Thursday, December 28, 2000

Great Wine Articles in French Trotskyite Newspaper -- Don't miss it!

Liberation, The French Trotskyite Daily Newspaper, has a wonderful article on wine in today's issue. Don't miss it:
French Trotskyite Ultra-Left Wing Guide to Wine

Of course it is in French. If you don't read French you can use one of the many excellent translation machines now available on the web. I used the altavista engine to translate the introduction of the Trotskyite article and it works out fairly well. Altavista does not recognize Zinzins which is slang for a crazy nut, but the rest is certainly well done:

Zinzins thus. Not these investors z?institutionnels of the Stock Exchange. But a gallery of good bloated faces, with the fingers of fairy, a little odd know-how. Majority in dissidence, rupture of round of applause with the official organizations of the wine (Inao or Onivins). Coming very close to names prestigious or excluded from those. Being wary with l?égard of the large outputs, enemies of those which let " pisser the vine ", even followers, for some, of culture biodynamics (the ones, a little exaltés, others, right sympathizers). But all raising of the wines d?une already recognized quality or to discover. They?uvrent in Loire Valley, Champagne, Of Bordeaux, in Alsace, in Burgundy, in Côtes-du-Rhône wine and Languedoc. Their wines are sold at reasonable prices and, sometimes, with less wise sums. All are anarchists of the stock. To accompany them, Guy Renvoisé?nophile except par, which has surveyed the vineyards for forty years. And whose glance iconoclaste reassures in these times d?esbroufe and of quickly produced " collars ", quickly drunk, quickly forgotten. Zinzins ridges some with the already prosperous difficulties or, here their portraits, their tribulations, their successes. Listen to " l?âme wine which sings in their bottles ", as would say Baudelaire.

Please welcome guest columnist Bob Ross. Bob is a well-known wine enthusiast, lawyer, real estate developer and internet wine personality. He's gracious, charming, knowledgeable and has put together an intriguing article analyzing the use of the word 'Gobs' in The Wine Advocate.

It's not so easy to write Tasting Notes and perhaps the whole notion of Tasting Notes ought to be outlawed. Certainly, it does not make great literature and is inevitably repetitive, superficial and approximative. So, it is easy to make fun of The Wine Advocate, a monthly journal dedicated to the tasting note.

Given that I'm a member of the wine trade, I have only the greatest admiration for the work done in The Wine Advocate and for the obvious capabilities of its owner and employees. But one does wonder if the use of the word 'gobs' says something about the type of Taste Noting going on there.

Unfortunately, Mr. Ross wrote this article using The Wine Advocate software and this analysis is only good through the end of December 1997. So future scholars will have to decide if Gobs has continued at the same pace, declined or accelerated. It would also be interesting to see if the other members of the staff use 'gobs' as much as the proprietor. There does seem to be a common writing style -- perhaps there is a 'Strunk and White Elements of Style' in the Tasting Note craft.

Anyhow, I'm not sure what it all means, but I think it is certainly interesting.....Joe Dressner

By Robert C. Ross -- copyright Robert C. Ross

The thread began with a note indicating that Mr. Parker had used the word "gobs" in 856, or 4.1%, of the Tasting Notes in the database. A number of posters expressed surprise at how many times the word was used and others alluded to its unsavory meanings. This study:

1. Describes how Mr. Parker uses the word "gobs".

2. Describes the characteristics described by "gobs".

3. Collects classical meanings of "gobs".

4. Argues that Mr. Parker has created (or popularized) a new meaning "gobs".

5. Describes the appearance of "copious amounts" or "copious quantities".

6. Discusses "oodles" and other alternatives (both real and imaginary) for “gobs”.

7. Acknowledges the inspiration and help of others in preparing this study.

8. Quotes a sample of about 20% of the TNs containing "gobs of".

9. Samples occurrences of other words in the database.

1. How does Robert Parker use the word “gobs” in describing wines?

There are 21,076 TNs in the database; 856 TNs (or 4.1%) contain the word "gobs". Most wines were described as having "gobs of" one characteristic (168 examples), but two (19), three (10), four (2) or five (1) characteristics were also found. [The sample included the first 200 of the 856 TNs returned by the search engine in alphabetical order by producer.] Typical formulations include:

"gobs of fruit"
"gobs of smoky, ripe, black-cherry and currant fruit"
"gobs of glycerin, extract, and body"
"gobs of gobs of jammy black-cherries, smoke, spice, new oak, and herbs"

The word "gobs" appears in roughly equal relative amounts for red, white and rose wines:

Red 631 14,777 4.3%
White 216 6,122 3.5%
Rose 9 177 5.0%

The word "gobs" is not restricted to TNs of the wines of any particular country, although the percentages do vary rather significantly:

France 11,953 433 3.6%
USA 6,046 289 4.8%
Italy 1,571 82 5.2%
Germany 555 12 2.2%
Spain 325 14 4.3%
Australia 214 13 6.1%
Portugal 115 5 4.3%
Argentina 95 2 2.1%
Austria 87 1 1.1%
Chile 85 3 3.5%

Similarly, wines of all regions have "gobs", with fairly significant variation:

California 5,353 247 4.6%
Burgundy 4,181 148 3.5%
Bordeaux 3,183 101 3.2%
Rhone 2,276 91 4.0%
Lang/Rous 840 46 5.5%
Piedmont 692 38 5.5%
Tuscany 596 28 4.7%
Null 531 20 ---
Oregon 467 28 6.0%
Alsace 466 14 3.0%

Types of grapes have "gobs", with significant variation:

Pinot Noir 3,334 126 3.8%
Bord Blend 2,815 89 1.3%
Chardonnay 2,642 107 4.4%
Prop. Blend 2,118 102 4.8%
Null 1,723 84 N.A.
Cab 1,539 58 3.8%
Zin 1,085 48 5.4%
Syrah 872 45 5.2%
Riesling 711 17 2.4%
Nebbiolo 479 26 5.4%
Merlot 469 17 3.6%

Generally speaking, "gobs" is a sign of approbation. The following table lists the Parker numeric ratings for “gobs” wines. In my estimation, the average rating of "gobs" wines is three to four points higher than for non-“gobs wines. [This estimate is not based on a rigorous analysis, but is based on an earlier study which discovered that Mr. Parker awards significantly more wines a rating of 90 than 89 or 91, and more wines a rating of 92 than 91, resulting in what has become to be known as the 90 Point Peak. The 90 Point Peak is evident in the ratings of “gobs” wines.]

Null 2
70 1
71 1
73 1
82 2
83 1
84 6
85 27
86 86
87 173
88 113
89 95
90 140
91 57
92 64
93 26
94 26
95 9
96 16
97 3
98 5
100 2

Note: The 70 and 71 ratings were awarded to wines in whose TNs “gobs” was used to describe other, better vintages of the same wines. The 72 was awarded to a Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon with “gobs of acidity”.

Of less statistical importance – one must ask if it is even theoretically possible for any part of this study to be “less” important than any other part – TNs for many different makers have "gobs". producers with more than 100 TNs include:

Jadot 231 3
DuBoeuf 200 9
Chapoutier 148 4
Zind Humbrecht 137 2
Beringer 129 4
Mondavi 120 2
Leroy 119 1
Ridge 105 5
Faiveley 101 5

Finally, the makers with the most "gobs" include:

DuBoeuf 231 9
Hudelot-Noellat 8 8
Steele 52 8
De Loach 43 7
Phelps 79 6
St Francis 35 6

2. What characteristics of wine are described by the word “gobs”?

So, you might ask, "gobs of" what? The most tedious part of this study was actually reading the TNs and trying to decide the answer on a case by case basis. The masochistically inclined are urged to read the appendix containing all 200 samples and the even more masochistic to read the entire data base of 856 TNs. I gave up after reading 200 of the 856 TNs (23.3%) containing the word "gobs". The following chart lists the characteristics described in this sample of TNs.

Fruit 146
Glycerin 24
Oak 15
Spice 10
Alcohol 9
Tannin 8
Extract 7
Flavor 7
Herbs 4
Smoke 3
Concentration 2
Botrytis 2
Body 1
Lushness 1
Ripeness 1
Personality 1
Intensity 1
Richness 1
Body 1
Earth 1
Cheese rind 1
Purity 1
Licorice 1
Structure 1
Grip 1

Several comments may be appropriate:

(a) It is often not clear whether a given characteristic is in the nose only, the taste only or the finish only, or in some combination of the three. This ambiguity appears particularly in the TNs for "fruit"; what is one to make of the simple "gobs of fruit", for example? Where are they?

(b) Most of the "gobs" are not measurable numerically, the only exception is "gobs of alcohol" which can be measured, and by US law must appear on the label. However, Mr. Parker usually specifies that these "gobs" are in the finish and presumably not meant to be a measure of blood alcohol.

(c) "Concentration", "intensity", "purity" and "grip", and perhaps "structure" seem very non-"gobs" like under any definition of the word "gobs".

