RJS Cru International- Buyer Beware

Wine Making Talk

Help Support Wine Making Talk:

ErikM

Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2011
Messages
55
Reaction score
18
Buyer Beware, Part 1
Most wine makers want to know what wine they are making. If for example a winemaker wants to make Sauvignon blanc, they either buy sauvignon blanc grapes or a sauvignon blanc wine kit.

But what if the grapes that were sold to you weren’t actually sauvignon blanc grapes? What if the contents in the wine kit was not actually sauvignon blanc juice or juice concentrate?

If you buy a peanut butter spread, it means that you are getting something that might contain peanuts.
If you buy a bottle of cranberry juice cocktail at the grocery store, it means you are getting something that might contain cranberrys.

With just a couple of exceptions (eg Burgundy Style, Champagne Style) if you see the word “Style” in your wine kit name, you should take notice.

I recently I bought what I thought was a Sauvignon blanc wine kit. When I got home with the RJS Cru International - Ontario Sauvignon blanc, I noticed on the packaging, in smaller font, the word "Style". I have been in communication with RJS about this subtlety. What I learned is that it is some sort of blend. But RJS will not reveal what is in the blend. Maybe it has some Sauvignon blanc juice in it. Maybe not.

So if I share my wine with family or friends, what do I call it?
Sauvignon blanc- Can’t. I don’t know if in fact there is any S-B in it.
White Blend?- What do I respond when they ask what is in the blend. “I don’t know” seems like a really bad answer from the wine maker.

Here is a list I pulled from the rjscraftwinemaking.com/cru-international/ web page-
Cru International - Argentina Malbec Syrah Style
Cru International - Australia Cabernet Sauvignon Style
Cru International - British Columbia Pinot Noir Style
Cru International - California Chardonnay Style
Cru International - California Muscat Style
Cru International - California Syrah Style
Cru International - California Zinfandel Style
Cru International - Chile Cabernet Merlot Style
Cru International - Chile Malbec Style
Cru International - Italy Sangiovese Style
Cru International - Meritage Style
Cru International - Ontario Sauvignon Blanc Style
Cru International - Washington Merlot Style

Now, if you don’t really care about what varietal you are working with, and you only care about the taste, how close you can simulate the taste of a certain varietal, than this not an issue.

Buyer Beware, Part 2
I looked at two online wine kit retailers. None of their RJS Cru International wine names/title/descriptions had the word “Style” in. If you buy online you might want to check with the retailer and the RJS website. If it is a Cru International it is probably a “style.” I have sent emails to the two online retailers suggesting that they look into the RJS Cru International wine kit names, that they make sure their truth in advertising goals are not unintentionally being compromised.


Buyer Beware, Part 3.
Wine competitions.
Most wine competitions require that wines entered under a varietal class contain something like a minimum of 70-80% of the stated varietal. With the RJS Cru International Style wines you cannot make any claim that the wine meets the minimal varietal content. You will have to enter the wine into a class like White- Other,, Red-other, or White-Blend, etc. If you use the “blend” category know that if asked you will not be able to identify the varietals that make up the blend.



Buyer Beware, End

I have been making wine for a couple of decades; From grapes, from fruit and from many, many kits. I have always considered the premium RJS kits to be very high quality. Due to pandemic related circumstances I decide to temporarily stop using the very top tier wine kits. I feel deceived by RJS's subtle use of the word “Style”, and by the online retailers not being upfront.

I guess too, shame on me for not playing detective, doing more due diligence before I bought the kit.

I also invite others to look into this. If I got something wrong, misunderstood RJS somehow, other readers and myself need to know this.
 

