Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

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TomHill
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Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#1 Post by TomHill » December 19th, 2018, 8:53 am

Jon Bonne (a writer who is widely reviled, but whom I happen to like a lot) has an interesting article/list in Punch:
BonnePunchArticle
in which he tells how a wine must not just be good, but it also has to tell a story. Of course, if you're reviewing wines blind...there is no story to be told.
It also has his list of his Top 25 wines of the year. Pretty much a list that you'd expect of Jon...lots of esoteric stuff...but there's a story to be told with each one. Some on that list I'm gonna seek out.
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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#2 Post by Art R » December 19th, 2018, 9:07 am

Wine should taste good, or at least have a taste that is interesting or intriguing. The story (or narrative) is overplayed, maybe even trite at this point. I on't disagree that some on the list are worth trying.
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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#3 Post by Scott G r u n e r » December 19th, 2018, 9:16 am

The story clearly adds to the experience and can differentiate a wine, but agree that taste comes first.

You cannot overlook experience though- I can't count the number of times where I had an amazing wine experience, but when tasting the same wine at a later date, under less compelling circumstance, it felt a bit disappointing in comparison.

Of course personal story or connection to the wine is a bit different than what the article discussed- that clearly goes into the overall experience equation too.
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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#4 Post by johngonzales » December 19th, 2018, 9:23 am

The story is fluff. Barely significant, and certainly not important, to me.

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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#5 Post by Markus S » December 19th, 2018, 9:53 am

There are too many "stories" out there and many begin to sound the same:
- Company executive millionaire gets 'bored' making fistloads of cash and wants a 'simpler life'
- Big city couple pursue a country life with vines
- Sommelier wants to make wines instead of simply taste them
- Hippy wants to get 'back to the soil' but figures out they won't pay the bills making organic sauerkraut
- Foreigner finds Burgundy to be his or her soulmate

Stories might sell a wine, but oughtn't it not taste good?
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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#6 Post by Bob Davis » December 19th, 2018, 10:17 am

Scott G r u n e r wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 9:16 am
You cannot overlook experience though- I can't count the number of times where I had an amazing wine experience, but when tasting the same wine at a later date, under less compelling circumstance, it felt a bit disappointing in comparison.
My firends and I call this the "tasting room effect". Great when tasting at the winery. Bring some home, not so much.
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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#7 Post by Ken Zinns » December 19th, 2018, 10:53 am

TomHill wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 8:53 am
Jon Bonne (a writer who is widely reviled, but whom I happen to like a lot) has an interesting article/list in Punch:
BonnePunchArticle
in which he tells how a wine must not just be good, but it also has to tell a story. Of course, if you're reviewing wines blind...there is no story to be told.
It also has his list of his Top 25 wines of the year. Pretty much a list that you'd expect of Jon...lots of esoteric stuff...but there's a story to be told with each one. Some on that list I'm gonna seek out.
Tom
Thanks for the link, Tom. I haven't read the article yet but glanced through the Top 25 list. Esoteric but interesting list, and glad to see the G.D. Vajra "Claré J.C." Langhe Nebbiolo on there.
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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#8 Post by Jim Stewart » December 19th, 2018, 10:55 am

Markus S wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 9:53 am
There are too many "stories" out there and many begin to sound the same:
- Company executive millionaire gets 'bored' making fistloads of cash and wants a 'simpler life'
- Big city couple pursue a country life with vines
- Sommelier wants to make wines instead of simply taste them
- Hippy wants to get 'back to the soil' but figures out they won't pay the bills making organic sauerkraut
- Foreigner finds Burgundy to be his or her soulmate

Stories might sell a wine, but oughtn't it not taste good?
I like the way you keep us grounded with perspective and humor.
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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#9 Post by Matthew King » December 19th, 2018, 10:57 am

johngonzales wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 9:23 am
The story is fluff. Barely significant, and certainly not important, to me.
I disagree. Story is not paramount, but certainly more than "barely significant." Yes, what's in the bottle counts most. But there are so many quality wines out there that I do look for some point of differentiation.

I like the idea of supporting winemakers with an interesting back-story or that are fighting the current commercial tides in some idiosyncratic way. That's not to say I only buy wines from female goat-herders in the Azores, but I do like to support the "indie bookshop owners" of the wine world when I can.
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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#10 Post by Cris Whetstone » December 19th, 2018, 12:10 pm

Stories are for selling wines and experiences. They are less effective for drinking wines.
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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#11 Post by Subu Ramachandran » December 19th, 2018, 12:34 pm

Thanks Tom for pointing to Jon's article.

I hear its all about what's in the bottle. Many criticize stories about wine, but salivate for point scores. Wine magazines/ publications use points, the somms these days use stories to sell. Neither is useful. To me his top 25 list is (if anything) more intriguing than WS top of the year list.

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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#12 Post by Ian Dorin » December 19th, 2018, 12:53 pm

This stinks just a little bit of a punch back at Bobby Stuckey, no?

What I did a appreciate was the link to W-S. Those wines are REALLY obscure, and really hard to find (unless you live in Manhattan or Brooklyn), os any one reading hopefully sees those links.
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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#13 Post by Frank Murray III » December 19th, 2018, 1:04 pm

Tom, thanks for the link. Gonna look up Domaine Nowack and see if I can find a bottle of their stuff. I geek out with Champagne and had not seen this producer before.
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2012 Marguet La Grande Ruelle Ambonnay

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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#14 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » December 19th, 2018, 3:03 pm

I will admit to liking the story, the history of the estate. I think like many things in life, connections are great. If it's just about pure pleasure, perhaps it gets a bit boring. The pleasure to me can be enhanced when all of my faculties are engaged. That's one of the reasons I generally do not like blind tasting. Now of course, the wine must taste fine as well, but it also needs to taste honest. Honest about the variety, honest about the terroir.

