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harvey steiman at large

A Little Fun with Betts and Betz

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Jun 1, 2009 11:55am ET

With so many thousands of wines out there, it’s surprising that linguistic confusions come up so rarely. I mean, how often do you look up from the wine-by-the-glass list and order a glass of "the Latour," expecting a white Burgundy from Maison Louis Latour, and end up with a beaker of Château Latour, the Bordeaux red? Hasn't happened to me.

Recently I was at Wild Ginger, an excellent restaurant with a terrific wine list in Seattle. For a white wine to start things off, I spied Betts & Scholl Hermitage Blanc 2004, offered by the glass from the Enomatic. I ordered it, saying the entire wine name and pointing to it on the list.

The server returned a few minutes later to say that, unfortunately, they were out. So I asked what similar wines by the glass he might suggest. I knew something was wrong when he mentioned a couple of red wines. "That's very nice," I said, "but I wanted the Hermitage blanc."

Turns out the server only heard the "bets" part and thought I had meant the Betz Beausoleil 2001, a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre made a few miles up the road in Woodinville. It was also on the Enomatic by-the-glass list.

The old Betz-Betts confusion strikes again! I bet (heh heh) that happens often.

Richard Betts, the sommelier-turned-vintner (turned WineSpectator.com guest blogger) who makes wine in Australia and France, and Bob Betz, the wine educator-turned-vintner (also turned WineSpectator.com guest blogger) who makes wine in Washington, have never met. And they have more than being co-bloggers in common. Both started their labels after a career in wine dealing with the public. Betz is a Master of Wine and Betts is a Master Sommelier, both honors earned by passing tests about wine worldwide. They both bake a mean pizza. Betz even built himself a brick pizza oven at his home in Woodinville.

While both are happy family men, they come from different generations. Betz is a studious type while Betts likes to rock out, Twittering and updating his Facebook page nonstop. I know them both, so I e-mailed them the story for their amusement.

From Betz:

"Whoa, that's more brand recognition than I thought we had! Wild Ginger sells a boatload of our wine. I need to follow up with the server and keep us at the top of his list. Not sure how often this happens. And unfortunately I’ve never met Richard, just read about him and his wines. Richard, we need to say hello at some point.

"Just left Naples where we spent five days working on our pizza dough. Same ingredients as we use, but there’s something special and unique in their texture. Have to keep working on the texture. We also tried the dough at Mozza as you recommended. Outstanding flavors though different from Neapolitan. All this pizza, not enough time."

From Betts:

"Indeed this does happen and, Bob, please be assured that I always comport myself as you as well as possible :)

"It looks like I'll be in Seattle in August and perhaps if you are around we could get together for a beer (or a pizza!)

"Thanks for the smile Harvey and best to you both!"

If nothing else, this little incident may bring these two together. Who knows? It might result in a joint venture. I propose they name it All Bets Are Off.

Jared Wagner
June 1, 2009 11:06pm ET
Fun read Harvey, thanks for story!
Richard Betts
denver airport at present —  June 3, 2009 12:42pm ET
All Bets Are Off!! - I Love it! Bob, you in?
Tristen Larson
Seattle WA —  June 3, 2009 11:42pm ET
They both make great wine, and they have different styles. I'd line up to buy this!

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