Rant: Is it just me? - Printable Version

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- Bucko - 09-14-2000 09:26 PM

I know that this has been bandied about before, but I'm firing off another blast.

Tonight I opened two wines from Handley Vineyards, a winery from Mendocino who has always been a personal CA favorite. Unfortunately, these two wines seem to have fallen victim to the OBBI (Oak Bomb Blitzkrieg Insanity). OBBI Wine Kenobe cannot save these wines.

What the h3ll is going on in CA and Australia? Does anyone listen to the customer who complaints of these oak laden disappointments? Are winemakers oblivious to the fact that their wines are horribly overoaked? Do they even care? Do the consumers even care? Am I standing out in the middle of the field barking at the wind? Has everyone fallen victim to the OBBI Wine Course 101, where overextraction and overoaking is step one in the winemaking course?

Thanks, I feel much better now.........


- Drew - 09-15-2000 12:00 AM

[img][/img] Must have oak!!
[img][/img] Oak is good!!
[img][/img] Must have oak!!
[img][/img] Oak is good!!
[img][/img] Must have oak!!
[img][/img] Oak is good!!
[img][/img] [img][/img] [img][/img] [img][/img] [img][/img] [img][/img]


DREWZOMBI OAKOMBI (King of the Oak Zombies)

- mrdutton - 09-15-2000 05:56 AM

Hey Bucko I'll stand behind you - just so I can stay hidden from Drew's zombie eyes......

Seriously, I sincerely agree with you.

A few days ago I opened a SW Viognier from France. Full of peach fruit, very crisp with only a hint of vanilla. My wife loved it. She said she'd like more in a few days or so.

Yesterday I opened a Cali Viognier. It was blek by comparison. The fruit had all but disappeared. All there was to taste was oak with a slight hint of fruit. My wife complained, "This can't be the same wine, it is awful".

Off I trudged to the wine merchant to get more of the French version! Have to keep her happy, you know.

- Innkeeper - 09-15-2000 05:59 AM

Is it Willie Bucko now? Acutally we agree with both you and Willie on this one. That is in regard to to white wine and light reds. Oak (in moderation of course) can add a deeper dimension to medium and full bodied reds. The way the Italians treat barbera is a good example. They can make it an oak free delightful light red to go with a whole bookful of lighter food or pasta, and with a modest dose of oak transform it into a rich, almost full wine that marries with the richest dishes.

Whites are a different story all together. Have gotten to the point where we only drink chardonnay when folks drop by in the afternoon. Fortunately we have riesling. Or do we. In yesterday's newsletter, Dan Berger pointed out that riesling plantings have been reduced in both California and Washington. This is a very disturbing development. He also reports that in the Alsace, there is a problem with the dry wines not being so. Not that off dry is a problem, but it would be nice to know. German Riesling has risen in price far above everday quaffing.

So what to do? One can hunt for unoaked whites of grapes that normally get it; some New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, some Macon Chardonnay, etc. Or we look for different wines such as midwestern seyvals, vidals, and chardonels. Or we can emulate WW and stick with reds, which is what we are doing more and more.

[This message has been edited by Innkeeper (edited 09-20-2000).]

- mrdutton - 09-15-2000 06:29 AM

IK what about the Finger Lakes region and some of the Long Island wineries. Are they not good sources of riesling at a fair price?

I've recently had several un-oaked whites from across the Atlantic. My wine merchant's distributor keeps him fairly well supplied with less than $10.00 a bottle vin de table and vin de pays wines that to me are quite tastey and quite oak free.

Then every once and a while, say for oysters on the half shell, I break down and pay for a good Chablis.

However I still find that my red to white consumption ratio is somewhere around 6/1 whereas my wifes is somewhere around 1/6.

- Innkeeper - 09-15-2000 07:00 AM

The problem with New York wines is you have to go there to get them. Also don't think the wineries are really interested in shipping out of state. When I went to the Palmer Vineyard website after visiting them this summer, found a notice stating, "Federal Law prohibits shipping wine out of New York State." Yeah right! Did see a Wagner Riesling on 's most recent offering. That's the whole problem with unoaked whites, you can find one here and one there. In restaurants around here, except in Canada, you cannot find unoaked whites unless you're lucky.

- barnesy - 09-15-2000 07:52 AM

I will have to agree with Bucko here. When I visited King Estate winery in Oregon, they had two labels. Their "better quality" King Estate label and their cheaper "table wine" lorane valley label. The difference was that the cheaper versian were usually unoaked or very lightly oaked. There were several other tasters there. I knowticed, my self included, that the majority liked the unoaked versions. The King Estate label was just too in your face with the oak. I just hope the over oak trend doesn't catch on in Oregon.


- Innkeeper - 09-15-2000 10:28 AM

A breath of fresh air that is widely available is Cave De Lugny, Macon Lugny, Chardonnay, "Les Charmes." It is almost as flinty as a Chablis, no oak, and runs around $10.00. Took Mrs IK out for her birthday a couples of weeks ago and ordered it out of desperation to go with our mussel starters, and different lobster entrees. The Les Charmes complimented everything seamlessly.

Conversely, two nights ago we had the previously lauded (8/8/00) 1998 Mill Creek, Napa Valley, Chardonnay with sea scallops broiled with herbs and butter. The flavors of the food and the wine threw spears at each other. We ended up drinking water with dinner, and finished the wine for dessert. We will take the rest of the case down to Ocean City for quaffing on the balcony.

[This message has been edited by Innkeeper (edited 09-16-2000).]

