Sunday, September 4, 2011

NxNW:  Alfred Hitchcock Would Be Proud

I am conflicted, gentle readers.  Long a proponent of labeling multi-varietal wines, and even longer a proponent of more 'truth in labeling' so as to raise the general consciousness gently about what was in those bottles that tasted so good, I come across something like this, a marketer's dream turned into a nightmare of specificity and a mockery of pseudo-geeky cork-dorky regional wine jingoes.

The acronymic umbrella name for the brand I like.  It's visual and catchy for a moderate priced wine and grabs the eye to pull you in.

But beyond that, uh?

Let's see:  looks like eleven different vineyards contributing fruit here.  And of course, we can pick out the influence each had to make this wine what it is. Of course.  Especially the three with the contribution of 1% each.

Then we are told these grapes were harvested over a forty-five day period (but vexingly, not when each vineyard was harvested.  Why not!)

Further, we find the varietal breakdown of the contents---Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot---apparently they could not find any Malbec in time to burnish this mix.

Wait?  So now we know the eleven vineyards and their precise percentages. And roughly what time they were harvested (given a month and a half window).  And the percentage of varieties in the blend.  Okay.  Okay. Good information all, I'll admit, although I'm not sure of any usefulness it might have...maybe so I can muse over the relative ripeness of the grapes and whether the seeds when bitten were green or brown?  Perhaps.  Perhaps.  Trouble is, appetite whetted with this overload of information, I now want to know what vineyard grew what grape in what percentage?

And let us not forget the proud declamation of "French & American Oak".  Oak must not have sufficient respect though, for the brand to give  us specific percentage of how much of each constituted the regimen here.  And doesn't everyone want to know which French & American oak---lot of difference imparted between Limousin and Nevers, you know.  And surely there must be some Vosges in there?  Stylish winemakers all use at least a little bit of Vosges these day, if only to say when asked, "Oh, there's some Vosges, of course.  We like those tight grains in the Vosges."  Vosges is in vogue in the Northwest.

There's the conflict I suffer.  For years I've explained to anyone who would listen (most didn't; they didn't care very much) about providing more information that people might want to know, and providing some of it (more of it) clearly on the front label.  And here this label comes along to do much of what I wanted to see---and it emerges as a marketer's jibble jabble, providing a profusion of information that appears to inform, but doesn't, essentially making the information part of the brand image, although the information provides little to no substantive information for the person buying this wine!  The old sizzle sans steak rule.

How fitting this is also the name of one of Hitchcock's best flicks, a story where all is not what it appears to be, and of a man who just wants a little explanation and gets smoke and mirrors instead.  Imaginative and attractive smoke and mirrors, mind you, but still nothing more than elaborate charades.  Ooo, there's another movie that works!!!

Or wait again:  maybe this is a cunning effort by the marketers to satisfy the desire of those wine geeks who love nothing more than endless discussion over wine---you know, those people who will bore you to death with the discussion of infinite pinhead-dancing angels regarding esoteric things like biodynamics and natural wine, and speculating avidly over what color Robert Parker's urine was after consuming an entire bottle of Chateau Lynch-Bages 2004?  You know.  Those people (blush).

(Feel free to tell me I'm making much ado about nothing [Ding. Another one.] or I'm focused on a tempest [Ding.] in a teapot, and should find better things to do than maunder around about this while simultaneously coming up with atrocious puns.  But it irritates me.  And after all, what are blogs for if not to air out the meaningless irritations of an old guy and waste other people's time?)

[And to my friend Thor, who might but probably won't read this:  please note I did not misuse the word "variety"herein.  Although I did otherwise mangle and disgrace the language in other ways.]


  1. Well said!

    Still, you gotta love any place that celebrates Nigel Tufnel day.