Carlo Hauner in 3 Vignettes:
I. I’m sitting in a wine bar at the counter by myself and two Paso club-members walk in. Now, before we go further, I must explain what *Paso Club-Member* entails. I have an international audience, and I am sure you have all heard of Paso Robles–possibly even tasted some of the wines, but unless you have drank heavily from the Paso trough or live in the area, ‘Paso Club Memeber’ might not have the weight on you I mean it in this context. Paso Club Member is the lowest-common-denominator of wine enthusiast–and don’t get me wrong: they are VERY enthusiastic. They worship over-stuffed, bullshit-fruited, hi-pH, low acid 15.2 pancake syrups and will challenge anyone to fisticuffs who dares speak out against this formula. So… I’m sitting in a wine bar drinking a glass of Hauner Hiera and two Paso Club Members walk in. They start to order glasses. “Can I taste this?” “Can I taste that?” sort of thing and one of them goes, “What are YOU drinking?” Well, here’s the problem. I’m drinking a brilliant, funky Euro $25 blend of grapes they never heard of and it is one of my favorite wines on the planet. So what do you say? I decide to go with the truth. “EYE am drinking a BRILLIANT little Sicilian red blend grown on vines that crouch in little gravel pits against the winds and it is packed with miserably funky fruit, light, red, and taut–just a blistering wine.” Knowing full well Hauner Hiera is the absolute PERFECTLY OPPOSITE wine ANYONE who is a fan of Paso Robles would drink. “Can I try what he’s having?” and five minutes later they are BOTH drinking full glasses. SOLD.
II. An enlightened friend of mine who runs a wine bar in a part of town heavily frequented by tourists from areas of California with restaurants whose winelist’s contain, “Red, White, and Blush,” indicated one day to me he needed a new wine. “Something Euro… a little bit funky, but with incredible fruit. Something the tourists will devour and the snobs will enjoy. Although personally I would love to serve them, Chinon and cru-bojo are too weird. It has to be approachable from the non-informed. And 25 bucks.” I muddled things about a bit, throwing various offerings of the afore-mentioned two appells out before hitting LIGHT BULB. “I have it,” I said. “The perfect wine. Gorgeous fruit, a little dusky and woody, gobs of funk, bright, light and acidic while still heavy-handed in all the right places. Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee, and has THE most GORGEOUS label EVER and a wonderful story–because you KNOW we can’t sell wine without a story–from Sicily, where the vines grow in little gravel depressions on the wind-swept mountain like on the Canary Islands. Call Wine Warehouse and have them set you up.” Couple days later he rings. “I have four cases coming–it better be good!” Couple days later he rings. “This shit is DELICIOUS! And it SELLS!”
III. I’m sitting with my bottle of Heira and the table next implores, “I’ve never heard of these grapes. What is that?” He continues by introducing himself as “Tolosa club members” and I had already done a judging inventory of the wines they were drinking. “Try this,” I offer him a splash. “WOW! That’s GOOD!” and immediately orders an additional bottle. “This is fucking DANGEROUS wine,” he exclaims. “I could chug BOTTLES of this! And I can’t imagine a food it wouldn’t GO with!” And another fan is registered. “What a BEAUTIFUL WINE!!! I’ve never had anything LIKE this!” SOLD
As to the Saint Just pictured, the same person–someone who considers themselves well acquanted with Cab-Franc–read the label and took a whiff and astoundedly studied the label again, finally slowly and carefully admitting, “I have never had Cabernet Franc anything like this.” Yes, I said, you are used to the Bordeaux-versions of the grape–as are popular throughout California–but this is Loire-version cab-franc–you won’t find anything like this in Paso Robles OR Napa. “It has an incredible nose!” He continues. “I can’t quite explain it, but there is just so much LIFE to this wine. I’ve never tasted anything like it! I NEED to know where to buy this wine.”
Stardate: 567934.5 And we are continuing to influence the locals as to real wine the entire world has been enjoying for centuries but Central California ignores almost completely. Bottom line: You CAN sell these wines to the tourist crowd. They just need the proper introduction. Second bottom line: Stop selling the safe usual wines! Bring in the funky Euro’s and people–the right people–will be blown away by them.