Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
http://www.sanfranmag.com/story/the-fru ... resistance
Above is a well written piece on the 2010 vintage as well as more opinions on the alcohol debate.
It appears as though we are at a tipping point and no matter what your opinion on the alcohol subject, there are certainly more choices than ever to be made.
Between this article by Jordan Mackay, NY Times (Eric Asimov), SF Chronicle (Jon Bonne), Wall Street Journal (Lettie Teague), the voices for lower alcohol are growing, reaching and preaching. Sommeliers are also growing in numbers across the US and seeking much of the same to pair with their cuisines. Twitter is yet another voices which continues the debate and spreads it even further.
While the biggest publication, The Wine Spectator has yet to say anything on the subject, maybe it's being penned right now? There is no question there is a demand for low alcohol wines. Do you think the biggest teacher will share the gospel.
Jamie, are these numbers by design...are you shooting for a target...or are you going with what Mother Nature hands you?
Alcohol percentages for the past six vintages of Kutch’s pinot noir:
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Good to hear from you Bill..
I don't understand your question but if you are asking if I did anything to the must to achieve those alcohol levels the answer is no. I picked early. I am picking on taste as well, I am not picking simply on numbers.
Just wanted to know if you started each of those harvests with a target ABV in mind with the intent of shooting for a lower ETOH and higher acid wine, or if you just rolled with what the vintage threw at you.
Lots of folks out there, I think, have a plan that they are after in regard to ripeness, acid, ABV, etc and can get creative to achive those goals....not that there is anything wrong with that approach at all. 12.8% is about the lowest I have seen that I can remember on modern wines of any varietal...again, nothing wrong with that at all.
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I don’t think the voice is that loud yet. If you are new to wine, you would prefer a hint of sweetness that comes from alcohol and jammy fruit doesn’t hurt either.
BTW if a wine maker wants high rating from Bob, go high alcohol or from Allen go low, pretty obvious. I will definitely buy/try Kutch wine to check where California can achieve phenolic ripeness @ below 13% alcohol.
The yields in the vineyard were less than 1 ton per acre. The soil is well drained. The hang time was incredibly long in 2010 so these factors enabled the 12.8% alcohol wine to be made. The same wine was made in 2009 from Falstaff. Finished alcohol was also 12.8% alcohol. After aging for 18 months in barrel though, the alcohol elevated to 13.2% (right now). It too had incredibly low yields.
Last year in Savoy I had a clone of Pinot Noir called Martini which simply never got ripe (to the taste). I picked it at 26 brix and it soaked up to 29 brix - 17+% alcohol (without any water). In that case picking early would have been meaningless as it would have tasted like a green stalk. Instead I watered back and sold off the bulk juice wine in barrel. Since 2007 I had scrapped 25% of almost every vintage and often even more of my wine to maintain what I believe in. Lower alcohol, balanced and really good wines. Even with the right site we are still weather and vintage dependent. On the other side of the pond and for an inverse view, 03 Burgundy is a perfect example.
I believe that this year's release of the Arnot-Roberts Clary syrah was < 12%--and it's delicious.
Wow. A domestic syrah under 12%...hell, under 15% is a rarity.
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08 North Coast from AR is 12.4. Also, Wind Gap Armagh 08 is 12.7. So much for Syrah being high octane :)
Jaime, lord knows I hope you are right.
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“I spent half my money on gambling, alcohol and wild women. The other half I wasted.” -WC Fields
Their 2009 Green Island Vyd. Chardonnay clocks in at 12.4%, and the 2008 Hudson Vyd 'North Block' Syrah is under 12% IIRC. Both excellent, flavorful, balanced wines. The low alcohol is largely a function of their decision to seek out very cool vineyard sites.
Jamie, do you do the same?
Jamie, I'm curious: Mackay writes that your change in preference for lower alcohol wines led to the style change. Has this been a struggle with pleasing your customers / people on your mailing list? In other words, did you have a core group of people come to know and love your '05 and '06 wines, only to be disappointed by your transition to figures in the 12 and 13% abv range?
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Good question Jon. My reaction was the opposite and the disappointment prompted me to miss the transition.
Interesting questions, Jamie, and one that only one person can answer, and I don't believe he will . . .
