Investigative Market Reporting

(Originally published March 2010)

Tanzer always starts off his wine reviews with a market report on the current “temperature” of the world of wine. Works for him, why not for Hanes? So, here is Hanes’s market report for Concord, North Carolina during the first quarter 2010.

Trending up is any bottle with the name “Markovic Estate” on the label. This producer from the Languedoc produces both a Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon which taste interchangeable. Both are juicy, sweet, soft red wines. They are apparently like liquid crack to the denizens of Concord, who buy these wines by the case, something heretofore never seen within city limits, where a customer buying 2-3 bottles of any wine at once seems like the commitment of a lifetime. Also hot is the new by-the-glass pour, Apothic Red from California. A blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and Merlot, it tastes like red-dyed oak and confectionary sugar and people cannot stay away, the tentatively purchased eight bottles for this new BTG special sold through in two days [note to Hanes, order full case this week]. Naturally this wine is sold by the distributor of Gallo. Holding steady and looking to explode with the warmer weather of 2Q/10 is the Argentinean blend of some kind of grapes that fizzes called “New Age.” Chicks really dig it, it goes extremely well with the snarky, backbiting conversations of young women who hide daily behind the façade of being “proper, polite Southern women.” Any cheap red Zinfandel under $12 is garnering substantial market share. Traditional brand leaders such as Red Diamond Merlot, Ménage-a-Trois red blend, 14 Hands Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and any wines labeled Layer Cake continue their unchallenged dominance. Sweet Rieslings have successfully fought off efforts by late harvest Chardonnay and local Seyval Blanc based blends to capture the fancy of most of the XX chromosome clientele. However, a recent surge in sales of Moscato d’Asti could point to a new champion during the second half of 2010. In the beer segment, Miller Lite has already shown renewed vigor going into the spring. Blue Moon is on the precipice of exploding into a leading position once more.

Trending down precipitously are any wines from Spain, red or white. Additionally, Italian wines appear to be stuck in the same rut as during the whole of 2009 with only sporadic signs of sustained life. Australian wines are dead beyond resuscitation and are being replaced by cheap domestic Petite Sirah. Hanes expects to see severe retrenchment of the whole rosé sector during coming months despite the fact that this would be the time of year when sales typically skyrocket. Sparkling wines remain in the doldrums, with only moderate sales, all under $15. Virtually all sales of bottles costing $40 or more are nonexistent, underscoring either continued fear among consumers during the economic downturn or the utter cheapness of anyone living in Concord. The sole exceptions are the brands that have earned their reputation for unparalleled excellence, particularly for Californian Cabernet, such as Caymus, Silver Oak, Plumpjack, and Jordan. Hanes expects these blue chips to fend off any challenges for the foreseeable future. The same can be said for Rombauer, Jordan and Sonoma-Cutrer in the ultra-premium Chardonnay segment.