“An exciting time” to eat, drink locally
DENVER – The DrinkLocalWine 2012 conference wrapped up today but it didn’t go without leaving many things to ponder about small wine markets and how they succeed.
Friday night’s opening dinner with the Guv was more than simply a photo op (for Hickenlooper and the DLW folks), as noted by state ag commish John Salazar, who was standing in the back when he quietly reminded a few of us how much Hickenlooper supports the ag businesses in Colorado.
“He’s got this feet in both worlds,” said Salazar, referring to Hickenlooper’s political demands and his respect for the citizens living on and working the land.
Saturday morning was filled with seminars, and they all offered great insights from very different perspectives. Evan Faber of Salt Bistro in Boulder is relentless in his support of Colorado wines and local foods, and this weekend DLW attendees saw a similar spirit revealed in Chef Jensen Cummings of Row 14 Bistro and Wine Bar in Denver. The two chefs shared a panel, along with René Chazottes of the Pacific Club in Newport Beach, Cal., on why local food and wine don’t like each other.
But you’d never know such thing was possible listening to Faber and Jensen, who spent most of their allotted 50 minutes arguing that local foods and wines both benefit from the growing locavore eat/drink local drive.
“It’s an exciting time to be drinking local,” said Faber, who along with Salt Chef Kevin Kidd headlined the 2011 Colorado Mountain Winefest. “People have a new sense of excitement and adventure when they go out to eat.”
And Jensen followed that with “people are getting more and more adventurous” when they go out to eat.
Curiously, or maybe not when you think about it, Jensen said in his hometown it’s easier to get tourists to try Colorado wines than it is to get residents to try their home-grown wines. Again, it’s that sense of adventure shown by tourists and missing in locals “just going out to eat, nothing special.”
One cure? “We have to get the wine in their mouths, get them to know it and believe in it,” Jensen offered.
And Chazottes reminded those listening who sell wine for a living, either in store or restaurant, that guests may come in expecting to find Colorado wines tasting just like their favorite (California, Oregon,. French, New Zealand, etc) wine. Make sure they know that the same varietals may and probably do taste different from different terroirs.
“Don’t confuse, don’t disappoint the consumer,” Chazottes said with his heavy French accent reflecting his old-world sense of respect for food prepared with care and grace. “Don’t drive a consumer willing to try something new back to something familiar.”
Which reminds me of a comment by Master Sommelier Sally Mohr about how there are way too many terroirs in Colorado to come up with a typical Colorado wine. More on that next time.