Sunday, November 28, 2021

New Domestic Wines

One of our better suppliers specializes in some particularly tasty organically-farmed European wines.  That supplier recently sent us three domestics that fit their European paradigm.  Here's what we got:

2019 Bow & Arrow Johan Vineyard Melon.  Melon (me-LON) is shorthand for Melon de Bourgogne and that grape finds its fame in the coastal Muscadet district in the Loire Valley.  There it produces a light, sort of summery, shellfish-targeted dinner wine.  This Bow & Arrow Melon from Willamette Valley Oregon diverges from that type by being left on the fermentation lees for an extended time.  It is also left unfiltered.  The makers compare the wine to Burgundian Chardonnay and think it may hold for fifteen years!

2020 Broc Cellars "Love Red."  This is a North Coast blend of 52% Carignan, 42% Zinfandel and 6% Grenache.  The grapes are sourced from seventy year old dry farmed vineyards in Solano and Mendocino Counties and harvested early for acidity.  Following a carbonic fermentation the wine sees eight months in neutral French oak and concrete.  Its primary fruit character is blueberry.

2019 Ultraviolet California Cabernet Sauvignon.  This one is made by Poe Vineyards of Napa but 95% of it is Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the Red Hills (Lake County) AVA.  The remaining 5% is Napa Cabernet Franc.  It is made at the winery and aged in neutral oak.  Winemaker notes include flavors/aromas of blueberries, plums, currants, blackberry brambles, black pepper and violets.  The wine has a bright acidity, earthiness and persistent velvety tannins.

All three of these stress their organic bonafides including natural yeasts.  Poe concedes the use of some sulfur.  Broc says their yeasts and bacteria are in the grapes themselves and nothing else is added.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Time for Imports?

We've been hearing a lot of scuttlebutt around the trade about the problems in California; you know, the drought and the fires, and how winemakers don't have serviceable juice to make their products.  This industry has always had an uncanny knack for escaping historic calamities in the past.  It's actually inspirational the way they will work with each other to sustain a competitor who is in trouble.  I guess the idea is that the industry as a whole does better if there is a larger pie to sustain it.

So when we heard that certain large players were importing juice from South America to supplement their own, we thought, "Well, this is interesting."  Wine laws in America are purposely loose to protect wineries during rough patches like what's going on now.  If a winery produces a "Napa Valley Cabernet" fully seventy-five percent of that wine must originate in the Napa Valley appellation.  The other twenty-five percent can be from anywhere.

Smoke is the insidious culprit currently messing things up in northern California and it's pervasive.  If importing Chilean and Argentine juice makes sense to offset unusable smoke-tainted produce then you do what you have to do.  And we wish you well.  But for those wine companies who make their living by marketing "Napa" or "Sonoma" and always supplementing with lesser juice, then this isn't exactly a crisis.  It's a way of life.  Just more of the same.  Smoke and mirrors.  "Nothing to see here, please move along."

So here's the pitch:  We have invested in quantities of Alsatian white wines and Italian and Argentine reds.  The whites are traditional choices for Thanksgiving dinner.  The Italians were offered to us for holiday sippers with European tastes.  The Argentines are from Catena, the greatest producer of that country and would work fine for New World aficionados.  All of these are guaranteed to be non-smoked and may be served confidently with that holiday meal.    

Thought for the day: The assumption here is that the juice that is being brought in from South America is inferior to that from northern California.  What if it isn't?