A few thoughts of what happened in the wine business in 2006:

  • Marketing, marketing, and even more marketing: Sometimes, it seemed like what was on the bottle was more important than what was in the bottle, as the movement toward cuddly labels and a focus on specific demographics became ever more important. Randall Grahmn sold the Bonny Doon portion of his company to an East Cost investment group for a reported $55 million, Kendall Jackson announced plans to form a company called White Rocket to release “new wine brands for the upcoming generation of wine consumers.”
  • Best values, for yet another year: Spanish reds and Chilean whites continue to offer amazing quality at even more amazing prices. Spanish Riojas, with the reserve and gran reserva designations, are as little as two-thirds the cost comparable wines from France and California. One caveat: Look for old-fashioned labels; some of the newer brands slap a cute label on a figure that makes up for what’s inside.
  • Thank goodness for direct shipping: Your local retailer may have trouble bringing in a red wine from California’s Murrieta’s Well called Zarzuela, a Spanish-style red blend for $30. If so, get it from the winery at murietaswell.com. I drank this after wading through one of those overpriced, overrated Napa cabernets, and there was no comparison.
  • You’ll probably have to wait for the 2005 vintage: Oliver Savary Chablis is mostly sold out, although there might be some still available from past vintages on a back shelf somewhere. It’s impressive wine for $22 – as good as some more expensive French white burgundies and California chardonnays.

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