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So I'm enjoying a run on the treadmill the other night when I turn on the news and learn that Charles Shaw has won the 1st prize award for Chardonnay at the California State Fair. It beat out 400+ other chards??

The anchors interviewed Fred Franzia, and let me tell you, what a disheveled dude he is. You'd think with all that cash from two-buck he'd spend 5 on his wardrobe. The clothes don't make the man, but he looked like hell on TV.

The news story also didnt expound on who rates the wines at the state fair.

I just found the whole piece very interesting and a tad dusturbing.
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Some quotes from a recent article about this:

quote:
Charles Shaw wines are produced by the Bronco Wine Co., based in Ceres near Modesto, and are almost exclusively found at Trader Joe's.


quote:
The wine used for judging was selected by the Bronco Wine Co. and submitted to the competition.


Hmmmmmm......

quote:
Since the state fair uses wine professionals as judges and the wines are tasted blind, the results stand on their own. Some 270 2005 Chardonnays were evaluated, so Two-Buck had plenty of competition.


I want names. Anyone know who these people are?

PH
TN: 2005 Charles Shaw Chardonnay California - Bright buttery nose with a hint of something tropical and a little bit of toast. Flavor wise it is fairly light and one diminsional but it has varietly correct flavor. Too much residual sugar but it is not a deal killer. It has enough acid to keep it from seeming too flabby. Drinkable for sure.

Much better than the Merlot. Would I buy it again? Sure, why not. Its only $2.
HFS!

From the article:

"Shaw's California Chardonnay took first place for Best Chardonnay from California. To some in the clubby California wine community, that must seem like a Michelin's Red Guide giving three stars to a roadside hamburger stand."


"The Chardonnay received 98 points, a double gold, with accolades of Best of California and Best of Class."

ICFBI!

NFW!

Oh, man.

It's funny, but also disheartening at the same time.

Healdsburg Gal, I am with you on residual sugar.
It is only a matter of time before we see a "98 pt CA Chard" on WC or in the buying and selling section here. And soemone who doesn't have a Trader Joe's paying $10 bottle or something.

On a side note, my sister hosted a blind tasting at her home a few weeks ago- she instructed folks to bring a bottle in certain catgeories the [varietal and price(<$20)]. I told her to throw in a Two Buck Chuck cab and chard in the mix for fun. Albeit these were not folks who spend a whole lot of $ or time on wine, but the TBC did win the Cab flight (vs 3 others).
The amusing part about this that the competition does not relize is that next year they are going to have a hard time getting entries. They charge the wineries to participate. What winery is going to pay $80, ship wine and then face the shame of being outshined by Two dollar swill? I am sure CS is a great value but seriously?? Sweepstakes winner?? And is there is RS, F*&^&*^ RS ,sweepstakes winner. It is a flaw...a flaw!!!! Ok, I will stop my tirade now.
I believe that there is something about 2BC wines - Merlot and Cab in particular that appeals to those who have not developed any discrimination in their taste of wine. Almost all who I know that drink and like it do not know what the word Bordeaux means in a wine dictionary. They do not even know if they are drinking Merlot or Cab, just that they are drinking "red". Franzia makes his wine to appeal to the most uneducated wine drinker. They like it - that is all there is to it, except that the price makes it even more appealing to them.

I see this to be true in almost all things that have to do with taste and smell. The biggest seller appeals most to those that have the least developed ability to discriminate between tastes and smells that make the better and best so much more enjoyable.
quote:
Originally posted by valleyofthemoon:

For the record, The '04 Buena Vista Syrah is outstanding, imo.


I've had some decent Buena Vistas since they changed their program. Not great, and for the price I think there are better if you have the time to hunt them down, but certainly interesting. I like the house flavor profile, just think their wines need a little structure to get some decent reviews.
quote:
Originally posted by EagleGrafix:
I believe that there is something about 2BC wines - Merlot and Cab in particular that appeals to those who have not developed any discrimination in their taste of wine. Almost all who I know that drink and like it do not know what the word Bordeaux means in a wine dictionary. They do not even know if they are drinking Merlot or Cab, just that they are drinking "red". Franzia makes his wine to appeal to the most uneducated wine drinker. They like it - that is all there is to it, except that the price makes it even more appealing to them.

I see this to be true in almost all things that have to do with taste and smell. The biggest seller appeals most to those that have the least developed ability to discriminate between tastes and smells that make the better and best so much more enjoyable.


Which is why they sell so many bottles of this cra... I mean stuff. Some of it might be considered drinkable, but winning awards? Come on now.
quote:
Originally posted by jgreen:
On a side note, my sister hosted a blind tasting at her home a few weeks ago- she instructed folks to bring a bottle in certain catgeories the [varietal and price(<$20)]. I told her to throw in a Two Buck Chuck cab and chard in the mix for fun. Albeit these were not folks who spend a whole lot of $ or time on wine, but the TBC did win the Cab flight (vs 3 others).


No way. The 2BC Cabernet is downright unpleasant.

I've been subjected to quite a bit of 2BC thanks to the cheapskates
in the tennis teams that my wife plays against. You'd think that if
they can afford membership at these fancy clubs then they could also
afford to bring better wine. But it's her teams that play out of the
municipal court in Sunnyvale that invariably bring the best wine.

The Chardonnay is the best of the bunch that I've tried.
The Merlot is sweet, fruity and simple.
But the Cabernet honestly tastes like industrial waste.
It should carry a health warning.
Saw this on CT...

quote:
Tasted by ________ on 7/4/2007 & rated 85 points: Picked up two of these after it scored a 98 from WS....I want only to prove that anyone can buy a good rating from WS. Popped and poured chilled.

