Wine Talk

Snooth User: Bob Fyke

Cali-phobe seeks help

Original post by Bob Fyke, Jun 29, 2010.

Being a fan of Pinot Noir from Burgundy, Cabernet and Merlot from the left and right banks of Bordeaux and Rhone varietals from, you guessed it, the Rhone valley, I've had trouble finding wines that I really like from California. Sure there have been a number of very good, and occasionally great, bottles, but my experience has been about a 20% approval rating, tops, for the Cali wines that I drink. So I'm trying not to feed a predjudice that's been forming in me and I need your help.

Help me find California Pinots that don't taste like cocacola, Cabs that aren't flabby (and don't cost $300)....I think you get the idea.

What have you enjoyed from the left coast that honors the styles in which these grapes were first brought to prominence? Thanks! -Bob

PS- I like Zin for what it is. I don't need to be sold on this one. It already has a place, albeit limited, in my consumption habits.

Replies

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Reply by outthere, Jul 3, 2010.

Marcassin being a Calistoga winery didn't ring my RRV bell. Kind of like the first time you asked me about Rivers Marie. Helen definitely has a winner there.

Re ACME - Different Wagner

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Reply by outthere, Jul 3, 2010.

Jumping off topic for a minute. Those of you looking for a Cali Chard that's a real artisan wine should check out Wind Gaps 2008 "Yuen" James Berry Vineyard Chardonnay. Nice break from the typical butter and oak bomb. Made in concrete tanks with absolutely no oak or butter. Refreshing pale straw with pear, apple and citrus flavors low alcohol tangy but not astringent. Just a pleasure to drink. Enjoyed last night with chicken kabobs.

We now return you to your regular programming.

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Reply by sksandhu72, Jul 3, 2010.

Two very good california merlots that I have enjoyed are Mushal Merlot 2006 , and Kenwood Merlot 2004.Both excellent.

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Reply by dmcker, Jul 3, 2010.

Marcassin is a winery I've always associated with The True. So I looked it up, and it seems it's registered in Windsor, but the wine's actually made at Martinelli, since the operation doesn't have its own winery. The grapes all come from her vineyards or some of Martinelli's. Here's a little bit more info.

Rivers-Marie does have that Napa connection, of course, though the wines are also from the Sonoma Coast....

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Reply by dmcker, Jul 3, 2010.

I believe, sksandhu, you're associated with Mushal? What can you tell us about how the merlot is made?

Separately, you ask in another thread about roses from merlot. You should check out those from Bordeaux. I've had several in France. They, IMHO, can serve as a good reference for refreshing wines that go well with food. I just ran across one at klwines.com for under $10 a day or two ago that you could easily try....

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Reply by outthere, Jul 3, 2010.

"Marcassin is a winery I've always associated with The True. So I looked it up, and it seems it's registered in Windsor, but the wine's actually made at Martinelli, since the operation doesn't have its own winery. The grapes all come from her vineyards or some of Martinelli's. Here's a little bit more info."

Darndest thing. I drive by it twice a day and had no clue. Marcassin has a Calistoga mailing address so I was confused. I knew the grapes came from my side of the hill.

Rivers Marie has a Calistoga mailing address as well.  Then there is the Turley connection as Thomas Rivers Brown and Scott Zeller of Rivers Marie worked together at Turley.

6 degrees of separation at work.

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Reply by MarkAse, Jul 5, 2010.

I'm not sure if I brought it up here, or elsewhere in regard to a different style Napa Cab....but we've worked with Vellum Wines some over the past couple of months and have been very impressed.  First vintage, Napa Cab made with higher acidity and sits (if memory serves) at just below 14% alcohol content, making it probably more old world in style.

 

Definitely check out Demetria on the central Coast for a more traditional Pinot.

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Reply by WineoftheMonthClub, Jul 6, 2010.

As far as Pinot Noirs go, I would definitely recommend the 2007. Claiborne & Churchill from Edna Valley (which is a great grape-growing area with a cool climate). Every single wine I've ever tried from Claiborne & Churchill has been fabulous. I've found that it's harder and harder to find a Pinot Noir that tastes like a Pinot Noir in a price range you can afford, but the Claiborne & Churchill really tastes like Pinot Noir, and a meaty one at that: bing cherry, lots of spice and cinnamon clove, cotton candy, and little bit of strawberry. It retails at $22.95, but if you log onto our site, you get it at the reorder price of $13.99.

http://www.wineofthemonthclub.com/product/v510e/member_reorders

The 2008 Redwood Pinot Noir (from Lodi, California) that we offered in February was also phenomenal, but unfortunately we're unable to obtain anymore from the winery.

 

 

 

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jul 7, 2010.

