Monday, May 05, 2008

5 May 2008 - Did He Really Say That?

You know that I don't pay attention to wine critics. They're not in the business of selling wine to you, of being directly responsible to you for recommendations made. Even if they're full-time wine geeks, they're still removed from the face to face contact with you, the wine buyers/drinkers. A couple of part time critics, Al Spoler and Hugh Sisson, the co-hosts of WYPR's "Cellar Notes," are good guys whose original mission as I understood it was to provide recommendations from the point of view of the "average (wine drinking) joe."

I was driving home on the evening of April 16th listening to WYPR when Cellar Notes came on. The subject was Pinot Noir, from Callifornia and Oregon. Al Spoler expressed his particular fondness for Oregon Pinot Noir, and then stated that at this point in time French Red Burgundy was irrelevant. I almost drove off the road! Burgundy irrelevant? Besides being a ridiculous statement, it was so negative, when the current state of Pinot Noir around the world is so positive. Spoler could have mentioned that it was Oregon's Pinot Noir producers who, about fifteen years ago, in their quest to make better wine, came up with the idea of inviting any and all of the world's devoted Pinot Noir producers to Oregon to meet and share their ideas about how to make better wine from this difficult grape. We are enjoying the results of Oregon's "Pinot Noir Camp" in the current abundance of good to great examples in every price range. That is a story worth telling on Cellar Notes.

I'm not finished with this subject - stay tuned for the next CWC Wine of the Week...


Blogger awthird said...

I'm an unabashed fan of Burgundies, but I think it makes a certain amount of sense. For the average (wine drinking) Joe, Burgundies are so expensive, the great ones so rare and the selection so uncertain unless you know all of the geeky details about vintage, producers and vineyards that they are irrelevant. To the casual wine drinker, the relevant wines are the accessible ones - Oregon Pinots, Santa Barbara Pinots - the ones they can actually afford to drink. Those are the Pinots by which the average wine drinker should judge quality.

May 6, 2008 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger Mitchell Pressman said...

First, sorry to take so long responding. When you say the relevant wines to the casual wine drinker are the Oregon/CA Pinot Noirs, I understand, but times are changing, in Burgundy as much as anywhere else. A new generation of winegrowers have spent a dozen or more years restoring the land in Burgundy, and the results can be tasted in the inexpensive wines as well as the rare, expensive ones. If your favorite wine shop isn't offering a few delicious, reasonably priced red Burgundies - I'm talking $15-30/bottle - they're not looking for them. In my shop you are just as likely (if not more) to find a delcious $17 Pinot Noir from Burgundy as you are to find one from California or Oregon.

As for the first part of your comment, average wine drinking Joes - the people who drive the business in any good wine shop, mind you - are not interested in expensive, rare, great wines, period, regardless of where they come from. They want good stuff to drink. But that doesn't mean they have to drink the same stuff all the time. There have never been more good, interesting, affordable wines, from more different grape varieties and places, just waiting for a few adventurous wine merchants to discover them.

June 18, 2008 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger baltimoeronvino said...

I think awthird, you make some valid points. People make those complaints about red Burgundies, but I think overall consistency and affordability (even w/ the weakend dollar) has never been greater in Burgundy.

While there are some dilute and boring $25 Burg's out there, there is a plethora of rediculous values. I was in last weekend, and Mitchell had one for I believe under $20 that I am a huge fan of. While there isn't much left
of 05's to scoop up, 2006 is looking very promising.

And in relation to price, how much does it typically cost to get a "very," good bottle of SB or OR PN? At least $25 normally.

The average wine drinker, or any wine drinker, should judge quality based on where the wine is from. And accesibility is everywhere, if you give the effort. So many SB Pinot's show little terroir to me, and taste overipe. They taste like Pinot on 'roids. No balance. For the same price, or for $5 more I can find a Santenay that tastes like it came from somehwere, and shows complexity. I just don't get that from SB.

August 29, 2008 at 5:02 PM  

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