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I have norm.

learned over time that my Apparently, it is quite

approach

is not the

common

for other

critics/reviewers/writers to concentrate on samples when a wine is released and then intervals throughout the wine’s life. I don’t

asking for at different necessarily

think there is anything terribly wrong with this. As I already said, I accept and receive samples and have asked for them, but I don’t feel that you should

have even base

everything you write on samples. that do, I guess; I’m sure they are doesn’t seem altogether right to me.

More power to those saving money, but it The reason I feel this

way

is

that,

to

my

mind,

an

accurate

representation

of

the

I also purchase bottles from store shelves for an emotional reason. I believe that spending one’s own hard earned money on a bottle of wine results in a much more meaningful and ‘real’ response compared to tasting a free bottle. When I spend $30 US on a Champagne that blows my mind, I get a high of epic proportions as I celebrate my wonderful find. Likewise, when I drop $200 US on a bottle that doesn’t move me more than a popsicle on a cold day, I might start fuming. Tasting my own bottles, I experience both ends of the spectrum and everything in between, and it is my hope that it carries through to my writing.

typical consumer experience can be missed reviewer doesn’t purchase wines from retail.

when

a

There are many reasons

through

non-standard

a review of distribution

a bottle acquired

channels

could

misrepresent the wine inside. For instance, one of the biggest problems with Champagne is product damage within the distribution network. (I go into this at length in Issue 5.) Most Champagne tastes great when pulled directly from a producer’s cellars, but it can be quite a different story after that same bottle passes through multiple containers, countries, and importer-distributor handoffs on its thousand-mile journey to your favorite shop and eventually your cellar. Some wines also tend to show variation from different batches of the “same” wine.

You need to try discover this. It

different all comes

bottles from various down to the fact that

sources to I think the

entire supply chain needs to be taken into reviewing a bottle of Champagne; writing

account when a tasting note

from

a

winery

sample

or

a

controlled

importer

sample

should not and cannot be the To this end, I make it a point

only way to buy as

to go. much

as

I

can

from

the shelves of stores not only locally in Michigan, only throughout the US, but around the world.

and

not

In

my

opinion, this is the only way to get an accurate picture a wine that is both truthful and useful to the consumer.

of

While I certainly believe a person can evaluate wines that he/she didn’t pay for, I also believe that one needs to purchase all levels of Champagne from all sorts of sources to accurately convey each experience in context. This is why I feel confident enough to sing the praises of a low-priced, 85-88 point wine at the same time I rail against a $100+ US prestige cuvee that was given an identical score. (This is why you need to read the notes as well as the scores to get the full picture and context of the wine.)

Maybe I’m the stupid one for using all of the proceeds from this newsletter (plus a lot more) to purchase Champagne rather than for a night out on the town or a trip for the family to Disneyland. Perhaps I need to do more wheedling and/or demanding, and then sit back and wait for free cases to roll in. Then again, maybe I don’t. I really don’t fault others for doing so (let’s face it, they are probably more profitable for it), but it isn’t my way. Despite protests from my wife and helpful suggestions from winemakers and marketing departments that I ask for more samples, I won’t do it. I’ll just continue to shrug

off other critics/writers know who to ask or unimportant individual

who think I’m just too dumb to who assume I’m “obviously an

to Champagne”.

I promised

Older vintages also represent a challenge for the unbiased taster. Perfectly stored bottles from a producer’s cellar and/or recent disgorgements are not always the truest representation of a wine’s character. I do rate and review wines like this, but I make every attempt possible to give my readers an accurate description of a bottle similar to one you might grab from your cellar. I, like many of you, purchase and cellar newer releases for future drinking, and I do this explicitly so that I can sample these bottles (and write notes) as they evolve over the years. When I sample older vintages at a producer’s cellar, I also sample them from my own cellar or the cellar of others I know as

myself can do believe

long ago to do the best I can, and the only way I that is to put some skin in the game. I really it positively affects the end product, that is, my

Champagne reviews. I challenge else who will do the same.

you

to

find

someone

Cheers,

Brad Baker The Champagne Warrior

often

as

possible.

I

also

purchase

reliable sources when an upcoming Combined, these experiences become

older bottles from article calls for it. the final note in this

newsletter. notes based

As much as humanly possible, I try upon more than one bottle or tasting.

to

write

Champagne Warrior

Special Web Sample Edition - October 2010

4

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