Who Imports This Delicious Wine?

I recently enjoyed a presentation and tasting by Small Vineyards, an American importer of unique, small production, Italian wines. The wines were spectacular, represented a wide variety of Italy’s DOCGs and DOCs, and were reasonably priced (sometimes surprising low). Small Vineyards is a creative importer with passion, smarts, and an incredible portfolio (they are also expanding into Spain and Portugal). It is exactly the type of importer I rely on to navigate the myriad international wines available in the United States.

As U.S. wine consumption continues to rise, consumers are exploring more international selections and are faced with the sometimes daunting task of consistently finding wines they enjoy. One effective way to filter through all of the clutter is to find a good importer. When you come across a wine you appreciate, find the importer’s name on the label and jot it down.

It is easy to locate their names and/or logos on a wine bottle. Some discreetly tuck their’s away in a corner of the back label, but others choose to make it more obvious, and easier, for the consumer. Small Vineyards, for example, prominently displays their logo in a gold oval just above the front label, as if to loudly proclaim, “we import this wine, we are proud of it, and we are sure you will enjoy it.” Try to get into the habit of recording these names whenever you’re enjoying wine: in a restaurant, at a party, wine tastings. etc. Keep a running list of importers or a collection of label photos in your phone, and you will eventually generate some duplicates. Of course, you can also ask your retailer for suggestions, and some of your wine savvy friends will enthusiastically offer their choices. Some of my favorites are Eric Solomon (Spain/France), Vineyard Brands (global), Ex Cellars (France/global), Vintus (global), Kermit Lynch (France/Italy), Jon-David Headrick (France), Grateful Palate (Australia), PortoVino (Italy), and Jorge Ordonez (Spain).

Some importers are particularly strong in specific regions and it especially helps to depend on them in more challenging areas. Most would agree, for example, that it can be difficult, expensive, and somewhat intimidating to navigate through the Burgundy region of France. You will certainly save a lot of time, frustration, and money when you find an importer you trust. Vineyard Brands’ Burgundy portfolio is one of the best in the business and their producers consistently generate praise and good reviews from the wine industry. Their list includes Etienne Sauzet, Vincent Dauvissat, Mongeard-Mugneret, Louis Carillon, Bruno Clair, and Vincent Girardin. I am also a big fan of the wines of France’s Loire Valley and Jon-David Headrick has put together an excellent collection from this diverse area.

Once you find some importers you like, go to their websites and explore their portfolios. You may be pleasantly surprised by some of the additional wines, regions, and even other countries they represent. It’s also a great way to learn more about the wines you enjoy, including such things as the exact blends, aging, and wood regimens.

I would never encourage anyone to completely rely on any one importer for all of their wine selections. They are, however, a dependable component of the selection process and you do not have to invest a lot of time to take advantage of their expertise.

(Disclosure: At one time or another I have sold the wines of all of the importers mentioned above and I am employed by a distributor that still represents some (not all) of them. It obviously gives me an important perspective into their operations and it is something I want to disclose to you. I welcome your comments.)

~ by Thomas on July 12, 2010.

One Response to “Who Imports This Delicious Wine?”

  1. Great post and thanks for the mention! We’re thrilled you like the wines and our approach to market.

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