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2002 Whispering Dove, Oakville, Napa

Mr. Cult Cabernet I presume? Surely you've heard of Screaming Eagle. I tend to use it here at Vinography as more of a metaphor than actually a real wine. It's the 400-700 case production Napa Cabernet made by Heidi Peterson Barrett that sells for $1400 and change at retail. I think I've only ever seen one bottle in my life, and that was a mistake because I don't make enough money to be allowed to see the bottle (they check your tax returns before opening the box at the 3 wine stores in the world that get it).

Well someone has come up with a darn good branding idea. It's called Whispering Dove, "The Alter Eagle" and wants to be the cult Napa Cabernet for the rest of us. Or at least several thousand more of us than its inspired cousin.

The debut vintage of Whispering Dove was cloaked in rumor and intimation, and during the 6 days it took to sell out completely, allegations flew wildly. Some claimed it was excess wine from Screaming Eagle that they didn't want to bottle. No, no, said some, it was merely made from grapes purchased from Screaming Eagle. Others claimed yet that the grapes were from Pahlmeyer, and that Helen Turley was the winemaker, while still others claimed that the whole reason it had the name it did was because Heidi Barrett was the winemaker.

Well I can't clear up all the mysteries on this one, but here's the dirt on this wine: It is a legitimate Napa reserve Cabernet Sauvignon made from grapes of an unnamed source in Oakville (where Screaming Eagle happens to be). It is a label created by Allen Myerson and Mark Newman (who may or may not be the former CEO of eWine.Com, now defunct). They are very tight lipped about who the winemaker is, but seem to indicate that the relationship to Screaming Eagle is in concept only, but again, they're not saying anything.

So what have you got here, then? A little mystery and a lot of marketing. Can't tell you much more about the wine other than what I can guess from tasting it. I'd say that it was picked very ripe and partially destemmed, it saw more new French oak than less, aged for probably 10 to 16 months.

If anyone knows more about this wine, let me know.

Tasting Notes:
This wine is a med to dark ruby color in the glass, and has a perfumed nose of chocolate covered cherries and mocha aromas. In the mouth the first thing you are hit with is a massive amount of sweet oak, that gives way to bright cherry fruit flavors. The wine is supple in the mouth and somewhat well structured, though ultimately unbalanced in favor of the oak and forward fruit, and not as complex as it could be. The finish is moderate, but overwhelmed by oak.

Food Pairing:
I think the high tones of this wine would seem less aggressive if paired with something earthy and meaty, like a beef bourguignon.

Overall Score: 8.5

How Much?: $30

This wine is readily available for purchase via several Internet merchants.

Comments (52)

Quezzy wrote:
04.21.05 at 8:23 AM

This is an attempt By Allen Meyerson, owner of Wine Warehouse, a fourth rate wine distributor in Richmond CA to both enter the more lucrative business of wine production and distribute the wine through Wine Warehouse and become a legitimate wine producer.

Hector wrote:
04.21.05 at 8:28 AM

…about six months ago the Whispering Dove marketing wiz hit the shores of southern California and every little wine purveyor pushed it…in fact one could not walk into any of my favorite wine shops (five to be exact) without being shuffled off to an area where I could gaze at the beautiful white dove emblazoned on the new pine wine box…each time I was given the Screaming Eagle speech I laughed, I always love a good con, especially when played on those consumed with pretensions (actually, one proprietor kept pushing Whispering Dove as I tried to buy a Brian Loring Pinot and I started to get pissed off, anyway…)…so, when I hear a phrase like “tight lipped” in regards to production info, something is amiss…finally I had a chance to taste it and at best I can say it is uninspired…I thought they would at least have spiked it with a little Petit Verdot or even Cabernet Franc to give it a little personality…but no, nothing…did I mention the cool dove on the pine wine box….

Alder wrote:
04.21.05 at 6:25 PM


Thanks for the comment. I have to ask you, though, to refrain from personal attacks please. Keep criticism focused on the wines, or the marketing tactics.

I was unaware that Allen was the same Allen of Wine Warehouse.

04.23.05 at 6:25 PM

I have a line on 6 cases of this wine and I'm not sure if I want to pull the trigger or not. Something doesn't sit right with me. While the wine itself is nothing special, I tend to think that the resale down the road will be robust, as many who are freshly into wine buy on name recognition and rumor. I can think of plenty of sub 15 dollar bottles that outperform Dove yet will never reach the same level of sales because of the hype. Whispering Dove is the blair witch project of wine.

