That was a memorable weekend for me. The first New World Wine Experience put the spotlight on several of the regions I write about for Wine Spectator. Oh, and by the way, my beloved San Francisco Giants finally won a World Series.
There is a connection.
The Giants were underdogs. Around San Francisco, we knew how good the pitching was, but the baseball pundits on TV expected the more experienced Braves to win the Division Series (won by SF, 3 games to 1). The Phillies were supposed to ride Mr. Postseason No-Hitter Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt to victory in the League Championship Series (won by SF, 4 to 2). Most thought the Giants would succumb to the sainted Cliff Lee (previously 7-0 in postseason) and the Texas Rangers, who had dismantled the New York Yankees to reach the World Series.
Monday night the Giants proved them all wrong. Their two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum defeated Lee for the second time to win this city's first World Series, 4 to 1.
What's the connection to wine? The regions I have been covering since the early 1990s are similarly under-appreciated. Australia, Oregon and Washington (and, previously, New Zealand) have their fans, as do the Giants. But the prevailing wisdom in the wine world at large does not give those places as much credit as they deserve for making outstanding wines.
Even some who have an open mind about wine still have not discovered what the New World can do. Time after time at the Grand Tastings, people exclaimed to me that they never realized how good those Washington Syrahs could be, how much they loved the expressiveness of the 2008 Oregon Pinot Noirs, and how individually distinctive and full of personality those Australian Shirazes actually are.
It's a mindset familiar to me. I taste these wines regularly so I know their range, but it still comes as a surprise to others. It's a good thing: The wine world is full of discoveries, for all of us. That's part of what makes it so exciting.
Even for me. I have had my share of Malbecs from Argentina. They are a go-to choice when I see them on a wine list, and I want something not too expensive but still satisfying. But I have never had anything like the three Matt Kramer presented at the NWWE in his annual peroration of the lesser-known corners of the wine world. Bodega Colomé 2008, Viña Alicia Brote Negro 2008 and Achával-Ferrer Finca Bella Vista 2008 were so thoroughly engaging, steely with minerality against generous, focused, deep, complex fruit flavors, that I flipped out. They were my most exciting discoveries of the weekend.
Other daytime seminars explored the strengths of South Africa and a phenomenal 2008 vintage in Oregon. At a New Zealand lunch, I saw many eyes open over a terrific Te Awa Syrah and a couple of lovely Chardonnays. It's not all Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot down there. And of course, we savored the most recent vintage in California to go ga-ga over, the impressive 2007. There was a time no one took California seriously outside of a few true believers, but now the wine establishment treats California Cab like Bordeaux.
The Giants came out of nowhere (they languished six games behind the San Diego Padres in late August) to win it all. Just as they confounded those who thought they knew, it would be a mistake for the wine world to overlook Argentina, Australia, Chile, Oregon, South Africa and Washington. All are capable of greatness. You just have to believe.
James Laube — Napa, CA — November 2, 2010 3:11pm ET
Fcr Phillips — South Africa — November 2, 2010 4:26pm ET
Adam Wallstein — Spokane, WA — November 2, 2010 4:59pm ET
Jamie Sherman — Sacramento — November 3, 2010 12:47am ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento, CA — November 3, 2010 7:32pm ET
Stephen Kahn Law Offc — Los Angeles, Cal USA — November 4, 2010 9:28pm ET
Russell Quong — Sunnyvale, CA, USA — November 14, 2010 8:44pm ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — November 14, 2010 8:56pm ET
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