The Vintage From Hell? More Dispatches From The Vineyard

Vinted on November 15, 2010 binned in California wine, wine news

Remember how the Northern California 2010 vintage was kind of “difficult?”

Oh, right, it’s impossible to avoid that news lately… not that I’m complaining, mind you (it’s better to have a bit too much wine coverage than too little!), nor am I trying to minimize or make light of the plight and hardship faced by those in N. CA whose grapes didn’t fare the strange growing season well.

Further developments on the harvest have been trickling into my (poor, overworked and overburdened) e-mail Inbox,and one note in particular regarding the 2010 vintage situation caught my eye: that at Hidden Ridge, whose wines, you may remember, I quite enjoy.

The title of the email was “Sonoma County’s Hidden Ridge Vineyard Will Not Harvest This Year Due to Inconsistent Growing Season” which I suppose just about sums it up, but here’s an excerpt from the dispatch for the curious:

Hidden Ridge Vineyard Proprietors Casidy Ward and Lynn Hofacket, along with Winemaking Team Marco DiGiulio and Timothy Milos, today announced that they will not harvest any fruit from the Hidden Ridge Vineyard in 2010 season because of this year’s inconsistent growing season…  This year’s late season, followed by recent rains in Northern California, resulted in fruit that was not up to Ward and Hofacket’s standards for their vineyard’s eponymous wine label. While it was difficult decision to go without a 2010 vintage wine for Hidden Ridge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, which retails for $40, the choice is in keeping with the proprietors’ commitment to produce only the best wines possible from their vineyard.”

This got me wondering… since Hidden Ridge recently took the bold (but successful) maneuver of reducing their prices (without impacting quality one iota), are they in a good position to weather (sorry…) the financial storm of not producing a 2010 bottling? Given the limping state of the economy, is anyone?

I, for one, sure hope so.

But there’s a more insidious side to this crazy vintage coin.  Actually, there’s three other sides (this is a very oddly-shaped coin):

  1. It’s a chilling indicator of the areas that didn’t fare well over the past growing season in Northern CA.
  2. It’s an obnoxiously powerful reminder from Mother Nature that she still rules the roost, and when she wants to take her ball and go home, well, dammit, she’s just gonna take her f*cking ball and go the f*ck home.
  3. It’s a timely warning to us consumers that while it’s very likely that there will be other N. CA producers who come to similar conclusions as HR about the state of their fruit, they just might decide to bottle it anyway

In the immortal words of Mr. Mike Brady, “Caveat emptor…”

Cheers!

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Weekly Twitter Wine Mini Reviews Round-Up for 2010-11-12

Vinted on November 13, 2010 binned in wine mini-reviews
  • 09 Maculan Moscato Dindarello (Veneto): Flowers & citrus are nice, but cloying banana-candy flavors do not a good vintage make. $18 C+ #
  • 06 Hesperian Harry’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Go west young man, & find tannin chains long as the Alaskan pipeline. $60 A- #
  • 09 Toquade Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley): NZ passion fruit comes to Napa, with a French twist of lemon & herbs. In a word: Fantastic. $20 B+ #
  • 08 Zilliken Butterfly Riesling (Mosel): Puts a white peach in your nose, a lemony zing in your step & only little dent in your wallet. $16 B #
  • 08 Caduceus Sancha (Arizona): Dusty, brooding & dark-fruited proof that Tempranillo can, in fact, feel at home somewhere in the U.S. $59 B+ #
  • 09 Arizona Stronghold Vineyards Nachise (Arizona): Fierce as its namesake. Dig the dusty, coffee notes but longing for more red fruit $19 B- #
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Blood Into Wine Into Badge (Reviewing Arizona Wines)

Vinted on November 12, 2010 binned in crowd pleaser wines, wine review

I know this end-of-week segment has tentatively been reserved for wines of the week, but so far I’ve featured wines not actually reviewed during the week in question, and in this case I’m giving a badge to just one wine and not multiple wines… so let’s just agree that some re-branding might be in order, ok?

The thing is, I keep encountering cool and interesting wine shiz that I want to share, like last week’s T.A.S.T.E. mini-bottle craze and the wines of Paul Dolan, so let’s also just agree that we’ve started an anti-segment and get on with it, ok?  Ok!  Excellent!

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk Arizona.  As in, Yes, Arizona is making wine, just like the rest of the states in the U.S.

Of course, when you tell someone that you just tasted some (samples of) AZ wine, and just watched a (review copy) of the film Blood Into Wine (which chronicles in vastly-entertaining-but-sometimes-too-advertisement-like-fashion the work of rocker Maynard James Keenan and winemaker Eric Glomski to put AZ on the fine wine map), invariably this is the response that you will get:

“Maynard Keenan? Isn’t that the dude from Tool and Puscifer? Arizona makes wine?  WTF?”

At least, that’s been my experience.

Based on the similar befuddled reactions of my friends, I can only imagine what the AZ wine industry has to endure every day when asked about their efforts to bring fine wine recognition to the state. My guess is that Napa makes fun of them, all isn’t-that-cute-little-brother style, like the way that we treat Canada most of the time. As my friend Alder Yarrow said during his cameo in Blood Into Wine (paraphrased): I taste a sh*tload of wines every year “and 99.9% of them are not from Arizona.”

Based on what Glomski and Keenan are doing, however, I am wondering if that situation may change in the not-too-distant future…

Read the rest of this stuff »

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