Has anyone else nearly shot their TV? - Printable Version

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- Botafogo - 01-02-1999 06:27 PM

Everytime I see one of those ads for Korbel un-Champagne claiming to be the "official Champagne of the millenium celebration" I have to restrain myself from throwing a bottle of ACTUAL Champagne (always handy at Casa Roberto!) through the TV!

Regardless of the quality, value of lack therof with this winery, no thinking person should subsidize a company whose marketing people are plainly preying on the insecurities of non wine sophisticated people with their rediculous ads where the world comes to an end because "The Champagne is not Korbel" when in fact KORBEL IS NOT CHAMPAGE! When you also consider the costs (to the consumer) of the massive advertizing budgets
dedicated to this fraud the product cannot be any sort of value either, being easily surpassed by sparklers from the Loire Valley, Italy and even Tribaut in California at better pricing.

Cheers, Roberto

- Jerry D Mead - 01-02-1999 06:49 PM

Our first spat!

I'm probably the last defender of the rights of American wineries to the semi-generic name "champagne." In the case of Korbel, they've been using it for more than 100 years...a lot longer than most of the multi-national conglomrates peddling what passes for "La Champagne" these days.

RE the hyperbole of the ads...well, that's just typical American advertising...doesn't bother me any more than claims such as "World's Greatest Hamburger," at a greasy spoon in Bishop. And no one is buying that kind of hype, except perhaps an upwardly mobile Jacques Bonet drinker who would be done a service.

To be continued in next frame...

- Botafogo - 01-02-1999 06:54 PM

>>"World's Greatest Hamburger," at a greasy spoon in Bishop.<<

The insertion of the word "Official" has a different, more evil and manipulative tone to it when aimed at people with little or no critical thinking skills for media. I think that Ad Busters Magazine should be required reading in Junior High School!

>>And no one is buying that kind of hype, except perhaps an upwardly mobile Jacques Bonet drinker who would be done a service.<<

Perhaps true but what gets me is the social implications in all the ads: You will be a pariah and no one will come to your parties if you don't serve Korbel. The FACT is that the host any serious art opening or party in a tony neighborhood (as in the ads) would be a laughing stock if they DID serve Korbel!

Cheers, Roberto

- Botafogo - 01-02-1999 06:59 PM

>>I'm probably the last defender of the rights of American wineries to the semi-generic name "champagne." In the case of Korbel, they've been using it for more than 100 years..<<

Jerry, I've been a "Wine Trader" all of my adult life while you have merely (!!!) written about the industry. Shouldn't I be able to use your trademark? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!

This was a hypothetical question for the purposes of discussion only. Of course in reality I prostrate myself every morning facing the Nevada desert and thank His Curmudgeoness for making my life and business possible in the first place! (GGG!!!)

Love ya, Mean it, Roberto

- Jerry D Mead - 01-02-1999 07:11 PM

RE the genericness of the name champagne (note that I differentiate between "champagne" and "Champagne", unlike "burgundy," "chablis" and "chianti," for which there are suitable alternate terms, there is no other word so universally used and understood as "champagne," (in the same way that taxi is used in most every language) a name the French waited far too long to even attempt to defend and of which they would have had little success in doing so had it not been for the power of the EU.

When one hears a cork pop anywhere in the world, folks don't think Cava, sekt, spumante, or (even sitting in a cafe in St. Helena) Napa Valley Brut. The exclamation is universal..."Oh! Someone is having champagne."

No one but wine geeks even understand what those other terms mean, and there really shouldn't be any confusion caused between Schramsberg, Korbel or even Andre (all products using the semi-generic name), because of the geographic qualifier that is required by federal regs, as in "California Champagne," "New York Champagne" or "American Champagne."

Champagne, like linoleum, aspirin and dozens of other once-protected names, has truly become generic and should be permitted.

You are now about to see a poor defenseless wine writer get pounced on from every direction, since this subject seems to inflame almost everyone.

Jerry "Going Into Hiding" Mead

- LoveZin - 01-02-1999 07:50 PM

As PT Barnum said: There is a ****er born every minute. Advertising wants to cash in on that truism and is typically successful at it. Call it sparkler. You know there will be ****ers buying up cases of Andre or Freixenet for their "big affair" in case lots. Just great!

I'm starting to think that Roberto is "racing" Jerry to become the first "non Junior Member" [img][/img]

later.... Heinz

[This message has been edited by LoveZin (edited 01-02-99).]

- Guest - 01-02-1999 08:54 PM

Roberto, if all the "masses" drank French champagne, you wouldn't have it to throw through the TV.

