On the road with Bieler, Smith and Gott

The wine world has changed, and for the better. How does the Wine Curmudgeon know this? Three of the best winemakers in the U.S. — all youngish, all talented, and all with top-notch cheap wine — did a media extravaganza in Dallas. That’s not an everyday ocurrence for people who make inexpensive wine, and especially where I am.

Even more impressive? Each, in separate interviews, said that quality cheap wine was the future of the wine business. Talk like that is going to put me out of business. More, after the jump:

Not that I would I mind a Wine Curmudgeonly retirement, secure in the knowledge that consumers could go to any retailer and buy $10 wine as well made as those from Charles Bieler, Charles Smith and Joel Gott. I’ve written about Bieler and Smith before, who make wine themselves — Bieler et Pere and Charles Smith Wines — and together as Charles and Charles. Gott’s wines haven’t appeared here, despite their appeal; blame it on “limited availability.”

And, over the next weeks, their efforts will show up on the blog — these are all $10 Hall of Fame efforts, and Gott’s sauvignon blanc is as good as any I have ever tasted. Now, though, it’s important to note what they said about the future of U.S. wine. Or, as noted on Smith’s website: “It’s just wine. Drink it.” Can’t you hear the shudders from the Winestream Media?

? “The next generation of wine drinkers, younger than 40, are infinitely more educated than their parents, more open-minded, and don’t have any preconceived notions,” says Bieler. “They like to experiment, no matter how weird or unknown.”

? “I started in retail, and I saw that $10 to $15 wine was the price that people tended to by,” says Gott. “So over the years, I’ve been very price sensitive. And that’s the feedback I get from people — quality wine at an affordable price.”

? “I want to give people access to great wine, and that means it has be priced fairly,” says Smith. “There has to be trust between the producer and the consumer. They need to be able buy wine that they would have paid $18 for, but that doesn’t cost $18.”

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