Wind Gap is definitely making some interesting wines, and a bit of a departure from the Pax wines many may be familiar with, Pax Mahle being Wind Gap's proprietor and winemaker.

 

That Vellum cab sounds like something I'd be curious to taste.

 

Sometime in September shall we do an "old World" Cali tasting here in NYC?

 

 

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Reply by outthere, Jul 7, 2010.

Slightly edited for content:

"Sometime in September shall we do an "old World" Cali tasting out there in NoCal?"

Sounds like a great idea Greg ;-)

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jul 7, 2010.

That is another great idea!

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Reply by Tazza, Jul 7, 2010.

The whole point of having wines from different parts of the world is that they are DIFFERENT.  If you can only drink French wines, then just buy French wine.  You sound like someone who has travelled to China and is asking why he can't find authentic South Carolina BBQ.  You are not supposed to.

Almost by definition, given that the Californian climate is completely different to France, the wine should be different.  If you are asking for CAREFUL and WELL CRAFTED US wines, the list is absolutely enormous. I suggest you consult Robert Parker or Jancis Robinson.

If only a $300 bottle is good enough for you but you can't afford it, I suggest that you try and make more money.  There is no reason why Californian wineries is beholden to you, when they can keep the most sophisticated and discerning drinkers and critics happy.

The idea that the French has defined what a Cab should be is ludicrous.  I am European and love French wine, but find this pseudo-snobbish behaviour from someone who knows so little quite obnoxious.

You obviously have no clue on the impact of climate.  If you did, you will know that as you go further North e.g. Oregon or Washington State, the wines will be more temperate and "French" like.  Pinot Noir from Oregon has been destroying the best from Burgundy since the 1970s.  You clearly have not heard of the famous Eyrie Vineyard vs. Drouhin blind tasting.

Please get an education before you try and be sophisticated.

 

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Reply by dmcker, Jul 7, 2010.

Tazza, dial it back a bit. Bobbbc's concerns are legitimate, and I think you're mostly having discussions with yourself about your own battles with snobbishness, and trying to figure out whom to believe in the seas of wine-related verbiage out there. Neither RP nor especially JR have any kind of monopoly on understanding what's best, or problematic, about winemaking in California. Far from it. Nor is climate (or 'terroir') the only issue in play.

To paraphrase you a bit, 'please get a deeper understanding of yourself and the subject (and of polite forms of forum discussion) before you try and be sophisticated'...

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Reply by Bob Fyke, Jul 8, 2010.

Greg- I'm down! We could do it at Sojourn if you like. Shall I start a thread in "Events"?

 

Tazza-  I started this thread because I wanted to open my mind to the possibilities in California, and correct a predjudice that I saw forming in me. Maybe you should do the same. Jeez!

 

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Reply by outthere, Jul 8, 2010.

Sojourn? Sign me up.

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Reply by Bob Fyke, Jul 8, 2010.

Tazza- FYI - "...for well over 20 years, my tastings have consistently revealed too many California wines that are not made but manufactured. Excessively acidified by cautious oenologists and sterile-filtered to the point where there is no perciptible aroma, many wines possess little flavor except for the textural abrasivness caused by shrill levels of acidity and high alcohol...excessive levels of green, astringent tannins." Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide, 6th ed. Pg. 1185.

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Reply by Andrew46, Jul 8, 2010.

Tazza-

"You obviously have no clue on the impact of climate.  If you did, you will know that as you go further North e.g. Oregon or Washington State, the wines will be more temperate and "French" like."

While climate is clearly a big factor, the winemaker's choice of how ripe to pick the fruit has a major impact on the flavor profile as well.  Other choices by the winemaker also have a big impact.

I think that the point system, along with the fact that wineries are selling in tasting rooms without food has lead some winemakers to in CA to sell to the lowest common denominator:  Soft wines with RS, low acid, high alc., and almost no unique varietal character.  The increasing use (over use?) of additives may be a contributing factor as well.  When moderately informed wine drinkers can't tell a pinot from a merlot, or a syrah, (and I have seen this) something is causing the wine to become too homogenous.

A big percentage of wine is being manufactured to taste like the winemaker thinks the public and the writers want it to taste, rather than expressing the individual traits of the grapes.  That is business.  A good way to sell wine.  A bad way to make interesting wine.  My 10 cents.

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Reply by Bob Fyke, Jul 12, 2010.

Here's the thread to put together our Old World Cali dinner. Who's in?

http://www.snooth.com/talk/topic/old-world-cali-off-line-nyc-september/

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Reply by No43036, Jul 19, 2013.

I second Markase's suggestion of Vellum Cabernet Sauvignon.  Excellent and done the "old way."

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Reply by JonDerry, Jul 21, 2013.

Another fun old thread to go back and read...I always forget about Foxen.



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