Oct 8, 200912:00 AM
All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans
Who Ya Gonna Believe?
You don’t have to look far to find someone who is willing to give you advice on a wide variety of subjects. Sometimes it’s one person on many subjects who is looking over your shoulder and watching your every move.
But this column is not about your mother, your wife, your husband, your best friend, your personal trainer or your yoga instructor –– pick as many as apply.
You need only go to the Internet, as you have here, to find no end of people who are full of … advice. And Web sites that rate experiences are as numerous as the experiences they are rating.
Wine is a particularly favored topic for folks who are more than happy to advise you on what you are supposed to like and what you should be buying. It is amazing for a topic that is rooted in personal tastes and preferences to have a plethora of “experts” who are so willing to educate you on your own senses.
Just for the record, I consider myself a wine and spirits observer. Here you won’t find ratings numbers or comments about the new must-have or don’t-bother vintage. You can go elsewhere if you really want strong opinions on purchasing. Really, I may suggest from time to time –– but provide scores and ratings? Never. Which is probably why I’ll never write a book or make any money at this. I’m doing this on my terms, heading straight for the poorhouse.
Certain wine-lovers love to quote the latest mutterings from Robert Parker or rattle off the scores from Wine Spectator. They will run breathlessly to the wine shelves at their favorite wine retail emporium only to be disappointed more often than not because other readers of those reviews have long since tread that same path, plucked the booty and headed for the checkout scanner, credit card in one hand and cell phone in the other, calling wine-buddies and doing the equivalent of the schoolyard taunt na-na-nana-na.
I like that people are not just buying wine based on pretty labels and are enjoying the research, finding things that maybe they will like and purchasing trophies with solid information and knowledge.
What I am not so wild about is the fact that some of my wine-swilling brethren have become slavish to somebody else’s rating system.
And here is the real point: Your palate is the ultimate judge. Seek the truth and have faith in what you find within yourself. There: Consider yourself freed and prepare to go forth.
Honestly, all of the reviews and all of the guides are just that: guides. Use them as such. There’s a lot of product to choose from, and you are correct to seek outside counsel in helping you choose the best stuff. But don’t base everything on somebody else’s opinion.
You possess the same set of tools as every critic, every writer on an Internet site (yes, including this one) and every magazine article author. And with those sensory tools you bring to the party, you can make your own decisions and have confidence that your conclusions are just as right as anyone and everyone else’s.
So get out there, and taste some wine.
All that being said, let me provide you with some recent news about a professional judging recently staged by the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, in which I had the privilege to participate, as I am honored to do every year.
The wines judged, more than 1,200 of them, were from Sonoma County exclusively, which is one of the great grape-growing sites on the planet. Places such as Russian River, Sonoma Coast, Carneros, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek, Rockpile, Green Valley and Chalk Hill are all in Sonoma. There’s nothing shabby about wines coming out of every one of those appellations.
Some of the wines judged are not readily available in our market, but most are.
Best of Class: Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut
Best of Class: Mill Creek Winery, 2008
Gold: Sebastiani Vineyards, 2008, Russian River
Chardonnay, up to $20
Best of Class: Sebastiani Vineyards, 2007, Sonoma County
Chardonnay, $20 to $30
Best of Class: Taft Street Winery, 2008, Russian River
Chardonnay, $30 and more
Best of Class: DeLoach Vineyards, 2007, Russian River Hawk Hill Vineyard
Merlot, up to $25
Best of Class: Trentadue Winery, 2006, Alexander Valley Estate
Cabernet Sauvignon, up to $25
Best of Class: Clos du Bois Wines, 2006, Alexander Valley Reserve
Pinot Noir, up to $25
Best of Class: Buena Vista, 2006, Carneros
Zinfandel, up to $25
Best of Class: Trentadue Winery, 2005, Alexander Valley La Storia
If you have an interest in the complete list of wines that received medals, head on over to www.harvestfair.org/docs/2009_pgs_20_60_WineAwards_corrected.pdf or www.sonomacountyfair.com.
And remember, you are the ultimate judge of your wine. Now get on with it.