For people who love great wine, there is nothing better than finding one of your favorite varietals on sale at a local wine shop or even on the internet with a sign proclaiming “Special Saving” or “Lowest Price”. If you know the brand and are familiar with the actual featured wine, it may feel like you just hit the jackpot. Some would call that a great value. But upon closer examination maybe this isn’t the wine you actually know and love, but something similar,
You get your bottle(s) home and anxiously pour the first glass only to reveal that … hmmm this doesn’t taste the same as I recall. Oh shoot, I like their Red Blend and this is their Merlot. All kinds of small peculiarities might come into play that clearly let you know that maybe it wasn’t such a great deal after all. Some folks like to cruise the wine aisle looking for that Chardonnay with the cute label. You know the one with the furry Panda that costs $8.99. But each one of us has our own notion of great value, especially when it comes to wine. How about a great vintage Champagne from a Grand Cru vineyard for $99, or a first growth Bordeaux for $200? Pssst… I can get you a bottle of Coolio Vineyards for $300, it’s going for $500 at the winery!
Recently, I visited a well known national grocery chain and noticed a large stack of wine that was all priced at $2.99, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, you name it. All of this wine “specially produced” just for this store. It’s all about perspective and of course, and what you like to drink.
So, if you find that one special wine that satisfies your pallet, drinks great every time you open it, and doesn’t require a cash advance from “Check into Cash” when you buy it, then you likely have found a great value. However, if you are still searching for that wine, or are looking to expand your list of favorites, I have a suggestion, drop by the tasting room at Talley Vineyards and sample through the vast assortment that awaits. From the Growler wine program poured from kegs all the way up to vineyard designated Pinot Noir sourced from unique locations in the Arroyo Grande and Edna Valleys, you are assured exceptional value. These are wines that reflect their vineyard source, are grown and produced by the same family that planted the vineyards some 36 years ago, and operate with the same attention to detail since the very first vintage.
Afterall, there is more to a great value than the price alone.
It's been said that truth is stranger than fiction, and in 2016 that has been confirmed numerous times. Within the wine industry we have seen purchases of stalwart brands by very unlikely suitors. We have witnessed the consolidation of wholesale distributors which continues to grow some of these companies beyond what we might consider reasonable or functional. Some of these trends are just a continuation of the patterns that we have started to become accustomed to in our world amongst the vines.
But looking around can anyone say they could predict how this year would develop? Globally, a new heightened sense of security in almost every corner of the world permeates our collective consciousness. The levels of violence and unrest are unlike anything I have ever witnessed, and I am a child of the 60's. The political arena is so far beyond any previous examples that we all constantly ask what could possibly be next? There truly is no predictability during this campaign season. Recently I was speaking with a wine making friend about this crazy scenario that we are all living in. He and I agreed that this whole year has been scripted and is being prepared for the silver screen by one very bright and ingenious mogul of the film industry.... Quentin Tarantino. That's it, we are all part of his next mega hit "2016" Volume 1. I'm not sure how this one will end, and I certainly wouldn't spoil it for you if I did. But I do know that at the end of every Tarantino film I have viewed I usually need some relief.
Maybe the relief is a deep breath of some fresh air, but oftentimes an adult beverage is the required remedy. Whatever path I choose it must be one of predictable reliability and satisfaction. I happen to keep a small collection of Talley Vineyards and Bishop's Peak wines (among other brands, of course) at my disposal for just such an occasion. If I want something reliably refreshing, crisp on the pallet, and comfortably silky in texture, then I must reach for our Talley Estate Chardonnay or our Bishop's Peak Chardonnay. Soon the new vintages will be available for these wines, and because I have had the opportunity to preview them I am overjoyed at the prospect of having both the 2014 Talley Estate Chardonnay and the 2015 Bishop's Peak Chardonnay ready in my cellar. I'm happy to report that within the next few weeks all fans of Talley Vineyards will be able to follow this same path and add two of the most refreshing, and predictably delicious wines to their own wine selection. I heartily suggest that you prepare for the conclusion of this epic we call 2016 and make sure these consistently comforting wines are in your cellar.
ave you been to a large wine retail store lately? I happen to visit fairly often as a part of my sales role with Talley Vineyards. Just the visual stimulation is worth the venture into the vast arena of what awaits you as you peruse the aisles of Whole Foods, Specs in Texas, Kroger's, Costco, Safeway, and countless others. In some respect, you might call it sensory overload, but if you are a wine consumer looking for something new and different this could be your entre into limitless adventure.
Have you looked closely at wine labels lately? There was a time not long ago that most marketing experts would encourage wineries to design labels that appeal to women. I know this may sound sexist, but it's been proven time after time that women shoppers buy more wine in these retail outlets than men, so labels with eye pleasing design and color became the norm. Sometimes something cute would grace the label, like kangaroos or monkeys. Even horses and dogs have had their images reproduced on wine labels. Of course, floral reproductions have been vastly popular.