It is difficult to base any overall statements about 'the state of the wine biz as it relates to ABV's' based on the 2010 vintage. Many a winemaker was 'forced' to make wine in a certain style because of what Mother Nature dealt, not necessarily out of choice. Should the vintage have been similar to 2005, one wonders what many a winemaker would have done.
There is no doubt many a producer that is leaning toward making lower ABV wines with higher acid levels . . . AKA wines that will work better with food in general. And I do believe we will see this trend continue . . . but I do not see this trend 'taking over the industry' as of now. Will the general public enjoy a sub 12% alc syrah, especially upon release and just popping and pouring? No, they won't . . . and herein lies the problem. Some of these wines require longer cellaring times, and some requiring quite a bit of decanting or air time. The general consumer simply does not understand this concept, nor are we as an industry educating them as to why we do this.
I'm hopeful that markets will exist for all styles of wines for that is what makes our industry as 'entertaining' and enjoyable as it is . . .
I thought wine by the numbers was supposed to be bad?
"Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true." - Francis Bacon
"I had taken two finger-bowls of champagne and the scene had changed before my eyes into something significant, elemental, and profound." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Larry, you make a lot of good points.
In our "instant gratification" society, many people don't want to age a wine much past a couple of years and want to pop & pour....
I can appreciate various winemakers leaning towards making lower octane pinot, but quite frankly, many if not most of the pinot vineyards have micro-climates which do not support ripening at lower alcohol levels. Plus they often contain clones which also do not support ripening at lower Brix levels.
I believe the Kutch-Mon did his homework as to vineyards that would foster ripening at lower sugar levels.
Plus, many winemakers plan on picking very ripe grapes with the idea of watering them back.
So they'll never make lower octane wines.
I agree with you 100% that all types of pinot should be available.
Everybody to their own taste the old lady said as she kissed the cow....
You know my stance on 15% pinots (and chards for that matter)
Opinot, not Oporto...
With respect to Jamie's wines, the WA scores have gone up as the alcohol has gone down; although admittedly, only two vintages have been reviewed (the 06's and 07's - and of course there are other differences between the wines specifically and the vintages generally). It will be interesting to see what RP thinks of the 2008 and especially the 2009's and 10's. Regardless, I'm looking forward to the new releases. While I haven't barrel-tasted the newer stuff, I find the 08 to be packed with flavor and a fine achievement in a challenging vintage (and I'm not a low-alcohol missionary - last week's bottles included an Aubert Reuling and an Edmunds St. John Bone-Jolly and I had no difficulty enjoying them both).
My apologies for the over generalization. I was referring to 95+ RP, most if not all display sweet fruit expression.
I figure if both Harvey and Dr. J can give me 90/91/92 for wines that are 12.8 to 13.3 then things have begun to shift. Then again, they just might like pretty Pinot noir...
I should add that whole clusters soak up alcohol.
The World of Pinot Noir (WOPN) is hosting a panel discussion on this topic on Friday, March 4th at Wild Horse Vineyards in Atascadero. So far, Eric Asimov, Raj Parr, Jim Clendenen, Adam Tolmach. Josh Jensen, Adam Lee, and Michael Browne have all agreed to participate. It should be a good one!
I don't know that WS has been silent on this issue, but I do think that they have a vested interest thus far in the fruit bomb, if only slightly less so than the WA. I saw a James Molesworth editorial while perusing the latest Spectator at a restaurant the other day where he supposes the natural wine movement to be "dead on the vine" (his quote I do believe). While only an editorial, it still seems a shout out for the status quo of the past years of higher octane and seems to refute the idea of a revolution of finesse.
But mostly just look at this year's top ten list. While CA may be putting out the aforementioned lovely lighter weight Syrahs, WS has championed some very big-boned wines. Personally I wonder how many of these periodicals would still be listening to the band as the water washed over the deckchairs.
Re Adam's comments, are they really that great? I think it is fair to assume that as the US public becomes more knowledgeable about wine that they will also consider cellaring wine at a greater rate than before, that they will demand more properly aged wines from restaurants, and that, most importantly, they will pick the wine that is at the most appropriate stage of aging rather than simply shelling out for the biggest bomb in the book or on the shelf as so many have done for so long. Adam seems very sincere in his beliefs, but he also seems to believe that there is nothing wrong with extremely ripe wines, that the idea of natural wine is some sort of seditious plot against domestic winegrowers, and that the very concept of a movement towards lighter wines is anathema and should be shouted down. I do not agree with him on any of these things.
