We haven't had this conversation in a while, and I think it's high time! What are the beverage trends you're seeing in your market right now, and what do you think is ahead?
Here are a few to get us started... I think younger consumers are more curious than ever to learn, evidenced by the market for classes, consumer-oriented books on wine, and expert-driven wine clubs, as well as the ongoing success of sites like Madeline Puckette's Wine Folly. "Unique" grapes are still cool, perhaps an evolution of earlier enthusiasm around natural wine, orange wine, etc. Restaurants seem to be tipping back toward fine dining.
What do you think?
I'd like to think that sommeliers should start focusing on Merlot again - this noble grape has never seen a major resurgence since the movie Sideways. I've recently had some outstanding La Jota Howell Mountain, Three Palms Vineyards, Petrolo Galatrona, and of course the legendary Masseto. Not too sure what's stopping us from listing great Merlots or even recommending it.
It can vary from vintage to vintage, but the Merlot from Ridge (from the Monte Bello vineyard) can be fantastic and a relative deal. I would second La Jota. Ehlers in Napa is also a good bet. I'd love to see some young producers explore Bennet Valley more. It's a great spot for Merlot and Matanzas Creek has been making great value Melot from that area for decades.
Do we think that since Merlot has become such a hard sell to consumers that it's not worth the effort to, in most cases, down-sell from Cabernet or other things? and Not as "fun" to suggest to people as any odd ball variety you can think of? -- I am not in this camp, I really enjoy Merlot. I am just wondering what the overall Somm community feels about it, since it will take a movement to help the resurgence of what should be a varietal that is highly touted and loved, but just isn't at this point in time.