Sojourn threads feel a little spammy

Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
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brigcampbell
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#1 Post by brigcampbell » January 17th, 2017, 7:19 pm

Just sayin.

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#2 Post by J a y H a c k » January 17th, 2017, 7:23 pm

I like the wine and I know that some of the others who post on it also like it a lot. I even had one with Dan the Man a few weeks ago that he brought. Can you point to something specific?
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#3 Post by larry schaffer » January 17th, 2017, 7:32 pm

No . . . Really?

Was it the big sign above the table saying:

96 POINT PINOT ???
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#4 Post by brigcampbell » January 17th, 2017, 7:35 pm

There's 3 separate Sojourn threads on the first page, 1 on the second, and 4 on the 3 page all about the wines in the just announced release.

Then there aren't ANY mentions of Sojourn for at least 4 more pages before I gave up searching.

Just sayin.

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#5 Post by larry schaffer » January 17th, 2017, 8:01 pm

Well . . .

Here's the real question - and folks should probably be up front about this:

Are folks getting freebie samples in exchange for writing about them?
Is there a road trip out there where someone from Sojourn is pouring these?

If I am wrong, please call me out on this - I can take it . . .

Just curious.

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#6 Post by Anton D » January 17th, 2017, 8:13 pm

Maybe the recent posters tasted together?
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#7 Post by MaiMadigan » January 17th, 2017, 8:24 pm

Samples get sent and tastings are arranged in Sonoma for some who are asked if they might be interested in adding a note here.

Basic marketing.

I have my own thoughts on all of this but as for the marketing effort I cannot slight anyone involved.

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#8 Post by Bryan Cottriel » January 17th, 2017, 8:31 pm

larry schaffer wrote:Well . . .

Here's the real question - and folks should probably be up front about this:

Are folks getting freebie samples in exchange for writing about them?
Is there a road trip out there where someone from Sojourn is pouring these?

If I am wrong, please call me out on this - I can take it . . .

Just curious.

Cheers!
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I will gladly volunteer if you decide to take on this marketing strategy [drinkers.gif]

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#9 Post by Joe S. » January 17th, 2017, 8:32 pm

Decent wines - not surprised they have been mentioned as of late. Can't speak to the multiple threads or the spam-ness of the threads. [wow.gif]
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#10 Post by c fu » January 17th, 2017, 8:49 pm

i don't see the big deal. They got offered to try the new releases, they wrote notes. Shrug. Take them how you may.
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#11 Post by Steve Gautier » January 18th, 2017, 5:49 am

I think spam is a little bit harsh. I think the number of different threads may be what caught your attention since some posted about wines as they drank them, some posted about just the Pinots and others were more about the whole release.

Why I think spam is a bit harsh is that the notes came from Board participants (many long-term) on a winery that is a BerserkerBusiness and who participate in BerserkerDay. To me spam would be someone who the board doesn't know coming on to promote a wine.

Since the notes are pre-release, it is apparent that these are not purchased wines just like many of the posts where we go to tasting rooms and get the opportunity to taste wines that are not yet available for purchase.
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#12 Post by Dan Hammer » January 18th, 2017, 6:43 am

I edited my post. I decided not to get involved with this.
Last edited by Dan Hammer on January 18th, 2017, 7:17 am, edited 4 times in total.
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#13 Post by Brian Tuite » January 18th, 2017, 7:00 am

Another Sojourn thread? Seriously Brig!
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#14 Post by Dan Hammer » January 18th, 2017, 7:05 am

Brian Tuite wrote:Another Sojourn thread? Seriously Brig!
Anything to draw attention to the new release. neener
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#15 Post by Doug Schulman » January 18th, 2017, 10:05 am

Steve Gautier wrote: Since the notes are pre-release, it is apparent that these are not purchased wines just like many of the posts where we go to tasting rooms and get the opportunity to taste wines that are not yet available for purchase.
It's not apparent unless it's stated. There's a big difference between going to a tasting room and getting free bottles. In the latter case, even if tasters try to avoid it, they will likely be influenced by the fact that they received free bottles. I think it should be mentioned. Everyone else is so cautious about stating ITB affiliations here, yet when people receive free bottles with the expectation of posted notes, they are very much in the business of marketing, and apparently (there's that word again) not mentioning it.

edit: I have absolutely no problem with the practice, but I really do believe it should be stated.

