Is wine made for tasting or drinking? Would you want to drink more than a glass?
This was a discussion I had with Tim Johnston at the infamous Juveniles Wine Bar in Paris, which has an excellent wine list that is based on the premise that you would like to order another glass! He is obviously of the opinion that an extra glass is good for business and buys wine accordingly, yet still interestingly!
It follows that, at a recent high profile tasting in West London attended by wine makers and wine journalists, we were treated to some top dollar Californian Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Cabernet Blends.
Whilst we could all see the qualities of all these wines, the Zinfandels and Cabernet blends are some of the finest in California and delicious to taste and even at their fairly youthful stage, good to drink. It is the Chardonnays and many Californian Chardonnays that I have issues with. In the glass they were aromatic, rich, oaky, complex and hugely concentrated. Fruit and acidity were perfectly balanced, alcohol, medium to high, wine-making was technically superb. Great to taste! Drink more than a glass? Not sure!
Would these Chardonnays be suitable as an aperitif wine? No! Typically aperitif wines are light to medium bodied, fresh, often high acidity, unoaked, sometimes fizzy and envigorate the pallet.
Would they go well with food? Not so good with oysters or other seafood, too powerful for many white meat and chicken dishes; perhaps something spicy, though it wouldn't be my choice!
Are they meant for ageing? The top of the range do age. The acidity softens, but the oak becomes more dominant and the fruit dissipates. I prefer them in their youth when the fruit is still primary and vibrant but only one glass!
So what is the point? Why make such wines?
Is it to score Parker points? Wine Spectator points? The wines sell very well worldwide, though the quantities produced are small, somebody must drink them! I wonder how many purchasers have tasted it before purchasing. Do they buy them because of the reputation of the reds? How many purchase further cases/bottles?
These were very fine wines, but wouldn't you rather drink a glass of delicious, unoaked, elegant, medium bodied, low to medium alcohol Chardonnay from the Macconais at one third the price and then have another glass?
written by zee , January 11, 2010
John Mariani, writing for Bloomberg, also comments on Californian wines in his predictions for 2010:
California, alas, will fail to back away from big, high alcohol, oaky reds and whites, because the producers believe that is the style most Americans prefer over subtlety and complexity. The problem is that cheaper wines of this style are so often dreadful, out of balance and undrinkable after one glass. California wineries talk a good game about finesse, but then they overripen their grapes and stick them in new oak for too long.
The full article is here: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/...bKB8AIKJJc