(d) "Cheese rind" occurs three times in the database, each time in the phrase "gobs of cheese rind". In one case, the phrase is approving, once disapproving and once merely descriptive.

(e) One phrase - "gobs of copious amounts of spicy, berry fruit" - at first struck me as redundant, but as discussed later, contains perhaps the key to what Mr. Parker means by the word "gobs".

3. Classic definitions of the words "gob" and "gobs".

Let us turn to what other writers and speakers think the word "gobs" means. The following definitions are taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, the Random House Webster's College Dictionary, The American Heritage Dictionary, the Dictionary of American Slang, and Webster Unabridged Dictionary, 3rd edition.

Mouth or beak, possibly Gaelic or Irish.

Talk or conversation, as in "gift of gob" (usually "gab").

To prate or to brag.

Space left in a long wall in mining, particularly coal mining.

Refuse removed from such a space; "gob piles" of mining detritus.

A large sum of money. “Kevin Malone, the Dodgers' general manager, took exception to the charge by executives of other clubs, reported here last week, that he has hired scouting and player development people away from other teams by offering gobs of "Murdoch money." NYTimes Feb 28 1999.

Sailor, US slang, 1915 or a bit earlier.

A mass or lump which chokes up a furnace.

Molten lump of glass from which a single glass or bottle is blown.

Spit and to spit (noun and verb):

"And they thank God, and gob at a gull for luck." Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood.

“The TV news gobs out fresh horrors into the living room every evening; insulted by the specific urgencies of the neonate, that appalling dichotomy -- the one between our lives as we live them and the way that forces outside ourselves shape them for us -- seems less desperate than usual. Under the circumstances, a mercy.” Angela Carter, Shaking a Leg: Collected Writings.

Generally, a mass or lump of slimy material. "… suggestive of a gob of mud on the end of a shingle." Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad. In this sense, usually crude and often erotic.

A lump or mouthful of food, usually in animals: e.g. poisoned meat forced into a dog's mouth, feed forced into a goose to make pate, etc.

Mouthful, probably from Old French "gober", to gulp of Celtic origin, or from Middle French, gobet, meaning a mouthful, a bite or a piece.

Lump of substance chewed but not swallowed, like chewing tobacco or chewing gum.

Finally, the sense that Mr. Parker apparently uses the word “gobs”: a large quantity, usually denoted informal usage. Probably Middle English derivation. A typical list of synonyms for the word in the sense of a large quantity type list: SCAD, heap, load(s), million, oodles, quantities, ream(s), || rimption(s), slather(s), wad(s).

An Internet search for "gobs" using the Google search engine turned up 6,272 hits, many of them described above and including a large number from sex oriented sites. The Internet search indicates that there is a growing acceptance of the word in the sense of a large number, e.g.:

US Government freebies: Gob and Gob's of Free Stuff.
Gameblazer: gobs of screen shots.
Dolphin page: There's gobs and gobs of pages Haole's missed.
The book is written in a light style with gobs of "hands on" explorations.
Great Gobs of Grackles (500,000) on a New Jersey bird watcher site.

An interesting variant combining several meanings: "It was sticky business in Aberdeen, Scotland, where the city council had already spent months attacking one particularly insidious urban blight-chewing gum on sidewalks and streets. 'In some areas, the pavement looked like 101 Dalmatians, all covered with gobs of gray and black.'"

Thus, the word "gobs" usually means a large number when used to described quantity. In fact, I have found only four uses outside of the writings of Mr. Parker (and other wine critics) where size, rather than number, is meant:

General usage: "gobs of time".
William Faulkner: "High fat clouds like gobs of whipped cream."
Kraft Foods: "Great gobs of gooey food."
Camper’s song: “Great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts and me without my spoon. We'll use a straw!” [Many variations.]

4. Robert Parker has created, or at least has popularized, a new meaning for “gobs”.

Mr. Parker has created (or popularized) a new meaning for the word "gobs". It is quite true that “gobs” is defined in terms of quantity. Theoretically, “quantity” could include both size and number, but in fact I have been able to find only four, somewhat problematic examples, where size, rather than number, is meant. None of the dictionaries I consulted gave any such example, except in the phrase "gobs of time" and “gobs of history”. (Mr. Parker never uses the phrase "gobs of finish"!) The Faulkner and Kraft Foods example do imply size, but shape and materiality are also important. The camper’s song defies analysis, and somewhat contradicts the hypothesis, so I’ll ignore it!

As far as I can tell, Mr. Parker is the leading writer using the word "gobs" to describe a large quantity in terms of size. Several of the classical meanings might well have resonated when he chose this word.

The basic word means "mouth" in Gaelic or Irish; mouthful in Old French.

Spitting is essential in wine tasting.

The mouthful of tasted wine is chewed but not swallowed.

Better wines are expensive.

But this is all speculation, and perhaps worse, amateur psychoanalysis. What seems to be true is that however unsavory its antecedents, Mr. Parker has popularized a new meaning of the word "gobs".

Other commentators have noted these unsavory aspects of “gobs”.

Dave McIntyre, Washington Sidewalks: “Wine writers often stretch the limits of our credulity in their efforts to describe various wines. (My wife questions my own tendency to use sexual analogies in tasting notes. Can a wine really be "flirtatious"?) "Gobs of fruit" sounds like something the cat hawked up. Who really knows what "wet leaves" or "cat's piss" taste like – and would we really trust such a person to tell us what wine to drink?

Tom Doorley, “World of Wine”, USA Today: “Now Parker is much maligned and he has a damn good palate if a rather limited vocabulary (his constant references to ‘gobs’ of fruit make me feel a trifle queasy).”

Nonetheless, Mr. Parker’s “gobs” have invaded the wine criticism of several writers. A Googles search returned over 200 examples of TNs written by wine critics using “gobs”, e.g.:

Bill St. John, Denver Sidewalk: “this Corvina cabernet blend brings gobs of dark fruit flavors” and “gobs of fruit”, etc.

Dr. Paul White, Wine Sense Home Page, New Zealand: “gobs of juicy pears lurking about in the finishing acidity”.

Jim at Interaxus: “gobs of fruit”, “gobs of rich fruit”, “gobs of tannins”, etc.

Peter Rockwell, The Wine Guy: “gobs of cassis-edged, blackberry fruit”, “match [kebobs] with funky red wines that present modern fruit character and gobs of juicy expression”, etc.

Passport Wine Club: “gobs of red and black fruits”, “gobs of forward fruit”, etc.

Zinfandel Restaurant, Chicago: “cult Cabernet Sauvignon with gobs of trademark new American oak, ripe fruit and firm tannins”.

Jerry Mead, California: “big gobs of cherry and cranberry (without the bitterness) fruit flavors”, “gobs of fruit and extraction”, etc.

Steve Pitcher: “keeps the gobs of oak, citrus-tropical fruit and butteriness from malolactic fermentation in excellent balance”.

Eileen Hallmark: “gobs of packed super fruited and pure Châteauneuf”.

Harvey Steinman: “gobs of honey, pineapple, citrus, spice and vanilla”.

Alexander J. Pandell, Ph.D., The Wine Alchemist: “94+ pts, C4+N4F4+A3+T3+E4TFR3: Rich red color; juicy fruit nose; gobs of fruit”, etc., etc.

David Outerbridge: “gobs of flavor, well worth waiting for”.

Yak Shaya: “gobs of winyness”, etc.

Guenoc Winery: “gobs of fruit”.

Richard Teitelbaum: “gobs of tannins”.

etc., etc., etc.

There are so many “gobs” that it is refreshing to find a critic that refuses to use the “gobs” formulation:

Domaine Tempier 1987 Cuvée Speciale La Louffe Bandol: Earthy but clean aromas. Spector says, "tree bark," and we all nod approvingly. Intense fruit flavor, smooth as silk, so extracted that it comes across as sweet. Dare I say, "gobs of hedonistic fruit"? Naaaaah ... Robin Garr, May 1996.

Quivira Vineyards 1994 Zinfandel ($14.75) - Easy quaffing, gobs of hedonistic, well, you know ... I do like Dry Creek Zins, and this is a highly approachable one. Another favorite. Robin Garr, May 1996.

Mr. Garr’s notes make it clear that Mr. Parker is the source for the “gobs” descriptor, an attribution supported by The Wine Boobs in Issue Number 5 of their scholarly Review, July 1996. The entire issue is worth reading for its exemplary illustrations of wine writing styles, but one Parker example clearly depends on “gobs”:

"... this phenomenal wine reminded me of the 1989 Rayas Châteauneuf-Du-Pape. It exhibits a roasted, black fruit character, sensational concentration, gobs of glycerin, and a heady, spicy, nearly mind-boggling finish. This truly profound wine should make superb drinking over the next 10-12 years."

