Posted 2009-02-17 12:11:54 ID=247:0

© 2009 The Romantic Table
©2009 The Romantic Table 2009-02-17 09:52:55:123
©2009 The Romantic Table

Larry McGourty writes about wine and food

California Central Coast wines are a beneficiary of the current economic down turn.


In my last blog I predicted that Central Coast wines would be a beneficiary of the current economic down turn. A couple of things have happened in the past few days which confirm my ruminations.

When I received the latest issue of Santé and I was not too surprised to see in the food, wine and spirit reviews the very strong showings of Central Coast Wines in the premium ($151 - $200 a case) and prestige (more than $200 a case) categories. We were pleased to see two Zinfandels from Paso Robles icon Peachy Canyon on the Santé list as well as Rhône style wines from other Central Coast wineries like Vina Robles, Bonny Doon, Robert Hall, Ortman, and Paraiso to mention a few.

Maybe just anecdotal evidence, but the inside skinny is that Central Coast Wine sales are actually up for the latest period. We dropped in to see Linda Cooks, the wine and spirits department manager of Paso Robles Albertsons for a couple of wine picks for January. Linda told us that she is also hearing from her suppliers that Napa and Sonoma are definitely down in sales, while Paso Robles in particular is up twenty percent. Linda does a great job tracking and discovering local Paso Robles wineries and getting their product into her store area. It is a place where even the local and notable winemakers go to look for new local wines. If you haven't stopped yet to meet Linda, make point of doing do so!

Finally, for the first time, California wine sales have topped French wine sales in the UK market. Obviously the weak dollar is one of the factors. But another factor is that the relative price to quality of the average California wine exceeds that of its French counterpart. This is not to demean French wine makers in any way. They are no doubt still the top wine makers in the world. It is more a reflection of the fact that the California climate is a lot more benign then the French climate, and California wine makers have an easier job by starting off with more consistent fruit quality. High end French wine are still wonderful, but now UK consumers are reaching for more competitively priced California wines for their table cru. (One wag pointed out however that the Australians are still the top UK supplier, and in the market there is more 'roo than cru!)

At the same time, it also appears that domestic Napa and Sonoma brands are moderating in price. The same Santé article had a number of Napa and Sonoma wines listed in the value range. Of course the fruit may actually be from the Central Valley, topped off with some good wine from the Central Coast. But the point is reality has set in, and the bottom line is there is a lot of really good wine out there at reasonable prices.

It will be interesting to see if the restaurants moderate their prices to match. Usually for a high end restaurant, the food cost is approximately one third the cost of the item or entrée. Labor, overhead and whatever slim profit the owner can manage (and trust me, in most cases it is very slim) makes up the difference. Wine pricing usually follows a similar pattern. In this case the labor is not high, but the lower end, high turn-over wines are subsidizing the purchases and storage of the more expensive vintages. In this economy I suspect that wine purchasers are more interest in exploring horizontally within a price range rather than springing for the higher end wine.

It looks like the restaurants are adapting by providing more variety - more moderately priced wines than a few high premium wines. I have noticed a lot more of different kinds of wines - especially the Rhône varietals like Viognier, Roussanne, Grenache, Syrah etc.., showing up on the wine menu. In our mind anyway, these are especially food friendly wines since they evolved in the Mediterranean areas where we especially like and closely matches the culinary style of the Central Coast.

Of course, to draw in diners, our local chefs are being a lot more creative with their menu offerings, using a lot more of the local produce in ways that may be new to local diners, but have firm roots in Italian and French Mediterranean culinary traditions. These new menus pair very well with the Rhône style wines especially, and many a firm red-wine-only-drinker has been won over to a fine Viognier or Roussanne - at least on occasion!

So, as I said before, even in adversity there is opportunity if you look for it!




Latest Blog Posts

Henrietta the Uninvited Free Range Chicken that Flies

2015-03-06 18:04:33
© 2015 The Romantic Table


Early Fall Food Cravings

2014-09-28 12:14:50
© 2014 The Romantic Table


Day by Day Getting back into the Kitchen's Swing of Things

2014-09-03 16:44:57
© 2014 The Romantic Table


Fruitcake - A Christmas Baking Tradition

2014-10-20 14:53:16
© 2013 The Romantic Table

Fall! The Years Most Perfect Palette of Foods and Spices to "Dance With!"

2013-10-13 21:13:06
© 2013 The Romantic Table

What Your Immune System Needs to Guard Your Body of Winter Ills

2013-09-24 23:09:13
© 2013 The Romantic Table


As Summer comes to a close we must enjoy and savor the best-of Summer's produce and transition-in with some new favorites!

2013-09-02 21:08:59
© 2013 The Romantic Table


Santa Maria Style BBQ -A Barbecue Tradition Unique to The Central Coast

2013-09-02 23:32:13
© 2013 The Romantic Table

After a Long Illness, I'm Finally Back!

2013-05-17 19:50:35
© 2013 The Romantic Table


Living Well With Calcium

2012-05-05 21:35:53
© 2012 The Romantic Table


Past News and Article Archive Directory

A tip from Sue!

Save those Parmesan cheese rinds!

Save those Parmesan cheese rinds when you get through with a brick of Parmesan cheese! They can be used to flavor soups deliciously. Store them in the freezer in a plastic bag, and use as needed.

The Parmesan rinds give unbelievable flavor and soul to soups and will turn a bowl of soup into an "entree" worthy of any guest. I generally use about two ounces of Parmesan cheese rinds to a stockpot of soup. Add them in after you've added the liquid and let them cook along with the rest of your soup's ingredients. You won't be sorry!

read more:
Tuscan-Style White Bean Soup with Parmesan Cheese Rind