Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wine and Disorder (and a Blanc du Bois)

In the Wine Sales System the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups. The Wineries who make and sell the wine and the Retailers who buy and resell the wine. This is a story of a horrendous retail representative.

This week I find myself in New Orleans, LA.  The last time I was here was almost ten years ago. I was here for an academic conference that also happened to be during Mardi Gras. This trip is much different with a toddler in tow.

Anyhow, yesterday I was at Rouses to get some sustenance for the week. The liquor laws here are obviously different than in CO. New Orleans actually allows the possession and consumption of any alcoholic beverage in an open plastic container in public. However, open containers are still prohibited in the rest of Louisiana. Alcohol is also sold in grocery stores in Louisiana. So while at Rouses, I per used the wine selection. I debated buying a $25 bottle of Louisiana Norton. I ended up buying a bottle of $15 Blanc de Bois.

I was looking for a second bottle and got to talking to a salesperson. I asked him if they had any wine from states other than west coast states. He told me they had New Zealand and Italian wine. I reiterated that I was looking for domestic wine and he said he had California, Oregon and Washington wine. When I again asked for non-west coast wine, he mentioned that Florida and Georgia make wine but that Rouses didn't carry any. I thanked him and continued looking on my own slightly annoyed.

Mr. Helpful saw me a few minutes later and decided to make another sales attempt. He asked me if I had ever heard of Sottano Malbec. I said no as he showed me the way to the South America section. He started his pitch by telling me this was the only 100% Malbec you could find from Argentina. Intrigued, I listened intently. He then proceeded to grab a bottle of Layer Cake. He turned the bottle to the back label and pointed to the notes that indicate hints of chocolate and spices. He then said that Sottano didn't add any of those things to the wine. I give him a puzzled look and corrected his assertion that any wines actually add flavors to the bottle (ok, a few do). I don't think I got through to him. He proceeded to tell me that wines that had added boysenberry were the most difficult to pinpoint. I politely thanked him and made my way to the beer selection.

The fact that a person whose job was to sell wine was suggesting that the flavors listed on labels were the result of artificial additives was beyond mind blowing. I've had arguments with ignorant salespeople about different blends and varieties, but had never met a completely incompetent salesperson who had suggested what this guy was. It had to have been a candid camera show that forgot to ask for a waiver. Really, when does the episode air?

Anyway, my first experience with Louisiana wine was accompanied, of course, by pickled okra. Turns out that isn't such an odd pairing. That leads me to my appreciation of the back label of the wine, which says, "All of our wines are being produced with one specific purpose in mind: to provide a distinctive regional wine to complement to the extraordinary cuisines of Louisiana." Awesome! Too bad the wine wasn't actually something to write home about. The nose of the 2010 Le Trolley from Pontchartrain Vineyards was clean and some hints of tropical fruits. It didn't taste as nice as it smelled. There were some green apple flavors, but mostly it was funky and bitter. $15 for an exceptionally average wine isn't exactly a value buy, but hey what else do you pair pickled okra with while you are in New Orleans? Oh, the Southern Pecan  Brown Ale and Sweet Potato Stout from Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company (Kiln, MS) were pretty good!

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