Sunday, February 26, 2012

Please less oak!

I poured a woman a glass of 2008 Ojai Vineyard Solomon Hills Chard today. She takes a generous sip and a gives me a puzzled expression. She says, "this isn't Chardonnay! It's not oaky!" To which I replied that the oak flavors do not belong to the grape but the barrel in which it ages. She again looks at me cocking her head in wonder saying, "But it's not oaky!"

Thanks California for impairing another good grape variety!

The rebirth of balanced wines in California

It seems that wines of balance and true complexity might be coming back into style among American winemakers. Napa valley began and then ruled the front of big, overripe, oaky, and powerful wines. Wines of such promise spoiled by their 'enhancements,' wines that could have stood among the great wines of Bordeaux. This plague infected the styles of winemakers across the world, uniting in a common effort to ruin the great art of winemaking.

But not for long! 

The unrefined American palate has called for change, and thus begins the slow process of refinement. Santa Barbara County has been on the forefront of this rebellion, led by passionate winemakers such as Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat, and Adam Tolmach of the Ojai Vineyard, and many others. These winemakers understand that wines must express their terroir, which can only be accomplished through a proper ripeness and handling of the fruit, a balance of acidity, and minimal intervention- in other words through a profound respect of the true art and science of winemaking.