Attachments

StreetGlide

Supporting Members
WMT Supporter
Joined
Dec 18, 2019
Messages
125
Reaction score
66
All that being said, for anyone wanting a very good fair priced kit, that has given fairly consistent results then I still believe the Cru Intl series is a great bang for the buck and will miss them when they are rebranded. I’ve made the Nebbiolo “style” 2x, The Zinfandel “style”, The Syrah “style” and recently that same SB “style” and thought for the price they all made pretty good everyday wine the reds after a year and the SB after about 4 months. Like you said with a mid range kit like that I was more concerned with a good tasting wine then anything else. When I read the word “Style” on the box I figured it had to be there for a reason.
Thankfully all the EP Kits I’ve done don’t say that.
 

wineh

wino
Joined
Apr 12, 2011
Messages
506
Reaction score
164
Buyer Beware, Part 1
Most wine makers want to know what wine they are making. If for example a winemaker wants to make Sauvignon blanc, they either buy sauvignon blanc grapes or a sauvignon blanc wine kit.

But what if the grapes that were sold to you weren’t actually sauvignon blanc grapes? What if the contents in the wine kit was not actually sauvignon blanc juice or juice concentrate?

If you buy a peanut butter spread, it means that you are getting something that might contain peanuts.
If you buy a bottle of cranberry juice cocktail at the grocery store, it means you are getting something that might contain cranberrys.

With just a couple of exceptions (eg Burgundy Style, Champagne Style) if you see the word “Style” in your wine kit name, you should take notice.

I recently I bought what I thought was a Sauvignon blanc wine kit. When I got home with the RJS Cru International - Ontario Sauvignon blanc, I noticed on the packaging, in smaller font, the word "Style". I have been in communication with RJS about this subtlety. What I learned is that it is some sort of blend. But RJS will not reveal what is in the blend. Maybe it has some Sauvignon blanc juice in it. Maybe not.

So if I share my wine with family or friends, what do I call it?
Sauvignon blanc- Can’t. I don’t know if in fact there is any S-B in it.
White Blend?- What do I respond when they ask what is in the blend. “I don’t know” seems like a really bad answer from the wine maker.

Here is a list I pulled from the rjscraftwinemaking.com/cru-international/ web page-
Cru International - Argentina Malbec Syrah Style
Cru International - Australia Cabernet Sauvignon Style
Cru International - British Columbia Pinot Noir Style
Cru International - California Chardonnay Style
Cru International - California Muscat Style
Cru International - California Syrah Style
Cru International - California Zinfandel Style
Cru International - Chile Cabernet Merlot Style
Cru International - Chile Malbec Style
Cru International - Italy Sangiovese Style
Cru International - Meritage Style
Cru International - Ontario Sauvignon Blanc Style
Cru International - Washington Merlot Style

Now, if you don’t really care about what varietal you are working with, and you only care about the taste, how close you can simulate the taste of a certain varietal, than this not an issue.

Buyer Beware, Part 2
I looked at two online wine kit retailers. None of their RJS Cru International wine names/title/descriptions had the word “Style” in. If you buy online you might want to check with the retailer and the RJS website. If it is a Cru International it is probably a “style.” I have sent emails to the two online retailers suggesting that they look into the RJS Cru International wine kit names, that they make sure their truth in advertising goals are not unintentionally being compromised.


Buyer Beware, Part 3.
Wine competitions.
Most wine competitions require that wines entered under a varietal class contain something like a minimum of 70-80% of the stated varietal. With the RJS Cru International Style wines you cannot make any claim that the wine meets the minimal varietal content. You will have to enter the wine into a class like White- Other,, Red-other, or White-Blend, etc. If you use the “blend” category know that if asked you will not be able to identify the varietals that make up the blend.



Buyer Beware, End

I have been making wine for a couple of decades; From grapes, from fruit and from many, many kits. I have always considered the premium RJS kits to be very high quality. Due to pandemic related circumstances I decide to temporarily stop using the very top tier wine kits. I feel deceived by RJS's subtle use of the word “Style”, and by the online retailers not being upfront.

I guess too, shame on me for not playing detective, doing more due diligence before I bought the kit.

I also invite others to look into this. If I got something wrong, misunderstood RJS somehow, other readers and myself need to know this.
Last fall I came home with a cru select kit, and upon looking at the empty box, noticed the "style" qualifier. I then looked at the product guide and noticed all the other "style" kits and said to my wife that it's a clever marketing ploy which would allow them to insert grapes from any region, and call it any other region "style", and that I wouldn't be making one again.

