cuvee and meritage?

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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Thomas » Tue Jan 16, 2007 10:16 pm

Bob Ross wrote:Clark, here's a response from the Meritage folks; my notes from six years ago are consistent with what you remembered. It seems that the brand has been weakened:

Hello Robert,

You are correct. There are no restrictions on cases or price point at this time. The association has talked about having a production cap but nothing has been decided yet. There is no way for the association to control if it is the "best" of the vintage.

The term is meant to identify the wines as Bordeaux blends and to (hopefully) distinguish the wines from "red table wines"- but the members "are essentially on an honor system for that aspect.

The license agreement goes into more detail regarding the commitment of the members. It can be found in the "Join" section of the site: http://www.meritagewine.org

Please feel free to contact us with any additional questions.

Thank you,
Nicole Shiflet
the Meritage Association



Nicole Shiflet
Executive Assistant
Cosentino Winery


To this response I ask--so what? Especially to the following:

"The term is meant to identify the wines as Bordeaux blends and to (hopefully) distinguish the wines from "red table wines."

Big deal. Without a reason for the wine other than the above, Meritage has about as much meaning as Goats Do Roam--proprietary, in the hope of capitalizing from a "known" entity.

My word, I sound like Martin Ray must have sounded...
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Tue Jan 16, 2007 11:16 pm

You know, Thomas, after reading so much about Ray in the Tendrils, I wondered who might take his place today.

Your name never entered my mind -- until I read your post.

Honest, it didn't. ( :-) )

But on second thought, you might well be a worthy successor.

Regards, Bob
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby ClarkDGigHbr » Wed Jan 17, 2007 3:37 am

Bob Ross wrote:Clark, here's a response from the Meritage folks; my notes from six years ago are consistent with what you remembered. It seems that the brand has been weakened:

Hello Robert,

You are correct. There are no restrictions on cases or price point at this time. The association has talked about having a production cap but nothing has been decided yet. There is no way for the association to control if it is the "best" of the vintage.

The term is meant to identify the wines as Bordeaux blends and to (hopefully) distinguish the wines from "red table wines"- but the members are essentially on an honor system for that aspect.

The license agreement goes into more detail regarding the commitment of the members. It can be found in the "Join" section of the site: http://www.meritagewine.org

Please feel free to contact us with any additional questions.

Thank you,
Nicole Shiflet
the Meritage Association



Nicole Shiflet
Executive Assistant
Cosentino Winery


Thanks, Bob. I'm with you, the brand value of Meritage has been diluted by their change in rules. Let's face it, the creation of the term itself was not random, and it tried to impart a message of quality, i.e. merit, not just a message of this is a Bordeaux-style blend. In my mind, it's really just another marketing tag now.

When I see a wine like 2004 Soos Creek Soleil Columbia Valley Red Wine, I am not confused by its contents. Many/most domestic winemakers tell you on the front or back label what grapes go into that wine, in general or specifically by percentage. That is a lot cheaper for a small winemaker like Soos Creek to do than pay $500/year to The Meritage Association.

-- Clark
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Peter May » Wed Jan 17, 2007 8:15 am

Bob Ross wrote:
This note seems pretty self confident to me, Peter.


The fact that others misuse the name (as Americans, Australians & others have done for Burgundy, Chablis, Port etc) is well known

Coppola stole and misused the name. His wine isn't Claret and never will be. I wonder why he wants to use the name?
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Peter May » Wed Jan 17, 2007 8:20 am

Thomas wrote:

Without a reason for the wine other than the above, Meritage has about as much meaning as Goats Do Roam--proprietary, in the hope of capitalizing from a "known" entity.



There's quite a difference. Meritage alerts the consumer that the wine is a Bordeaux style blend without using the world Bordeaux (or Claret :).
I think its a great idea.

Now what needed is a word for Rhone type wines
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Wed Jan 17, 2007 10:22 am

"The fact that others misuse the name (as Americans, Australians & others have done for Burgundy, Chablis, Port etc) is well known."

Peter, let's focus on "Claret", a fascinating history. I've had great fun reading from original sources using Google's Book search feature over the past 24 hours. As I mentioned, Coppolo's lawyers don't need my help, but it's clear from the books that the Brits used "claret" for good and sufficient reasons.

