Posts Filed Under overachiever wines
– Cool-climate Syrah – touch of Viognier
– neutral oak – low alc
Best – Jonathan Pey”
It’s always nice to get something – anything – that isn’t formulaic when you open something up from the wine sample pool. So much juice comes into 1WD central sometimes, accompanied with letters that begin impersonally (not an auspicious start when you’re trying to stand out among a deluge) with “Dear wine writer,” “Editor,” or – directly from-letter-mail-merge-misfire-embarrassment hell – “Dear [blank].”
So… Jonathan Pey’s personalized note stood out when I yanked it out of the shipping box, along with a bottle of Pey’s 2011 Spicerack “Punchdown” Syrah. When I read the hand-written addition (reproduced – and pictured – above), I got a chuckle out of it. I mean, I try not to pigeon-hole myself in terms of stylistic preferences, but it’s true that I am often giving high ratings to extremely well-crafted, complex, age-worthy wines that I personally wouldn’t want to drink (my personal drinking preferences, in my view, should have little to do with the “grade” a wine might get, given that your preferences might be different). I quite happily drink a crap-ton of “B+” wines, ecstatic that I’ve received them for free (and probably more ecstatic than the producers receiving less than an “A”), and happy there’s enough juice left over in that bottle to drink during dinner after I’m done reviewing it.
But it got me thinking… am I that easily transparent, even after all of my careful work (careful by my lazy standards, anyway)? I mean, I smiled at Pey’s note, but I also wanted to crumple it up and toss it in the fireplace, because it seemed so… smug… as if he was thinking “I’ll bet this guy is like those hipster East Coast Somms, all up into under-ripe 13% abv wines that smell like bush stems and taste of battery acid!”
Turns out I am that transparent, after all, but Pey’s not that smug, and his small production wine (15 barrels) tastes nothing like tea made from green vine stems…
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By now, many of you reading this will have come across a handful of articles on the Global Interwebs proffering the idea that the current style of high-scoring, high-end fine wines (prominently oaky, complex, high on the alcohol and low on the acidity) will always reign supreme in fine wine sales, and that it’s only a matter of time before Millennial consumers “grow up” and stop buying higher acid, inexpensive imports and trade up to the “real” stuff.
Many of these arguments are well-written and intelligently presented. But to me, they don’t read like the Queen’s English; they look more like this: “Blah blah, blah-blah-blah, BLAH-BLAH!!!”
Some of the crystal ball gazing has been done by those with a vested interest in prolonging the reign of the current style of high-scoring, high-end fine wines, but I don’t really have any issue with that potential conflict of interest. Also, I’m willing to ignore the fact that one of the key pillars of their arguments – that an entire generation will “grow up” to fundamentally change how they interact with brands – has no previous viable example in the entire history of luxury goods consumption on planet Earth.
The real nail in the coffin of these arguments is that no data are ever offered in support of them.
Meanwhile, we have examples of exactly the opposite happening; younger consumers buying fresher, higher acid wines, because that’s what they can afford and therefore it’s the style on which they’re cutting their wine loving teeth, informing their future purchases and tastes from this point onward.
What examples, you ask? How about roughly eight million bottles, is that a good enough example for you?
8 million is the annual bottle production of Mednoza’s Luigi Bosca, a producer I visited during my stint earlier this year judging the 2013 Argentina Wine Awards. The results of that visit – aside from yielding a handful of tasty recommendations for you (more on those in a few minutes) – underscored nearly every aspect of the speeches I and my fellow judges gave to the Argentine winemaking community during the AWAs, and yielded one of the most telling illustrations of the changing tastes of younger wine consumers I’ve yet encountered…
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Ok… so… South African wine is almost hopelessly underpriced.
As in, shot-themselves-in-the-foot-and-will-be-limping-through-the-U.S.-wine-market-for-a-few-more-years underpriced. Which means that exciting bargains exist for the budget-conscious wine lover who’s willing to seek out the best wines from SA.
That’s the big take-away for me from my time speaking at the 2013 Nederburg Wine Auction near Cape Town earlier this month. Of course, some touring of the region’s wineries went down on that trip as well, so there will be some features on the best of those visits coming your way here over the next few weeks. For now, I’d like to focus on some of the highlights of what I tasted during the two days of the Nederburg Auction itself.
Not all of these wines will be available in the States yet (alas), but those that are generally have price tags that goofily belie their quality and pleasure-inducing vinous super-powers Clark Kent style, which means it’s like bear-market prices on some very, very nice wines for those now in the market for the best that SA has to offer.
For the sake of the lovely people making wine there – many of whom I now consider friends after breaking bread, cracking corks, and eating strange game meats with them – I’d love to not have to say that about how they’ve priced their wares, and would love to say that their wines will command the prices that similar quality would demand from other regions… BUT… it just ain’t so.
The truth is that SA in a crappy situation market-wise on that front, and the declining value of the Rand versus the dollar and the euro isn’t going to help matters much. And of course they already know all of that, so this isn’t news for them – but it does mean potential bargains for you, if you’re the open-minded wine drinking type…
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