Fortunately, Cab and Merlot have
hardly cornered the market on pleasing
red wine. Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah
and Tannat are three examples of low-
er-profile wines which, besides boasting
intrinsic food-friendliness and excel-
lent price/quality attributes, can also be
sold at a good-to-great profit.
Such wines often need some tender-
loving-care to generate sales. However,
for these under-the-radar reds, it may
not be as difficult as one might imagine,
especially as more and more consumers
come in looking for new wine experi-
ences. First, let’s take a look at what they
are and where they hail from.
fiddle to Cabernet and Merlot in Bor-
deaux blends, reigns supreme as the
principal noble grape in the Chinon,
Bourgueil, Saumur-Champigny and
Touraine appellations of France’s Loire
Valley. Cabernet Franc also grows well
in regions as diverse as New York’s
Finger Lakes (Ravines or Hermann J.
Weimer), western Connecticut (Hop-
kins Vineyard), Virginia (Barboursville
Vineyards) and Italy (de Terczal from
Fruili-Alto Adige). Its calling card on
the palate is a mix of cherry fruit and
herbs with smooth tannins.
technically Durif, a
century cross between Syrah and
Peloursin grapes from France’s Rhône
Valley) checks in at the robust end of the
red spectrum and reaches great expres-
sion from California wineries like Bogle,
Concannon, Parducci, Ridge and Turley.
Stylistically, think inky and plummy, and
firm both in acid and tannin.
is a hearty, rustic grape
whose vibrant tannins live up to the
grape’s name. Its spiritual home is south-
west France’s Madiran appellation (Bru-
mont and Laplace are notable produc-
ers); it also grows surprisingly well in
Uruguay (led by Vinedo de los Vientos).
Deep, dark and sturdy, it is typically full-
bodied and very fruity (raspberry).
Listen for Cues
Michael Albin of Hudson Wine Mer-
chants, Hudson, NY, says, “For any cus-
tomer who is interested in finding a val-
ue wine of character, all of these wines
are great discoveries.” Albin, who aims
abernet Sauvignon and Merlot are widely
embraced crowd-pleasers, and there are plenty
of solid ones at multiple price points. That’s
wonderful. Not so wonderful for merchants,
however, is the fact that margins on such well-known
varietal wines may be grapeskin-thin, owing to an
abundance of choice and stiff marketplace competition.
and ample margins make
BY DAVID LINCOLN ROSS
IT’S NOT MUCH
OF A REACH AT ALL
TO STEER SOMEONE
WHO LIKES A BIG
ZINFANDEL TO A