When a winery lets you down (Vintage and sanity)
Monday, December 14, 2009
Right before this last snowstorm, I procured me a couple
bottles of wine to help ride out the storm.† Two choices
where a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay by Fair Valley, a
wonderful concept in post-apartheid South Africa.† I fell in
love with their Chenin Blanc years ago, but didnít like
their Sauvignon Blanc back then when I mistakenly picked up
Unfortunately, they let me down badly, with
both wines.† The chardonnay was so bad that I threw it out
before reviewing it.† The sauv blanc I kept around just as a
reference to write from.
In the world of wine, there
is such a thing as a bad vintage, and most good winemakers
would rather not put out a wine that is up to their
standards, rather than put something out that would turns
off its loyal consumers.
And then, there are also
those people that just produce wines, think that they taste
good, and release them.† Not saying that we all can agree on
what tastes good (Lord knows that I hate the taste and smell
of mangoes, canít take most cheeses and stay away from a lot
of creams), but there are times when you really ask whether
or not the winemaker was on crack.
I gave Fair Valley
a chance, sending them this email:
had the Sauv Blanc and the Chardonnay
And my question
is, "what the hell happened?"
I came to fall in love
with your Chenin Blanc at least four years ago, and I told
everyone else about it.† However, one day I picked up some
bottles of Sauv Blanc by mistake and couldn't stand that.† I
don't know if I wasn't just used to drinking Sauv Blancs
then, but as I opened a 2009 bottle and tasted it, I get the
same bad taste.
The taste seems to be very oily
(petrol) and with tons of minerality, which is totally
against what a Sauv Blanc is about.† It actually taste like
a lot of Gruner Veltliner is in it.† I am actually wondering
if the bottle itself has been badly affected by heat and
will exchange the bottle to see if that is the case.
The Chardonnay is equally oily and devoid of any
fruit flavors which are typically associated with that
I live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (US),
and the lot it comes from is A125.† You can reach me at
XX-XXX-XXX-XXXX if you care to explain either the taste,
whether you agree it's heat damaged, or whatever.
While I have loved your Chenin Blanc and your story,
I am hesitant to try anything else by your label.† By the
way, I have had some of the Goats Do Roam wines.
That was sent on February 10th and I have
still not gotten a response from them.† I am wondering if I
will ever hear something from them at all.† In this, they
have let me down. †
Customer service is still a very
important thing to have in business; itís almost as
important as the product/service itself.† Smaller operations
are easy to talk to, but some larger operations equally have
a level of communication transparency; I once spoke to Fred
Franzia on a Saturday afternoon, and that man has one of the
largest operations in the world.
In this case, not
only did the wine taste totally bad, but I couldnít believe
that the winery allowed it out.† I could see that they might
have been counting on the money to support their total
operations and keep it afloat, but a better decision should
have been made to not release the wine at all, converting it
to ethanol for use as fuel. †
It's much better to have
one bad year than to turn off a customer, if not a whole ton
of them, for life.† At this point, I have no inclination to
try anything ever again by this producer.† The only way is
if I am at a wine tasting and it's complimentary, otherwise,
I have no faith in their ability to produce palatable fare.†
And that in itself, is a tragedy.
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