HOME > Chowhound > Wine >


California wine? Down the drain

Very appropriate article in today's Los Angeles Times:


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Interesting. And terribly true.

    "The Battle for Wine and Love -- Or How I Saved the World from Parkerization." - this I gotta read!

    1. Feiring perhaps makes her point a bit too strongly (not ALL California wine is bad -- there's good stuff if you look past the big producers), but she completely nails the qualities I despise in left coast wines. I'm so tired of overpriced tarted up wine that tastes as sweet and as artificial as cherry cola and is so high in alcohol that it burns going down.

      I hope people like her and (NYTimes critic) Eric Asimov keep speaking out against this awful stuff. Maybe they can help turn the tide.

      1. Thank you for this very interesting post RicRios. I found the article very thought provoking.

        When I first became very interested in wine in the early 1990s, I was an unapologetic California wine booster. I loved the big fruit, and I loved the hedonistic fruit bombs that were New World wines. Zinfandel was a real revelation for me, and I was invigorated by the Ravenswood motto "No more wimpy wines". But these wines are hard to match to a lot of food, and I've come to appreciate subtler, more complex wines that are terrain-driven.

        My purchase of California wines have dropped significantly in the last decade partially due to lack of availability (Quebec has a limited selection of California wines), but mostly due to increased prices. I used to be able to find some real treasures for $20-40. Nowadays, I am finding it harder to get a decent bottle that hasn't been over-manipulated to extract too much fruit and alcohol and oak. I haven't bought a California Cabernet Sauvignon in several years, nor a Chardonnay. I am still buying a few California Pinot Noirs, although after that evil movie, the prices jumped and the availability dropped darn darn darn. I am also still enjoying some Syrahs from certain producers. I still love my Zin, but sadly note that some of these wines are too big even for me. I recently drank the Sky Zinfandel 1995. It had aged beautifully despite Zin's reputation for not aging well. It was made in a "claret" style, and despite being 12 year's old, it still had wonderful fruit that was well balanced with the tannins. I remember thinking "such an elegant wine", and wistfully realized that it had been a while since I had said that about a California wine. I have since had a Martinelli Reserve Pinot Noir which also elicited a similar response, so I am encouraged, these wines can still be found, but apparently at a price!

        I think the author of this article and book is swinging to the other extreme. I think we need the pendulum to swing the other way a little bit, so I welcome these strongly voiced opinions, even if I personally stand somewhere in the middle.

        1. Thanks for the link. Good article.

          "Neutered" is so appropriate...

          I attended a tasting this afternoon where the 2005 Joseph Phelps Cabernet and the 1994 Hanzell Chardonnay were a few tables apart. People were lined up for the former like bears to honey. Overheard at Phelps: "Taste this fruit! It's so ripe!" To me, it tasted like every other California cabernet at the event. Overheard at Hanzell: "It's a little light for a chardonnay." Me to myself: I wonder how many California chardonnays would show this well after 14 years. The Hanzell was infinitely more full of character and distinctiveness. I'm glad this and the Benton-Lane Pinot Noir, which uses no new oak, were my two favorite domestics of the event.

          But more and more, I'm finding this problem is not isolated to just California. Anyone tasted any white Burgundy recently? Yikes.

          8 Replies
          1. re: mengathon

            Mengathon: could you expand on your inferred indictment of white Burgs? have you have a broad spectrum of bad experiences or was it an isolated few? although I am possibly done with buying them due to the euro/dollar issue and general price increases, I am still a fan...at least of ones such as Francois Jobard.

            1. re: ibstatguy

              I still like quite a few of them, and I wouldn't say it's a wide spectrum of bad experiences. It's just become more and more common to encounter wines that are flat, hollow, or lack any distinctiveness. Maybe it's always been this way and I never noticed until now. To be honest, it might have more to do with my own evolving palate with experience than anything else. (That Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay might have screwed me up forever!)

              I'm referring to the entry level Puligny, Chassagne, Meursault, etc in the $35-50 range. My comparison was to the CA cabernets in the same price range. I still like to drink both every once in awhile, and they're enjoyable. But they're becoming harder to distinguish from each other. The values are also few and far in between.


              1. re: mengathon

                Now that you say so...

                Looking back at my list of usual suspects in the White dept:

                The Colins ( in all their various manifestations and hyphenations )

                I notice I'm buying less and less of their entry level stuff.
                Which in my book have been replaced by :

                Arbois ( white & jaune ), by Puffeney et al.
                Sancerre ( Fournier, Vacheron, Mellot,... )
                VdPs (Côtes de Gascogne, Saumur, Touraine, other Loire ...)

                And if I think of a reason for my shift, it's exactly what you mention above.
                As opposed to: a lot of vibrancy, authenticity and affordability in the less well known, less pretentious but traditional lower appelations.

                Needless to say, a (non-hyphenated) Montrachet is still a Montrachet, a Corton Charlemagne is still a Corton Charlemagne. But definitely, the white Yaris / Corollas / Pintos from around Beaune seem to be in a down slope mood.

                1. re: RicRios

                  I've very always been pleased with my purchases of F Jobard and, in fact, have just bought more of the '02 en la Barre, '00 Blagny. with what has happened with dollar and burgundy price increases, don'e envision much more such purchases. Just picked up a case of Leth Gruner Veltliner as I move toward other whites. Used to buy Colin-Deleger and can't quite say why I started buying more Jobard.

                  1. re: RicRios

                    >>The Colins ( in all their various manifestations and hyphenations)<<

                    That;s hysterical!

                    And I agree with you 100% - Marc's St. Aubin White is a stunner year after year.

                    1. re: RicRios

                      I was wondering if you'd tried poulsard from arbois (puffeney). If so, your thoughts on it?

                      1. re: StephP

                        I tried one, immediately bought all inventory available ( qty 6 ...). Highly recommended, if you can get hold of ( my understanding is it's not widely available ). Retails for $23

                        My analytic prose is weak at best, so I'll borrow an excellent description from the 30 Second Wine Advisor. He meant the 2003, applies to the 2004 as well.

                        "Poulsard, which the natives sometimes confusingly call "Ploussard," is a large, thin-skinned and rather lightly colored grape. This combination lends itself to long fermenting on the skins, a process that can yield the odd but intriguing combination of light body and flavors that are intriguingly both delicate and intense at the same time. ... [ Pouffeney's Poulsard shows a ] clear cherry red, not too dark; bright crimson glints against the light. Fresh and delicate aromas of spicy red fruit, subtle herbs and fragrant white pepper mix in a subtle blend. Light-bodied but intense, tart cherries and white pepper meet crisp acidity and smooth but perceptible tannins on the palate. U.S. importer: Rosenthal Wine Merchant"


                        Some Pouffeney specifics in this link:

                  2. re: ibstatguy

                    I've run into these lately myself, though I am buying at a lower bracket and attributed that to the problem.

