Blends have been the backbone of the wine industry for quite some time. But, the way the average wine store is set up in America, doesn’t exactly lend itself to selling red wine blends. Sure, some stores are set up by region (like they are in Europe) but others are set up by varietal throwing red wine blends to a weird, smaller section in the back usually called “other reds”. In many ways, that’s where the best value wines happen to reside. Here’s two examples.
Hi, guys, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. I’m joined today by two bottles of wine that have both gone out to wine club members, well at least the Avennia Gravura has gone out already, and this CORE Wine Company Ground Around is going out, kind of in the next few days. These are two red wine blends from two vastly different regions of the United States, made of different varietals but I think they kind of speak to some of the challenges that are inherent if you’re not from Napa and Sonoma, and on top of that, you’re making wines which are not 100% or at least 85 or 90% of a single varietal.
If you think about how an average wine store is set up, they’re set up one of two ways. First and foremost you see they’re set up by region, or they’re set up by varietal. Both of these are not, the Gravura is literally 45% Cabernet, 45% Merlot, and 10% Cab Franc, where would you put that? You put it in this other, kind of, other region at the very back of the store usually which is called “other red wine”. That’s where this CORE Wine Company would be found too. This is Grenache, Tempranillo, Syrah, and Tempranillo from a different vineyard, but still only 64% total Tempranillo so you can’t call it that.
Again, you’d have these two together, they’re almost on opposite sides of the spectrum of taste profile, flavor profile, and also the kind of weight and mouth feel is almost completely opposite. You have all this stuff thrown in together and I think this kind of speaks to the issues involved. Most wine stores aren’t going to have a Santa Barbara section, most wine stores actually aren’t going to have a central coast section. The ones that I’ve seen on the east coast and New York, and Chicago especially, you end up having Napa, Sonoma, other California. That other Californians, other red, you kind of continue put on all these barriers for people to not only not be able to understand what kind of wine they’re likely to get in this section, but you’re not really focused on trying to sell that stuff.
I think that’s where you end up with wines like these two which are both kind of excellent value. I think the Avennia Gravura, especially, is say $35 retail price point, but 92 point spectator, and from Washington, it kind of speaks to exactly what they do so well up there. Then the CORE Wine Company, this is kind of a unique blend, you don’t see a whole lot of Tempranillo being made anymore in California, and it’s kind of nice to see something that is a little bit outside of the ordinary. As a wine industry and people that are selling wine, I think we have to ask ourself, what are we doing to give people a more complete look at what’s possible. If we were to set up our stores based on region alone, and nothing else, like they would in Europe, we have expectation of a varietal and a region that go together.
In the United States we don’t have that, in large part because we don’t have antiquated wine laws that tell us what we can plant and where. But the inverse of that means is that we need to do a better job telling stories of wines and why they’re important, and why this is interesting, and why somebody should take 30 seconds to look at the back of the label, or why we should have a conversation with a customer and say, “Look, this is a good wine, and here’s why it’s a good wine.” For the Avennia, this is a good wine because this is one of the great blends that’s made up in Washington. It’s a very unique, almost more feminine profile of wine, and it stands up well against what you would get from Bordeaux at a 15 or $20 price step up. The CORE Wine Company, this is every bit as good, if not better than what’s being imported from Spain, again at a 15 or $20 price point difference as far as Tempranillo goes.
In any case, I think that’s kind of one of the issues. I think you see a lot of price step back from people when they do make red wine blends. You’ll often see these blends be the cheapest wines that are made, there’s a couple wineries in Napa that I’m familiar with that they have a $65 Cabernet, a $55 Merlot, and then if it’s 50% Cabernet and 50% Merlot, it’s not in between the two price points, it’s like $40. I think that’s an ongoing issue for the industry and that’s something that we kind of need to hash out.
Once again, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures, hope everybody’s having a good week, and for us, in the Bay Area, San Francisco, it’s nice to have a little break from the rain. I know in the Pacific northwest, you guys are looking forward to a break from the snow, and God help everybody on the east coast when this goes back there, it’s not a pretty one. Once again, thanks again, have a good night.