Of Alcohol, Cali Pinot and Jokesters

Being as personally familiar with the players in this story as I am, my take on this is simply that Adam Lee (owner of Siduri, and subject of the article linked at this story’s end) has suffered the same fate as most vintners attempting to sell products designated with  Peter Cargasacchi’s vineyard nicknames. Peter’s moniker on a label has forever resulted in lackluster performance at the cash register. Simply stated, Lee’s switching of labels proved THAT more than alcohol preferences.

Parr knows full well the marketability of each and every one of not only the wine-makers who were in attendance at the event discussed in the article, but likewise the consumer demand for each of the vineyards represented in the winemakers’ portfolios. Whether or not Parr carries any number of the numerous Kosta Browne pinots throughout the various restaurants he manages, in other words, doesn’t mean he isn’t intently familiar with the fact that KB’s Keefer Ranch designated wine is one of the most sought after vinous specimens on the planet. Slap a Keefer Ranch designation on a wine and you, as a wine-maker are practically guaranteed a cash cow.

Conversely, primarily due to the inherently graceful, elegant, properly balanced and, well, Burgundian nature of wines resulting from the fruit emanating from Cargasacchi-designated vineyards – Pinot Noirs so unique as to stand out from a crowd of primarily jammy-flavored specimens dominating the landscape out West – Parr and others (including yours truly) suffer consumer resistance when selling wines nicknamed for Peter against his California brethren’s.

And while no man can know another’s inner intentions, as a learned man of the vine, Parr performed brilliantly. Knowing full well the strength – alcohol-wise – of a Keefer-designated wine (no matter from which wine-maker’s stable such a wine is born), pre-determined to remain true to his convictions, he identified and offered to commercialize the Cargasacchi product; also keenly aware of the latter’s reputation.

Lee, on the other hand, proved nothing with his exercise. For as long as I have known his products, I have known them to be designed in the precise manner as several, if not the vast majority, of his peers – that it to say, in the jammy-styled category. This preference for fruit first, typicité later runs consistently through Lee’s offerings to include the Cargasacchi label, unfortunately. And I say unfortunately because the difference between the two styles – Cargasacchi and Keefer – is similar to Volnay and Nuits.

And if you can switch labels between a Volnay and a Nuits and not have a seasoned palate discern the difference, the joke is on the label switcher, NOT the taster.