Wine Advisor's Premium Edition
The next biweekly edition of The 30 Second Wine Advisor's Premium Edition will go to subscribers' E-mail boxes tomorrow. This edition takes a close look at the quest for value in "next tier" Chardonnay in the $25 to $40 range, offering a compare-and-contrast view of an excellent White Burgundy and a fine California Chardonnay.
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Do wine lovers improve with age?
A pair of recent news stories about fine wine and marketing have me shaking my head and wondering whether they could both be right.
First came the not-so-surprising news that members of the Baby Boom generation are virtually supporting the wine industry. "Aging like fine wine," the Los Angeles Daily News headlined this story. "Baby boomers are turning their interests and wallets to the fruits of the vine."
The Baby Boom generation - the huge cohort of children of World War II veterans, born between 1946 and 1964 - accounts for "the bulk of serious wine drinkers in the United States," Associated Press reporter Lisa Singhania wrote from New York on March 31, attributing this statistic to "industry and research groups."
But then the wire services transmitted a surprisingly similar story by Washington Post reporter Kimberly Edds. Headlined "Young wine drinkers could revive industry," this report finds great wine enthusiasm among "the millennial generation," which Edds defines as the 21- to 26-year-old set. These 20-somethings, Edds announces, "are trading their beer and liquor shots for Zinfandel and Pinot Noir at startling rates when they hit the town, or even the living room couch. And that has wine industry players buzzing."
The Baby Boomers story marshals statistics to suggest that wine enthusiasm increases with maturity, prompting analogies with fine ageworthy wines. Americans in their 50s consumed an average of 16 bottles of wine in the year 2000, closely trailed by 60-somethings drinking an average of 15 bottles and people in their 40s drinking an average of 14 bottles of wine that year. The 30s cohort, in contrast, trailed badly with an average of only 10 bottles, according to the wine-industry research firm MFK. (Careful observers will note that those of us who enjoy good wine and drink it regularly are far above average in any case.)
"Baby boomers tend to have a taste for handcrafted products, for premium products. They're willing to spend," said Vic Motto, founding partner of MKF Research.
A lack of interest in wine among younger adults could spell a long-term problem for the wine business, but the Washington Post report suggests that a growing cohort of younger wine enthusiasts could be good news for the industry.
"The rapidly increasing influx of new wine drinkers, coupled with a recovering national economy and a dwindling of the vast oversupply of grapes in recent years, could turn around the $14 billion California wine market, which accounts for more than 90 percent of the wine produced in the United States," reporter Edds wrote.
John Gillespie, president of the non-profit trade group Wine Market Council, was quoted in both articles. "Boomers came to wine as much as a reaction against the three-martini lunch of their parents as to create a statement of their own," he said in the first story. "Virtually every taste and lifestyle choice made by the boomers in the 1970s was something to set them apart from their parents ... whether it was bell-bottoms, flower power or wine."
Commenting on the growing interest by young adults in wine, Gillespie said, "If we're just seeing the leading edge, the tip of the iceberg, then we are in for a tremendous upsurge."
I don't know about averages, but from my vantage point, based on E-mail from readers and participation in online and real-world wine communities, I see plenty of graying-haired contemporaries and lots of young adults who don't take second place to their elders in enthusiasm, knowledge or passion about wine.
But I suspect that wine-industry professionals, fully conscious of criticism of the tobacco industry for allegedly targeting youngsters in their marketing, will bend over backward to avoid similar charges. Don't look for a "Joe Chardonnay" cartoon character in wine advertising any time soon.
TALK ABOUT WINE ONLINE
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Today's tasting features a typical Malbec from Argentina's Mendoza region, one of the world's most scenic wine regions and source of some remarkable values. Santamaria and scores of other Mendoza producers will offer you a taste this vineyard country in a glass. For information on a memorable Andes Wine Tour of Argentina and Chile this autumn, see
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine shows surprisingly bright glints of reddish-purple against the light. Red-berry fruit and spice, strawberries and cherries, carry over on the palate in an appetizing bone-dry flavor shaped by tart, lemon-squirt acidity. Simple but fresh, it's a fine food companion. Carlos Santamaria Vineyards Corp., Sunrise, Fla. (March 23, 2004)
FOOD MATCH: Grilled meat is a natural companion with Malbec in this crisp and acidic style, and it's a great match with pizza; it went well enough but was a little too "red" to make a perfect partner with a simple spaghetti alla carbonara.
VALUE: No quibbles at the $10 price point.
WHEN TO DRINK: Not intended for aging, but it will keep for a year or two on the wine rack.
WEB LINK: The winery's Spanish-language Website,
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Unfortunately, Santamaria is not currently listed in the databases on Wine-Searcher.com, but you can use this link to fine vendors and compare prices on many competitive Mendoza Malbecs:
Correction: Cusumano price error
The Cusumano Nero d'Avola-Syrah blend from Sicily that drew my rave in Wednesday's edition wasn't quite as good a bargain as I made it appear. With too many Nero d'Avolas lined up for tasting, I checked the wrong receipt and listed the Cusumano price as $11.99 local retail. I actually paid $14.99 for it at Louisville's Old Town Wines, at which level it's still a good value - this wine can compete even at the $20 price point - but not as good a bargain as it would have been at $12.
California Wine Club
Mother's Day is May 9, and it's never too early to start thinking about the perfect gift! With The California Wine Club, the mom on your gift list will receive a tasteful gift that's fun and unique.
Club owners Bruce and Pam Boring hand-select every wine they feature, and they never feature any bulk, private-label or closeout wine. Each month includes two bottles of award-winning wine and their entertaining 8-page newsletter, Uncorked.
FOR WINE ADVISOR READERS ONLY - Send a gift of three months of more and we'll include a hand-painted linen apron from the After 5 Catalog company - FREE! Call 1-800-777-4443 and be sure to mention The 30 Second Wine Advisor! For more information visit
This week on WineLoversPage.com
Here are links to some of our recently published articles that I think you'll enjoy:
Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: What kind of "wino" are you?
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:
Offbeat grape: Pineau d'Aunis (April 2, 2004)
A new name from Sicily (March 31, 2004)
Bordeaux Primeurs (March 29, 2004)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Bluefish and potatoes (April 1, 2004)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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Monday, April 5, 2004