April 16, 2009

 Navigation

   Home Page

 News & Features

   News

 Columns & Opinions

   Publisher's Note

   Boomers

   Pinings

   Longshots

   Techie

 Pop Culture

   Film

   TV

   Books
   Video Games
   CD Reviews

 Living

   Food

   Wine

   Beer

 Music

   Articles

   Music Roundup

   Live Music/DJs

   MP3 & Podcasts

   Bandmates

 Arts

   Theater

   Art

 Find A Hippo

   Manchester

   Nashua

 Classifieds

   View Classified Ads

   Place a Classified Ad

 Advertising

   Advertising

   Rates

 Contact Us

   Hippo Staff

   How to Reach The Hippo

 Past Issues

   Browse by Cover


Parallel wines
The Top Ten and the alternates
By Tim Protzman food@hippopress.com

From the looks of it, New Hampshire’s not a Blue State. It’s not a Red State. It’s a white state, but only by a little bit.

Of the 10 top-selling wines purchased in New Hampshire six were white, four were red. The top-selling spirits were Vodka (five different brands), whiskey, Bourbon, rum and Spiced Rum, which was the number one best-seller. This tells me that New Hampshire’s not really a martini state, that college students and the younger drinkers like Captain Morgan, and that there are probably some really good punches being mixed across the state.

The wine sales tell me a different story. It’s a story of brand loyalty. A story of habit. A story of diminished variety and choice.

It is nearly impossible for every state to offer a complete line of wines that encompass every growing region in the world. There’s just not enough shelf space, money or importers. The great thing about New Hampshire is that with a little hard work and effort, every wine has a chance to make it to the big show, the big dance, the New Hampshire Liquor Commission Stores.

Nothing can be all things to everybody. Even Wal-Mart. But the bright spot is that New Hampshire has really great product lines. I’d like to see more depth on Burgundies; give me some lesser-known appellation like a Morey St Denis, more boutique Oregon Pinot Noirs like Eyrie (although the fact they carry a complete line of L’Ecole No. 41 is phenomenal), some nice Rieslings from German in the $20 range and a premium range of Piedmonte and Rhone wines. And where are my Barolos and Barbarescos? New Hampshire is an affluent state; certainly it can support a few Bruno Giacosas. Or maybe have the stores specialize. Nashua could offer an extensive Australian selection along with the usual suspects, while Hooksett could be your South African connection. 

But I think the number-one reason the Commission can’t offer every wine that’s ever been made or will be made from now until eternity is that it’s engaged in commerce.

As it was so aptly put to me by Charles, the scion of a prominent Massachusetts media family, who turned his love for wine from an emotional hobby-like phase into a professional business venture by opening a liquor store: “The reason I don’t have a 2000 Petrus or even a La Fleur Petrus [their second label] is I’m running business, not a museum. You mooks will never have the money to buy the Petrus, and it’s doubtful you have the $68 to $134 for the La Fleur. I can’t take $800 and tie it up on one bottle that may or may not sell. So I move eight cases of Yellow Tail Shiraz instead.”

Chuck is the one reason I started to cellar my wines. Anything on sale, special, extraordinary or different gets bought in duplicate — one to drink and one to keep. Because what you find in your neighborhood store is influenced by sales numbers, not by some Wine Speculator quality report.

Now the wines. I tasted the top 10 best-selling wines for the last 12 months and came up with some Amazon.com type suggestions — “If you liked Little Women, then you’ll love Dean Koontz’s Darkest Evening of the Year.” 

These suggestions don’t imply the Top Ten Wines aren’t any good. This is only a guide for people who are looking to head deeper into the Wine Experience and don’t want to take a blind leap of faith.

The Top Seller: Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay, $11.99. A really nice wine from a great vineyard that still cares about quality, even though they sell a boatload of wine. My friend Jose was totally enraptured with the reserve merlot, calling it one to the greatest wines he’s ever tasted. If you like this wine, try Michel Redde Sancere, $20.99. This wine will make a totally different impression than the chardonnay. No butter, less sugar and more acid. Minimal oak. This is Sauvignon Blanc from loamy, chalky soil. The Kendall-Jackson’s like a hot chocolate compared to lemonade-like Sancerre.

#2: Clos du Bois North Coast Chardonnay. People mistake Clos du Bois for a little boutique winery even though it passed that mark years ago. Suggested replacement: Clos Pegase Chardonnay from Carneros, $24.99. Clos means walled-in vineyard in French. The Pegase will present more minerals and less butterfat, but a touch more oak.

#3: Cavite Pinot Grigo. Italian table wine that’s approachable and fun. Alternative: Benton Lane Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley, $17.99. A little more sugar, lower alcohol content and the ability to pair harmoniously with more foods.

#4: Woodbridge Chardonnay. This one comes in the larger-format 1.5-liter bottle, but it’s a decent wine for casual entertaining. Understudy: Chateau St. Jean Fume Blanc, $9.99. Lighter, and a little more money, this wine presents layers of flavor, not just one uniform taste throughout.

