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Jeff Lefevere

Jeff Lefevere

TMiW 2 – The Tastes They Are A-Changin’

by Tim Elliott on February 26, 2012

This Month in Wine artworkJeff Lefevere and I return to review the top wine stories of the past month including tongue-twisting wine names, a disturbing wine manifesto, trends in wine marketing, the stellar 2009 Bordeaux vintage and much more.

Hosts: Tim Elliott and Jeff Lefevere


  • If the wine is hard to pronounce, is it worth more?
  • Has wine lost it’s romance?
  • The Slow Wine movement
  • 2009 Bordeaux: vintage of the century?
  • Will drinking too much wine give you cancer?
  • Million Dollar Day for WinesTilSoldOut.com
  • Wine’s 2011 Report Card
  • Moet Hennessy aims for super-premium red wine from China
  • Are Americans’ Tastes Changing?
  • Wine discounting trends
  • Randall Grahm and The State of the Modest Winery
  • Follow-up on QR codes from last month


  • 2012 New York Wine Expo: March 2-4, New York City
  • 2012 World of Pinot Noir Tasting: March 2-3, Shell Beach, CA
  • Paso Robles Wine Country’s 2012 Zinfandel Festival, March 17, 2012
  • Wine Blogging Wednesday 75, Single Vineyard, March 21st
  • Rhone Rangers, San Francisco, March 24-25
  • For events near you check out Local Wine Events

Links discussed on the show

This podcast is brought to you by audible.com – get a FREE audiobook download at www.audibletrial.com/winecast
Feedback: thismonthinwine@gmail.com
Copyright 2012 Acan Media, Inc. Licensed under Creative Commons.



TMiW 1 – Looking Back, Looking Forward

by Tim Elliott on January 29, 2012

This Month in Wine artworkThis is the premier episode of This Month in Wine, a monthly discussion about what is going on within the wine world from a consumer and insider perspective.

Hosts: Tim Elliott and Jeff Lefevere


  • What’s up with Good Grape?
  • Is wine blogging on the decline?
  • Wine Trends & Predictions for 2012
  • Value Replaces Cheap
  • Wine Regulation Reform Continues
  • Sweet Wines Continue Growth
  • Blends Come Back in Vogue
  • Green Packaging Booms
  • Chinese Wine Market Continues To Show Influence
  • Recovery of Wine Market
  • Low Alcohol Wines
  • Natural Wines


  • Wine Blogging Wednesday 74, Feb. 15th, Value Sparkling Wine
  • Dark & Delicious, February 17, 2012, Alameda, CA
  • San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Public Tasting, February 18, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
  • For wine events near you check out Local Wine Events

Links discussed on the show

This podcast is brought to you by audible.com – get a FREE audiobook download at www.audibletrial.com/winecast
Feedback: thismonthinwine@gmail.com
Copyright 2012 Acan Media, Inc. Licensed under Creative Commons.


Caveat Vini

by Tim Elliott on January 16, 2011

Good Grape is one of my favorite wine blogs. Written by Jeff Lefevere, who is my collaborator on the Unfiltered podcast, the blog always digs deep into the world and business of wine. I think of it as the New Yorker of wine blogs as it’s rare to see wine coverage of such depth in the blogosphere (or really in mainstream consumer press).

Good Grape mastheadSo I was interested in Jeff’s adventures with Groupon as chronicled in his post yesterday. If you are plugged into social media marketing, as both Jeff and I are in our day jobs, you have no doubt heard about group buying sites like Groupon and Living Social. The idea is simple; present a compelling offer — many times 50-75% off retail — and set a minimum threshold of buyers for this offer to lock in. If you reach that number, everyone is charged for the deal and gets their coupon to use for the product or service. If the threshold is not reached, the merchant does not have to extend the discount. This method ensures there is a large enough group of customers for the merchant in order for them to justify the discounts. And it encourages people to share the deal with their social graph on Twitter and Facebook extending the advertisers’ reach.

Jeff’s adventure started with a $75 voucher for online wine merchant Barclay’s Wine he bought for $25. After perusing the selection at hand, Jeff became enamored with their selection of library wines and decided to purchase a bottle of 1996 Gran Vino Enologica Rioja, Gran Reserva. Since he only paid $25, Jeff thought he was safe betting, “the house money,” on his selection. But when he received the wine he quickly came to the conclusion something was amiss.

Before telling the rest of this tale, a quick aside for some hard-won, personal advice. When you see a smoking good deal in wine, it’s rarely a deal at all. In my experience, I’ve only been able to get a couple of steals; one was at a trusted fine wine shop that just need to move some inventory. The other was a Ridge Merlot from the 1970’s at Trader Joe’s for $4 back in 1983. Every other time I’ve taken a flyer on some unbelievable deal, I’ve been disappointed or worse. But Jeff’s deal here sounds like a decent bet as the wine sold for $62.50. The deal part comes from his Groupon voucher.

