I connected with a couple of famous, long-time Napa Valley winemakers recently, and their tales are worth passing along, though I’m withholding their identities because our discussions were casual and not part of an interview.
What they had to say was more important--and reflective of the mood and reality of life in the wine business--than who they are. Because they could have been just about any winemaker, telling it like it is.
The first exchange was about the 2005 vintage and the impending 2006 crush.
The winemaker said that while he had declassified a large portion of his 2005 wine, he thought the vintage was one of the best in memory--and that takes in some 30-plus years. So while there continue to be mixed views about the quality of 2005 (the large crop size and late ripening being two concerns), there are many who remain excited.
Meantime, he added: “Grapes are looking great for 2006. Even better than last year.”
Conversation No. 2 had to do with the problem of Brettanomyces. It is spoilage yeast that can give a distinctive exotic aroma and flavor to wines, but it can also make a wine taste bitter, metallic and leathery.
Usually the presence of Brett is trouble, with a capital T, and for most winemakers it is wine’s greatest enemy.
The winemaker told me he’d discovered Brett in one of his wines and, because he hates it, decided to dump 2,000 cases.
That’s devastating to a small winery. But to sell it might have been even worse for his winery’s reputation.
Steve Morey — September 15, 2006 12:36pm ET
John L Vickerman — Sacramento Ca. — September 15, 2006 7:24pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — September 15, 2006 7:39pm ET
Apj Powers — Dallas, TX — September 16, 2006 2:49am ET
Steve Shelton — Yuba City, Ca. — September 16, 2006 2:54am ET
Adam Lee — Santa Rosa, CA — September 17, 2006 8:46am ET
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