Thursday, September 11, 2008

Two very different days of tasting wine - USA and ARGENTINA; FRANCE and ITALY

On Tuesday, I tasted around 50 wines at work. I thought 10 of them tasted ok. Two of them I might buy with my own money. It was a day spent tasting mainly California wines, with about ten Argentinean wines as well, so I guess I'm not surprised that I disliked most of the wines. I've noticed that many of my colleagues who sell wine retail and in restaurants, especially the under 40 year-old set (though not by any means limited to these folks) overwhelmingly prefer European wines to Californian, Washington, Oregon and other new world regions. Furthermore, most wine drinkers I talk to who have been drinking wine for a while often tell me that they gradually have grown to prefer European wines to their new world counterparts. That does not bode particularly well for new world wine regions, don't you think? Especially if more people continue selling what they actually like and think is good, not what they think their customers will think is good.

Of the 50 wines I tasted, there were six by Paul Hobbs, each of them truly awful, and unimaginable with any sort of food. What's up with Americans' unsatiable thirst for these crappy wines? Subject for a future post, perhaps.

One of the two wines that I really liked was the 2006 Unti Petit Freres (90% Grenache, Syrah) which tasted of dark fruit, fully dry, and unmarred by overripeness or new oak. No surprises here given that, if memory serves, they ferment with indigenous yeast in tank, with aging in used oak foudres The other one was a Pinot Noir from Hirsch's Bohan Dillon vineyard in the Sonoma coast. While CA pinot is generally not my tipple of choice, this wine was bright and lively, crunchy red fruits with good acidity and even a touch of minerality.

Now on to a different day of tasting, the day before this one, on my day off. It was a small Dressner tasting, basically a line-up of wines that are not represented by our CA distributor and are available direct from Mr. Dressner in New York. Of the 19 wines, I really liked 14, a markedly higher percentage than the day of tasting mentioned above. Granted, Joe Dressner has a pretty mean palate and imports good stuff, but I think you can readily see the contrast between these two days of tasting. Chances are, if you are reading this then you know what I'm saying and find yourself feeling similarly inclined, but I welcome any and all contrarians to state their wine preferences.

More detailed notes to come on the Dressner wines.