- Thomas - 09-15-2000 07:18 PM

This conversation heartens me. I have never liked too much wood in wine, and my reason is simple: I normally consume wine with food; for that, I want fruit and/or acid.

Until Americans learn to consume wine as a beverage with dinner and not as a drink producers will bombard us with products that have been over-oaked, over-extracted, overdone.

Americans think that things that are good can be enhanced and that makes them even better. Look at what we have done to a simple cup of capuccino or the once-proletariat bagel.

Like Italian cooking, fine wine is identified by its vibrancy and its simplicity.

- JohnWalsh - 09-15-2000 08:34 PM

Maybe it is just me, and maybe just bad luck but...Has anyone else found many wines made in 1999 to be BAD!?!?!?! I bought a bottle of Merlot last week, granted it was only a $15 bottle but, it was from a well-known Australian winery that, in the past, has made some of the best $15-$30 bottles of Merlot and Shiraz I've ever had. Anyway...this was the first time I bought a wine bottled in 1999. It was absolutely awful!!! Not only did it have a heavy oak flavor but it was also down right bitter!! So, I tried another bottle of Merlot form another of my favorite Aussie wineries and…SAME THING!!! Bitter and very woody tasting. It was also 1999!!!! So, I looked around and found a bottle of 1997, same bottle of wine, same winery but, the bottle made in 1997 was great. I still just thought it was coincidence: until tonight. I paid close to $50 for a Napa Valley Pinot Noir and it tasted just like the Aussie Merlot and Shiraz!! And, wouldn't you know, it was 1999!!!
I just wanted to know if anyone else has had a similar experience and/or if anyone has an explanation for why I'm finding all these wines bottled in 1999 to be horrible.

- Drew - 09-15-2000 11:00 PM

All kidding aside, I agree with you Bucko. I find myself drawn to oaked examples of Cab., Merlot, Shiraz etc. when drunk without food....(like WW, I rarely drink SW). Still considering myself a novice I rely on a good wine merchant in my area for advice on food friendly wines and he usually comes through with good recommendations. I also find that if I'm "binging" on multiple tasting days of over oaked wines that they all seem to taste alike and my minds tn's on the individual wines goes no further than the amount of wood present. On the other hand there's nothing like a big, oaky, rich, red after I've abstained for awhile. I suspect this is what the wine makers target for the american palate. We, as daily wine consumers, are an anomaly in America....over oaked wines do not seem to rule in countries where daily consumption is common.


- chittychattykathy - 09-16-2000 01:06 AM

The Aussies have certainly figured out that over-oaked wines sell well in the US!

- Innkeeper - 09-16-2000 06:11 AM

The 1999's may just be too young, even considering the Aussies are half a year ahead of us. Albeit there are probably over oaked anyway. For minimal oak and a great 1999 vintage try Cotes-Du-Rhone. They are fleshing out even better than the sensational 1998s.

- hotwine - 09-16-2000 06:57 AM

Right on, IK. IMO, the Europeans know how to handle wood a lot better than other producers. It's rare that I encounter an over-oaked French, German or Italian wine.

- Thomas - 09-16-2000 07:35 AM

That's right Hotwine, that is because the Europeans do not produce wine for drinking; they produce it for dining. Having said that, I am nervous about what is going on in European wine production today.

Just last April I had a long conversation with one of the winemakers at Bolla, in Verona. He put forward a new line of wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, et al, that tasted like they could have been produced at a Napa winery with a hyper-investment in oak and tannins. I asked the man why it was that he would choose to obliterate the wonderful local flavors of Valpolicella and Bardolino. He replied that the Bolla company aims these new wines at the American market.

Similarly, look at what has happened in Tuscany. There are wines coming out of Tuscany that should be taxed on weight rather than volume, and they bear little relationship to the marvelous wines of Siena, or other places in the region--marvelous with food, that is.

France will slowly slip in that direction too--especially in the south where good bargains still prevail. Watch what happens as Languedoc discovers the American wood market!

Germany might escape the problem because theirs is not a red wine culture; but as IK noted elsewhere, the prices for their wine have abandoned all reason.

- hotwine - 09-16-2000 04:36 PM

I'm afraid you're right, Foodie. That seems to be happening now in the Languedoc, up until recently a bastion of common sense and fair prices.

- Thomas - 09-24-2000 10:39 AM

Yep, there are times when the so-called "greatest country on earth" leads the world astray, especially in cultural matters....

- Botafogo - 09-26-2000 11:08 PM

The largest selling white wines in the history of our store have BOTH been stainless steel, food friendly and drinkable:

Bodegas Lurton Mendoza Pinot Gris 1999, Argentina (absotively friggin amazing and it WAS just $4.99, now vaporized)

Enrico Abbona Roero Arneis 1997, Piemonte (this one even has a watercolor of a Cicada on the label, an insect that infests oak trees!!!)

Pallets and pallets out the door while we are lucky to sell twenty cases of Chard-Oak-o-nay, the masses have spoken (as they WILL if given a choice), Roberto

- Bucko - 09-27-2000 07:18 AM

Roberto, Chardonnay is still the number one selling wine in the USA, not in my house granted, but nevertheless I don't think the masses have spoken.

Quit hiding those tips until after the fact, Bubba. Give us oakophobes some lead time!


- Botafogo - 09-27-2000 11:26 AM

Bucko, we still have some of the Arneis but whenever I talk about wines we actually have for sale someone goes friggin nuts about "commercial interests".

PS: if you give consumers a real choice they will often surprise you.