Wine Spectator 90+ under $15 in 2005

Submitted to Wine Life Today is a link to Wine Spectator’s list of 90+ rated wines under $15.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, if you can still find these wines out there then WS just did you a favor!

Here are a couple links to retailer (via Wine Searcher or Wine Fetch)


Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc Sonoma County 2002

Enjoy the Wine Life!

(P.S. – Vivi’s Wine Journal is in no way associated with these wine shops and makes no garuantees, explicitly or implicitly, as to their reputation or quality of service.  I just found the cheap, good wines so I thought I’d pass it on)

The ANTI-grassroots campaign – How NOT to market your wine

While the wine blogosphere isn’t exactly a market maker it does represent, more so with every new entrant, a nice cross section of wine drinkers that can relate to each other and forms a loose social network around a common interest – wine. Wine bloggers may not be fast friends but if a couple were to get together in a bar or something at least we know we’d have something to talk about.’s Tim posted about how a fellow wine blogger, Cam of Appellation Australia, posted a negative review of some Graeme Miller Wines. Cam starts out with a very kind intro/warning:

Graeme Miller Wines (Yarra Valley) – The owners of this winery were very friendly and I hope that the wines I tried were off-bottles rather than being representative. As always though, I can only review what is in the glass.

He proceeded to post a negative review of the three wines he tried:

Sauvignon Blanc 2005 – Easy drinking with some tropical fruit on the nose and a crisp palate. 86/100

Chardonnay 2005 – Seems faulty – burnt rubber and smoke and earth with a dirty taste on the palate. 75/100

Rosé 2005 – I’m sorry to say this, but this was the most faulty wine I have ever tasted. Dominant onion skins, rubber, and some barnyard characters on the nose with the palate living up to the promise of the nose. 50/100

Innocent enough. If you’re a blogger, you SURELY have blogged negatively on a tasting

note before. And its your right to. What was the winery’s response? Well as, TORBwine notes the events, four months later they sent this response:

Cam Wheeler,

I request that all comments referring to our wines on your web site Appellations be removed or we will follow up with legal action.

Graeme Miller

WHAT!?!? Legal action based on the opinion of a publisher (which is exactly what a blogger is)? This is such an obsurdity that I just had to relay the story, and re-broadcast the negative reviews.

So you see, the lesson for marketeers here is two fold:

  • Unless it is truly slanderous and presents information as fact without any actual data to back it up or is presenting proprietary information protected under some pre-existing non-disclosure agreement, KEEP THAT STUPID E-MAIL TO YOURSELF! Your only recourse is to pull advertising dollars away from the publication…oh wait – most bloggers don’t actually MAKE advertising money. We do it simply to improve the Wine Life for everyone. Ooops.
  • If you do send an e-mail you need to treat it as public information – it will get out. An email like this will live on for a long time and draw more attention to the tasting note that you didn’t like in the first place rather than letting a single blogger’s negative review die a natural death as it would’ve fairly quickly.

Sorry Graeme, whom ever your legal counsel and marketing people are have given you some very poor advice.

Cam, I hope you read this because I appreciate your time and effort in blogging and I especially appreciate HONEST reviews. Fight the power!

oh yeah, and Enjoy the Wine Life!

Shutting down “trackbacks”…

Unfortunately, as much as I like trackbacks, Vivi’s is approaching 2 years old, has a Google PageRank of 5 out of 10 (quite high), and is therefore attracting more than just good visitors, its attracting “trackback spam”.  I guess it was only a matter of time before Unix tools figured out a way to automate trackbacks and ruin what should be a nice community, link-exchanging tool.

Anyway, I will be shutting down trackbacks unless its for a special posting like the WBW or other events.

Enjoy the Wine Life!

How to get started in wines…

If you’re interested, read on.  I’ve gotten many of these inquiries and here is what I tell them and so far so good…

There are a million ways to do it.  Everyone has a story.  Mine begins with tales of teenage drinking and a couple of old gentlemen named “Bartles & James”.  Oh please, you all know what I’m talking about.  OK, maybe you’re a little younger and “ZIMA” is more of an relative beginning – in which case its debateable who had the “wussy”-er introduction to alchoholic beverages…but I digress.

