Clumsy. Overripe. High alcohol. Over oaked. Fruit driven. Massive. Sweet. Made for Mr Parker's Palate.
The historical stereotype of California wine, like all stereotypes, has a basis in truth. Especially for many Europeans, whose exposure to these wines consist of a lot of industry commentary flavoured by a precious few bottles that make it across the Atlantic and don't go far towards dispelling the reputation. Even most Americans in the wine business with more than an ounce of perspective will readily admit that American tastes in wine lean towards the bigger, riper, and sweeter end of the spectrum. Both national sales numbers and the tide of 98 point scores from many critics also point to this reality.
Like all stereotypes, however, this characterisation of California wine proves as inadequate as it is unjust in capturing the wide range of wine styles that are made in the state. And as with many such prejudices, there exist a group of crusaders who spend their time trying to demonstrate its fallacy. In the past decade America has seen an increasing number of sommeliers, wine writers, and winemakers increasingly focused on California wines that defy the dominant stereotype....
This article is my monthly column at JancisRobinson.Com, Alder on America, and is available only to subscribers of her web site. If you're not familiar with the site, I urge you to give it a try. It's only £6.99 a month or £69 per year ($11/mo or $109 a year for you Americans) and well worth the cost, especially considering you basically get free, searchable access to the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs. Click here to sign up.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
Holiday Gift Guide for the Wine Lover Who Has Everything I'll Drink to That: Andrew McNamara of The Court of Master Sommeliers Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 22, 2015 I'll Drink to That: Bruce Neyers of Neyers Vineyards Vinography Images: Rows of Gold A Lonely Hillside: The Wines of Alto de la Ballena, Uruguay I'll Drink to That: Karen MacNeil The Most Untrustworthy Wine in the World Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 11/22 I'll Drink to That: CP Lin of Erewhon
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune