Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Tad Irked




So I have a question….what the hell is up with all the Sauvignon Blanc haters?! We did a tasting this past Saturday, Sauvignon Blanc of the Loire Valley, you know….the place where some of the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc comes from. Yeah, this little section of the shop is on fire, I cannot keep the shelves stocked. People have been discovering the brilliance, purity and refreshing nature of those wines, so I figured we were going to have a good sized crowd…donde? Donde the peoples?!




I will admit that there were a couple big events going on in the LBC on Saturday, there was the Crawfish Festival, (not sure that was in Long Beach but I heard people buzzing about it) and there was a massive tasting…at the same time….at a restaurant like 3 blocks away, guess who won’t be doing any wine dinners there?! I know there are those, “The only real wine is red” or, “white wine is sweet and for chicks” jackholes out there, oh it’s not just men. I hear women all the time tell me that they, (always with princess hand draped across their collarbone…pinky slightly extended) “Well, I prefer red, I only drink red wine” and they are always talking out of the side of their face, with their eyebrows over arching, what up with that…did you have a stroke, are you trying to send me a secret code, is that why you talk funny and have no taste?! So freaking crusty, archaic and down-right unenlightened. I would feel sorry for them if I weren’t all pissed off and stuff.

We had 31 people turn out to taste those wines, the first 4 were older, white….dudes, take that you red wine only a-holes, take that. For some reason I thought that would feel better than it did, not quite the “giving the ol’ finger” I had hoped for, dammit.



I have been madly in love with the wines from the Loire Valley for years, I drink them more than I drink Burgundy or Champagne, (now I would be a bold face liar to not admit that the cost was not in some part responsible for that, but still) I find them to be, across the board the best food wines in the store. I know, I know, people like their Cabernet Sauvignon with steak, I respect that but one person’s yum is another person Coco Pebbles. I hate sweet sauces on my meat therefore I don’t want one in my glass….Chinon if you please….should I be saying that with a princess hand and flailing eyebrows? We are all kind of jackholes aren’t we? Guilty, guilty as charged.

It always amazes me the diversity of tasters we get. When we do a California Cabernet, or Zinfandel tasting we get a giant group of people we almost never see, which we LOVE…new faces are a very good thing. But when we do something like Alsace or, in Saturdays case, the Loire we get a good chunk of regular customers…both tasters and buyers, and we tend to sell more of the wines featured during our lean white wine events….what does that tell you? Conversely, when we do like a big Aussie red tasting those stained teeth folks wax rhapsodic about the wines, they then teeter out to the Spanish section and buy a bottle of Rueda. Co-inky-dink?




I’m just wondering when white wine got so devalued or deemed inferior? Oh and the diss-ing my beloved Sauvignon Blanc gets…what the hell is up with that? Pinot Gris and Viogner are “serious” but Sauvignon Blanc aint…might just have to hit the bullshit button on that. Dudes, you must weigh in on this, I know a lot of you have been in the business far longer than I….was it always this way? To me it just feels like people “think” red wine is finer, or for the more learned wine drinker, but what I have discovered it the more people drink…not volumes but the more often they drink, they begin to crave something with a little more zip. I know a couple of importers and retailers that have been doing this for decades or longer, drinking wine all day and they tell me, white wine is what they end up reaching for at the end of the day. They drink Riesling, (my serious short coming…got to work on my love of those) and freaking Sauvignon Blanc! Hell, I cannot tell you, (nor would I) how many winemakers in Northern California call and order wines from Loire or Beaujolais.




I’m not asking that people change what or how they drink, I’m just asking for a little respect and transparency, if you are drinking them already…drink them proud dammit! To be dismissive about an amazingly diverse varietal like Sauvignon Blanc, (one of my best selling wines in the French department by the way….someone is drinking them) just reminds me of those people that claim they never eat fast food….yeah, okay…never? Where is that bullshit button?

Okay, end of rant.

33 comments:

Thomas Pellechia said...

