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james laube's wine flights

Hold the Puns, Pass the Cliches

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Dec 19, 2006 11:00pm ET

It sounded romantic the first few times I heard it. Then, as years passed and I got older and knew better, it became a trite cliché.

I'm talking about the expression "My wines are like my children," which is still often uttered by winemakers when asked to pick which of their wines is their favorite. It's usually preceeded by, "I can't."

The first time I recall hearing the expression came in 1978, when I started writing about wine. The source of that axiom—which I was sure he had coined—was Mike Grgich, who had started Grgich Hills Cellar with Hills Bros. Coffee heir Austin Hills a year earlier.

Grgich, a Croatian who had come to the U.S. with little but an ambition to make it in America, was fresh off the buzz created by the Paris Tasting of 1976. In that staged event the California wine that stole the show in the Burgundy vs. Chardonnay flight was the 1973 Château Montelena he had made at Montelena.

Anyway, that was the first time I'd heard the saying, and for years I let it slip. Finally, though, I grew weary of hearing it and became cynical about it because it seemed like a cop out by the winemaker.

At times when winemakers, who had made dozens if not scores of wines, would use it I would counter, "Oh, come on. Nobody has that many children."

By then I had reared a pair of my own and I've never, ever encountered a wine that came anything close to the complexity of a child.

So, when I heard the phrase the other day, I could only smile, knowing it's a cliché that works when you're new to wine—until you think about it.

What's your favorite (or least favorite) wine cliché?

Dana Nigro
New York, NY —  December 20, 2006 5:46pm ET
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Chris Hilliard
Minnesota —  December 20, 2006 8:19pm ET
Wine clich¿I got one. I hate when people tell me they smell GRAPES. Come on!
John Jorgenson
Seattle, —  December 21, 2006 12:22am ET
It was funny the first time I heard it . . . somewhat less entertaining each time since until now it just turns me off!Orgazmic!
Wes Sircable
Fullerton, CA  —  December 21, 2006 2:07am ET
- $120 Napa Cab- $450 Bordeaux- Burgandy/Red 25 cases made- Terrior- yet for all this wine's power and concentration, it has a measure of balance and finesse (sorry J.L.)
Steven Haught
Oklahoma City, OK USA —  December 21, 2006 9:42am ET
Least favorite: This may be our best vintage ever!
Larry Schaffer
Central Coast —  December 21, 2006 9:58am ET
How about 'hand made' or hand-crafted?!?!?!?
Sao Anash
Santa Barbara —  December 21, 2006 12:01pm ET
Here are some more cliches:Maritime influences; Warm days, cool nights;ripen to full maturity; I can taste the soils (particularly annoying); and last but not least:"we cold soak and practice stem inclusion" --spoken with an air of superiority.blah blah blah blah blah
Jason Kadushin
Seattle, WA —  December 21, 2006 1:43pm ET
"Vintage of the Century" - how many times have we heard this in the last 6 years - and to think we are only 6 years into this century.
Dave Joyce
Winston-Salem, NC —  December 22, 2006 10:53am ET
I second the "Vintage of the Century", and add this one "Best _______ vintage ever". Just add in the appropriate varietal or country, like "best port vintage ever" as we heard for the 2000's. "Best German vintage ever" as we heard for the 2001, or was that 2002, or was that BOTH??

If winemaking technology continues to improve, and vineyard management technology continues to improve, doesn't EVERY vintage become the "best vintage ever" unless some force of nature (rain, heat, lack of both, etc.) cause a less than "best ever" result? Should not vintages 10 years from now always be "best ever" as technology in winemaking and grape growing take another large leap forward?
John Jorgenson
Seattle, —  December 22, 2006 11:13am ET
"Wine is like sex!"Come-on . . . who's had a 100 point sex?
Steve Coyle
Chappaqua, NY —  December 22, 2006 6:33pm ET
"Despite being a challneging year"... How many times have you ever heard a wine maker say, "this just wasn't a good vintage, or, we couldn't surpass mother nature? Years ago winemakers would refuse to release vintages. With todays costs, no one can do that. The result, is that everyone seemingly overcomes a difficult vintage and that there are always 10 or more 95 point wines. Also, what's with no vintage report ever being below b_? I worked a lot harder for a B- in school than 2006 Cab Sav conditions were in Napa this year. Give me a break!

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