Quezzy wrote:
04.23.05 at 9:52 PM

I have been told that Whispering Dove is in fact made by the folks at Pahlmeyer. Nothing like the wines under the Pahlmeyer label, just a poor attempt to capitilize on the tail of a similarly named wine.

Windy wrote:
04.25.05 at 10:58 AM

Whispering Dove is NOT made by Pahlmeyer. That,and the Screaming Eagle connection, were rumors started when the wine was first released to shops. I work at a wine store in downtown SF, and the owner's brother is the GM of Pahlmeyer. He called us to specifically tell us that the Pahlmeyer rumor was false and to please clear this up with any customers who had heard otherwise.

Tricia wrote:
04.25.05 at 11:25 AM

Personally I found Whispering Dove to be a wonderful wine on a number of levels. The package and marketing are indeed very creative and they got me to physically buy the wine and taste. After tasting it I bought a case. Sounds like Queezy is just an angry wine buyer. I've known not only the folks at Wine Warehouse and the Myerson family for years...the company is nothing but first rate and the Myerson family has perhaps one of the very few unblemished records in the wine business.To say Allen Myerson has no class basically says that you have never met the guy. Also, when I asked the source of the grapes and wine from two different retailers both said they did not know but did repeat the "rumors". Not just Pahlmeyer and Screaming Eagle but several others as well. Funny though, nobody gets the true meaning of "The Alter Eagle" which seems clear-its about PRICE...

John wrote:
04.25.05 at 5:56 PM

I love the Dove! The source of the juice is in my opinion meaningless. It is what is under the cork that counts and this is as good a bottle of wine for $35 as can be found. If I had to complain I'd say that it does run hot but a touch of oxygen takes the edge off. Also, age will be very kind to this wine. I can also tell you anecdotally that the local fine wine shop sold out of a pretty big stack of it within a week. When I asked the owner he said it was all resells from people who bought one bottle and returned to buy 6 or more.

Hector wrote:
04.26.05 at 10:19 AM

...a last note..I received this note from the owner of a wine store in So Cal...

From what we have found out - the vineyard that supplied the fruit was adjacent to a vineyard LEASED by Jason Pahlmeyer. Chris Myerson is the driving force behind the wine - Chris is one of the family that own WINE WAREHOUSE - When I asked Chris pointblank where the source was from - he refused to tell me - obviously they like the secrecy revolving around the controversy -

Tim wrote:
04.26.05 at 4:55 PM

Let's clear a few things up here shall we? First to Hector-there is no member of the Myerson family named Chris. I've been involved with the Myersons for nearly 30 years. As for Queezy [Michael Blazquez] it should be noted that Mr. Blazquez was a former employee of the aforementioned Wine Warehouse...which is hardly 4th rate. In fact they are perhaps the most prestegious distributor of fine wine in the United States whose list includes everything from Lafite Rothschild and Chateau D'Yquem to Heitz, Landmark,Far Niente, Cristal, Dominus Au Bon Climat and Ladera to name only a few. Hardly 4th rate.
To my knowledge Mr. Blazquez has never even met Allen Myerson and left the employ of Wine Warehouse under murky circumstances at best. Shame on you Mr. Blazquez.

Alder wrote:
04.26.05 at 5:02 PM

Thanks for your comments. Just so you and everyone knows, Michael (quezzy)sent a note of apology regarding his first message after I called him on it. He admitted that he had gotten a little carried away. Let's drop the discussions about people now and see if anyone can actually figure out where the fruit comes from ;-)

Tricia wrote:
04.26.05 at 5:14 PM

Does it truly matter where the fruit comes from? Seems like the mystery is part of the fun. It has to be from Oakville since the label says so. That narrows things down quite a bit. All I know is that I think the Dove is actually an interesting social comment about why we buy wine and pay the prices we pay. Kinda like giving Ben Afleck $20 million for a movie. I for one could care less as long as they keep getting us good wine at a fair price. And ya know, it really DOES make better dinner conversation than talking about yet another overpriced wine that personally costs me half a day just to pay for it.

Alicia wrote:
04.26.05 at 5:45 PM

Okay, so why don't we start with the wine. Delicious. I agree with Tricia. Who cares where the wine grapes are from? Isn't it taste that counts? I can buy 3 bottles of Whispering Dove for one bottle of Pahlmeyer. That means that I'm at least buying a wine which has no price mystery to it! I work hard for my wine buying dollar and it frosts me to no end when I blow a $100 and then read about the grand lifestyle of many on the golden highway [I-29] So bravo Allen Myerson or whoever makes Dove. Nice to see a little integrity returned to winemaking! Is he single?

