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Spivak on Consumer Wines: Geyser Peak

March 11th, 2009 · No Comments

Here’s a hypothetical situation, an agricultural version of Jonathan Swift’s Modest Proposal:

Assume you are a highly successful commercial farmer, with assets in the billions. You decide that you want to grow corn in some region of the world where corn will not naturally grow: under the polar icecap, or in the Mohave Desert. You want to do this because you’ve always been able to accomplish anything you wanted to do, because you feel it will bring you status and acclaim, and most of all because you can.

After fighting the elements for years, you finally produce your corn. The only problem is that it has cost a fortune. In addition to investing millions to create artificial conditions where the cultivation of corn was possible, you had to buy heavy equipment, and hire both skilled managers and a qualified labor force. Your corn comes to market at $5 per ear, which is reasonable considering the cost of the project. The public, however, refuses to buy it. They don’t care about your dreams and aspirations, or what you wanted to prove to yourself. They only want an ear of corn.

GEYSER PEAK HITS AND MISSES

Of course, this is an exaggeration. Geyser Peak is not actually similar to a $5 ear of corn. The better comparison is to something which costs $1.50 and vaguely resembles an ear of corn. Some of these releases (Cabernet Sauvignon) do taste like wine, but others (Chardonnay) are not even close. They are grotesque examples of wine-like beverages.

Harsh? Sure. But not as harsh as Geyser Peak Chardonnay.

SAUVIGNON BLANC: Light to medium-bodied, with good acidity and bracing citrus flavors; rich enough to serve as a cocktail, yet has the ability to pair well with shellfish and fish in light sauces.  Spivak rating: B-

CHARDONNAY: Medium-bodied and heavily oaked, with low acidity and lots of residual sugar. Spivak rating: C

MERLOT: Soft and rich, with low acidity and a lush texture; while cleanly made and pleasant to drink, the price is out of line with the quality in the bottle.  Spivak rating: C+

CABERNET SAUVIGNON: Ripe, vibrant flavors of stewed plums and dark berries are nicely framed by good acidity; pair well with dishes ranging from roast chicken up to (and including) red meats.  Spivak rating: B

GEYSER PEAK SUMMARY:

  • PRICING: $11-17
  • BEST WINE: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • WORST WINE: Chardonnay

The Spivak Scale
A = An excellent to outstanding wine of spectacular depth and character; worth a splurge; cellar material.
B = Good to very good; worth the money for current drinking or laying down.
C = Fair to average; suitable for current drinking; pricey compared to other wines of its type.
D = Poor to below average; a weak example of its type; seriously overpriced.
Plusses and minuses are awarded. The value-for-money ratio always comes into play; a wine which deserves a B at $15 may rate a B+ at $10, or a B- at $20. If most wines within a category normally cost $15, those selling for $25 bear a special burden. If a wine sells for $75-$100, it bears a burden regardless of its peers – this is a steep tariff for a bottle of fermented grape juice, and we all expect it to perform accordingly.
For those addicted to the 100-point scale, here are the rough equivalents:
A = 96-100
A- = 92-96
B+ = 88-91
B = 86-89
B- = 82-85
C+ = 78-81
C = 75-79
C- = 70-75
Mark Spivak hosts the wine show Uncorked! Radio on WXEL-90.7 FM Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. He also writes his own blog, Spivak on Wine, and is the wine and spirits editor for the Palm Beach Media Group. Here, he writes on the wines most often purchased on a daily basis by consumers, typically bought at grocery stores, warehouse stores, and other outlets that are not wine-specific.

Tags: Mark Spivak on Consumer Wines · Sips: Drinkables

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