Beverage Bulletin April 2009

California Beverage Retailers Association

P.O. Box 56686

Sherman Oaks, CA 91413

(818) 788-8120

Newsletter April 1, 2009


The economy continues to be worrisome at a number of levels. Unemployment is currently 8.1%. The raw number is roughly 6.5 million out of work. Consumers continue to de-leverage and some banks are straining. The California Gift Show in January had a disappointing light attendance despite heavy industry promotion. With the dollar value of wines sales down and supplies at high levels, you might think it is a buyers market. But, that wasn't the impression we got a two recent wine tastings. The Howell Mountain tasting featured about 30 wineries with wholesale prices running from $50 to $110 per bottle. Most of the wines shown were big and bold, but very much alike. The price tags would seem to prohibit good sales. The only justification seems to be the fact that there is limited production. There was one good value we spotted, we'll come back to that later.


The second tasting was The Family Winemakers of California. 250 wineries vied for the buyers attention. Attendance was good, but appeared lighter than years past. Mostly reds were shown, with only a few chardonnays and sauvignon blancs. Cabernet Sauvignon, pinot noir, and petite sirah dominated with a few generic table wines completing the picture. With few exceptions the wines need to be laid down for 3 to 5 years before they will drink well. The question is with high price tags will the consumers invest in these this year? However, we did spot a few great values in wines that are ready to sell to happy customers that want to drink now. We pass those along to you.


By far the best value was Fleur. We tasted the Vin Gris (a rose') at about $9 wholesale. Fruity and pleasant. The 2005 Pinot Noir at about $10 wholesale. Rich, mellow, full bodied. The star showing was the 2007 Petite Sirah at about $9 wholesale. A full, rich wine with lots of great flavors. It was the only Sirah we saw with a beautiful deep red/violet color. This was one of the best in the show. You can make a lot of happy customers with this wine at a very attractive price level. Distributed in Southern Cal by TGIC or call Stacy Manley at the winery (707) 696-8725.


Fontanella showed their wines for the first time this year. The 2007 Chardonnay ($20 btl wholesale) was clean and very drinkable. Not too much oak. The 2006 Cabernet ($37 btl cost) was likewise a drinkable wine. These are ready for prime time. Karen Fontanella sells direct from the winery. (707) 252-1017.


Freemark Abbey showed a 2005 Cabernet that had all the right points and is ready to sell and drink now. It is soft, full, and elegant. Cost about $25 per bottle. This bottle proves that you can find beautiful wines without going to a wholesale of $80 and up. The 2006 Chardonnay is clean and brisk. Will pair well with food. $15 wholesale on this one. (800) 963-9698.


We saved the best for last. Spence was shown at both wine tastings. The Howell Mountain Cabernet was full, mellow, with lots of deep flavors. The 2005 is ready to drink now. But... big tears! Less than 200 cases are bottled each year. Most of it is committed to restaurants, including Spago. And, sorry retailers, it's labeled for restaurants without UPC codes. This one is pure art! But at a reasonable price. ($60) wholesale. Maybe Nurit Robitschek at Discoveries in Wine can find you a few bottles (707) 963-4724.