Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bringing the Community Back to Wine

Just a short time ago, my wife and I celebrated our 7th anniversary. It seems like just yesterday that we were sitting on a beach in St. Lucia enjoying the aromas of Chateau Lamothe Bordeaux Blanc and basking in the heat of the sun. I remember looking at the wine list and thinking to myself, "No shit! I come all the way to St. Lucia and find one of Freddy's wines!"

To celebrate the occasion, I brought a bottle of 1995 Viader Proprietary Red up from the family cellar. Don’t tell my dad. I walked through the door just after 9:00 PM and rushed to fix a romantic dinner for my bride. Beef tenderloin and mushroom risotto on the menu, it was going to be a late night. Minding my priorities, I decanted the Viader first. We finally sat down to eat at 10:30 PM. Risotto just takes forever but was delicious. The tenderloin was clearly rushed and flavorless. The ‘95 Viader was its opposite. Patience rewarded. With striking levels of black currant fruit clothed by subtle toast, smoke, and floral scents this richly textured, medium - bodied wine filled the palate without subjecting it to unnecessary levels of weight. It was decadent without being gluttonous. Clearly, a memorable wine for both my wife and I. The winemaker needed to know.

As we finished dinner and began cleaning, I took a second to post a message to Delia Viader’s wall on Facebook. It stated that the ‘95 “had rocked our world”. Little did I know that Pandora's Box was now open. The dialogue began innocent enough and eventually morphed into the comparison of younger (‘05, ‘06, ‘07) with older (‘95, ‘96, ‘97) vintages of Viader. The conversation then warped into a discussion of taste preference. One can determine (through market trends and study) that Europeans prefer wines with a little more time in the bottle. US winelovers tend to like'em young. The conversation then shifted toward the wine distribution system in the United States with a nod to the idea that it is fundamentally flawed.  The topic is just to complex to discuss through a series of Facebook wall posts. However, the simple fact that both winemaker and retailer had the dialogue and agreed on the fundamental idea is nothing short of groundbreaking.

As early as 5 years ago, the above dialogue would not have taken place between a retailer and a winemaker. The logistics were too difficult. Now, these conversations can be had with an open audience. Everyone is invited. Of course it involves opening an account on Facebook or becoming a part of the "Twitter-verse".
The point is this: A singular terrific bottle of wine can, through today’s technology and resources, open spontaneous dialogues that previously would not have happened. It’s these dialogues that lead to the economically driven political discussions which can spark a community to affect change.

… And all I wanted was a romantic dinner.

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