                2. Can we say that this writer tends a bit towards exaggeration and generalization ?

                  Probably, considering the following pearl of wisdom she offers:
                  "...But take heart, Golden State, you're not alone in making what I consider to be undrinkable wine. About 90% of the rest of mondo del vino has been similarly corrupted..."

                  Let's see.... 90% of the world's wine is no good ... hmmm...

                  She's okay, the world's &^%$# up

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Chicago Mike

                    Chicago Mike: Can we say that this writer tends a bit towards exaggeration and generalization ?


                  2. There's some truth to what this woman says but in my opinion, her sweeping generalizations and attempts to stir people up in order to sell her book are the same thing in the print world that she accuses the winemakers of doing in the wine world: gaudy and flashy win the prize and get the dollars. Maybe that's why she was so outrageously exaggerated in her article about the flaws of wine and saying 90% of it is bad. Can we say the same about sensationalism in journalism?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: monkuboy

                      I totally agree with you! Not because I live in Calif. and love its wines. I love old world wines too, but to say that a wine is flawed over another is simply admitting to the wine enthusiast mass that her (Alice Feiring) liking and preferences is what the palates of mass has to use as the standard.
                      According to the Wine Instistute of America, there are 2687 bonded wineries in California. I wonder if Feiring realized "About 90% of the rest of mondo del vino has been similarly corrupted" from this statistic?

                    2. One of the greatest assets to winemaking, world wide, has been the research done by UC Davis. One of the greatest detriments to winemaking, world wide, has been UC Davis. Much of what the authoress writes of is the result of the teaching and research by UC Davis. This is the chemical/technical aspect of winemaking. Factor in the R Parker, Jr-effect and you have pretty much where we are today. Though, there are tons of wine drinkers, who love the wines that Parker does, but have never heard of him - probably millions. These people contribute to the bottom line of many winemakers.

                      Now, let’s think about the business of winemaking for a moment. A winemaker has a vision for what constitutes a great wine. They also have a banker, looking for return on investment (ROI) and selling the wine at a profit is what keeps the banker at bay. If a wine, made in a certain way, sells for a profit, and a wine made in another, does not, guess which one the winemaker is likely to produce. I knew that you could figure this one out. Yes, there are some, who will defy the market and make the wine of their dreams. These are the winemakers, who do not answer to a banker, a board of directors, stockholders or anyone else. Even for “legacies,” winemaking is a business. If the market wants big “fruit bombs,” one has to be very well financed and dedicated, to produce wines that the majority of the market does not like. Think about this for a moment.

                      OK, that moment is over. What would you do? Would you make the wine of your dreams, elegant, smooth, but not favored by the masses, or would you create a wine that was a best-seller? I guess that the answer depends on how wealthy you are and how many vintages you wish to sell off to be blended with other wines, just to make your bank notes.

                      Now, let’s fast-forward to those who think that wines should be subtle, regardless. There is nothing wrong with this. Heck, I love subtle, elegant wines and buy a lot of them. If this is all you want, then you need to vote with your wine budget. It is about the money. If there are enough of these folk, then the winemakers will acquiesce and produce this type of wine. If you are the majority, then more winemakers will produce this style.

                      Now, if a person likes a more subtle style, and not a bolder style, but finds themselves in the minority, the most likely thing to do is to decry the lack of subtlety in winemaking. If you have a forum, then you will likely rally the others, who also decry the lack of subtlety. If your brush is adequately broad, then you can paint all winemakers, who do not do things, as you wish, to seem evil. Often, these folk, given a forum, will convince some, that they speak the truth, and that they are the only ones who do. Still, the evil winemakers, who sell out, will continue to exist and produce what sells, regardless of the “voices in the wilderness.”

                      Personally, I love many styles of wine. Looking at my cellar, it appears that I buy about 60% French wines (most often in a subtle style), and 40% Cal-wines (more often bolder styles). This is based on these two regions, and does not factor in my acquisitions of IT, SA, ES, etc. wines. They also range almost 50-50 in the subtle vs bold styles, but are deliberately omitted for this discussion. I love subtle, with graceful nuances, but I also enjoy big, bold, fruit-driven wines, as well. To this writer, I am evil, just as are the winemakers, who yield to what the market seems to want. It is because of people, such as myself, who purchase Turleys (and many others), who precipitate the alleged decline in US (California, for this discussion) wines. Obviously, I am not in the class of the writer, as I do not hate most of the wines in the world. Matter of fact, I enjoy most well-made wines, that are balanced, subtle to bold.

                      I find this so very similar to the ABC crowd of a decade, or two, ago - Anything But Chardonnay (or Cabernet), just because these two varietals were popular. Hey, you cannot praise anything that is “popular,” right? If you are going to be “in,” you have to have varietals, that no one has ever heard of, or ones that have not been planted in the last 500 years. Hell, if it’s popular, it cannot be good. Right?

                      Nah, I do not need someone in NYC typing anti-popular messages, to tell me what to like, or what to buy. I buy wines that I enjoy and have thousands of bottles of these. I do not care about cultural norms, or counter-cultural diatribes. I know what I like and buy it AND serve it to my guests. My wine-tasting dinners are usually very high on the charity auction blocks. I make no apologies to anyone for what I enjoy - subtle or bold.

                      You can take the writer’s feelings to heart, if you wish. I dismiss most of what I read as someone, who does not enjoy the same wines as I do and as that someone, who wishes to influence others to their personal tastes, especially if they are counter to what is selling.

                      Some of my wines are low 70's on the Parker scale. Some of my wines are in the high 90's on the Parker scale. I don’t give a rat’s “you know what,” how they rate by anyone, Parker, Laube, or some writer from NYC. This is probably the tenth, or more, article, that I have seen lambasting wines that sell out. It is, and should be, about what one likes, not what is popular, or what someone wishes to bash, because it is popular. Just think, my male Bulldog is named Gevrey-Chambertin (de Beauregard) and not Sea Smoke. Still, I enjoy Sea Smoke, regardless of the vineyard.

                      Do not buy your wines based on pop-culture, or anti-pop-culture. Buy your wines based on what YOU enjoy and nothing else.


