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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Offering the counterpoint to last week’s discussion of Biodynamic viticulture with consultant Alan York, we continue the coverage of Biodynamics by talking to its most vocal critic in the U.S.: Smith-Madrone’s Stu Smith, who, aside from making some very tasty conventionally-farmed wines in Northern CA, is the author of the controversial blog Biodynamics Is A Hoax – the title of which pretty much tells you where Stu stands when it comes to the debate on BioD.
In our podcast interview, Stu braves being under-the-weather to talk about why he felt the need to create his anti-BioD blog, explain why BioD might not be as beneficial to the environment as you might think, all while we alternatively compare Biodynamics to religion, the autism / child vaccination debate, and the recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars (roughly in that order).
It’s a fun and controversial listen, and I hope to discuss and debate several aspects of it with you all in the comments. Get those headphones ready and Buckle up for this ride!
1WineDude Radio Episode 5: Stu Smith Talks Biodynamics
I’ve got a pair of tickets to give away to the upcoming Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah event in Alameda, CA on February 18th – and they might just have YOUR name on ‘em!
The Dark & Delicious event is organized by P.S. I Love You, which is probably the world’s most passionate collection of fans and promoters of the powerful wines made from the Petite Sirah grape (interestingly, we can go back in the annals to the very beginnings of 1WineDude.com and find me professing myself as one of the lovers of PS). Here’s how Jo Diaz of www.wine-blog.org and the uber-promoter of all thing P.S. I Love You describes the event:
“There are 48 wineries pouring their Petite Sirahs, with nearly 30 foodies, creating foods to go with Petite Sirah. This is a medium-sized event (about 800 people attend), and most of the winery owners and winemakers are the ones pouring their wines.
February 18, 2001, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Three hours of wining and dining, free parking, all for $63.00 per ticket, at Rock Wall Wine Company in Alameda… Overlooking the San Francisco Bay skyline. The only restriction is that attendees must be 21 years or older to attend.
The foods being offered are well beyond bread, crackers, and/or cheese… People enjoy delightful meals, which also finishes with eclectic chocolate companies. The quote from Tom Merle says it best, because he’s been to every event in the SF Bay area… ‘You offer far more real gourmet treats than any other of the marketing association tastings.’”
You know the drill – the giveaway covers the event tix only (sorry, no travel or any other expenses), and to enter you need only comment on this post with a Petite Sirah recommendation for your fellow 1WineDude.com readers. On Friday, January 28 at 6PM ET I will randomly select one commenter from this post as the winner (who will be notified via e-mail).
Cheers – and good luck!