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post #106 of 246
CA Merlot is pretty blah. It's made, mostly, in that super soft style meant for people who "don't like red wine but I like this!!!"

Right bank Bord typically has some Cab Sauv and Cab Franc and is more interesting.
post #107 of 246
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manton View Post
CA Merlot is pretty blah. It's made, mostly, in that super soft style meant for people who "don't like red wine but I like this!!!"

Right bank Bord typically has some Cab Sauv and Cab Franc and is more interesting.

I was just about to say I had a Merlot Cab Franc blend about 3 years ago that was fantastic.
post #108 of 246
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manton View Post
CA Merlot is pretty blah. It's made, mostly, in that super soft style meant for people who "don't like red wine but I like this!!!" Right bank Bord typically has some Cab Sauv and Cab Franc and is more interesting.
I've heard Duckhorn puts out some nice Merlot. You guys are speaking a language mostly foreign to me at this point however.
post #109 of 246
Quote:
Originally Posted by mordecai View Post
I've heard Duckhorn puts out some nice Merlot. You guys are speaking a language mostly foreign to me at this point however.

There are a few CA merlot producers that try to make complex wines but this is the exception.

One problem is that CA has never really gotten over the varietal complex so they think that for a wine to be good and prestigious it has to be all from one grape. The French simply do not think this way.
post #110 of 246
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manton View Post
There are a few CA merlot producers that try to make complex wines but this is the exception.

One problem is that CA has never really gotten over the varietal complex so they think that for a wine to be good and prestigious it has to be all from one grape. The French simply do not think this way.

In my limited experience blended grapes make for a more well rounded taste.
post #111 of 246
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manton View Post
There are a few CA merlot producers that try to make complex wines but this is the exception.

One problem is that CA has never really gotten over the varietal complex so they think that for a wine to be good and prestigious it has to be all from one grape. The French simply do not think this way.

I'm not a California wine fan, but this statement just isn't true. The French are as rigorous as anyone in the world about non-blending in white and red burgundy, and there are california wines that are considered world class (Harlan, for example) and are varietal blends of no fewer than three or four grapes.

A
post #112 of 246
Quote:
Originally Posted by agjiffy View Post
I'm not a California wine fan, but this statement just isn't true. The French are as rigorous as anyone in the world about non-blending in white and red burgundy, and there are california wines that are considered world class (Harlan, for example) and are varietal blends of no fewer than three or four grapes.

A

The point is, the reason the french don't blend burg is not because they are wedded to the idea of the "varietal" but because it does not make for better wine (except at the low, low end). They have (obviously) no problem blending Bordeaux and Rhone, red and white, at every level of the quality chain because they know it makes for better wine and because there is no marketing rationale or consumer expectation that the wine all come from one grape.

In Napa, by contrast, the whole industry is built around the varietal and has been since the revival in the late '60s. Wines with one grape name on them are seen as more prestigious and you can charge more for them. The "meritage" concept tries to get around that but hasn't really taken root and they don't command the same prices.

So, there are some exceptions but by and large the top reds in Napa are varietals and all the way down the price chain you will see ten varietals for every meritage and the varietals will command generally higher prices. This is true even though, IMO, many of these wines would be better if they were blends.
post #113 of 246
One footnote. The reason why the California varietal craze took off is that for many, many years the vast majoirty of the wine made in California was A) plonk and B) labeled with some phony French name, e.g., "Chablis" or "hearty Burgundy." The two great exceptions happened to be California's only two genuine premium wines, BV Reserve and Inglenook.

When people finally started making good wine and investing in wineries in the 1960s they had to shake off that image. They concluded, with some justice, that they could not simply sell the wine based on the name of the estate or vineyard the way you could do in France because people would not know enough to be impressed. Lafite or Chambertin are storied names but "To Kalon" and "Napanook" were not, at least not then.

So the idea was to use the name of the grape, which also had the beneift of "informing the consumer." Chateau Latour, it's expensive and it tastes good, but what the hell is in it? Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon? Hey, I know what that is!

It was a reasonable strategy at the time but I think CA should have moved on long ago.

To some extent it has, in that a bottle only has to be 85% of one grape in order to have that grape's name on the label. This allows winemakers some leeway with blending while preserving the marketing advantage of using the varietal name, which consumers understand and expect. However, 85% is still pretty high. Most Bordeaux are not 85% of any one grape and many Bords and Rhones are not even above 50% of any one grape. Well, in California you either have to call that "Meritage" or else just put some place name or brand name on it. It works with the cult wines but they are like 0.00001% of the market.
post #114 of 246
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manton View Post
The point is, the reason the french don't blend burg is not because they are wedded to the idea of the "varietal" but because it does not make for better wine (except at the low, low end).

I'm not sure why you would say that. The AOC laws are about more than just making "better" wine. There are numerous vignerons who have tried blending burgundy grapes over the years (for example, Remoissenet). I doubt they thought it made the wines worse.
A
post #115 of 246
I thought Harlan is 100% cab?
post #116 of 246
Quote:
Originally Posted by agjiffy View Post
I'm not sure why you would say that. The AOC laws are about more than just making "better" wine. There are numerous vignerons who have tried blending burgundy grapes over the years (for example, Remoissenet). I doubt they thought it made the wines worse.
A

The AOC laws are codifications of tradition, not the reverse.
post #117 of 246
Quote:
Originally Posted by gomestar View Post
I thought Harlan is 100% cab?

It is now but it used to be a blend.
post #118 of 246
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manton View Post
To some extent it has, in that a bottle only has to be 85% of one grape in order to have that grape's name on the label. This allows winemakers some leeway with blending while preserving the marketing advantage of using the varietal name, which consumers understand and expect. However, 85% is still pretty high. Most Bordeaux are not 85% of any one grape and many Bords and Rhones are not even above 50% of any one grape. Well, in California you either have to call that "Meritage" or else just put some place name or brand name on it. It works with the cult wines but they are like 0.00001% of the market.

i agree with much of what my learned friend has to say, but actually, i think blends are becoming more and more important in california ... in a way, this is last year's complaint. in fact, when you're talking about zinfandel, blends have become so important that there is a schism in the cult ... ZAP refuses to allow zin-based blends to participate, even though those are some of the best wines (historically, zins were almost always blended, up until the varietal craze). also, the rage of the moment are rhone-like wines, many of which are blends. this has been slow to happen at the high end, but for cheaper wines, these are some of the best values available in california. in fact, with some good producers, i like their cheaper blends more than their more expensive varietals.
post #119 of 246
^That's a great point. CA is making some killer blends for ~$10 a bottle.
post #120 of 246
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwilkinson View Post
^That's a great point. CA is making some killer blends for ~$10 a bottle.

Like what? I recently had a blend called III Somms that I enjoyed, but it was closer to $25 than $10.
A
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