Episode 59: Bladder Control

by whitney & christina on February 26, 2013

Plastic bladders and the unromantic side of wine transport. Christina gives the scoop on her favorite wines from Australia’s first natural wine fair. Plus, she has a few wine whines to get off her chest! Finally, does red Riesling exist and what wine pairs with Oreos??

Christina traveled to Sydney for Rootstock!

Exporting wine in giant plastic bladders.

Wine Whine: Recently The Drinks Business posted this rather unbalanced ‘news’ article consisting almost entirely of quotes by the outspoken biodynamic Rhone winemaker Chapoutier.

Doug Wregg wrote this hilarious spoof as a rebuttal.

Listener Ellen asked us to pair wine to bran flakes, nachos, and Oreos. Does anything beat milk with Oreos?

Two words: red Riesling. A listener question is answered! Update: perhaps, we were wrong?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Per-BKWine March 3, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Saying “The Drinks Business posted this rather unbalanced ‘news’ article consisting almost entirely of quotes by the outspoken biodynamic Rhone winemaker Chapoutier” is not very fair.

Chapoutier is a leading winemaker in the Rhone Valley, France and the world. He is also one of the best know winemakers making organic and biodynamic wines.

If he voices opinions such as he did in those quotes then it is news in itself and part of the “natural wines” debate.

The Drinks Business is not claiming that what Chapoutier is true (or not true), they are just reporting what an important wine personality has said.

What’s wrong with that?


whitney & christina March 4, 2013 at 1:49 am

This would be fine if the natural wine ‘debate’ (which exists mainly within the trade) were a fair and even one within the world of professional wine writing, however the number of journalists openly supporting these winemaking philosophies is numbered, and from what I’ve found, when they do support them it is usually in a reasonable and measured way-they are careful not to damn all conventional wines but to support making wine with minimal chemicals and manipulations and to leave the taste side up to the taster-after all there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to personal taste, despite the myriad wine industry folk who will try to tell you differently.

On the flip side of that, the number of UK articles damning natural wines (whether subtley or not)-lumping this diverse and very loosely formed group of wines into one dumbed down category-is numerous. After all, natural winemakers don’t have the PR budgets or ‘relationships’ with the press to fight back.

Last year Decanter published such a piece in which Chapoutier declared ‘all natural wines a con’. His statements were so sweeping, so misinformed, for me it discredited him entirely. This year he is at it yet again zeroing in on this small grouping of wines (instead of focusing on the oceans of commercial plonk that have given the AOC a bad name with far more offending wine. Who is railing against Beaujolais Nouveau for the damage it did to the AOC? Certainly not the Foillards and Descombes, the LaPierres or the Thenevets who are at last restoring quality to the region though natural winemaking techniques). The cynical side of me thinks Chapoutier has become one of the ‘best known biodynamic winemakers’ because he has the PR budget to do so and the arrogance and cleverness to make the statements he does to the press knowing full well it’ll get him a good bit of publicity and declaring himself the guardian of what is a ‘correct’ wine and what isn’t. Indulging him his time on his soapbox yet again, without opposition, is not balanced journalism, whatever status he carries as a winemaker.

If there were as many pieces consisting entirely of quotes from a natural winemaker, then fine. I know from my own experiences (not with DB) and my colleagues’ that anyone who is openly supportive of these wines and their philosophies is told to ‘find the controversy’ when writing about them-an entirely positive piece about natural wine is just not accepted. When Alice Feiring or Doug Wregg for example are quoted in support of them, their quotes are taken out of context, and bookended with other quotes against natural wines to disqualify, or at least strongly question, their beliefs.

When journalists start making the effort to meet natural winemakers, visit their vineyards, learn their stories, and drink their wines in context, then perhaps the reporting will become more even. But as is the sad case with most things in life, those with money get their voices heard loudest.


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