Wine Talk

Snooth User: dmcker

What's wrong with California Cabs?

Original post by dmcker, Jan 29, 2010.

Here's an article I just ran across that points to an issue that has been looming larger for several years now:
http://www.napavalleyregister.com/l...

The sentiments in it have been expressed several times on these boards. GregDP has moaned recently on the subject and I've talked about how I prefer wines that are 'transparent', express what the actual earth and grapes it comes from have to say, and that are manipulated only in ways that allow that expression in its fullest, not to manufacture some overly alcoholic fruit bomb that has the balance and finesse of a sumo wrestler trying ballet.

The article is well worth reading in its entirety, but here're a few short paragraphs from its middle that hopefully will stimulate some good discussion here:
"What we have today, mainly at the $30-and-above price point, are wines that are the near antithesis of this: high in alcohol (almost nothing of supposed quality is less than 14.5 percent; some are 16 percent), very low acid levels (which almost guarantees that the wines won’t age well), and actual residual sugar in many.

"This is wine that some reviewers say smells like chocolate, mocha, smoke and roasted nuts. These aren’t aromas derived from fruit; they come from the smoked oak barrels in which the wines were aged, clearly an idea that was never at play decades ago.

"The most telling — and damaging — aspect of today’s cabernets is what I hear from wine makers, and always off the record. The phrasing may differ, but the sentiment is the same: “I may make cabernet, but I don’t drink it any more.”



So what do people here think on this subject?

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Replies

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Reply by StevenBabb, Jun 10, 2010.

kudos to Otsuka... nice to see that a buy out can be a positive thing... but then again, i think that the Japanese do most things well...

and i can't recall ever trying Turley... i did a quick search ( i love google) and it seems like they're another big wine, but they also came out with "juvenile", that was supposed to be lighter in style...

i'll have to keep my eye out for them.... although i did hit a little bit of sticker shock during my quick search...

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 10, 2010.

She's done her best to cultivate cult status, with pricing strategy aligned. Too big for my tastes (and I meant it as a Paso Robles example). Do sometimes like her Marcassin pinots, though. Some people would put her in the same class as the earlier names you named, younger generation....

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Reply by StevenBabb, Jun 10, 2010.

i'll have to keep her on my raidar for sure.... i'll even check at work tonight and see if we carry Turley...

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Reply by zufrieden, Jun 12, 2010.

I guess this is more a case of something not wrong with California Cabs... and there are many more cases of such - though they are distinctly in the minority, so more's the pity.  Unfortunately, as the weather becomes hotter I'm likely to keep those powerful reds cellared as I am not going to have much time for BBQ this summer. I'm more likely to turn to Germany at the moment - for cool refreshing late evening drafts...

But do keep those explanations coming.

;-)

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Reply by Sommeliermark, Jun 12, 2010.

I have long felt the biggest problem with big Cali reds, not just Cabernet Sauvignon is the release and release marketing...the indoctrination of the average US wine drinker to believe cottonmouth tannin finish means good wine.. THIS IS B>>>S>>>.  90% of Calis reds are either released, or drank FAR TO YOUNG.   Had a 96 Silver Oak last month...wonderful, amazing even.  Drink the current release now?  NO WAY!  Cali still makes great Cabs and other big reds if you just hold them long enough.

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 12, 2010.

But then Silver Oaks from this past decade don't seem to be made the same way they were up through the early '90s, anyway... ;-)

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Reply by zufrieden, Jun 12, 2010.

Is anything made as it was in the early 90's - in the old Bear Flag State, I mean?  Well, of course there are a few wineries out there, but I am thinking of recent trends in mass-produced product...

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Reply by dmcker, Sep 9, 2010.

A couple of pertinent links, that both warrant reading/viewing, and that appeared in the newer thread on Enologix.

First is a NYTimes article on Enologix, and second is a video by Tina Caputo on how the entire California wine industry appears to have become RP's biatch.

Finally, to further fleshout this crossreference to Enologix and the somewhat scary (though not at all surprising) kind of thing they're doing in support of recent trends in California cabs and other wines which I've been complaining about above, here's a nutshell description of the Santa Cruz firm and its activities from Wikipedia:

"Enologix is a privately held California corporation that designs and markets wine growing and making quality analysis, models, software and consulting products. The company's best-known products include wine quality analysis and models. Enologix created the first algorithms that predict wines market performance, including price, volume and taste scores. The most important is a taste index which predicts 100-point scores of consumer critics such as Robert Parker. It claims that the quality of wine can be measured chemically, and a score assessed, much like a wine critic. Clients include Beaulieu, Cakebread, Diamond Creek, Ridge Vineyards. Enologix's metrics have been correlated with market performance metrics, including 100-points critics' scores."

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Reply by dmcker, Sep 9, 2010.

Actually the firm started in Santa Cruz but seems to now be located in Sonoma (great quote in the NYTimes article demonstrating the thinking of McCloskey, the founder of Enologix, on how Sonoma is inferior to Napa: "''If you're in Sonoma, you have to rearrange Mother Nature to match the beauty of Napa and Bordeaux,'' he said. ''Napa cabernet is the only New World wine ruler that's being used internationally. Sonoma is an also-ran.'') Though I haven't checked everywhere on their sitemap, the Enologix website doesn't give directions other than their 707 areacode phone number, which puts them in either Napa or Sonoma.

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Reply by Charles Emilio, Sep 10, 2010.

I often wonder what part good old fashioned American patriotism plays in putting Cali Cabs so high up there. I mean, probably 90% of it is consumed nationally and it isnt subject to much international scrutiny

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Reply by dmcker, Nov 29, 2010.

Interesting read (sort of) by Heimhoff as he defends against bashers of California cabs, etc. as being too high in alcohol. In my reading he more or less makes the case of those he denigrates...

http://www.steveheimoff.com/index.php/2010/11/29/truth-lies-and-alcohol-in-california-wine/

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