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#16 Post by Anton D » January 18th, 2017, 10:35 am

Steve Gautier wrote:I think spam is a little bit harsh. I think the number of different threads may be what caught your attention since some posted about wines as they drank them, some posted about just the Pinots and others were more about the whole release.

Why I think spam is a bit harsh is that the notes came from Board participants (many long-term) on a winery that is a BerserkerBusiness and who participate in BerserkerDay. To me spam would be someone who the board doesn't know coming on to promote a wine.

Since the notes are pre-release, it is apparent that these are not purchased wines just like many of the posts where we go to tasting rooms and get the opportunity to taste wines that are not yet available for purchase.
Not spamming, shilling?

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#17 Post by Chris Seiber » January 18th, 2017, 10:39 am

Steve Gautier wrote:I think spam is a little bit harsh.
Which is probably why Brig said "a little spammy." I think he meant that you could sense the coordination of free tastings, posted notes, and the new release. Those things probably didn't happen organically or coincidentally.

It also doesn't mean there is anything wrong with it (and I like Sojourn and the people behind it), but I can see how people notice what seems to be going on and take it into account in seeing all the Sojourn new release posts.

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#18 Post by Jeremy C » January 18th, 2017, 10:44 am

Doug Schulman wrote:
Steve Gautier wrote: Since the notes are pre-release, it is apparent that these are not purchased wines just like many of the posts where we go to tasting rooms and get the opportunity to taste wines that are not yet available for purchase.
It's not apparent unless it's stated. There's a big difference between going to a tasting room and getting free bottles. In the latter case, even if tasters try to avoid it, they will likely be influenced by the fact that they received free bottles. I think it should be mentioned. Everyone else is so cautious about stating ITB affiliations here, yet when people receive free bottles with the expectation of posted notes, they are very much in the business of marketing, and apparently (there's that word again) not mentioning it.

edit: I have absolutely no problem with the practice, but I really do believe it should be stated.
Agreed.
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#19 Post by Jon U » January 18th, 2017, 10:50 am

In other news, Amazon has decided to ban incentivized reviews. Their research concluded that, despite some honest attempts to be authentic, sponsored reviews were overwhelmingly skewing positive.

I agree that the sponsored reviews should at least state such so that I can take that into account.
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#20 Post by S. Stevenson » January 18th, 2017, 10:51 am

brigcampbell wrote:There's 3 separate Sojourn threads on the first page, 1 on the second, and 4 on the 3 page all about the wines in the just announced release.

Then there aren't ANY mentions of Sojourn for at least 4 more pages before I gave up searching.

Just sayin.
May be true, but what about Bedrock and Carlisle? Talk about all over this board...
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#21 Post by Siun o'Connell » January 18th, 2017, 11:00 am

I'd certainly expect a mention that the note was thanks to receiving a free bottle,etc - that's the minimum ethical standard for most such situations isn't it?

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#22 Post by Chris Seiber » January 18th, 2017, 11:44 am

S. Stevenson wrote:
brigcampbell wrote:There's 3 separate Sojourn threads on the first page, 1 on the second, and 4 on the 3 page all about the wines in the just announced release.

Then there aren't ANY mentions of Sojourn for at least 4 more pages before I gave up searching.

Just sayin.
May be true, but what about Bedrock and Carlisle? Talk about all over this board...
I don't think anyone is saying that posters talking positively and frequently about wines "feels a little spammy." Carlisle did its release today - do you see a half dozen threads this week of customers having recently tasted their new releases? I don't know anyone who gets to taste Carlisle and Bedrock before they are released.

Again, I'm not attacking Sojourn, but what Brig is noticing isn't just "they get a lot of love on the board."

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#23 Post by CWun » January 18th, 2017, 1:46 pm

In the past, out-of-town Berserkers would pre-arrange tasting visits to places like Rhys, and I've been lucky enough to be invited along to fill up the room. We got to taste the upcoming vintage, and even stuff in barrel. Several of us wrote up tasting reports. Seems acceptable, to me.

Is Sojourn actively recruiting people to come taste and write notes?
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#24 Post by Tom Gibson » January 18th, 2017, 2:05 pm

CWun wrote:In the past, out-of-town Berserkers would pre-arrange tasting visits to places like Rhys, and I've been lucky enough to be invited along to fill up the room. We got to taste the upcoming vintage, and even stuff in barrel. Several of us wrote up tasting reports. Seems acceptable, to me.

Is Sojourn actively recruiting people to come taste and write notes?
To me that's the crux of the issue.