I'll revert with links to the books themselves in due course. It's clear, though, that American writers were using the word to describe all red wines in the 1850-1900 period. It's also clear that British writers during that period -- there was relatively little Bordeaux drunk for the 150 years before 1850 as shown by British sources -- changed the French name for "vin de Bordeaux" to "Claret". At the same time, they used the French names for Champagne and Burgundy just as the French were doing.

The reason is not hard to find; as one British traveller put it neatly, much "Claret" was perhaps from France but not necessarily of Bordeaux, or even of France itself.

I'll revert with the proofs, as they say.

I do have to thank you for raising this point, Peter; it always puzzled me since I got interested in wine why the French (the porducers and consumers) and the English (consumers) used different names for wines from Bordeaux -- and for no other French wine.

Regards, Bob
Last edited by Bob Ross on Wed Jan 17, 2007 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Thomas » Wed Jan 17, 2007 10:56 am

Peter May wrote:
Thomas wrote:

Without a reason for the wine other than the above, Meritage has about as much meaning as Goats Do Roam--proprietary, in the hope of capitalizing from a "known" entity.



There's quite a difference. Meritage alerts the consumer that the wine is a Bordeaux style blend without using the world Bordeaux (or Claret :).
I think its a great idea.

Now what needed is a word for Rhone type wines


Peter,

You are hung up on the name, I am talking about the wine.

Meritage assures only that the grapes that went into making the wine are the grapes used in Bordeaux. It says nothing about the style of the wine. As I've posted, I have tasted many Meritage that have not reminded me of Bordeaux.

I don't see the point in the name if it guarantees nothing but the blending of certain grapes. I do see its point if it guarantees a measurable level either of quality or at the very least identifies percentages of each grape allowed.
Last edited by Thomas on Wed Jan 17, 2007 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Thomas » Wed Jan 17, 2007 11:03 am

Bob Ross wrote:"The fact that others misuse the name (as Americans, Australians & others have done for Burgundy, Chablis, Port etc) is well known."

Peter, let's focus on "Claret", a fascinating history. I've had great fun reading from original sources using Google's Book search feature over the past 24 hours. As I mentioned, Coppolo's lawyers don't need my help, but it's clear from the books that the Brits used "claret" for good and sufficient reasons.

I'll revert with links to the books themselves in due course. It's clear, though, that American writers were using the word to describe all red
wines in the 1850-1900 period. It's also clear that British writers during that period -- there was relatively little Bordeaux drunk for the 150 years before 1850 as shown by British sources -- changed the French name for "vin de Bordeaux" to "Claret". At the same time, they used the French names for Champagne and Burgundy just as the French were doing.

The reason is not hard to find; as one British traveller put it neatly, much "Claret" was perhaps from France but not necessarily of Bordeaux, or even of France itself.

I'll revert with the proofs, as they say.

I do have to thank you for raising this point, Peter; it always puzzled me why the French (the porducers and consumers) and the English (consumers) used different names for wines from Boirdeaux -- and for no other French wine.

Regards, Bob


I've done similar reading on this subject. It's clear to me that the British may have referred to Bordeaux red wine as Claret, but the French used the word Clairet or variant Clairette for a separate wine and/or grape.

Since Claret is not a term applied by the producer of the wine, I believe it neither should it be--nor is it--protected. I do not, however, feel this way about place names and producer proprietary names, which should be protected.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Peter May » Wed Jan 17, 2007 11:31 am

Thomas wrote:
Meritage assures only that the grapes that went into making the wine are the grapes used in Bordeaux. It says nothing about the style of the wine. As I've posted, I have tasted many Meritage that have not reminded me of Bordeaux.

I don't see the point in the name if it guarantees nothing but the blending of certain grapes. I do see its point if it guarantees a measurable level either of quality or at the very least identifies percentages of each grape allowed.


Would, by any chance, those Meritages that do not taste like Claret be from California? :)

If so, I'm not surprised if they don't taste the same. That is not the point. If you want Claret, buy Bordeaux.

We have got used to varietal wines, but what about when a wine is a blend of 3, 4 or 5 varieties? How to put over quickly and simply the blend? We use terms like a Rhone blend, and a Bordeaux blend to indicate the cepage. But how much better to use a new word. I like Meritage.

And when I buy a AC Bordeaux do I have any guarantee of style, quality or cepage? Its only recently that Bordeaux Chateaux have publicised their cepages, but few bottles bear that information.

