Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Plus ca change

I’ve long thought that some old-line Napa Valley wineries with established vineyards offer good relative value and quality, particularly in cabernet sauvignon. In Rutherford there’s Beaulieu, for instance, built on the pioneering efforts of Georges de Latour and Andre Tchelistcheff. Another’s Beringer, in St. Helena. Both have proven old vineyards without sky-high mortgages, and in the past have provided good fruit and superior wine-making at less than the cost of some more sparkly neighbors. Was this still their policy, I wondered.

Used to be, you could call up and just talk to someone knowledgeable, as human beings like to do. Well, times have most def changed.

BV was bought by Heublein and eventually by the conglomerate, Diageo. It took several phone calls to even find someone in Napa authorized to process a request for an interview. A young woman repeated everything I said and then told me to send her an identical email which she would pass along to superiors in... Connecticut. If I’m lucky someone there – possibly in Napa – will call to hear again what I might ask about vineyards and pricing.

Beringer was founded by the renowned Beringer brothers and then owned by Nestle before it was owned by the conglomerate Foster’s Group before it was owned by Treasury Wine Estates. I was unable to talk to a person in their sub-principality of Napa Valley, but a machine did assure me that I would be called back by someone or some thing.

Can’t wait.

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