What's the big deal what they call it? And why bother to get upset? It's no skin.....

- Ruthbug - 01-02-1999 08:58 PM

I'll have to side with Jerry on this one. Offer somebody at a party a glass of "sparkler" and they'll say "no thanks, soda gives me gas'. Offer a glass of "champagne" and they say "why yes! lovely". The French may have come up with a decent alternative term by liberalizing the term "cremant". It'll still take a long time to catch on. - Brad

- Botafogo - 01-02-1999 11:10 PM

Jerry took this off on the name game tangent. My objection is to the blatantly classist, social fear inducing, TONE of the ads. They are obviously designed by very smart weasels to take advantage of the fear of "doing the wrong thing". And the "official" bit is just over the top.

- WA Wino - 01-03-1999 01:19 AM

Heinz: I was going to make the same joke. However Roberto beat the Wine Curmudgeon to 'Member' status 31 to 22 at last count. 'Course, if Jerry gets to add up the posts under Jerry Mead with Wine Curmudgeon, it might have been a horse race.

- tomstevenson - 01-06-1999 01:40 PM

Can a Brit join in? I am usually one of the first to jump to defence of any legitimate appellation, but the champenois do not deserve any support until they themselves stop making and selling Champaña in South America. The culprits are Piper-Heidsieck (Argentina), Moët & Chandon (Argentina and Brazil) and Mumm (Brazil and Chile) and Moët has been doing it for more than 30 years. They take other producers to court for much less. They have even won cases in Europe preventing the manufacturers bath-foam and chocolate-bars from using the term. Until they stop practising such double standards, they do not deserve our concern over the misuse by others of their appellation.

- Jerry D Mead - 01-06-1999 01:54 PM

Tom...Welcome to the Wine Board...we hope to see a lot of you and any other Brits who would like to participate. You are absolutely right. I haven't been to Mendoza for 31 years...but they were using it then and I got a pretty good story out of it and coined some phrases such as...Shampagne and Cham-pain, etc.

(Note: If anyone failed to pick up on the name, Mr. Stevenson is considered THE world authority on bubbly and his latest book Christie's World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine is the ultimate book on the subject. He really stirs the pot by suggesting that the so-called "methode champenoise" was actually created in Britain!!!)

[This message has been edited by Wine Curmudgeon (edited 01-06-99).]

- Botafogo - 01-06-1999 02:00 PM

WELCOME TOM! But I must comment on one thing:

>>The culprits are Piper-Heidsiec (Argentina), Moët & Chandon (Argentina and
Brazil) and Mumm (Brazil and Chile) and Moët has been doing it for more than 30 years. <<

This is much like Budweiser, Coors and Miller who have been making "beer" in America for years that has no relation to Beer as known in civilized countries! The producers you cite have long since lost their souls to the multinational corporations who own and distribute them. They are wrong but don't really matter to anyone who likes Champagne.

Ciao, Roberto

- Botafogo - 01-06-1999 02:06 PM

Tom, I must also point out that this thread has been hijacked into the tired old debate about is "Champagne" a protected name and not the original subject which was:

Doesn't the tone of these ads (plainly and cleverly constructed to play off the fears of people to "do the right thing" in social contexts they are uncomfortable in) revolt you? And, isn't the use of the term "official" as in "The Official Champagne of the Millenium Celebration" at least immoral if not illegal under FTC truth in advertizing guidlines?

I realize you probably haven't seen the ads in question but they are premium examples of American Cultural Warfare Propaganda at its most virulent.

Love and have and sell your books, Roberto

- tomstevenson - 01-07-1999 11:57 AM

Well, it's nice to feel so welcome. Thanks. I can forgive almost anyone in South America for using the term Champagne 31 years ago, just as I can forgive any of the early immigrants to the USA for using any Old World appellation. Those were the only names known at the time and using them to express differences in style was only logical. Roberto, there is of course one small flaw in your latest titbit: beer the drink was not originally produced in "Beer" the place, but I know what you mean and I love you. You sell my book! Coors is a great group and Miller should stick to TV adverts, but not actually have any product to sell. As to Budweiser, it sells over here at a ridiculous price (mind you a couple of cents would be two cents too much) and it is difficult to tell people they can buy genuine Budweiser Budvar for much less. And even when we get the message across, it doesn't work. My nephew tried Budvar and turned his nose up. When I asked him what was wrong, he said it tastes! Roberto, I saw your message about this thread getting highjacked, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. After all, you lot hijacked one of our colonies and turned it into the good old US of A. But you're right, of course. Please educate me. Precisely which brands are advertising themselves as "The Official Champagne of the Millennium Celebration"?

