Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wine Spectator's "report card" for 2008

The first critical reviews of the 2008 vintage are coming in, even though the wines are still fermenting. Wine Spectator has issued a "report card" which graded the vintage for some major growing areas. Over on his blog, Lenn Thompson has some valid comments and questions, many of which apply equally well here.

Looking at the article, it appears that anything south of San Francisco Bay has been lumped in the category of "Central Coast", which been awarded a grade of B-. Now while everyone agrees that 2008 was a tough vintage and that yields are much lower than expected, I'm not convinced that it was the same everywhere from Woodside to Santa Barbara. After all, we are talking about over 30 different AVAs spanning over 400 miles. The Santa Cruz Mountains was largely spared the spring frosts that caused so much damage elsewhere; on the other hand the effects of the smoke from the many wildfires is still to be determined.

The only local producer referenced in the article was Bill Brosseau of Testarossa which, despite being based in the old Novitiate winery in Los Gatos, has no vines and makes little or no wine from Santa Cruz Mountains fruit.

From what I've heard from local growers, the potential for excellence is certainly there from the best producers; good vineyard management, careful harvesting and sorting, controlling tannins during fermentation, should lead to some superb, concentrated wines. But anyone who tried to focus on yield over quality is likely to regret it.

Furthermore with such low yields producers who don't control their vineyards and rely on purchased fruit may have to decide between paying higher prices or settling for lower quality fruit. In the current economy none of those options really sound too promising.


Wes Barton said...

Isn't Napa Cab all that matters? This just shows how useless WS is to me.

Hopefully, with Testarosa's relationship with Black Ridge Vineyards they'll be making more SCM wine.