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.)



SOME QUICK THOUGHTS ON LOCAL WINE EVENTS
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.

MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO WINE AND FOOD EVENT
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.
--Sam

10 comments:

cheryl said...

I'm a "White Zin, Riesling" kinda gal, so I'm not your best customer, but I just wanted to be the first to comment and say Good Luck on your blog. As a fellow Minneapolitan, I'll check in from time to time. I started my "Bungalow Days" blog yesterday, but have a long way to go to make it a full-fledged blog :)

Anonymous said...

Love this idea! And I agree with your MPR wine event thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I agree, it’s now become the Winter’s version of the Minnesota State Fair! Your money is better spent by patronizing your area wine shop and taking advantage of their smaller, higher quality, FREE tastings. Plus you get a larger pour and the opportunity to learn something while you taste. Cheers to free tastings!!!!!!

Brad said...

Welcome to Blogger! I live a block away from the shop, so it's a shame that I haven't been to a Wednesday Tasting in months! It looks like I'll be able to make it this week, though...

I've got a ton of wine at home, and sadly much of it is the mass produced stuff you refer to in this post. I hope to drink it away quickly and make room for all the good stuff Sam's has in stock...

Erik said...

Well said, Sam. Fortunately, the more corporatization and consolidation that occurs in the wine industry, the more people will begin to understand (and, hopefully, reject) that trend. There will always be demand for the smaller "craft" winemakers and wine shops like yours. I know I'll do my part...

Beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kitty said...

Hello! Well, I have a few comments regarding the Food and Wine Event and Sam's post regarding the event. First, we must keep in mind that it is a fundraiser, so while I am all for free wine-tastings, I am also for events that raise money for groups that I believe effect our community, and MPR is a fantastic organization who relies on the community to support their operations and public events.

I think many positive things can come out of the event...with the best thing being getting more people interested in wine. Many people may have a tainted view of wine because of a bad experience with low quality wine they had at perhaps a wedding reception, work party, etc, and this wine event is now exposing them to the idea that there is more than Merlot and Chardonnay in the world on wine. So while they may have gone to the event for the social atmosphere and a chance to hang out with friends and family, they may leave with a new appreciation for wine!

And yes, there were a lot of mainstream wine offerings, but there were also many local wineries and some absolutely wonderful wines. Many that I have never heard of, and many that I would never have thought to try/buy had I not tasted them at the event.

But that does not mean I am now going to buy only that specific "generic" brand of wine that I tried...I am now going to head to my local wine shop and ask for their recommendation of a particular grape or blend or region that I tried, hence opening up the door for me to experience a whole new type of wine. I obviously cannot speak for everyone who attended the event...but when I left the event, the vendors and wines I tried were so jumbled in my brain by all the options and tastings I tried, that I probably would only recognize a handful of them upon walking into a liquor store or wine shop. What I do remember are specific grapes/regions that I tried. Like South African wines...yum. I tried some great wines from South Africa, and now when I go to my wine shop, I am more likely to ask the knowledgeable staff for a few suggestions for a great wine from South Africa...THUS, ensuring that great quality wines from smaller vineyardshand-crafted artisinal wineries can still find their way into my wine glass.

While this event is huge, it is not the only wine event in the region, and many opportunities exist every week and weekend throughout the metro region that allow vendors from smaller wineries to showcase their wines. You just need to keep your eyes and ears open.

Whew! Now that I got that off my chest, I recommend everyone bundle up and head out to Sam's for their wine-tasting this Wednesday. Oh, and I do not hesistate in recommending everyone attend the food and wine event next year, if nothing more than to have a lot of fun on a cold winter day/night...

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your new blog very much. Would you consider do a tasting and/or posting an occasional blog that features wines for those of us on a tight budget?

Success to Sam's!

Sara said...

Hey Sam this is great! I love that you are stepping out in this direction. I have enjoyed a few tastings at your place and your shop gets high marks for nonintimidating and friendly folks.
One problem I was interested in the Bells tasting at Sapor but I don't have flash on my ancient pc. Just a thought for us low tech fans.

burgundy wines said...

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(French: Bourgogne or Vin de Bourgogne) is wine made in the Burgundy region in eastern France.[1] The most famous wines produced here - those commonly referred to as Burgundies - are red wines made from Pinot Noir grapes or white wines made from Chardonnay grapes. Red and white wines are also made from other grape varieties, such as Gamay and Aligoté respectively. Small amounts of rosé and sparkling wine are also produced in the region. Chardonnay-dominated Chablis and Gamay-dominated Beaujolais are formally part of Burgundy wine region, but wines from those subregions are usually referred to by their own names rather than as "Burgundy wines".

Burgundy has a higher number of Appellation d'origine contrôlées (AOCs) than any other French region, and is often seen as the most terroir-conscious of the French wine regions. The various Burgundy AOCs are classified from carefully delineated Grand Cru vineyards down to more non-specific regional appellations. The practice of delineating vineyards by their terroir in Burgundy go back to Medieval times, when various monasteries played a key role in developing the Burgundy wine industry. The appellations of Burgundy (not including Chablis).

Overview in the middle, the southern part to the left, and the northern part to the right. The Burgundy region runs from Auxerre in the north down to Mâcon in the south, or down to Lyon if the Beaujolais area is included as part of Burgundy. Chablis, a white wine made from Chardonnay grapes, is produced in the area around Auxerre. Other smaller appellations near to Chablis include Irancy, which produces red wines and Saint-Bris, which produces white wines from Sauvignon Blanc. Some way south of Chablis is the Côte d'Or, where Burgundy's most famous and most expensive wines originate, and where all Grand Cru vineyards of Burgundy (except for Chablis Grand Cru) are situated. The Côte d'Or itself is split into two parts: the Côte de Nuits which starts just south of Dijon and runs till Corgoloin, a few kilometers south of the town of Nuits-Saint-Georges, and the Côte de Beaune which starts at Ladoix and ends at Dezize-les-Maranges. The wine-growing part of this area in the heart of Burgundy is just 40 kilometres (25 mi) long, and in most places less than 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) wide. The area is made up of tiny villages surrounded by a combination of flat and sloped vineyards on the eastern side of a hilly region, providing some rain and weather shelter from the prevailing westerly winds. T

he best wines - from "Grand Cru" vineyards - of this region are usually grown from the middle and higher part of the slopes, where the vineyards have the most exposure to sunshine and the best drainage, while the "Premier Cru" come from a little less favourably exposed slopes. The relatively ordinary "Village" wines are produced from the flat territory nearer the villages. The Côte de Nuits contains 24 out of the 25 red Grand Cru appellations in Burgundy, while all of the region's white Grand Crus are located in the Côte de Beaune. This is explained by the presence of different soils, which favour Pinot Noir and Chardonnay respectively. Further south is the Côte Chalonnaise, where again a mix of mostly red and white wines are produced, although the appellations found here such as Mercurey, Rully and Givry are less well known than their counterparts in the Côte d'Or. Below the Côte Chalonnaise is the Mâconnais region, known for producing large quantities of easy-drinking and more affordable white wine. Further south again is the Beaujolais region, famous for fruity red wines made from Gamay. Burgundy experiences a continental climate characterized by very cold winters and hot summers. The weather is very unpredictable with rains, hail, and frost all possible around harvest time. Because of this climate, there is a lot of variation between vintages from Burgundy.
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