Monday, February 2, 2009

Bill Kniep of Pinnacle International on the 2007 Southern Rhone Vintage

Work seems to keep piling up: I still haven't gotten to my notes from Friday's tasting and I have an email from Doug Frost on the quality and consistency of wine judges that I need to post as well.

For right now, I'll post a short note from Bill Kniep of Pinnacle Imports, who was just in the Rhone on a buying trip.

Recession Busting Wines: What Can't Miss in 2009.

It seems like you can't turn on the radio, TV, or open a newspaper without the current fiscal crisis being the only topic for discussion. Our industry is facing the challenge of adjusting to a new public state of mind. We have had a wonderful run at Pinnacle selling some of the most exciting luxury wines in the world, and will continue to do so in the future, but "The Cutting Edge", is always changing. We have been very fortunate to have caught the front end of several exciting trends in the wine biz over the years. Pinnacle was the first distributor to focus on artisanal Pinot Noir before the Sideways craze. We pushed deep into the Spanish and Argentine markets before those categories really took off. The big question for today is, of course, what's next? People are not drinking less wine, but they are trading down a price category or two and are much more aware of great bargains.

In 2009, the best bargains in the world of wine will be found in one place: The Southern Rhone Valley.

I just returned from a week in the Rhone and I can say without any hesitation that the hype this vintage is generating can not be overstated. The wine critic Robert Parker has already gone on record calling this the greatest vintage in his long history of tasting in the Southern Rhone. The wines are staggering. I've never tasted more lots of Grenache that have achieved such a perfect ripeness. This is a vintage of black fruits and spices, flowers and fatness. The sauvage aspect of Chateauneuf and Cotes du Rhone is only a supporting player in 2007 as the wines achieved such perfect ripeness. I have never tasted CdP this good, and this comes on the heels of a series of very successful vintages for the region.

Combine a perfect vintage with the fact that these wines are among the most undervalued of the great wines of France and you have a recession proof category that should have the largest growth of any category in the industry this year. Pinnacle Imports will be on the point with these wines. We have added a new supplier, Alain Junguenet's Wines of France, which specializes in the Southern Rhone. He represents about 10 of the top 20 producers in Chateauneuf, as well as many more from other nearby regions like Gigondas, Lirac, Vacqueyras, and many more. We will be debuting many of these wines at our World Tour celebration at the end of March. Wines of France, in conjunction with our established suppliers of French wines, Martine's and David Shiverick Selections, will provide our customers with the ability to fulfill all their needs in this hot category.

In order to make these wines even more spectacular values, we will be buying direct from France in early April and passing the DI savings on to our customers. We have never purchased DI from France before as the cost of full containers of French wines is very high. However, we feel, that with the economy in such a tight place, we need to do everything we can to help our customers maximize their profits in 2009. We are assembling a pre-arrival offering that we will begin to present in the middle of February as prices are finalized. Save some serious budget for these wines, they are a once in a lifetime opportunity.

-Bill Kniep, President, Pinnacle Imports


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