Jathan wrote:
04.27.05 at 11:53 AM

Why don't we start with the wine? It smells like a gummy bear. Seriously. It's thin and flabby, with no layers or depth. IMHO this wine is terrible. I've had better bottles that weren't from "Oakville" and didn't cost near what this is. Actually this reminded me of Charles Shaw. I was dissappointed by the sales tactics used by the wine shop to get me into this bottle, (buy now on pre-release and save XX% when it's released.) No thanks. This wine has been out for a couple years hasn't it? This wine will NEVER be a cult. Bad investment idea.

Tricia wrote:
04.27.05 at 12:23 PM

Perhaps you should try another bottle since some very sophistocated wine drinkers from California to Bordeaux have tried the wine, loved the wine and from what I've heard bought and rebought the wine. The '01 is impossible to find and '02 has been sold at auction for more than $1,200 per case. But, that said, everybody shouldn't agree upon everything and your opinion is valid. I can tell you though that the so called 2 buck chuck reminder makes me wonder why wine buyers everywhere are buying this "terrible" wine. In the little wine shop at which I work we've sold dozens of cases...always to returning customers. And I've seen it on wine lists from Post Trio to Chinois to Auberge Du Soleil. Interesting how opinions can vary!

Alder wrote:
04.27.05 at 12:54 PM


Thanks for the comments and for focusing the discussio on what matters most. I mostly agree with you on the wine, though it's not quite as bad as you make it out to be. But in comparison with say, the Big Ass Cab, another mystery wine but about 25% the cost, it seems way overdone.


Jathan wrote:
04.27.05 at 1:15 PM

Tricia: O.K. so I was wrong on the investment idea..if it's fetching twice the bottle price, that's great. I should have bought a case of the 01 and sold it along with the hype. But we all know auctions have never been a good gauge of "value", as most auction prices are rediculous. I bet the people paying that much for it aren't the repeat customers, but the ones that read some hype, and couldn't purchase at their local retailer.

Alder, thanks for the feedback, never tried the Big Ass Cab, but the bottle cracks me up.

If you want an awesome Cab or Zin, around the Dove's and Big Asses price point, I recommend Neal Family Vineyards. Here's a write up I did on them...


Alder wrote:
04.27.05 at 4:53 PM


LOVE the Neal vineyards Cab. Too bad there's none of it to be had by ordinary folks. It was one of my favorites at Family Winemakers this year.

Calliope wrote:
04.28.05 at 5:06 PM

Okay boys this riddle is not ridiculously difficult to figure out. First, let's dispense some obvious things: Jathan, I'd love to know how a wine can be both thin and flabby? Just a question. Next, Alder, you don't need to be Columbo to figure out that the wine was aged 20 months minimum. [sorry, I could not help the gumshoe thing]If the wine was released in mid October of '04 then it was bottled in early September. After harvest and crush, 20 months. Oh, and I read the back label too where it says 20 months. The wine does run hot no doubt about it. Odds are they used the grace numbers when applying for B.A.T.F. approval 'cause it is easily 15%. Also, you guys seem to be over complicating this whole project which I feel is quite a hoot. The producer seems to be thumbing his nose at the whole wine country elitist thing. Whispering Dove is afterall the OPPOSITE of Screaming Eagle not a second cousin or neighbor. The Alter Eagle? Think about it. They aren't seeking to be similar they are seeking to be different. Bravo! More facts: The producer musta spent a mint packaging and making this wine. I spend alot of time making my table and meals pretty and I'm glad they did too. They used a 2 inch cork [although not branded] and a 6 color three mold foil stamped label. Yummy. And 100% Oakville grapes which are the most expensive grapes this side of Martha's Vineyard [$3,500 per ton] Anybody can tell, as I'm sure you did that they used Seguin Moreau Oak. The best. Now for the real shocker: The wine is exceptional. The color is typical Oakville which is dark and inklinke. The bouquet is nothing like Gummi Bears which is really kind of a silly reference. As for taste I'll preface with this: If I want a wine that tastes like dark cherry, chocolate or currants [when was the last time any of us has had a currant?] I'll buy or make my wine from it. This wine is balanced and structured and the tannins are in perfect harmony. Age will, with the high alcohol be very kind. As for the forward jammy fruit, you know it tastes like GRAPES! Yummy dark Oakville Cabernet grapes in fact! I can't remember reading anything about Bachus telling the Gods that they'd have wine of dark berry and ripe plum. The wine is textbook Davis from the mid 80's and classic in it's approach in every way and I for one am thrilled about that. As for the source? Well, if I were a bettin' gal I'd say that you might do a double blind taste off with say, most I-29 Oakville vineyards. These are unquestionably right on the road too. I'd bet I can narrow down for you some more since the flavor profile is very unique. So, for my humble opinion the whole project is just fantastic. Finally as mentioned before a producer who gets it.

