Transformation of the Central Coast – Part I

Up until recently California’s Central Coast has suffered from what some would call “an identity crisis”.  This was largely because a small number of large producers used the area as a source for a vast quantity of uninspiring, inexpensive wine.  It was also a region that large Sonoma and Napa producers used as a grape source for up to 20% of their Chardonnay blends.  Another reason that contributed to this apparent lack of identity was that as late as the 1960’s nobody had a clue as to which grapes to plant and where to plant them. Many producers tried several varietals in many different locations, but the end result was mostly nothing special.  When knowledgeable wine consumers sought out quality wines from California they looked for wines from Napa or Sonoma.  What the heck is the Central Coast anyway?  How can a region define itself when it stretches the length of one-third the state of California?  How could a region define itself when it originally tried to produce Cabernets and Zinfandels that could never compete with Napa and Sonoma? Today however, thanks to a number of unique and quality producers, as well as a better understanding of this large viticultural area, wines from the Central Coast are starting to define themselves and slowly, but surely finding a niche in the market place.

To be continued…in my next post we’ll explore a few of it’s valleys.

Challenge accepted!

I have been taunting my hoppy colleague, Tim for quite some time about the ‘overuse’ of hops (particularly in American brews).  Playing devil’s advocate, I’ve compared their use with the excessive use of oak in the wine world.  My suggestion wasn’t merely a simple taunt.  I was (and remain) curious over the role of hops in brew, particularly in American ones and how they compare with the use of oak in wine.  Some may find it silly to compare the two, but I really don’t think so.

Now just a little about myself for you brew folks… Continue reading Challenge accepted!

Bittersweet Emotion

Wine is personal. I’ve always maintained this, and, despite what we wine professionals tell you, wine is often more subjective than objective. Much of this has to do with how we relate to wine.

Some of my fondest wine memories are inextricably linked to people and places that I care deeply about.  It’s amazing how a glass (or bottle) can transport you to a moment in your past were your mind’s eye allows you to experience all your senses and memories as if you were really there. These memories are powerful, and they often come back to us when we least expect them and need them most.

Let me share with you some of my moments… Continue reading Bittersweet Emotion

Wine Existentialism

My fellow colleagues-in-wine and I are always discussing, debating, and arguing about hot wine topics.  Sometimes it’s about oak, over-extraction of fruit, old world v. new world, and of course…terroir.  We also discuss what makes a wine good and what sells, and we often find that the good wines don’t sell.

A couple weeks ago, Patrick wrote about Malbec and it’s rise and fall.  Weeks before, Nic wrote about the concept of terroir. These blogs are the result of our on-going conversations.  Both blogs got my attention. Continue reading Wine Existentialism

Is Terroir Losing Its Identity?

It has been a while since my last blog, and I would like to thank everyone who read it.  Hopefully it gave you something to ponder that was worthwhile. Thanks!

I’d now like to discuss something that’s been on my mind for some time, and that is Terroir and the misusage of that word by the “New Generation” wine drinker… Continue reading Is Terroir Losing Its Identity?

Culture and Wine

Wine is deeply affected by our cultural norms.  If you’ve ever had a conversation with me about wine and food or old world wines (Europe, & arguably South Africa) v. new world wines (anything outside of Europe, & arguably South Africa) you know that I have firm opinions on these matters.  I am a wine autocrat, and therefore am opposed to democratic ideals when it comes to wine.  Don’t make what the people want, make what’s right!  This is very French.

On the other hand, wine can be politically incorrect.  Wine is all about taste, and when it comes to taste, can anyone tell you that you’re wrong?  This seems to be more American idea, reflecting our democratic society.

What do you think?