Vintages & Varietals

Vintages & Varietals

What’s up, and what’s not!  | I am often asked by customers, friends, and even co-workers what is new, hot, or trendy in the wine department.

There are always several answers to these questions. Sometimes I feel like the proverbial broken record with the same answers all the time, but lately there is much afoot, with changes galore in the marketplace. First, we have two new and exciting vintages coming out of Bordeaux. The wines from the 2012 vintage, an island of normalcy in an ocean of vinous difficulties, are shipping from France as I write, and are due to land on our shelves in mid-summer. The 2012s will be welcome here! Many of our customers took part in the 2009 vintage party that brought us big delicious wines from a nearly perfect vintage. But then these were followed by the 2010 vintage which was short, expensive, and really only a buying proposition for the most dedicated and patient of buyers. The 2011 wines were poorly received by the trade and were offered by the properties at, shall I say, unattractive prices (we basically took a pass on the whole vintage). The 2013 vintage was much the same. Prices had come down some, but the vintage was difficult, and no one was interested in expensive wines of mediocre quality. The 2012 vintage offered very good, typical, high-quality wines that will both drink and age with grace and composure. Offered at reasonable prices, we were modest buyers, and I hope that you like our selections. I am looking forward to assembling a selected case of my favorites for my own cellar.

The second exciting vintage from Bordeaux is the most recent vintage, 2014, which looks to be a slightly better vintage than 2012, favoring the Cabernet Sauvignon of the Left Bank. Moreover, we benefit (finally!) from a combination of market pressures that work in our favor. First, prices from the chateaux continue to fall as inventories of fair-to-poor vintages back up in their cellars. Second, we are enjoying the benefits of a very strong dollar this spring, which results all by itself in a full 25 percent reduction in the ultimate retail price on everything that comes out of Europe. Check out our full offering when it comes out in June.

Of course Bordeaux is only one part of the wine business, albeit a high-profile part. There are wonderful developments in other parts of the business as well. First, New Zealand, and its larger neighbor Australia, are making wines that are better and more distinctive than ever. After years of pain, the Australian business is picking up, and customers are rediscovering the beauties of Shiraz and the other wonderful wines that are being made from the historic vineyard slopes across that wonderful country.

Finally, here in the United States, we have enjoyed many boom years recently in the category of blended red wines. These have been good times for customers and wine consultants, as the wines have been affordable, delicious, and popular (always a good combination). But this appears to be fading, and several of the market leaders in this category are giving way to other wines that provide a variety of flavors and experiences. This is a fun time when we all get to experiment and discover great new wines, or rediscover old friends that for one reason or another have been over-looked lately. We are excited to explore these new and fantastic vintages, regions, varietals, and blends that all find a home here on our shelves, and hopefully many of them find homes on your table soon.



Wines to Try: 

Château St. Andre Corbin 2012

Merlot and Cabernet Franc from a storied parcel in a little-known appellation—Saint-Georges-Saint-Émilion. Held by the Saby family for generations, these vineyards are part of the family and the wines they craft are some of the best values we know from this corner of Bordeaux. $23.49

Ravenswood “Besieged” Red 2012

A new entry to the booming category of blended California reds, this Sonoma County wine is dry, full flavored, and complex; a worthy successor for this storied brand. $15.99

d’Arenberg “The Footbolt” Shiraz 2011

From one of our favorite Australian producers, newly reintroduced to our store. This is full-throttle Shiraz at an exception-ally reasonable price. $17.99

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Striking Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, this raises the bar again for intensity, complexity, and balance. A new wine for us, and a recent 93-point review from Wine Spectator. Check it out! 19.99

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