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Most Overrated Wine Region


Craig Camp
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Overrating is becoming a world phenomena but the leader was and is Champagne.

Excellent marketing though....

And now for the reason:

Most champagne does not deliver character or complexity enough to match its mostly exaggerated prices.

Edited by Andre (log)

Andre Suidan

I was taught to finish what I order.

Life taught me to order what I enjoy.

The art of living taught me to take my time and enjoy.

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What is the most overrated wine region on the planet. The one that gets the big bucks, but just can't deliver bottled nirvana.

Please make the case for your nominee.

Craig,

The second sentence of your question sets the tone for the answer; Napa.

Some good wines, some poor wines, a lot of outrageous prices.

Best, Jim

www.CowanCellars.com

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Before I answer, I have to first discredit the Champagne response. If Andre is looking solely at the large houses, I can possibly see a point since many of them go for a house style. But once you leave the negociants and get into Recoltant Manipulant, and to some extent Cooperative Manipulant, wines, it's an entirely different story. These wines are all about grand cru character, and nearly all represent tremendous values. Nope, hard to call them overrated.

I'd have to go with Jim and say Napa, perhaps even extending it to California in general. When there is seemingly little rhyme or reason to what grapes are planted on what parcel of land (to wit: "chardonnay is becoming passe; rip 'em up and plant merlot"), there is little to hold my interest. Compound that with prices that are out of line, and dollar for dollar you'll get better wine just about anywhere else. And that goes for both the $10 bottle and the $100 bottle.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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I'll have to join the Napa chorus. I like some, but there are so many mediocre $30-60 wines to defy belief (I don't drink enough cults wines to comment on the $200+ ones!).

If your question had been on the appelation/subregional level, I might have voted for Montalcino. Though as Craig noted there can be good values in Rosso, and I do buy some Brunellos, the number of $50-100 Brunellos that don't seem to cut the grade compared to good Chiantis like Felsina is pretty high.

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I don't think there's any region where the market is irrationally setting uniformly high prices for uniformly bad wine. There are plenty of great wines in California, Champagne, and most everywhere else where high wine prices exist. The trick, it seems to me, is only to pay those prices for the best wines, and to do your bargain wine-buying from other regions. Bordeaux, however, is an exception, excelling at expensive and cheap wines.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Brad -- good to see you here! You know that I agree with you about Champagne. In fact, both Champagne and Burgundy are in a strange category -- they both offer many of the most expensive duds and many great values! It's just a matter of picking the right wines. In neither case is the region itself overrated, as shown by the many great wines available. I agree with Andre that most champagne does not show character -- that's because they're blended wines. The small-grower, unblended champagnes often show great character. In Burgundy, the poorer wines tend to show no character for a different reason --- they're simply overcropped. But in both regions, the good wines are amazingly full of character, even at low price points.

Unfortunately, in both cases, many of the better bargains are poorly distributed. Maybe I will right up a brief "How to Learn Burgundy" piece and post it here, though I'm afraid that my approach requires access to a good selection of the wines.

As to which is most overrated -- I agree that Napa wins this contest, hands down.

Almost any California wine which offers decent QPR these days comes from a region other than Napa.

--- Lee

Seattle

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Using the criteria of the question, Napa most certainly has the most out of whack price to quality ratio. I think their day of reckoning is coming, all of California for that matter. The Aussies are going to progressively take more and more of their lunch money, and probably give them a wedgie for good measure.

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There are plenty of great wines in California, Champagne, and most everywhere else where high wine prices exist. The trick, it seems to me, is only to pay those prices for the best wines, and to do your bargain wine-buying from other regions.

I agree with you that "the trick is to only pay those prices for the best wines." In many cases, however, that means avoiding entire regions. Just because there are no Napa Cabs in the bargain range, does not mean that the higher-priced ones are worthy of their prices. If you're going to blow $125 on a bottle, you would do better to look elsewhere. I don't think anyone has claimed that Napa makes no quality wines -- just that they are almost universally overpriced...and they seem to sell at those prices.