My wine drinking in earnest began (get ready for another groan moment) with White Zinfandel over 15 years ago.  I progressed to more “premium” wines a little later when my father came to San Francisco to visit (at the time he had been here more often then I had) and took Kelly and I to Scoma’s at the Wharf.  There he ordered a bottle of 1994 Geyser Peak Merlot (I haven’t checked but it must have been one of their best vintages) and it went so well with the seafood in red sauce dish I had that I was just stunned (as was Kelly).  Then I spent time in Napa and got to know more and more.  But there was a problem – how do I explore wines without breaking the bank?

Since then I’ve had multiple people ask that same question.  Where do I start?  The most

recent was from my older brother who checks this blog periodically and was wondering the same thing.  He normally just bought stuff on a guess and it was hit and miss.  So I’m going to tell you, would-be, starting out collector/enthusiast, what I told him and several others.

Alot of people don’t want to hear it but start with Wine Spectator.  Yeah, yeah, advertising dollars and missing small wineries, blah blah blah.  But hear me out.  Explore some wines this way:

  • Go to and sign up.  It costs $50 for a year but it’ll be worth it.
  • In the paid area they have something called “Advance” – its a newsletter that will give you the ratings of wines before they hit the newsstands.
  • Find a wine in there that retails for around $20 and is rated really high (90+)
  • Now go to either or (you can pay for to get better results).  Search for the wine you just got from “Advance”.
  • Get the wine shipped to you and enjoy!

Why does this work?  Simple, if you don’t know anything about wines (or not much) what Wine Spectator is good for is the way the rate wines.  Their editorial staff have “beats” which means they taste only certain regions or wines.  So when a Merlot gets a 92, that is compared to the many many Merlots that they’ve tried.  This should give you an idea of what a pretty decent Merlot should taste like.  Same is true for other varietals and regions they taste.  Because of this vertical focus you can use their ratings to begin to understand what a good “XYZ” wine should taste like.  What you’ll also learn is that a 92 rated Merlot may please you tremendously while a 92 rate Pinot tastes bad.  Well, you’re learning that you haven’t developed a taste for Pinots quite yet.  Thats good!  Avoid plunking down $100 on a Pinot in a restaraunt for now (I say for now because you’ll find you tastes changing over time).

Yes, there are those who will BALK at the talk of using Wine Spectator as a guide for wines and maybe someday social computing can help but really if you’re saying to yourself “I keep hearing about Australian wines.  Wonder which one to try?” – if you use this method and get an idea of what one tastes like you’ll expand your horizons. 

Is it perfect?  No, but its a start.  Your friend can give you a recommendation but if they like Pinots and you don’t then their recommendation is worth what?

Good luck and Enjoy the Wine Life!

WBW23 Round up – BBQ Wines!

Whew! With the fanfare of the 4th of July in the US and World Cup 2006 everywhere else (sadly not as so much here…BTW – the Socceroos should be facing off against France! Tired of the European method actors!…) I was hoping that BBQ wines would attract a crowd and it surely has! We’ve got 24 entries, some with multiple wines, in this month’s edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday. The theme of BBQ wines drew alot of questions from the wine blogosphere – what is BBQ? BBQ or Grilled meats? Its the rainy season here so I’m not using my grill! – but I think that was the beauty of the topic. My brother moved to North Carolina several years ago and when I visited there we went to a BBQ joint. They didn’t have baby back ribs or grilled steak… they had slow roasted pork with a great sauce, almost in a Hawaiian style. It was very different, and very delicious.

So with this theme came many interpretations and I think there’s some advice in here for every type of BBQ/Grilled meat you might run into, hence I consider this a success.

Continue reading “WBW23 Round up – BBQ Wines!”

WBW#23 Round-up work…trackbacks

I’m working on the WBW round-up and I just wanted to let everyone know that the trackbacks came through.  I’ve been holding them up from publishing because trackback SPAM on this service (TypePad) has been smearing Vivi’s as of late

 so they all come to me for approval before they get published.  So, yes, I did recieve them and I’ll publish them soon!

Thanks everyone…