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An Evening with Kendall-Jackson
© by Linwood Slayton
My interest in wine is closely linked with my incessant appetite for socializing with good people and having a good time. I began my newly developing relationship with Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates earlier this year when I began communicating with Jim Caudill who, I later learned, had read my columns in The Wine Lovers Page.

I shared with Jim the fact that I was interested in doing a column on the preferences of people for particular wines. I shared my observation with him that Kendall-Jackson seemed to have a lion's share of the market here in Atlanta among African-American wine drinkers. I believed that applied whether in the store or in bars and restaurants. I still believe I am correct.

Jim and I exchanged several E-mails and he had his staff at KJ do some research and discovered that there are no data captured that discloses the ethnicity of wine drinkers by brand. I was somewhat surprised by this revelation and I decided to do a little personal research.

I spoke with the clerks and wine section managers at several larger wine stores here as well as with several people who work in some of the local restaurants. I talked with even more of my friends and associates and asked them which wine they thought was the most popular here in Atlanta. Overwhelmingly, Kendall-Jackson was mentioned more than any other single wine brand. Mind you, most were talking about Chardonnay which also seems to be the overwhelming favorite type of wine. Here in Atlanta "ABC" (anything but Chardonnay) has not yet taken hold at least among the masses. In this instance, familiarity definitely does not breed contempt as most people will tend to buy a wine with which they are more familiar when ordering wine at a bar or a restaurant.

So, on Nov. 30, I decided to host a wine-tasting event with Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates Ltd. as the sponsor. The evening featured an array of six selections for the attendees:

  • 1997 Edmeades Zinfandel
  • 1999 La Crema Pinot Noir
  • 1999 Kendall Jackson Syrah
  • 2000 Pepi Pinot Grigio
  • 1999 Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay
  • 1998 Kendall Jackson Great Estates Chardonnay

Regrettably, I was not able to attend due to death in my family. However, all reports were that the wines were well received and the diversity of the selections featured was much appreciated and enjoyed.

I did have the opportunity to taste each of the wines prior to the event and had I been in attendance would have loved to share my notes and compared them with the feedback received by those in attendance. I will share this: the overwhelming favorite among the reds presented was the 1999 La Crema Pinot Noir and among the whites presented was the 1998 Great Estates Chardonnay. Both the 1999 La Crema Pinot Noir and the 1998 Kendall Jackson Great Estates Chardonnay are excellent wines and will be quality selections for anyone's holiday wine purchases. They are excellent wines with and without food. I recommend them both highly. The Great Estates Chardonnay retails for about $30 and is by far one of the better Chards I have tasted this year.

The attendees were also provided souvenir Kendall-Jackson logo glasses to taste from and to take home with them. What an excellent marketing/promotional touch! Every time one of the attendees and their guests use their glasses at home, KJ sends a subliminal message as the glass is tipped and swirled. It is clearer to me that the business of wine is one of marketing and promotions.

We extend our heartfelt appreciation to Lance Anderson, Atlanta District Manager for KJ, who provided his professional expertise to the attendees regarding the wines presented. Ditto for Jim Caudill and Karen Banke, Events and Tasting Manager for KJ. I also wish to thank my good friend and fellow wine enthusiast Kamau King for serving as the "host" in my stead and demonstrating the methodology of "tasting." Thanks also to Pamela George of Events by George for her tireless efforts in planning this event. Last, but not least, thanks to Carolyn King of CK Designs for the flowers and decorations.

The hors d'oeuvre tray was obtained from Edible Arts and I understand that it was exceptionally good. Edible Arts operates the restaurant and bar at The Undergound Suites Hotel here in Atlanta. They also host a splendid late night food buffet every Friday night from midnight to 5 a.m. and enjoy an eclectic mix of hungry patrons. We will be hosting a series of three winter Wine Tastings at The Underground Suites Bar and Restaurant in the months of January, February and March 2002 and will have the opportunity to experience the fine food of Edible Art along with our wine sponsors each month.

Christmas is here and I again suggest that the best gift one can give or receive is a fine bottle of good wine or shall I say a good bottle of fine wine- whatever! And hey, why not make it Kendall Jackson Great Estates Chardonnay?

December 19, 2001

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