Tuesday, October 30, 2012

looking for some sunshine

2009 First Press Cabernet Sauvignon | Napa Valley

We were lucky in Toronto - intense wind and rain last night, but nothing too catastrophic from Post-tropical storm Sandy. Was looking at pictures of New York, and they've been hammered. Hope my buddies in NYC and Chicago are ok ... stay dry and safe my friends.

I don't drink much Californian wine. Price certainly has something to do with it, but it's also that much of what I drink seems to be so boring. Yes, we all know how much Americans like fruit in their wines, but really, by that logic, they would just as be well served by drinking juice. Wine is wine only because it expresses something a bit more than middle-of-the-road, clean fruit flavours. Oak and alcohol are always going to be obnoxious issues to talk about in American wine, but in this wino's opinion, it's how they choose to express their fruit that turns me away from these wines. Of course, I'm generalizing here, as you could make the same claim for any new world wine.

I like First Press a lot. Maybe it's just me, but it's always these sub-$20 wines that seem more interesting. A little less ripe, a little less showy - simply more drinkable, pleasant wines. This cabernet, showing all the slightly jammy fruit that reminds you of its origin, but with this subtle stemminess that holds onto that bit of varietal character. Alcohol a bit high, but balanced, and altogether, a very agreeable wine with dinner. Now why can't more new world wines be like this? I mean, is it so painful for people to pick just a bit earlier, and hold back just a bit on the extraction?

Eventually, I think all the worst excesses of this whole high alcohol, macerated fruit nonsense will be reined back, at least in America (the Australians can keep their syrup wines). But as consumers, we have to send a message that what we're looking for is elegance and balance - true balance, with acidity - instead of a wine that's constantly shouting and trying to prove how impressive it is.


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