So I think a better plan is to do your bargain wine-buying from regions that are priced more reasonably and to do your splurge buying from regions that are priced more reasonably.

--- Lee

Seattle

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I'll throw in my nod to Napa as well. While I have had some outstanding wines from there, they are almost uniformly overpriced.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

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It seems to be the dtrong opinion that more Napa/California wines than any other region are overpriced. I am far from being a wine conoisseur, but I have been told by a couple of people whose opinions I value that it depends on the specifics of what you are talking about. For example Parker has said that by far the best values at bottom prices are to be found in California jug wines. In his opinion there is no place on earth where you can buy wine for such low prices and still have a degree of quality for the price.

Let's be specific. What California/Napa wines or those of any other region do you find to be greatly over priced and over rated?

Porkpa

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I've got to disagree with Mr. Parker there. Most everywhere I've been in Europe, I've been able to purchase bottles of wine for between $1 and $2 that were quite good -- not only are they tasty, but they often have actual local character (which is probably more important to me than to Parker, given the message implicit in his high ratings for wines in the "international" style). California jug wines, though ripe and with technically correct alcohol and other levels, are characterless -- like soft drinks. And in my experience they cost more than their European equivalents, at least when presented locally for retail sale.

I do believe some of the big California cabs are overpriced, but I also believe the best ones are worth their price in the sense that you're getting an in-demand product that's very special. I don't know that I think the top California cabs are anymore overpriced than the top Bordeaux. These are all top-of-the-market wines and they're expensive; that's to be expected. If I had the money, I wouldn't mind paying for them if I wanted them, so long as I didn't get tricked into paying for an overpriced second tier of wines.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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For example Parker has said that by far the best values at bottom prices are to be found in California jug wines. In his opinion there is no place on earth where you can buy wine for such low prices and still have a degree of quality for the price.

I can't think of a statement I could disagree with more.

Napa really sticks out in my mind too.

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Indeed, it seems such a bizarre contention, I'd be interested to see a quote of exactly what Parker said on that subject.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Maybe another time; it's worth its own thread if you find the quote (or if anyone else does).

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm with Fat Guy; I'd love to see the exact quote. Among other reasons, because it's such a unique take on the situation. But that really deserves a thread of its own.

And don't confuse Napa with the rest of California. In talking about overpriced/overrated, we've been specifically talking about Napa. Let's not lose sight of that.

--- Lee

Seattle

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Totally Overrated: Bordeaux. Why? Too much overpriced garbage. Sure, it produces some decent values as Fat Guy says. But for the most part, totally overrated in my book.

Close Second: Napa

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Trying to narrow it down, I sort of remember it being in one of his end of the issues which are usually either entirely or mostly devoted to California wines. I do have them all, the problem is where.

There is no dubt that I should not have posted it without having the exact quote. For one thing, I might have taken it out of context. For another, since I've reached sixty(maybe before), my brain cells occasionally wander, if not totally disappear.

Porkpa.

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For example Parker has said that by far the best values at bottom prices are to be found in California jug wines. In his opinion there is no place on earth where you can buy wine for such low prices and still have a degree of quality for the price.

That statement is so amazingly wrong that I can't believe Parker actually said it. He travels in Europe; he knows better.

Bruce

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I agree with Napa, but don't forget about Burgundy. High prices do not necessarily dictate a quality product. I've also heard it referred to as the "most frustrating of all regions" as well.

Burgundy is certainly the hardest wine region to understand, but I wouldn't call it overrated. I think it's rated quite accurately.

The trick, like everywhere, is choosing properly. It's just very hard to choose properly in Burgundy.

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I would love to hear of a good value for the money champagne. My knowledge consists mostly of the big names indeed.

Andre Suidan

I was taught to finish what I order.

Life taught me to order what I enjoy.

The art of living taught me to take my time and enjoy.

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