ATF Follies - Printable Version

+- WineBoard (
+-- Forum: GENERAL (/forumdisplay.php?fid=100)
+--- Forum: Rants & Raves (/forumdisplay.php?fid=12)
+--- Thread: ATF Follies (/showthread.php?tid=12391)

- danberger - 01-06-1999 03:01 PM

From my newsletter: ATF is at it again. It has approved "crafted and bottled by'' on a wine label. Add that to "selected," "discovered," "vinted" and a whole bunch of other meaningless terms. Meanwhile, the term Reserve has never been defined. Any more contributions to this ATF bobble are welcomed.
Dan Berger

- Botafogo - 01-06-1999 03:47 PM

How About "The wine from the treatment of the idea stolen from a concept by" like they do in the movies????

I do believe that "Selected by" if followed by an actual, accountable person's name is a very good thing. If you happen upon any bottles that say "Selezzione di Roberto Giovanni", that's ME! And I stand behind every bottle as being something unique, interesting, food friendly and almost guaranteed to get a low score in the Speculum. One of our wines (a Vivace Barbera that said on the label in Italian that it was sparkling and should be served chilled but was dissed as "re-fermenting in the bottle") was THE LOWEST RATED WINE THIS YEAR and sold out quickly anyway, take that Marv. There will be about one hundred labels in the coming year.

PS: Hey, Dan! Nice to here from you, Roberto

- EPICURUS - 01-06-1999 06:00 PM

In addition to a preference for caveat emptor, I don't see a real problem with multiple terms. ATF, if they have a role, should make sure that the commonly accepted use of a term is valid on the bottle. Verbs for making the wine shouldn't be allowed to be used by negociants. Crafted, vinted and produced mean the company listed on the label made the juice from grapes they grew or purchased. Selected or bottled by means, I assume, some entity purchased the juice either as is or blended it from several suppliers.

But I would agree that "reserve" should be defined by the regulators.

- Bucko - 01-06-1999 06:18 PM

Yikes!!! Dan found us!! Tex, hide the sheep, quick!


- Enophile - 01-06-1999 08:20 PM

Dan, welcome. Although we really don't need another term like "crafted and bottled by", at least it seems fitting for the many of the overoaked, generic wines being processed these days. By the way, I really enjoy your colums in the California Grapevine.

- danberger - 01-06-1999 09:12 PM

The use of the term "selected" indicates that the seller bought the juice. I have no problem with that since the buyer, if he/she has a brain, can figure it out. But other terms are a lot more vague, and inferences don't help. My problem is that ATF seemingly has no clue about how wine is made and allows terms to be used willy-nilly and that includes the term "Reserve," which for all intents and purposes means that BV Private Reserve and all other similarly designated wines will not be permitted to be sold on the European continent until ATF defines the term. (The EU requires that all "quality" terms be defined by the country of origin.) AOC and DOC laws solve problems for France and Italy. ATF has left the U.S. wine industry in the lurch on this one.
Moreover, the "other than standard" wine issue is a lot worse than you may think...

Dan Berger

- EPICURUS - 01-07-1999 12:14 AM


Which ones do you consider vague?

- Bucko - 01-07-1999 01:13 AM

To play devil's advocate, just how many consumers do you think actually take the time to look at, much less analyze the various terms found on a wine bottle label? I suspect that the percentage is quite small. A tempest in a teapot IMHO for the majority of wine fans. I will strongly agree that the term Reserve has been misused and abused and is misleading to the wine novice.


- Woodman - 01-07-1999 09:38 AM

I have to chime in here, agreeing with Bucksnort. Seems to me that a couple of years ago Raymond changed the name of their Napa cabernet to "Reserve". Now, their "Amberhill" line is the entry level (purchased juice and similar to Woodbridge one assumes, though I've never had it) and the basic cabernet is now a "Reserve" with no other change. Or am I wrong?

- Jerry D Mead - 01-07-1999 09:51 AM

Re're right about everything except Amberhill. It is a definite step up from Woodbridge, being made from mostly Monterey vineyards that Raymond owns or controls. It's pretty good juice. I have editorialized about line extensions of famous brands...have scolded Mondavi numerous times, Raymond, BV, Round Hill (which recently went back the other way...eliminating the low end and the high end, renaming the latter Van Asperen), Inglenook (when it was still a real entity), and others.

The following appeared in my year end column:
SILVER to Round Hill Cellars in Napa for eliminating confusion. There used to be four levels of quality and price all under one brand. Gone all together are the least of the wines, labeled burgundy and chablis, and the top level "Reserves" have now taken the name of the owners, Van Asperen. They only get a silver because they should have done it ten years ago.
BRONZE to Robert Mondavi, Beaulieu, Raymond and several others for doing the opposite of Round Hill, and creating more levels and price categories under a single brand name. We're not complaining about the wines, they're excellent, but when us professionals can't keep it all straight, how can you expect consumers to?

- Jackie - 01-07-1999 11:01 AM

There's a good article online about the Van Asperen / Round Hill Winery name changes. If you're interested, you'll find a link from Vineyard & Winery Management magazine at:

[This message has been edited by Jackie (edited 01-07-99).]

- phwwine - 01-07-1999 01:40 PM

Well it is nice to see that epi, jdm, bucko and eno have found a new home for their rants and raves. There are some of us who have not abandoned aol just yet. Call me hopeful!
Phil Ward
aol wine trade maven for the next few weeks and hopefully longer

- tomstevenson - 01-07-1999 03:10 PM

How about trying to wind ATF up by proposing "This wine has been passed by an independent wine expert" and if they make the term official Roberto can bring out a special label showing him pissing into a bottle. Do these English terms translate? By the way, thanks Dan for your kind comment under the "industry spin pimps" Rant.

- Bucko - 01-07-1999 11:33 PM

BTW, for those who may not know Tom Stevenson, he is an excellent author and I highly recommend two of his books that I have on my bookshelf, "Champagne," Sotheby's Publications, and "The Wines Of Alsace," Faber and Faber. I have referred to these books many times. Welcome aboard, and don't be a stranger.


- tomstevenson - 01-08-1999 01:09 PM

Thanks Bucko! How about buying some of my recent books? A guy's got to live.

- Ashby Lawson - 01-09-1999 07:26 PM

Bucko, I agree, for the most part, that the labeling issue is a tempest in a teapot. But it should be noted that some wineries, or at least one that I'm aware of, engage in questionable labeling practices that might help them move their product.
The Virginia wine industry has done quite well, at least inside the state. A particularly bad vintage (1996?), though, left many wineries without decent fruit. One winery, which purchases all of its grapes from other in-state growers, couldn't find decent fruit in-state, so they used California grapes.
No problem so far. But instead of labeling the wine as "California", which would have damaged their in-state sales (which I would suspect are the bulk of their sales), they chose not to label the wine vis-a-vis place, which means they couldn't sell it outside of the state. But hey, if most of their sales are in-state anyway, they don't have a problem.
So, they can deceive the public, circumvent the ATF, and not really suffer. That's shady, in my opinion.

- MtDome - 01-10-1999 04:41 PM

When we submitted our labels for ATF approval they initially didn't like us saying
"Fermented in this bottle by Mountain Dome" instead of Produced and bottled by Mountain Dome. I don't think they really understand what we are doing at all. Yet these are the people regulating/stiffling our industry