A Night at the Ópera – Episode #77

Author: Mark V. Fusco

San Antonio, TX

Mark reviews the 2008 Ópera Prima Shiraz.

Links for today’s show:

J. García Carrión – winemaker

CIV USA – U.S. Importer

2 Responses to “A Night at the Ópera – Episode #77”

  1. Tim #

    I wish you well with your site. I have to say that your selections seem to be glorified grocery store brands (BAREFOOT – COME ON). You claim to be an aspiring sommelier and you treat Cost Plus World Market as the wine Mecca of the new world. I still might be interested if you tried more than 1 wine at a time.

    Good Luck

    10/19/2009 at 22:13 Reply
  2. Mark V. Fusco #

    Hi, Tim. Thanks for the feedback. Here’s where I’m at with all of this:

    1. I was jobless for 4 months which corresponded with the start of this site. That was an unfortunate bit of timing as this was to be done while I had income. I started with 5/week and had to cut back due to money.

    2. Budget. First, see above. Second. To do more than 1 per show even at $10 or under gets to be expensive very quickly. Now that I have a "day job" I can afford to increase my buy to $15-20 more often.

    3. Like many other budget blogs on wine, focusing on wines that are readily available makes the site more accessible to the target audience. If I was going for those that drink Caymus, Pétrus, Silver Oak, Salon, etc. then all of this would be moot. Therefore, glorified store brands are what you’ll get. If you remember in the Barefootin’ episode, I said that that was a wine that was given to me by a friend who doesn’t drink wine. He had gotten it from another friend to didn’t want it. I also mentioned that I’m not a fan of Barefoot. I’ve had it in the past. I’ve purposefully avoided it since I know it’s typically a brand I don’t like. So it’s not like I was at the store and said, "Wow! Barefoot! Let’s try this!" It was a freebie and I figured why not try it. BTW, I finished it off last night and it was just OK. Not really my style, but I didn’t want to dump it.

    4. World Market. They are not the mecca, but the wine selection at the local supermarket chain close to where I live is limited at best to just the same old stuff. While I do get wine from the local chain, World Market has a better selection, and I find it’s more eclectic, which I like. So for that it’s a personal preference. Remember, I’m looking for budget wines here, so I only have so much to work with. Also, the other wine shops here in San Antonio are either too high priced, or literally a 30-45 min drive one-way to get some wine. Now that I’m gainfully employed, I’ll be more inclined to spend that gas money. A side note; a large wine/liquor chain from Houston, Spec’s, is opening very close to where I live and will have a huge selection.

    5. How I buy wine. I normally buy a lot of wine at once from one place. It’s just easier for me. So, I might "feature" World Market for 3-4 weeks, HEB for another 3-4 weeks, Costco for 3-4 weeks, etc. I don’t drive all over San Antonio to buy a couple here and a couple there each week. Sometimes other wines from other places will show up during those runs if I’ve been elsewhere and see something I want to try. I haven’t gotten to the point of having wineries sending me wine all the time. However, that is starting to look better. I also don’t own/run a wine shop like others allowing me even more access to better wines that I could write off to the business. Plus having vendors come in all the time to not only to get me to sell their wine, but also review it. And this isn’t just referencing Gary Vaynerchuk. There are others that have this advantage.

    6. Sommelier – OK, here’s the deal. Yes, Somms get paid a lot of money to suggest MUCH better wine than I’m reviewing here. The other part of this site, Sommelier School, is my online "diary" if you will of me preparing to take the test. A Somm is much more than some person who sells you a 1st Growth from Bordeaux. He must know about all wines in addition to spirits, beer, service, food pairings, managing the bar, etc. So having that knowledge isn’t necessarily dependent on knowing $200 bottles of wine. HOWEVER, it is a key component that I admit I’m lacking. I don’t try to say I’m at that level. As should be evident from watching these shows, I’m still in the learning stages of training my palate and nose. I’ve officially reviewed about 75 different wines for this website. There have been a couple repeats along the way. Now that I can afford some better wines, I will have better experiences. But the bottom line is that even if I was a Master of Wine, or a Master Sommelier, if I decided to review $10 bottles of wine to tap into the largest number of people out there to build interest in wine, then that should be just fine. That might be the target audience I’m going for to demystify wine. The people that drink the more expensive wines typically are not afraid of wine. So this site really isn’t meant for the wine connoisseurs of the world. It’s meant for those that are looking for value/budget wines.

    With that all said, I’ve already mentioned in some shows that I hope to review more expensive wines. I do have about 2 more weeks of wine to go through first. Though I did review a $45 bottle of Champagne recently (A Cause for Celebration) to celebrate getting a job and hopefully up the price/quality level of the wines. To review more than one wine at a time right now is still going to be unrealistic. Time and money (mostly money) are the main obstacles. I think I’ve beat that money thing into the ground enough by now.

    10/19/2009 at 23:13 Reply

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