Incidentally, other commentators have gone further, and caricatured Mr. Parker’s style with the phrase “gobs of hedonistic fruit.” It is true that “fruit” appears in 53.4% of the TNs, “gobs” in 4.1% and “hedonistic” in 1.2%. However, all three words appear in only 21 TNs during this time period, and usually describe the wine drinker or the wine generally. There are no pure examples of the formula; these two are the closest I could find:

“Made in a hedonistic, low acid, plump, juicy (gobs of fruit) style, the 1996 is hard to resist.” [1996 Gloria St. Julien].

“Rich and opulent, with a thick, chewy texture, low acidity, and gobs of fruit, this hedonistic, decadently oaky, fruity wine will continue to drink well for 10-12 years.” [1990 Haut Marbuzet].

Nonetheless, Mr. Parker has put an indelible stamp upon the world of wine criticism championing the use of the word “gobs”.

5. The rise of “copious” in Mr. Parker’s TNs; a relatively new, more accurate formulation?

Let us return to Mr. Parker’s phrase in one of the TNs in this collection: "gobs of copious amounts of spicy, berry fruit". At first reading, this phrase appeared to me jarring, and clearly redundant, but after some though, it occurred to me that this might be one of those fortuitous errors that reveal a significant new truth. I compared the appearance of "gobs" and "copious" in the data base over time. The number of “gobs” had increased over the first three years, fell and held steady in the fourth and fifth years, and then fell again in the sixth year:

1992 130
1993 133
1994 170
1995 156
1996 156
1997 111

The pattern for "copious" (which occurs in two combinations - "copious amounts" and "copious quantities") - shows a very different pattern. The use was relatively stable for the first four years, grew a good deal in the fifth year, and grew again significantly in the sixth year, the same year that showed a great decrease for "gobs".

1992 70
1993 72
1994 66
1995 72
1996 116
1997 231

A perfunctory examination of about 100 “copious” TNs shows the interchangeability of the phrases "gobs of", "copious quantities of" and "copious amounts of". Statistical tests of characteristics and the other criteria described above in detail for "gobs" give similar results for "copious".

One may fairly conclude that "copious" is driving "gobs" out of Mr. Parker’s TNs, and one can only applaud the change. First, "copious" does not have the unsavory connotations of "gobs". Second, it is clearer that amount rather than number is meant; one can only hope that "copious amounts" supplants "copious quantities" over time. Third, the phrase almost always describes where the copiousness resides: in the aroma, the taste or the finish; the vagueness of "gobs" in this respect is greatly reduced. Mr. Parker is to be congratulated for this improvement.

6. “Oodles” and other options for “gobs”.

Oodles. Did "gobs" drive out "oodles"? Paul Winalski makes the interesting observation that Mr. Parker has stopped using "oodles" in favor of "gobs". My Webster Collegiate defines "oodles" as "a great quantity", indicates the word is of unknown source and dates from 1869. The focus is again on quantity, and "oodles" seems to imply a larger number than "gobs". Synonyms include: scad(s), gob(s), heap, jillion, load(s), million, quantities, slew, thousand, trillion.

Unfortunately, analysis of this database sheds little light on this important hypothesis. There are only 38 occurrences of the word "oodles" during this six year period:

1992 1
1993 6
1994 11
1995 4
1996 11
1997 5

30 “oodles” wines were red; 8 were white. Ratings ranged between 85 and 98. 21 were from France; seven USA; six Italy; two Australia; and one each for Germany and Spain. Six were Pinot Noirs; four were Bordeaux Blends and Nebbiolo; there were three each Cabs, Chardonnays and Zins; there were two each Gamay, Proprietary Blends and Syrah; and there were one each Albarino, Muscat, Pinot Blanc; Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc and Scheurebe.

“Oodles” TNs read as if "gobs" could just as well have been used: 33 TNs deal describe fruit: "with oodles of ripe fruit", for example. The remaining five TNs are:

oodles of apple, butter, orange-like flavors
oodles of flavor and glycerin
oodles of flavor
oodles of fruit, glycerin, and soft tannin in the finish
oodles of glycerin and intensity

It appears that the era of "oodles" in Robert Parker's TNs had come and virtually gone by 1993. Further research by a more highly motivated researcher will be necessary to uncover that particular story.

Other alternatives to “gobs”.

As indicated earlier, Mr. Parker did use other alternatives to “gobs” during the six year period. For example, “loads” appears 253 times, usually in phrases like “loads of fruit”, with the same wide range of loads of other things: flavor, tannin, concentration, glycerin, spice and even promise. [“promise” appears 249 times in the period, usually in a phrase like “promises to last for another ten years.” When used as a noun, I found only one “loads of promise”, but several examples of “considerable promise.”] Ratings of “loaded” wines are very high and appear to be about two points higher than “gobs” wines: the 90 Point Peak is particularly pronounced for “loaded” wines:

Null 1
76 1
84 1
85 1
86 6
87 28
88 29
89 27
90 47
91 21
92 20
93 29
94 18
95 4
96 9
97 4
98 3

214 reds and 35 whites are “loaded”; and the varieties, countries, areas and producer data is similar to “gobs.” Finally, usage of the word shows a somewhat erratic pattern, but “loads” seems to be joining “copious” in supplanting “gobs” during 1997 – is it too much to say, beginning to help carry the load?

1992 14
1993 42
1994 78
1995 36
1996 38
1997 52

Some have argued convincingly that “considerable amounts” is a synonym for “gobs”, although careful philologists point out that “gobs” are probably significantly bigger than “considerable amounts”. The data supports caution on this significant issue. There are 1,239 TNs containing the word “considerable”, but almost none contain the phrase “considerable fruit.” Instead, we find considerable finesse, praise, amber, rust, structure, tannin, opulence, etc. A study of this word would clearly reward careful analysis.

Some critics have proposed “a great deal of” as a synonym for “gobs”. The phrase has not escaped Mr. Parker’s notice, of course – it appears 86 times during the six years. But, interestingly, the vast majority of these examples are used to describe tiny quantities: e.g. “not a great deal of complexity.”

Other critics have proposed “tons of” as an alternative. The phrase appears 200 times, the great majority of the time in the technical sense: e.g. “an average of 2.8 tons of fruit per acre.” However, there are a few examples where “tons” takes the place of “gobs”; one use that particularly tickles the author’s fancy is the construction “tons of new oak (perhaps excessive amounts for many tasters).”

“Lots” is another word that has been suggested as a useful synonym for “gobs”. The word does appear 85 times during the six year period, but in a technical sense only: e.g. “Marchand harvests and vinifies in three lots: The first is made up of the 10-14 and 18 year old vines, the second from vines averaging 25 to 45 years of age, and the third is composed of the oldest vines, ranging from 50 to 65 years old.” We will have to wait and see if Mr. Parker adopts this second meaning as an alternative to “gobs”.

“Masses” is another possible contender. The word appears 38 times, sometimes with respect to large numbers of people, e.g. a “deliciously hedonistic wine that would satisfy the masses”. As an alternative to “gobs”, “masses” occurs about 25 times, in examples such as:

“This huge wine displays masses of concentrated, rich fruit….”
“Tasters will not have to wade through masses of tannin, alcohol, and glycerin….”
“The nose offers up masses of ripe, jammy black fruit….”
“masses of black-cherry/plum-like fruit”
“huge masses of sumptuous tropical fruits”
“huge masses of fruit”
“huge masses of fruit and glycerin”

Again, we will have to see how Mr. Parker proceeds. One can only point out that “masses” is a bit small in his mind since it is so often modified by “huge”. [“Huge” is huge in the data base with 1,243 appearances. An enthusiast could safely use this word to identify wonderful wines, but that analysis is clearly beyond the scope of this study. A summary of “huge” ratings demonstrates the hugeness of this word:

65-84 21
85 19
86 28
87 60
88 74
89 78
90 212
91 102
92 167
93 136
94 101
95 78
96 80
97 24
98 27
99 11
100 25

The 90 Point Peak is beautifully prominent in this sample.]

A few words are classically considered synonyms for “gobs” but have apparently not been used by Mr. Parker: scads, slew, million, rimptions and wads.

Two synonyms with limited uses are interesting. The word “heaps”: was used three times, each time to describe the amount of fruit. One TN is particularly lovely, combining “heaps” and “gobs”: “With heaps of fruit and gobs of life left, [the 1980 Storybook Mountain Zinfandel Reserve Estate] is amazingly impressive for a 12-year old Zinfandel. Do not be surprised to see it last for another 20-25 years.

The word slathered was used only once: “New oak is also slathered on the exterior of this wine, much like shaving cream piled on a man's face.” The author believes this sentence cries out for “gobs of shaving cream”, but the absence of “gobs” has forced him to seek solace in William Faulkner’s lovely “gobs of whipped cream” quoted above.

At the same time, Mr. Parker provides many other possible avenues of research for the diligent student: “impressive” [2,284 examples], “much” [1,618 examples], “huge” [1,606 examples], “superb” [1,366 examples], “massive” [774 examples], “mouth filling” [468], “mouthful” [241 examples], and many others, all provide gobs of opportunity for wine lovers to make their own marks in this fascinating field.

