Monday, October 08, 2012

A Brief History of Merlot

Beer has its anti-lager louts: you know, those 'craft' beer drinkers who refuse to recognize finesse or elegance unless packaged with 100 bittering units. Wine has its ABC-ers: anything but chardonnay they say, mistakenly equating a winemaker's oaky-sin with a wine-grower's grape. Red wine's analogue might be merlot,whose reputation has suffered recently, in some quarters.

So, here from the Wine Spectator Magazine:

'A Brief History of Merlot' Wins 2012 Wine Spectator Video Contest

It’s a familiar tale of failure and redemption. This time, though, the hero isn’t a politician or a movie star. It’s a grape. “A Brief History of Merlot” combined storytelling, education and humor, and won the popular vote as best wine video in Wine Spectator’s sixth annual contest.

Submitted by Gundlach Bundschu Winery of California’s Sonoma Valley, the video slyly uses a movie to earn back the credibility destroyed by an earlier movie, drawing a sympathetic portrait of the varietal that received a sound drubbing in the film Sideways.

In 2004, wine snob Miles had whined to his Sideways sidekick, "If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am not drinking any f***ing Merlot." Movie-goers reacted, demand fell and Merlot acreage in Sonoma County dropped by nearly 50 percent. But now the finicky grape is back home in vineyards where it belongs, and the overall quality of Merlot has improved.

Reflecting this real-world drama, the video’s story arc follows the journey of a classical hero. Starting off on top of the world, he loses everything, then goes on a quest, overcoming challenges to find his way home and ultimately "getting his mojo back."

“We wanted to tell a story and have a lot of fun with it,” said Jeff Bundschu, president of Gundlach Bundschu. Marketing director Susan Sueiro wrote and directed the entry, which has a music video feel. It wasn’t hard finding “some willing friends who weren’t afraid to put on disco clothes,” continued Jeff, “because it’s not hard to throw a party around here. You just open some wine and it all works.”

This year’s contest drew entries from all over the world and broke the record for the largest number of voters. Among the finalists, "Winemaking in Thailand" finished second, and "Finger Lakes = Riesling" took third.

  • Say it: "GOOND-lock BUN-shoo."
  • Caveat lector: As a representative for Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virginia— I sell the wines of Gundlach-Bundschu.

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