Alder wrote:
04.28.05 at 6:12 PM

Hey Calliope,

Thanks for taking the time to write such detailed comments!

Now on to the fun.

First, thanks for doing the math for us on the aging. I threw away my bottle before I could check the stats on the back (duh) and I didn't know the release date.

I have to differ with you on the interpretation of the positioning of the whole project. The opposite of Screaming Eagle is not a wine that pays for the most expensive corks, whatever sort of silkscreened-foil-majig label you are talking about and the most expensive French Oak on the planet. I'd say the opposite of Screaming Eagle is something much more humble.

In any case, that's just ramblings. I still maintain however, that this wine is far from exceptional and would love, as you suggest, to see how it stands up in a blind tasting against say, Dominus, Heitz, Nickel & Nickel, Opus One, Quintessa, Rudd, and others in the neighborhood. While you can make an argument that most of those wines are twice the price of this little number, my prediction is as follows on the flavor: while it may flatter the nose and the front of the palate with sweet oak and red fruit flavors, it is NOT as you suggest, balanced in the slightest, nor does it really have very nice tannins to my taste.

In any case, isn't it great that 1) we all get to like different things and buy the things that we like, 2) that the Internet exists so we can have conversations like this where we all learn stuff. Thanks for your contribution to the conversation.

Calliope wrote:
04.28.05 at 6:41 PM

Ah Alder
True. Now I'll tell you that you were correct with one of the wines you listed...and I'd go on record as saying don't just compare but assume it is same grape and, and, and maybe the same wine! I did so with a large panel of some extremely high powered winemakers and it was a virtual tie...so the mystery is?? which one. If you guess right I'll cook dinner.

Alder wrote:
04.29.05 at 8:42 AM

Hmmm. Well given that I've had several of these recently and a couple of them aren't on Highway 29, I'd have to guess Nickel and Nickel.

Is your cooking any good ? ;-)

Calliope wrote:
04.29.05 at 10:42 AM

Not only am I good [cia] but I look awesome in an apron. Just an opinion here but you are in fact correct. Keep in mind that the winery you mentioned does not source all of their grapes using their own property. Also, sooooo many labels...what to choose?

Jathan wrote:
05.23.05 at 10:31 AM

Yay! I finally get to post my rebuttal. I wrote it a couple weeks ago, and have been waiting to post while someone was on vacation.... :o)


Soft, feeble, lacking acidity on the palate.

Lacking body and depth

Other ways I would describe this wine:

A wine that has poor structure, is clumsy or is out of balance.

Describes ultra-sweet or sugary wines that lack the balance provided by acid, alcohol, bitterness or intense flavor.

Devoid of flavor and interest.

HOLLOW: Lacking in flavor. Describes a wine that has a first taste and a short finish, and lacks depth at mid-palate.
(taken from http://www.worldwide-wines.com/Glossary.htm )

Gummy bears do have a smell, as I'm sure you'll agree, and this wine smelled just like that when I had it.
Of course my original notes on this bottle are what I recall this wine to be a year ago, and on one tasting. I will reluctantly try this bottle again, blind, against other Oakville bottles with a friend. Thanks for some of the comments on this board, as I am willing to give this bottle another chance.


Mark wrote:
05.26.05 at 12:33 PM

Well, Calliope, your comments about the wine are generally correct and insightful. However, the wine is not the same as any of the wines mentioned. The grapes were harvested from an organically farmed vineyard in Oakville. The response to Whispering Dove has been a total phenom, and I am thrilled.

I know that facts and quite frankly all of the speculation fueled the fire, but the wine stands on its own and has been validated by two wonderful sold out vintages.

I am the former partner and vintner of Whispering Dove. You will find my name on the back label of the 2001.