And, if they are, please send as many bottles as you'd like my way. ;-)

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#25 Post by Ian Sutton » January 18th, 2017, 3:35 pm

Ah good old ethics

As ordinary forumites, receiving a free bottle from a winery would be unusual and most likely make us feel positive about them. For critics, or those trying to establish themselves as such, the scenario is more common and would make little impact.

Personally I'd feel happier if forumites would put a simple note against any TN, if the wine was supplied free by the winery. Those who receive cases of samples a year are in a different position, but still perhaps useful to call that out in their profile (rather than individual posts).

As for the winery, if they are supplying wines with the encouragement to post a TN to this forum, then I am more uncomfortable. If the positive reviews get more wine sent and the negative ones struck from the freebie list, then that runs rather too close to bribery and certainly challenges the integrity of what is posted here.

That's a big 'if' though.

If people have posted notes on wines sent for free, then your comments would certainly be of interest. I can't promise you won't get criticised for it, but not from me.

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#26 Post by Anton D » January 18th, 2017, 3:41 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:Ah good old ethics

As ordinary forumites, receiving a free bottle from a winery would be unusual and most likely make us feel positive about them. For critics, or those trying to establish themselves as such, the scenario is more common and would make little impact.

Personally I'd feel happier if forumites would put a simple note against any TN, if the wine was supplied free by the winery. Those who receive cases of samples a year are in a different position, but still perhaps useful to call that out in their profile (rather than individual posts).

As for the winery, if they are supplying wines with the encouragement to post a TN to this forum, then I am more uncomfortable. If the positive reviews get more wine sent and the negative ones struck from the freebie list, then that runs rather too close to bribery and certainly challenges the integrity of what is posted here.

That's a big 'if' though.

If people have posted notes on wines sent for free, then your comments would certainly be of interest. I can't promise you won't get criticised for it, but not from me.

regards
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Good post.

I figure, if someone got a free sample it would be because that person was already a fan of the wines and the tasting note would be in the context of someone who has experience with that winery and likes their product - useful to me and perhaps better than a 'random' TN.

I hope that made sense.

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#27 Post by Albert R » January 18th, 2017, 3:47 pm

I agree with the author of this thread. Something about all the recent Sojourn postings....... It's either going to turn people on or off........
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#28 Post by S. Stevenson » January 18th, 2017, 4:35 pm

Stan

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#29 Post by ky1em!ttskus » January 18th, 2017, 4:55 pm

You seriously see that thread and tasters receiving free bottles of wine and posting notes right before a release as the same thing?

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#30 Post by Bill Tex Landreth » January 18th, 2017, 5:19 pm

I have had two winery owners offer to send me free wine in exchange for positive notes here.

Both board favorites. One from Central Coast and one from Napa/Sonoma.

This was years ago, and I never responded. It happens quite a bit.
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#31 Post by Ian Sutton » January 18th, 2017, 7:31 pm

Thanks for that Bill.
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#32 Post by Michael Martin » January 18th, 2017, 7:33 pm

Boo, hiss. Not even close.

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#33 Post by Scott Watkins » January 18th, 2017, 7:55 pm

Not sure but would you consider this spammy... "Has Anyone Been Drinking BerserkerDay Wines Lately?
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#34 Post by Mike Evans » January 18th, 2017, 8:12 pm

Scott Watkins wrote:Not sure but would you consider this spammy... "Has Anyone Been Drinking BerserkerDay Wines Lately?
I've made several posts on that thread (ironically including a TN on a Sojourn) and wouldn't call it spammy at all. To the best of my knowledge, no one ITB asked for notes or sent out samples or organized a tasting of wines for the thread.

While there is a commercial angle to it, it is in support of a community commercial event that includes a large number of vendors. I bought from 18 different producers last year IIRC, and only scratched the surface, so any information available about anyone making offers is helpful.

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#35 Post by Peter Shurman » January 18th, 2017, 9:04 pm

If any winery owner wishes to send me free samples to taste, I'm open for business.

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#36 Post by Sherri S h a p i r o » January 19th, 2017, 5:19 am

Seriously? ONE continuous, long term thread for people to compare their notes on the SAME winery, with no one getting free samples or being asked to post notes . . . HUGE difference between that and what is apparently going on with multiple Sojourn threads written by members receiving free bottles in exchange for their reviews. I had the same reaction as Brig.

