​Finding the Soul of Wine

Posted by Peter Koff MW on 10th Jan 2019

GreatWine2U.com has the motto, enshrined in our mission and passion; “FINDING THE SOUL OF WINE!” Lest you think this is a piece of kitsch snatched out of the air as a catchy marketing phrase, let me explain. I believe wine is too expensive. I’m not necessarily saying that consumers are being gouged but wine is too expensive. Let me give you a comparison. Two people go to a good restaurant in the USA, white tablecloth dining but not of the outrageously expensive ilk. They each have a starter and a main, let’s say a starter at around $15 and a main at about $35; total $50 per person. They would like a couple of glasses of wine with their meal for all the same reasons you and I drink wine. They know a little about wine and have decided to drink red burgundy. Obviously they are not going to select a Romanée-Conti of a great year. They will choose perhaps, a villages wine, from a decent commune and from a solid, if not “superstar” producer. They would love to try the 1999 or 2002 on the list but select a more modestly priced 2015. Price: $120! So, the wine costs more than the food. Are we drinking some wine with our dinner or having something to eat with our wine? Delicious as the wine and the pairing may be, it’s just too expensive. Easy, you say; “Pick something less expensive off the list” I have, on not a few occasions, felt that I did not do justice to an exquisite dish because I did not want to part with a car payment for the perfect bottle of wine to accompany it! This is frustrating and puts a slight “if only..” on the whole meal. Is there a solution?

Let’s start at the beginning. Why is wine too expensive? You can get a wonderful dish prepared by talented people, literally slaving over a hot stove, delivered to your table beautifully plated, and your bottle of very good wine is more than double the price. I will leave aside the expensive, mandatory, 3-tier distribution system in the USA which has you paying $120 for a bottle of French wine, originally sold to the importer for about $20. But, I can buy wine in France for $2 per bottle. So what’s the difference? I won’t delve again into the issue of terroir. If you’ve been following me, I have written more than one article on that topic. But it is fair to say that wines, like any other, dare I say commodities, are priced according to quality (actual, perceived, or historical), reputation of region, producer and vintage year. Wine grape growing is farming. A talented, committed and passionate individual or team, exerts their best efforts to grow grapes in a specific place during a specific growing season, to harvest grapes most suited to the production of the fine wine for which they strive. You cannot force the vineyard to deliver the perfect grape; your passion, knowledge and attention to detail will take you as closely as possible to your goal. You coax the vineyard to give of its best; the vines growing in that spot have their own rhythms and challenges. You respect that, you seek to keep manipulations to a minimum and you learn how and when to trust nature. I am reminded of the true story of a Californian wine producer who was sitting with his winemaker and sharing a bottle of good white Burgundy. The producer remarked to the winemaker that he was loving the wine and wished his winery could produce chardonnay like that. The winemaker responded; “Why didn’t you tell me this’s what you want? I can make our chardonnay taste like this!” It is my experience that the winegrower invests his or her soul in the winegrowing, believing that the vineyard has soul. This is what I call winegrowing. I am not talking about the production of large quantities of wine, made according to an economic recipe, delivering good quality at competitive price points. We at GreatWine2U.com look for winegrowers with passion and soul! Winegrowers, working as I have described, will make the best wine possible. Of course that is the reason for some of the world’s most expensive wines; passionate winegrowers doing what they do and being recognized for it over time, establishing their own reputations and that of an entire region. These winegrowers have earned their lofty prices but, do all winegrowers’ wines have to be expensive? I say no.

If you are making classed growth wines in Bordeaux or Grand Cru wines in Burgundy or Barolo from the best vineyards, the wines will be expensive, even those not made by winegrowers with soul. There are true winegrowers working outside of these regions with the great reputations. They bring the same passion, soul, patience, understanding and commitment to their vineyards. They grow wine in concert with nature. The wines go from strength to strength, improving every year. For these winegrowers, price starts off being more about being able to survive and give back to the land. But great quality, purity and expression, like cream in milk, float to the top. These winegrowers are recognized, their prices increase, they bring credit to and interest in their regions. And the cycle starts again! We at GreatWine2U.com are always on the lookout for real winegrowers. We attend many tastings domestically and internationally. We taste hundreds if not thousands of wine a year. Most are good; the industry is simply too competitive to try to sell marginal wine! A small, very small, percentage of the time, we realize we have in our glass the fruit of the labors of a winegrower who has captured the soul of wine. Yes, some are expensive but others are not or at least, not yet. This is what we bring to you, wines with soul at reasonable prices. Now, will you find these wines at your favorite liquor store or the restaurant described earlier? Possibly, probably not. They are a tougher sell and require more knowledge and passion of the retailer and sommelier. That is why GreatWine2U.com brings wine directly from the winegrower to you, no gatekeepers. And because we legally span the 3 tiers, the markups are considerably lower. Sometimes we take a chance on a winegrower; does he or she really have it or is this wonderful wine a fortuitous one-off? This is what we at GreatWine2U.com call “Finding the Soul of Wine!” Is every wine in our portfolio there? Not yet, but stay with us!


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Selected by Peter Koff MW


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