                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Bill, I don't think Feiring is really talking about people like you. You clearly have a well-developed palette and have drank enough wine to know what you like and don't like. If you happen to occasionally like big wines, well, there's certainly nothing *morally* wrong with that, although our tastes may differ. ;)

                        I think the problem with this kind of winemaking dominating the market is that, especially in a country like ours, where the majority of the populace is *not* well-educated about wine, people end up just drinking whatever California plonk they pull off the shelf at the supermarket and never manage to move beyond that. As long as that single style dominates criticism and the market, they're unaware of other wine types. And because wine (again, in this country) is so often enshrined in snobbery, many believe that all wine is *supposed* to taste like that, and that they'd better just drink up whatever's scoring highly these days.

                        So more winemakers fall off the cliff in that direction without any vision or meaning, like lemmings, instead of trying to offer different styles.

                        But here's the thing -- it's not that fruit bombs are an inevitable consequence of the market. Rather, the market wants fruit bombs because the more subtle wines are almost invisible.

                        Combine this with the fact that it's difficult (impossible?) to make subtle, interesting wines on a large scale, and it's easy to see why certain wines have come to dominate the market. Big brands are obviously going to have an easier time marketing their products.

                        I agree Feiring usually takes things too far (90% of wine is bad? come on!), but I'm glad voices like hers are out there making people aware that there are other ways to make, drink and enjoy wine. I don't want ALL wine to be subtle -- that would be boring too. But if no one speaks up and clamors for different options, then they will disappear.

                        It's not that she's telling *you* what to like -- it's that she wants to make sure someone out there continues to make the kind of wine *she* likes.

                        1. re: oolah

                          You make a good point, as to the directed audience. Still, I dislike the “broad brush” approach, when speaking of wines. I’ve heard most of it before and disagreed three decades ago, and disagree now. I’m fairly certain that if we were to go back to the ‘70s, we’d find folk like this, who lambasted areas and wine-producing styles, with many of the same words. The rhetoric has not changed, all that much. The subjects have, but that is all.

                          What this sort of article does is make people feel guilty for liking a particular region, style, varietal, the list goes on. People like what they like. They should not be made to feel guilty about their choices. If one like Mogen-David, so be it. If they want wines that mimic that wine, so be it. They should not feel that they have chosen incorrectly, based on someone, who is trying to sell their magazine/newspaper space. To me, it’s BS.

                          If a winemaker chooses to follow a certain dream, they should be rewarded, if it sells. If it does not, then the market dictates that they either do something else, or perish. I do applaud those, who follow their dreams and offer something different. If I like it - I vote with my AMEX card. If I do not like it, I vote with my abstinence. I’m comfortable in my choices. If I like a Merlot, I buy it, regardless of what the masses, or the journalists, think of that varietal. Same with Cabs and Chards. Personally, I do not care what any journalist thinks. BUT, for many, I do not think that such material does a service. They are less likely to stand by their palate, than I am. It is for these folk, that I criticize the journalists. They are driven by the $’s paid for their words, or the hits on their (or their client’s Web sites), and I’m not sure that most of *their* palates are worth following.

                          The market should vote, based on their palates, not on some attempt to sway them to “come over from the dark side.”

                          I do not disagree that producers of fine, subtle, elegant, magnificent wines should be penalized. If the wines find a market, they should not only survive, but prosper. I happily enjoy many different styles, and would not wish to see any disappear. Still, to make the statements in the link, I believe that the writer would wish that “90%” of the wine in the world WOULD disappear. That is what I have a problem with. Now, I’ve made a statement elsewhere that “there is wine (~70%), good wine (20%), fine wine (9%) and great wine (1%),” and if one is talking about the “wine” end of that spectrum, then I do not care, as I do not buy much. [Note: I had done some research on the various percentages, but do not have them handy, so the preceding numbers are representative only]. It’s the last groups, that I care about, and I am uncomfortable with folk, who try to impose their tastes on all wine makers and wine consumers.

                          To address your last paragraph: “It's not that she's telling *you* what to like -- it's that she wants to make sure someone out there continues to make the kind of wine *she* likes.” Well, that is what I am saying. Do not tell the consumer that they should vote WITH her, just because she likes something. Let her vote with HER AMEX card. Let the wine drinkers vote with theirs.

                          I greatly appreciate your comments, as always. I may be guilty of generalizing Feiring’s comments, and then specifying mine. I love discussions of differences in palate, with regards to wine. Jason [Zin 1983?] and I disagree on many wines, though seldom on wines, as a whole. Each of us enjoy what we enjoy. I show no disrespect for anyone, who dislikes a wine that I love. That is what makes wine so very interesting. I would never try to convince them to come over to MY side, just because I enjoy another style, varietal, etc. Their choices are their own. My choices are my own. It should be the same for all wine drinkers. I take offense, when one issues forth diatribes, damning much of the spectrum of winemaking, just because they “do not get it.” Maybe it’s more the style, than the content of the piece, with which I have the greatest problems. Same could be said for winemaking “styles.” If this person is allowed her personal tastes, then others should be allowed theirs. She does not seem to want that – only for people to follow her tastes, or feel guilty about their decisions.

                          Thanks for sharing. You make some good points, and maybe I was a bit too harsh in my appraisal of the column. I will certainly allow that. For me, the better approach would be to say that maybe people were missing something – subtle wines, in favor of “fruit bombs.” That is fair, and carries some weight. Taking that to the extreme is just not my cup-of-tea (or wine, as the case might be). Matter-of-fact, I am not a fan of “in your face” anything. A lot of this probably is reflective of my advanced age, as it seems to be the rage in journalism, advertising and all sorts of marketing. It is THAT aspect, with which I take the most offense.

                          Hey, let’s drinks some wine and just enjoy life. I’ll start with a glass of ‘05 Brewer-Clifton Ashley’s (one of the last of my allocation), even though it is a bigger-style Central Coast Cal-Chard. I think that I recall that Feiring bashed their PN, but I do not care. I’m in deficit of “bold New World wines,” as I just go back from a week in London doing nothing but excellent, subtle, Old World wines.


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            I'll drink to that :)

                            I have a feeling we'd find *plenty* of common ground were we to meet in a wine shop, and I completely agree that there's no point in telling people they "don't get it" because their taste differs from our own. If we all liked the same exact thing, we'd never be able to learn anything new, right?

                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              I do think she is selling books here. What I find unfortunate with articles like this, is that some of the more significant issues in the world of wine are neglected by the misdirection of name calling.

