The San Francisco Chronicle’s ace restaurant reviewer, Michael Bauer, yesterday published a blog piece asking if “restaurants…should be doing more to woo baby boomers.”
As Michael (who is a Boomer himself, I believe) observes, “restaurateurs are always looking for the younger customer with disposable income.” Then he asks the key question: “Is that the right approach?”
Restaurateurs aren’t the only ones doing everything they can to “woo” Millennials. If you check out most magazines and newspapers, they, too, are “reaching out” (hate that phrase) to consumers in their 20s and 30s. Look at the advertisements, articles and T.V. programs and commercials. It’s as if everyone were 28, except, possibly, in ads for hearing aids. Like Bauer, I wonder if this doesn’t represent a basic misconception. After all, Baby Boomers are the ones with disposable incomes in America. The Millennials are saddled with rents or mortgages, the cost of raising kids, paying off their credit cards and so on. Boomers have largely bought everything they’ll ever need, and so they have the money to spend on restaurants, wine and other “lifestyle” items. And yet it’s as if we don’t exist. Makes me wonder.
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I’m starting to taste the 2012 Pinot Noirs as they come in. So far, I’ve done about 110 of them. As you may know, I’ve had high expectations for this vintage. So far, however, the Pinots are failing to excite me. There’s plenty of fruit. In fact, in some cases, I’d call the wines fruit bombs. And they’re not inexpensive. Most are in the $30-$50 range. Still, my hopes remain high. The best wineries won’t release their wines until this summer or even later, and the great vineyard designated bottles have yet to come (it seems like most of the 2012 Pinots that are out now have regional, not vineyard, designations, or are blends of several vineyards with proprietary names).
It goes without saying that just because a vintage is great, not all wines from it are great! This is where I always get perplexed when coming up with my vintage scores for Wine Enthusiast. If I give a high score to a vintage, variety and region (say, 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley), that doesn’t mean all ’07 Napa Cabs are great. My vintage assessments are based on what a majority of the best wines can achieve. That is obviously a slippery parameter. Two thousand and seven was the easiest vintage assessment I’ve had in years, because the best wines, from all varieties and regions, were all so good on release, and many of them were ageable too–well, the red wines, anyhow. But not every vintage is that easy to analyze. The 2012 vintage, on paper, was easy, but we all know that reality has a funny way of intruding on theory. I’m still anxiously awaiting the best 2012 Pinots, but perhaps I’m a little more jaundiced than I was two months ago.
And then there are the 2012 Cabernets. To call them so far a trickle is an overstatement. I’ve been sent fewer than sixty, with most of them priced from below $10 to $15 or so. In other words, it isn’t possible to make any kind of coherent assessment of the vintage based on this scanty evidence. But again, on paper the vintage looks excellent for Cabs and Bordeaux blends.
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There’s a great column in our local free paper, SF Weekly, by the arts and culture columnist, Katy St. Clair, who’s always such fun to read. In it, she muses why she likes those Michael Bolton commercials for Honda so much. These commercials have become standing jokes everywhere because they’re so cheesy. Katy wonders if the cheesiness is exactly what makes them so addictively watchable. Are they intentionally cheesy–ironic self-aware allusions, like every Steve Carell or Will Ferrell character? Or were they created sincerely by the advertising agency, making them unintentionally cheesy? I don’t know the answer, but it did occur to me, reading Katy’s article, that part of the reason I have mixed feelings about winery use of social media is that the products (especially the videos) are so damned earnest. There’s no sense of humor, no trace of mocumentary or snicker. You comments are welcome, and have a great weekend!