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Wine Buzz: October 2012 Edition

Posted on  | October 2, 2012   Bookmark and Share
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With wines from Spain widely embraced by Americans, led by classic regions such as Rioja and Ribera del Duero, the stage is set for La Mancha to gain our attention. Located in central Spain, La Mancha, is actually the largest demarcated wine zone in all of Europe, featuring nearly 300 wineries and nearly half a million acres of sprawling vineyards. Modern technology and techniques have helped counter the intense summer heat, and a new generation of international varieties are growing alongside the white grape Airén and popular Spanish red Tempranillo (called Cencibel locally). Besides recognition as the Land of Don Quixote, La Mancha has another huge plus: the wines offer tremendous quality-price ratios. Brands already in distribution include Volver, Paso a Paso, El Vinculo, Finca Antigua and Condesa de Leganza. With road shows planned for fall and 2013, plus a string of fine vintages, more are sure to follow.



Tailor-made for by-the-glass programs, large events and bars, Bedford International’s Unokeg Singlo marks Italy’s first-ever range of wines in a disposable, fully recyclable keg format. The technology works via the same air-compressor system used for beer, but unlike with traditional steel kegs, there are no deposits or returns. The first three wines on tap are sparkling Prosecco, Pinot Grigio and a Merlot-Cabernet blend. The keg efficiencies translate into very attractive margins: Unokeg Singlo Prosecco breaks down to an estimated cost of 20 to 25 cents per ounce ($1-$1.25 per 5-oz. pour); the still wines can be served for 18 to 22 cents per ounce. Now in 16 states, including MA, NY, NJ, DC, GA, TX, CA and IL, with seven more set to open up this fall.

SRP: $14.99







Metrics alone don’t capture the significance of mixed red blends—a category we like to call “Splendid Blendeds.” Consider how many big industry players have just tossed hats in the ring: Francis Ford Coppola (Diamond Red Blend, SRP $18); Ste. Michelle Wine Estates (Indian Wells Red Blend, $18, joining their $12 Hot to Trot); and two from Constellation (Clos Du Bois Rouge $12, and Thorny Rose, $11).

Ironically, the common denominator among the new wave of red blends is the utter disparity of grapes being used—usual players like Cabernet, Merlot and Zinfandel mingling with outliers like Petite Sirah, Cinsault and Charbono. The seeming chaos of combos is largely muted by the way they are presented—straightforwardly (and sometimes fancifully) as blends, without pretense of terroir.

While Splendid Blendeds are designed to uncork (or unscrew) tonight, styles can vary significantly. Blends around or under $10—e.g., Apothic Red, Cupcake Red Velvet, Ménage à Trois—usually present themselves as soft and jammy, if not technically sweet. Wines in the teens tend to be dry, more structured, and to show some oak. Moving forward, it will become increasingly important for re-sellers to know where their blends stand on the sweet-dry spectrum. Tasting notes or other signage to distinguish the styles can help make sure these crowd-pleasing reds get the chance to please the right crowds.



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