Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Backlash in the Offing?

I begin this blog (indeed, the activity of blogging altogether) with a question: is there a reaction a-brewing against the prevailing winemaking wisdom which emphasizes power, concentration, ripeness and, sadly, high levels of alcohol?

The answer seems to be, at the moment, "Maybe."

Restaurateurs and retailers here out west are beginning to notice a few things which may indicate the affirmative. While several possible reasons suggest themselves (fatigue, faddishness amongst folks looking for the new and different in all things, etc.), I think the most important is a growing and savvy sector of the wine-drinking population interested in wines that come from somewhere other than California. Particularly interesting is the connection being made between certain varietals not normally seen in California winemaking (like Albarino and Gruner, to name two from these past summer months) and their traditional homes. This has led, I think quite naturally, to a heightened interest in the rest of the wine world - a good thing in a state that tends naturally to be most interested in its own produce.

Yet this interest in the rest of creation has also led also to a greater interest in wine and wine-making STYLES and FLAVOR PROFILES not normally associated with this state's wines. (I'm sure I've had a "delicate, feminine, nuanced Napa Cab recently, but by gosh I can't remember it.) So if a sector of the California winemaking establishment takes note of this, and creates wines for some of those interested in these new/old wine profiles and styles, so much the better, and so much the richer for all of us.

But, as they say, the jury's still out. We will watch this space with great interest.

1 comment: said...

Thank you for posting this commentary. It was good to see. You would think that a drink which enriches companionship and moves us to merriment would not stir this much fervent opinion.

I am glad that you recognize the role of high alcohol as byproduct of the pursuit jammy flavors and I agree with your contentions that those of us who speak for more composed and food-friendly wines are seeking variety in the wine world and value for a hard-earned dollar.

I am putting together a project called “project23” the purpose of which will be to get winemakers to explore a style of wine made a different way. For this year, I might get 1-3 2007 wines made to project23 parameters. In addition, there are 2 or 3 producers who will submit library wines as conversation starters. I invite any and all discussion: