Rant: Most ridiculous item of the day...

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Rant: Most ridiculous item of the day...

Postby Randy Buckner » Fri May 05, 2006 1:36 pm

A noted critic recently heaped praise on several Washington wines. Don't get me wrong. Washington is turning out some fine wines, however far too many are way overoaked. To praise oak bombs only encourages more of same. Some examples:

2003 Andrew Will Ciel du Cheval Vineyard - 94 points. I used to like A-W wines, but they have become increasingly oaky over the years.

2002 Col Solare Proprietary Red - 94 points. This bottling has always exceeded oak tolerances for my palate.

2003 Delille Cellars Chaleur Estate - 95 points. DeLille makes an elegant wine -- no doubt about it. Again it pushes my tolerance for oak.

2003 Januik Cabernet Sauvignon Champoux Vineyard - 94 points. I had high hopes for this winery given the winemaker, however the first wines I tried were so oaky as to be undrinkable.

2003 Leonetti Cellar Reserve - 97 points. Scream!

2003 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon - 100 points. Triple scream with a gasp. They lost me in 1995 due to oak levels.

2003 Spring Valley Vineyard Frederick - 94 points. One of the nicest families you'll ever meet, but they need to lose the new wood.

If you plan on visiting Washington, watch out for the influx of lumber trucks heading for wine country. They'll slather you down with oak butter and leave you for the lemmings....
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Re: Rant: Most ridiculous item of the day...

Postby Jenise » Fri May 05, 2006 1:48 pm

I heard about Rovani's speech at Taste of Washington, in which he announced that Washington was finally producing world class wines and the next Advocate would give the highest points in the issue to WA state reds. These must be the wines you list.

Let's compare your list to Rovani's: for your palate, which producers are making the best red wines in the state?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Rant: Most ridiculous item of the day...

Postby Jeff Masnari » Fri May 05, 2006 7:35 pm

Randy whadya want, balance complexity and the ability to pair with food. You're so yesterday. :)
What I like best is you can pay anywhere from $60 to $110 for each of these wines. :roll:

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MayBe/MayBeNot...

Postby TomHill » Fri May 05, 2006 9:52 pm

Randy,
Agree pretty much that many of the WashState Cab-based wines tend to have a $hit-load (Kansas colloquialism for "a lots"), but I've noted some trend to reign it in a bit more. But certainly the ones cited tend to be on the oaky side.
But one of the things I've been noticing in their Syrahs and other Rhone varietals (though I do find some Viogniers too oaked) is their restraint of use of new oak; not nearly as bad as when the first "great" (not my quotes) WashState Cabs started coming out.
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Save the trees!

Postby Bruce K » Sat May 06, 2006 1:12 pm

I couldn't agree more. They grow such great fruit there and have such great potential, but then too many of the winemakers just overoak it to death. Unfortunately, this will not help. I guess all we can do is make a point of patronizing the ones with a light hand who get it right.
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Re: Rant: Most ridiculous item of the day...

Postby Randy Buckner » Sat May 06, 2006 1:44 pm

You're so yesterday.


No, I think I'm last month. :(
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Re: MayBe/MayBeNot...

Postby Randy Buckner » Sat May 06, 2006 1:51 pm

$hit-load (Kansas colloquialism for "a lots")


I thought Texas had a patent on that term. I am still finding a lot of wood in the wines made here. I certainly praise those winemakers who use restraint, and I'm not shy about telling those who massively overoak to get a beaver symbol for their label.
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Re: Save the trees!

Postby Randy Buckner » Sat May 06, 2006 2:07 pm

I couldn't agree more. They grow such great fruit there and have such great potential, but then too many of the winemakers just overoak it to death. Unfortunately, this will not help. I guess all we can do is make a point of patronizing the ones with a light hand who get it right.


Unfortunately it does have an effect, Bruce. I saved the following quote from a winemaker who is dismayed at all of the new wood being used. I don't know the validity of the statement, but he has always been honest with me. He told me this while doing an interview for a newspaper article, so his identity is protected as requested.

I remember the years being around Alex when he made the wines with minimal new oak and I think they were better. However, he would throw a (fit) when the scores came in not to his liking from both the Wine Spitoon and Bobby Baby. So one day when I was there, he had just received undesirable scores from the W.S., threw it against the wall and said: "Fuck 'um! We're getting rid of all the barrels and will use 100% new oak from now on. If they want fuckin' oak I'll give it to them in spades."

This is really scary if true -- winemakers who make wines for points instead of for balance, finesse, and as an accompaniment to food. Based on my palate, it is true. I suspect most of us believe winemakers do just that.
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Re: Save the trees!

Postby Bruce K » Sat May 06, 2006 3:27 pm

This is a scary story, but it doesn't surprise me. Winemakers are business people and while many (though certainly not all) do it for love, they also do it for a profit and higher scores mean more sales and higher prices -- though I do think it's possible to make wines for "balance, finesse, and as an accompaniment to food," as you put it and still make money, especially at the prices many Washington winemakers charge. With the right kind of marketing, they can fill a niche rather than just be copycats. It is too bad, though, that there is no publication with anything close to the market power of a WS or WA that rates wines according to their human food-friendliness rather than their suitability as beaver food.

Too bad you can't reveal the identity of the person you quoted -- I'd love to know who that was...
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Re: MayBe/MayBeNot...

Postby Isaac » Sat May 06, 2006 4:51 pm

I'm not shy about telling those who massively overoak to get a beaver symbol for their label.
Never happen. Someone from here in the Beaver State would sue them into bankruptcy!

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