Sam,

Have mystery tastings at the store. It will create a buzz and it will also prove to the idiots that they like what they like, even when they think that they don't like it.

Spent the better part of my professional wine life trying to figure out when to bite my tongue and when to let loose!

Samantha Dugan said...

Thomas,
You know, we have done those kinds of tastings. In the beginning we had a good turn out for them but I think they ended up freaking people out, like it hit an already "insecure" nerve. The last two we did were very poorly attended, like instead of seeing it as a learning tool, they saw it as pointing out all that they don't know, bummer.

Yeah, that biting of the tongue thing...not so good at that. Been suffering with a bit of writers block, so I just let myself ramble.

John M. Kelly said...

Sam I think SB suffers from the same lack of identity focus that Syrah does. While some of us get off on how many different wines SB can be, even though we can't stand some of them, most casual consumers are just pissed off by this level of diversity.

Not to go off on my own rant too much here, but we can't blame RJP for the fact that so many wines are moving towards a boring international style. I lay the blame squarely on the palate of the majority of consumers. My belief is that most people want everything to taste the same no matter where it comes from. It's facile to blame McDonalds for pushing crap food (though I admit I sometimes crave a Big Mac or a Southern Chicken sandwich) but McDonalds is popular because they give consumers what they want.

SB is not just confusing, it has had an image issue for as long as I have been in the biz. But then I used to say that about Pinot.

Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to keep trying to tell people how great SB can be. This tape will self-destruct in 5 sec.

Charlie Olken said...

I think the first person to come out and publicly call for the banishment of Sauvignon Blanc was Harvey Steiman. That did not surprise me much because Harvey was also the guy who said that the very best wine for chocolate was Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, he may even have been more ridiculous than that and argued that chocolate was the ideal match for Cab. I may owe Harvey a mea culpa on that, but not about Sauv Blc.

I could be wrong, but I think I remember the otherwise intelligent Matt Kramer saying something like that as well.

So, my conclusion is this. You should be writing for the Wine Spectator and not them. Of course, I remember the time Ron Washam was offered a gig at the Spectator. That did not work out so well either.

Maybe the point is simply this. Real women, and a few men, really do understand that Sauvignon Blanc is a damn good variety, and that it is not Chardonnay or Viognier or Pinot Gris. It has its own personality, or personalities as it turns out. Thank goodness you can get a few folks to buy it.

Nancy Deprez said...

Great rant, Sam!

I concur that I find it odd that white wine doesn't get the respect it deserves.

I think people like things that are darkly colored, that's why people use tanning beds, add soy sauce to white rice, add brown gravy to mashed potatoes, etc.

If you want some Riesling love I can stop by when I have a bag full of wine and subject you to a weekly tasting!

Samantha Dugan said...

John,
I accept and hope it is NOT impossible. Cannot feel you on the McDonalds cravings but I do jones for Del Taco from time to time.

Charlie,
A visit from the Puff Daddy, wow...color me so honored! Hey, maybe Ron and I could both write for the Spectator, like that goofy Wall Street Journal couple. We could be just like them, you know cept we're not married, I'm not black and Ron can write, but other than that....

Nancy,
Bring it girlie!!

vickibarkley said...

Nancy, your comment about people liking dark things made me laugh out loud!

And, Sam, I was shocked that the number of people was so low for that tasting. It was one of the more delicious of the year. But, I'm one of the converted.

I had a conversation with someone last week who told me she loved wine, and then told me her criteria for quality was the label. Her favorite is an Australian Grenache with a pink label, and a mildly amusing name. She said nothing about its flavor, only the conversations she and her girlfriends had looking at the label as they drank.

Lowest common denominator. Those people were probably all up the street tasting dozens of wines. Cold comfort, I know.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Sam,

Notice Puff Daddy doesn't want me to write for Connoisseurs' Guide. He's trying to sabotage ol' fat Marvelous Marv Shanken.

