Winebits 292: Wine lists, Burgundy, torrontes
• No, no, no: The Italian Wine Guy parses a new restaurant wine list and finds it lacking – for the same reasons so many restaurant wine lists fail. “What it all boils down to is this: making a commitment to being an ambassador for good tasting wines, whether they be from Italy or California or anywhere in the world. Forget what you think your clients are looking for. They are looking for a good time.” Why is it that so few restaurants, regardless of concept or price, understand this? Or, as I write in The Cheap Wine Book (maybe about a month away): “Restaurant bosses would never treat a chicken breast the way they treat a bottle of wine, because they know no one would eat an overpriced piece of poor quality chicken that has gone off. But they think nothing of doing this with wine.”
• Poor, poor Burgundy: Who knew that the French wine region, home of some of the world’s best pinot noir and chardonnay, had something in common with west Texas? Violent hailstorms, which regularly devastate the Texas grape crop, reportedly caused catastrophic damage in parts of Burgundy this month, and as much as 90 percent of the vines were damaged. I wonder: Does this mean we’ll be seeing For Sale in Burgundy Only wines from the 2013 vintage? (Sorry. That’s a very wine geeky joke, but I couldn’t help myself. Explanation here.)
• Argentina’s white grape: How important is torrontes, the often sweet white wine made with the grape of the same name, to the Argentine wine business? How about crucial? The country exports 99 percent of the torrontes it makes, according to a recent report, and exports increased 48 percent between 2009 and 2012. Amazingly, given the grape’s popularity in the U.S., it’s only the sixth best seller in Argentina, behind even syrah and muscat.