                              The issue of higher alcohol is multi-determined. That there is a measurable marketplace demand for it is true, but what is also true is that the commercial yeast strains, sold out of Dijon for the global market, are modified to withstand higher heat - and don't die off in greater alcohol. In Mr. Hunt's accurate >>“there is wine (~70%), good wine (20%), fine wine (9%) and great wine (1%),”<<
                              The 70% are beholden by price to this commercial strain. (Oz Clarke has more on this monopoly if I can find the citation). This stranglehold is a significant issue and one that should have made Mondo Vino.

                              Another issue, if I may condense posts made here, is what Eric Asimov names "Flavors of discovery vs. Flavors of recognition" and we oscillate between which one of these we are driven towards. Layer that with the recent brain research of Panksepp which shows that novelty is the precondition of enjoyment and the lens for which pleasure is considered becomes very long indeed.

                              California wine bashing is old sport – why this article is in a newspaper is beyond me. Perhaps the editor wanted to run a “Story of recognition”

                              1. re: Caillerets

                                Very interesting paragraph on flavor, and I'll take some time to think about what you've said. I'll check on the Asimov and Panksepp references.

                                Are you sure your comment on commercial yeast strains and temperature is accurate as it applies to modern-day quality winemaking? Of course, it's a given that certain yeasts are hardier than others and more efficient at converting sugar to alcohol. But beyond that, there are an infinite number of permutations and combinations regarding chemical subtleties of fruit sugar, yeast strains and fermentations. And, by the way, I've read in the last few years some UC-Davis articles that say certain varieties of rootstock also contribute to higher-alcohol wine, via a chemical pathway I don't yet, and perhaps never will, understand.

                            2. re: oolah

                              Well said. Question: Is consistently producing high alcohol super extracted fruit bombs a relatively new development in the wine world?


                          2. Feiring is more than a bit over the top IMHO

                            1. Yes! This is a true must read. But indeed not ALL California wine is bad. Being a native, I have many wines that I love and many that I hate. While there has been some Parkerization in certain regions, the overblown tourism of Napa and the Sideways effect on Santa Barbara specifically, there are true gems in less discovered areas of northern Sonoma and Sierra Foothills. If you know what you are looking for, and what you like, then you can target those regions. Otherwise, you can experiment cheaply with the plethora of $15 and under wines out there without throwing too much money away.

                              Last night for example, I opened a $10 Sonoma zin that exceeded expectations and will be a return buy.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: Vinquire

                                Being a big Zin-fan (all styles and types, and a fan of the Sierra/Amador offerings), I must ask, what US$10 Zin did you have? While I do love my Biales and Turleys, I also do not mind finding good wines at a bargain price. Heck, for US$10, this might be my new cooking/drink-while-cooking Zin.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt


                                  I'm a Zin fan and have enjoyed the Four Vines line up ($15 - $30) and Neyers High Valley ($25) are great. I also marvel at the consistency of Seghesio Sonoma Zin at $18.

                                  1. re: TonyO

                                    I'm not familiar with the previous two Zins (know Neyers from their Chards), but have become a big fan of the Seghesio Sonoma. I was introduced to it an IW&FS board meeting a few years back, and have had it several times from various wine lists.


                                    1. re: TonyO

                                      Four Vines is releasing a petit verdot-malbec blend this year. Don't know it's name yet but had it at a wine dinner a few months ago. Very good. I'm also a big fan of their "Peasant", (Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Counoise), maybe not subtle but damned tasty !

                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                      You are probably thinking of the OVC (Old Vine Cuvee) zin blend. I think you can pick it up at Cost Plus. Good house red. (Were you at that dinner?)

                                      1. re: dockhl

                                        Um, Hunt and I both asked Vinquire about the "$10 Sonoma zin that exceeded expectations and will be a return buy." He didn't say which one it was.

                                        But thanks for your rec as well.

                                        Whatever dinner it was, I wish I'd been there.

                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                          Hmmmm. Dunno. Their Sonoma zin is "Sophisticate" but retails at $25.

                                  2. zzzzzzzzzzz.

                                    shorter feiring: i don't like your wine! and i have a book coming out that i'd like you to buy! only drink wine i like or you are a rube!

                                    1. boyoboy..what a ridiculous, patronizing article full of over generalization. And I found it actually quite funny she speaks highly about Mike Dashe - I not only know Mike but know his wines too. You go on another wine discussion forum and he is being ridiculed for making dense, heavily extracted Zins 'California style'. Yes, I plead guilty - I like his 'highly-alcoholic' and 'rich' zins very much. This author all of a sudden found something to like about his wines, wow! - maybe because his wife (also a winemaker) is French ;). What a mess. Whenever I read such pretentious, self-righteous and snobby diatrabes I know the author had really nothing original to say - just to fill square of inches of white paper to collect a fee.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: olasek

                                        Mike's wines have always been on the elegant side, relatively speaking. He learned his trade at places--Ridge and Lafite--that emphasize such characters over brawn and sheer power.
                                        And his goals and techniques (things like submerged cap macerations, for instance) reflect that up-bringing.
                                        Beyond that, he's always been a bit of a contrarian. The new cuvee is a natural extension of these traits. And is of a protocol that is relatively unusual for a California winemaker.
                                        Feiring's praise has nothing to do with Anne being from France...

                                      2. Thanks for the heads up on this article. She's right. I almost started screaming at her until I got down to where she talks about discovering some really tasty, not as well known Cali wines... they ARE out there. Whenever I mention my favorites to some of the folks I know who are big on Cali Cabs they look at me quizzically and say "Who?"

                                        $200+ for overoaked underage Cabernet Sauvignon? I don't think so!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                          Under $50 and made in California:

                                          John Anthony Syrah($45) and Sauvignon Blanc ($20)
                                          Neyers Zinfandel ($25)
                                          Victor Hugo Petite Syrah ($20)
                                          Segeshio Sonoma Zinfandel ($18)
                                          Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc ($18)
                                          Beckmen Cuvee Le Bec ($18)

                                          God Bless America and the great wine made here !

                                        2. I hadn't purchased much California wine in the past few years myself (after being a huge Zinfandel fan during the nineties [Ridge Geyserville '92 and '93]). I purchased a bottle of Truchard Syrah Carneros 2003 last week and really was looking forward to it. But it was a really sugary fruit bomb to me which I found very unpleasant.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                            Like you, I have had many wines recentely, that were not at all balanced - CA to FR (including IT and ES). Still, you have the class, good sense and tact, to not tell anyone, who likes, say the Truchard Syrah, that they are Visogoths. I hope that I exhibit that same class. In the past, I have had several Truchard Merlots, that I enjoyed (not a big fan of Merlots, in general), but do not know this Zin, of which you speak. Sounds a bit "over-done," even for my tastes. Still, if it pleases some folk, and sells, it has a place in the market. We might not appreciate it, but if others do, then we are not likely to tell them how *wrong* they are.

