Saturday, January 27, 2018

BRAMBLES: A $ellar of Values

Most wines come from a handful of large beverage companies
Beginnings. January is for many of us a month of organize and purge; shuffle those receipts, and finally get around to putting away the summers wardrobe. It does not take much more time or experience or even information to also begin to collect wines to fill a value cellar that provides a very hedonistic joy for almost any wine lover. Today, more than ever before, value wines abound in our increasingly global marketplace, and more avenues exist to acquire them.  It is a great vino game that invites the intrepid wine consumer, a hunt for storable nectar.

Long standing consumer trends indicate that we are buying more wine than ever before, even as industry consolidation continues with distributors and retailers(convenient supermarkets sell a lot of low to mid-priced wine).  That means that the value oriented wine consumer does not have to search far or wide to begin to collect a selection of wines that will contribute to any meal or occasion.  Once you find a place to store your collection that is out of the sunlight and in a stable environment(a ground-floor closet or dark basement corner), the game is on.
Building a cellar starts with one or two bottles
Fact is, the more we know about wines, ie. characteristics of grape varieties, details on their wine labels, etc., the easier it becomes to find a value that will benefit from a little bottle development. Does your meal need a zippy white wine to take a mild dish or appetizer over the top?  What a joy then to retrieve from your cellar an Argentine Torrantes, or a Spanish Verdejo, or a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Should that red sauced pasta need accompaniment, then pull a bottle of Sierra Foothills AVA Zinfandel, or a Rosso Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Sangiovese from Italy's southeastern hills to provide dimension not present in the dish alone.  For the consumer, these selections and many others continue to represent not only value, but also a nectar that can change our perceptions about collecting wines.  You see, all wines benefit from some further development, not unlike the way children benefit from our patient nurturing.
Even in winter, we look towards new beginnings
Not all wines are created equal, as well.  Most of the wines available conveniently to consumers are products of large industrial corporations, where uniformity in manufacturing and bottom line oriented production costs guide their development.  You see, most wines produced in the U.S.(by volume) are intended for immediate consumption, because that's the way most domestic consumers' consume.  So the game of collecting becomes a little more challenging when we seek out wines that can really benefit from time in the bottle. Those mandatory front labels only represent part of their commercial story however.  Typically, by turning the bottle around consumers can find notable details that assist their selection, such as the important name of the importer or the distributor.  A back label can offer you suggested food pairings, the composition of the bottle or the unique history of the winery, and that can help consumers make a better informed selection for the cellar.

For the informed, clues can include a good vintage year for the producers region or a long-standing reputation for quality and value(Ch.Ste. Michelle or Ge'rard Bertrand); wines bottled by the producer or the domaine, or even a reliable importer(Winebow, Kermit Lynch) can also be informing. Increasingly, finding a reliable on-line flash site offering selections you routinely like can be of benefit to device-savvy collectors.  At on-premise retail, those impulse wine buys can encourage us with promotional pricing or a prominent shelf-talker that trumpets its accolades.  And, it all starts with one bottle that you don't intend to consume right away.  Heck, by two.  Before you know it, you are in the game, your stored wine collection is filling with a broad selection of values for almost any meal or occasion.  You will have a quality wine to bring to a friends' dinner party or to share with that special someone. And that, value wine collectors, can be just the beginning.