Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Wine Series by Cosentino

I met a Cosentino winery representative a few years ago after making a sizable purchase of their proprietary Napa wines. Considering all of the consolidation going on in the industry, I had to ask this individual whether Cosentino was still privately held.  Sheepishly he said they had recently made the decision to partner with some other small wineries in order to compete with the mass marketers.

I have since learned that the historic Cosentino Winery failed in 2010, a casualty of the recession, and it was bought in bankruptcy by Vintage Wine Estates in 2011.  So it was already a mass marketer in its own right when I had my conversation with the rep.  Vintage Wine Estates markets twenty-five or so wineries including Swanson, Girard, Clos Pegas, B R Cohn, Buried Cane, Viansa, Delectus, and even Gougenheim from Argentina.

We're writing about Cosentino because we just received five reds from The Wine Series by Cosentino, a line of Lodi sourced wines with names like The Cab, The Chard, and so on.  The wines are really quite good and retail in the sweet spot economically.  Even though I'm not a fan of either Lodi or Zinfandel, The Zin is the best in the line and recommended to all who are reading this.

Wine Business Monthly is a publication that issues an annual "Top 30 Wine Companies" list that is interesting in the same way going to a horse race is if you're a sharecropper with a mule.  You don't envy the participants so much as you stand in awe of the spectacle.  Here are the top eight:

    1. E&J Gallo Winery
    2. The Wine Group
    3. Constellation Brands
    4. Trinchero Family Estates
    5. Bronco Wine Company
    6. Treasury Wine Estates
    7. DFV
    8. Jackson Family Estates

I'm stopping at eight because you have to subscribe to WBM to get the whole list.  Wine analyses the list and concludes that these top thirty wine companies make 90% of the wine consumed in America.  They represent .04% of the wine companies in the country.  The top three companies make more than half of all wine sold here which means the other 7,400 wine companies in America are competing for the remaining 40% or so.

I am sure Vintage Wine Estates is on the list somewhere.  As for the mass marketing of wine in general, I guess it is what it is.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Cantina La-Vis

Last Thursday at the weekly event we featured three new Italian reds along with a Russian River Chardonnay.  Dave Klepinger, our vendor, said his company really didn't need new Italians in a portfolio that was already rich in that category but succumbed to them after tasting them.  When he tasted me on them a week before the event, I too fell for them.  The selling point?  Easy...price!

Our best seller that evening was the La-Vis Pinot Nero (Noir), a wine that was more substantial than the standard "light, refreshing, fruity & perfumy" red that seems to be the standard.  This one had depth, earthiness, and texture", if not Burgundian in style, at least a step above similarly priced New World fare.  I think it would pair well with a variety of lighter grilled foods.

The La-Vis wines (Pinot Grigio is here too) are made at the winery in the village of the same name which was established by the Cembran family in 1850.  In 1948 it became a cooperative venture with eight hundred members (1300 growers) and eight hundred hectares in vineyards.  The winery lies in the Avisiane hills in the Trentino province of northeastern Italy where ninety percent of the production is classified DOC (denominazione di origine controllata).

Cantina La-Vis is part of the cooperative movement in Italy that advocates for "mutuality" in production benefits at a time when cooperation is imperative considering the competitive world market.  They also follow the 1980 Progetto Zonazione (Zoning Project) motto, "The right vine in the right place."  The cooperative evaluates its vineyard qualities in order to market multiple wine labels reflecting different quality levels to fit different price points.  The La-Vis pinots are a $12.99 retail here.

This Thursday at 5pm Ryan Woolfolk offers us a tasting of French Chinon, Spanish Red Rioja, Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, and Italian Pinot Grigio.  Please join us.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Meinklang and Demeter Certification

At yesterday's wine tasting here at the store the most interesting wine on the table was the 2015 Meinklang Burgenlandwhite, a Gruner Veltliner blend from Austria.  The wine is biodynamic and Demeter certified which is one way of saying it's about as wholesome and politically correct as it gets.

Meinklang is the name of the farm run by the Michlits family in Burgenland which is in eastern Austria south of Vienna.  The estate features unpruned or "graupert" vineyards along with fruit orchards, agricultural fields, and livestock in the form of Angus cattle.  The wine is matured in concrete egg-shaped containers on the property.

Demeter certification requires crop rotation, composting, and homeopathic sprays instead of all of the commercial fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides in use today.  All of the components of the estate listed above must work together to provide a self contained sustainability for the property.  An allowance for ten percent of the property to be set aside for biodiversity (flowers, trees, water features, and wildlife habitat) is another requirement.  When the Demeter Farm Standard is met, the property is certified and then inspected annually for compliance.

The healthier soil provided by the Demeter system create larger vine root systems resulting in wines displaying greater terroir.  Natural wines made in this manner exemplify the finest expression of what an environment can produced without additives.

Wine is a relative latecomer to the Demeter system which is philosophy that treats a certified estate as a living organism.  The system was in place for food production well before the advent of biodynamic wine into the system.  The term biodynamic is trademarked by Demeter and may only legally appear on a Demeter certified property label.

The 2015 Meinklang Burgenlandwhite  is a blend of 50% Gruner Veltliner, 40% Welschriesling, and 10% Muscat.  It is light and dry with a slight spritz probably due to its youth.  This wine would work fine with shellfish and green salads.