If you see a Meritage on the wine shelf, you know its a Cabernet or Merlot based blend; its not Shiraz, Zin or whatever.

What's not to like?
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Wed Jan 17, 2007 11:56 am

"If you want Claret, buy Bordeaux."

But Peter, that is such a modern definition of the word "Claret". In the 1850 - 1900 period, and perhaps later "claret" sold in England was made of a wide variety of grapes -- vin de Bordeaux, perhaps, but almost certainly Hermitage if there was vin de Bordeaux in the blend, and demonstrably Spanish and Portuguese wines as well.

And there was nothing wrong with that -- an importer or retailer couldn't be prosecuted for misrepresenting those blends as "claret" -- the word was being used in England, just as it was in the States -- as a descriptor of red wine with no guarantee of source. The situation was quite different for wines sold in England as Champagne or Burgundy -- or as vin de Bordeaux for that matter; then the source of the grapes was clearly represented in the name of the wine.

It's quite revealing to read the travelogues of knowledgeable British writers during the 1850-1900 period and to see their surprise that people in Bordeaux didn't know what "claret" was -- that despite Redding in the 1830s and Shaw in 1864 and 1865 describing the situation so clearly.

There was clearly a disconnect between "claret" and "vin de Bordeaux" during that long period of vinous history in England.

To answer your Coppolo question directly: Coppolo started the Diamond series when he merged two vineyards, and used "Claret" in the well established California sense of a red wine, in this case incorporating a classic Bordeaux blend, with the grapes coming from a variety of sources (and I'm sure trading on the positive connotations of the word "Claret" for marketing purposes.) Not much of a wine in my judgment -- it needs some marketing pizzaz.

Regards, Bob
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Thomas » Wed Jan 17, 2007 2:40 pm

Peter,

Are you aware how many grape varieties there are, and the potential blend count possible? Should we have a name for each blend?

Again, a name just to identify the grapes in the blend, and not even the percentages, let alone the quality level, says absolutely nothing to me. Meritage is not proprietary, it is a generality. Just list the blend on the back label, thank you very much.

I don't expect a California wine to taste like a Bordeaux, but you were the one who said that Meritage indicates a wine style, and if it is the blending of Bordeaux grapes, then the implication is that Meritage indicates wine in the style of Bordeaux--I am sure that was the intent behind the ruse in the first place. But it isn't necessasrily so.

Tell you the truth, I am not much of a fan of varietal labeling. I prefer wine standing on its merits as a single, individual product from a certain place and/or producer. But I was reared in the European wine sphere...what does that make people like us? Humanachronisms? ;)
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Thomas » Wed Jan 17, 2007 5:58 pm

Bob Ross wrote:You know, Thomas, after reading so much about Ray in the Tendrils, I wondered who might take his place today.

Your name never entered my mind -- until I read your post.

Honest, it didn't. ( :-) )

But on second thought, you might well be a worthy successor.

Regards, Bob


Yeah, Bob, but I live on a hill; he lived on a mountain...more lofty!!!

Reading about him (and Amerine) in Tendrils has been fascinating.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Isaac » Wed Jan 17, 2007 6:47 pm

It's kind of like coming from Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens or Manhattan ... you're still from New York, right?
Gee, I've been told repeatedly that only Manhattan is really New York.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Isaac » Wed Jan 17, 2007 6:54 pm

Peter May wrote:
Bob Ross wrote:
This note seems pretty self confident to me, Peter.


The fact that others misuse the name (as Americans, Australians & others have done for Burgundy, Chablis, Port etc) is well known

Coppola stole and misused the name. His wine isn't Claret and never will be. I wonder why he wants to use the name?
Because he doesn't want to pay the Meritage Association fee, of course.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Thomas » Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:02 pm

I've decided to make my thoughts about Meritage known tomorrow on my blog, vinofictions.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Isaac » Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:04 pm

Peter May wrote:
Thomas wrote:
If you see a Meritage on the wine shelf, you know its a Cabernet or Merlot based blend; its not Shiraz, Zin or whatever.
Unfortunately, this is not necessarily true. It may not be on the wine itself, but it may be on the shelf...

