When Naming Your Wine Publication …

I am in the Wine Industry, and so of course I do read the “major” publications. Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, etc.

And I recently got to thinking about the publication titles: Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate.

What’s the unifying thread there?

They are all referential to themselves, and in certain respects, to their assumed demographic. They describe themselves. As spectators, enthusiasts, advocates.

And then there is Decanter.

Now, in writing what I’m about to write, please know that I in no way shape or form mean to play favorites, nor do I mean this as any sort of endorsement of any kind. As I said, I read them all. And I enjoy them all. Admittedly for different reasons, and perhaps even in different degrees, but I read and enjoy them all. So I am not judging or endorsing.

But I do need to note that I do LOVE the name “Decanter” for a publication about wine. Why?

First off, I like that the title seems not to refer to the writers of the magazine (or to the readers), but to an object utilized in the service of preparing and presenting wine.

Or does it?

After all, if one decants a wine, isn’t one then a “decanter?”

Which makes the title of the publication not only different, but clever.

And I love that.

And I will say (full disclosure as regards a personal standpoint), I do love it when Decanter writes about Ridge. Because I think Decanter’s different-ness and cleverness extends to their wine writing as well.

Decanter bills itself as “The world’s best wine magazine,” and while it does publish in over 90 countries the world round (as well as online), its home base in England means that it’s perhaps not as familiar to readers of wine publications in this country. (And if I’m wrong in making this assumption, please let me know!). So I occasionally like to share a bit about what Decanter has written about us, in case you’ve not seen it.

So, I wish to let you know that in the March 2012 issue of Decanter, the rather legendary Steven Spurrier (he of The Judgment of Paris fame) spent a bit of column time assessing Monte Bellos that he tasted at Decanter’s Fine Wine Encounter back in November, and as I feel his tasting notes are quite spot on, I thought I’d share them with you.

Of the 2009 Monte Bell0 (coming to a tasting room near you in September!) Mr. Spurrier wrote that it shows “deep berry fruit and spice, fine middle sweetness and a velvety texture.” To which I would add that this is one of the more decadently inviting and sensual Monte Bellos of recent vintages; it is plush, beguiling, voluptuous, and nearly hedonistic in its intensity.

Of the 2008, Mr. Spurrier wrote that it was “more structured, brambly, and Pomerol-like, with fine concentration.” To which I would add that I bought every drop of my futures allocation on this vintage; as good an endorsement as I can offer!

The 2006 was described as “more rich and chocolatey — less persuasive than the tannic, backward but still superb 2005.” Which I guess is a bit of a backwards compliment to both, but with the germ of truth in there. The 2006 is definitely not what I would call a “persuasive” wine; it is more subtle, more deceptively complex, and shows greater low-tone complexity, making it a wine that wins you over slowly, and with grace. The 2005, conversely, is definitely a big wine; a lot of muscle and structure, but with a wealth of fruit on offer to hang on those architectural bones. And if by backward Mr. Spurrier means that it arrives in its youth with structure front-and-center (as opposed to fruit), then point begrudingly conceded.

Mr. Spurrier also tasted a 1997, followed by a half-bottle of 1992, then a 1984, and he closed with a 1978. The 84 he called “flawlessly firm” — a description I support — and the 78 “beautifully balanced”; an assessment I agree with as well. The 92, however, he described as “warm-fruited,” which I was somewhat surprised by, particularly as it was out of 375ml. I have tasted this wine, from this format, multiple times over the past year, and I find it to be one of the, dare I say it, prettiest of the 90s Monte Bellos. It is soft, beautiful, gentle, aromatic, even coy at times, but above all else, it is, again, pretty. And while “warm-fruited” may not be wholly inaccurate, it is, to me, incomplete.

But all in all, a great summation of taste profiles, and as such, I don my hat.

To you, Decanter magazine, I offer praise; for some wonderful writing, and for having a wonderful name for your publication.

We is all Decanters all!

Categories: Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, History, Merlot, Monte Bello, Paul Draper, Petit Verdot, Press Reviews, Tasting Flights, Tasting Notes, Varietals & Blends

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