Your further research has made an additional amount of smoke come out of my ears.
 
Last edited:

cmason1957

CRS Sufferer
WMT Supporter
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
4,405
Reaction score
4,221
Location
O'Fallon, MO - Just NorthWest of St. Louis, MO
I think you are getting yourselves upset over technicalities. The Style words was added to many things, including some commercially made wine due to International Labeling Requirements. Like you can't call something a Port, if it wasn't made in Portugal and Champagne had to be made in a specific region of France. But you can make Port Style anywhere. Same with Amerone Style. If the wine kit name says Sauvignon Blanc, I am fairly certain you can legitimately assume it has at least 70% Sauvignon Blanc. Of course the company won't tell you it is this percent SB, this much Chardonnay, this much Viogner (or whatever it is), next year, it will be somewhat different.
 

Gilmango

Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2021
Messages
31
Reaction score
30
All that being said, for anyone wanting a very good fair priced kit, that has given fairly consistent results then I still believe the Cru Intl series is a great bang for the buck and will miss them when they are rebranded. I’ve made the Nebbiolo “style” 2x, The Zinfandel “style”, The Syrah “style” and recently that same SB “style” and thought for the price they all made pretty good everyday wine the reds after a year and the SB after about 4 months. Like you said with a mid range kit like that I was more concerned with a good tasting wine then anything else. When I read the word “Style” on the box I figured it had to be there for a reason.
Thankfully all the EP Kits I’ve done don’t say that.
Even the EP kits seem to have many "style" references. Amarone-style is one I have at home right now. That may be because it is a protected term like Champagne? So they say Champagne-style or Amarone-style? Interestingly, on their web site it lists the varietal as Amarone (and the Valpola one is listed as Valpola), even though both Amarone and Valpolicella tend to be blends which are dominated by the Corvina grape varietal while often including Rondinella, and Corvinone. So I think that the lack of transparency extends somewhat to the EP Kits, not sure if it is 100% clear what varietals are included, or even what the country of origin is. I'd like to think that at least the unconcentrated juice is all from Italy, and is a Corvina dominated blend ideally from the Veneto region, but I don't think I can confirm that. And when it comes to the concentrate and the grape skins I'm even less sure if they are the right varietal and right country of origin.

I also have the EP Super Tuscan, which can really mean anything but would typically be Sangiovese blended with Cabernet S., Merlot, and/or Syrah. No clarity on what this one includes but at least I understood that buying a blend (far more troubling if the "Merlot" kit is not at least 75% Merlot), but hopefully it is all from Italy (ideally Tuscany) and primarily from those varietals.

Looking closer at both boxes they do clearly say "made in Canada from imported ingredients" but I don't see any country of origin disclosed for the juice, concentrate, or skins. Oddly, all of the oak chips clearly state if they are U.S., French, or Hungarian.
 

Paulietivo

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2012
Messages
118
Reaction score
85
Location
Massachusetts
Buyer Beware, Part 1
Most wine makers want to know what wine they are making. If for example a winemaker wants to make Sauvignon blanc, they either buy sauvignon blanc grapes or a sauvignon blanc wine kit.

But what if the grapes that were sold to you weren’t actually sauvignon blanc grapes? What if the contents in the wine kit was not actually sauvignon blanc juice or juice concentrate?

If you buy a peanut butter spread, it means that you are getting something that might contain peanuts.
If you buy a bottle of cranberry juice cocktail at the grocery store, it means you are getting something that might contain cranberrys.

With just a couple of exceptions (eg Burgundy Style, Champagne Style) if you see the word “Style” in your wine kit name, you should take notice.

I recently I bought what I thought was a Sauvignon blanc wine kit. When I got home with the RJS Cru International - Ontario Sauvignon blanc, I noticed on the packaging, in smaller font, the word "Style". I have been in communication with RJS about this subtlety. What I learned is that it is some sort of blend. But RJS will not reveal what is in the blend. Maybe it has some Sauvignon blanc juice in it. Maybe not.

