The Tasting Panel magazine

JULY 2012

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preneur now has a hand in a wide array of négociant projects, both in California and beyond. Phinney fi rst met Gott at the Palisades Market in Calistoga. "I went in to sell him my wines," Phinney recalls. The two hit it off. "Now our kids go to the same school, and our wives are best friends." The Shatter project ideally combines the dynamic duo's interest in exploring the wide world of wine and their commitment to offering consumers real value for their wine dollars. Shattering Expectations "Response to Shatter has been insane," Gott says. "Lots of markets sold their entire allocation in one day." Fortunately, Phinney notes, because it is sourced from across the Maury appellation, Shatter is a scalable project that can accommodate growing con- sumer demand. With a "treasure map" of the area's best vineyards provided by the local growers' cooperative, Phinney and Gott have access to untapped riches in the form of excellent Grenache. Case production of Shatter will increase from 6,000 cases in the current 2010 vintage (its initial release) to around 15,000 for the next release, reports Phinney. "Grenache has the potential to become the next hot topic," opines Gott. "Grenache is one of the wines that people truly get. To a lot of people, it's a new discovery, and it comes in lots of profi les." Phinney now owns 300 acres in the Maury appellation and fl ies to Roussillon a dozen times a year to keep an eye on his estate, which is managed by Brit expat and longtime Maury resident Richard Case, his "man on the ground." Outside observers have called the region a "baby Priorat," and chances are that with the likes of Phinney and Gott, as well as other local and outside winemakers, bringing it wider attention, it may soon explode the way Priorat did a decade ago. The new wine may shatter sales records while simultaneously consumer ideas about Roussillon, which has, until now, mainly been known for sweet vin doux naturel wines. But don't count on Shatter being the last joint project from these two ground breakers. As Gott puts it: "There's a lot of inexpensive Grenache out there." Grenache in Perspective To get a market-savvy take on Dave Phinney and Joel Gott's up-and-coming Grenache projects, we spoke with Bob Torkelson, President and COO of Trinchero Family Estates. THE TASTING PANEL: What's the value in a large company like TFE creating partnerships with freewheeling "little guys" like Dave Phinney and Joel Gott? Bob Torkelson: I suppose you could consider Joel Gott and Dave Phinney "little" when it comes to overall case output. But in my mind, they are giants when it comes to passion, creativity and understanding the premium wine consumer. In our experience with Joel, he has become an unselfi sh advocate for our premium wine portfolio. We have learned an enormous amount from Joel and his team. Dave brings experience in an important wine producing country like France and helps us frame it in terms that American consum- ers can understand. Working with these guys has been a dream for our organization. TTP: What's the future of Grenache with the wine-drinking public? BT: The fl avor profi le is hot, as is the category. At the retail level, it's growing at nine times the rate of total table wine.* All three of our Grenaches mentioned have distinct profi les and appeal to consumers for specifi c reasons. Shatter, from France, not only offers wine drinkers an outstanding Grenache, but the opportunity to enjoy the unexpected region of Roussillon and the low yields of the Maury vineyards. For The Show Garnacha, we source the grapes from the place where Garnacha was fi rst born: Calatayud, in northeastern Spain, which produces some of the highest-quality wine in the country. Garnacha accounts for more than half of the region's production. The Grenache grapes in Joel Gott's Alakai come predominantly from Pelkan Ranch in Sonoma's Knights Valley, from Sarah Gott's father's vineyards, giving the Alakai a soft, fruit-forward taste. TTP: What's the strategy for marketing wines like Shatter, Alakai and The Show? Are these on-premise brands or off-premise performers? BT: The three wines have very different strategies. A luxury wine, Shatter appeals to sommeliers and wine connoisseurs, although it is still a fantastic value at $29.99 SRP for the Shatter 2010 Grenache. Small-production, unusual wines from cult-like winemakers are typically a "hand sell," and we expect Shatter to do really well on-premise and in fi ne-wine retailers. The label, with its broken/shattered glass photography showcases Dave's artistic style and imaginative approach for which Orin Swift wines such as Prisoner are well known. Joel is a master blender, so Alakai is Grenache at the core but also has small amounts of Syrah, Mouvèdre and Petite Sirah blended in. It appeals in fi ne wine shops and on-premise, but is also is at a price which make it accessible by the glass in restaurants. The Show Garnache is an exceptional value and is experiencing initial suc- cess in the retail level, some of which may be a result of the loyal fan base of The Show Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. The March launch was well timed as the demand for Spanish wines has increased, especially Garnacha. Spanish imports dominate the Grenache category with 91% of the retail dollar volume*. TTP: How would you sum up the TFE-Gott-Phinney partnership? BT: We are excited and honored to be working together with Joel and Dave. Shatter is a great fi t for our expanding luxury portfolio. It is a truly innovative wine from an unheralded region of France, created by two of the wine industry's leading personalities. I am confi dent that this collaboration is going to produce some amazing wines, and we are going to have fun doing it. *Nielsen, U.S. Food Stores, 52 weeks ending 5/26/12 july 2012 / the tasting panel / 53 PHOTO: COURTESY OF SHATTER WINES

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