"It's only a bottle of wine, for Christ's sake." A colleague of mine back in the 1980's said that upon hearing the price of 1983 Chateau Mouton Rothschild would exceed $100. Supply and demand, I suppose, with the 1st Growths of Bordeaux, then and now. But isn't it amazing how many wines top the $100 mark now? For that matter, $50 or even $30--and often for wines with no track record or first releases from new wineries.
So much of what passes for supply and demand these days in the wine business is manipulation by marketing. "Limited Release" often isn't; "Reserve" with all its adjectives--Private (really?), Winemaker's, Cellarmaster's, Vintner's, Grand, and Everyman's--is rarely. And, that's just a start.
The dizzying array of wines available today makes it tough for anyone to navigate through a wine department or wine shop without feeling overwhelmed and undereducated. Me included.
So what I'd like to do here with this blog is strip away some of the pretentiousness of wine, and by that, I don't mean reducing wine to four or five varietals from California that are just easy to understand. No, let's look at the world's wine and have some fun with it.
I'll explain some of the mystifying terms on labels, and we'll write some quick notes on favorite finds. For example, I had a great little 2006 Cotes de Brouilly from Ferraud & Fils (imported by Vinum Wine Importing, Seattle, WA) last night at 10 Mercer, one of my favorite Seattle restaurants. Cotes de Brouilly is one of the Grand Cru villages of Beaujolais. The red wines from that region of France are made from the Gamay grape, rarely planted in this country. Such a pity. This wine had a fruity nose with some earthiness, very much like its more expensive Pinot Noir cousins to the north in the Burgundy region. Soft, supple and a terrific match for a variety of foods.
Yet, Beaujolais is a rarity on the shelves and wine lists these days. Why? Hard to pronounce or understand labels? Let's look into this more next time.