I like preparing this summary because it gives me perspective. I also find it a useful exercise in taste recall. The selected wines stand out in my memory very vividly, and a reminder of them fortifies that memory
Here is what happened in 1988: In the Regular Series, we had 4 Chardonnays, 3 Cabernet Sauvignons, 2 Semillons (one in the sparkling version), and one each Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Nebbiolo, Johannisberg Riesling, Pinot Grigio, and Periquita. The remaining 5 wines were blends. A rather broad representation, I will say, meeeting the objectives of our program of bringing you the best values and examples we could find, in the full spectrum of wines. In the imports, the French wines led the way with 5 selections. The Italian wines had 2 selections. There were one each from Spain, Chile, Germany, Portugal, and Australia. Our non-Calfornian delegate was from New Mexico this year.
The most unique wine for 1988 was the Nebbiolo by Martin Brothers. A rare grape for California, done a different style from the prestigious Italian versions. Nearly as unique was the Grenache blend that was labeled by the preposterous name of “Fajita Red”. The unique name that raised a lot of eyebrows, but demonstrated phenomenal reorder levels was “Runway Red”. Shows to go that when the wine is good, the name does not matter. A rare find on the import side was the hard to find French Chardonnay from Beaujolais, marketed as Beaujolais Blanc.
No dessert wine this year, the super ones were beyond the budget. Not overpriced, for what they were. The December sherry drew raves for its quality.
In the Limited Series, we had five imports, four of which were from France and the other from Australia. The other three were California wines. Four of the eight were Chardonnays, one Pinot Noir in the form of a Burgundy, one red Bordeaux with a high percentage of Merlot, a California “Bordeaux blend”, and a Zinfandel that stopped the show.
Again, every wine featured was reordered. I watch and tally very closely. It is my gauge of your acceptance. You vote by reordering and I listen to establish my parameters.
For those of you who write me your comments, you are invaluable. I appreciate them. They, are duly noted and form part of my experience backlog.
If anything displeases you, I want to hear about it also.
Here’s to a great 1989!
– Paul Kalemkiarian