A few months ago, at a Cabernet tasting at Bentley Reserve, I was struck by a wine which gave me a pause, it was the sort of wine one hopes to find and when one does, they just can’t believe their good fortune.
The wine spoke to me in ways that made the room quiet and my senses dance. Whenever I experience these types of sensory transformations, I instinctively know that it is a special treat.
This head-turning wine was offered by an attractive, thoughtful woman that looked more like a dreamy siren or romantic heroine than a vintner. She exuded this… luminescence. I fell in love with her silky, elegant, effervescent, meticulously crafted, quintessentially authentic, gorgeous Cabernet and with her vibrant, yet soothing presence.
Fast forward to tonight. My invitation read:
“Please join us at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant this October 27 from 4:30-7:30 PM. Kristine, along with Winemaker Philippe Melka and the Entre Nous team, will be pouring flights that include all of the estate wines: two vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon along with our Sauvignon Blanc and Rose.”
Firstly, I can relate to any start-up, however well-positioned, due a simple dynamic. The wordsmiths and the wine-smiths have a commonality of sorts – if we don’t connect with our audience, we are doomed to fail.
Kristine’s brand, Entre Nous was to be officially introduced to the world. How could I miss it? If you hadn’t guessed already the siren, turned vintner, is none other than Kristine Ashe, who is responsible for assembling an impressive team of Napa Valley heavyweights who helped elevate her magical estate fruit to withering heights.
Her vineyard manager is Jim Barbour.
Her winemaker is Phillippe Melka.
Her 2007 Cabernet is sold out. “Shocking”, I know:)
She credits “word of mouth” and the loyalty of the individuals that the brand attracted. She also credits her winemaking philosophy as well as being very price conscientious; not making the wines prohibitively expensive along with her runaway success. I have a slightly different theory.
In the highly competitive and crowded world of Napa Valley $100+ Cabernet and Cabernet Blends, a bottling has to be quite special to stand out; especially in these doldrums called “US economy of late”. It is no longer enough to have a pedigree, a stellar vineyard and a famous wine making consultant to attain “cult” status. To stand out requires an edge.
Paradoxically, the production costs are the same or more as previous vintages and 2010 was a challenging vintage to boot. The labor costs associated with vineyard stewardship didn’t change. Growers were required to make multiple passes through the vineyard to ensure proper canopy management due to heat spikes and walls of rain that spelled the looming danger of mildew. Barrel sales have slowed some but their prices didn’t go down, not to mention the consulting expertise that is in no less demand (or costly).
Yet the consumer’s expectations are at an all-time high. If they are to part with their dollars these days, they want an irresistible reason; an offer they simply cannot refuse.
These discerning consumers apparently went after Entre Nous with gusto.
Pages: 1 2