7. Acknowledgements.

I would like to thank several members of WLDG for their encouragement, help and inspiration in creating this study:

Jim Dove, for seeing a bit of Robert Parker in all of our tasting notes.

Nick Alabaster, for pointing out there's a bit of The Bob in all wine lovers.

Peter Curran, for pointing out the unappealing aspects of "gobs".

Robin Garr, for thanking Peter for not mentioning that
… and for pointing out the dark side of "gobs of hedonistic fruit".
… and for providing a forum for posting this relatively useless study.
… and for teaching me a non-Parker way of writing TNs.

Paul Winalski, for a fascinating side street named "oodles", even though it turned out to be a narrow alley.

Jon, for expressing a healthy level of doubt, encouraging me to preserver in a dark moment.

Michael Brandt for challenging the “new usage” theory with “Great green gobs….”

Jamie Goode, for introducing me to the TN note generator from the Maths Department at Monash University in Australia [unfortunately a UNIX based program, a language I refuse to learn before I get through several other wine regions].

Stuart Yaniger, for suggesting that another computer program might do the trick … and for a lovely joke about millionaires.

[BTW: "millionaire appears 15 times during the six years in question; the scores range from 87 to 100; 10 are reds and 5 are whites; and the wines come from five areas: Bordeaux - 4; Burgundy - 6; Rhone - 3; and one each California and Castilla Leon.] [So why does a millionaire care about an 87 point wine? "If you are a millionaire who wants to buy wine for a child born in 1987, [the Pétrus 1987] will still be in reasonable condition by the time he or she turns twenty-one."]

Don Demuth, for his comments on Asian Spice. [207 TNs.]

Most of all, thanks to Robert Parker, for writing these fascinating and informative notes; for putting over 20,000 of them together in an easily searchable format; and for encouraging us to believe that "Scores do not reveal the important facts about a wine. The written commentary that accompanies the ratings is a better source of information regarding the wine's style and personality, its relative quality level vis-à-vis its peers, and its value and aging personality than any score could ever indicate."

Finally, any errors are my own!

:-) Bob

8. A Sample of 200 “gobs” and one copious.

These fragments are taken from 200 of the 21,076 TNs in Parker's Wine Adviser and Cellar Manager, Version 3.71; this Version covers “The Wine Advocate” issues from February 21, 1992 through December 19, 1997 [nos. 70 - 114]. There are 856 TNs that use the word "gobs"; this sample consists of the first 200 returned by the program, apparently in alphabetical order by producer. The characteristics are preceded by the phrase "gobs of" in the TNs themselves.

