Trending Wines: June 2011

What's hot heading into summer


With the changing of the seasons, there tends to be a change in people’s buying habits. We all know that red wines sales begin to slow right about now, while white wines begin their summer ramp-up. The trick in making that information useful is trying to figure out what whites are hot and what reds seem to be sputtering.

It’s a tough question to answer, though there are no shortage of answers. The "experts" routinely opine on what's hot (where they live) and what they like (which is usually either obscure or imported by a friendly local importer, or both). I’ll admit that it can be fun to read their views, if only to disagree with them, but having data-driven recommendations seems to be a more serious way to approach this problem.

Ultimately, you know your market better than anybody, and shouldn’t be too swayed by what I, or any one else for that matter, tells you is the next great thing. We all know that several factors move the market: scores, prices and name recognition being the top three. Pretty much end of story.

Nevertheless, I do want to share with you what people on Snooth have been searching for these past 60 days. I’ve prepared lists of the top 10 searched reds wine, white wines and Chardonnays. There are only a couple of real surprises among the results, with the most surprising being that only two Chardonnays made the top 10 searched white wines list.

Let’s start off by taking a look at the 10 most searched red wines first:

10 – 2005 Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva
9 – 2009 Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages
8 – 2004 Bodegas Ondarre Rioja Reserva
7 – 2009 Meiomo Pinot Noir
6 – 2009 La Crema Pinot Noir
5 – 2008 Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon
4 – 2005 Pali Wine Co. Summit Pinot Noir
3 – 2005 Ch. Barreyes Haut Medoc
2  - 2009 Apothic Red Winemakers Blend
1 – 2007 Zenato Valpolicella Ripassa

Like I said, no huge surprises here. The Zenato is a trusted performer that delivers great value and the Apothic has been making a big push for attention, so kudos to both of them. No California Cabernet and a relatively unknown Bordeaux making the list is refreshing, people seem to be branching out within their comfort zones. Pinot Noir continues to be hot and Jadot BV is a year-round favorite of man; that leaves the pair of Riojas.

I think this is modestly significant. I know many wine geeks who have added Rioja to their list of favorite wines and in many ways it shares many of the traits that made Pinot so popular. With continued attractive pricing I can see Rioja continuing to make inroads into the US market. Maybe you should consider adding a few to your selection.

Now, onto the whites and top searched for Chardonnays.

Top 10 searched for whites on Snooth: May - June 2011

10 – 2010 Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc
9 – NV Barefoot Riesling
8 – 2009 Toasted Head Chardonnay
7 – 2008 Abbazia di Novacella Kerner
6 – 2007 Red Lion Chardonnay
5 – 2009 Zaca Mesa Viognier
4 – 2008 Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio Riserva
3 – 2009 Dry Creek Vineyard Wilson Ranch Dry Chenin Blanc
2 – 2006 Fanucchi Trouseau Gris
1 – 2010 Ramona Pinot Grigio

On the other hand, this list is full of surprises. First off, it seems to be the aggregate of two very diverse audiences, if not three. There are some very inexpensive wines here, as well as a set of rather offbeat wines that probably don’t share the same market segment. And there is the Fanucchi Trousseau Gris.

I have not yet tried this wine but it’s one of the most reviewed wines on Snooth, with one of the highest aggregate ratings. I’m not saying that all of these reviews are wrong, but the sheer level of interaction with this wine makes me think that the folks over at Fanucchi have really motivated their fans. Ultimately, that can only be considered a success for Fanucchi and how the crowd-sourced reviews at Snooth work.

The biggest hole I see on the list is the lack of Sauvignon Blanc. I'll have to compile a list of top 10 searched for Sauvignon's for my next email, but I am frankly disappointed to find only a single example on this top 10 list. Also a little surprising, particular after examing the red wine list, is the fact that no Spanish wines made the list. There has been a concerted effort over the past few year to publicize Spanish whites and in particular, Albarino, so I was prepared to see one here.

The top wine on the list here is the publicity-driven Ramona Pinot Grigio, named for that Real Housewife of New York (a show that is woefully misnamed, though one that I regrettably love to watch), Ramona Singer. We’ll see where that goes. Now real overarching theme here so all I can tease out from this info is that cheap and refreshing are in. But of course they are always in, people just don’t talk about cheap and refreshing because it doesn’t make you look knowledgeable or particularly smart.

You look much cooler talking about GruVe and biodynamic wines from the Jura, which is why we hear so much about the esoteric. I’m a fan of the esoteric too; but let’s face it, sadly or not Ramona Pinot Grigio is going to outsell them this summer!

And that leaves the top 10 searched for Chardonnays. There’s not much to say here. It’s a pretty good list, again a bit disconnected from the list of whites, but since Chardonnay is the most popular white wine, we all should be aware of what’s on the public’s mind.

Top 10 searched for Chardonnays on Snooth: May - June 2011

10 – 2009 Louis Jadot Bourgogne
9 – 2009 Sonoma Coutrer Russian River Ranches
8 – 2009 Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve
7 – 2009 Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Chardonnay
6 – 2007 Kunde Estate Sonoma Valley Reserve
5 – 2009 Cupcake Central Coast Chardonnay
4– 2009 William Hill Chardonnay
3– 2007 La Terre Chardonnay
2– 2009 Toasted Head Chardonnay
1 – 2007 Red Lion Chardonnay

I’ve never heard of Red Lion, so that’s a wine even I want to learn something about and I have to tip my cap to Chateau Ste. Michelle, which managed to get on the lists with two different wines - quite an accomplishment when you think of it!

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