Monday, March 10, 2014

Quit Pushing

"I'd like to get in to see you with my Roses before you pick your set for the year" More than one, in fact more like 7 of my sales reps and importers looking to make an appointment with me to taste the brand spanking new 2013 February. What the hell people?!

Seems each year the push to get in and taste me on Roses starts earlier. At one time we were the only real game in town when it came to French Roses, only a tiny smattering of restaurants and a couple other retailers bringing in a.....a, Rose here and there compared to our huge wall of hundreds of cases, but now? Everyone has caught on and the mad rush to import dry Roses has been rather insane to watch. Distributors finally catching on to what my boss was saying 18 years ago, that Rose is the perfect summer wine, weighty enough for charred foods retrieved from smoldering backyard grills, the crisp produce and layered salads we tend to eat when everything else seems just too heavy...and it's just fun as hell to fill a glass with icy cold, pale pink wine and drink it under the pounding sun, and what the in-the-know importers were doing all along. The phone and my email box get blasted each year as the Wine Country Rose buyer and this year, sooner than ever before.

Each year my experience gets taxed a bit more while being seated across the table from a sweaty bottle of pink wine, often with the vintage changed via magic marker. I smell these samples, swirl and try and shake off the baby fat, try and imagine where this wine is going to be, you know, when it's ready to be consumed, and do my best to make notes on the stuff underneath the gangly bits that tend to be the most aggressive when wines are sampled weeks or months before they are going to be bottled. I know there are critics out there that write notes on wines still in barrel and as someone that has done this for 17 years I cannot begin to image just which dark crevice of their asses they think this information is good for or who it's going to benefit....

"Dude, what they hell?!" my frustrated garble after swishing the thirtieth backward 2013 Rose around my palate, feeling the daggers of pissed-off-and-not-ready digging deeply on my tongue. I pushed the glass away from me and looked demanding into the big, sympathetic brown eyes of one of my beloved French importers. "I know, I know Sam-mon-ta, but what am I supposed to do?" his thick accent full of as much annoyance as my stinging palate. He went on to tell me that the retailers and restaurant folks here in California were demanding that they get sampled on the new vintage Roses by February and early March, at the latest, so they could make their buying decisions for the year. "But, but these wines aren't ready" my scrunchie faced protest. He nodded and shook his head, I could feel his confusion and trepidation as he said, "Yes, but to have my wines considered I have to show them now. I'm sorry and I know you guys get it but...well think of all the people here that buy strawberries in November, not everyone does. They don't taste right, or even good but they are here and that's appears to be what matters." Argh!

Hard enough to evaluate wines that aren't even bottled yet. Even harder to do so when they are being rushed to market...lets toss in a vintage that had record rainfall, grapes picked a month later in many regions, (ahem, like Provence) and saw production numbers down 30% and more, well lets just say my notes are a bit like pin the tail on the donkey. Why the hell are we once again forcing wine to do what it isn't ready or able to do? Just to have your Roses lined up that are not going to taste a fucking thing like the wines you took notes on, months before?! Helpful that. How the hell does this make sense and what is it doing to our credibility...or is that something we, as wine professionals, have just tossed in the air and said "Fuck it." about? I have wines lined up, notes nervously taken, and a shitton of Rose tasting appointments still left to go. You want to know what to think about the 2013 vintage Roses? Well here, there's this..



The wines while young do show plenty of promise. All the pieces are there and given just a smidgen of time I know they will come together...just wish we weren't rushing them! Let them settle and kick off their awkward teenage gangle. Can't help but think we'd cultivate a lot more, long lasting Rose fans if we let the wines finish before we shake them from their evolutionary slumber and dump them on the public while they are still stumbling around on baby legs trying to settle into their own flesh...

Ready for ready Rose...
Your palate fatigued Wine Slinger


Charlie Olken said...

What is a shitt on of roses?

Sorry, missed it the first time. Its late. My bad.

I don't envy you. Steve and I were tasting Sv Blc today and damn if a couple of wines were not 2013s, which for us means that they are already in the bottle and labeled and all.

Swear that one of them smelled like just fermented must and another, in a screw cap no less and thus no chance to breath off, was overdone with SO/2.

I realize that wineries are in the business to sell wine, but somehow you would think that they would want their wines to have a chance to show more than baby fat and sulfur dioxide.

Other than that, Sam, howz things?

Waynegrape said...

I used to blame this on two hyphenated culprits: Self-important customers and over-enthusiastic salespeople.
The Custies think last year's wines (mostly fresh whites, but Rosè falls in here too) are OLD. Maybe shitty producers wines are over the hill after 10 minths, but the vast majority of any decent wine, white or Rosè, will actually show it's best more than a year later. Our 2010 Sauvignon is AMAZING right now, while everyone is clamouring over 2013s...
The salespeople are always pushing to bring out something new to spur enthusiasm... "The '13 Bastianich wines are in! Why not place an order?".. The novelty is just a sales hook.
I feel your pain, my dear.