1990 Abbaye de Tholomies Reserve Minervois -- gobs of glycerin, extract, and body.
1990 Enrico e Marziano Abbona Barbera -- gobs of spice and ripe fruit
1985 Giovanni Accomasso Barolo Rocchette -- gobs of Tannin
1992 Adelaida Cellars Zinfandel Late Harvest -- gobs of Fruit
1993 Adelsheim Pinot Noir -- gobs of ripe cherry fruit
1991 Adelsheim Pinot Noir Elizabeth's -- gobs of sweet fruit
1994 Domaine l'Aigueliere Montpeyroux -- gobs of red and black fruits
1994 Domaine Des Aires Hautes Pinot Noir -- gobs of sweet cherry fruit
1990 Alderbrook Chardonnay -- gobs of Fruit
1990 Marchesi Alfieri Barbera D'Asti La Tota -- gobs of ripe, sweet, jammy fruit
1992 Allegrini La Poja Vino Da Tavola -- gobs of Concentration
1993 Elio Altare Barolo La Morra -- gobs of fruit and glycerin
1990 Elio Altare Barolo -- gobs of sweet fruit
1991 Elio Altare La Villa Vino Da Tavola -- gobs of toasty new oak
1990 Altesino Palazzo Altesi Vino Da Tavola -- gobs of sweet, smoky, black-cherry and curranty fruit
1994 Altesino Palazzo Altesi Vino Da Tavola -- gobs of ripe jammy cherry and plum fruit
1990 Altesino Brunello Di Montalcino -- gobs of glycerin and alcohol
1990 Altesino Brunello Di Montalcino -- gobs of glycerin and alcohol
1995 Ambra Barco Reale -- gobs of smoky, ripe, black-cherry and currant fruit
1994 Ambra Carmignano Riserva -- gobs of fruit
1990 Bertrand Ambroise Corton Les Rognets -- gobs of fruit
1992 Bertrand Ambroise Nuits St Georges -- gobs of glycerin
1991 Bernard Amiot Chambolle Musigny -- gobs of black-cherry fruit
1990 Domaine des Amouriers Vacqueyras -- gobs of peppery, black-cherry, earthy fruit
1993 Domaine des Amouriers Vacqueyras -- gobs of peppery, black-cherry, earthy fruit
1995 Domaine des Amouriers Vacqueyras -- gobs of black cassis fruit
1992 L’Angélus St Emission -- gobs of ripe, chocolately, cassis fruit
1993 Arbor Crest Sauvignon Blanc Bacchus -- gobs of spice and alcohol
1994 Arbor Crest Sauvignon Blanc Bacchus -- gobs of spice and alcohol
1989 Argiolas Turriga [Sardinia] -- gobs of fruit
1993 Argiolas Costera [Sicily] -- gobs of black cherry and raspberry fruit
1993 Domaine de l'Arjolle Sauvignon -- gobs of rich, honeyed, melony, grapefruit
1991 Domaine Arlaud Pere et Fils Clos-- gobs of glycerin, alcohol, and lushness
1993 Domaine Arlaud Pere et Fils Clos -- gobs of sweet, jammy fruit
1991 Domaine de l'Arlot Nuits St Georges -- gobs of velvety, fat fruit
1992 Domaine de l'Arlot Nuits -- gobs of jammy black-cherries, smoke, spice, new oak and herbs
1989 d'Armailhac Pauillac -- gobs of velvety fruit
1989 Arnauld Haut Médoc -- gobs of fruit
1990 Arnauld Haut Medic -- gobs of glycerin
1990 Robert Arnoux Romanee St Vivant -- gobs of oriental spices
1991 Robert Arnoux Slos De Vougeot -- gobs of jammy fruit
1992 Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon -- gobs of supple, ripe fruit
1992 Arrowood Malbec -- gobs of blackcurrant fruit
1994 Arrowood Syrah Sara Lee's Vineyard -- gobs of licorice and cassis fruit
1994 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Rincon -- gobs of spicy new oak
1994 Aubert Cairanne Goutillonnage CDR -- gobs of pepper, spice and over-ripe red and black fruits
1993 Avignonesi Grifi Vino Da Tavola -- gobs of smoky, spicy new oak
1993 Azelia Barolo -- gobs of ripe cherries
1988 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico -- gobs of sweet black raspberry, black cherry fruit
1991 Bancroft Chardonnay Howell Mountain -- gobs of rich fruit
1992 Rene Barbier Clos Mogador -- gobs of smoky, toasty vanillin
1991 Gilles Barge Cote Rotie -- gobs of rich fruit
1994 Barraud Macon Vergisson La Roche -- gobs of lemony, buttery flavors
1991 Domaine de Barret Cotes De Gascogne -- gobs of fruit
1990 Lucien Barrot Châteauneuf Du Pape -- gobs of ripe luscious fruit
1992 Lucien Barrot Châteauneuf Du Pape -- gobs of glycerin
1993 Domaine Bastide Blanche Bandol -- gobs of blackcurrant and raspberry fruit
1993 Domaine Bastide Blanche Bandol -- gobs of earthy, black-raspberry fruit
1992 Domaine Bastide Blanche Bandol -- gobs of extract
1994 Domaine De Baubiac -- gobs of blackcurrant and berry fruit
1993 Ch de Baun Chardonnay Reserve -- gobs of sweet, honeyed Chardonnay fruit
1992 Beaucastel Coudoulet De Beaucastel -- gobs of ripe, leathery black fruit aromas
1978 Beaulieu Cab Sauv Private Reserve -- gobs of spicy oak
1951 Beaulieu Private Reserve Cabernet Sauv -- gobs of chewy fruit
1976 Beaulieu Private Reserve Cabernet Sauv -- gobs of glycerin and extract
1995 Beauregard Pomerol -- gobs of fruit
1989 Bel Air Lalande De Pomerol -- gobs of fruit
1994 Albert Belle Crozes Hermitage -- gobs of olive-tinged, blackcurrant fruit
1994 Benziger Chardonnay -- gobs of honeyed ripe fruit
1994 Benziger Chardonnay Reserve -- gobs of honeyed ripe fruit
1996 Benziger Imagery Series Viognier -- gobs of citrusy, peach and apricot aromas
1994 Benziger Zinfandel -- gobs of ripe fruit
1985 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Priv Res -- gobs of tannins
1992 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Priv. Res -- gobs of black fruits
1992 Beringer Sauvignon Blanc -- gobs of honeyed herb and smokey-scented fruit
1992 Beringer Zinfandel -- gobs of black-cherry fruit
1992 Bernardus Pinot Noir Bien Nacido -- gobs of rich black-cherry fruit
1991 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Estate -- gobs of fruit, glycerin and heady alcohol
1989 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Reserve -- gobs of rich fruit
1929 Beychevelle St Julien -- gobs of chewy, sweet fruit
1953 Beychevelle St Julien -- gobs of fruit
1992 Black and Blue Proprietary Red Wine -- gobs of pure, persuasive and intense blackberry and cassis fruit
1996 Nekeas Vega Sindoa Tempranillo -- gobs of fruit
1990 Jean Boillot Volnay Fremiets -- gobs of chewy, sweet, expansive Pinot fruit
1992 Jean-Marc Boillot Puligny Montrachet -- gobs of tropical fruit
1993 Pierre Boniface Apremont -- gobs of floral, citrusy fruit
1994 Bonnet Entre Deux Mers Bord. Blanc -- gobs of fruit
1992 Bonny Doon Ca Del Solo Il Fiasco -- gobs of fruit
1995 Bonny Doon Sauvignon Blanc Pac Rim -- gobs of fruit
1994 Boscarelli Boscarelli Vino Da Tavola -- gobs of black cherry fruit
1990 Boscarelli Proprietary Red Wine -- gobs of flavor
1990 le Boscq Medoc -- gobs of flavor and glycerin
1990 le Boscq Vieilles Vignes -- gobs of flavor and glycerin
1994 Bott-Geyl Gewurztraminer Sonnenglanz -- gobs of extract
1990 Bouchard Pere et Fils Echezeaux -- gobs of tannin
1990 Roman Bouchard Valreas CdR -- gobs of black cherry flavor
1990 Bouree Chambolle Musigny -- gobs of sweet fruit taste
1990 Bouree Gevrey Chambertin -- gobs of sweet fruit bouquet
1990 Domaine Bouscasse Madiran -- gobs of tannins in the finish
1994 Boyer-Martenot Meursault Les Charmes -- gobs of buttery, popcorn, smoke and toasty scents
1994 Bridgeview Pinot Noir Reserve -- gobs of jammy black cherries, raspberries and high quality toasty vanillin
1992 Lucien et Andre Brunel les Cailloux CDP -- gobs of glycerin and extract
1993 Brutocao Chardonnay Bliss Vineyard -- gobs of ripeness
1992 Brutocao Zinfandel Unfined -- gobs of berry fruit in the finish
1993 Burgess Cellars Zinfandel -- gobs of copious amounts of spicy, berry fruit
1994 Ernest or J et F Burn Pinot Blanc -- gobs of fruit
1990 Ca Rome Barbaresco --gobs of rich cherry fruit
1989 Ca Rome Barolo Vigna Rionda --gobs of lusty, cherry fruit
1994 la Cabanne Pomerol --gobs of rich, chewy black cherry fruit
1993 Jacques Cacheux Blee Echezeaux --gobs of new oak
1992 Calera Pinot Noir Mills Vineyard --gobs of fruit
1989 Calon Segur St Estephe --gobs of soft tannins
1992 Cambria Chardonnay --gobs of honey tropical fruit
1996 Cambria Syrah Tepusquet Vineyard --gobs of fruit
1990 Cameron Pinot Noir Unfiltered --gobs of spicy, earthy, leafy Pinot fruit
1994 Chateau de Campuget Costieres --gobs of ripe fruit
1994 Chateau de Campuget Merlot--gobs of sweet berry fruit
1990 Cantenac Brown Margaux --gobs of rich, expansive, concentrated fruit
1990 Cap--gobs of de--gobs of Mourlin St Emilion --gobs of glycerin and alcohol
1994 Capendu L'Excellence Corbieres --gobs of herb--gobs of tinged, peppery, black--gobs of cherry and raspberry fruit
1990 Dott G Cappellano Barolo --gobs of extract, glycerin, alcohol, flavor and personality
1991 Carbonnieux Graves --gobs of rich, creamy--gobs of textured fruit
1992 Carmel Vineyards White Zinfandel--gobs of fruit
1993 Carmenet Vin De Garde Moon --gobs of intensity, concentration and richness
1989 Domaine Cauhaupe Jurancon Quintessence Du Petit Manseng --gobs of botrytis
1992 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon--gobs of toasty oak and cassis fruit
1989 Domaine de Cayron Gigondas --gobs of thick, chewy, chocolate, hickory--gobs of flavored fruit
1995 Chateau De Cazeneuve --gobs of fruit
1991 Bruno Ceretto Barbera D'Alba Piana --gobs of cherry, strawberry and curranty fruit
1986 Certan de May Pomerol --gobs of extract, tannin and body
1982 Certan--gobs of Giraud Pomerol --gobs of sweet, jammy, earthy, tobacco, mocha, chocolate, berry fruit in nose
1992 Chalk Hill Chardonnay Estate --gobs of flavor
1993 Chalk Hill Chardonnay Estate Bottled --gobs of vanillin--gobs of scented new oak
1990 Chandon de Briailles Corton Bressandes --gobs of cherry fruit in finish
1994 Chandon de Briailles Corton Clos Du Roi --gobs of concentrated fruit
1993 Domaine de Chante Perdrix--gobs of overripe black--gobs of cherry, apricot, and peach--gobs of like fruit
1994 Chantegrive Graves Bordeaux Blanc --gobs of ripe fruit
1993 Chapellere Laurett Madiran --gobs of black fruits
1993 Chapoutier Hermitage Chante Alouette --gobs of fruit
1990 Chapoutier Barbe Rac CDP--gobs of glycerin
1992 Chapoutier CDP La Bernardine --gobs of rich, chewy fruit
1996 Chapoutier Crozes--gobs of Hermitage --gobs of ripe fruit
1994 Domaine de la Charbonniere CDP --gobs of rich black--gobs of cherry and raspberry fruit
1991 Domaine Jean Chauvenet --gobs of deep black--gobs of cherry and curranty fruit
1993 Chehalem Pinot Gris Reserve --gobs of fruit
1992 Chehalem Pinot Noir Ridge --gobs of earthy, black--gobs of cherry fruit
1992 les Chemins de Bassac Vdp D'Oc --gobs of red and black fruit
1991 Domaine du Chene Condrieu--gobs of heady, peachy apricot fruit
1987 Cheval Blanc St Emilion --gobs of sweet, smoky oak
1990 Cheval Blanc St Emilion --gobs of smoky, blackcurranty, and cherry fruit
1995 Domaine Cheysson Chiroubles --gobs of fresh, lively fruit
1990 Dom. de Chezeaux Gevrey Chambertin--gobs of glycerin
1993 Daniel Chopin--gobs of Groffier Clos De Vougeot --gobs of black--gobs of cherry fruit
1990 Daniel Chopin--gobs of Groffier Nuits St Georges --gobs of glycerin and alcohol
1994 Christom Pinot Noir Mt Jefferson Cuvee --gobs of black--gobs of cherry fruit
1993 Cigliuti Barbaresco Serraboella --gobs of cherry fruit, earth and cheese rind
1986 Cinnabar Cabernet Sauvignon Estate --gobs of fruit
1990 les Clos de Paulilles Collioure --gobs of spice
1993 Clos L'Escandil Minervois --gobs of black--gobs of raspberry fruit
1992 Clos Pegase Merlot Estate --gobs of attractive curranty, vanillin, smoky aromas
1991 J F Coche Dury Meursault Les Perrieres --gobs of juicy, succulent, lush fruit
1993 Colgin Schrader Cabernet Sauvignon--gobs of glycerin
1995 Colli Amerini Chardonnay Rocca Nernia --gobs of tropical fruit
1995 Colli Amerini Carbio --gobs of cherry fruit
1990 Colognole Chianti Ruffina --gobs of red and black fruits
1995 Domaine la Colombette Sauvignon Blanc --gobs of fruit
1990 Chateau la Colombiere C du Frontonnais --gobs of flavor and purity
1995 Jean--gobs of Luc Colombo Cornas Jlc --gobs of black fruits
1995 Jean--gobs of Luc Colombo Cornas La Louvee --gobs of black fruits
1994 Jean--gobs of Luc Colombo Cornas Les Ruchets --gobs of ripe fruit
1994 Concha Y Toro Merlot Trio --gobs of black--gobs of cherry fruit
1993 Jean--gobs of Jacques Confuron--gobs of black fruits, licorice, herbs and oak
1992 Jean--gobs of Jacques Confuron--gobs of fruit and glycerin
1992 Jean--gobs of Jacques Confuron--gobs of glycerin
1974 Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon --gobs of glycerin
1987 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino --gobs of glycerin
1990 Coppo Barbera D'Asti Pomorosso --gobs of glycerin
1990 Cormeil--gobs of Figeac St Emilion --gobs of rich, succulent black fuits and herbs
1993 Edmond Cornu Ladoix --gobs of cherry fruit, spice and oak
1993 Cosentino The Zin --gobs of cherry and raspberry flavor
1990 Coste--gobs of Caumartin Pommard Fremieres --gobs of tannin
1995 Domaine De La Cote CDP--gobs of tannin, structure and grip
1992 Coturri Cabernet Sauvignon--gobs of peppery, cassis fruit
1993 Coturri Pinot Noir Horn Vineyard --gobs of rich, jammy, sweet plum and raspberry fruit
1994 Coturri Zinfandel Philip Coturri Estate --gobs of spice, pepper and jammy black--gobs of cherries
1971 Coutet Cuvee Madame --gobs of botrytis
1990 Thomas Coyne Zinfandel --gobs of black--gobs of cherry and peppery black--gobs of raspberry fruit
1991 Thomas Coyne Zinfandel--gobs of black--gobs of cherry and peppery black--gobs of raspberry fruit
1994 Domaine Lucien Crochet Sancerre--gobs of fruit
1995 le Crock St Éstephe --gobs of sweet black--gobs of cherry and cassis fruit
1995 Yves Cuilleron St Joseph --gobs of fruit
1991 Yves Cuilleron Condrieu Vieilles Vignes --gobs of fruit and alcohol in finish
1992 Cuvaison Pinot Noir --gobs of flavor
1990 Dalla Valle Maya Proprietary Red Wine --gobs of sweet fruit
1992 Darting Ungsteiner Bettelhaus Riesling --gobs of bold, exotic fruit in nose and flavors
1995 Dauzac Margaux --gobs of jammy fruit
1992 de Loach Chardonnay --gobs of fruit
1990 de Loach Chardonnay O F S --gobs of fruit
1991 de Loach Chardonnay O F S --gobs of fruit
1993 de Loach Chardonnay O F S --gobs of tropical fruit

