Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Smart" wine buying

The ways in which we buy wine are changing. Think back ten years ago. How did you buy wine then? You probably walked into your local wine shop, liquor store or grocery store (well, not if you live in Colorado), scanned the shelf talkers or spoke with a knowledgeable salesperson and made your purchase. There weren't really any other ways to buy wine then. Today, the Internet has opened many new doors for wine buying. Internet retailers like Wine.com, online wine auction communities such as WineCommune.com and WineBid.com and direct to consumer sales via winery websites have increased the realm of possibilities to many new consumers. You can research tantalizing possibilities while comparing prices as you sip your coffee (time for a refill!) all from the comfort of your couch at home. Shopping for wine has never been easier!

However, there is something about actually going to a wine shop and physically inspecting the bottle of wine in your hands before you hand over your hard-earned cash. Fortunately, the convenience of online shopping is still available due to the proliferation of smartphones! When going into stores with eclectic inventories or less than knowledgeable staff, your phone can be an invaluable asset. Using a barcode scanner, accessing tasting notes and price comparisons is easier than ever. Looking wines up on CellarTracker and Wine-Searcher gives the consumer more information than they've ever had in the past. Finding a 1995 Nicolas Joly Savennières Roches-aux-Moines Clos de la Bergerie for $11: score. Reading about the 2009 Grand Bateau: helpful (though having the new Smart Bordeaux app on my Android phone would have been even better).

Unfortunately, not everyone in the industry is keen on using phones as shopping tools; as I found out when the old shopkeeper yelled at me for attempting to steal his "proprietary" price information. He didn't exactly use that term (his English vocabulary was less sophisticated than that) but I easily gathered that he was not hip to the new technology. After I attempted to explain that I was not trying to undermine his business, he sort of apologized as I purchased the one bottle that I did not need to look up on my phone. I found several bottles of Canyon Wind Cellars 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon hiding on the bottom shelf below some big name California cabernets. I've had many bottles of current vintages from this winery and knew that they make wine with potential to age. I took home one bottle to make sure that it has held up under the unknown conditions of this little store before I buy more.

2000 Canyon Wind Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Grand Valley AVA, Colorado

Popped and poured a little into my glass, half the bottle into a decanter and the other half was recorked and put in the refrigerator for the next night. This 11-year old Colorado Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep, dark red with a brick red rim. On the nose the first thing that I sense is the a bit of alcohol. At 14.2%, it isn't that high for today's standards, but it is quite noticeable in this bottle. Rich dark fruits like red raspberries and black cherries meld with cigar box aromas to create a nice distinctly Cabernet nose. The tannins are almost chalky in the mouth. Flavors of tobacco, cedar and faded dark fruits show that his wine has held up well and will continue to drink well in the coming years. While the wine did not change much in the decanter, it did not fade the second night either. The alcohol was a bit too noticeable for me, but overall this was a well-made and well-aged wine, especially for the price. 14.2% abv Purchased $21. Good/Very Good (tasted 1/27/11)

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