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Why carry wines I don't like?

Posted by Tom Kisthart on

When selecting wines for our new shop last year, I assumed that if we carried only wines that I liked, we'd go out of business quickly. I'm not in the business of alienating people and for many, walking into a shop where they recognize nothing is not welcoming. Plus carrying familiar brands gives customers a gauge of how the other wines we carry are priced relative to other stores.

Oftentimes when I carry these well known brands they often sit on the shelf and collect dust. I thought their popularity and our aggressive pricing would be enough to get them to move. Me not suggesting  them to customers certainly plays a part in their immobility. In fact with certain styles of wine, like say Rombauer Chardonnay, if someone picks a bottle off the shelf, I'll ask if they've had it before. This is to make sure they're prepared for the oak stick that is about to smack them in the mouth.

Last night I got to retaste two of the Belle Glos Pinot Noirs which are a part of the Wagner Family of Wines - the same people that make Caymus Cabernet. Meiomi Pinot Noir used to be in their stable but they sold off that label for $315 million recently. The color of all the Belle Glos wines is nearly black. That should tell you something is wrong right away. We're talking Pinot Noir. The smell can be alluring but when I put it in my mouth I'm not sure if I just swallowed Hawaiian Punch or red wine. There seems to be almost no acid, just a whole lot of sweet. Some speculate that they (legally) add other grapes like Syrah to enrich the wine. And use certain additives and techniques to pump it up. Whatever the case, this style of wine frightens me because it looks nothing like what Pinot has traditionally been. A generation of wine drinkers can easily be lead to believe that this is what Pinot should taste like and think more traditional, elegant examples of Pinot Noir are weak. I see it all the time. In years past, I could look past these trumped up wines because they were still pretty enjoyable. But every year they become more over the top. I'd like to think I have an open mind when it comes to wines I don't necessarily like but I can no longer see the appeal of what these have become.

We have one bottle left of their 2014 Dairyman Russian River Valley (like it tastes like any place) Pinot Noir left and then I don't foresee reordering anytime soon. Sorry to anyone who really loves Belle Glos. I don't look down upon you and you're not a bad person for doing so.


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