9. A sampling of word counts.

These word counts are taken from the 21,076 tasting notes in Parker's Wine Adviser and Cellar Manager, Version 3.71; this Version covers “The Wine Advocate” issues from February 21, 1992 through December 19, 1997.

Four words sometimes described as typical in Mr. Parker’s writing occur as follows:

gobs 856 4.1%
hedonistic 248 1.2%
over extracted 199 0.9%
bomb 28 0.1%

NB: the total word search returns 1090 occurrences for "gobs" [5.1%], so there is some sort of a sorting error in the data base. The most obvious explanation – more than one “gobs” in a TN – does not seem to hold true. The same discrepancy occurs with other words; one of the oddest is the high count of the letter “s” as a word, for example.

A selection of other interesting occurrences:

fruit 11,270 53.4%
nose 8,256 39.2%
I 7,999 38.0%
finish 7,258 34.4%
rich 6,690 31.7%
full bodied 6,118 29.0%
oak 4,094 19.4%
vanillin 708 3.4%
my 2,666 12.6%
reveals 2,508 11.9%
impressive 2,284 10.8%
concentration 2,251 10.7%
Plenty 2,233 10.6%
great 2,118 10.0%
Readers 2,009 9.5%
attractive 1,949 9.2%
outstanding 1,932 9.2%
jammy 1,918 9.1%
elegant 1,875 8.9%
smoky 1,868 8.9%
delicious 1,857 8.8%
purity 1,794 8.5%
personality 1,720 8.2%
extremely 1,350 6.4%
saturated 1,076 5.1%
extraordinary 1,059 5.0%
you 759 3.6%
exotic 622 3.0%
Kacher 592 2.8%
Profound 570 2.7%
unquestionably 432 2.0%
pain grille 115 0.7%

and so on.

Incidentally, “pain grille” is a recent and growing addition to the vocabulary:

1992 0
1993 0
1994 2
1995 15
1996 15
1997 83

Historically, the first reference was in the August 23, 1994 issue:

“1991 Domaine Capion Vdp Futs De Chene (86) - $7. Aged in oak barrels, the 1991 VDP Futs de Chene exhibits a tell-tale, smoky, vanillin scent, a pain grille note, plenty of red and black fruits, medium body, tasty, creamy richness, and a spicy, soft finish. Importer: European Cellars, Eric Solomon, New York, NY.”

Despite its lowly beginning, “pain grille” indicates a wine to watch:

85 3
86 5
87 12
88 14
89 9
90 16
91 16
92 8
93 10
94 10
95 3
96 5
98 3
100 1

Sunday, December 24, 2000

Merry Christmas!
I cooked for 35 people tonight and am absolutely exhausted. I've been drinking 1990 Pierre Overnoy Vin Jaune all evening (I've been through 2 and 1/2 bottles and I'm not finished) and am in no shape to write anything coherent.

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Friday, December 22, 2000

Some Christmas Thoughts from The Wine Importer

Dear a wine importer thinking out loud readers:

What a triumphant 2000 my blog has had, thanks to you!

We began the year with a very ambitious agenda: to be the unquestioned leader in wine importer self-promotion and blogging. Let us savor just how well we have met our goals.

As we previously reported, in the fiscal year that ended November 30th a wine importer thinking out loud achieved a record number of unique hits and record-breaking site traffic. The even more wonderful news is that once again the blog is off to a superb start in our new fiscal year with the publication of our Top 10 Louis/Dressner Selections Wines of the year. During the first twenty-two days, we have posted double-digit increases in net traffic and unique hits over the comparable period in fiscal 1999/2000.

We’ve achieved these numbers, of course, because of you, our blog reader, and your unprecedented demand for more and better wine blogs.

At a time of consolidation and cutbacks in web publishing elsewhere, our Team of Blog writers, with their unrivaled autonomy and empowerment, have recently
announced the creation of some half-dozen new wine blog projects, presenting many exciting new wines and new producers to the internet public. The potency and diversity of our U.S. blogging efforts are paralleled by our sister companies in France, Belize, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Trinidad where despite adverse local economic conditions, they are thriving.

In addition to development of our authors and our blogging programs, in 2000 we undertook major initiatives and made significant investments in key operational areas and in exciting new technologies. I’m not saying that our blog will be able to deliver wine aromas and tastes over the web in the next few weeks, but be patient and continue to follow this space.

In celebrating our many successes and new areas of growth for 2000, it is important to recommit ourselves to our core values as we set even greater goals for 2001. We look forward to continuing to be a blog site whose work ethic is second to none. A blog determined to carry forward its rich heritage of blogging and service excellence to meet the challenges of the readers and the blogging marketplace of the future. A blog site always striving to create an internet space where we can feel supported and stimulated.

a wine importer thinking out loud’s accomplishments in 2000 are certainly a tribute to our blogging excellence, but they are just as surely a tribute to our greatest strength and resource: you.

Thank you and Merry Christmas to All,

Joe Dressner

Congratulations to Robert Callahan, Wine therapist
There are several forums on the web for wine discussions. Finally, someone has set-up an interesting community for people impassioned by real wine. Be sure to check-out Robert Callahan's Wine therapist Board. This promises to be an intelligent, humorous, pointed and controversial spot on the web for wine lovers. Callahan is doing a superb job of moderating and enlivening the board. Keep up the good work.

Thursday, December 21, 2000

Blog Back
The Blog server has been out the past three days and I have not added new zany and informative posts. Each night I had many interesting things to say but the server was down. I suppose I could have recorded my thoughts in an older technology like Microsoft Word and posted them here when the Blog server worked again, as my wife and children suggested, but to do so would have seemed at odds with the whole esprit du Blog. I am so drained from this three-day process of wasted and unchanneled creative energy that I have nothing to say tonight. I'm also very upset with the entire Peter Finkelstein affair, as is my wife and children. Cut the poor guy some slack, he's not calling for genocide! I also drank a bottle of Pierre Overnoy Savagnin today, which I'm tempted to add into one of the remaining slots of my top 10 list, but my wife and children feel it would be unwise for M. Overnoy to have two spots in the coveted Top 10 list. I received an e-mail from a well-known wine internet personality accusing me of being the Marquis de Sade of the wine internet. My wife and children find this characterization objectionable. Speaking of prominent internet wine personalities. Brad Kane has agreed to be the guest blogger on March 23rd. Mayor Lindsey died. Incredibly, I think Mayor Beame is still alive and still every bit as short.

Sunday, December 17, 2000

Numbers 5 and 6 of My Top 10 List of This Year's Louis/Dressner Selections' Imports
I’ve been busy working the past few days and apologize in advance for not having blogged lately. I am in desperate need of guest bloggers, something along the lines of what David Brenner and Jay Leno used to do for Johnny Carson. Any interested party should contact me by e-mail. I am going to need some help during the holiday season, particularly as one of my business partners is on vacation for the next three weeks. I will gladly tolerate opposing viewpoints, although it is hard to call this web site a ‘viewpoint.’