The comparison to Amazon is apt, but at least on Amazon, reviewers note that they received a promotional product in exchange for their review. I have no issue with the winery or anyone posting tasting notes here; I just personally think it should be stated in the note that they received the bottle for free with the understanding they would post here, and as a mod, I would prefer that notes on the same release be contained in one thread!

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#37 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » January 19th, 2017, 5:34 am

Siun o'Connell wrote:I'd certainly expect a mention that the note was thanks to receiving a free bottle,etc - that's the minimum ethical standard for most such situations isn't it?
This ^

Such an easy thing to do as well.
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#38 Post by Scott Butler » January 19th, 2017, 6:18 am

Jon U wrote:In other news, Amazon has decided to ban incentivized reviews. Their research concluded that, despite some honest attempts to be authentic, sponsored reviews were overwhelmingly skewing positive.

I agree that the sponsored reviews should at least state such so that I can take that into account.
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#39 Post by larry schaffer » January 19th, 2017, 10:02 am

Robert Alfert, Jr. wrote:
Siun o'Connell wrote:I'd certainly expect a mention that the note was thanks to receiving a free bottle,etc - that's the minimum ethical standard for most such situations isn't it?
This ^

Such an easy thing to do as well.
Exactly! Any good blogger that receives wines and reviews them notes that they were provided the wines gratis.

The real question - for those who have received these samples, is it 'implied' that you will post notes or just 'suggested'? I think this is a very important point here.

I'm not in the habit of providing free samples to too many folks - I don't currently submit for ratings but occasionally do run into bloggers whose style I like and will provide them a few bottles - with the understanding that they are not 'committed' to reviewing the wines whatsoever . . . and if they do, they will state whatever they find, both positive and negative.

Transparency should be the rule here, no?

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#40 Post by Ian Sutton » January 19th, 2017, 12:05 pm

Hi Larry
FWIW I think it is fair for wineries to expect a review if sending a wine to a blogger. As you say, the review should be a 'warts and all' opinion, but receiving a wine and not reviewing it, ought to strike them off the list of further samples.
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#41 Post by Corey N. » January 19th, 2017, 2:29 pm

Scott Watkins wrote:Not sure but would you consider this spammy... "Has Anyone Been Drinking BerserkerDay Wines Lately?
I started that thread because I've found a lot of producers that I like on BerserkerDay. In most cases, it was the notes/chatter of other that encouraged me to buy the wine in the first place. I was hoping people would jump in with tasting notes so I could find other producers to seek out.

I note that Todd started a similar thread last year.
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#42 Post by M.Kaplan » January 19th, 2017, 4:47 pm

brigcampbell wrote:Just sayin.
I believe the correct term is shill. But, yes.
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#43 Post by james l moleberg » January 19th, 2017, 6:55 pm

unbelievable that sojourn is resorting to such tactics to gin up sales, and hard to give ANY merit to any tasting notes (whether sojourn or otherwise) from the various posters. just bad behavior on all participants.

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#44 Post by Scott Watkins » January 19th, 2017, 8:27 pm

Corey N. wrote:
Scott Watkins wrote:Not sure but would you consider this spammy... "Has Anyone Been Drinking BerserkerDay Wines Lately?
I started that thread because I've found a lot of producers that I like on BerserkerDay. In most cases, it was the notes/chatter of other that encouraged me to buy the wine in the first place. I was hoping people would jump in with tasting notes so I could find other producers to seek out.

I note that Todd started a similar thread last year.
Really I have no problem with the thread you started and actually it helps me make buying decisions for the BD that is coming. I have always assumed that Sojourn has a lot of tastings in different city's and people who obviously already like them post notes, no harm done imho. Now if they are sending out free bottles just to get good reviews that is another story.
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#45 Post by Robert Grenley » January 19th, 2017, 9:14 pm

When I am offered mailing list domestic Pinots that are not yet reviewed by Tanzer, Burghound, Gilman, etc., I usually check Cellar Tracker and the WB boards to see if anyone has tasted the wines pre-release...although I have always assumed that if they had, it would have been at a visit to the winery. It never occurred to me that a winery would send free bottles to a board member in exchange for them posting reviews on this board as a marketing ploy. I suppose it is a testament to the influence of these boards. There is a big difference in my opinion between professional wine critics that receive free samples from ALL wineries and then publish what we assume are impartial reviews, and what most of us would assume are fellow wine drinkers sharing their experiences and recommendations on this board. When someone is in the biz, they state it and when they discuss a wine that they represent, they should say so. When someone is given free bottles if they agree to post reviews on this site, then they should say so. It does make me a little less trusting of what I read here, unfortunately.
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#46 Post by Wes Barton » January 19th, 2017, 11:39 pm

Siun o'Connell wrote:I'd certainly expect a mention that the note was thanks to receiving a free bottle,etc - that's the minimum ethical standard for most such situations isn't it?
Exactly.
CWun wrote:In the past, out-of-town Berserkers would pre-arrange tasting visits to places like Rhys, and I've been lucky enough to be invited along to fill up the room. We got to taste the upcoming vintage, and even stuff in barrel. Several of us wrote up tasting reports. Seems acceptable, to me.