When someone would say to me that they didn't like any grape, say, Sauvignon Blanc, I would tell them that they were the worst kind of wine racist. It's like you met two Chinese guys who you didn't like so therefore you hate all 6 billion Chinese people. Condemning a grape that has tens of thousands of examples of which you've tried six is the absolute height of stupidity, and wine racism of the worst sort.

I've embarrassed countless customers with this method. Can't say it changed any minds, but, damn, it just felt so good.

But why is it my usual gang is now hanging around SansDosage? I feel so abandoned...

Meanwhile, I am so in love with you, My Gorgeous Sam!

Your HoseMaster

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron,
One time, Charlie visits me one time and you get your panties in a bunch?! C'mon...share the wealth sweet cheeks.
Kisses

Thomas Pellechia said...

Don't know why but this conversation reminds of the time when I was putting together a wine order for a small company to give sparkling wine as gifts to its clients for Christmas. The lady placing the order said that I should include a case of Santa Marguerita Pinot Grigio for her.

I told her that my store did not sell that wine, but for 2/3 its price I could send her a wonderful Pinot Grigio from the Alto Adige region.

She said that she didn't want a wonderful Pinot Grigio. She wanted the one she knows, even if it is over priced.

She happened to be my best friend's daughter so I could say to her what I could not say to other customers, and so I told her she is an idiot.

Samantha Dugan said...

Thomas,
Cannot tell you how many times I have had that same conversation about that same overpriced wine....we don't carry it either. The last time, after hearing a woman tell me she knew it was the best because it was priced so much higher than the Pinot Grigios we had, I took my price gun and slapped a $30 tag on a $12 bottle and said, "Now it's not". She was a good sport tried it and came back for more...I was lucky though.

Jessica said...

Sam,

First, just so glad you posted, I was getting seriously lonely and down in the dumps without you!

I LOVE SB - and I actually LOVE all different kinds. There is something to be said for a Marlborough that bites you on a really hot day on the patio - but also that lovely Sancerre that you can pair with a lovely piece of grilled halibut.

I Hate haters! Power to the education!

Love ya.
Jess

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Sam,

Santa Margherita is like making love in a rowboat--fucking close to water.

I can't say I like very many New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. Far too sterile for my taste.

My panties are not in a bunch, My Love, My Sweet Sam, it just looks like it because I wear Depends.

I love you

Your HoseMaster

Samantha Dugan said...

Jess,
I think of you every time it has a couple of days since I posted. When you told me that you check and get sad if I have not...dude, seriously, made my heart swell, thanks for that! Everyone needs a fire lit under their ass from time to time.

Ron,
I find myself slightly red-faced, it's a subtle distinction Depends and crunched crunders...my mistake....any way I can make it up to you?! (wink)

Charlie Olken said...

Sam--

Don't tell Ron, but I have been lurking here for some time now. And the phrase, as I have heard it is "get your knickers in a twist". Of course, I heard it from an English-person--my wife. Sometimes I am not sure we are speaking the same language.

Charlie

Thomas Pellechia said...

And thank you, Ron, for correcting my Spanish spelling of Santa M. to the Italian version--and without telling me that you did, which would have made this Italian feel stupid--bit of course, that depends...

Back to the SB subject: I have a gun that shoots bullets through an infrared device that tracks only people who claim to drink only red wine and claim to hate SB. The gun never fails, but the haters keep coming at me.

Nancy Deprez said...

Wow, great convo here, so here's where all the cool people hang!!!

Sam, you asked for it, I'm coming in today!!!!! Bag full of stuff. :) Have your palate ready.

Vicki thanks for the laffs! I swear people like dark things - look the dark colored tequila costs more than the clear!

Samantha Dugan said...

Charlie,
Well then I am beyond flattered and I will not say a word.

Thomas,
I need that gun!

Nancy,
Bring it on girlie.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Sam,

Don't worry about making it up to me, My Love, I only started wearing the Depends since we met. And I'm starting to enjoy the convenience!