                                            Though a Zin fan (attended many ZAP events, until we moved to AZ, and the events were more like WWF "Smack-downs!"), I would probaly agree 100% with you on this one.


                                          2. Not an original trhought in that entire article. And the line about "violets floating through a chalk straw" sounds really enjoyable huh ? Call me carzy, but I for one would much rather taste fruit than flowers and dust.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: TonyO

                                              Hee. Just goes to show how different everyone can be. Violets through a chalk straw made my mouth water. :)

                                              1. re: oolah

                                                Interesting ! It made my mouth water but more in a parched desperate plea for hydration !

                                            2. Isn't she behind the curve on this? Isn't this completely utterly old news?

                                              The only thing new is the level of heightened [perhaps forced] indignance.

                                              She's so behind the curve she hasn't detected, or tasted, that the pendulum has already begun to swing back in the other direction.

                                              24 Replies
                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                  thank you...she seems to be quite gifted as a self-promoter

                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                    Could you please let me know of some widely available examples of California wines that epitomize the pendulum swing back? And what is the "swing back" to you?


                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                      for starts, unoaked chardonnays

                                                      1. re: dockhl

                                                        yup. i was just in napa this past weekend. other than rambauer, everyone kept talking about their "unoaked" chards. "buttery" is now a bad word at napa wineries...

                                                    2. re: maria lorraine

                                                      I think this is old news to people who are in the business or read a lot about wine, but it's not to the mass market. Certainly not to the average LA Times reader.

                                                      I was in Sonoma last fall and while I tasted a lot of lighter, crisper whites (as noted by bwan and dockhl), the vast majority of the reds we tasted were big, high alcohol and super fruity. And we went to places that were reputed to be making subtle wines.

                                                      Most of the pinots were very concentrated with over 14% alcohol, and syrahs even more so. Forget about the zins. One place we visited was offering zins that all exceeded 16% and tasted like red bull syrup (ick).

                                                      I'm not saying all of these were bad. I prefer mineral-driven wines, but I also enjoy the occasional well-made fruit bomb, and I can admire some of these wines' qualities even if they're not my style. But it would be nice to have more variety available.

                                                      I agree that the tide is starting to turn and that winemakers are starting to create some leaner styles, but it's still a sea of fruit bombs out there with very few exceptions, and I think it'll be a loooong time before the trend reaches the lower, cheaper end of the market.

                                                      1. re: oolah

                                                        "I think this is old news to people who are in the business or read a lot about wine, but it's not to the mass market. Certainly not to the average LA Times reader."

                                                        [thinking about what you've written, oolah]

                                                        My sense is that any book that's titled “The Battle for Wine and Love -- Or How I Saved the World from Parkerization" is not directed towards a mass market.

                                                        And isn’t that some title? Not only including the wine-insider term “Parkerization,” which seems to be a mass-market killer right there…but that part about how SHE saved the world?

                                                        I’m not certain Feiring directed her piece to LA Times readers either. Her editorial seems more “advertorial” – less interested in serving the reader, and more an obvious grab for attention to her forthcoming book on an already exhaustively discussed subject.

                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                          I'm not defending her so much -- I agree she's over the top and seems highly self-promotional and egotistical.

                                                          I'm just saying some of her points seem on-target to me, and that the vast majority of the wine-drinking public doesn't have this sort of stuff on their radar. An article in the LA Times might change that a bit, so I'm glad they published it, even if it's old hat to us.

                                                          1. re: oolah

                                                            The points that you make are good ones. However, I would question, just who is buying this wine? I doubt that the average reader of the “LA Times,” (insert the rag of choice here) would know Robert Parker, Jr, (or Jim Laube, or James Suckling, et al) should he be seated next to them at an event. I doubt that they get their direction from the wine-porn mags, or books. They buy on impulse, on the recs of friends, the recs of the wineshop staff or on previous experiences. If they hate the aforementioned style of wines, then who is buying them? Why?

                                                            It’s a bit like the Merlot glut of a few decades back. All of a sudden, it began selling and vineyard owners were ripping out everything else, to keep up with the demand. Yes, we ended up with railcars full of insipid Merlot. Now, you can hardly find a Merlot (compared to just 12-15 years back), and much of this is probably due to the “Sideways factor.” It’s till probably PNs, but will soon be Shiraz. Still, people are introduced to a wine, and if they enjoy it, they buy more, whether it’s Merlot, Cab, Syrah, Pinot Noir, or any other varietal (or region).

                                                            I see the article as saying that no one has good taste, except for the authoress, and a few darling winemakers. Now, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with her suggestions, but her “full spectrum” of wine, is not really a “full spectrum” at all. It’s really quite narrow, as, by her own words, it excludes 90% of the wine in the world. Now, going back to my earlier comments on “wine, good wine, fine wine and great wine,” if it ONLY excluded that lower part - the “wine,” I would have fewer nits to pick. Instead, she included a lot of really good wines to elevate her to the tip-top of her pedestal. Personally, I’d gladly kick from beneath her.

                                                            I’d rather see a piece that tells the virtues of subtle, nuanced wines, to let the readers know that there is much more out there, than what they may have experienced, heretofore. One does not need to denigrate other styles, to make that point.

                                                            Guess that I’ll never be a Gen-X’er, and should avoid all writers, who are. Their styles are so horribly shallow and harsh – in your face is still the best way that I can describe it. There was even a magazine on wine, done in this style some years back. It failed badly, and did little to educate anyone to the fabulous world of wine.


                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                              I agree that people shouldn't be derided for their tastes. However I just wonder what is the driving force behind the popularity of the super extracted wines. Could it be an American obsession with extremes coupled with the fact that so many of us are introduced to sugary drinks as children and have therefore been miscalibrated from the start? If those are some of the reasons it seems to me like an odd basis for wine making.

                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                >>Could it be an American obsession with extremes coupled with the fact that so many of us are introduced to sugary drinks as children and have therefore been miscalibrated from the start?

                                                                Not sure what you are driving at. I for example was born and raised in Europe, behind the "Iron Curtain" to be exact, had no access to American 'sodas' but still prefer the "New World" wines. And really 'sugar' has absolutely nothing to do with it, I never checked but I don't think there is any meaningful difference in residual sugar among those wines. By the way if I were really into sugar I would crave for late-harvest wines but I rarely drink them. I simply like Californian wines because of their relative 'fullness' and amount aroma/flavor I can detect in them (I often find French wines too acidic and dilluted). But for the same reason I like South American or Australina wines too. Maybe if someone sent me to a wine "appreciation" class and served some really good french wines I would change my opinion but at this juncture I find a lot to like in the New World wines in the $15-40 price range.