While working on Whispering Dove, I launched a new winery called Andiamo Vineyards which is making some very interesting wines and is releasing June 1.

For you Cab lovers, there will be a 2004 Chalk Hill Single Vineyard Reserve that will be sold as futures, to be released in 2006. About the same price as the Dove with the elegance of Alexander Valley.

Mark Newman

Otto Pilot wrote:
09.28.05 at 7:53 AM

First the story is awsome, look at all the sites out there that are talking about it since 2001 was released! I did not try the 2001, but did the 2002.

I liked it, lots of fruit. Which many of my friends who do not necessarily drink as much wine as I do like, a lot.

I was able to buy my case for under $30 a bottle. Which makes it a great wine to open at a dinner party and tell "The Story" I could care less if it is true or not.

For those of you who said it was terrible? Your nuts, it is anything but terrible. As long as they keep the price around $30 it will be a fine buy to have in the collection, but not as a corner stone. Sure for $10 or so more your buying a Nickel & Nickel, great wine, great lable, just not the cool story.

Looking forward to buying the '03 and taking it to partys,if I can find it!

Kevin wrote:
10.10.05 at 7:59 AM

I just bought a case of the 2001 which tasted better than the 2002. I thought it was odd that someone still had the 2001 and that they had several cases at that. When I had a chance to open a bottle it didn't taste as good as I remeber the first bottle. Is it possible that with all the hype some one has started to sell fake Whispering Dove? @37.50 a bottle I wouldn't think it was worth it.

Andy Frieden wrote:
10.20.05 at 6:42 PM

I'm a small Wine Merchant in the (650) Area Code who just got a pre-release notice from my Wine Warehouse rep. regarding the '03 vintage of this wine.

In order for me to purchase and recommend wines to my customers, I like to taste the wine.

But, having said that I have a palate and lived in Napa and worked at wineries 'mid-valley' and 'up-valley' at the beginning of my career.
So, I have been reading the scoop above on this 2002 Whispering Dove wine and this is what I've got to say.

Just one more thing, I helped teach the first wine course on the internet in October of 1997 with Peter Granoff of Virtual Vineyards fame and wine.com and currently partners in his own shop called The Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant!
So some credulity.

The wine - By my interpretation of the '01 vintage, opposed to the '02 vintage, the Speculator shot themselves in the foot by painting the '01 vintage as the "VIntage of the Century" and now that this graceful and balanced '02 vintages are being released I can make an educated interpretation of the aformnentioned back vintages of this catchy wine.
BUt what's the point, since the 2003 version is from a Stag's Leap Reserve appellation. NOT he Oakville or Rutherford Bench. Incidentally, the previous bloggers must now be more reverent about the 'TERROIR CONCEPT' because this is the beginning of wine 101 where the grapes grow is indeed vital. Just as the weather above the grapes - that is why they wineries put a VIntage date on the bottle. TH place has layers of stratigraphy that to me representated the secon tenant of Mother Natures Terroir and it doesn't change too too much within an APPELLATION.
Next is man, they too can manipulate the viticulture. And lastly, man can make stylistic changes in the cellar.

So if you think wine is a commodity...then don't go to a fine wine shop. Goto places like Costco, Trader Joes, and Cost Plus...you deserve better, but I guess your liver doesn't care.

The point is we merchants can better choose what to stock; as opposed, to a big box store more interedted in depletions of secondary market wines that we may pass on.

UC wrote:
10.28.05 at 10:04 AM

Has s=anyone tried the 2003 dove? comments? Found it for 29 a bottle, but wondering what changesare in store since the appelation changed, now its stags leap as im sure you are all aware.

Calliope wrote:
10.31.05 at 10:37 AM

I've tried the '03 from the Stags Leap and thought it was awesome! Softer tannins and brighter fruit which hit mid palate just right. I'm rather certain I know this year's source again so it'll be interesting to see if the "reviews" differ! I've also heard that it is almost sold out in less than 2 weeks in many stores.

Sean wrote:
12.01.05 at 5:49 PM

I was actually dissapointed with the 03 dove.. its very closed, lacks fruit or tanin structure to hold up, tho this wine is a baby, I think did get 2 cases of it, and will retaste it on 3 month intervals and will let you know my findings..

Jathan wrote:
01.05.06 at 10:35 AM


This wine continues to sit on the shelves of the local retailers here in the Bay Area, it appears the hype is coming to an end. If you or anyone else reading this would like to try the 2003 Whispering Dove Stags Leap District, I'd be happy to relieve my local retailer of this bottle. They continue to drop the price on. (I think it's down to $22)

Email me and I'll send you one.



