jamie goode's wine blog

Friday, October 16, 2009

Two from Gallo

Should I just ignore giant brands such as California's largest, E&J Gallo? Or are big brands something that wine writers should comment on?

Of course, Gallo is just one brand of many (c. 60) in the E&J Gallo portfolio, but as a company, they probably crush more grapes than the entire Australian wine industry, and are the second largest wine company in the world (if you count Constellation as a single wine company). Size is only hinted at on their website (gallo.com), where they mention that they employ 4600 people. Production is around 60 million cases a year.

Here are my notes on two Gallo wines. They sell very well in the UK, but I can't help feeling that punters could buy much tastier wines than these for £6, if they'd leave the comfort zone of a familiar brand. The Chardonnay is nicer than the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Gallo Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 California
13% alcohol. Why do I dislike this wine? It’s really not because it says ‘Gallo’ on the label (the wine company that many love to hate, simply because it is so big). Rather, it is because it has a superficial attractiveness, with sweet red berry fruit, and then as you look closer you find a green, aggressively herbal streak hidden underneath all the confected, jammy fruit. It’s both over-ripe and green at the same time, and I find it a bit sickly. But it is certainly drinkable. 74/100 (£5.99 just about everywhere)

Gallo Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2008 California
13% alcohol. A ripe, almost off-dry fruity white wine with hints of butter and toast alongside the smooth peach, grape and pear fruit. Simple and monodimensional, but clean and correct. An accessible, easy drinking wine – perhaps a stepping stone from Liebfraumilch to drier styles of white wine? No rough edges. 79/100 (£5.99 just about everywhere)

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Stormhoek on glass 'collusion'

Interesting post by Stormhoek's Jason Korman on what he suspects may be an attempt by wine bottle glass producers to create a global shortage of glass so they can bump prices up a bit. Read it here.

'Mark my words, the biggest story in the wine trade this year won't be about wine, it'll be about shortages of glass bottles keeping the wine from getting to market.'


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rosemount Cabernet

Brands have a life span, or at least this is what marketing dudes tell me. Marketing dudes are usually smarter, better dressed and considerably richer than me, so I should listen to what they say.

Anyway, it goes like this. You build a brand. If it takes off, there is a growth period. You want this to be pretty fast, but you also want it to keep on going. Then there's a plateau period, where a successful, mature brand continues to sell well. The smart dudes reading this will be thinking that this is the phase you want to milk for all it's worth. Stretch it. Because next comes the decline phase. Your brand loses influence and sales. It's suddenly uncool, or boring, or out of touch.

Rosemount was a wine brand that recently, some commentators suggested, had entered the dreaded decline phase. Urgent action was called for to salvage it, and FGL Wine Estates revamped the range, paying attention not just to the liquid, but also the packaging. A simplified, elegant label and a square based bottle are the key design features in question.

What about the liquid itself? Well, the reason I'm blogging on this topic is because I'm drinking the Rosemount Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. And I'm impressed. This is not a geek wine, but I reckon they got the winemaking just right for this sort of brand.

It's deep coloured, with a forward, perfumed nose of sweet red berry and blackcurrant fruit, with a bit of spicy presence. There's a subtle herbiness, too. It is pretty refined. The palate shows sweet ripe blackcurrant fruit, with just enough spicy structure to counter the sweetness of the fruit. Any rough, slightly herbal edges are papered over adequately with the fruit sweetness. I reckon there's also a bit of residual sugar here, which rounds the palate, fleshing it out a bit, and making the wine a lot more accessible (I'd love to know how much - it's notoriously difficult to judge by taste alone because of the way sugar interacts with other components of wine, such as acidity). Look, this isn't the sort of wine that the readers of this blog are going to want to rush out and buy in quantity. But for a commercial style, it's extremely well done. It's tasty; it tastes of Cabernet Sauvignon; it's extremely well made; it avoids the obvious confected or green character a lot of commercial wines in this style display.

So here we have it. A wine I'm impressed by, but which I wouldn't buy. And the brand owners are probably relieved to hear this, because they aren't trying to sell to me.

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