Something new at holiday show
By Dave Buchanan
Denny Barber and Paul DeCoste talk business at the Republic National Distributing Company Holiday Show last week.
You might be just getting over your summer hangover but the big liquor companies already have an eye on the holidays.
It's about this time each late summer/early autumn that the major distributors, at least in those states under the thumb of the three-tier distribution system, show off their latest wines and spirits to retailers, restaurateurs and other need-to-know people in the liquor business.
So I'm never sure how I get invited to these alcohol coming-out parties except I tend to hang out with some retailers and I coat-tail on their invitations.
This week it was the Holiday Show offered by Republic National Distributing Company, among the nation's largest wine and spirits distributors with outlets in 18 states and District of Columbian. The country's wine and spirits distribution mostly is controlled by three companies: Republic National, Southern Wine & Spirits and Constellation Brands, Inc.
A prospective wine buyer used to count on two or three big fall shows plus a couple spring shows but that's changed as even the big companies are starting to feel a squeeze. So far this fall only Republic has scheduled a show.
This was a big show by western Colorado standards with a couple hundred wines plus plenty of what the trade calls "brown and white spirits." You know, bourbon/scotch/rum is brown, vodka/gin/tequila is white, etc. Easy stuff.
Always start with the white wines, which don't tire your palate as quickly as do the reds. Here are a few whites that emerged from the 50 or so my friend Denny Barber and I tasted. I'll also give a ballpark retail price, since the price you get at these tastings usually is the wholesale price.
To figure retail prices, you can multiply wholesale by around 35 percent (that varies with retailer). And that price doesn't include special deals, which can lower the wholesale price by 10 percent or more, depending on how much leeway your salesperson has with his or her costs.
Some of these wines are newly released, which means your retailer might not yet have them on the shelves. Ask if you don't see them.
*Parducci 2006 Mendocino County Chardonnay — 100 percent chardonnay, lightly oaked, organic, $10;
*Stag's Leap 2007 Chardonnay — The oak is noticeable, almost too much so, $26;
*Matua 2007 Marlborough 2007 Sauvignon Blanc — Bright, straight-forward New *Zealand sauvignon blanc with big nuances of grassy and citrus, $11;
*Taz 2007 Santa Barbara County Pinot Grigio — bright flavors of citrus, melon, $15;
*Coastal Ridge 2005 Riesling — With 2 percent residual sugar, this wine has a hint of sweetness that may be too much for someone wanting a dry riesling. Lots of honey give this a big mouthfeel. It's a bargain at $5 (see Douglas Hill, below).
We'll talk about the red wines next time, but there's one that deserves mention now. That's the Douglas Hill 2006 California Merlot. This is brought to us by Bronco Wine Co., the maker of famed "Two-Buck Chuck." We shouldn't be surprised to find this merlot listed at $5 but we are, considering it's a fine everyday wine with good balance, rounded tannins and delicious red fruits. The rep told us the juice comes from Napa, and there's enough body in this to convince us.
This isn't one for the ages but at $5 you can pop one for Monday dinner and another for Tuesday's leftovers. Did I mention $5?