                                                                But I do admit I did have some French wines that I liked a lot - this was always the case when visiting this very wealthy couple - I never dared to investigate their prices :)

                                                                1. re: olasek

                                                                  As I've stated elsewhere, whether we describe it as sugary, fruit-forward, prominent fruit, relative fullness, etc, this aspect of California wine more closely mimics the soft drinks of our [American] youth than would leaner more traditional wines and are appealing on that basis to many I believe. Certainly that was my leaning during the early to mid-nineties when I discovered vanillin. It was appealing in a familiar and obvious way which agreed with me at the time.

                                                                  1. re: olasek

                                                                    Thanks for the insight. Well, that might blow, or at least diminish, part of the theory. And, yes there is very little RS differences between many wines - Kendall-Jackson Vinter's Reserve Chard might still be an exception.

                                                                    I have been to many "wine appreciation classes," and have taught some. I also seem to find excellent FR wines lurking in my cellar. Still, I do enjoy many, many bigger wines too.

                                                                    Interesting. At least the author has provoked some thought, even if that was not what she was shooting for.


                                                                  2. re: Chinon00

                                                                    Your quote: “However I just wonder what is the driving force behind the popularity of the super extracted wines. Could it be an American obsession with extremes coupled with the fact that so many of us are introduced to sugary drinks as children and have therefore been miscalibrated from the start? If those are some of the reasons it seems to me like an odd basis for wine making.”

                                                                    I can only guess at some of the possibilities. One, as you state, could be that they have been brought up on sweeter beverages. Another is that many/most have not been exposed for years to more subtle wines. A variation could be that they have been exposed to various wines, but the ones that made a positive impression were the bigger, bolder wines. [Note: I grew up with less than subtle wines in the household, and it took many years, before I developed an appreciation for some wonderful, though definitely subtle ones. Still, I can enjoy the much bigger wines, as well.]

                                                                    I’m not sure how we’d ever figure out what was in play, given the number of people in our sample and their diversity. In very general terms (almost as broad as the author’s assertions), I find that more wine drinkers in the US choose less-subtle wines, than do their European counter-parts in, otherwise, similar demographics.

                                                                    This does not make them “wrong,” as they are only buying and drinking what appeals to them. I do not think that they are Visogoths, or anything, but I have observed a difference in very general tastes, during my travels. Heck, it even seems that Robert Parker, Jr, he of the golden palate, chooses highly-concentrated, fruit-driven wines...

                                                                    Good comments, thoughts and questions,


                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                      Taking a ride on the tangent train....

                                                                      "However I just wonder what is the driving force behind the popularity of the super extracted wines. Could it be an American obsession with extremes coupled with the fact that so many of us are introduced to sugary drinks as children and have therefore been miscalibrated from the start? If those are some of the reasons it seems to me like an odd basis for wine making.”

                                                                      I see this more as part of our cultural personality. We like big,
                                                                      big spaces, big portions, big houses, big cars -- our culture thrives on the "more is better" principle. We like thrills and intensity -- the highest, fastest roller coasters; hotter and hotter hot sauces, and "big, bold flavors," as the television commercial says.

                                                                      As a result, an appreciation of subtlety is lost. The concept of "enough" is undervalued. The artistic underpinnings of balance are not as revered as...big.

                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                        Se non è vero, è ben trovato, lorraine!

                                                                        1. re: RicRios

                                                                          Ringraziarla per il commento. That's a great expression!

                                                                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                        Here’s my thought. Because my taste in wine varies so much from my friends, I have observed two types of wine drinkers: wine with food and wine as a cocktail. I almost always drink my wine with food and have found the European style more enjoyable as it often reacts with each dish, while the “fruit bombs” hold their flavors. However, when drinking wine with friends as a cocktail, I like the bigger New World wines that they enjoy. Perhaps, some of the comparison is apples and oranges and is based more on the setting where the wine is consumed.

                                                                        1. re: BN1

                                                                          "I have observed two types of wine drinkers: wine with food and wine as a cocktail."

                                                                          You're missing a very important group: wine for meditation. A.k.a. "winos".

                                                                          1. re: RicRios

                                                                            OK! I've been there too, but that's a function of volume, which is a different subject.

                                                                  3. re: oolah

                                                                    “I'm just saying some of her points seem on-target to me, and that the vast majority of the wine-drinking public doesn't have this sort of stuff on their radar. An article in the LA Times might change that a bit, so I'm glad they published it, even if it's old hat to us.”

                                                                    I don't think you understood my earlier post. If you don't agree, that's OK. We can disagree nicely – I always enjoy your posts, oolah.

                                                                    I got your point that most of the wine-drinking public doesn't know about this. Agreed.

                                                                    But is Feiring even speaking to the wine-drinking public?

                                                                    Take a look at her heavy use of wine-industry wording. These terms are all in her third paragraph: overuse of wood, tannin, lack of structure, arsenal of technology, over-extracting techniques, micro-oxygenation, and reverse osmosis.

                                                                    Sounds like she’s speaking more to the wine-drinking aficionado. The title of her book makes that case also: "The Battle for Wine and Love -- Or How I Saved the World from Parkerization."

                                                                    So, if you’re saying that somehow this Feiring opinion piece helped put this subject on the wine-drinking public’s radar, I’m saying I’m not so sure. Somehow I don’t think the masses are going to stick with an article with that kind of writing or industry terminology. Or read her book.

                                                                    I agree that some of Feiring’s points are on-target -- but they aren't her points. Feiring is not offering up an original idea. Many writers have written about this story for years. To now offer up this opinion as News and release an entire book on it is really odd.

                                                                    But Feiring takes this stance of new outrage, as she has ***discovered*** This Terrible Thing In The Wine World And Isn’t It Awful???

                                                                    It all seems so fake.

                                                                    If Feiring’s idea is to “pre-empt” the idea and present it to the masses, then wouldn’t her wording be geared towards the masses?

                                                                    If she is, as it seems she is, writing towards the wine aficionado, then why write on a subject already so extensively covered, that her audience has already read before?

                                                                    So, Feiring is misguided in reaching the masses and wine aficionados both. She has no market.

                                                                    Her choice of subject, her years-behind attack, her manufactured outrage, don’t make common sense, or publishing sense, or financial sense.

