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September 12, 2010

I may not have a lot of great qualities, but dammit, I’m loyal.  I met my best friend when I was seven years old, and we’ve been like brothers ever since.  I’ve watched every single episode of more television shows than I care to mention.  And I’ve had the same favorite soda for over thirty years.

Brands are important.  I spent over ten years helping marketers build brands, nurture existing brands, and redefine older brands.  Without brands, it would be nearly impossible for consumers to distinguish between multiple versions of similar products.  Soap would simply be soap.

There are many brands of consumer goods that I regularly buy.

Heidelberg bread, Stonyfield yogurt, Tuttorosso canned tomatoes, Carnation malted milk, Frank’s Red Hot, Fox’s U-Bet, and Polar seltzer are just a few.  If I’m drinking cola, it’s Coke.  If I’m eating ketchup, it’s Heinz.

But when it comes to wine, I’m incredibly fickle.

In the last Ask the Profussor I alluded to this in an answer to a simple question by Wendalicious:

I have very few brand preferences when it comes to wine.  Primarily because there is just so damn much of it out there.  There are so many small producers that occasionally one will find in a good wine shop that it pays to keep trying new things that come along.

That said, there are a few wineries that I love, but those have as much to do with memories of consuming their wine and visiting their vineyards as it does with the juice in the bottle.  But that sounds like another post.

This would be that post.

There are pros and cons of drinking around.  Getting exposure to a broad range of wines really helps to expand your perceptions of what wine can be.  But that comes at the expense of getting to know a few wines intimately.  If you drink the same few wines year after year, and at the same time tuck a few of those same bottles away for the future, you get to see how climate changes, the vintner’s craft, and time influence the wine.

Coincidentally, just yesterday the FUSSYlittleBLOG got a mysterious trackback on the subject of favorite wines.  And it just so happened to be the reportedly favorite wine of Berkeley’s own Alice Waters, and one of the perpetual favorites of Berkeley wine merchant Kermit Lynch.

As far as brands of wine go, I have one clear favorite and one runner up.  They are both nestled in my favorite part of Northern California’s wine country, the Anderson Valley.

The Anderson Valley is off the beaten trail.  In fact, the only way to get there is on small curving roads, which thus far has seemed to keep the big tour buses away.  It’s also a bit further away from San Francisco, so the people who make the trip really want to be there.  They are not just tourists who hear that it’s a lot of fun to spend a day wine tasting.

Out there the climate is a bit cooler than in Napa or Sonoma, which makes it ideal for Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir.  It can also grow Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, which along with Pinot Noir can be blended into lovely méthode champenoise sparkling wine.

Mrs. Fussy and I would stop in the valley during our frequent trips up the Mendocino coast.  Our favorite place to stop was always Navarro Vineyards.  Their estate-bottled dry Gewürztraminer has always been incredible.  But our love for the place goes beyond the wine.  It’s memories of bringing picnics to the vineyards, chatting with the incredibly warm and friendly staff, and picking up bottles to bring to our favorite bed and breakfast, which we drank on the porch while watching the sun set on the Pacific coast.

The runner-up is the American offshoot of the house of Roederer, Roederer Estate.  It’s the place where I actually tasted for the first time the difference between sparkling wine in a regular bottle versus sparkling wine in a magnum-sized bottle.  But most notably, it’s the sparkling wine that Mrs. Fussy and I served at our wedding.

Its rich and round style and modest price tag of under $20 a bottle made it appealing for the occasion.  We also had a lot left over after the celebration.  And our first year of marriage was dotted with special and not-so-special occasions where we would open a bottle of our wedding wine.  The Anderson Valley Roederer Estate is so imbued with the memories of that time in our lives that it’s impossible for it not to have a special place in our hearts.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2010 10:27 am

    DB – By brand do you mean producer ? And, do you mean my favorite brand if I’m buying, or my favorite brand if you’re buying? (They would definitely not be the same “brand”.) Based on the info provided so far, I agree with Wendalicious. I like exploring. My “house red’ for dinner parties – Chateau Simard, the “house wine” at the old Le Pavillon in New York, allegedly chosen in part because it was easy to pronounce. Tastes good too.

  2. September 12, 2010 10:51 am

    PS –
    If you really think that exploring (drinking around) prevents one from getting to know a few brands intimately – suggesting that that the two are mutually exclusive – I humbly suggest you are not drinking enough!

  3. September 12, 2010 5:12 pm

    Its funny that you say Ketchup followed by Heinz. Because correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it originally catsup as a generic and ketchup was specific to Heinz? Sort of like tissues and Klenex?

    I agree in terms of wines. There are a few vintners that I like and will seek out. Instead I generally go for whatever is convenient with price, availability and suggestion (wine store owner, friend, blogger etc). All three of these being very transient things, I end up drinking a lot of different wines.

  4. September 12, 2010 6:48 pm

    Since the Mrs is in the wine game, it’s too easy for me to run off the rails and just start listing great bottles. Sticking with producers that I’d buy anything from:

    Dr. Loosen and J.J. Prum – Rieslings
    Royal Tokaji – Tokaji
    Château Carbonneau – Bordeaux Blanc
    White Dog Cellars – Central California reds and Sauvignon Blanc
    Marquis Phillips and Molly Dooker – Australian reds
    Thierry Allemand – Cornas
    Dampierre, Veuve Clicquot, Billecart-Salmon – Champagne
    Lucien Albrecht – Alsatian Cremant

    I’m sure there are others that escape me at the moment, but that list is long enough.

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