Red Meritage
Note that Shiraz is prominent in the so-called Australian Red Meritage wines. In other wines listed as Red Meritage, one might find Syrah (yes, I know, same grape), Sangiovese, Petite Sirah, or Zinfandel.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Gary Barlettano » Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:11 pm

Thomas wrote:I've decided to make my thoughts about Meritage known tomorrow on my blog, vinofictions.


Hmmm, you'll claret all up for us then! :lol:
And now what?
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Maria Samms » Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:47 pm

Gary Barlettano wrote:
Thomas wrote:I've decided to make my thoughts about Meritage known tomorrow on my blog, vinofictions.


Hmmm, you'll claret all up for us then! :lol:


Oh Gary...please don't quit your day job...LOL!! Of course I really did have to laugh out loud when I read it!
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Thomas » Wed Jan 17, 2007 8:05 pm

Gary Barlettano wrote:
Thomas wrote:I've decided to make my thoughts about Meritage known tomorrow on my blog, vinofictions.


Hmmm, you'll claret all up for us then! :lol:


A good one Gary, meritorageous.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Victorwine » Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:14 am

This discussion brings to mind the short but informative history of Joseph Phelep’s Insignia wine written by Paul Lukas, in his book The Great Wines of America. Back in the 70’s the US federal government rules and regulations required that at least 51% of a wine come from a single variety in order for the wine to be labeled as such. (In 1983, the federal requirement was raised to 75%). Joseph Phelep’s vision or goal was to produce the “best wine” he could. So instead of being hampered by rules and regulations, he gave his winemakers the green light and freedom to use whatever percentages they judged would produce the “best wine”. In other words use different grape varieties in different proportions depending on the vintage. The whole idea behind this was, to pay more attention to overall composition than to individual components. (“Old World” thinking- “assemblage”). The term “Insignia” came to Joseph Phelep when he was shaving one morning.

Salute
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:42 am

Short progress report, Peter.

I've got a quote from William Penn circa 1682 writing a letter to Lord Halifax and describing Pennsylvania grapes as producing "Claret wine."

Another source dates the first English reference to "Claret wine" from Bordeaux at circa 1700.

This might turn into an interesting horse race after all. :-)

More anon.

Regards, Bob
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Graeme Gee » Thu Jan 18, 2007 1:55 am

I'm following with great interest, Bob. I don't think any commercial Australian makers (commercial = wines for sale) use the term 'claret' anymore. It was in the list of prohibited names that Australian makers agreed to forsake in order to export to the EU. So, no surprises there. But it did always strike me as odd that claret was on the list, as it was the only one that (to me) seemed more a 'style' term and not a geographic one. I know the historical association with Bordeaux (the general one), but there must have been special dispensation to get it on the list, surely? Pretty well all the other terms protected would have been enshrined in the AC / DOC etc... rules of the winemaking countries concerned, and I'd be fairly confident about predicting that the AOC doesn't say anything about 'claret'...
Equally problematic - perhaps more so - were 'port' and 'sherry' - being English bastardizations of legitimate foreign place names. On the grounds that wine should be protected by virtue of its place of origin, then port and sherry ought not be used. But 'claret' is plainly not a place. It strikes me that it was on the list for marketing reasons, rather than terroir-based ones...
cheers,
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Thu Jan 18, 2007 3:17 am

Thanks for chiming in Graeme. It's surprisingly hard for me to find Australian sources for what is proving to be a very interesting story.

I'm going to start a new thread -- entitled one would not be surprised to learn -- "A Study in 'Claret'". Please chime in with any Aussie sources at the appropriate times.

I'm relying only on original sources, available only on the Internet, and except for the OED, for free.

I'm flabbergasted at what I've found so far, and really eager to share the story with others.

Regards, and thanks so much for chiming in. Bob
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Peter May » Thu Jan 18, 2007 7:43 am

Isaac wrote:
Peter May wrote:
Thomas wrote:
If you see a Meritage on the wine shelf, you know its a Cabernet or Merlot based blend; its not Shiraz, Zin or whatever.
Unfortunately, this is not necessarily true. It may not be on the wine itself, but it may be on the shelf...

Red Meritage
Note that Shiraz is prominent in the so-called Australian Red Meritage wines. In other wines listed as Red Meritage, one might find Syrah (yes, I know, same grape), Sangiovese, Petite Sirah, or Zinfandel.



No doubt in 20 years or so, Bob will be using this as evidence that Meritage never meant more than a blend. :)
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