Going back to Jeff’s wine, it look promising on paper with a glance at a vintage chart showing an 85 from Robert Parker and an 88 from Wine Spectator who noted, “Balanced wines with good fruit and firm structure.” Gran Reserva, the highest designation for Spanish wine, was made by many producers in 1996 including Marques de Riscal and Bodegas Montecillo. So this was a good vintage for Rioja wines overall if Jeff had consulted internet sources before his purchase.

When the wine arrived Jeff noticed a couple things that concerned him. The label on the bottle looked brand new and the bottle itself seemed very light for a wine bottled in the late 1990’s. His first concern would not have raised any red flags with me since I saw piles of unlabeled Rioja in caves when I visited there in 2007. Known in the trade as “shiners“, not labeling wines in Spain is a common practice as this allows the producer to label for the importer and not affix those ugly strips to the bottle you often see with French and Italian wines. So it’s not a surprise that Jeff’s wine was labeled last year when it was sold to the importer. But the light bottle would have concerned me as a producer would not bottle their most prized wine in a cheap bottle nor go to the trouble of re-bottling a great wine just to save a few Euro in shipping costs.

I’ll let you hit the source link for the rest of the story but let’s just say this is a cautionary tale for anyone buying older vintages from unknown producers. A bit of pre-purchase Googling is always recommended.

via Good Grape: A Wine Manifesto

The Future of Wine Writing

by Tim Elliott on May 31, 2009

The Wine Advocate
Image via Wikipedia

“There’s something happening here / What it is ain’t exactly clear…”  — Stephen Stills, “For What It’s Worth”

I’ve been away from the blog for much of this month but have been keeping up with my reading and, oh course, tweeting. A few weeks ago Tyler Colman, who blogs as Dr Vino, posted some legitimate questions about policies at The Wine Advocate. What transpired was a discussion of wine writer ethics that at one point featured Robert Parker labeling wine blogs, “…the source of much of the misinformation,distortion,and egegious falsehoods spread with reckless abandon…”

Needless to say, I was not pleased with this comment and wrote a 3,000 word response that concluded with some advice for Mr. Parker, open letter-style. But I never published that post because I thought it would not really do anything positive except, perhaps, make me feel a bit better. Fellow bloggers Joel Vincent and Joe Roberts covered this ground a bit more diplomatically than I did, but with much the same tone.

So I was somewhat surprised to see this issue rehashed this week in the Wall Street Journal. Another discussion broke out on the subject on eBob which was somewhat capped off by a mea culpa of sorts by Mr. Parker. In my book, case closed, but I’m sure there will be some additional chatter in the blogosphere because it creates more traffic and comments.

But I think all this raises a more fundimental question; what is the future of wine writing?

Jeff Lefevere over at Good Grape made a good point about bell curves the other day and it’s clear that dominance of The Wine Advocate and other wine review newsletters is on the downward slope of the curve. Local newspapers are cutting back on wine writers even in big metros such as Los Angeles and New York. As I’ve written here before, I don’t think there is a great future for wine glossies such as the Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast unless they transform their business models quickly and figure out how to make money online.

So the future is wine blogs, right? Perhaps, but there are some, such as Alice Feiring, who doubt it as she recently blogged:

And who knows if wine writing will exist in any form. If what only exists is the blog world, God help us. I’m not saying that some of my colleagues don’t give great blog, but finding the knowledgeble folk who don’t have something to ‘sell’ is tough. And then finding some voices who have done homework is even tougher.

Whatever the format, there will be a void in wine writing in the next decade that will be filled by new voices. With the rise of Millennials as major wine consumers, this format will no doubt be digital and presented online in several contexts (text, video, audio, mobile). The question at hand is if the serious wine consumer of the future will pay for this information or will expect this to be freely available and ad supported.

My gut tells me it will be a bit of both but I seriously doubt there will be a solo critic success story like Robert Parker. It’s not because the talent doesn’t exist but that the circumstances are vastly different than they were 30 years ago when Mr. Parker got his start. Back then you didn’t have to be independently wealthy in order to sample the top wines of the world. You could buy them and share them with friends at weekend tastings where everyone chipped in for the wines. This is how the wines for The Wine Advocate were financed along with Mr. Parker’s rather generous personal wine budget (how he talked his wife into this early on would make a great story, but I digress).

Today it is nearly impossible for the independent wine blogger to buy the sufficient amount of wine to provide the breadth of coverage required to attract enough readers to make a wine blog financially viable. Yes, we do receive samples but this alone doesn’t provide enough tasting opportunities; the reviewer still needs to travel and purchase more wines at retail. Both not easy given the current economic climate but even in better times one would have to spend at least $100,000 a year in order to review enough wines to make a serious go of it.

EngadgetBut I do think that several wine bloggers working together at a single blog is the future of wine writing. Each could cover a wine region or variety in depth and in aggregate this content would attract enough of an audience to sell sponsorships, drive affiliate programs and other monetization opportunities. Think Engadget but for wine.

I think we will see such a blog launch yet in 2009 and there will be several existing wine bloggers who will be convinced to write for this site as they continue to maintain their own blogs. The “Robert Parker of the future” will be a blogger but I doubt he or she will go it alone. But together, even a small team could create enough content and traffic to build the next wine publishing empire.

The time is now; the question is who will step up and try to do this first?

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