                                                                    The other odd thing is Feiring’s lack of accuracy on two fronts. Since she’s leading this Joan of Arc ego-driven crusade to tell the world about This Terrible Thing In The Wine World (And How She Saved The World!), it probably isn’t convenient for her to talk how wines have been swinging back the other way for a couple of years. Again, she’s outdated, but she’s got a charge to lead, and that other stuff gets in the way.

                                                                    Yet, the swing back is indeed the case, and sometimes it’s as simple as wineries picking their grapes earlier, or fermenting differently. Some wineries are utilizing new vine-training practices so the grapes don’t get so ripe, an effort that takes two years to achieve a 1½% reduction in alcohol.

                                                                    Since Feiring’s hasn’t spoken of the pendulum swinging back, I wonder how many, or how few, wines she is sampling.

                                                                    Is she sampling the latest wines? Is she talking to winemakers about their new winemaking/growing/fermenting techniques? It doesn’t seem that she is.

                                                                    Feiring speaks of tasting California wines this spring at distributor events in New York City. The wines presented at those tastings are almost always the big wines, the over-extracted, high-alcohol wines that are still the darlings of many critics.

                                                                    The wines of a more subtle nature, with more finesse and balance – the ones she claims to love – are seldom poured at these events. Subtleties are lost when surrounded by powerful wines.

                                                                    So Feiring goes to events known for pouring big, extracted wines and finds only big, extracted wines. Theory Confirmed! “Dull, fruit-driven, alcoholic wines have become the incontrovertible wine identity of California,” she says.

                                                                    Is Feiring only tasting wines that support her theory of overblown-ness, and ignoring the new wines that are made in the style she truly likes?

                                                                    Isn’t that a really odd stance? To disregard wines that represent the change she is fighting for so that she can lead the charge against This Terrible Thing In The Wine World and sell books?

                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                      I always enjoy your posts too, and have learned quite a bit from them! And I don't think we're that far apart on this.

                                                                      You're right that she tosses around way too much esoteric wine vocabulary for the average reader, but I think she really is *trying* to appeal to the mass of wine drinkers, who I'll define as people who regularly drink wine, but don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about it.

                                                                      And what better way to bring a conflict to the masses than to frame it as a death-match between good and evil? Is it over-the-top and a complete oversimplification that stacks the deck in her favor? Yep. Is it annoying to people who have a more nuanced grasp of the issue and see that it's not quite so black and white? Very. But I think it puts the idea out there in a way that makes the conflict easy to understand for people who aren't as familiar with all the gray areas.

                                                                      By framing it as an emotional conflict, I'm hoping she gets people who were formerly not aware or not as interested in this topic to think about it more critically. Ultimately, it brings more voices and ideas to the table (as this thread has), even when people think she's a complete idiot.

                                                                      And while I do agree with you that the pendulum has *started* to swing back, I really do think it has a long way to go and could stand to gain some more momentum. This may be because I'm in NY, and most of the Cali wine we get out here isn't the small, passionate producer stuff you're able to get in the Bay Area -- from my perspective it still seems all-too scarce.

                                                                      In the end, I think maybe I'm just more a of a fan of agitators and extremists than you and Bill. I'm a firm believer that you need the crazies and doomsayers at the ends of the spectrum to make the rest of us look sane.

                                                                      1. re: oolah

                                                                        I'm not sure she's brought the conflict to the masses. Instead, she's merely made herself look ridiculous.

                                                                        Oh, just so know...I LOVE agitators, extremists, stemwinders, visionaries, revolutionaries, boatrockers and all types of independent thinkers -- as long as they're extra smart and know how to skillfully frame their argument to advance their cause.

                                                                        But, uh, Feiring isn't one of those. Thanks for the discussion.

                                                                        1. re: oolah

                                                                          I think that we have two subjects going on here. They are not parallel, but are linked by the common thread of the New York Times’ article.

                                                                          First, there is the subject of Feiring and her motivation(s), plus a critique of her style. In my estimation, she is out to:
                                                                          1.) Sell her work to the NYT
                                                                          2.) Sell her books
                                                                          3.) Possibly pave the way for a “Wine Tour,” or similar
                                                                          4.) Possibly pave the way for a subscription Web site, or newsletter

                                                                          The other subject is, why folk do enjoy bigger wines. That, to me, if far more interesting, and I have determined, based ONLY on the NYT article, that I do not like the writings of Feiring. The second subject might prove of more use – at least to me.

                                                                          I think that ML hit most of the “nails” squarely on their heads, above. I can only add one comment. Just like the wines and wine styles, that Feiring lambasts, her writing style is definitely big, bold, emotion-driven and very much “in your face.” I do not think that an Edmeade’s Alden Ranch Zin could be described in such forceful terms.

                                                                          One last comment. There are many aspects used in describing a wine, that can have the modifier, “over/overly” attached to them – over-oaked, over-extracted, overly-alcoholic, etc. I find these to be real and also faults. However, there are many good to great wines, that stop short of these “over” modifiers. When I talk about big, bold, fruit-driven, etc., to me, I am not referring to anything that my palate finds as “over.” Remember though, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary).


                                                              2. Well I tell you all something, Ms. Feiring is a master of promotion. Look how she did on this board. Like her or not, she created a lot of buzz!

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: monkuboy

                                                                  I think you can take Feiring's op ed piece a little farther. When we want to enjoy food and wine we travel to France (Burgundy, Beaujolais, Rhone and Loire). The atmosphere is more agricultural than tourist, specially compared to California. In Napa/Sonoma/Santa Rosa and the Central Coast, it feels more Disney like, kind of corporate meets developer. I hope this is changing, but I doubt it can be reversed with real estate prices demanding that you get the "highest use" from the land.

                                                                  1. re: BlueOx

                                                                    I agree with what Bill said: wine-drinkers should not feel guilty for what they like. If a wine consumer does not like a fruit-forward wine with alcohol/volume above 14%, there are plenty of other choices, even in California. It does not take too much effort for a consumer to say to a wine shop employee "I like subtle wines with moderate alcohol levels, wines that have earthy flavours (i.e. mineral, leather, tar, herbs) as opposed to oak-y fruit bomb wines."

                                                                    Also, responding to an earlier post on this topic about North Americans being raised on sugary drinks, my understanding is that most of the red table wines made in California, or anywhere else for that matter, have little or no residual sugars. I have made the mistake of tasting a wine and thinking it was sweet, only to be corrected by the winemaker, who informed me that the wine was not at all sweet but rather had prominent fruit flavours.

