If you drink enough wine in restaurants you'll eventually come across your first sommelier. Take a deep breath. Fear not. Think of him or her as the lifeguard in that big pool of wine, ready if you need rescue. And we all need that from time to time.
Is it possible to love a wine region to death? Sometimes it seems that way with Sonoma's Russian River Valley. Three times now its American Viticultural Area (AVA) has been expanded. Everyone wants in.
As the Russian River AVA becomes larger and more unwieldy, is it losing its meaning as a wine region? There is a real risk and it's something that every AVA faces. All AVAs start off as righteous causes dedicated to purity, to distinctive places to grow wine, but they end up being about money. If Russian River Valley is on your wine label, let's be honest, you can charge more than a wine labeled Sonoma County or Sonoma Coast.
Winemaker Jeff Cohn was the man behind Rosenblum’s stellar Zinfandels during that winery’s heyday, so when he launched his own winery, JC Cellars, he focused almost exclusively on Syrah and other Rhône varietals.
“I wanted some separation,” says Cohn, who launched his winery with his wife, Alexandra, in 1996 and departed Rosenblum in 2006. “But I missed Zin, and I feel like the water has cleared enough that I can do what I want to do.”
The sluggish sales of California Rhône wines played a role no doubt, but I’ve always thought Cohn had a gift for Zin, so I’m glad to see him returning to his roots. And his new releases from the 2009 vintage certainly prove the point.
I don't write a lot of checks anymore, but in the old days it was nearly March by the time I stopped writing in the old year. So if I waited until after the New Year to look back on 2011 and forward to 2012, I'm almost ahead of myself, right?
If that works for you, it works for me. 2011 was certainly an interesting year and 2012 being an election year, anything can happen. The world of wine right now is a microcosm of the rest of America. Business is picking up, and some people are doing dandy and price is no object but most are still trying to finagle the best deals they can. Here are a few thoughts about California wine in 2012, as well as some of the wines that were my highlights of 2011.