So what has changed that encourages label designers to depict more serious and somber images? I have seen eerie and even morbid graphics on the labels of some newer products on the shelves. This includes a reproduction of famous artwork that depicts a handcuffed criminal tethered to a post, head hanging down and eyes hidden by a blindfold. I recently saw a Spanish wine label with no printing at all, but a vivid image of an elderly man. Have you seen the wine label that features a very scantily clad woman wielding a huge machete? It definitely encourages a second look.
I wonder what those wines taste like and if I grabbed one off the shelf would I end up feeling like the image on the label? Do criminals drink this stuff? Will paranoia set in if I try the one with the big spooky eyes? You see, wine labels do have some marketing impact.
I have to admit when I'm looking to purchase a wine I have always been drawn to the classic designs. Just tell me who produced the wine; if it's a domestic variety, I like to know the grape it was made from and the region of origin. A little vintage information is helpful and yes, I also look at the alcohol level. I know that it seems basic, but from these bits of info I can form a general idea and give myself reasonable assurance that I might enjoy what's inside. You could say I'm old fashioned, old school, or just plain old, but to me the classics are still my favorites and that goes for label design as well. So when people ask me ,"Hey have you guys at Talley changed your label recently?", I answer, "No, not in about twenty years." Classic tasting wines with classically designed labels: Talley Vineyards, celebrating 30 years of winemaking!
I'm always amused when I get back to the winery after a long stretch of business travel and my co-workers look at me and greet me somewhat curiously. People come into our office and say "Oh, you're here!" Better yet, there are some newly hired people who have no idea who the heck I am. I'm sure I will meet the newbie's very soon and I'll re-acquaint myself to all those seasoned employees who may have thought I moved on or became part of the witness re-location program.
Actually, I have just wrapped up a series of business trips that was very extensive and highly productive in many ways. So far this year I have logged 50 days of traveling for the greater cause of selling Talley Vineyards and Bishop's Peak wines to our wholesale customers around the U.S. Most recently I was in the Massachusetts area and over the three days I was there, I visited 15 accounts, both retail and restaurants, and hosted a dinner with our top sales people and managers from the distributor.
Last week was an interesting journey as well. I started the week in Boise, Idaho, where I spent two nights and worked the area for one day. It's a lovely town of about 200,000 people and growing quickly and the restaurant scene there is vibrant. Later in the week I drove to Ketchum where our distributor stages their annual trade tasting. Ketchum is adjacent to Sun Valley, a beautiful mountain resort, and a great market for our wines. I left Ketchum and drove back to Boise to catch a flight that would eventually land me in Aspen. It's not bad to start your day in Ketchum and end it in Aspen! Winemaker, Eric Johnson met me in Aspen and we attended the Aspen Food & Wines Classic. Describing the F & W Classic would probably take three more pages than anyone would want to read but suffice to say that it is by far the biggest, most elaborate event of this nature that I have ever attended in my 30 years in this business. Not only is there an enormous selection of wines from around the globe, but a vast array of spirits and craft beers. The cooking demos and food sampling is over the top as well. Along the way we met some very interesting wine industry professionals, including sommeliers, importers, buyers, and chefs. Did I mention that I got to meet John Salley, the ex Detroit Pistons player who now has his own brand of wines? Who knows what excitement the next trip might bring!
Two weeks ago I was working with our distributor in New Orleans selling our wine. After our Friday morning sales meeting where I introduced the 2011 single vineyard chardonnays, I had a sales appointment (along with our rep Jeff Heaviside) at Restaurant August. This restaurant is a very fine dining establishment in New Orleans (not your typical Cajun Creole hang out). When we arrived, just before 1:00pm, there was a curious scene out front with several armed policemen and stretched limos. As we entered the building, we noticed that an exceptionally busy lunch crowd had already collected before our appointment.
Now earlier in the week, this same security scene was visible at the Roosevelt Hotel, but we later learned that was for the Governor’s Convention. This time it was even bigger. The Dalai Lama, yes, the religious leader of the Buddhist people of Tibet-- was dining at Restaurant August! They were eating in the private room upstairs, and we were in the main dining room where everyone was totally on edge, anxiously awaiting their opportunity to say “Hello Dalai”.
Now, the closest I got to him was when I went to use the washroom…upstairs. As I made my way down the hall, I passed Head Chef John Besh, two plain clothes security men, the Maitre de, an armed policeman, a man wearing a turban, and another man wearing a yarmulke. An eclectic bunch.
Later, as the Dalai Lama left the building, we were all looking out the window watching him get escorted to his limo. It was a real sign of the times, with everyone holding their arms in the air aiming their smartphones in his direction in an attempt to capture a picture. It actually reminded me of a Grateful Dead concert. Needless to say, lunch at August was a divine experience. Jeff, and the Dalai Lama had the vegetarian risotto.