Some Days I Just Feel Like I'm "Preaching to the Choir"

Let me explain.


I had the opportunity the other day to be talking with one of my wine reps that I work for on occasion. For whatever reason, we started talking about wine tastings and the genesis thereof as it relates to all us folks that pour at wine tastings and how things have changed, or maybe not!

Not enough info, yet!

We were talking about how, when I started pouring, I was really into the whole scene. Researching the wines, finding something to make them sound more interesting and, inevitably, to promote sales. I loved it when I could walk away from a tasting and happily report back that I had sold a couple of cases of wine. Remember, I have a sales background so results were everything.

Then, somewhere along the way, while I still researched the wines and spoke cleverly about this wine or that, I started to realize that while there may have been times that my “dialog” was instrumental in the sales effort, nowadays it seems to be much more a matter of price and good ole “do I like it” factors. No problem there, but it does take some “punch” out of the delivery efforts.


I love talking about wine, I love drinking wine and I love educating people about wine. I’ll keep doing it I’m sure till I can no longer, drinking will be till death bed status! It does seem that price has become a more prominent factor. I can understand that. I even try to make sure that some of my “Wine of the Week” selections are value priced. When it comes to the higher end stuff, this is when the “Preaching to the Choir” kicks in. Watching my posts on all the Social Media sites, those higher end wines create more attention to folks like me; wine nerds, snobs, social media types, etc.

For those of you out there that relate, that’s not a dig, and am glad you read my blog, just would be nice if I knew that I was making more of an impact bringing higher quality wine to consumers. Like any consumer-oriented product though, price does matter. I can’t expect everyone to run out and buy that $80 wine even if I can make it sound unavoidable delicious.

I had the same thing brought to my attention many a year ago at the wine shop where I held higher-end tastings, regularly offering those $80 to $150 bottles for people to try but knowing that sales would be “light.” A regular mentioned that they didn’t attend my tastings as often as my wines were “too pricey.” After catching my breath, I remember saying that the purpose of bringing those wines was to allow people to see what those higher-priced wines taste like and that I didn’t expect everyone to grab a bottle. Goes to show you how your own perspective can vary greatly from others.

Doing more tastings in the last two years has cemented my thinking. I love talking about my wines and the wine biz in general, most of those I talk to even appreciate my efforts to educate. In the end, the wines that they walk away with are usually the value-priced wines and ones that, well, they like the best! Not a shocker! It's probably happened this way ever since I started, I just didn't see it clearly.

Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! I’ll still be researching my wines for tastings and I’ll still be looking for interesting details to help “entice” people to buy, but in the long run, I know “I’m just preaching to the choir.”


Do As I Say, Not As I Do

How many times have you heard me say (technically, it’s read my words) concerning how I love to discover new wines rather than go back to a certain wine or winery? If you read my blog, many times, if not, this will obviously be the first.


Anyway, after this, I guess I’ll be flagged as one of those “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” kind of people. “How so?” you may ask. Recently I attended another industry event. First off, hats off to Wilson Daniels! This is the second time I’ve been to an event they sponsored, this one “Tour Italia.” As the name implies, this tastings was all about Italian wines. Again, if you read my past posts, you may remember that I “succumbed” to Italian wines through a local wine shop, the manager loved Italian wines and by coincidence introduced me to many a wine from the legendary 1997 Vintage. What a way to start – AT THE TOP!

Enough history, let us move on.

Fast forward to maybe around the beginning of 2014. I’m vigorously pouring through recent reviews of the 2010 Vintage for Barolos, an almost flawless vintage for the region. I knew I had to act fast if I had any chance to secure any allocations. You snooze you lose in this game! Fortunately for me, I acted quickly enough and, with the help of my local distributor (here’s where I give a shout out to the wine distributor in Illinois for assisting me to obtain the wine and also for their invitation to this industry event; Tenzing) I was able to secure an allotment, sight unseen (technically I guess that’s untasted) of:

Elvio Cogno Barolo Ravera 2010


From that moment on I was in love (no disrespect towards any future or past relationships). The wine caught on as well, selling multiple cases of that first vintage. When that sold out, I had no choice but to buy the 2011. Oh, the horror! But wait s'il vous plait (wait, that’s French not Italian)! 2011 is ANOTHER great vintage, so no stopping me now! And then? 2012 Vintage maybe a slight dip for the vintage but the wine still shines! 2013 and 2014 continue to roll on with the wine still garnering excellent reviews. To see how the wine fared with a few of the reviewers, click here, for a rundown by vintage.

At the tasting event, I was introduced to the 2015 Vintage, this was probably a pre-sale as I don’t think it’s been released as of yet. Another home run, touchdown, slam dunk and in the net (wanted to cover most of the sports jargon that I could).

