While winemaking has been my lifelong dream it hadn’t materialized until 2001. Without any doubt the transition into winemaking was one of the most exciting periods of my life. As this year is drawing to an end and I am starting the 15th year of my winemaking career, I have been doing some soul searching thinking about issues that are important to me. While these are not front line issues, they are related to my wine making philosophy and values. I have decided to present them in a satirical way while intending to expose the truth. I am hoping that this will make some sense to you.
I will be more tolerant of pretentious wine snobs that try to make wine mystical and intellectually intimidating. I will explain that wines should be introduced with transparency and authenticity and judged by each individual using his own subjective olfactory senses.
I will not complain about the politically powerful Wine and Spirits Wholesale Association that creates a monopoly in the sales of wine in many states favoring large producers and discriminating against the small ones. This organization acquires its political power through lobbying and contributing millions during elections to individual politicians on both sides of the alley which guarantees legislation favorable to their cause.
I will stop bitching about the 100 point rating system even though I find it flawed, deceiving and misrepresenting. This system creates the illusion that this number was scientifically measured and is absolute, while in reality these ratings are totally arbitrary and subjective. A wine judged by one wine critic at 95 points may be judged 88 by another, making a world of difference on the sales of the wine.
I will be more patient with people that don’t recognize the Sierra Foothills as an important wine growing region. I will explain to them that the Sierra Foothills is in the pantheon of California viticulture history and its unique climate, soil and topography offers one the ideal opportunity to cultivate a diverse number of grape varietals and produce premium quality wines.
I will stop ridiculing people that worship wines from one region while snubbing ones from other regions. I will continue to advocate that wine has a sense of place and acquires the specific attributes characteristic of the region that it represents. I will suggest to them to have an open mind that might give them the opportunity to discover some exciting wines that will enhance their drinking pleasure.
In the least confrontational way, I will remind those wine mavens that think that Napa is the only game in town that they should not forget that what brought Napa into the limelight was the “Judgment of Paris,” a wine competition conducted in Paris on May 24, 1976 where 9 French judges, all wine aficionados with credentials representing la crème de la crème of the French oenology community, graded incognito Napa Cabernets with Bordeaux’s. The results were astounding. The Napa Cabernets were preferred by the majority of judges. How is it that 9 French wine aficionados could not tell the difference between Napa Cabernets and Bordeaux’s? How could have they missed the regional identity of Bordeaux’s? If they knew which wines were Bordeaux and which were from Napa, wouldn’t have they picked the Bordeaux’s to be the winners? “The Judgment of Paris” will always remain a mystery. Could it have been for real?
Happy New Year from Chaim