More stuff I learned at the Riverside International Wine Competition:
• Minneapolis-St. Paul is a whole heckuva lot like Los Angeles when it comes to consumer demographics. A SoCal wine buyer painted the El-Lay of the land like this: “You basically have three groups of avid consumers. Some just come and buy cases of wines they really like, many of which are commodity wines. Then you have the small group of people who usually love Burgundy and Barolo and riesling and show up at all the same events. And then there are the ones you never see, because they’re private collectors buying direct or on the gray market.” Sounded very familiar.
• India’s growing season is winter, because summer is monsoon season. Kerry Damskey, who consults for a number of Sonoma wineries (including Minnesota-owned Gustafson Family), also makes wine in southern Asia. He said Thailand, Brazil and other tropical Northern Hemisphere wine regions have the same kind of inverted season. The main grapes he uses in India? Chenin blanc and Thompson seedless.
• At an otherwise very collegial gathering, provincialism occasionally reared its head. During the sweepstakes (a taste-off of the double-gold winners), a California winemaker at the next table proclaimed, “Minnesota red table wines, how am I going to compete with that?” I shan’t relay his name, largely because we were at the end of two long days of tasting and hey, sometimes Californians don’t spit enough 😮
• I have a new travel target: the island of Pantelleria, closest to Tunisia but part of Sicily. A cohort was there a few years back and talked rapturously about the stark physical beauty and especially the isle’s most renowned foodstuffs: capers and an amazing dessert wine called passita de Pantelleria, made from the muscat of Alexandria grape. That’s more than enough to get me there.