The World is waking up to German Pinot Noir!

I’ve been wondering how long it would take for this to happen.  German Pinots offer some of the most affordable and pleasurable discoveries any Pinot lover could wish for.  So it was no surprise to see this headline in today’s issue of “The Drinks Business” publication out of the UK.

According to chef Martin Lam, interviewed for this article, it has helped tremendously that German producers are switching their labeling from the traditional German word “Spätburgunder” (SPATE bur gunder) to the more internationally recognized “Pinot Noir” (same grape, different name).  But a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

I particularly liked Lam’s quote “…the top drops from Baden should be treated with the same respect as a top Burgundy“.  And while this quote dips its toe into hyperbole, the truth is that the grape’s German name is a direct nod to the vines that gave birth to their vineyards, and the style is similar in its lightness.

German States with major Cities -
German States with major Cities.  Baden is Southwest, just above Switzerland.  Image from

The Baden area (Southwest Germany, see map) is East and a bit North of Burgundy, and this area is home to some of Germany’s best Pinots.  I encourage you to ask for these from your favorite wine merchant, and to keep a watchful eye for some of them to appear in the Pinot section my own curated inventory at DaveTheWineMerchant.

Read the full article here – Lam: World is waking up to German Pinot.


P.S. For a regular source of new Pinot Noir discoveries, please consider my Pinot-Only wine club – click here for more info!

Toasts & Quotes: Terry Theise, Thoughts on Wine

“The best wines are those that take you through themselves and out into another world that you could not have gotten to on your own. Great wine has a strange subterranean current of beauty. It is not something you can summon from a wine; but a great wine can take you there.”

~ Terry Theise, wine importer

…”But to love wine, preferences have to remain fluid. You have to be able to respond spontaneously to new stimulus, to absorb new evidence. Each new wine demands open eyes to be individually seen. In Zen there’s a saying: ‘Truth means that all ravens are black, until you see a white raven.’  Wine is, in fact, a lovely means of training ourselves to examine a question from all angles and resist precepts. What we can’t do is establish a single matrix whereby wines are either acceptable or unacceptable. If we do that, we stop not only thinking; we stop experiencing. And that would most certainly defeat the purpose of wine.”

~ Terry Theise, wine importer

Wine Sales Continue Expanding!

Whew!  Some good news arrived over the weekend, in the form of a report stating U.S. wine consumption eked out another increase again in 2009, continuing our hitting streak into its sixteenth straight year.  If my memory serves correctly, this is the first time such sustained growth has occurred in our 233 year history as a nation.  So why was last year so painful for so many of us in the wine industry?

So before we break out the party hats and pop corks on bottles of bubbly, let’s put these findings in perspective. Here are some highlights from this weekend’s report:

— 2009 marked the 16th straight year of growth in wine sales, up 0.6% over 2008.

— Wine sales have shifted from on-premise (restaurant) to retail stores (especially grocery stores) as consumers increasingly choose to dine in, but still want wine.

Consumers are buying less expensive wine,  which will have a long-term effect on the market.  (emphasis is mine)

— Direct sales to consumers at tasting rooms, or through wine clubs and the Internet, are gaining in popularity.  (emphasis is mine)

First, let me calm the fears of anyone who might think America is becoming a nation of drunkards.  The average American adult consumes less than one case of wine every year – that’s less than a bottle of wine per month, for those who appreciate math subtitles.  That puts our population at #18 on the chart of per-capita wine consumption, in case you’re keeping track at home.

And while I’m pleased to hear  that wine drinkers are buying more from wine clubs (like mine!) and online stores (like mine!), my bet is that most wine club purchases are occurring directly from the winery, where club membership recruitment is far more effective than in most retail stores, despite the greater access to quality of the latter distribution channel.

In addition, the less expensive wines that enjoy an inordinate share of the consumption growth (1.1% for this sector vs. 0.6% overall) are the exclusive domain of large physical stores (Grocery, big box stores, discounters, etc.) , since shipping expenses run as much as the cost of the wine.  I believe this trend will develop in two ways.  First, one portion of those drinking less expensive wines will continue to do so for the rest of their drinking days.  But another, probably far smaller group, will find the aromas and flavors of inexpensive wines to be limited and predictable and far too similar.  This is the group that will grow into upscale wine drinkers in years to come.

Now, how do I get hold of those folks, begin a conversation, and stay in business until they see the light???  hmmmm.

Dave the Wine Merchant

Quote of the Day
“WINE, n. Fermented grape-juice.  Known to the Women’s Christian Union as “liquor,” sometimes as “rum.” Wine, madam, is God’s next best gift to man.”
~ Ambrose Bierce, American Wag, Writer, and Journalist (1842-1914)