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Untangled Vine

An attempt to sort through all things wine. Specifically of, and about, but not limited to: Food and Wine in Toledo, Ohio. Plus the day to day musings of a Wine Distributor...

Cult Wines?!?

I spent the last 7 years of my wine career in Southern California. I worked as a Sommelier in a very notable restaurant in Santa Barbara for a chunk of that time. I was always a very conscientious customer for all distributors, and I bought a ton of wine. That said, there were several wines that were next to impossible to acquire. The harder it was, the more I wanted them. Very little of the competition got them either. You see, in California, most of the Cult Wines are mailing list only.

So, Cult Wines are defined by the extremely limited amount of wine made, what else makes these wines the stuff of legends? Well, it’s the quality choice. Winemakers of these wines make choices that would ordinarily be bad business decisions with one thought: make the best wine possible. Excruciatingly low yields, high vine density, hand picking berry by berry, Intense canopy management, dry farming, organic measures, native yeast fermentations, extended macerations and expensive oak regimes all contribute to these highly stylized wines. And of course, these wines come from only the very best vineyard sites on the West Coast.

So how do the wines taste? Unforgettable. These are the wines that we sit around after a great meal telling our friends about. They are the stuff of Braggadocios. They inspire jealousy, and owning these bottles crystallizes what we think of our friends by determining who is a good enough friend to drink these wines with. Oh, and by the way, the press on these wines is amazing. Parker, Spectator, Tanzer, etc… all bastions of obtuseness, the type of publications that make you cringe during renewal time because they provide you with so little joy, and feel like they are constantly filling you with bile, they actually get it right (Maybe it’s the infinite monkeys theory). The fact is, these wines are undeniably good.

Let’s review, they are next to impossible to own, you may lose friends over them, the press drives the prices (and demand) of these wines through the roof. And if you’ve had them, you really need them (almost sounds like they should be illegal). So do we really want to mess around with such controversial wines? That all depends on your financial situation. Screaming Eagle, Harlan, etc, will likely cost you upwards of $500/ bottle, but you can get a relative deal on Non-Cabernet producers. There are a multitude of Pinot Noirs and Syrahs for under $100/ bottle. This is where you should spend your money. They age well, but you don't need 30 years for them to peak, usually under 10 will do just fine. And plenty of people in the world of wine believe that Syrah at it's best will beat Cabernet at it's best. So the choice is yours, but don't shut yourself out of the rare opportunity to try one of these legendary wines...
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At 11:34 PM, Blogger winedude said...

Let's book a date when I start the weekly KCLU rotation and get you on as my phone in guest to talk about these wines and other such things! This would make a great half hour of radio, yes? Let me know.

At 8:12 PM, Blogger edwardbrinick82081300 said...

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