Wine Industry

    When losers become winners: How a bad appellation can make you a cult wine

    When I was a working wine critic, people said I possessed a certain amount of power. Maybe so, but I never was in a position to dictate to a winery what appellation they were entitled to use on the label! If I had been an official taster with the Institut national de l’origine et de la qualité, the French quasi-governmental agency that regulates the appellation contrôlée syst ...

    7 readers - By STEVE HEIMOFF

    The Wall of Wine, Stories, and Consumer Psychology

    I was on the panel of a wine event last week, and one of my fellow panelists was from one of the nation’s biggest Big Box grocery retailers. I asked him, “Will the infamous Wall of Wine be always with us?” and he answered, “Yes. Retail is here to stay.” Indeed it is, as a basic function of human interaction: I buy something wholesale and sell it to you retail, for a profit.

    8 readers - By STEVE HEIMOFF

      What is a wine with “personality”?

      STEVE HEIMOFF - - 6 readers - While we’re on the subject of storytelling (we are, in case you haven’t been reading steveheimoff.com lately), let’s consider the role of personality in a story. “A personality” is what people call a person who isn’t bland or forgettable, but instead someone who impresses himself on others through the sheer force of—well, personality.

      O.K. , you have your social media data. Now, what good is it?

      STEVE HEIMOFF - - 4 readers - I asked it six years ago, five years ago, four, three and two years ago, and I’m asking it now. And it’s not just me: That bastion of U.S. capitalism itself, the Wall Street Journal, is asking the same question. In a five-column headline in last Monday’s Marketplace section, they wondered “What is all that data worth?” (The online version of the article has a slightly different headline.

      How do you know it’s not just a trend?

      STEVE HEIMOFF - - 4 readers - Back in 1999, a wine writer, Randall Murray, called Sangiovese “the next Merlot,” by which he meant that the red grape native to Tuscany was poised to become one of the leading red wines of California. Never happened, did it? Actually, by 1999, Sangiovese already had one foot in the grave. Ten years prior, one might have been forgiven for betting on it, but by the approach ...

      I’m the new “go with” wine guy

      STEVE HEIMOFF - - 3 readers - I went on a “go with” yesterday. That is (as I just learned) the jargon for a salesperson who calls on an account and brings “someone else” (like me) with him. In this case, I’m the “famous former wine critic” whom most of the accounts have heard of, and whose ratings might even appear on their shelf talkers; apparently, some of them at least like meeting me—a name they prev ...

    The latest about Wine Industry

    • When losers become winners: How a bad appellation can make you a cult wine

      …. In wine, pretty much the same thing happened when Piero Antinori launched Tignanello, in 1971; because he blended the Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the Italian government wouldn’t let him label it Chianti Classico. He had to use the lowly “Toscana” appellation. But it didn’t exactly hurt Tignanello, which became a collector’s…

      7 readers - STEVE HEIMOFF
    • I’m the new “go with” wine guy

      … relationships in this industry, and it’s fascinating to meet such a varied range of people with so many different interests and points of view. I valued yesterday’s experience. It enriched my life, and helps me more deeply understand this complex thing we call the wine industry—such a multi-faceted thing, so driven by human personality. When I was a critic, I…

      3 readers - STEVE HEIMOFF
    • What is a wine with “personality”?

      … and Chianti Classico Riserva were almost a commodity, wines that didn’t have such a strong personality, so they said we have to find a way to give a value to such products that are outstanding.” “Strong personality?” Is Mr. Zonin talking about the wine’s organoleptic qualities, or is he talking about the perception of the wine among the critical community…

      6 readers - STEVE HEIMOFF
    • O.K. , you have your social media data. Now, what good is it?

      … media. We know beyond a doubt that the metrics of social media use are huge. Everybody is Facebooking, tweeting, Instagramming, pinning and so on. They’re liking and following and retweeting each other like crazy. For this reason, wine companies feel, with “the fierce urgency of now,” that they have to get onboard, before the train leaves…

      4 readers - STEVE HEIMOFF
    • How do you know it’s not just a trend?

