Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Garnet Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir 2009

One thing that's cool about the internet is that you can be a total dick in relative anonymity. So take this site: in the grand scheme of things, there just aren't that many people reading it. There are some 6 billion people on the planet, but this site only gets 24,000 unique visitors a year. That's 0.0004% of the world's population. It's probably a higher percentage of the wine-drinking population, but it's not higher by much. So I can feel relatively secure in saying that when I saw Matt Kramer's piece from the Wine Spectator entitled "Are You Afraid of Italian Wines?," I was disappointed almost to the point of tears by what doofus he is. (I guess it takes one to know one, right?) Matt Kramer wrote a whole fucking book on Italian wine, entitled Making Sense of Italian Wine. And yet, he manages to be so clueless as to not have even grasped what is interesting about wine in Italy in a lifetime in the wine business. The soul of Italian food and wine culture (at least perceived by me--and I'm no expert, just a fan--correct me if I'm wrong) is the notion that what I grow in my town, be it grapes, or vegetables, or seafood, or bread, is the best. And it's better than yours. It's mine, and it's tied to the place I'm from. It's a terroir driven notion, impregnated with a sense of local pride--maybe even hubris. Anyways, I find it incredibly disheartening that Matt Kramer hasn't heard of Pecorino, or Cesanese. I would imagine that there are quite a few other varieties that he hasn't heard of either, which is a shame. He is, after all, paid to be an expert on wine--and yet he misses the point on Italian wines. He misses the quirky, strange, and bizarre that make them interesting. How is it that a neophyte wine drinker, with a non-unlimited budget, concern for his liver (ie consumes in moderation), and more limited travel experiences, has tried all these wines multiple times, whilst the expert with many more opportunities to explore and become a fucking expert, hasn't even heard of them? I really shouldn't care, what he drinks is his business, and I have no doubt that he drinks very well on a regular basis. Here's his problem: he has a narrow focus. I'm sure he drinks his fair share of Super Tuscans (ironically made from not very Italian grapes...Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot), and probably indulges in more Syrah from Sicily than would be prudent. And because he has a limited focus, he's missing out on a whole lot of stuff. Maybe it's a good thing that he isn't talking too much about all the strange grapes from Italy. There aren't a lot of them, and I would hate for them to become more expensive and for people to recognize them. Selfishly, I might add. So Matt, keep your Super Tuscans and non-indigenous varietals and keep calling yourself an expert. The people that really know what's up aren't paying a whole hell of a lot of attention to what you have to say anyways.    

So after the above rant, it's kind of funny that there's a California Pinot Noir of all things at the bottom. It probably would have been better for me to drink some weird thing from Italy. But this is what I opened (because I thought it would go with dinner...), and for all my vitriol above, I don't think that you can accuse me of having a narrow focus. I'll try anything. I'll drink anything. If I like something, I'll tell you, even if I think upfront it's something I'm not going to like. Anyways...

This wine was sent to me as a sample by the winery. (Thank you! I'm still shocked that people send me wine.) Supposed to retail for 20$. I find it interesting that the only people sending me samples are California wineries. Why is this interesting to me you ask? Because I don't drink a whole lot of California wine. In fact, when I crunch the numbers for this blog, only about 18% of the wines I drink are domestic. California is even lower--just 9%. I suppose that I do live in California, but for those not familiar, LA isn't exactly close to what most people would consider the California Wine Country. About 6 hours from Napa, 5 hours from Monterey, a healthy 3-ish to Paso, and about 2 to Santa Barbara. Oh, and there's Temecula. I guess that's close. But I digress. Comes with a screw-cap, which I wholly approve of. Fresh. Strawberry, earth, and french vanilla aromas lead into flavors of raspberries, orange peel, and hints of tea on the finish. Decent balance of fruit to acid. This wine is "correct," but doesn't quite have the palmares that I'm expecting in 20$ domestic Pinot. 20$ seems a bit steep to me, especially with Cambria at 16$, and multiple Oregon wines that have a good deal more complexity for around the same price. C/C+


CabFrancoPhile said...

This is a tough price point for Pinot, IMO. Usually you can get something that tastes like Pinot, but it usually lacks the structure and complexity. Looks like this one fits the bill.

Jeff said...

Yeah, you probably drink more of it then I do, but that's the same impression that I got. Actually, there was a point where I thought it was too much and too ripe with the fruit--I was actually thinking Syrah--but gradually, that blew off. Anyways, nothing wrong with it, just about average I would say. So nothing to write home about--you can easily get better for the price. I'm more interested in the other wine they sent me--which is a Chardonnay. I might have that tonight...20$ Chardonnay that's awesome is definitely possible.