From its beginning in 1961, Elvio Cogno has been producing wines from the Langhe on their property in Novello, one of only eleven areas where Barolo DOCG production is allowed. Made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes and aged for 24 months in large Slavonian Oak barrels, the wine begins with beautiful aromatics, enticing you to take your first sip. I know better. I need to savor the aromas, captivating and tantalizing me of what is to come. Now about this time, and in a crowded room, I’m guessing that between the look on my face and looking at my glass as one might do with your significant other, people might be shying away from me wondering “what the heck!” (I do try and keep things clean).

Never one to worry about what anyone may think, I continue to swirl the glass and ponder what is next. Down the hatch! Nah, it was really just a nice sip, but what a sip! While still young, the wine shows potential for greatness just as earlier vintages have done. Rustic, dry and dark red fruit gives you an immediate sense of a full-bodied wine with structure and fine balance. The finish is long and continues to beckon you, but you agonize as the first sip has not yet dissipated.

I need to stop now as my arousal during this interlude has become almost obscene.



As I pointed out in the beginning (seems so long ago), I have found a wine that I just keep going back to over and over, rather than find “the next new wine.” So in the end, I guess I am that “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” kind of person.


I Woke Up This Morning


First off, whew, thank goodness for that!

THEN I had the unfortunate timing of reading my news features surrounding not just wine but pretty much everything, or at least as I see them and have prioritized my news feed (for the record, 30 years ago I would have thought that meant that I was going to be eating my newspaper).

Usually, I begin with news from the wine world. This particular morning the news started with an article centering on the fact that in Italy, specifically the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions, the vineyards that grow so much of the Prosecco, is going through very harmful soil erosion. Oh no, one of the most popular and biggest selling wines is under attack! Due to its popularity, vineyards are producing more of that bubbly than ever before and the resulting lack of, what the article called – denuded, soil means more runoff after rains thus eroding the topsoil away. Since I’m just pointing out headlines, I’m not going to get into the pros and cons or any other environmental issues. I’ll leave that to others.

Then, on the flip side, I read that the English are now producing more bubbly than ever before! Another “Whew, that was a close one.” Can never have too much bubbly but losses are totally unacceptable. I knew that the English Bubbly was gaining in popularity as I’ve actually been pouring a couple at tastings since late last year. So I knew something was afoot, or a vine…lame. Leave it to the English to save the day.


Meandering the remaining pages of my news stories, I come across something that I have known for a long time but was a rehash of the information. The old “Do what you'll love, and you'll never work another day in your life.” Amen. For most of my working life, I had a job I liked, not sure I could say I loved. Now that I’m retired, while it’s hard to apply in that case, it does have some credibility as now I am doing something that I love. Drink, talk and write about wine. So, all in all, I guess I’m “living the dream!”

Oh no! Now, as a recipient of Social Security, the next story I read is that the Social Security System is going broke. Maybe an overstatement, but they are saying that there will only be enough money for about 85% of the benefits now being paid out. Déjà vu kicks in. How so? I remember back as a young whippersnapper that I heard the same thing. Social Security would be broke long before I get even close to retirement. So that didn’t happen, YET! The rhetoric still sounds the same. So many Baby Boomers, not enough money being put into the system for when all of us (Baby Boomers again) retire. Now I’m no economist, maybe good at math and reasoning, but I have my doubts about the “future.” Yes, there are more Baby Boomers retiring, but we are also dying. I read (not during this round of stories), that the Millennials actually outnumber the Baby Boomers, doesn’t that mean more money into the system? Unemployment is at record lows as well. As with the Prosecco issue above, I’m going to leave it at this point as I could ramble on for pages and pages about this issue. Besides, my soapbox is broken.

I’m stopping here as there are days when I’m not sure just how much “News” I want to absorb. This being one of them. No, I would rather “Do What I Love” and return to drinking, talking and, as this blog can testify, write about wine.


Rhys "Horseshoe Vineyard" Chardonnay 2013


Situated just South of Palo Alto in the Santa Cruz Mountains lies a small but intriguing winery; Rhys Vineyards. Six of their Estate Vineyards being located just off the coast of California. For this tasting, I turned towards their production in Chardonnay, their other wines focusing on Pinot Noir and a small amount of Syrah, specifically, their Horseshoe Vineyard and the Chardonnay produced from the 2013 Vintage.

Santa Cruz finds many a top-notch winery; Ridge, Mount Eden and Thomas Fogarty (just had me a bottle of their Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnay) to name but a few. With its shale soil, Horseshoe Vineyards produces a slightly more mineral wine. Never fear, however, the wine does not skimp on lovely stone fruit flavors and a rich buttery nuttiness (how’s that for throwing two flavors together?). The wine, litheness in body, but with firmness and generous mouthfeel. Alas, while this wine seeks to continue its journey to even better times given longer aging, I will have to settle for this bottle alone as is as this was my only bottle.

Rhys is one of those wineries whose wines are very hard to come by, generally selling only to their members. They do have a label that is more widely distributed and gives the mother winery a run for its money; Alesia. Splurge if you can, the attention and handcrafted quality is worth the price.