#5: Yellow Tail Chardonnay. I don’t associate Chardonnay with Australia, but the Aussies are undergoing tremendous change and consolidation in their wine industry. That includes non-traditional varietals. Second in command: Black Swan Riesling 1.5-liter format, $13.99. Riesling is showing a huge uptick in acreage planted in South Australia. Australian Riesling just might be our next merlot.

#6: Yellow Tail Shiraz. Savior wine: Perrin Gigondas, $20.99 This is mostly Grenache with a Shiraz twist. See how they made this wine in the Old World and open a new door to the past.

#7: Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon. You howl at the moon with: Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel, $34.99. It’s red, luscious and dense. Presents blackberry, elderberry and Hi-C Very Berry. This is so different from the Woodbridge it’s like flying first class vs. Greyhound.

#8 & #9: Two merlots, Blackstone and Yellow Tail. Escape wine: Flora Springs Merlot, $17.99, from Napa Valley. I used to work out at the boxing gym in my town. It was cheap and full of out-of-shape flabbies like me. Then I went to a big gym and was so intimidated I couldn’t shower in front of the chiseled buff boys. That’s how you’ll feel when you try Flora Springs — you’ll think, “Now I know merlot!”

#10: Toasted Head Chardonnay. Keep drinking this one — it’s one of the few you’re tasting that can be called “fine wine.” Substitute: Pahlmeyer or a Batard-Montrachet. Hey, if you drink the best-quality wine on the Top Ten list, you can afford $100 for a life wine experience.


3/9/2009 Brave new wines

3/19/2009 Baby, kiss that frog
3/5/2009 Shabby exterior. great finds2/26/2009 Find a fest
1/29/2009 Woop woop it up
1/1/2009 A white burgundy eve
12/25/2008 Hey big spender
12/18/2008 White, the budget wine gift12/11/2008 Taste Burgundy, drink Pommard12/4/2008 The Riesling holidays
11/27/2008 Recession, anti-recession11/20/2008 Gastronomic recovery plan11/13/2008 A vote for...
11/6/2008 Spooky wine
10/30/2008 Critical darling
10/23/2008 An epitaph of good wine10/16/2008 A wine crime
10/9/2008 All my personalities love wine
10/2/2008 Harvest magic

9/25/2008 Where fantasy meets reality9/18/2008 The mojito cure
9/11/2008 Spend Fall in Spain
9/04/2008 Making a break for it
8/28/2008 Achieving the impossible
8/21/2008 AVA in search of a movie
8/14/2008 Return to seller?
8/7/2008 Wine at the game
7/24/2008 Reviving a star
7/17/2008 Champagne staycation
7/10/2008 Pair vintage with vintage
6/26/2008 Leftover wine
6/19/2008 Fortune favors Opus One
6/12/2008 In the year 2048
6/5/2008 Tea, the original infusion
5/29/2008 Hello old friends
5/22/2008 Ancient in the new world
5/15/2008 You are the expert
5/8/2008 The must-drink list
5/1/2008 Gaming wine futures
4/24/2008 Chronos and me
4/17/2008 Getting lucky
4/3/2008 The daquiri's of spring
3/27/2008 Germans play well with others
3/13/2008 Complain yourself happy
3/6/2008 Operatic wine tasting
2/28/2008 Everything must go!
2/21/2008 His & hers bottles
2/7/2008 Friends in spam
1/31/2008 Warm up the wine
1/24/2008 A drink to them
1/17/2008 Stalking the barking dingo
1/10/2008 Wishes and predictions
1/3/2008 Bit of bubbly
12/27/2007 Drinking blind
12/20/2007 Not fighting for the right
12/13/2007 The liquor store suite
11/29/2007 World of drinkin'
11/22/2007 Thanks for the Napa cabs
11/15/2007 Drinks with Diwali
11/8/2007 Candy Corn hangover
11/1/2007 Drinks with History Channel
10/25/2007 Schooled in Shiraz
10/18/2007 Spooky wines
10/11/2007 Location, location, location
10/04/2007 Shiraz history
9/27/2007 Ingenious appellation
9/20/2007 Small world of wines
9/13/2007 How not to get screwed
9/6/2007 Wine lover's shopping trip
8/30/2007 Bottle surfing
8/23/2007 Lobster goes red
8/16/2007 Emotional tasting notes
8/9/2007 Stop, wine thief
8/2/2007 Be your own sommelier
7/26/2007 You do know your wine
7/19/2007 Booze free association
7/12/2007 Raiders of the sidewalk
7/5/2007 A sustainable buzz
6/28/2007 We are the merlot
6/21/2007 Forgot Dad? Bring booze.
6/14/2007 Jack & Jill and a pail of wine
6/7/2007 Our lady of the Rioja
5/24/2007 Breaking the fast
5/17/2007 What the best bears drink
5/10/2007It's OK to be pink
5/3/2007 In praise of tastings
4/26/2007 Invention-tini
4/19/2007 More 'Mas'
4/12/2007 Futures in a bottle
3/29/2007 Uneasy glass of spring
3/22/2007 Chateau de blech
3/8/2007 Finding new beauties
3/1/2007 Infatuation or addiction
2/15/2007 The extraordinary ordinary
2/8/2007 A glass of sweetness
2/1/2007 A glass of sweetness
1/25/2007 Ham it up
1/18/2007 Cheating on wine
1/11/2007 Burning down the tree
1/4/2007 New Year's hangover
12/28/2006 Sins of the vine
12/21/2006 Kissing frogs
12/14/2006 Wine for horrible friends
12/07/2006 Like dregs in the wine glass
11/30/2006 Gift of calmer shopping
11/23/2006 YouTube for YouWine
11/16/2006 Welcome to wine
11/9/2006 Fine art, supermarket wine
11/2/2006 The geography of grapes
10/26/2006 Please continue to hold
10/19/2006 The trouble with reds
10/12/2006 Making new friends
10/05/2006 TiVo-ing the wine
09/28/2006 From an unknown battle
09/21/2006 Toast to turkey
09/14/2006 Wine for life
09/07/2006 What are Malpeques, Alex?
08/31/2006 Hanging out wines
08/24/2006 Falling into new wine season
08/17/2006 Where has that wine been?
08/10/2006 Bringing out the dead
08/03/2006 The birth of a wine fop
07/27/2006 Slow process of maturation
07/20/2006 The pain of adolescent wines
07/13/2006 Nice day for a white wedding
07/06/2006 Scoring goals with booze
06/29/2006 Beer, it's what's for dinner
06/22/2006 A drink fit for a czar
06/15/2006 A summer of beer and fried clams
06/08/2006 Keep your cool, fool
06/01/2006 The social lubricant
05/25/2006 Water, water everywhere
05/18/2006 Big fat greek wine tasting
05/11/2006 Drinking to the end
05/04/2006 Schooled in the art of wine
04/27/2006 Make a wish
04/20/2006 Immigrant wines
04/13/2006 A pain in the glass
04/06/2006 Got milk?
03/30/2006 Throw a dart and there's wine
03/23/2006 A life of good wine
03/16/2006 Honoring the dead soldiers
03/09/2006 What once was old i new again
03/02/2006 The taste of sibling rivalry
02/23/2006 Wine travels, doesn’t sing
From grape, to barrel to red-tape jungle

