In a world where wine is becoming increasingly demotic, we lovers of the “new old” need to remember to be fair and gentle with our fellows.
Last week, I inadvertently accepted an invitation to a preview of an outdoor weekend “wine fest” here in Houston. I won’t go into the details but by the time I realized what kind of wines were being poured, it was too late to decline politely.
The centerpiece wine in the tasting was a California red blend by a legacy Napa grape grower and winemaker and a celebrity tattoo artist.
Curious about the wine, I looked it up on the winemaker’s site. Here’s how the tasting notes and technical info read:
A robust, powerful wine with a big personality and a generous finish. It is big, bold and rich, with pedigree sourcing from California’s finest regions.
An eclectic blend of grapes deliver rich color and full-bodied flavors: red currant, black cherry and black olive. Soft tannins balance well with distinct oak flavors – French oak for vanilla and coconut; American oak for caramel, créme brûlée and coffee.
[The wine is made using] 31% Zinfandel, 23% Carignane, 12% Petite Sirah, 11% Malbec, 10% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot, 2% Mixed Blacks, 1% Ruby Cabernet, 1% Syrah.
In the age of the “new California” wine and in a time when fruit bomb Merlot and oaky and buttery Chardonnay trends seem to have faded among the wine intelligentsia, it may be hard for some — like me — to believe that wines are still made and marketed like this: “Big, bold and rich… with distinct oak flavors.”
But the fact is that the “big” California style still enjoys an immense and intensely loyal following throughout the United States.