Calliope wrote:
01.12.06 at 9:55 AM

Jathan, Sean,
I've noticed it has been slower to move than the previous two Oakville vintages. However, the latest Gomberg numbers show that in Southern California, retail sales are in fact WAY ahead of the '02. Also, the Northern California sales are perhaps not as much a reflection of the "hype" being over as a reflection of more production? The numbers do not lie Jathan...Dove sales are still greater than the majority of other "hype" wines and this is for a wine delivered when? End of October? Do you truly believe that sales in the thousands of cases in a 6-8 week period constitutes failure? If so I'd welcome failure! Additionally, given that southern California retailers are still selling out maybe this reflects a different culture in the bay area retailing community.
Sean, you are correct regarding the tightness of the '03. Remember they've moved to Stags Leap and will have by nature a much more powerful tannic structure which will demand at least an hour of O2 to blossom. I'd try to open a bottle @ 1.5-2 hours prior to tasting and then decide.

Calliope wrote:
01.12.06 at 10:02 AM

Oh, and one more thing Jathan-thanks for the offer of free wine! Alas, upon tasting the '03 I purchased an additional 5 cases-3 of which I gave as gifts to my best clients. I can also tell you that I'm yet again 90% certain I can pinpoint the source. [I'm weird that way]...and that most wine critics are currently GUSHING of the exact same wine [all the usual suspects] and that the exact same wine [assuming I'm correct] sells for @ $95 per bottle. You can also take to the bank the fact that the '03 SLD edition of Dove is produced from grapes grown by a top 3 grower...it is as obvious as the nose on my face.

Calliope wrote:
01.12.06 at 10:06 AM

Last thing-sorry! But a quick check online of Bay Area retailers from the Wine Club to Brix26 shows NO PRICE REDUCTION whatsoever. Maybe your local store just can't sell wine?

Tim wrote:
01.15.06 at 8:34 AM

I've had the '03 Dove. It was typical of any young Stags Leap Cab at such an age. The mid palate fruit was BIG and tannins were again typical of virtually every '03 offering from SLD. I can say this too: Here in Ojai the wine is very difficult to find. I returned to my local store and bought the last two cases and am glad I did. This wine will definitely get better with age. Calliope is also correct regarding air time. After 2 hours the wine opens up beautifully.

bertie wrote:
01.15.06 at 9:16 PM

I wish I could have had a chance to taste the 01 and 02 versions, but the 03 kicks some serious cabernet bootie. During the holidays I tried dozens of Calicabs in the 30-40 buck range and the dove licked them all hollow. The wine club had a tasting with a bunch of cabs, some that were even higher-priced (Caymus, Ramey etal),and the dove reigned supreme there, too (in my humble opinion).

Finally, Jathan, where can I find that 20 buck dove in the bay area?

Cheers all, and thanks for the info.


Calliope wrote:
01.17.06 at 8:46 AM

I'm with you all the way! I tried some Dove at the Santa Clara Wine Club which had been open for @ 2 hours and the wine was everything you'd expect from a Stags Leap Cab. Also, I'm in with the $22 price thought I'm frankly dubious since the wine probably sells for $25 wholesale. Also, did you see the 1.5 etched?

Jathan wrote:
01.18.06 at 10:52 AM


You've got mail.


Are you some sort of Sales person related to / benefits from the sale of this stuff? If I ever started making my own wine, I would hire you in a second as my lead wholesaler.

But to me, sales jabber and the actual taste of a wine are two different things. Since my first experience with this wine was so disconcerting, I'm willing to do a blind tasting of the SLD 03 against other
Stags leap bottles in this price range. Silverado, Stags Leap Winery, make some wine from the area that's really fantastic.

Stay tuned, I'll post the findings on my blog.

Alder wrote:
01.18.06 at 10:58 AM


Interesting that you picked up on that as well. I suspect Calliope does have something to do with the wine -- either as a friend of those who make it, as an employee, or as someone who benefits from sales.

Can't wait to see your blind tasting results.


