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Southern tasting shows new stuff

By Dave Buchanan
The holiday wine and spirits show by Southern Wine & Spirits was held this year in the mostly empty expanse of a local florist, an interesting venue in that the smell of recently departed flowers and various greenery competed with the "sniffy sniff," as WineLibraryTV.com guru Gary Vaynerchuk might say. First, though a word or several about Southern Wine & Spirits. When someone, anyone, talks about consolidation in the liquor business, a couple of corporate names immediately come to mind. There is Constellation Brands , an umbrella corporation of many, many wine brands, altogether the world's largest maker of wine with markets in 150 countries. therese and denny 2.jpg Therese Campbell of Vias Imports. LTD. pours a sample for Denny Barber of Cottonwood Liquor during the Southern Wine and Spirits holiday show while Scott Feerer of DFV Wines (dark shirt) does the same for other attendees. Big, eh? Big, sure, but so is Southern, which now, thanks to a recent merger with Glazer Distributors of Dallas is now called Southern/Glazer’s Distributors of America and becomes the largest distributor of wine and spirits in the U.S. How large? The enterprise covers the 38 states that represent more than 80 percent of the total wine and spirits sold in the United States. That means eight out of every 10 bottles of booze you see in a liquor store likely was handled by one of companies Southern has in its vast portfolio. Good? Bad? It's an interesting topic of conversation and one we'll explore in another post. It's also a long introduction to the holiday tasting, which featured about 65 wines and a handful of spirits including ports, sherries, single malt scotches, organic vodka and a variety of other interesting offerings. In fact, when I walked into the greenhouse, I was met by Southern representative Janet Jones, who assured me the tasting was designed to offer "something new and exciting, something maybe you've never tasted before." And it did. Sixty-five wines might not sound like much but I can do about 50 before my palate starts feeling the strain. So I pick and choose, starting with sparkling wines, then whites and finally reds. Two Spanish cavas impressed me. The first by Codoniu, 100 percent pinot noir brut, light and crisp, with a great nose carrying notes of pinot noir and lots of large bubbles, with a bit of berry flavor at the end. About $18. The second cava was a Rosé by Grand Sarao, also a nonvintage, a bit fruitier with cherry and raspberry notes, about $11. Because I arrived a bit late, I skipped quickly through the whites but stopped long enough to sample several interesting bottles. The Cloudline Cellars 2006 Pinot Gris was made under the direction of winemaker Véronique Drouhin-Boss, winemaker for Domaine Drouhin. Great balance of citrus and floral notes and it comes in a screwcap, $15. A 2007 riesling from Loredona Wines, a member of the DFV Wine groups (formerly Delicato Family Vineyards) was bright and crisp with hints of green apple and melon. I believe Colorado winemakers are making wines competitive with this one, although the Loredona was priced at under $10, which due to scale of economy Colorado isn't able to match. Finally, I enjoyed a Raymond Reserve 2007 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, dry, crisp, good acidity with hints of citrus and lemon/lime (a bit redundant, but that's how it was) for around $12. Some of these wines should be at your favorite liquor store although prices may vary. There were some marvelous Italian wines at the tasting so I'll do the Southern Holiday Show red wines tomorrow.

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