Monday, April 26, 2010

Never Underestimate What Your Customers Can Handle

Jura Whites – they’re not the easiest whites to love on first sip. Reds from this region – a totally different story. Leaving aside those hankering for big, extracted monster-truck wines, many Jura reds can easily please both wine geeks and regular-ole-wine-drinkers (like my mom.)

The whites, not so much. Here are some of the typical descriptors:

  • Jura twang
  • Oxidative Sherry kick
  • Rancid walnut
  • Walnut polish
  • Raging acidity
  • Burnt sugar
  • Briney / salty
  • Stinky
These are not words that send most people racing out to buy a bottle.

So as you can imagine, these wines need to be sold very, very carefully. If you bring a bottle up to the counter, we’ll likely ask you if you’ve had a Jura white before. If you haven’t, we’ll mention the distinctive “Jura twang” (credit for this phrase goes to my Rosenthal rep, Clarke.) If that doesn’t scare you off, we’ll sell you the bottle with a warning to open it well before you want to drink it. Like maybe a day before you want to drink it.

But they are wonderful wines that are distinctive, thought-provoking and go blissfully well with Comte cheese, fondue, and anything earthy and creamy and rich. And we had just gotten in the latest arrivals from Jacques Puffeney – his Melon Queue Rouge, Cuvee Sacha, and Savagnin. And we wanted to open them. So we did – at last week’s Thursday tasting.

Now I fully expected lots of wrinkled noses at first Sherry-scented whiff. Like I said, these are not easy wines. And an in-store tasting, even with a hunk of Comte cheese on offer, is a brutal setting in which to first encounter them. But…people liked them! They really liked them! Some were thrilled to find a white wine they really enjoyed. Many started off unsure about what they were tasting and smelling, but worked their way through the three wines, increasingly intrigued by the unusual textures and tastes. Everyone seemed to appreciate the opportunity to try something different and unusual and relatively rare. (I’d say no one spit the wines out, but that’s not much of an indicator because no one ever spits anything out at a store tasting.)

These Jura whites rank up there with the Lopez de Heredia Rosado, Dard et Ribo St. Joseph, and Foundry Viognier for most surprisingly well-received warning-label-required wines. More proof that it’s best not to underestimate what your customers might like.

Hmmmm…perhaps it may be time to break out the Americano.

1 comment:

Swirl said...

I have to admit that I first ordered this wine (at Bouchon, in Yountville) just because it was called Cuveé Sacha--my name and spelled correctly. To my delight I actually really enjoyed it. (Self esteem is a good thing.) Although it has an oxidized flavor it remains fresh and is endlessly complex. I had it again with oysters at The Hungry Cat here in LA and it was a great match. Happy to hear you are a fan.