- Botafogo - 01-07-1999 01:44 PM

Korbel is as part of this disgustingly manipulative campaign where very upscale looking people are at an art opening or a Broadway premiere and when they taste the "champagne" and discover to their horror that "It's not Korbel!" they all run out screaming about the tackiness of the hosts. The Millenium spot has a VERY ritzy house that is completely empty at two minutes past midnite on the turn of the century and a parrot droning over and over "The champagne's not Korbel, the champagne's not Korbel...... See, I told you, you should have bought Korbel!"

My objection to this is twofold:

A) it is insulting to the intellegence of knowledgable folks who know that in fact the hosts of a party in such a tony neighborhood would be social pariahs if they DID serve Korbel.

and, more importantly,

B) this is plainly meant to stick a thorn in the social anxiety of folks who don't know anything about bubbly but want to make sure they dont'e "do the wrong thing". It is an obvious case of very clever and highly paid marketing weasels pushing shame buttons like they do with deordorants, feminine "freshness sprays" and mouthwashes, and has nothing to do with the quality, value or lack thereof of the wine.

PS: Tom, we are about to have a VERY large row here about the uses of names like "Belgian Ale" and "Kolschbier" as microbreweries who have paid loving tribute to their brewing heros go commercial and search for a way to identify the style of their beers, could get nasty!

- Jerry D Mead - 01-07-1999 05:26 PM

Re the Korbel ads...sure they're pure hokum, but you yourself called them clever (though you didn't mean it as a compliment, Roberto) and frankly I'm so immune to advertising hype of all kinds that I just enjoy the cleverness of it and let it go at that.

For example, I am a dedicated Coke over Pepsi consumer...I boycott fast food joints that sell Pepsi in favor of those that sell Coke. Back in the Pepsi Challenge days I used to drive them nuts by picking Coke and declaring it my favorite...strictly on nose...I didn't even have to taste the stuff.

But that doesn't change the fact that the Pepsi commercials featuring the curly-headed little girl from the film Pauley demanding Pepsi in the voice of Joe Pesci, when offered Coke, are brilliant.

You don't have to like the product, or even agree with the message, to admire someone making best possible use out that uniquely American razzle-dazzle called advertising.


- Ruthbug - 01-07-1999 11:38 PM

First of all I'd like to say to Tom Stevenson "welcome to" [can I say America on Wine yet?]. Over the holidays my folks gave me a wonderful present. Its a book called The New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia. I get the feeling Tom is very familiar with this book.
Anyway on to Korbel. I agree with Roberto they are slimes for the kind of advertising they are using, but also agree with Jerry that they have the right to do it and it probably is an effective commercial. I know a lot of white zin lemmings that would reach for Korbel if they need a "champagne" because of the commercial.
Say.......I think I'll quote from my new present. Re:Korbel...."This is California's leading sparkling wine specialist in the popular sector." Nothing more is said. A polite and true comment Tom. I suppose you had to say something.
- Brad Ruthberg

- Jerry D Mead - 01-08-1999 05:38 AM

Re Korbel, one other fact that cannot be argued...America's largest "methode champenoise" producer by far. And you really should try my Korbel favorite sometime...Rouge...Pinot Noir based, nearly dry and great with turkey.


- tomstevenson - 01-08-1999 06:43 AM

The Korbel ad sounds funny. At least you make it sound funny! It sounds to me as if Korbel is perfectly aware that intelligent, sophisticated people know that Korbel is not Champagne, otherwise the parrot's line wouldn't be funny at all. So, you're right, the ads are playing on people's insecurities, but as Jerry and Brad point out, that is their right in the land of the free. The only thing they should not do, of course, is lie, but until ATF respects other country's legitimate appellations Korbel cannot be accused of that. However, why not release a harmless virus on the net that pops up as an animated parrot repeating "The Korbel's not Champagne, the Korbel's not Champagne's ...... See, I told you, you should have bought Champagne!"
Brad, many thanks for the welcome and for the nice words about my Sotheby's encyclopedia. I say rather more about Korbel in my Christie's fizz encyclopedia, where I give the brand a 68 point rating. If you look at the explanation of my global ranking, you will see this is two points below "interesting". To be fair, they are remarkably consistent at what they do and I get the feeling that if Korbel hired someone like Raphael Brisbois they could make some interesting cuveés. There are many sparkling wines out there that are much worse. I think the lowest-ranked fizz in my Christie's book is 38 and that's pretty dire for a technicallly correct wine!