Many of Copain's 09 pinots came in around 12%.
"I have some sympathy for these people as I was once caught in a similar situation after using the wrong shampoo on a client's raccoon." -- Craig Gleason
"There is not an infinite linear progression of betterness associated with rising alcohol intake. There is an obvious asymptote, followed by a decline in betterness...." -- Anton Dotson
Just one quibble here. Do you really think that in medieval Europe most consumers aged their wines? Or even in the 19th century? I suspect only a minority of wealthy nobles with cellars aged wine. Most likely the average consumer (serfs and tradesmen, perhaps) bought wine and drank it the same day.
Probably what is new is that the modern equivalent of landed nobility expect high end wine to be instantly drinkable. But for the middle classes and lower, it's probably business as usual: buy, then consume.
In that way, he is like co
Michael...can you tell me for sure where this so called "movement" started? Was it the chicken or the egg? The winemaker or the consumer? I quite often feel this "movement" is about selling articles and selling wine...whether or not you believe in what you write or what you make. Please...educate me.
I'm not suggesting that you've over-generalized; but rather, noting that the generalization doesn't hold true with respect to Jamie's wines - or at least not yet, but it sure might after the 08-10 reviews come out (assuming that RP gets to them). After all, the 07 was still at 14.1%.
As someone who has tasted with Adam many times (And debated him many times on many subjects), he has no prejudice against lower alcohol wines and doesn't wear a tin foil hat. I also don't believe he particularly likes +15% Pinots.
Since 2004, Adam has lowered the octane on his Pinots and I find them to be balanced and rarely exhibiting heat.
Opinot, not Oporto...
2004 certainly was a pinnacle for many regarding alc%. Like you, I feel that there is a good variety of Pinot Noir styles on the market today, which I am certainly happy about.
WOTY: 1974 Franciscan Charbono
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I do not mean to insult, I think Adam makes very reasoned points which he truly believes in; I merely think that he often seems to become very sensitive, and yes perhaps too sensitive, when subjects like this are touched upon; And yes, I am very aware that he makes a wide range of pinots from a wide range of areas. Some I have liked, others I have found too sweet/ripe.
I don't know that I could "tell you where this movement started," but if I were to guess I would suppose that there is no real beginning, that there over the course of the past decade or two public taste favored high alcohol, very ripe, dense, concentrated, hedonistic, etc. wines, the type hyped by WA and WS, and that there were always those who bucked this trend and favored wines with less ripeness and concentration. For whatever reasons I also believe that the trend towards heaviness reached a maximum density, the pendulum paused and has begun to swing back with more interest gained in the lighter style of wine. But I would certainly hesitate to name a beginning, since so many winemakers, in the US and abroad, have never embraced a higher octane, sleekly smooth, internationalized style. But if you doubt such a style exists, or that a movement peaked and headed the other way, I would probably point to a region like Barolo, where it seems many producers have given up the modern style they picked up just a short time ago. Others here can speak more eloquently than I on that subject, but I see it mentioned both here and on other boards, as a good example of this phenomenon.
Of course you could mean some other "movement" perhaps the idea of natural wine, with all its inherent conflicts. I really don't want to digress into a fight for the same ground so often battled for here, so I will leave it at that. I'm not claiming I know, it just looks that way to me, in the time I have paid attention to wine.
In any case, I don't think that it is merely a construct of vintners or journalists that for a time there was a style of wine which became popularized that was very concentrated and tended towards high alcohol and that the style has since lost some popularity, particularly where it was ill suited to begin with, resulting in blowback and something of a return to a lighter bodied, lower alcohol style in the hopes of gaining nuance and delicacy in the exchange. None of this is whole hog, it is more like watching currents, but i feel very confident that this is clearly the case.
...and the band played on...
If I read one more article on the merits of New World Pinot noir using Burgundy as the basis of what it should be....
When did this stop being about having fun and appreciating differences (for both the wine and the company it is shared with)?
WOTY: 1974 Franciscan Charbono