Calliope wrote:
01.18.06 at 12:15 PM

Oh Golly,
Well you are both wrong. While I do know the people at Whispering Dove I have no financial incentive regarding the sale. Oh, and FYI I also know perhaps an additional 300-400 other winemakers and vintners worldwide-that happens when you've spent your entire life in this industry.
What I do have is almost 30 years experience in the wine industry as well as 3 generations of family in the wine industry. And since you both decided to open this to debate: I for one and I speak for many other professionals in the wine industry can honestly say that when I see nonsense written about a terrific wine I'm offended. I don't know who you are Alder so I'll refrain from comment about you but perhaps publishing supposition is not such a great idea either. Maybe sticking to facts would seperate you from the likes of Queezy.
For both of you: Sales figures DO MATTER! It says that the producer is making wine that PEOPLE LIKE! I for one would prefer to make wine that thousands enjoy.
The simple fact is that my gander rises everytime I read a wannabe wine critic blast a wine. As I've mentioned before-I've sat on panels of winemakers and bona fide critics who love the Dove. It is one thing to simply say "It's not for me" or the like. It is quite another to apply absurd references to Gummi Bears. That kind of rhetoric stinks of pretense in an industry which is trying to shed the pretense not embrace it.

Tell ya what Jathan, I'll put together another panel-of REAL wine industry insiders and publish my results [including names] side by side with your's. Though, maybe I should publish it where somebody might actually SEE THEM.

Calliope wrote:
01.18.06 at 12:19 PM

Oh yeah-One last thing...why would I attempt to increase sales on this or any other blog? To make a living promoting wine I'd need to sell thousands of bottles not 6 or 7

Alder wrote:
01.18.06 at 12:58 PM


I'm not attacking you, and I don’t think Jathan was either. Lashing out defensively doesn't help you convince anyone of your opinion.

Since you mention facts, let me just start with the fact that I've personally wondered about your interest in this wine for some time. You seem to, of your own accord, come back to this review again and again to either join in the praises of other users or refute and rebutt everyone who doesn't particularly care for the wine. This has been going on since April of 2004. That seems like more than just a passing interest in a wine. You don't seem to be doing that for any other wine on this site, and both me and my readers have certainly disliked other wines that you might cosider "as good" as this one. The fact that another one of my readers has now brought up the fact that you seem unusually interested in this wine could not be ignored. In point of fact, you are the ONLY commenter on this blog who exhibits this behavior.

Regardless, I don't mind your repeated posts here, even though I have been suspicious of them, because they have never crossed the line into shilling. They've come close, but not crossed the line. So I've let them stand.

Now, on to your comments. Who are you to say that anyone's subjective opinion (whether they have a blog or not) is nonsense? If the wine smelled like gummi bears to Jathan are you really going to stand there and tell him he's wrong? If you've been in the wine business as long as you say, then you must know that people have all sorts of opinions about wines. You've probably seen some people wrinkle their noses at Opus One and say they didn't like the way it tastes, and seen people gulp down Turning Leaf Chard like it was ambrosia. Those people aren't wrong. It’s just what they like. Just because they happen to say it on a blog instead of to a friend doesn’t matter, no matter how popular or unpopular their blog is. And who are you to tell anyone what adjectives they can use to describe a wine?

Sales figures matter, of course, but only to those people who sell the wine. Two buck chuck sells more bottles in a day than Whipsering Dove did in the last two vintages combined. What does that say about the quality of the wine? Absolutely nothing. Don't pull the ridiculous argument that somehow the fact that lots of people are buying the Dove means that my score of 8.5 for the wine or Jathan's opinion must be wrong.

I'm happy to let this discussion stand on my site, Calliope, but not if it descends into catty personal swipes like the ones about Jathan that I have excised from your comments.


Calliope wrote:
01.19.06 at 5:36 AM

Look a bit more. You'll note that in fact I've posted here for other reviews in the past.
And if you'll notice I said that it was not a matter of whether Jathan liked Whispering Dove. I went so far as to say that. Still, whether Jathan or Robert Parker I do become emotional when a person refers to ANYBODY'S work in a sneering and snide way. Truth be told Alder I've not seen other wines on your blog which have been demeaned in that way and it frosts me to no end as a professional-and you should also be offended about comments like that. Perhaps that is why I continually return....I'd suppose that thought has never crossed your mind. Why don't you read this thread? At the very top you've got comments from some guy who says awful things about a man, company and family....odds are most of whom he's never met. Yet you refuse to delete that post. I have seen no other posts as viscious as these and as personal. How is it that you excise my comments yet leave those of queezy on? And Alder-Whispering Dove is a COMPETITOR not a meal ticket.But in this industry we admire our competitors and are happy to defend them. I'm dumbfounded that you do not get that. Also FYI I've not argued with you regarding your rating did I? Nope. Even though you've rated THE EXACT SAME WINE higher in this very blog. All I asked Jathan to do was to review a wine with a little dignity. Is that so bad? Nobody likes to hear snide comments about their colleagues. I for one do not. Now I conduct tasting panels every week with competitors from all areas of the industry-and we are civil. These PROFESSIONALS do not engage in silly demeaning descriptions like Jathan's. Nor do we deride another's work as hype or fluff. That is why I react to this thread only. But I guess in this day and age civility counts for nothing so I'll not bother you again dear. Besides you are correct-I have wine to make and more to contribute to the industry than batting around with people who think way to highly of themselves.

