If you’ve been to your favorite wine shop lately you’ve probably noticed a brighter interior than usual. That’s because smart wine merchants are redeploying their stock, putting new spring and summer white wines on prominent shelf space and reducing their big winter reds.
It’s a good sign. With the warm weather and al fresco entertaining on the horizon, it’s a good time to stock up with Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Soave Classico, Vouvray, Riesling and other great summer sippers.
On the other hand, the changeover also presents a prime buying opportunity for lovers of big, rich red wines that make winter meals so pleasant and enjoyable.
This, my friends, is a good time to study the pricing on shelves. If you see a favorite selling at a bargain price, grab it. Pay particular attention to Italian, Spanish, Chilean and Argentinian reds, which represent the best of the high-quality values.
Good deals on California reds are out there, too, but they are harder to find and for good reason: They’re in demand worldwide. When this happens, pricing usually is on the side of the seller. Here’s a fact: In 2012, U.S. wine sales from all production sources — here and abroad — hit a new record of 360 million cases, up two percent from 2011, with California wines numbering 207.7 million cases of that total (58 percent). Total sales amounted to $34.6 billion, with California’s share hitting $22 billion.
California’s winemaking innovation, particularly with red blends, has captured the interests of vineyard owners across the globe.
One foreign innovator who began experimenting decades ago — the House of Antinori from Florence, Italy — will be holding a deluxe wine tasting on Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. at the Wine Connextion on Main Street in North Andover. The event is free and Salvatore’s of Andover will supply hors d’oeuvres.
I am planning to attend the event, to meet Antinori wine expert Aldo Rafanelli whose roots are in America (Chateau St. Michelle Winery) and has worked for the large Italian wine producer for 26 years. I am also hoping to find some good values in Antinori’s extensive menu of red and white wines. If you are interested in cellaring some good red wines for next fall and winter, this event is the place to be on Saturday.
The House of Antinori has produced high quality wine since 1385. In the 1970s, under Marchese Piero Antinori’s leadership, the winery sparked the “Super Tuscan” revolution by producing superb Sangiovese blends using Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. My favorite is the lush Tiganello. A close second is Il Bruciato, which is a Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah blend. As for a transformative white wine, there is nothing better on a sunny afternoon with lunch than the elegant Villa Antinori Bianco. This smells so good in the glass — white flowers, pineapple, peach — it’s hypnotic. It’s a great blend of Tuscan Trebbiano, Malvasia, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Riesling, the latter giving it a crisp, zesty snap at the finish.
So I will definitely be in a buying mood on Saturday. If you see me in the crowd, please say hello.
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