Posts Filed Under commentary

Calling the Brett Police on the Loire

Vinted on June 24, 2010 binned in commentary

Earlier this week, I shared a brief twitter exchange with Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth, kicked off by a tweet about a Chinon tasting that I noticed on James’ twitter feed:

“That was a tough flight – I’m more tolerant than most, but someone needs to send the brett police to Chinon…”

Essentially, James and I briefly discussed the fact that Chinon (in France’s Loire Valley) would be making some lovely Cabernet Franc-based wines, if only the fruit in those wines wasn’t buried under the smell of barnyard.

Yes, I’m talking about brett.  Again.

I can’t help it, I don’t want my wine to smell like poop, okay?  There, I admit it!

And with the samples coming my way lately from Chinon and nearby Bourgueil, poop is exactly what I’m finding.  Here are a couple of examples that found their way onto the wine “mini-review” feed:

  • 07 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon: With that much brett masking the red fruit, a more suitable name might be "Domaine Barnyard Baudry" $18 C- #
  • 06 Domaine Guion Cuvee Prestige (Bourgueil): Brambly red fruit & spice peeking out their heads from under a pound or so of fertilizer $14 C- #

James’ tweet really got me thinking that a) it’s NOT just me, and b) my samples might actually be indicative of the general quality of those regions’ wines.

Sorry to those who really dig Chinon, but I don’t subscribe to the belief that the concept of terroir extends to poop-aroma-inducing yeasts (and possibly dirty winemaking equipment).  When the day comes that winemakers deliberately cultivate the wild yeasts that induce those off-odors, and it can be proven scientifically, then I’ll stop calling it a flaw and instead refer to it as a poor winemaking decision.

But until then, it’s a flaw.

Cheers!

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It’s Time For the PLCB to Die (or “There is NO Cabernet Franc”)

Vinted on June 17, 2010 binned in commentary, PLCB

It’s been a while since I railed against the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Not that they haven’t deserved a good railing in the interim, I’ve just been busy with other topics, and the PLCB has been busy raiding PA bars at great taxpayer expense and with no justifiable reason, so they’ve been dealing with plenty of bad press anyway.

But this week, something got published that I had to rail against.  Because, quite honestly, the news is an embarrassment for Pennsylvania taxpayers whose hard-earned cash is going to help fund a government that is supposed to be controlling wine sales in the state, but instead is taking a puke all over customer service and adding almost no value to the average PA consumer.

This news comes by way of Lew Bryson’s excellent blog Why The PLCB Should Be Abolished (hey, at least you know where he stands), recapitulating a Scranton Times-Tribune blog article by David Falchek.  In said blog post, Falchek describes a friend’s encounter at a PLCB wine & spirits store in which a PLCB employee denied the existence of Cabernet Franc.

Not the existence of a particular bottling or brand of Cabernet Franc. The employee denied the existence of Cabernet Franc itself.

Yes, I am totally serious, and No, I have not been drinking…

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The Upside of Wine Globalization

Vinted on May 20, 2010 binned in best of, commentary

Yeah, I know right? 

There’s an upside to more and more wine being made more and more in an “international” style by more and more producers in more and more regions?

Yes, there is.  Yes, I’m serious.  No, I haven’t been drinking too much wine while writing this.

First, we need to explain what the “international” style is, which essentially is the advent in recent years of big, extracted, jammy, heavily-oaked, high-alcohol wine (both red and white).  Robert Parker, who is the “1” in the 1 and 1/2 of the wine critics that move the majority of the wine market (Jim Laube at Wine Spectator is the “1/2”), likes the style and awards it high scores, which in turn allow producers of those styles to charge higher prices and then the market takes over to influence other producers to follow suit when making their wines so that they can sell more and charge more, etc., etc., blah-blah-blah. 

The result, according to the detractors, is wine going the way of fast food, like McDonald’s taking over small family restaurants in Europe; everything becomes the same and we lose regional originality.

The whole phenomenon was more-or-less lambasted in the film Mondovino, which if you haven’t seen it yet, will give you a crash course in all things “style international du vin.”

Go ahead and watch it.  I’ll wait.

Done?  Okay, cool, let’s get back to what’s right about the Disney-ification and McDonald’s-ization of the modern wine market…

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