      … of the present, and the exigencies of an unpredictable future. Granted, if they make a mistake, they can always graft their vines over to another variety. But this still causes them to lose precious years of productive time and money. The ability to tell the difference between a trend and a real paradigm shift extends beyond the wine industry into all…

      4 readers - STEVE HEIMOFF
    • The Wall of Wine, Stories, and Consumer Psychology

      … I was on the panel of a wine event last week, and one of my fellow panelists was from one of the nation’s biggest Big Box grocery retailers. I asked him, “Will the infamous Wall of Wine be always with us?” and he answered, “Yes. Retail is here to stay.” Indeed it is, as a basic function of human interaction: I buy something wholesale and sell…

      8 readers - STEVE HEIMOFF
    • DTC, snobs and marketing segmentation: A personal view

      … or Twitter account, they “recommend” appropriate wines. For me, they suggested three brands I’ve never heard of: a Wonderful Wine Co. red blend from Paso Robles, a Black Market Cabernet-Petit Verdot blend from Livermore, and Casa de Lila Airén, a white wine from Spain. Beyond these three wines, there are others on the website I could buy. They all…

      5 readers - STEVE HEIMOFF
    • Vintage 2014, and California declares war on small wineries

      … before normal. (This means that Autumn rains should not be a problem. If they actually come, which everyone is hoping they will.) A good crop, tonnage-wise, not a record, but then, it comes on the heels of two record-setting years (2012, 2013). Quality? Overall, pretty good. The wines should be plump and approachable. Several people commented on soft…

      5 readers - STEVE HEIMOFF
    • What it’s like to be a #wine judge – part 2 #LACountyFair

      … Picking up where we left off, this past May I was invited by Planet Bordeaux, the marketing arm for France’s Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur AOC, to be a guest judge at the 75th Annual Los Angeles International Wine Competition. Since the Bordeaux panel wasn’t until Thursday morning, I was asked to observe a panel of judges evaluating Rhone…

      5 readers - Señorita Vino
    • A tale of two bars: dives and tasting rooms

      … the bottle. (You’d never order wine in such a place!) The other image I have is from my own past. There used to be a place in San Francisco, South of Market, in Clementina Alley, which in the Eighties was not the yuppified haven it is now. It was called, for a variety of reasons, the Headquarters. On any given night you’d have drag queens…

      5 readers - Steve Heimoff/ STEVE HEIMOFF
    • What it’s like to be a #wine judge – part 1 #LACountyFair

      …September in Los Angeles means it’s time for the L.A. County Fair. Award-winning wines from this year’s Los Angeles International Wine Competition will be poured, and let it be known that yours truly was asked to be a guest judge at this year’s Competition back in May. Trust me, no one was more surprised than I was. Photo by Nancy Newman My…

      4 readers - Señorita Vino
    • Tales from Content City, or How I Learned to be a Storyteller

      … on storytelling (if in fact that’s what I am). I set out to be a wine writer and critic. Telling stories didn’t seem to be a part of my job, but looking back, in retrospect, that’s what I was doing from Day One. It’s just that the concept and terminology of telling stories didn’t invade the wine industry until comparatively recently. Yet when I wrote about…

      7 readers - Steve Heimoff/ STEVE HEIMOFF
    • The Empire Strikes Back: Laube Takes on IPOB

      …Brother Laube comes out swinging against In Pursuit of Balance, in the Sept. 30 issue of Wine Spectator. (Sorry, no link. The Spectator has one of the best firewalls in the business. No subscribe, no read.) I’d been wondering how long it would take him. After all, Jim is famous for giving high scores to ripe, plush wines that can be high…

      2 readers - Steve Heimoff/ STEVE HEIMOFF
    • What makes a winery great?

      … it) without a hangover. Yes, friends, it’s true: If you work in the wine industry, chances are you like to drink wine—and beer—and liquor. Sometimes all three together. So thanks to the Hangover Gods for sparing me. The wine industry is a big place. I sometimes think consumers don’t know how big, or how complicated. Winemakers and owners tend to get…

      6 readers - Steve Heimoff/ STEVE HEIMOFF
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