Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Finally a Wine Writer With a Palate I Understand!

I just finished reading Alice Feiring's new book, "The Battle for Wine and Love or How I Saved the World from Parkerizarion" and I just have to say, "Amen sister, Amen". Feiring has a fierce love for purity, tradition and wines that taste of place and I devoured each word of her well written and easy reading book like a glass of refreshing Sancerre. I found myself smacking the arm of my couch and shouting aloud, "that's what I'm talking about".

In the book Feiring takes you on a journey from the first wine that flipped her lid, (a 1968 Barolo) to her disappointment with the shift from wines of purity, that taste like where they came from to wines that are sappy, gooey and have been made by recipe in order to win the praise of the number yielding press. She travels to Spain and Italy and begings tasting wines that could just have well come from California, new oak, concentrated fruit, weighty with almost no acidity......and she is pissed! She meets with winemakers and is often asked, "Do you think Robert Parker would like this wine?" and more often than she would like the answer was sadly, "Yes". Her frustration and longing to, "stop the madness" before her beloved, "little" wines were snuffed into extinction led her to write this much needed book.

I for one welcome her voice and see it as a beaming light amidst the a sea of sameness. Just like Feiring, I have been watching with dismay as the, "world of wine" has been shrinking....reduced to a puddle of thick goo. I like wine to be rustic, nervy with an accent not buffed, polished and reminiscent of chocolate pudding. I don't have a sweet tooth, don't drink soda or milk and would sooner bite into a lemon sprinkled with salt than eat a apricot.....I was beginning to worry that if things kept on their current path, (deconstructing wines and re-making them like a big old pot of soup) that I might have to switch to Gin and Tonics!

I am happy to report that things might be shifting back towards the middle. Last year I tasted a Rose from Tablas Creek that was over 16% alcohol.....it was revolting but last week I tried the new vintage and things were back near the 13% level. I have watched the levels on Zinfandel come down from their "Port-like" numbers back down to something resembling table wine! This can only be a good thing as I believe that saturation like that only hinders wine drinking. I mean who wants the pounding headache that inevitably comes with a night spent with wines in the 15% alcohol levels? Not to mention that wines with acidity and tart fruit leave you wanting another sip...they are more refreshing, when you're thirsty do you want lemonade or milk? From a sales point of view I would think that encouraging a second or third glass would stimulate more sales right?

Now in all fairness I know there are people that love the kind of wines that Alice Feiring and I loathe and who am I to, "yuck your yum" as it were? All I am asking for is some balance, leave something for us to drink already! We will stay off your Parker Boards, (where Alice has been banned for disagreeing with his devotees) and you stay out of the Loire Valley....deal? Vouvray should not taste like Chenin Blanc from Napa, Savigny-les-Beaune should not taste like Pinot Noir....it should taste like Savigny-les-Beaune, it is that kind of diversity that we should be embracing in the world of wine, not seeing those differences as flaws, calling them thin or light....they may not be to your taste but the person at the next table may just LOVE it! I may not like the style of most California wines but I do appreciate them for what they are and think it is great that there are people out there that love them, something for everyone.

If you are into wines that are covered with the fingerprints of the soil they come from I highly recommend picking up a copy of Alice Feiring's book. Nice to know I'm not the only one and I am also thrilled to support her in her crusade for preservation.

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