Monday, February 26, 2007

Cabernet and Cab Blends

Video: 13 mins: Introduction and Tasting of 4 Wines
(click the links below to got to sales page for these wines.)

Here on The Wine Vibe we will post links to local wine events so that you as the enthusiastic wine reader will be "in the know". But more than that we would love to get your views and reviews on any of these events that you attend.
Did any of the wines you tried thrill, surprise, disappoint or intrigue you?
Are there certain kinds of events that you would like to attend?
Have you been wanting to try or learn more about a certain reion of wines?
Whatever interests you, please feel free to write it down in these pages. Just give your honest opinion, good or bad and get the conversation going.

This is one of the biggest local wine events of the season. It is a three day weekend of wine and food vendors that gather to show their wares to the general public in an effort to help Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) raise money.
This is a very large event with scores of vendors and hundreds of wine and food offerings. From a consumer standpoint, if you aren't afraid of crowds, theoretically this would hold a vast interest (to those who can afford the price of admission) to sample a number of different wines.
But I would contend that this event is no longer going to appeal the the true wine enthusiast as a venue to further educate ones palate or knowledge base of wine. Certainly there is plenty of fun to be had here, and as a social event it is really terrific.
Due to the grand nature of the event and the sheer vast amount of wines that are poured, the kinds of wine that are most usually being sampled are among the most mainstream of the offerings available in the market. This is due to the fact that because the event is a benefit for MPR they do nothing to defray the cost of the samples served by the vendors.
Therefore the vendors must absorb this cost themselves, and at a certain scale they are able to do so. But on this grand scale they are more likely to go to the producers of these wines to ask for help to defray the costs.
And here is where the danger lies, for it is nearly impossible for many of the hand-crafted artisinal wineries, wineries that make rare and interesting wines to be able to offer the kind of support needed for an event of this magnitude.
More often it is the large wineries, and frequently the extremely large holding companies that own dozens of brands and mass produce oceans of wine that will have the pockets deep enough to support these kinds of events.
Over and over we see the same wines from the same companies at these events. The wines become recognizable as brands. These brands then compete for the same shelf space in every wine shop and liquor store. As there is only so much space on those shelves and only so many dollars for inventory, the shops that stock these massed produced items begin to look the same.
And this harms the market place. Whenever diversity is replaced by the generic, something is lost. As Twin Citians we have great diversity in the selection of wines that are available to us. We should cherish this. We should encourage this by seeking out the unique and using our dollars to "vote" for wines that keep the market interesting.
The MPR event is nothing more than a victim of its own success, but it is a slippery slope (just as the issue of wine in grocery stores is...more on that later) that all of us in the business need be aware and ever watchful.
Here's to more great wines and great times along the wine trail.