Monday, August 24, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
We visited King Estate last week (pictured). It's in the boonies, about ten miles west of Cottage Grove.
What a grand winery! It must have been Oregon's most expensive (and expansive) place, until Dom. Serene was built. The tasting alcove is in the restaurant, which is inside and outside. Very elegant indeed. In fact, the architecture makes it worth a trip.
They have about 600 acres of grapes, and over 300 of them are in Pinot gris (their "signature grape," according to Kevin, one of the best-informed, brightest wine pourers I've yet met. They have three labels of gris. I liked the middle one (Signature) the best; it's $17 retail and has a nice nose and is good on palate. I can get it for you at wholesale if you like. The Domaine gris ($25) was Jane's favorite of the three. The Pinot noirs were OK, but I don't recommend them. I think K.E. is too far south and hot for Pinot noir. Also, the trellis high wire seemed too low to me (you can see it in the photo)--PN grapes need about 12 leaves per cluster to reach full ripeness. Maybe it's different in the hot semi-desert (kidding, but it seemed like it) down there, but I suspect the the viticultural practices limit the wine's quality (though I'm sure the vineyard workers would protest with reasons why the trellises are OK).
We also visited Ch. Lorane, which has a great deck high above a pretty lake. Most of the wines are not recommendable, but we found a rose from Tempranillo and a Viognier that were OK. I went there because they make some wines from hybrid grapes, but sadly they're not going to convert any vinifera lover. I still think that is possible, just not at Ch. Lorane.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Arggh! I find some wines for sale, at retail, in California, at prices awfully close to the WHOLESALE prices I can buy at, and, today, even below my wholesale purchase price, in one instance.
So I call my distributor, who listens patiently, then explains, for his thousandth time:
1. CA allows volume discount pricing to distributors, so the big ones can sell to their bigger retail customers at lower prices. This is how K&L, a giant online and brick-and-mortar retailer in the Bay Area, can offer such great prices (though, if you buy from them, you must pay shipping to get the wine up here, and by the time you do that, I can ALWAYS give you a better price). In Oregon, by state law every sale of a wine to a wholesaler (large or small) must be at the same price. So my distributors can't get discounted pricing even if they buy large volumes.
2. Most wine that gets to Oregon comes into the US in, or comes through, California. To get wine up to Oregon, shipping costs of approximately $2-3 per bottle must be paid. This increases Oregon's wine prices over California's big-city wine prices (the California boondocks face the same shipping price adder as Oregon does).
3. California, being a state with high income and property and sales taxes, has very low taxes on wine purchases. In contrast, Oregon, with its (pardon the editorial comment: stupido refusal to enact a sales tax and thereby raise some money from our tourists, who comprise Oregon's largest industry) has pretty high taxes on wine purchases.
Taken together, the Oregon consumer is disadvantaged compared to the California consumer. But, then again, how many of us would want to live in California, just to get cheaper wine? C'est la vie!
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