History lesson after looking at collection
I recently opened a book from my collection in the office and noted that it was published in the very year that I joined the wine trade.
I had just quit a promising career with IBM and felt that the 6,000-year-old wine business might offer less of a treadmill of innovation and change.
These were times when I feel it safe to say that not a single wine from the southern hemisphere or North America appeared on any wine lists here; precious little was found in wine shops or supermarkets that had only recently been granted licences to sell such fare.
Labels shown in The Joys of Wine, published in 1975, included Morris-Burg Rare Old Sauterne, Cuvaison Traminer, Beaulieu Muscat de Frontignan and Gallo Hearty Burgundy (from the family that convinced me to go to California and learn from them).
The author writes: “I believe that the latter half of the 20th century will be the dawn of the golden age for American wine.”
Let us consider some of this history.
In 1965, 100 years after German immigrant Jacob Schram founded his winery on Diamond Mountain, it was purchased by Jack and Jamie Davies. Robert Louis Stevenson had written about enjoying Schramsberg wines on his honeymoon and he called them “bottled poetry”. Now the new goal of the Davies family was to make the most prestigious American sparkling wine.
Their success was rewarded in 1972 when Richard Nixon arrived in the People’s Republic of China with 25 cases of Schramsberg to be served at a banquet attended by Mao Zedong.
We stock Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc 2014, brut non vintage and mirabelle rosé all of which are made in the same way as champagne and also from the same grape varieties.
As the weather starts to warm up, let me tell you about their 57 per cent pinot noir and 43 per cent chardonnay rosé. There are generous aromas of fresh raspberry, strawberry and orange blossom. The hints of glazed pear and peach delicately join the bright bursting flavours of cherry and watermelon. The palate is tangy on entry with a mouthwatering acidity and a long, lingering finish. $38.25.
In 1933, two brothers decided that they would like to be in the wine business.
It was a daunting challenge as 800 wine companies had been established in the few years since prohibition ended, but one brother borrowed $5,000 from his mother-in-law and they were on their way.
Today, the heirs of Ernest and Julio Gallo sell one of every four bottles of wine consumed in the USA.
This includes the iconic wineries that they have purchased but left to continue on their own, such as Orin Swift, Louis Martini and J Vineyards. Despite this, they have not forgotten their roots that were established by providing pleasant Monday to Thursday night wines.
Let me tell you of one purchase. In 1965, Davis Bynum created Barefoot Bynum Burgundy in his garage and in 1986 new owners renamed this winery Barefoot Cellars and increased sales to a respectable 250,000 cases a year.
The Gallo family announced in 2005 they had purchased it and by 2016 the volume had reached 22.5 million cases. It still grows as it hangs on to the top spot in wine sales worldwide.
You will often find a bottle of Barefoot Pinot Grigio in our fridge at home and I consider its citron, pineapple, apple and honeysuckle flavours and brisk acidity most quaffable.
If you are in the mood for red, then I can tell you that Barefoot Merlot is our best mover and it is just so much better than the inexpensive wines available 30 or 40 years ago.
Our Barefoot wines are line-priced at $13.80 for bottles and $26.55 for magnums.
Founded in 1972 by David S. Stare, Dry Creek Vineyard paved the way for a renaissance of winemaking and viticulture in the Dry Creek Valley.
Before his arrival, the area was little more than a few family farms and prune orchards. My first exposure to his wines was in 1980 and I became an instant fan. We carry seven of their wines, but let me end by sharing information on their Dry Creek Vineyard 2014 Merlot that is a blend of 78 per cent merlot, 15 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 4 per cent malbec, 2 per cent cabernet franc and 1 per cent petit verdot.
It displays lively spices and ripe berry nuances. Aromas of red cherry, dried flowers and bay leaf fill the senses. The palate is full of wonderful fruity complexity, combining a mixture of raspberry, black cherry and red cherry. Undertones of toasty notes and dark chocolate come forward, with silky and smooth tannins. This beautiful wine has excellent structure and balance with a lush and rounded quality that lingers sip after sip. $29.45.
•This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail email@example.com or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm.</i>
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