Color: A pale yellow green.
Nose: Very light. Think of the smell of lettuce with hints of apple and green grapes. Picks up some melon after a few minutes in the glass.
Palate: Smooth, actually not bad. Tastes like sweet mixture of green grapes and some green apple. After a few minutes in the glass it picks up some melon and a slight buttery taste.
Finish has a smack of acidity that lingers.

I've paid more money for worse wines.

I'll report back after it has a little air time.

Initial score: 85 (25 views)


Now it's a 98 pointer from WS!!! Eek Razz Big Grin
quote:
Originally posted by mwagner7700:
Saw this on CT...

quote:
Tasted by ________ on 7/4/2007 & rated 85 points: Picked up two of these after it scored a 98 from WS....I want only to prove that anyone can buy a good rating from WS. Popped and poured chilled.

Color: A pale yellow green.
Nose: Very light. Think of the smell of lettuce with hints of apple and green grapes. Picks up some melon after a few minutes in the glass.
Palate: Smooth, actually not bad. Tastes like sweet mixture of green grapes and some green apple. After a few minutes in the glass it picks up some melon and a slight buttery taste.
Finish has a smack of acidity that lingers.

I've paid more money for worse wines.

I'll report back after it has a little air time.

Initial score: 85 (25 views)


Now it's a 98 pointer from WS!!! Eek Razz Big Grin


I had nothing to do with this, I promise!!!
From a California retailer:

"California State Fair Tasting Smells Fishy
Is it just me or does anybody else smell something fishy about the California State Fair wine judging competition. Fishy as in Salmon Creek or Charles Shaw Chardonnay.

We have seen this again and again from the State Fair Judging over the years. Lets see, Joe Franzia needs to protect the 150,000 case per month revenue stream from Trader Joe's just select some great juice, bottle it in a small batch and enter it in all the competitions you can find, if it does well, promote the hell out of it, even if the consumer has no chance at all of ever getting any of the same wine that won the compitions. Who cares, it's a perfect fit for the wine buyer profile at Trader Joe's even if it is a fraud. The end user can orgasmicly brag to their friends that they got the secret Silver Oak for $1.99.. meanwhile the awards keep coming and the press keeps writing and everybody is happy. How much weight does a gold medal from the California State Fair carry for the Two Buck Chuck customer? It carries a ton of weight, and how about at Trader Joe's stores outside of Northern California, even more.


The bulk wine business is huge. If you are somebody like Silver Oak, for example, that makes nearly 100,000 cases of Alexander Valley Cabernet every how do you keep the price stable when demand slackens as it did in 2000? You bulk it off. Make 80,000 cases and sell the rest on the bulk market. The bulk wine goes for $10/gallon to giant producers like Bronco or Delicato who may bottle it or blend it. But if it is great juice, and you can squeak out the rumor that the juice is from Silver Oak, why not bottle it as a separate lot and enter it in every wine competition you can. Ten thousand cases on the shelf as Salmon Creek California Cabernet at $4.99/bottle is actually Silver Oak Cabernet. Double Gold Medals all around and a big sign on every stack that blares"Double Gold Medal California State Fair", California the wine state . . .Double Gold, sells like ice cream on a hot day. And if you haven't noticed, the wineries like Silver Oak, Cakebread, Opus, Caymus, and Rombauer etc . . .look at the list of entries for the state fair judging and you won't find any of these wineries, why enter a competition when they can sell all the produce by manipulating the supply. Screaming Eagle gets a silver medal. I doubt it, but their bulked off juice, Whispering Dove perhaps.How long is it until other retailers catch on? (for bulk wine pricing check out http://www.ciatti.com) A Double Gold Medal on Sam's Chardonnay at every Wal-Mart in the world would move a whole lot of wine, and do you think that the Wal-Mart customer cares how it got its gold. Not.

The State Fair competition is amateur hour, and most of the wineries that enter get shafted because all of the attention goes to the Two Buck Chuck or Salmon Creek oddities. How do you make everybody happy? Award more medals, and a lot of them better be gold! This is the biggest promotional event of the year for most of the actual wineries that enter. I've been around the wine business for nearly forty years and I haven't ever heard of most of the wineries that enter the State Fair competition. Does anybody even remember which wine was the sweepstakes winner last year? (wasn't it a 16.5 percent Zin from Dog Scat Winery in Rescue or somewhere like that?) More later ."...
I've tried all the two buck chucks and they all are awful! There is too much tannin or whatever causes puckering. They don't have any good flavor. They are overpowering with smells of magic marker. It is not something that can be sipped and enjoyed.

I have tried a dozen different wines that are under $10 at Trader Joes, and I have not liked one.
~~~~ Sigh ~~~~~

The whole industry is hooked on the "easy solution" of selling wines. That means that they will use the highest points they can find to promote a wine, even if no one has heard of the reviewer.

The wineries, in their desperation to sell wine, enter wines in any second rate show to try and win an award. Some of these shows are a case of "every child wins a prize". The end result of this chase for points and medals is that over time it cheapens the value of them until they become almost meaningless.

Look what happened with Oz wines in the US. When Parker first started rating them, anything that scored over 90 would sell. Now you need 95 to see an impact on sales.

Eventually consumers will realise the "non value" of these awards and then the industry will have its work cut out in trying to work out how to sell their plonk.

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