Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
We had a Petite Sirah blind tasting at our wine club this weekend, and the biggest controversy of the night surrounded a 2008 wine from Mendocino. This wine had heavy scents of smoke, and I rated it undrinkable. Is this a common problem for the ’08 crop?
—Joe D., Vason Island, Wash.
Wildfires were a problem all over California in 2008; in parts of Mendocino, the smoke was dense for weeks, and some fires lasted about a month before they were fully contained.
I’m not sure how common it is for the ’08s, but smoke can absolutely taint grapes. I’ve had a few ’08s from that area with similar smoky notes. In some cases it was pleasant and intriguing—after all, I’m a big fan of both bacon and campfires—but it some cases it was unpleasant.