So wrapping up last week, as well as leading into this one, I had a few things to get to:

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  1. My review of Columbia Crest Two Vines Pinot Grigio 2009.
  2. My review of Eisch Glassware, samples courtesy of friend Mike Wangbickler from Caveman Wines/Balzac Communications.
  3. Reviews of the new stuff we have from Domenico Selections.
  4. My overdue review of the Campo Viejo Tempranillo 2006.
  5. Commentary on Fosters Wine Group’s consolidation moves with distribution.
  6. Commentary on general wine chicanery.


First off, our SWS/Crane rep (and Queen of the Covington Jungle) Sheena came by with Columbia Crest Two Vines Pinot Grigio 2009 (Grade=Average).  I love Columbia Crest because of their emphasis on QPR, yet here is a wine I don’t believe they needed.  Pinot Grigio is arguably one of the most overdone wines in the business, oversaturating the market like all the flavored vodkas out there and just as indiscernible.  Don’t get me wrong, this wine possesses no real flaws, shows nice stone fruit and lemon zest notes, with pronounced, balanced acidity and a good clean finish.  Yet I feel compelled to climb up on my soapbox and tell the winemakers please stop adding to your lines.  Line extensions drive me crazy!

And to kill two birds with one, I finally received two sample glasses from Eisch Glassware, which Sheena and I used for the Columbia Crest.  I am one of those people who doubt the magic of Riedel, Spiegelau and other wine glass companies who profess that the glass makes a big difference.  I’ve always railed against the inherent pretention of it all.  However, the Eisch Glasses highlight a devotion to what the family refers to as “poetry in glass,” or free-blown glass as its put.  A bit more durable in construction than Riedel, which truly is the biggest waste of money on which any oenophile can spend, I still won’t wash these in the dishwasher, but I would be glad to own a set of these for when friends come over to raid my wine stash.

The incomparable Strappo – aka Terry Hughes from Domenico Selections braved VD-infested sheets and a seedy section of Florence Y’all to make another appearance at our stores two weeks ago, and during his two day stint captaining the tasting tables, he showed off a couple of new wines (for us anyway):

I Stefanini Soave il Selese 2009.  Grade=Outstanding.  I was really pleased to bring this one in, seeing the strange unspoken success Soave seems to be having in our stores.  Here you get some generous notes almonds, white flowers and slight citrus zest.  It shows off terrific acidity and finishes clean and refreshing.

I Stefanini Spumante Brut NV.  Grade=Outstanding.  Lovely little sparkler, made Charmant-style, with notes of crisp Bartlett pears, some lime zest, white flowers and wet stone.  Lively effervescence goes after the palate in a big way and doesn’t disappoint.

Terra di Vento Faiano Fiano Campania 2008.  Grade=Outstanding.  Southern Italy’s resounding answer to Chardonnay, this medium-bodied white wine struts its stuff with ripe Georgia peaches, sweet apricots, some lemon zest, hints of pineapple and mineral.  Its fleshy midpalate leans gradually into a vibrant finish.

Drifting away from “the boot” over towards the Iberian peninsula, I had been staring at a bottle of Campo Viejo Tempranillo Crianza Rioja 2006 I was sent to review a month or so ago, yet like with all things in life, procrastination has won out, until finally, after taking the Eisch glasses home, I cracked it opened and fell into multitasking once more.  This medium-bodied red shows off its youthful swagger with bright red and black cherry fruit, some fresh herbs, a hint of dusty barnyard and some smoky cedar notes.  It’s an easy-going, unassuming red that would make for a great ride-along with BBQ.  Grade=Outstanding.

Of course, to wind up this beautiful little hodge podge of rants and reviews, I was informed that unofficially Fosters Wine Group is consolidating their distribution nationwide with Southern Wine & Spirits, which could potentially mean yet another division within Southern’s house (bringing their KY total to 6).  What exactly does that mean?  Well, I still haven’t been completely sold on the creation of division 5 (that would be the Constellation house of Starz), since some of their pricing still functions alongside the dinosaurs (the old Icon Estates anyone?), and of course the non-existent Bluegrass (Diageo) and American (Beam Estates) divisions – both of which I don’t deal with much simply for lack of a decent sales rep (Diageo) or lack of any wine (Beam Estates).  While the behemoth companies out there feel it helps their bottom lines, it certainly can affect their relationships with the retailers, the very people they are in business to serve.  The dust is still up in the air, thick and impenetrable, so it is anyone’s guess as to what is really going to shake out.

The overall landscape of wine wholesale in Kentucky at least is a bit more understandable than in the last couple of years.  And it seems the pendulum is swinging back towards the little guys, with the prosperous growth of Cutting Edge Selections, Vintner Select and Tramonte & Sons, the diversification of Vanguard Wines and Heidelberg, the reinvention of Bryant Distributing, and the arrival of the new Martin & Company.  And despite the demise of one company, and the ghost-like abdication of another, there is still healthy competition for the big boys.

With a clean slate (for now), it’s finally time to face the week ahead.

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