Lately I’ve been happily immersed in the surge of 2007 California Cabernets and this is indeed a stunning vintage, coming at a time when 2009 Bordeaux is the most expensive vintage ever.
When tasting older vintages from a winery whose wines I’ve reviewed in the past, I never look up the previous notes before the tasting. After this most recent vertical of Marcassin Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, I did compare notes to see how I did and how the wines showed.
If you had to reduce wine to one variable, ripeness would be at the top of most lists. Wine is nothing if it's not about flavor, and in our times the issue of ripeness, or underripe or overripe, is often at the heart of wine appreciation or analysis. Helen Turley, as much as any winemaker I've met, has a clear vision and understanding of what ripeness means to her, and she shares some thoughts on that matter in a video I shot at her home in Calistoga a few days ago.
Winemakers only get one chance to do it right and determine if the grapes are sufficiently ripe to harvest, Helen Turley tells Wine Spectator's James Laube in a video interview.
Unlike winemakers, who can go to school to study enology and viticulture with a formal university curriculum, most wine writers are self-taught. Call it on-the-job training. When I moved to Napa in 1978, I had been drinking wine for five or six years, but my only formal education, if you could call it that, had been by visiting winery tasting rooms and reading. Tasting with winemakers, and hearing them describe their wines, was a huge benefit.
People often ask me how I got my job as a Wine Spectator editor. The answer is, the job found me, during two days that Napa will never forget.
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