International Bulk Wine Competition has a Super-Gold Medal?

imagesNot only is there a competition for those who make bulk wine, but they give gold medals to the best of them.  Samples that are scored between 88 points and 95 points are awarded gold medals.  Given that the competition actually has a category for bulk wine that scores above 95 points is of special interest. These wines receive Super Gold!  Super Gold?  I’m not really sure what that is. But frankly, I find it hard to imagine a 94 point bulk wine being offered on the open market, much less a 97 pointer… but apparently there must be.   Is this the ultimate in point inflation, or just the bulk wine world’s adoption of the bell curve?

imgres40% of all wine is sold on the bulk market.

While I got a pretty hearty laugh at this yesterday, in reality I was encouraged that there is seems to be a real push in the bulk wine market for improved quality.  As it is, bulk wine  is already a big part of many a well-regarded winery’s appellation wines. Whether the name on the label says Napa or Sonoma, legally up to 25% of a wine can come from another appellation without any indication on the label.  Many, many wineries supplement their production with grapes from other high-quality, but less desirable regions, to stretch their production, and keep costs down.

Delicato Family Wines in the Central Valley, used to sell their clone 337 Cabernet production  to wineries that put the Lodi-juice in their Napa Valley Cabernets. This Lodi-grown Cabernet was said to be in high-demand by big-name Napa wineries. Apparently the 337 Cab was desired for its deep, opulent fruit that  gave wonderful mid-palate to the Napa Valley Cab blends. Eventually a decision was made that the wine was too good to sell off, and Delicato began bottling it as the 337 Cabernet.

So despite my laughing at the Bulk Wine Competition’s expense, I really should show them a debt of gratitude.  It seems I probably bulk wine may be a significant part of my wine diet without my even knowing it. Thank you to you bulk wine producers for pushing quality upwards.

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Diary of a Winebuyer

About Me: Thirty years ago, I graduated with a degree in political science from the College of Letters and Science at the University of California at Berkeley. Having grown up at the height of the Cold War, I still have vivid remembrances of being instructed to hide under our elementary school desk, covering our heads. The young, white, female teacher, training us without explanation, to face away from the windows. I suppose it is not all that surprising that I had a particular interest in the realpolitik of international relations. My fascination grew with the discovery that certain conditions almost uniformly exist where all revolutions ferment. Did this mean that the revolutions which had occurred in the first half century were revolutions which had been usurped by Marxists who were in the right place at the right time? Probably. A favorite professor was A. J. Gregor. This was a man who, while rakishly wearing a Gestapo-styled black leather motorcycle jacket, exuded expertise on fascism (which he looked the part) and Marxism. Improbably, he did it with a significant swagger. Then in my last semester, I had the blind luck to take a class on Asian Marxist revolution, and the professor, who just happened to be visiting that year while he worked on some unnamed project, was Chalmers Johnson. In retrospect, I should have known his name, as he was a luminary in the political science community but at that time, I did not. It was a remarkable opportunity to experience the ivory tower, but I seem to remember being anxious to get on with life. After college, I drifted through a few of jobs that were of interest to me. One of my former high school teachers said to me. "If I were in your shoes, I'd get a job as a flight attendant." So in order to be young while I could still afford to, I accepted a job serving chicken or beef at Pan American. With that airline losing money faster than it could sell its routes, I got a job doing cellar work at David Bruce Winery. This was the beginning of my wine career. All during this period, I wrote a still unpublished novel about homegrown terrorists the U.C. Berkeley campus, attempting to use some of what I learned in school, weaving in the Vietnamese political and military strategies of Dau Tranh as professor Johnson had lectured years before. Since the early 1990's, I have been involved in the wine industry, selling fine wine in both the retail and wholesale arenas. I have approached learning about wine, by always challenging myself to question how I know what I think I know? And in an effort to try to find answers I've turned, with varying degrees of success to wine books. Overall, I've not been happy with the quality of most wine writing, finding the authors either to lack any deep knowledge, or unable to move much past what I consider to be superficial information. I recognize that wine writers have to monetize their work, but I believe this has dramatically held back our knowledge and understanding of wine. I have set out to add to our industry's base of knowledge where I can. My first series, 'The Terroir of Burgundy' (which I should probably re-edit and complete some kind of conclusion, but I got involved in this project), can be viewed here. I currently work as a sales and marketing manager for a Burgundy and Bordeaux importer based in Atherton, California.

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