Thursday, February 10, 2011

In love with SoCal wines

You don't have to be a Dodgers fan to love the wines from southern California. This state may be divided by sports loyalties, but we all love a great wine.

I have a couple of SoCal stories in other places today that I want to highlight.

I think Mourvedre is the best grape in Paso Robles, and I'm not alone: local luminaries like Justin Smith and Tablas Creek winemaker Neil Collins agree. Here's a story in today's Los Angeles Times on that topic. Don't miss my 5 recommended Paso Robles Mourvedres, all of which can be ordered online.

A little further south, in the Santa Rita Hills, Greg Brewer is pushing the edge artistically and in alcohol level with his Diatom Chardonnays. I admire the first push, but had a hard time getting my mind around the second. Read my interview with him in Wine Review Online (sorry, wine reviews are behind their pay wall).

My intense and revealing interview with "Sideways" author Rex Pickett is still up on Palate Press. Many folks in Oregon hope/believe Pickett's book "Vertical" will do for their region what "Sideways" did for Santa Barbara County. My opinion? Only if it's made into a movie, and I'll believe that when I see it. Read it and decide for yourself. (Note: Pickett gets a lot more money per copy from this book than from "Sideways," as you'll see in the interview, and if you buy it from the link at right, in the words of Tony Soprano, I get a taste. Not a big taste. More like a sniff. For details, see the photo above.)

Pickett wrote almost exclusively about Pinot Noir, but I'm a huge fan of other wines  from Santa Barbara County, especially Rhone wines like Syrah, which I think are better there than in Giants fan territory. But that's a story for another day.


Cabfrancophile said...

If the Diatrom wines don't taste hot and Greg Brewer is intentionally aiming for a very fleshy style, why does the alcohol matter? I'm assuming the acidity and lack of oak is important for balance.

No one ever bashes Port for fortifying the wines to alcohols so high they kill yeast. And yet with Diatom the alcohol is completely natural--no chaptilization, no fortification like those Old World mamipulators! Certainly food pairings and perhaps serving temperature need to be tweaked for a wine like this. But that is the end-user's issue or hang-up. Sounds like the wines are well made, just in a new or unfamiliar style.

W. Blake Gray said...

That's the question, isn't it: What if a producer makes a good product that's difficult for the end-user to fit into established patterns of use?

I can't answer that for everyone. Sometimes all you can do is ask the question.

Anonymous said...

Kruk, Kuip, Dave, and John Miller come in loud in clear on KNBR 680 at my Paso winery. This is Giants Country. The Dodgers can drink it up in Temecula.

W. Blake Gray said...

Glad to hear it! But I'm afraid Tommy LaSorda might wrestle you over Ballard Canyon.