American Trousseau back on the table

Eric Asimov writes his column today (though it was posted online last week) about the tiny amount of Trousseau production in California focusing on Arnot-Roberts and a few others. I tried the wine last summer when I visited the winery and tweeted about it. Bryan Garcia raised the question of price, wondering if it was worth it when it cost more than the wines of the “Jura masters.”

A post here from last year generated interesting discussion around the question of relative value and whether if you’re a Trousseau lover, you feel obliged to support domestic efforts. Sam Herron commented then, “no I do not think I have any obligation to buy domestic wines, well priced or not…I wanted to jump on the Arnot-Roberts bandwagon after your posts because they excited me, but their prices are just too much.” Bob said, “I agree wholeheartedly with Sam. That being said, today I bought a Dolcetto from Bonny Doon for $20. I don’t even pay that much for an Italian Dolcetto.”

Uff the fluff opined: “For American wines one has to simply ignore QPR – sad, but true.” Evan Dawson said “No obligation. As a consumer, though, you’re limiting yourself if you don’t acquire a strong knowledge of what is available locally.”

Since Asimov didn’t address the question of value or who is buying it beyond a handful of winemakers, consider this a corollary and a chance to join the discussion from last year. What do you think–who’s buying domestic Trousseau? Would (relative) price drive your decision to do so, or your desire to support something domestic that’s different?

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6 Responses to “American Trousseau back on the table”

  1. It seems to me that QPR and supporting domestic producers are separate issues. Living in Vermont, we have every opportunity to buy what we eat and drink from local folks. It costs more than buying at the supermarket. Is it worth it? Probably depends on whether or not you get a good feeling by supporting locals who are providing your food. If the products are poor, no one will experience a warm feeling supporting the guy that made it regardless of price. So the QPR must somehow relate to how high is the Q to justify a high ratio. For me, once I lose the connection to the individual(s) making the products, I could not care less if the products are domestic or not, and hence the QPR becomes a more important factor.

    I believe that for many people, buying a wine at its best price is at least as important as QPR. No one wants to overpay. We developed a website,, which provides accurate price comparisons for email wine offers (where the best price deals are found) in order to lower the P. And we check each offer for professional ratings in order to increase the Q. So I suppose one might say we help increase QPR.

  2. […] Vino chimes in on Eric Asimov’s recent piece about California […]

  3. Eric’s article highlights a problem with much of wine journalism these days–any sense of wine history, especially as it relates to California wines. In the late 1980s, the Benziger family made Trousseau for their Imagery Series as did Ken Volk when he was at Wild Horse Winery. Those wines made regular appearances on the shelves of San Francisco retalers. They were the true pioneers of the varietal and their work to keep the grape alive in California should be recognized as much as the newbies.

  4. It’s not as though Ken Volk or Joe Benziger actually paved the way for Trousseau, or Barbera or Touriga for that matter. In fact regarding Trousseau, they are the pioneers who couldn’t carve a home in the market for whatever reason -popularity, style, QPR, etc. The A-R boys on the other hand are one of a handful of winemakers working with a small quantity of those less ubiquitous varietals and trying to pay homage to the actual grape, rather than the overall fad of producing homogenous, oak-influenced, extracted, alcohol bombs for the Wine sAdvocate or the Speculator. That they travel to the regions of origin to learn from the land and the vignerons like Jacques Puffeney -not to copycat, rather to gather information- on how to better produce wines of distinction from their home soils is a more important quality than just choosing to try a hand at a different varietal. And touching the topic of price… their single-vineyard cabs and syrahs may carry a hefty mark, but those are wines to be laid down for a decade and the price explains that by keeping away the supermarket wino. However, the trousseau is quite well priced for what it is – a unique small production wine, well representive of the varietal -made without typical additives like yeast and enzymes and tartaric acid and handfuls of SO2- by some gregarious fun-loving wine-drinking, bike riding cowboys who don’t own their own vineyards and therefore have to price their wines to sustain themselves as well as insure the market will spread enough of their craft across the continent to gain some popularity by consumers who are more aware of what they imbibe than the afformentioned

  5. Hi all,
    A few thoughts on this. California is hard place to make wine due to real estate costs; they are locked into specific models there that keep prices high. Not all the trousseau is that expensive (wind gaps Gris was pretty cheap – 25 or so a bottle). Some Cali wines show amazing qpr; but are quite hard to get (La Clarine farm) and still quite well priced. As for Evans comment; I agree- here in NY we have some great producers, but I think we should still be trying to determine grapes to fit our terroir- trousseau might be a great option; and would be fun to try, Mondeuse comes to mind as well. . . . Evan- Anyone making these in NY?

  6. We bought Arnot-Roberts Trousseau because obscure grapes being grown in obscure (for that grape) places by elite winemakers almost invariably produce interesting wines. We can worry about QPR if we’re buying it a case or two at a time, but things like A-R Trousseau we buy two or three bottles at a time. Btw if you think there’s no QPR in California, look into the Anderson Valley, especially Navarro and Claudia Springs.


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