This week hanging around with Jennings at the Parker and Otis wine department was more than I could have hoped for. I was able to sell a few bottles of wine, one transaction my dream scenario … the customer said “I’d like to buy a nice bottle of wine for my friend who drinks $4 spanish reds” … now that’s an easy proposition! I got him a bottle of Andre Tamers’ Mencia, a red from Galicia that I love, and Jennings had a new shipment of the Biga Rioja that I sampled last week – he bought a bottle of that too – but even better was getting to attend three or four meetings with wine-reps to see what they had new and taste their wine.
You see, I am still so curious about wine and want to keep learning about it. Here’s the biggest surprise … I really liked three wines, all from America … and that’s unusual for me as I am usually a curmudgeon for only old world wines.
Probably the most surprising was the Gewürztraminer from The Hobo Wine Company’s Banyan Label. This Traminer was restrained and very tasty and shockingly only had 12% alcohol. The Hobo Wine Company’s owner and winemaker grew up in a family where one of his parents was from Thailand … he had Thai food in mind when he made this wine … when this wine comes into the shop I look forward to buying a bottle and having it with Thai food.
While I am not certain that the Banyan Gewürztraminer will be in the shop today, I do know there will be several bottles of Johannes Leitz’ Leitz Out Riesling. Joni is a rockstar in the world of Riesling and Riesling lovers adore his wines. As a service to the Riesling-grape he produced a deliciously dry entry-level Riesling from the Rheingau, affordable enough allowing Parker and Otis to retail it for $14.99 – a real deal!
I believe these estate wines from Germany and Austria represent some of the best wine values available today, and I’m on a mission to get people to try them and take a bottle home. These wines suffer in sales because everyone thinks German wine is sweet, which is not true. This wine has a whisper of sweetness, which is just right, especially with spicy food or as an aperitif before dinner. The wines have a beautiful transparency of flavor and are low in alcohol, which is something I appreciate since they don’t come with the headache many new world wines bring.
I have another story about a man whose family vineyard is Melsheimer. Thorsten Melsheimer visited 3Cups several years ago and told the story of the Mosel valley families where his family’s vineyard is located. Where years ago there were 23 family-vineyards growing Riesling grapes along the banks of the Mosel, today the Melsheimer vineyard is the only remaining due to the dramatic drop in sales of Riesling. The American market is one of utmost importance to the continued existence of the German estate Riesling, but unfortunately has been dwindling at the hands of Yellowtail, Three Wishes or 2-buck-chuck which have given Riesling a bad name associated with cloyingly sweet grape juice.
Somehow it has become terribly uncool to like anything but bone-dry wines, and I can’t tell you how many times people have said “I like really dry wine”. But America is a nation of ice-cream lovers, we like margaritas and coca-cola, which has a residual sugar of 112g per liter, but when a wine has just a few grams of residual sugar people will often run the other way – I think that’s a grave error! I’ll have a few things open that I love, including the Leitz Out Riesling so come see me today between 4 and 6 and give it a taste.