                                                                    What interests me is that Feiring bemoans the direction of winemaking in California and elsewhere, yet almost all of the wine journalism I have read, or speakers/lecturers I have heard, make the point that the overall quality of wines from around the world have IMPROVED steadily over the past 20-30 years. Robert Simpson of Liberty Wine Merchants, a Vancouver wine import institution, loves to talk about insipid wines that were all too common in Bordeaux when he got into the business in the 1970s.

                                                                    1. re: anewton

                                                                      If your above comment on North Americans being raised on sugary drinks was directed at me you may be absolutely correct. However, my guess is that whether you call it sugar or prominent fruit, the super extracted wines more closely mimic the sugary drinks of our youth than would leaner wines and are appealing on that basis to many I believe. Again, to me that is a peculiar basis for wine making, if true.

                                                                  2. re: monkuboy

                                                                    if by "promotion" you mean "convinced me never to buy her book" then i agree completely.

                                                                    1. re: monkuboy

                                                                      You could be correct. There is an oft-cited advertising/PR adage, that basically states, "bad press is better than no press at all." In the case of Ms Feiring, I do not think that this discussion has helped her, but could be very wrong.

                                                                      I had not heard of her, nor am I a frequent reader of the NYT. Now, I know to watch out for any of her books, should they find their way into one of my Amazon e-mails on food/wine. Who knows, maybe a week ago, I'd have actually bought one, but I have been warned.

                                                                      Do not know how others feel on this, but she did nothing to convince me to spend any $ on her, her writings or her opinions. I'll save that up for my next allocation of Turley!


                                                                      [Edit] This is in reply to Monkuboy's comments, but the CH Wed site seems to have placed it below the original post. Things have been screwey with CH, since the purchase...

                                                                      1. re: monkuboy

                                                                        Absolutely. Leaving her ideas aside, I actually think the title of Fearing's book is smart. Bear in mind that her editor wrote it, not her - writers don't have final say in what their books are titled, because that's considered the exclusive territory of the publisher's marketing department. Long titles are in vogue at the moment, and the use of an unfamiliar term, "Parkerization" will make a bookstore browser wonder what that means and cause him to pick up the book, flip through, and maybe buy. I don't think it means anything more than that.

                                                                        The fact that she's a polemicist is smart, too. Writing a hit piece on something - anything - is a sure way to drum up interest in you and your writing. Bear in mind the continued popularity of Christopher Hitchens' work. Fella got his start by writing mean things about Mother Teresa, and he just wrote a book, God is Not Great, that's a hit piece on God! People eat that stuff up!

                                                                        1. re: mlaas

                                                                          just curious, have you actually read Hitchens' work? I think had you done so, you would not have referred to it as a hit piece on God. The book is well beyond a hit piece on "God", IMHO.

                                                                      2. Do you guys remember the thread of a few months ago, the one that talked about The Top Ten Most Over-rated Wines?

                                                                        You know, the article that put the photo of the kitty litter box next to the description of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc?

                                                                        That article also raised a ruckus on this board. Turns out it was also written by --Alice Feiring.

                                                                        Sorta makes me think that Feiring is the Don Rickles of wine writing: abrasive,
                                                                        over-the-top, hostile, rabble-rousing, attention-getting. Only she's not funny, but I'm not sure Rickles was all that funny either. Anyway, just a thought....

                                                                        Chowhound link on the other Feiring article, with some of the same hounds as here:

                                                                        Article link: The 10 Most Over-rated Wines In the World, from mens.style.com

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                          I remember it quite well and made note of her forthcoming book...ahem ;-)

                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                            Maybe her claim to fame is that she’s the person, who can find the “sacred cow,” and then eviscerate it on an international TV feed from Times Square.

                                                                            I was never a Don Rickles fan, but the analogy is not lost on me either.

                                                                            Maybe I should start making outlandish statements, then set myself up as the only oracle of wine... or maybe not.


                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                              Maybe I should start making outlandish statements, then set myself up as the only oracle of wine...

                                                                              Bill, you are so much the gentleman everyone would know it was a put-on.

                                                                          2. Mary Baker, of Dover Canyon Winery responds on her wine blog:

                                                                            Dover Canyon Winery
                                                                            4520 Vineyard Dr, Paso Robles, CA

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: dockhl

                                                                              Thank you for the link. I probably appreciate it more, because Mary Baker echos much of what I have already stated, and put into eloquent words, many more of my thoughts. It's easy to like a piece, if you are in agreement with it.

                                                                              I greatly appreciated the opportunity to read this, and will follow up on the replies, already received, continuing to see how her "thread" unfolds. I did not know of her, or her winery, but think that I need to get out there and try some of the wines - SOON!

                                                                              I would not have found this piece, were it not for your link.


                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                Bill, thanks for the kind words !

                                                                                Mary is a friend and very knowlegeable, makes terrific wines, too ! If you ever make it this way, let me know and we can get together with Mary and her SO Dan. (She's also a great cook !) I like to follow her blog. She writes well.

                                                                                1. re: dockhl

                                                                                  We're in various wine regions of the state about 6x per year. We try to alternate our side-trips to cover all bases, but often do get stuck with too little time, and have to either hit some old favs, or just chance it.

                                                                                  I've bookmarked her blog and will do a bit of research.

                                                                                  Unfortunately, all of our Paso trips have been "passing through" to a meeting, or something on a time line. I still get their region's newsletter, and drink a lot of the wines. Always on the lookout for great wines, especially from smaller producers. Sometimes, I find more "love" in those, and I also like to "help the little guy." We've always supported local vitacultural interests, wherever we have lived, even if one pays more, and sometimes for less, we give them our support.

                                                                                  Thanks for the most kind offer. Do not know when next trip, even near Paso Robles will be, but will start checking my schedule.

                                                                                  One thing I will do in the meantime is track down her distributor, to see if any retailers in AZ have the wines. Though we are right next door, so much from CA does not make it here, because of the distributors.


                                                                            2. "indeed not ALL California wine is bad" right, only 99%...
                                                                              Since some of you are clearly enjoying white Burgundies, I thought I'd give you some of my favs:
                                                                              Sylvain Langoureau Saint Aubin En Rémilly 2005 $27.99
                                                                              Finesse and subtlety.
                                                                              Vincent Dureuil-Janthial Rully "Maizières" 2005 $24.99
                                                                              Too much oak for my taste (by burgundian standards) and a bit brutish but will please american palates.
                                                                              Lafouge Meursault "Les Meix Chavaux" 2005 $31.99 Not tried yet but they are one of the top three estates in Auxey-Duresses and at that price...
                                                                              All can be had at Garnet on the UES.
                                                                              Who said you had to spend mega $ for a delicious white Burgundy?