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Wine Selection

Although I am now in the "wine business" I very quickly learned that my approach is apparently very different than how many aspects of wine importing and distribution are now handled by other importers and distributors.  As opposed to drafting "laundry lists" of types of wines to possibly "move through the distribution channel" and then going to huge trade shows like ProWein to find wines and check off boxes, I let the wines find me in my travels.

 

I do know terroir very well, however, and so that guides my journey to places where good wines should be able to be made.  There has been an unfortunate change in the "wine business", however, that now results in my having to look very diligently to find interesting and enjoyable wines in those regions.  Why is that, you might ask?  The reason is the "internationalization" of wine to particular "styles" that are favored by "prestigious" wine critics.

 

What is comical about such a development, however, is that such critics essentially speed taste through huge numbers of wines.  Such an activity obviously has nothing to do with how wines are usually enjoyed - with food or with friends - and so I really don't know why the "ratings" from that part of the wine community are even taken seriously.

 

The critics also obviously can't enjoy the most memorable part of a wine which is the finish or they would be intoxicated very quickly.  So, essentially, what consumers are being told to buy are wines that a reviewer briefly tasted on the front part of their tongue, quickly spit out, and which were never eaten with food!

 

My approach is far different.  Among the other things missed at large trade shows like ProWein is the culture at each winery.  Is there a cohesive team at the winery dedicated to making the best wines possible?  What do the vinification areas look like at each winery and how does the array of vinification equipment fit with the characteristics of the grapes grown in their area?  How are a producer's vineyards farmed and what is the winemaker's involvement in the farming operations?

 

What I also quickly realized is that while I was looking for interesting wines, what I actually found were very interesting and skilled farmers.  Since there are no vineyards, vinification areas, or barrel cellars inside the exhibition halls in Dusseldorf, such characteristics as I've described are what is being missed in how wine is currently selected in my opinion.

And so my selection process is a journey of discovery - waiting to see what wines that I think are truly enjoyable, interesting, and very food friendly.  The delightful surprises along the way have been: 

 

  • the very minerally Pinot Grigios and Ribolla Giallas from Ferdinand in Slovenia

  • the deeply flavored Negroamaro and Primitivo Riservas from Feudi d Guagnano in Apulia

  • the "village" Barolo produced by Tre Fattori but whose grapes are from the very prestigious Cerequio MGA below the village of La Morra

  • the delightful and fully flavored Fiano, Falanghina, and Aglianicos produced by Cantine Russo Taurasi including their truly profound "Carazita" which may be the most interesting Aglianico that I have ever tasted

  • the Vinas del Jaro estate in Spain whose vineyards are literally right next to the most "prestigious" producer in Spain but whose comparable Gran Reserva and Reserva have a price one-third of the equivalent wines of their neighbor

  • my Priorat producer who farms "micro blocks" of Garnacha and Carinena according to the varying mix of terrain in their "licorella" (broken slate) vineyards and then vinifies them all separately before ultimately choosing a final blend

  • my Alsace supplier whose rows of vines in his Grand Cru vineyard parcels are literally right next to the rows of vines of "Vigneron X" whose heavily marketed wines are priced 50 percent to 80 percent higher

  • the delightful Burgundies of Pierre Ravaut (from a region where I wasn't even going to import any wines) but which I discovered one night while at dinner in Pierre's village of Ladoix Serrigny

  • the truly inspired Mosel Rieslings of Jochen Clemens whose small batch vinification tanks produce possibly the most concentrated flavors in Mosel Rieslings that I have ever tasted

  • the precision of Corvers-Kauter in understanding how to perfectly farm and vinify every parcel - and which is also appreciated by very wealthy clients around the world who are allocated most of the production each year

  • the inspired genius and individuality of Hanspeter Ziereisen whose very fresh, fully flavored, and food friendly wines are a result of his individual approach to every wine in each ever-changing vintage

In mentioning individual producers, however, I am definitely doing a disservice to all of my other producers who are not specifically mentioned above.  All of them are worthy of mention and I have done so in my brief descriptions of their wineries and more extensive descriptions in the Winery Profiles section.  There is one unifying characteristic across all of my importers, however, which is that they are farmers first and understand that great wines start in the vineyard.

 

In a business where "star winemakers" become routinely profiled in the wine press, all of my producers realize that the real stars are the wonderful grapes growing in their vineyards.  Their respect and guardianship over those grapes then extends to attempting to bring out the full potential of those grapes in each ever-changing year.  As such, you will not see more homogenous "international style" wines in my portfolio.  What you will find, however, are very versatile wines that will go great with food and which will take you on an interesting journey in wine.