Is Sojourn actively recruiting people to come taste and write notes?
It's totally cool and appreciated to see notes like those. But with Rhys, for example, the context of the notes is made clear. And yes, it's a testament to the influence of this forum. Treating forumites like bloggers is fine, but those posters need to disclose the context of their TNs the same way a blogger should.
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#47 Post by Humberto Dorta » January 20th, 2017, 6:22 am

I dont think its that big of a deal. Back when I used to post on every wine I drank, I got free wine from three wineries. One bottle I absolutely loved and posted about. One bottle I was lukewarm about and posted about it. One bottle I was not a fan of, and witheld the note, though I put it on CT and told the winemaker about it. They sent me a second bottle with similar results. Ironically Id probably enjoy it more these days. At any rate, I am fairly certain that I mentioned on my notes that they were freebies. Though if it wasnt for this thread, I wouldnt have given it much thought. The reason why I mentioned it, was because the first winery that sent me a bottle asked publicly (in a thread) if I would taste the wine, so it flowed naturally that I mentioned this in my note.
The wines are pre release. That is an indication of preferential treatment of some sort, whether a tasting at the winery or a wine sent in the mail. It is still free wine that most people dont have access to. That is all anyone needs to know for the grain of salt. Would it be easier if people added a "warning: I got this bottle for free?" Sure but I think that if you are paying attention and have half a brain it is pretty self evident, as is the case with the Sojourn notes, that the buyer should beware of bias.
You can, however, question my decision to not post a note when I disliked the wine. I am shady like that ;)
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#48 Post by Brian Tuite » January 20th, 2017, 6:33 am

Humberto Dorta wrote: I think that if you are paying attention and have half a brain
[winner.gif]

But, but, this is the internet. There are no prerequisites. With that said I always mention in my note if the wine was a gift from the winemaker. I've had guys give me a bottle and ask me to get back to them with my impressions but have never been asked to post notes publicly in exchange for the gratis bottle. That would be kinda slimy.
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#49 Post by Bill Tex Landreth » January 20th, 2017, 6:55 am

Brian Tuite wrote:
Humberto Dorta wrote: I think that if you are paying attention and have half a brain
[winner.gif]

But, but, this is the internet. There are no prerequisites. With that said I always mention in my note if the wine was a gift from the winemaker. I've had guys give me a bottle and ask me to get back to them with my impressions but have never been asked to post notes publicly in exchange for the gratis bottle. That would be kinda slimy.
Your last two sentences are the crux of the matter. I was approached to post POSITIVE notes in exchange for free wine. One of the wineries sent similar requests to at least one other very prominent proponent of Cabernet here on WB.
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#50 Post by Ian Sutton » January 20th, 2017, 7:03 am

Humberto Dorta wrote: You can, however, question my decision to not post a note when I disliked the wine. I am shady like that ;)
Hi Humberto
That is a tough one. If I were a blogger I would post the note. Negative reviews shouldn't be the focus of a blog, but occasional negative reviews give a degree of credibility that the reviewer isn't an easy touch for anyone who will send them free wine. Selective reviewing favours the big producers who can send hundreds of bottles out, knowing they'll hit some positive reviews.

As an individual, I did once get given a free bottle by a local merchant (when he dropped off a case I'd bought from him). He had just started stocking wines from a producer in Tuscany and was seeking an opinion. The wine wasn't to my taste and when I saw him next he asked how I found it and I let him know. I did also post a TN to CT. I did doubt whether that was fair, but felt it was. I wasn't comfortable posting to a wine forum however, even though I might well have posted to a wine forum (with suitable caveat) had I enjoyed the wine.

Double standards? Yes I think it is, but I would have felt like a jerk had I also posted a negative review on a wine forum as well. I'm just an ordinary bloke and not a blogger or aspiring wine critic, so I can/should tread a little more gently.

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