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   Copyright © Ric Einstein 2009






Parker's Secret is Out (23 July)


It's not unusual for politicians to open their mouth and jam their size thirteen hoof fairly and squarely in said orifice. One of the best examples I can remember was when Bob Hawke, at that stage the head of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, stated that if he became Prime Minister he would give up drinking. Bob is a smart cookie; he was a Rhodes Scholar and held a UK beer sculling record for many years. The next day a famous political cartoonist published a cartoon that went down in Australian history as one of the all-time classics. It showed a very hung-over looking Hawke sitting down to breakfast with the newspaper headlined “Hawke vows to give up drinking if elected PM.” The caption underneath it was, “Gawd. I must have been pissed when I said that!”


At approximately 2 pm on July 21 Robert Parker started a thread on the ebob Forum titled, “Huge News from Napa tomorrow unless it leaks.” The Post went on to state, "One of the biggest stories in my 30 years in the wine field will be the detailed announcement ...officially set for tomorrow...that will shake the fine wine world ......and I am not referring to BOTTLE SHOCK the movie..”


This sent the ebob wine world into a frenzy. By nine o'clock that night, there were over four hundred responses to the thread. That's right folks, four hundred responses. When I was in primary school, and I used to play "I've got a secret but I'm not going to tell you what it is;” I would be lucky if I could get three kids to play along. I guess the kids in my primary school were pretty smart. But I wasn't as popular as Mr Parker.


About fifteen minutes after Parker's first post, he made another one. By this time there had been twenty-four responses to his original post. In his second post, Parker said, "I needed some comedy...keep it coming....hard to believe this news won't bust loose any is that HUGE...”


Finally, the news did break. What was this huge, earth shattering event that would shake the fine wine world?  “Bordeaux's Cos d'Estournel Buys Napa's Chateau Montelena”


Chateau Montelena kicked off in 1882. Prohibition saw it shut shop but it was sold and resurrected in the early 1970's. It is reputed to produce high quality Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, the latter becoming famous when its 1973 Chardonnay beat the French in the 1976 Judgement of Paris competition.


Cos d'Estournel is one of Bordeaux's top Second Growth estates.


So why is it such a big deal? I have no idea. Wineries are bought and sold all the time, even famous ones. After the announcement was made a poll was placed into the original thread on ebob. The question was “Your thoughts on the news of Cos purchasing Montelena.” 16% of respondents said it was good news, 4% said it was bad news, 24% said it was a letdown, and 56% said they didn't care. In total, 80% of the respondents didn't think it had much worth as news, let alone, huge news.


I wonder if Mr Parker had an early lunch on July 21, or is he just looking at the wine world completely differently to 80% of his bulletin board readers? What ever. This “shaking of the fine wine world” must have taken place in a tea cup in the Napa Valley, because for most of us, it registered a magnitude of “yawn” on the Wine Richter Scale.   I say most of us, because at last look, there are now over 850 posts in that thread. The last 400 or so about the likely impact of the sale. It must be a very bloody big tea cup after all. Where is the "life shop" when you need it? There are a lot of potential customers that need to get one. 


Feel free to submit your comments!


From Ryam M: Thursday 24 July

"Where is the "life shop" when you need it? There are a lot of potential customers that need to get one."


In one brilliant line you've more than made amends for the lack of recent activity. Sit by the mailbox and await the royalty cheques, as they'll be flowing freely.  In the absense of royalty cheques I can offer you another cracker of a line, royalty free. "This wine has the relatives around the hospital bed"
Good day to you, Sir!..


From Michael Horstmann: Thursday 24 July
Of course you are right about the fuss Parker made about the news itself. As you said, wineries are bought/sold all of the time. What is new is that Bordeuax is buying California and not only setting up a joint venture with them (e.g. Opus one). This is the indirect acknowledgement that the results from the famous (infamous) tastings of 1973 (Chardonnay) and 1976 (reds) are valid; no French man ever did that before.


TORB Responds:
Ryan, "lack of recent activity" - Get nicked mate! You have been getting between 23 and 35 pages a week in Tour Diary Chapters.


Michael, I guess that in Australia we are so used to other countries buying up our iconic businesses that we don't bat an eyelid when it happens.


From Mark Dignam: Sunday 27 July
I am still recovering from the shock of Montalena buying Cops D’estournel…. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Even the cats were impressed. They had a good snooze in the sun for a few hours to celebrate.


From Roy Nixon: Monday 28 July

This is typical from "FIGJAM" Parker. Who else would be so arrogant to make such a fool of himself? Thankfully the big news wasn't another Australian operation being swallowed up by a big foreign buyer. French wineries buying American wineries is a new twist on buying back the farm!


TORB Comments: Monday 28 July

Every day I get copies of news extracts from all around the world. When something is big wine news, like the departure of O'Hoy from Fosters, there must have been about fifty different articles from English newspapers all around the world. From memory, I think I saw three articles on this buyout, so that's how much the wine journalist think of this "news that will rock the wine world." As Mark so succinctly put it, its enough to put one to sleep its so exciting.


From Campbell Mattinson: Thursday  31 July

Not only are we Australians accustomed to wineries being bought and sold - but we are accustomed to French wineries buying our vineyards and brands ... i.e. there is nothing new to see here folks, move along. The French - via their purchasing decisions - acknowledged the value of new world wine a long time ago, across all sorts of styles. Chandon isn't a bad case in point.


From Mike Pollard: Friday  1 August

Been on vacation so I missed this. My wine life may now never be complete! Twenty-three (23) pages when it finished. I'm not about to read it, but I wonder if anyone suggested that the French bought Ch M because with all its Brett problems they won't have to make too many changes to the winemaking process?


From Bob Foster: Friday 8 August

No surprise. He has repeatedly proven he doesn't know good wine from bad and now he has demonstrated that he doesn't know important news from minor news.


Copyright © Ric Einstein 2008