Wine Notes – Pick a Great Wine Every Time
I guess I’m kinda old fashioned about some things. Sunday dinner is at the top of my list. It usually includes whichever child is home from college for the weekend, their friends, and always a visit from my father. Dad can’t go anywhere without bringing something, so along with him comes a bottle of wine. (My wife and I used to go to my parents’ house for Sunday dinner when we were first married, and the meal would always include some kind of jug wine such as “Gallo Paisano.” Enough with some traditions!)
Since I will not serve jug wine with Sunday dinner, I’ve had to teach my father how to pick wine that is “acceptable.” He’s pretty easygoing (unless you start talking politics), so he was eager to learn how to select a good bottle. I set down only a few rules: Stay away from the grocery store, and be sure there are no feet, silly images or animals on the wine label. Also, go to a New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet and choose from the store’s Outlet Power Buys program.
Outlet Power Buys deliver some of the best wine values in the region. Bargains can be found at every price point, for every style of wine. So now, instead of jug wine, dad comes over with a $15 to $20 wine valued at $25 to $40. We call it a “test bottle.” Some weeks he hits the jackpot by discovering a wine so good that we just have to go and buy a case.
According to New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets’ wine marketing specialist Nicole Brassard-Jordan, the Outlet Power Buys program began in 2009, leveraging the huge purchasing power of the stores and taking advantage of circumstances when some quality wines aren’t selling well. Grape farmers and their associated wineries aren’t able to reduce grape production during a slow economy, so they sometimes have more product than they can move. Some wineries sell their wine in bulk to discount bottlers such as 90+ Cellars or Cameron Hughes. But Brassard-Jordan says consumers prefer original wine labels to be available at bargain prices. This approach has led to the huge success of the Outlet Power Buys program.
Brassard-Jordan travels to California’s wine regions at least once each year in search of these great deals. What a terrific job, I thought, imagining the fun of driving the country roads of Sonoma and Napa valleys, the beauty of sloping roadside vineyards and tasting my way through each exotic winery location. Brassard-Jordan, however, says it’s not that glamorous.
She sets up in a hotel for four days, making 20-minute appointments with each winery that’s looking for a buyer. Each wine representative brings six to eight samples for her to taste. Each selection must reflect the characteristics and components expected of each varietal. Additionally, Brassard-Jordan must determine the overall quality and value of the wines for the Outlet Power Buys program.
That means she’s tasting about 200 wines a day, times four days! Having been to wine tastings where I have sampled 50 or more wines, I can tell you that 200 doesn’t sound like fun at all. Spit buckets get full, and regular tongue scraping and tooth brushing with water only make for very long days with lots of note-taking.
I have been sampling wines from the Outlets Power Buys program since it began and have found some great bargains. Here are some recent treasurers that might still be available. We toasted in the New Year with Pommery Wintertime Blanc De Noirs Champagne ($29.99, regularly $59.99). This sparkling white wine is made from pinot noir grapes in a white wine style, where the grapes are crushed and the juice is drained immediately so it has very little contact with the skins. You’ll be tempted to open Champagne much more often if you stock this bargain in your cellar.
The 2011 “La Grande Roche” ($19.99, regularly $29.99) is a white Burgundy from the village of Montagny, France. This wonderful chardonnay, fermented in stainless steel (unoaked), is from vines that are considered second best in the region. It has nice citrus notes and smooth fruits at a great price.
I often think of Argentina when selecting a malbec, but its roots are in Bordeaux. The Chateau Bovila ($12.99, regularly $24) from the Cahors region of France is a great example. I shared this with some friends, and everyone got out their phones to take a picture of the bottle so they could remember what to buy. A case has already been added to my collection.
When in doubt about which wine to choose, turn to the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets Power Buys selections. If dad can show up with a great wine without too much effort, you can, too.
New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets: LiquorAndWineOutlets.com