Charlie, stop following me around, for Christ's sake. I found her first!

Thomas, if you misspell a wine name it pretty much should be wine that sucks. That way you can trash it and their Google Alerts don't work.

Sam, I love you, but I'm so jealous of your comments section. Sheesh, it's like you're Steve Heimoff in drag.

Jerome said...

"I hate sweet sauces on my meat therefore I don’t want one in my glass…"
priceless
When is your day off that we can open a few specimens?..

Samantha Dugan said...

Jerome,
My adorable French buddy...I am off Monday but you know I wont be tasting that day silly

David McDuff said...

Charlie's right about Kramer. Matt K. confessed a general disdain for SB in the original edition of Making Sense of Wine but recanted in the recently revised edition. Here's the quote (can you tell it's a slow day at work?):

"As for Sauvignon Blanc... I used to not care for them. But I now find that I like them very much. What changed? Me, really. What once irritated -- the grape's herbaceous or vegetal scent -- now appeals. That said, I have always liked Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire districts of Sancerre and Chavignol...."

Nancy's right too. You do need some more Riesling love. I think it was Hugh Johnson (but I could be wrong, I'm working from distant memory here) that said something along the lines of, "Riesling is what Sauvignon Blanc aspires to be."

Nancy Deprez said...

Thanks for tasting, Sam! You too, Amy. Pinot Blanc love is good too.

Samantha Dugan said...

David,
So it is that Kramer dude we must destroy, thanks for finding that. I am working on my Riesling love but I have to say the wine I loved today, (that Nancy brought) Pinot Blanc...

Nancy,
Thanks for the education girlie...I need all the help I can get!

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron,
Don't go chasing off my few readers...they are probably just getting a kick out of your flirting, you devil you. Plus, you have like 17 followers, (I just checked) I have 8...C'mon let me have my 25 comments post, plus half of them are me (grin).

Daddy said...

" Sheesh, it's like you're Steve Heimoff in drag."

Washam, the potential range of responses to this goes from the satirical to the scatological to the image of a guy in a red dress and pumps. Steve may not be amused. Sam should not be.

And once again, I am forced to post anonymously.

Thomas Pellechia said...

Gee, I thought all along that Sam was Steve having a good time with the impersonation and that we were enablers.

You mean there really is a Samantha Dugan and she really is a she, and she works at a wine shop?

Will wonders never cease to slap me in the pleasure center?

As for Riesling, here in the Finger Lakes, we take that subject quite seriously.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Sam,

Puff Daddy may be right. I owe you a big apology. You're far more beautiful than any male blogger in a dress. OK, maybe not Hardy Wallace. Damn, I did it again. Sorry, My Love, but seeing all those bloggers in drag at the WBC made me very confused. I am proud that I won Miss Congeniality though.

I love you!

Your HoseMaster

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Sam,

Were we talking about Sauvignon Blanc? I can't remember.

I adore you!

Your HoseMaster

Samantha Dugan said...

Just wanted to make it 30.

Ron,
Seriously, toss up a "writers block" post and this happens.

Amy said...

Wow. What a fun conversation about SB. Your blog has a life of its own in "comments." The Loire is a mystery to people because it isn't driven by the varietal. It's about the place.

Charlie Olken said...

Thirty comments? I believe that beats Steve Heimoff's record. Washam's is about eight.

Tom Wark wrote about expertise the other day and got about six comments mostly from me and Ken Payton.

People get lots of comments when their writing interests others. The blogosphere is loaded with folks who get one or two comments every other posting.

You opened up an interesting topic, Sam, and in an interesting manner. Keep this up and you won't be called Steve in drag anymore. Washam will be accusing him of being you in drag.

Samantha Dugan said...

Charlie,
Mr Puff Daddy Sir...you have humbled me with your kind words, shit I never wanted to be Steve Heimoff so bad but this comments thing is addicting, kinda skerd to post something new!