Useless California Vintage Reports: A Template

Vinted on March 11, 2010 binned in best of, California wine, commentary

I get my fair share of wine samples, with a large proportion coming from California.  This is due mostly to proximity (regional wines), as well as the fact that the CA makes the vast majority of U.S. wine, hence the large number of CA samples stopping on my doorstep.

Most of those CA samples come with some form of wine information / tech sheets, and when they do, those tech sheets almost invariably contain a vintage report.

An utterly useless vintage report.

The vintage report is often utterly useless because no one ever says anything except that the grapes ended the vintage with optimal ripeness.

It’s become a joke for me, a game almost, to see if any of these press release vintage reports would ever admit that the grapes absolutely fried on the vine this year, or that they ended up greener than an under-ripe banana. It will probably never happen.

So I decided to do CA wine PR folks a favor, and I’ve created a template below that can freely be used as the vintage report for any CA wine! I’ve taken some minor liberties, primarily to make the choices sexier, because let’s face it, sex sells even when it comes to vintage reports.  If you’re in PR, you can simply circle the appropriate response and not have to bother with the rest!  Anyway, you can thank me later!…

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Size Matters (Tackling A Faust 2006 Double Magnum)

Vinted on March 10, 2010 binned in commentary, learning wine, wine tips

Just when you think that the topic of wine is starting to make sense and really come together for you, you’ll probably encounter the convention of naming large format wine bottles.

That should put you firmly back in your lowly place, since the convention of naming bottle sizes carries on the storied wine tradition of utilizing differing standards in order to confuse the living hell out of you.

I’ve been “thinking big,” as in large format bottles, since I recently won a 3L bottle of Faust 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet via the Palate Press Wine For Haiti auction.

The bottle is gorgeous (see inset pic).  The trouble is, I don’t know what to call it.

Before we get into that, I should tell you a bit about Faust itself, I suppose.

Faust is the brainchild of Napa legend Agustin Huneeus, who started up Quintessa, owns Veramonte, and had a hand in making other stalwart Napa wines like Franciscan.  It’s a big wine, but balanced and tight as a drum early on due to it’s massive, dark structure.  It’s like the Darth Vader of Napa Cabs, and is (more or less) Quintessa’s more-affordable-but-still-pretty-damned-good “second wine.” Damned-good… Get it?  Faust… damned… Ok, I’ll stop now…

As far as the 2006 goes, it’s 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 3% Malbec, and 1% Cabernet Franc – all from Agustin’s family vineyards in Rutherford and Atlas Peak.  As far as Hunees goes, according to the Faust website, “He also believes that numerical ratings, as they are used today, are an aberration.”  Strong words.

Interestingly (as far as the bottle size discussion goes), I first tried this Faust vintage (via sample) in a 375 ml half-bottle.  I’ve yet to have the wine from a “normal” 750 ml.

Anyway, on to the good and the ugly of this situation…

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The United Slurps of America. Also, Some Organic Wines Still Suck

Vinted on March 9, 2010 binned in organic wine, Penns Woods, pennsylvania, wine review

Actually, let’s take those in reverse order.

Here’s the deal – I have a love/hate affair with organic wines.  I love the fact that they’re organic and environmentally-friendly; I hate many of the wines because they’re not any good.

And I’m convinced that enough wine consumers have reached a similar conclusion that they actually avoid buying wines labeled as Organic, which is why many good wines that could be labeled as officially organic don’t bother to mention this on their labels (see Alder Yarrow’s take on the subject of Organic wine labeling).

It’s not all organic wines that suck, and there are many excellent, premium wines that farm organically or biodynamically.  But the extreme cases have a loooooong way to go before they will appeal to the average consumer.

Take Stellar Organics for example.  Amazing things they’re doing for the environment and their community.  BUT… they make a line of ‘No Sulfites Added’ wines (essentially, the only sulfites in the wines are those produced naturally in the winemaking process), and the samples I tried of those wines just aren’t very good.  To the mini-review tape:…

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