5. Quinta do Infantado Ports

We became port importers through a convoluted route. We used to work with Marcel Richaud in Cairanne, a very good producer, who took a vacation to Portugal in maybe 1995 or 1996, I forget. I happened to go visit Richaud after he came back and he insisted that I taste some open Infantado bottles he had brought back from the Douro. Richaud wound up there because the owners of Willy’s Wine Bar in Paris, who are good friends of Richaud, told him that he had to visit Infantado when in Portugal as they were simply the best. That they most closely approximated what Richaud was doing, real vignerons working their soil, letting their wine express their terroir. I was thrilled with the wine – by its authenticity and richness. So many ports are so dominated by sugar, here was a meio-seco, a semi-dry wine that didn’t emphasize sweetness as there was just so much material, so much terroir to show. I like naturally made wines not because they are ‘correct’ but because I think they make the best wines and here was a port estate moving toward organic viticulture which was not a consulting oenologists creation but the real item. You could taste it in the bottle. Honest.

I called friends in the States and Infantado was already represented, with the country divided between two importers. It being a small world, Robert Callahan turned out to be good friends with João Roseira from Infantado. Infantado eventually needed a new importer on the east coast and we got the gig.

You might object that it is unfair to have Quinta do Infantado ports as wine number 5 as there are so many different bottlings ranging from ruby, tawny to vintage. But to me, what is so striking about Infantado is the quality throughout their offerings. I don’t believe there is a better Ruby in the marketplace and the Organic Vintage Character along with the Estate Reserve are just smashing. It’s a domaine, not a négociant with a ‘low-end’ and a ‘high-end’ and much as the great domaines have a level of greatness throughout, Infantado makes great ports.

6. Clos de la Roilette Fleurie 1999 and Clos de la Roilette Fleurie Cuvée Tardive 1999

Once again, I’m cheating. There are two bottlings here, the regular and the Cuvée Tardive (a selection of the estate’s best parcels). I always visit the Cru Beaujolais in the February after the harvest and always stop first at the Coudert estate. Tastings here take forever as we taste many cuvées and then endless bottles of olders vintages are brought out. And we talk, chat, smoke (unfortunately I’ve had to quit as has Fernand Coudert, the father and founder of Roilette), joke and get a little drunk. It’s a ritual.

We started here with the 1989 vintage but 1991 was the best we’ve done. It was a great, even historic vintage for the Cru Beaujolais that was badly viewed as 1991 Red Burgundies had a bad reputation and the press/public always views the Beaujolais as a weaker sibling. But they pick earlier in Cru then in the Côte d’Or and 1991 was a superb summers until it rained. But everything was always in the cuverie at Roilette before the rains began. The vintage approximated the Côte Rotie more than Vosne-Romanée.

When I started tasting the Coudert 1999s I remembered the excitement of tasting the 1991s there. The 1999s are not far off. It’s a Fleurie, but in fact Roilette is really one of the great climates of Moulin-à-Vent. Don’t rush to drink this wine though. Put some aside and give it a few years.

The oddest thing about it all was that the vintage does not seem exceptional elsewhere. It is a good harvest, but northing more. Except for the Coudet.

Sentence fragments again.

I need some guest bloggers.

Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Concerned Consumers Unnecessarily Upset Over Reported Mondeuse du Montagnieu Shortage
I've received numerous e-mails today from consumers worried about point 19 in my post yesterday:

19. Receive a fax from Franck Peillot telling us he is sold out of Mondeuse and has little Altesse left.

I have only myself to blame for this confusion. I forget that having an unabashedly self-promotional blog is a weighty responsibility. I'm afraid that I triggered an unwarranted Peillot panic today and want to apologize to everyone out there.

Yes, Franck Peillot has nothing left in his cellar and we have nothing more to buy. But containers have been shipped, another one is about to leave France and the last one will leave in two weeks. Peillot's Mondeuse is available and for sale throught the American distribution network, principally in New York, Connecticut, Boston, Detroit, Minnesota, Washington State, Arkansas, Las Vegas and Hawaii. From our narrow perspective of importer, the wine is sold out. Of course, the distributors, restaurants, hotels (in Las Vegas, a booming wine scene!) and retailers holding stock of this wonderful wine see the issue differently and I have received irate phone calls from many of them about my announcement that Mondeuse has depleted.

Maybe the Mondeuse should be on My Top 10 List of This Year's Louis/Dressner Selections' Imports. Spots 5 through 10 are still open. By the way, I want to delay revealing the remaining six wines as I would like the excitement to climax on New Year's Even when I will announce number 10. I'm also tired.

My Swiftfolder bike is at its creator's workshop in Brooklyn for repairs and modifications (see and I am using my old hybrid bike. When riding my hybrid bike, my body is in a different, less comfortable position than it is on the Swiftfolder. My chest, which was recently cracked open for heart surgery, is aching tonight and making me tired. I wasn't going to add anything tonight to this site but felt that I was obligated to answer all your Mondeuse concerns. And hearing Vice-President Gore and Governor Bush speak tonight made me realize that it was important for the nation's unity that I continue my work here.

It has taken a while to get good wine from the Bugey into America and I am optimistic that we can change the marketplace here in America. I believe things happened for a reason, and I hope the long wait for Bugey wines will heighten a desire to move beyond the bitterness and anti-Bugey partisanship of the recent past.

Our nation must rise above a house divided. Americans share hopes, wines and goals and values far more important than any viticultural region. Republicans want the best for our nation. And so do Democrats.

Our preferences in wine may differ, but not our hopes.

I know America wants reconciliation and unity. I know Americans want progress. Americans want wines from France's Bugey region. And we must seize this moment and deliver.

Together, guided by a spirit of common sense, common courtesy, common goals, and the wines from France's Bugey region, we can unite and inspire the American citizens.

Together, we will work to make all our public school excellent, reaching every student of every background and every accent, so that no child is left behind.

Together, we will save Social Security and renew its promise of a secure retirement for generations to come.

Together we will strengthen Medicare and offer prescription drug coverage to all of our seniors.

Together, we will give Americans the broad, fair and fiscally responsible tax relief they deserve.

Together, we will put a chicken in every pot and a bottle of wine from France's Bugey region in every carafe. Whether that carafe is rich or poor. Black or white. Young or old.

Together, we will have a bipartisan foreign policy true to our values and true to our friends. And we will have a military equal to every challenge, and superior to every adversary.

Together, we will address some of society’s deepest problems one person at a time, but encouraging and empowering the good hearts and good works of the American people. This is the essence of compassionate wine importerism, and it will be a foundation of Joe Dressner's administration.

These priorities are not merely Joe Dressner's concerns, they are America's responsibilities.

During the fall campaign, we differed about details of these proposals - but there was remarkable consensus about the important issues before us: excellent schools, retirement and health security, tax relief, a strong military, the wines from France's Bugey region, and a more civil society.

We have discussed our differences; now is it is time to find common ground and build consensus to make America a beacon of opportunity in the 21st century.

I am optimistic this can happen. Our future demands it, and our history proves it. Two hundred years ago, in the election of 1800, America faced another close presidential election. A tie in the Electoral College put the outcome into the hands of Congress.

After six days of voting, and 36 ballots, the House of Representatives elected Thomas Jefferson, a great fan of the wines from France's Bugey region, the third President of the United States. That election brought the first transfer of power from one party to another in our new democracy.

Shortly after the election, Jefferson, in a letter titled reconciliation and reform, wrote this: “the steady character of our countrymen is a rock to which we may safely moor … Unequivocal in principle, reasonable in manner, we shall be able to hope to do a great deal of good to the cause of freedom, Mondeuse and harmony.”

Two hundred years have only strengthened the steady character of America. And so as we begin the work of healing our nation, tonight I call upon that character:

Respect for each other.

Respect for our differences

Generosity of spirit

Sentence Fragments.

And a willingness to work hard and work together to solve any problem.

I have something else to ask you to ask every American. I ask for you to pray for this great nation. I ask your prayers for leaders from both parities. And I ask you to pay for France's Bugey region.

I thank you for your prayers for me, my family, the Bugey and I ask you to pray for Vice President Garr and his family.

I have faith that with God’s help we as a nation will move forward together, as one nation, indivisible. And together we will create an America that is open, so every citizen has access to the American dream and a bottle of Bugey.

An America that is educated, so every child has the keys to realize that dream. And an America that is united in our diversity and our shared American values that are larger than race or party.

Bugey is more than a honor, more than an office. It is a charge to keep, and I will give it my all.

Thank you very much and God bless Bugerica.

Sleep well.

Tuesday, December 12, 2000

My Apologies, I Was Too Busy to Write-Up Numbers 5 and 6 of My Top 10 List of This Year's Louis/Dressner Selections' Imports Today
Wow! We had over 11,000 unique hits yesterday! Who are all you people? Unfortunately they are all going to expect my numbers 5 and 6 tonight and I haven't had the time to write them up.

I've had a busy day as a wine importer and then went home to my children and dog. No time for my Top 10.

