FEBRUARY 6, 2013: In Pursuit of Balance
I love California wine and I'm not afraid to admit it. More than any other region and, through extensive wine classes, I've tasted them all. And I'm tired of people (OK, mostly other writers) bashing the wines from my adopted state for being what they mostly can't help being - big, bold and some claim overly-alcoholic. We have sun here, a lot of it, and it shows in the wines we make. That's called "terroir" people. If you don't like it, there are now hundreds of thousands of choices from almost every country in the world. Take your pick. Stop complaining and drink what you like.
Personally, I like to taste more fruit than dirt in my glass so I'm perfectly content right where I am. Can I agree that California produces a preponderance of wines that show little character and that bludgeon your taste buds with too much of everything? Sure. On the flip side, low alcohol wines can be thin, insipid and too acidic all in the cause of being opposite. Having travelled up and down the state, I know there are many, many, many winemakers out there trying to make the best wines from their land (or grapes) that focus on all the right things: balance, fruit and complexity. That's all I ask for. Depth of character. Whether light-bodied or full-throttled, taste like something other than grape juice and oak. Subtle doesn't have to mean boring and intensity isn't always overwhelming. Balance is the key. It certainly begins in the vineyard with a myriad of farming decisions, but actions in the winery also play an important role. When the right winemaker finds the right grapes, it is magic in the glass.
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