So if I share my wine with family or friends, what do I call it?
Sauvignon blanc- Can’t. I don’t know if in fact there is any S-B in it.
White Blend?- What do I respond when they ask what is in the blend. “I don’t know” seems like a really bad answer from the wine maker.

Here is a list I pulled from the rjscraftwinemaking.com/cru-international/ web page-
Cru International - Argentina Malbec Syrah Style
Cru International - Australia Cabernet Sauvignon Style
Cru International - British Columbia Pinot Noir Style
Cru International - California Chardonnay Style
Cru International - California Muscat Style
Cru International - California Syrah Style
Cru International - California Zinfandel Style
Cru International - Chile Cabernet Merlot Style
Cru International - Chile Malbec Style
Cru International - Italy Sangiovese Style
Cru International - Meritage Style
Cru International - Ontario Sauvignon Blanc Style
Cru International - Washington Merlot Style

Now, if you don’t really care about what varietal you are working with, and you only care about the taste, how close you can simulate the taste of a certain varietal, than this not an issue.

Buyer Beware, Part 2
I looked at two online wine kit retailers. None of their RJS Cru International wine names/title/descriptions had the word “Style” in. If you buy online you might want to check with the retailer and the RJS website. If it is a Cru International it is probably a “style.” I have sent emails to the two online retailers suggesting that they look into the RJS Cru International wine kit names, that they make sure their truth in advertising goals are not unintentionally being compromised.


Buyer Beware, Part 3.
Wine competitions.
Most wine competitions require that wines entered under a varietal class contain something like a minimum of 70-80% of the stated varietal. With the RJS Cru International Style wines you cannot make any claim that the wine meets the minimal varietal content. You will have to enter the wine into a class like White- Other,, Red-other, or White-Blend, etc. If you use the “blend” category know that if asked you will not be able to identify the varietals that make up the blend.



Buyer Beware, End

I have been making wine for a couple of decades; From grapes, from fruit and from many, many kits. I have always considered the premium RJS kits to be very high quality. Due to pandemic related circumstances I decide to temporarily stop using the very top tier wine kits. I feel deceived by RJS's subtle use of the word “Style”, and by the online retailers not being upfront.

I guess too, shame on me for not playing detective, doing more due diligence before I bought the kit.

I also invite others to look into this. If I got something wrong, misunderstood RJS somehow, other readers and myself need to know this.
Thats a good catch! I mean I will still buy them and accept them as gifts but bravo on the good catch.
It just so happens that I have 2 RJS kits I got for Xmas and low and behold I can see the "style" clear as day now. Thats what you call change blindness.
Either way, I will make them, drink them, and share them. Salute!
 

Attachments

wineh

wino
Joined
Apr 12, 2011
Messages
506
Reaction score
164
I think you are getting yourselves upset over technicalities. The Style words was added to many things, including some commercially made wine due to International Labeling Requirements. Like you can't call something a Port, if it wasn't made in Portugal and Champagne had to be made in a specific region of France. But you can make Port Style anywhere. Same with Amerone Style. If the wine kit name says Sauvignon Blanc, I am fairly certain you can legitimately assume it has at least 70% Sauvignon Blanc. Of course the company won't tell you it is this percent SB, this much Chardonnay, this much Viogner (or whatever it is), next year, it will be somewhat different.
I agree they can't use words like "port" etc, but varietal names and countries are not copyright. For example, the rjs EP product guide clearly describes country of origin. Winexpert private reserve lists region of origin for varietals.
 

ErikM

Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2011
Messages
55
Reaction score
18
I think you are getting yourselves upset over technicalities. The Style words was added to many things, including some commercially made wine due to International Labeling Requirements. Like you can't call something a Port, if it wasn't made in Portugal and Champagne had to be made in a specific region of France. But you can make Port Style anywhere. Same with Amerone Style. If the wine kit name says Sauvignon Blanc, I am fairly certain you can legitimately assume it has at least 70% Sauvignon Blanc. Of course the company won't tell you it is this percent SB, this much Chardonnay, this much Viogner (or whatever it is), next year, it will be somewhat different.

