The Biodynamics Debate: The Aftermath

Vinted on February 1, 2011 binned in best of, commentary, interviews

Over the past two weeks, I’ve posted podcast interviews with leading voices on both sides of the debate over the merits of biodynamic viticulture (if you’re interested in why I chose to tackle the BioD topic in this way, read the backdrop story line for the interviews).

On the “Pro” side, we’ve heard from International viticulture consultant Alan York.

On the “Con” side, BiodynamicsIsAHoax.com author Stu Smith has had his say.

Now that the views of both camps have been aired, it’s time to ante-up, slap the cards down on the table of philosophical vinous clarity, and voice some opinions.  What conclusions should we draw from the BioD debate, and what opinions have been shaped by the voices of Alan and Stu?

Does “ongoing confusion” count as a valid answer to that question?…

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Weekly Twitter Wine Mini Reviews Round-Up For 2011-29-01

Vinted on January 29, 2011 binned in wine mini-reviews
  • 07 Trivium “Les Ivrettes Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Tiny production; big-time concentration & complex, juicy flavor. $65 A- #
  • 07 Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay (Napa Valley): Enormous, but chock-full of tropical fruit & coconut complexity. +1 for wild yeasts! $60 B+ #
  • 08 August Briggs Old Vines Zinfandel (Napa Valley): Blackberry in a bit of a smoky haze, but still a friend indeed to game meats. $34 B #
  • 07 Newton Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): This dark currant, dark chocolate, dark *everything* ride gets a tad rough. $60 B #
  • 06 Twisted Oak Tanner Vineyard Syrah (Calaveras County): Offering largesse in its dark berries & leather, & largeness in its alcohol. $32 B #
  • 09 X Winery Nova Vineyard Zinfandel (Lake County): You’ll get cedar & jammy blackberry, but will feel every % point of its 14.5% abv. $19 B- #
  • 06 Twisted Oak Murgatroyd (Calaveras County): Prune, vanilla & currants make for the most fun U can have since Snagglepuss’ retirement $24 B #
  • 08 Banfi Chianti Classico: Socks aren’t going to be blown off, but pastas (& heavier wallets) will be enjoyed w/ this overachiever. $13 B- #
  • 09 Piedemonte Rosado (Navarra): After a sweet, rosy & inciting start, your relationship with this Garnacha rose hits a rough patch. $9 C+ #

 

 

Am I Alone In Thinking That Brett Is A Flaw?

Vinted on January 26, 2011 binned in best of, commentary, going pro, wine review

Ok.  I know I’m not totally alone in thinking that Brett is a flaw.  Or at least I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

Helloooooooooo?  Is anyone out there….???

The minor bought of vinous paranoia has to do with what seems like my inclusion in rarefied company, and I mean that in the “two percent of patients have a severe allergic reaction” sense or rarefied, and not in the “Emmy-award-winning drama for the seventh consecutive year” sense.  You see, sometimes, it feels like I’m part of a group, rather tiny in number, that thinks a certain range of smells – barnyard, band-aid, and (putting it in the most polite context I can muster) “dirty diaper” – aren’t indicative of terroir, or the almost-as-ubiquitous “character.”

Call it the anti-brett clan, maybe?

It’s the group that classifies the presence of brettanomyces (a yeast that imparts aromas of band-aid, barnyard, and sometimes meaty funk to wines) as… well, as a flaw.  No different than the unpleasant, musty odor cork taint, or the rotten-egg stench of sulfer.

Especially since, with increasing frequency, I seem to disagree with both the famous and not-so-famous wine critics and reviewers on how wines should be rated (in terms of recommending them to others) when those wine (to me, at least) very clearly display classic (nasty!) characteristics of brett.

I know that wine appreciation is subjective, and one person’s swill is another person’s prestige cuvee, but do people really enjoy the smell of band-aids and barnyard in their wines?  I sure as hell don’t – and while I enjoy a touch of funk in some of my wines (the kind that smells like Slim Jims, or smoked meat), my prevailing thought for some time has been that brett is actually a wine flaw – yes, even the interesting meaty funkiness that I happen to… well, not like exactly, but not hate, either.

I say this because brett yeasts cannot yet be controlled, and until such time as they can be controlled (so that winemakers can ‘dial-in’ the amount – and type, as there are many brett yeasts and they impart different ‘flavors’ of off-beat funk) then whether or not the wine has pleasant smoked meat characteristics or instead smells like one of my daughter’s diaper blow-outs is almost entirely dictated by chance.

The aspect that has me questioning my sanity in all of this is that other people seem to like those wines – lots of people… and in some cases, they seem to really like them.

Other people like Robert Parker and Stephen Tanzer, for example…

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