably, from all associated to their ‘game’ (more from @Jancis here). Tinker with that system, and the focus is gone, consequently much might change…

Anyway, well-done Michel – you either have a system or you don’t – I’m 99 points on that!

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

There are 7 responses to “@betanmich versus @sucklingpig…”

  1. Philip30th March 2011 at 7:07 pmPermalinkReply

    Bordeaux is a volume business. If you add together the total production of all the grand cru and premier cru vineyards in Vosne Romanee, you’ll find there’s about as much wine made each year as Chateau Lafite produces on its own.
    Ford and Ferrari have different marketing strategies. Bordeaux does the same as Ford. I’ve never seen an advertisment for Ferrari.

  2. Claude Kolm31st March 2011 at 2:58 amPermalinkReply

    But I’ve seen them for Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, so maybe this analogy doesn’t work.

    • billn31st March 2011 at 4:01 amPermalinkReply

      And? Where is the single structured walk-around tasting for Burgundy like the UGC, that basis of which is the pricing in the Bordeaux market? Likewise, what does one early note on Cheval Blanc tell you?

      It seems you merely amplify my point Claude…

  3. Claude Kolm31st March 2011 at 2:39 pmPermalinkReply

    Bill — I don’t understand your comment that the UGC tasting is the basis of the Bordeaux market. Parker is, plain and simple.

    But your comment fails to address my point. You said you see advertisements for Ford (Bordeaux) but not for Ferrari (Burgundy) and I cited a counterexample: DRC ads (I could cite plenty more Burgundy estates that advertise, but I figured I might as well use the Rolls Royce of Burgundy). Thus, your comment has been disproved.

    • billn31st March 2011 at 3:11 pmPermalinkReply

      And frankly we’re in the same position Claude – I have no idea. What you are on about.

      My post was simple for me 😉

      Bordeaux is apparently slowly sinking into the free-for-all that has always existed in Burgundy – enough at least for Michel Bettane to complain.

      The question is ‘will their historical marketing model, driven by getting all opinion-formers in one place at one time, be able to cope.’

      Nothing more. If you wish to try and confuse (apparently not just) me – at least stick to wine…

  4. Claude Kolm31st March 2011 at 8:44 pmPermalinkReply

    And still, I don’t understand you. Bettane is complaining because the Bordelais let Suckling scoop him. But it is Bettane who set up scooping in Burgundy when at Revue du vin de France by tasting in February the previous vintage’s wines in a big blind (!) tasting, apparently without regard to the state of the malos. The vignerons of Gevrey have had enough of this type of scooping and said that they won’t participate in such press tastings until a year after the vintage, i.e., the malos are finished. Let’s hope the others follow.

    Moreover, your “historical marketing model, driven by getting all opinion formers in one place at one time to cope” is hardly historical. It dates back to the 1990s, and no further, and it was always an opt-in situation, not one that was “required.” Back when I covered Bordeaux, I participated in an early predecessor for the 1989 vintage (nowhere near as organized as it later became) and thereafter refused to participate for a number of reasons.

    • billn1st April 2011 at 12:56 amPermalinkReply

      The point is (encore, encore…); there never was a system in Burgundy, nobody gives a shit. Which I think I’ve been rather consistent on 😉
      There is a system (Bordeaux) or there isn’t (Burgundy).

  5. Claude Kolm1st April 2011 at 2:46 amPermalinkReply

    I guess I’d say that maybe there was a “system” in recent years that UK and some other European wine writers participated in. Without commenting on the quality of their judgments, I’ll just say that as far as I’m aware, they were largely irrelevant to the market. If there were any U.S. participants to this system, I’m not aware of them — certainly not Parker, WS, Tanzer.

    As for Burgundy (and most other wines), I’ve learned over the years with much surprise that it is only some U.S. and U.K. writers for the most part who make the effort to visit and speak with the producers. The standard European practice is large sitdown tastings of unbottled wine (usually before the wines are really in a proper state to judge). I have been told by many Bordeaux producers that what they submit to these March tastings is not what will become the final blend). Such tastings, I think, present great problems (disclosure: I do attend a few of these: every year I do German Grosse Gewächse (almost all already bottled and so no issue of final blend) and have in the past done Piemontese Nebbiolo-based wines (also, almost all already bottled), so presenting fewer issues).

  6. billn1st April 2011 at 5:20 amPermalinkReply

    As for Burgundy (and most other wines), I’ve learned over the years with much surprise that it is only some U.S. and U.K. writers for the most part who make the effort to visit and speak with the producers.

    Thank-you, finally!

    There is no recognised, organised system for tasting the new vintage in Burgundy. None.
    (ad neuseaum)

    The closest ‘organised’ event, by Burgundians to the UGC, is not annual and not necessarily directly vintage related and that’s the Grand Jours – only slowly gaining traction, but probably only because so many people get to travel on another’s dollar. Some villages are now starting to make their own tastings an annual event, but only send invites – as much to customers as anyone – not air-tickets. They are well attended, but not by jobbing journos or wine industry ‘professionals’.

    Bordeaux has had a very high profile, effective, marketing-driven tasting system for each vintage. The lack of suitability of the samples either through blend or readiness issues seems not have made much difference to the wine industry ‘professionals’ does it. The only thing that is now causing cracks is ‘he gets to taste before me.‘ – now how will the ‘system’ cope with that?

    I stick exactly to my contention, not just saying ‘no’ then discussing Ferraris, German and Italian wine…

  7. Claude Kolm2nd April 2011 at 1:33 amPermalinkReply

    Bill — I think we’re just sailing past each other in the night. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve covered Bordeaux in the past and you haven’t and so don’t see things the way I do, or I’m older than you and so take a longer perspective, or something else, but I’m suppressing what I otherwise would say just to say “We’re through here!”

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