bertie wrote:
01.19.06 at 8:02 PM


Thanks for taking the trouble to send me an e-mail. I called Jackson`s, though, and they have only a few bottles left and they`re selling it for 29 bucks. The same as the Wine Club SF by the way, where it is sold out.

I hope you`re not going to start accusing me of being a shill, too! I love the dove, and highly appreciated Calliopes lucid and informed commentary. You could say she overreacted to Jathan`s comments, but your other attacks were way out of line.

Chill! A person of your caliber has no need to get worked up over such trivial matters. Thanks for all your efforts, and I for one would love to hear more from you on the dove or any other wines.

Cheers, everyone, and let`s drink and talk some more about our beloved beverage.


Jathan wrote:
01.23.06 at 11:36 AM


Yes, thank you for pointing that out, I went back to purchase the wine and saw that it was selling for $29, I apologize for the mix up.


Thanks for the defense.


I'm sorry if you are offended. Because of your posts I took the time to purchase this bottle, (which admittedly I had a hard time doing) and I tasted it blind. I've written about it on my blog in detail. Although it isn't a top wine website, I do get about 50 unique visitors a day, and enjoy feeding their appetite for wine news. Blogging is a hobby for me, and I appreciate the readers I do have. Alder has a beautiful site that he has worked hard on and he has written some awesome articles. Blogs may not get as much traffic as the large forums etc, but it's our little piece of Cyberspace and we're proud of it.

Here's my post, I consider this topic closed and won't be returning to this post in the future. Thanks all for letting me voice my humble opinion about this wine. I may not have 30 years of experience, but I am passionate about this product and enjoy learning about it everyday. I appreciate that others taste buds are different than mine, and am glad that we have the freedom to disagree with each other in a friendly way.




Paul wrote:
12.21.06 at 6:32 PM

I have two questions. Screaming Eagle is going for $1400 a bottle. Would Whipsering Dove go for that high a bottle? Is this a bottle you would boast about or hide it in the back so no one would see that you have it?

Ed Tyler wrote:
02.26.07 at 6:03 PM

Got to tell you that where ever the truth lies regarding winemakers, vineyards, second run juice etc. frankly doesnt matter. Great bottle of cab for $30. Ive spent a lot more and wasnt as impressed. In line with Cross Barn, Waterstone and Paradigm. Its really a matter of expectations.

RJ wrote:
07.23.07 at 5:25 AM

I try not to get caught up in the pretentious trappings of wine tasting. We were given a bottle by a wine buyer for SF Hilton properties, told the story and therefore had little expectation. We were just grateful and impressed with the gesture. We opened a 2004 last night and the first reaction was uneventful. Then as it decanted this "dove" grew into a strong bird. My wife, our guests and myself all remarked that it was a very very nice Red.... forget the stories. If you can get this for under 30.00 I consider it a good deal.

Andreas wrote:
04.01.08 at 11:14 AM

For the price the wine is very good great marketing idea label and mystery behind

Renee wrote:
03.09.10 at 9:42 PM

Just a quick question if anyone still sees this blog...has anyone tried the 2002 Whispering Dove this year? I'm thinking that maybe the bottle has turned or maybe I should continue to lay it down for a couple more years...

Secondly, one thing I have learned in my few years of tasting, but tasting with wonderfully different palates is that no palate is the same, nor is the scent that anyone has. We all taste and smell different things which does not mean that anyone is right or wrong.

Thirdly, there is truly never a great wine; there are only great bottles!

Thanks for any feedback!

Bill wrote:
04.05.10 at 7:31 PM

I have drunk several bottles of the '02 (best of the 3 vintages, IMO) over the last 1.5 yrs. and they have been VERY good--definitely not on the descent yet, but I would drink them now.

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