Any winemaker will tell you it's got to be in the grapes. Winemaking goals have value only when the grapes they start with contain flavor, color and tannin appropriate to the targeted wine style, and the whole exercise is pointless absent distinctive terroir expression.
In the past six months I’ve used this space for essays which have focused sharply on specific matters I’ve felt passionately the need to explore. Now I realize that I haven’t yet shared with readers the organized framework for which the blog is named.
Why do Californians seem hell-bent on establishing so-called appellations? Well, I guess I understand why: local pride, a wish to create a point of distinction from others in the marketplace, and a hope eventually to be able to sit back and charge twice or ten times what your wine is worth like they do in Napa and Bordeaux.
Edward De Bono said "A myth is a fixed way of looking at the world which cannot be destroyed because, looked at through the myth, all evidence supports the myth."
It's a double entendre. First, the common view of Science as a dependable repository of facts, an authority on How Things Are, simply doesn’t exist. I believe our faith in this myth, this notion of “Science” has proven dangerous to our society generally and a disaster for winemaking.
Few aspects ring more passionately for lovers of WineSmith wines than their obvious minerality. The source is pretty clear -- living soil. In a recent Wines and Vines article, Tim Patterson reports that “the one thing we do know is that it has very little to do with minerals.”
They all talk the talk. Nothing in the wine biz gets more lip service today than the blesséd and elusive terroir, a zealotry which begins with the notion that every place has a unique flavor signature, and (depending on whom you speak to) embraces aspects of living soil and even cultural tradition.