How many cult wines can dance on the head of a pin?
There’s this blogger, Sean McBride, a Brooklyn lawyer, whose site is called Slaked! (I love it.) He recently posted a list of — well, in his own words, “the past year’s release schedule of a number of California Cult wines.” Sean warns that his list may not be complete and may even be inaccurate, but that’s beside the point. What struck me was how many wines he identifies as cults: about 100, by my count. (Some of the wineries are listed more than once, because they release different wines.) They’re mainly from California, with some Oregons and Washingtons; nothing from anyplace else, so far as I can discern. (You mean there’s no cult wine from Alaska? Paging Gov. Palin! How about a North Slope Todd’s Vineyard Moose Block Clone 4 You Betcha Cabernet Sauvignon for, oh, I don’t know, $150, proceeds to the Palin 2012 committee?)
I was surprised at the extent of Sean’s list, mainly because I’d never tried to make one of my own, but I can’t really argue with any of his inclusions. There really are a lot more than when the term “cult wine” came into popularity, in the 1990s, when there were maybe 10 or 12 in contention. Sean puts onto one page the West Coast’s equivalent of the Classified Growths of Bordeaux, of which there are about 61. So there are roughly the same number of West Coast cult wineries (as determined by Sean) as there are Classified Growths.
Any such list raises complicated questions.
- How does a winery get on the cult wine list?
- What keeps a winery off it?
- Can you buy your way onto it?
- How do you stay on it once you’re on?
- Is the list meaningful?
- Do millennials and younger wine lovers care?
- How will the list change in 5 years?
I invite your comments.
P.S. How many lists can dance on the head of a pin?
I swear, every blog in the world has been publishing top 10 lists as we careen into year’s end. I promise not to have any — this year. No guarantees for 2009. Meanwhile, this interesting list just came in from the respected winery P.R. professional, Kimberly Charles, on the top beverage trends. Check it out. We’re certainly seeing them in San Francisco. I might add a few more:
- unoaked white wines from lesser-known varieties like Albarino and Verdelho
- lower prices
- lower alcohol wines
- continued growth of Pinot Noir
- rejection of cutesy critters and colorful vehicles etc. on wine labels
- contined migration of wine P.R. to blogs and the Internet
- even cult wineries have their work cut out for them