Thomas said...

The last week in February I found myself on the tasting end of many as-yet-to-be-bottled rose wines.

The explanation I got was the same one you got, Sam.

I did the best I could, explaining why I used the word "muted"more than once, and why the banana-dominated fruit salad-with a touch of croutons aroma was pronounced.

webb said...

If you all are frustrated ... what in the world am i to do? (It's all about me, of course.) Seriously, tho, i do generally like roses, but am still trying to learn what turns me on. Don't like teenage men, so probably not teenage wines either.

Ah, heck, throw some pig on the grill and grab a beer!

Samantha Dugan said...

So nice to see you here old friend. A shitton is just a little less than a fuckload, hope that clears things up a little. The way I am hearing it is it is less the wineries in the case of Rose and more the restaurants and retailers that want to have their list set in advance. What that is doing is freaking the importers out so they are rushing over samples, or worse, having the wineries bottle and ship early...too early. But other than being annoyed by awkward wines, I'm good Charlie. You?

How are you sweet thing?! Nice to see you here too. I have to agree with you 100% darlin, although some Rose do lose a bunch of their zippiness, which for some...I would say a lot actually, is the appeal of Rose in the first place. I'm a little guilty myself, not being as enthralled with the wines as they soften and round out...I like that in other wines, including whites but Rose I sort of want to bite my tongue a little.

We learned early on that once the new vintages arrive the customers want nothing to do with the previous vintage, so we are just like everyone else on that, we are only looking at 2013s now. Pain in the ass this cycle.

Yup, that banana thing is just gross and that is what I meant by circus peanuts. All the wines that I've come across have some degree of yeasty banana. Some far worse than others but it is a constant struggle to try and get under that aroma, (because we know that will subside) and find the bits underneath. Just feels like I'm being tasked with writing tasting notes with one arm and a nostril tied behind my back. Argh!

Good call on the waiting, or try and find a Rose from Sancerre to another high acid region that will still have plenty of zip left in them until the 2013 finish their ugly teenage years. I'd be curious which Roses you've had and dug in the past, might give me an idea which direction to steer you should you need a suggestion.

Ed H. said...

After reading this post, Sam, I feel validated in my rosé purchase yesterday: I bought some 2013 Fouquette.

Samantha Dugan said...

That wine is a perfect example. Every single year I pour it at a tasting and it sells out before I can order more. This year I tasted it, back in January mind you, and felt it tasted of circus peanut and melted ice with lemon in it....but rolled the dice and ordered twice as much as I normally do, because I don't want to be sold out once the people taste the a month or two when it has settled the fuck down. I've had three bottles since it arrived, (two months earlier than last year mind you) and each one is showing just a little more maturity. I know that sounds weird, to use that word for young rose but it's just the way it feels. Did you pop one yet Ed? It will be fun to keep revisiting it over the next month or so with you.

gabriel jagle said...

At Illahe, we are already sold out of our 2012 pinot noir. 2012! The 2010 is just starting to come around! I think some of the blame has to go to modern economics, which forces everyone from wineries to distributors to retailers to be constantly turning over inventory. It seems like the only place to get a proper bottle of wine is from your own private cellar

Ed H. said...

I haven't popped one yet, Sam --wasn't planning to for a few months & wanted it to settle, but now my curiosity is piqued. I'll give it a try this weekend. Fouquette, what's the worst that could happen?

Samantha Dugan said...

Yup, of course the money machine must be fed so I get it when things like Burgundy (and I am of course only talking about the wines I deal with and am in charge of) and Bordeaux are released five years, at minimum, before they should be consumed, (in many cases I should say...there are some early quaffers, thank gawd) and people gobble those up to cellar but Rose should be different. Or feels like it should be, as those wines are meant to be drunk up all summer long, which is why people assume when they are here they are ready to go, which is why I'm all bent outta shape and stuff....cuzz they aren't.

Give it a go and see if you come up with the same muted and slightly washed out thing I am suffering with. It's like you can feel what is going to happen...the slow rumble before the blast...but it isn't happening just yet. Get back to me, I'd love to hear your findings.

Sara Louise said...

I'm so ready for Rosé, so ready! If I was back in France, this is the time of the year that I would be saying goodbye to red and greeting all of my pink friends, alas, I'm at a loss at the moment. I'm going to be shooting you a FB message soon looking for guidance because you Sam, are my guru :)

Samantha Dugan said...

You know I'm here to help you sort it out. Where you are I'm thinking the best place for you to shop likely going to be Total Wine and More. I hate to send you to a chain but according to My Amy there is nothing else by way of dry French Roses. I so wish I could ship to that blasted state you live in but alas, they won't allow it. Grrrr. Hit me up when you need lady, you know I'm always here for you. When you FB message me I'll give you my cell so you can have me via text as well.