02/16/2006 Love and vine
02/09/2006 A dog-drink-dog world
02/02/2006 The winos' mecca
01/26/2006 Date-nite drinks
01/19/2006 Touring eastern wine country
01/12/2006 Wine, Cheese and Granny Smith
01/05/2006 Resolve to try new wines
10 Wines To Get Lucky With

Adventures in and past the Euro-Cave
A Do-It-Yourself Wine Tasting
A Red For Everything
A Red Wth Your Leftovers?
A Tasty Way To Put Wine To The Test
A Year Of Wine
An Around-The-World Holiday
A wine for every holiday

Basking In The Mondavi Light
Behind One Door Is Great Wine
Beware The Hot Bottle
Brandy and the nude beach
Champagne, The Other White Wine
Cheers And Whines Of The Vine
Days of wine and jelly beans
Deep in the heart of Texas
Drinking for your health
Drinking like a newspaperman

Drinking Whites After Labor Day
Finding A Great Medium-Weight Drink (I)
Finding A Great Medium Weight Drink (II)
Gifts for blood, love or money
Gin
Grill and sip, sip and sip. Finding the perfect wine for barbecue
Hey baby, stay cool
How The Corleones Saved Wine

In Praise Of An American Wine
In search of the girl next door
Keeping it in the family
Keeping up appearances
Looking back at the heyday of cheap wine
Mondovino
My Big Fat Greek Wine Tasting
The Best Drinks On A Budget
The Highly Drinkable (Mostly) Merlot
The Long, Strange Journey Of Wine
Old French grape in the New World
Olé! to a week in wine
Opening the Parker book

Our French friends — really
Our Northern Neighbor
Poker faces and wine

Presenting A New England Vodka
Presenting The Wines Of Spring
Rewarding Your Support Staff
Schooled In The Art Of Wine
Shopping for Wine Bargains

Sitting By The Fire And Dreaming Of Wine
Slipping A Little Sideways
Spending the holidays in NYC
Spirit World Tales
Springtime calls for wine and ice cream
Sudden ugly mood swings
The new face of fine wines
The wines of fall
Thinking ahead to the holidays
Time To Stay Frosty
Tipples for turkey day
TV worth drinking
What it means to miss N.O.
What To Drink When You Eat Wild
What's Your Wine Sign
White’s OK after Labor Day
Wine Between The Season
Wine for the NASCAR set
Wine is in at the Inn
Wine’ll make you crazy
Wine Works With Red Sauce