My work activities today included:

  1. Rode my bicycle to work through 50 mph gusts. Almost lost my eyeglasses on the Williamsburg bridge. I'm blind without them.
  2. Received a fax from Bernard Baudry that he had only 1/2 the quantities of wine we had ordered the day before.
  3. A Boston retailer calls us to let us know that the fabulous Vacqueyras Cuvée Prestige 1998 has a cork saying 1999. What do we know about this and what does he tell his customers? It's all news to us. We fax the producer.
  4. Received a fax from the Clos du Caveau verifying that they had made a mistake and used a cork with 1999 written across the cork to bottle their 1998 Vacqueyras Cuvée Prestige (or maybe it was their Cuvée Spéciale). The wine is exceptional, so I'm not too upset. I have them fax us an explation of this error, Denyse translates, we fax retailers who have this wine in stock.
  5. One of our suppliers is doing a survey. They want me to answer by e-mail the following question: "What does our Domaine mean to you?"
  6. Responded to a fax from a producer in Mâconnais who wonders why he is not being paid. Oddly, he is being paid.
  7. Worked on the Louis/Dressner web site.
  8. A distributor in New York needs Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Registrations we have for Claude Maréchal's Chorey-les-Beaune, along with an authorization letter from us, addressed to Mr. To Whom This May Concern, to use our BATF registration. They had ordered one case of this wine and customs was threatening to hold up an entire container of wine if they did not have this all-important material. We dropped everything.
  9. Another distributor in another state calls to ask us to fax them immediately our BATF registrations for François Legros' Chambolle-Musigny and Amiot-Servelle's Bourgogne Rouge along with an authorization letter from us to use our registrations. Customs was threatening to hold up their container.
  10. A retailer calls asking why his 5 cases of Domaine de la Ferme St-Martin Côte-du-Rhône was not delivered. Inquiries are made. Retailer calls back 10 minutes later to say the trucker had just arrived.
  11. I call a distributor in the midwest to find out why they have not paid our bills. They say they did not receive invoices when the goods shipped three months ago. We fax them the invoices.
  12. I order a Casio EM-500 PDA. This will make my life fabulously organized and allow me to take copious notes in grower's cellars of future contestents for the Top 10 List of This Year's Louis/Dressner Selections' Imports. I bought the first model of the Palm Pilot when they came out years ago, but tired of using them. I now slavishly purchase and use anything that has anything to do with Bill Gates. Its unlike me, but I've become a syncophant of Microsoft.
  13. I field phone calls from three different telecommunications companies that want us to sign-up for their long-distance plan. I tell them we pay 3 cents a minute for France and they say they can't match that but offer other, innumerable benefits.
  14. A stockbroker calls and calls me Joe immediately, talking to me like we're long lost high-school buddies. I hang up the phone while he's talking.
  15. A consumer calls from Florida. He likes only one wine in the world, the Brouilly Vieilles Vignes from Jean-Paul Ruet. But it is not available in Florida. His son lives in Brooklyn and will be driving to Florida soon and he would like his son to buy two cases from a New Yorker retailer and transport the wine to him. Of course, all this is illegal and I want nothing to do with the whole affair.
  16. A vague social acquaintance is having a company party at a restaurant in Manhattan. She calls and wants to know how we can get the restaurant to buy our wines, in lots of three to six bottles, perhaps four different wines.
  17. I get called "Lou" for the first time in two weeks. A secretary from one of our distributor customers calls and asks for Kevin. I tell her that Kevin is not in and she says: "Oh, this must be Lou." I don't argue the point with her.
  18. Receive a fax from a producer who wants to know when we are going to finally ship the wine we reserved. We have no prospect of selling his wine, but I suppose we will ship it at the beginning of the year and lose money.
  19. Receive a fax from Franck Peillot telling us he is sold out of Mondeuse and has little Altesse left.
  20. I receive yet another e-mail from Brad Kane. He seems to have been embolded by the turn-around in George W. Bush's fortunes.
  21. I left a message on the voice mail of our best retail customer in the Detroit area. I have done this for months, since we shipped him a load of wine over the summer, and he doesn't call back. He will call back one of these days and order a lot of wine and we will ship it to him. He will then not call back for months.
  22. I sent faxes to various distributors around the country reminding them to pay some bills.
  23. Went to lunch.
  24. Returned to work and the day continued in much the same fashion as above.

Monday, December 11, 2000

Corrected Mâcon-Vire
The entire senior management team at Louis/Dressner Selections thought that the special bottling we now have in this country was the Domaine de Roally Mâcon-Viré Cuvée 41-H. We were wrong and the wine is in fact called the Domaine de Roally Mâcon-Viré Cuvée 54-H. Our apologies to everyone out there who asked for a 41-H and could only find a 54-H. We have received angry phone calls from several retailers who were accused of fraudently peddling Cuvée 54-H in a marketplace that wants Cuvée 41-H. Please, please....there is no 41-H, it was an error on our part.

The 54-H was the wine that took nearly two years to bubble to completed fermentation. It is good. It was in one small steel vat, which I could have sworn was 41-H, but which turned out to be 54-H. I stopped using my Palm Pilot in people's cellars a couple of years ago. Its too bad, because I was able to keep on top of details like this when I was equipped with that machine. I then switched last year to a Vadem Clio, which is a clamshell Windows CE device, but I spilled wine from the Clos du Tue Boeuf (I believe it was the Menu Pineau) on the keyboard in the beginning of a one month trip to France. Since, I had a 30 days, no question asked guarantee with the unfortunate company that sold me the machine, I returned it for a full refund. I then bought another Vadem Clio from another unfortunate company and dropped it on the floor after two weeks of happy usage. American Express refunded that one. That Vadem Clio was a technological tour de force and they no longer make the machine. So, for the past year I have been without some sort of gadget.

I recently bought a Casio EM-500 PocketPC and hope that by using this sophisticated piece of machine I will be able to keep track of the different cuvée in Henri Goyard's cellar. Although Goyard has retired and his vintage 2000 will be his last harvest.

Again, my apologies.

Stolen Chambolle-Musigny from François Legros
Speaking of theft and fraud...there have been a number of stories this past week about criminal rings being broken up in Burgundy.

Late this afternoon, we received a phone call from an anonymous Long Island teenager who had stolen a bottle of François Legros' Chambolle-Musigny from his father's cellar and drank the bottle. Turns out, the father has not noticed the theft but has subsequently spoken of his affection for this wine. The teenager called our office asking where he could buy a substitute.

Of course, we are firmly against teenagers buying alcoholic beverages. Additionally, the wine is sold out.

The anonymous teenager told me that he in fact enjoyed the wine.

Sunday, December 10, 2000

Numbers 1 and 2 of My Top 10 List of This Year's Louis/Dressner Selections Imports
OK, perhaps this is a crass thing to do but who cares? The following were my favorite wines that Louis/Dressner Selections imported this past year. To qualify, wines had to arrive after December 31, 1999 and before January 1, 2001 (Eric Texier's Côte Rotie won't be here until after January, so it does not qualify, for instance).This list is inherently subjective and self-serving -- I am a principal in Louis/Dressner Selections after all -- and is part of this web site's campaign of unabashed self-promotion.

  1. Domaine des Terres Dorées Beaujolais Rouge Mise Printemps 1999 -- actually the Mise Printemps does not appear on the label, but this was the first bottling of the young vines cuvée from Terres Dorées. I consumed about 24 bottles of this, with some help, during July in St-Gengoux-de-Scissé, where I have a home. I had gone there after undergoing 4 heart bypasses in late May in New York. Food and wine tasted terrible for several weeks after the operation and then white wines started to taste well. My cardiologist assured me this was a common reaction due to all the anesthethia that had been loaded into my system. I had tried to have natural bypasses, using techniques I learned as a Lamaze coach for the birth of my two children, but the surgeon would not go for my idea. But by late June though, I could taste and enjoy reds once again.

    Jean-Paul Brun of Terres Dorées was nice enough to come visit me in St-Gengoux after we arrived and to bring two cases of the above wine. The flavors were intense for me -- beautiful red fruits, delicate cherries and spice, perfectly balanced with just the right amount of acidity. A finish that seemed to go on forever. The 24 bottles were among the most pleasurable wines of my life. This wine may not appear anywhere else as the Wine of the Year (The Wine Spectator has already published their list and I am waiting to see the other lists) but frankly I don't care.

  2. Clos Rougeaurd Saumur-Champigny Clos Poyeux 1997 -- I have commented about this wine somewhere below. It is radioactive. The Bourg might be the better wine in the future, but for perfect drinking, right now, this is just superb.

    More to come....

Sunday, December 03, 2000

Quick Thoughts About The Wine Spectator Top 100

I just returned from vacation and read my e-mail. Someone was kind enough to send me The Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of the Year.

Much to my astonishment, I not only agree with all 100 wines chosen, but I also agree with the order of preference.

They're doing great work over there on Park Avenue South!