Ah, optimism....
RJS tried to pull that line of defense on me too. But unlike names like Bordeaux, Champagne, and few others, Sauvignon blanc is not a region, not an appellation, not an AVA, not a protected type of product. It is a variateal name.
In an email dialog with RJS, they implied the Sauvignon blanc style contains less than 40% S-B. I will admit they didn't say that directly, and I don't think it is appropriate for me to cut-n-paste their words to me, in this forum.
They also said that they could not, not "would not", but could not tell me the blend in the batch that I had bought.
 

cmason1957

CRS Sufferer
WMT Supporter
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
4,405
Reaction score
4,221
Location
O'Fallon, MO - Just NorthWest of St. Louis, MO
If they were to say directly that it contains as little as 40% SB, then I agree there is reason to be upset.

I still think this is much ado about nothing. Very similar to when some people find out that legally you can call a wine Cabernet Sauvignon and have no more than 75% (or 70%, whatever the real number is) Cab Sauv. Feel free not to purchase, what you don't want to purchase, nobody makes you buy something you don't want.
 

szap

Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2016
Messages
70
Reaction score
49
Location
Missouri
The blend in the less expensive kits is not a surprise and I make them because the wife (the only wine drinker in the house) enjoys them as do others. Now if I were to find out the LE kits from both WE and RJS were not the specific grapes they list, that would be a problem.
 

Handy Turnip

Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2020
Messages
44
Reaction score
33
Location
UK
Ah, optimism....
RJS tried to pull that line of defense on me too. But unlike names like Bordeaux, Champagne, and few others, Sauvignon blanc is not a region, not an appellation, not an AVA, not a protected type of product. It is a variateal name.
In an email dialog with RJS, they implied the Sauvignon blanc style contains less than 40% S-B. I will admit they didn't say that directly, and I don't think it is appropriate for me to cut-n-paste their words to me, in this forum.
They also said that they could not, not "would not", but could not tell me the blend in the batch that I had bought.
True, but what if the grape is Sauvignon Banc but not from say, Chile, but grown elsewhere that has similar terrior (or Sav Blanc blend to make it taste like a Chilean). So they can't say it's Chilean Sauvignon Blanc (as it's not from Chile) but can say it's Chilean Sauvignon Blanc style, so the 'style' is more to reflect the Chilean aspect, not that the grape isn't Sauv Blanc.

I've no idea to be honest but just a thought!
 

wineh

wino
Joined
Apr 12, 2011
Messages
506
Reaction score
164
True, but what if the grape is Sauvignon Banc but not from say, Chile, but grown elsewhere that has similar terrior (or Sav Blanc blend to make it taste like a Chilean). So they can't say it's Chilean Sauvignon Blanc (as it's not from Chile) but can say it's Chilean Sauvignon Blanc style, so the 'style' is more to reflect the Chilean aspect, not that the grape isn't Sauv Blanc.

I've no idea to be honest but just a thought!
15 or more years ago, CellarCraft had a series of 15 litre kits that it called "global cuvee". Their description of that was: blended grape juices sourced from fine regions around the world. I found that to be far less deceptive.
 

stickman

Veteran Winemaker
Joined
Jun 16, 2014
Messages
1,770
Reaction score
1,847
There are a lot of good comments above; I'm just adding another one from the production side.

The manufacturer has to consider what is most important to the customer in the particular product range and price point etc. One of the issues that should be considered is flavor profile repeatability year after year. Every season has variable growing conditions, so the concentrates and juices are different and have to be received and inspected etc., and a decision is made about what the blend should be with a focus on tweaking to meet predetermined final product specifications and flavors. I'm just speculating, but to keep the mid-range kit price reasonable, the manufacturer needs the "style" legal designation for the blending allowances required to accomplish all of the above.
 

ratflinger

Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2009
Messages
68
Reaction score
19
Just received a RJS Cru Select 16l sauvignon blanc wine kit. It is labeled 'New Zealand Style' so I assume it's all sauv blanc, but blended to resemble the flavor profile of a 100% NZ sauv blanc. I've made one before and my wife liked it, guess when this one is ready I'll buy a middle of the road bottle of NZ sauv blanc for comparison.
 
Top