A good story also needs to be meaningful; marketing BS is not a story, its just marketing hype.

Haven't most of us bought into the story of Bedrock? It's the only Cali winery where I am on the list. Sure the wines taste mighty fine, but the story of Morgan and Chris, how they started the winery, how they respect the vineyards and seek the storied, old vine heritage vineyards. Now that is a wonderful story. I support that, I like reading it, I like drinking the wines and thinking about what they mean. Now compare that to a storied estate like Chateau de St. Cosme from Gigondas. It's been in the same family since like the 1400s. I loved the story, but then loved that story less and less as the winery moved away from what I considered to be the storied style of that region, into a more modern approach that was critic-dominated, points-oriented. So that's a story that I care less about these days.

A real, honest story matters to me. Buying great wine is easy. I like a bit more: A sense of place, varietally correct, typicity, connectivity. Call me a dork, a romantic, or perhaps even a naive fool, but I like what I buy and it likes me back.

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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#15 Post by Sc0tt F!tzger@ld » December 19th, 2018, 3:13 pm

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 3:03 pm
A real, honest story matters to me.
Quality and enjoyment being equal, I would agree. Fun to think about the different aspects of how the wine came to pass, when it’s a great story.

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Neal Rosenthal...

#16 Post by TomHill » December 19th, 2018, 3:28 pm

I like the quote made by Neal Rosenthal: “Great wines pave a pathway to memories “.
To me, the “story” is part of those memories. I can’t drink a Ridge Geyserville w/o it stirring up memories of walking that vnyd with DaveGates or up on the MB knoll with DaveBennion tasting in the shivering cold.
Does that influence how I taste the wine? Of course it does. Probably adds another 2 pts to the score I award the wine!!
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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#17 Post by Anton D » December 19th, 2018, 4:05 pm

Hmmm, I wonder, does he use the term "virtuous" to describe any wines?

Do wines taste honorable, moral, ethical, virtuous, righteous, upright, upstanding, high-minded, honest, or incorruptible?

Is a decadent wine one that tastes a certain way, or is it describing a debauched wine producer?

I need more data.

I get the part about liking a story, but does he need to know what kind of person a singer or composer is before enjoying a piece of music? Does it matter to him if Sinatra hit women, or can he listen to "One For My Baby" and enjoy it on its own? Do you have to know John Irving's personal profile to like Cider House Rules? Can he watch 'Manhattan' knowing Woody Allen's story?

I'd twist that quote from Neal Rosenthal and ask: Do “Great stories necessarily pave a pathway to great wine?"

I admit to a significant degree of 'story apathy,' but do like the good stories!
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Re: Neal Rosenthal...

#18 Post by Cris Whetstone » December 19th, 2018, 4:27 pm

TomHill wrote:
December 19th, 2018, 3:28 pm
I like the quote made by Neal Rosenthal: “Great wines pave a pathway to memories “.
To me, the “story” is part of those memories. I can’t drink a Ridge Geyserville w/o it stirring up memories of walking that vnyd with DaveGates or up on the MB knoll with DaveBennion tasting in the shivering cold.
Does that influence how I taste the wine? Of course it does. Probably adds another 2 pts to the score I award the wine!!
Tom
That't a great quote from Neal. I have to point out it says nothing about stories. It's possible to link them of course but I think Neal likely meant something about the memories created consuming the wines. That can certainly be at the estate of origin. Or it could be at home among two people who know nothing about the wine or where it came from.
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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#19 Post by BlaineRyanHunt » December 19th, 2018, 7:16 pm

Although I enjoy most of the wines that he champions, I couldn’t care less for Bonne’s writing.

He has made a career of rehashing the same pot-stirring titles: “Does Beaujolais Deserve a Place at the Table?” “Is the Mainstream Ready For Chinon?” Every wine lover, even the most old school traditionalist, can—and will—recognize the quality of wine coming from these regions.

He also reminds me of a 50-year-old liberal arts professor, casually dropping “f bombs” into his writing to prove he’s still an anti-authority hipster.

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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#20 Post by David Glasser » December 19th, 2018, 8:52 pm

The first job of a wine is to perform on a sensory level. I get that the story can add a dimension. It often does. So can the company and food and other circumstances surrounding the drinking of a bottle. If a wine doesn’t appeal, the story doesn’t make it taste better. And a wine can be great without a special story.

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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#21 Post by Rohan K. » December 20th, 2018, 9:10 am

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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#22 Post by Mike Francisco » December 20th, 2018, 10:23 am

I think "the story" Jon is referencing is as much in the bottle as on the winery website. There a allot of wines out there that are engineered to please but say nothing about where they are from and are manufactured for no other reason then to sell and make money. Yes a wines first job is to taste good but I want more. I like the wine to tell me about where it is from, about the people behind it, what they are trying to express. Why they had to make this wine, this way. Like a great restaurant the food must be delicious but also have something to say.

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Re: Bonne: The Wines Must Tell a Story

#23 Post by Gerhard P. » December 20th, 2018, 11:14 am

Wines don´t tell stories ... people around wine(s) do ...
but (great) wines should have distinct personality ...
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