Wine Consumer Alert!

 

Wine Offers from Vivino · June 8, 2016

Vivino Vivino
David Arthur Meritaggio from Pritchard Hill is “Drop dead gorgeous!” RP

I’ve been sitting on my hands for months now, resisting talking publicly about Vivino’s website and the likes of the above banner ad. There’s a good chance I may get some pushback from them, from the Somm’s (credentialed or otherwise) who author their comments and ratings, and maybe even from a few of the many producers showcased on their site.

Before I begin, let me say that I genuinely support the idea that one person’s assessment of a wine on any given day is their opinion alone.  That includes Robert Parker, Antonio Galloni, James Molesworth, Alder Yarrow, and a small group of professional critics who have spent years, if not decades, honing their palates and offering valuable, honest and objective commentary on the wines they review.

That said, the Somm’s and contributing “wine professionals” reviewing for Vivino, too have a right to offer their opinion, including assigning their own scores, on the wines featured and published on this site.

And certainly, by no means do I mean to discredit or speak ill of one of California’s greatest wine producers, David Arthur, featured in this day’s ad, whose amazing wines I love and who I have tremendous respect for.

No, my issue is with Vivino.

Take this latest ad (above) I received in my inbox this morning with a headline banner for David Arthur’s Meritaggio with a quote from Robert Parker proclaiming it to be “Drop dead gorgeous“.  Seems to be a pretty innocent and very complimentary endorsement by Parker, yes?  Problem is, Parker made that comment on the 2010 vintage Meritaggio - NOT on the 2013!   But nowhere on the Vivino site would unsuspecting buyers see that.

Further down in the ad, it again references Parker as saying the wine “is impossible to resist”… Once again, Parker did not say that about the current 2013 offer. In fact, Parker did not say that at all – it was Antonio Galloni, who yes, was employed by Parker at the time, BUT, Galloni’s comment was in his review of the 2009 Meritaggio, NOT  the 2013!

In fairness to Vivino, bandying about the Parker name and brand (which includes his staff writers) in this industry is not uncommon at all, but shouldn’t Vivino be honest and align the vintage they are offering with the appropriate accompanying comments and scores?

For the average consumer, I would think it would be almost impossible to spot these misrepresentations imbedded in the carefully crafted copy.  My guess is that most readers/consumers would assume that the comments and vintages of the offer were one and the same – and true!

One would have to do a fair amount of digging and cross-referencing to learn that Vivino’s critic reviews, filled with cut-and-paste  critic comments, references, and scores being quoted, have little to do with the actual wines being featured in the ads.

I find ads of this nature to be disingenuous and a huge disservice to trusting wine consumers looking for honest guidance on their wine purchases.  Even more surprising is that stellar, reputable wineries would allow their wines to so misrepresented. And I wonder if the critic’s – Parker, et al condone this approach. I think it makes them look bad.

Vivino is hardly alone in this practice. The incidence of misinformation, purposeful or otherwise, sadly is fairly commonplace in the wine industry.  Just this week while wandering up and down the aisle of a well-known national wine retailer, it was disappointing to see how many wines had shelf talkers with scores from earlier vintages — – completely unrelated to the corresponding wines!

Bottom line? Buyer beware!

Eat, drink, and be merry…

Bruce

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