Wine World Homogeneity

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…And Getting Pushed Back — our latest installment on

It’s about how The Grande Dalles, vowing to do things differently than the me-toos out there, is not finding it easy; very few appreciate an individual wine, we’re finding.

Here’s how it beings:

“When we began to even think about getting into the wine industry, we knew one thing: We didn’t want to be like anyone else.

What was the point, we asked ourselves? Does a painter set out to be like Chagall, or a musician like Hendricks? No! And so we set out to make a singular wine based on Scott’s vision — one that had been solidified in a pre-global palate France, and growing in him for 20-plus years. It would use grapes from the vineyard we farmed, the land painstakingly chosen for the wine we envisioned. No way were we going to emulate another country or person’s style. We only wanted to reinstate what we found sorely on the wane in the industry: Wines that dare to be different because of where and who they come from. We were going to push the envelope. Little did we know how hard the industry would push back.”

Anyhoo — the whole story is available for your enjoyment on The Daily Meal here. If you like it, please do rate it with the stars next to the column, so we can keep writing for this fine online community.

Many thanks –


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Steve Heimoff’s recent blog hits close to home, and the point is not about Cosentino Winery apparently closing. The point is about what probably led to its closing. The quote from the owner, Mitch Cosentino, was he would “do it all myself again, like I did in the beginning,” this in reference to his new wine venture where he personally will focus on making small production wines. From the sounds of the article, Cosentino had spread himself too thinly—across too many SKUs, across too many purchased grapes—to where there was nothing recognizably Mitch Cosentino in the wines; his wines became just like everybody else’s.

As I’ve mentioned before the only hope I have for our wines is when you taste them you know they could only have come from us – from our vineyard, our hands, and our hearts.

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I tasted our wines with probably the most pedigreed sommelier in Portland the other day. As usual we started off with ’09 Leroy’s Finest and the first comment was “Bone dry? Why would you make it bone dry? Don’t you know that riesling should have some residual sugar (RS)?….” He went on to lecture me on the virtues of RS and how I should change what I’m doing to make a wine with broader appeal and more flexibility with food. Now, I’m quite familiar with off-dry or semi-sweet riesling paired with spicy food, but to say a dry white wine somehow is less food-friendly than one with RS is frankly just stupid. The problem is he had a preconceived notion of what riesling should be, and Leroy’s Finest was unexpected and therefore wasn’t “right.” And he even said, “This doesn’t taste like riesling from the Northwest, it tastes French or Austrian.”

Then came ’08 Gampo and ’08 Home Place. He liked the wines a lot, but thought they were too young, too structured, too much tannin. “Bring them back in 3-4 years.” He went on to say that if we were known like a few of the original famous Napa wineries making similar style wines (i.e., not fat and not jammy) then he could sell them. But not from someone new and not wines that don’t taste like they came from the NW.
As a side note, one of the most celebrated chefs in Portland tasted and loved Gampo and Home Place. He conceded,“There are some tannins there, but nothing that a little fat and protein won’t take care of.” He got it, but was trumped by his wine buyer who said pretty much the same thing as the “pedigreed sommelier.”

People talk a lot of talk about wanting new and exiting things, but when it comes right down to it, people want what they’re used to. The expected is comforting and it reassures us in our assessment of the world. Our wines are the unexpected and may cause one to rethink things.

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So get this. Driving around in the Midwest last week, in a bedroom-like community of Kansas City (a be-YU-tiful city – need to spend more time there), saw a housing development going up named “Napa Valley.” I was SHOCKED. And then amused. And then SHOCKED again. Why? No, it’s not because it was a small tract of land that was flatter than flat with just a hint of the many more identical McMansions that would be slapped up there blaring out at us from the distance. And for sure it’s not because of its Midwest locale. Nor because it was lacking any atmosphere of ANY kind. (Disclaimer required: I’ve never been to Napa Valley, I’ve just seen pictures, but this development wuhddn’t [sic] no Napa Valley!) Here’s why I was miffed: Read the rest of this entry »

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Following a link from The Pour yesterday, I came across a funny sight that still mystifies me: a photo of a man pretending to sniff wine from an empty glass. The man was Gianfranco Soldera, and I swear to god,  not only did that glass have nothing in it, it had no appearance of ever having any red wine in it, at least any brunello di montalcino, which is what this man made. Now, this jovial and grandfatherly looking fellow makes rather expensive wine (as Eric mentions, and that’s why I followed his link, to check him out since we’re making sangiovese from the brunello clone)—the most I saw on a quick search was $350 for a 1991—so why this empty-glass photo?

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“The uniqueness of America would prove to be its ability to erase uniqueness.” Daniel Boorstin, The Americans: The Democratic Experience.

When I started writing this post a few days ago I was going to feed off of this quote. My plan was to essentially speak to how it might apply to the homogenization of the wine industry that is reducing the availability of the individual wine. About the traveling winemakers who add to it. About mega-vineyards and mega producers adding to it. Of the selling out to big business and then the consolidation of brands adding to it. Maybe I would’ve hinted at singular palates—yes, the RP effect—and their influence adding to it. Would’ve shared some trade secrets about how, unbeknownst to consumers, different labels are used for the very same wine and how all of this factual information points to wine commonality now more than ever before. Then I would’ve finished it off with a resounding, “America needs more of its own wine that’s uncopyable and individual!” or something like that, to continue the idea at another time.

But then I read The Pour’s latest post, False Demons, where Eric (Eric, we’ve never met, but may I call you Eric?) critiques a new wine book, Liquid Memory: Why Wine Matters as well as its author, Mondovino’s Jonathan Nossiter, and in effect dismisses a big claim Nossiter hangs his hat on about wine, claiming instead that unique wine is out there, more readily available than ever before.

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