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  johnhinman 10/23/2006 at 12:46 PST

I am a lawyer and I have been in the wine business for almost 30 years. You can view my credentials at Our firm represents many of the world's largest and most prestigious wineries, as well as many small wineries, retailers (large and small) and others in the wine business. Alcohol regulation is all that we do: I also serve as the General Counsel of the Specialty Wine Retailers Association [], and General Counsel of the American Wine Alliance for Research and Education []. I have represented Montesquieu as well as Fonda Hopkins for many years and the allegations of the winery being a scam, misleading or somehow shady or unscrupulous are absolutely false and an insult to the intelligence of anyone who has ever been in the wine business. They might also be actionable legally, but that is not the purpose of this post. I want to deal with the merits of the wine business.

Montesquieu is an example of a negociant winery that does just what it says that it does. It scours the world for small lots of wine from either small wineries or vineyard properties (which often are not wineries but rather grape growers who have the grapes processed for them and sell the wine) that are an exceptional value, clears the wine through the regulatory system, bottles them (and sometimes blends for taste, a process called the "assemblage") and makes the wine available to those who are on the various customer lists maintained by the winery. Those lists are generated from the website, from advertisements and, most importantly, from satisfied customers who refer their friends. The most important people at Montesquieu are those on the tasting panel. It is their taste profiles that are being featured, much as the wines hyped by Robert Parker and other wine tasters are featured on their websites.

Negociant wineries are a European concept that has slowly made its way into the US market over the last 25 years and now may represent (in one form or another) over 50% of the current wine market. Indeed, most of the currently estimated 50,000 US wine brands come either from negociant wineries or grape growers, or from special labels developed by the winery (often bearing an entirely different "dba" - "doing business as") so that particular wines can be marketed and sold in different channels of trade. The question of price is inherently wrapped up in the question of taste, and in the concept of value. A negociant goes after taste and value. The customers stay with the negociant because they trust in that equation, and they trust the negociant. One of the most relevant comments in the thread above is the one from Heathcliff, who loved the wine that he bought and who bought more as a result. He bought the wine because to him it represented quality and value and he was not disappointed. That is the true test.

As for the post from winer1, the screen name should be "whiner1." That person is clearly a disgruntled wanna-be wine salesman who didn't make the cut at Montesquieu. The winery marketing department demands that the salespeople demonstrate knowledge of the wine business, an understanding of fine wine and the ability to explain to the winery's customers what it is that they are offering. The winery makes no excuses for using modern marketing and tele-marketing technology. That also gets the story out quickly and efficiently, and adds to the value proposition. The two posts from persons who wanted to be employees and couldn't even last a day speaks for itself. They don't have a clue.

We assure you that the wines from Montesquieu are of the highest quality and that the winery can be trusted.

We would really like to hear what you have to say
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