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Wither Hills - any lasting effect?  Add/Read Comments



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Last Sunday a post of mine on Wine Sediments slipped by unnoticed. The story of a New Zealand wine producer (Wither Hills) having a magazine tasting award withdrawn seemed relatively unimportant.

Subsequent comments and news from New Zealand have launched the story to the forefront of the wine blogs - seeing how the great Thresher viral story is so UK-centric and of even less interest to those outside the UK.

Mark at Uncorked has gone as far as thinking that it could have major repercussions across the wine-tasting world. He feels that the scandal "could threaten the credibility of wine reviews, contests worldwide". I mentioned competitions last month; the two major UK competitions Decanter magazine's World Wine Awards and Wine Magazine's International Wine Challenge have both been under pressure recently.

Will this New Zealand scandal have any effect up here in the UK? I doubt it. How can the thousands of wines submitted to these huge competitions be checked with what is actually available on the high street. There are likely to be unscrupulous producers who send in samples of better quality or special batches of wine than what is generally released - the temptation must be very great but being caught would be massively damaging to reputations all round. I can't see it having any effect on the existing competitions at all.

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Is it possible that a similar technique is being used to commercial advantage. You produce two batches, one large inferior batch, and one good small batch. It’s all sold with the same labeling. There is a reasonable chance that the consumer will buy try a bottle of the good batch and having liked it will buy a larger quantity to put away. On the law of averages, the producer has a good chance of getting a better price for the inferior wine than it really deserves.

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