Get used to it. In an otherwise perfect wine, that tiny faint hint of …what is that? Rotten eggs? Mildewed washcloth? Clam bog? Or maybe the wine’s just closed – you sense it has lots to give, but the aroma seems all zipped up like a computer file, and you can’t get at it. It’s not easy for the experienced connoisseur, to say nothing of the novice consumer, to switch gears into thinking of reductive strength as a mark of quality and ageworthiness.
Kudos to Eric Asimov and his respondents to his Watch What I Do, Not What I Say blog concerning interventionism in winemaking. My initial response included a reference to "field oxidation" which I promised to expand on here in more depth than I felt appropriate to hog on Eric's site.
Two points to begin. First, I don't subscribe to the health arguments. Since the human body produces a gram of sulfites per day -- ten times as much sulfites as you find in a bottle of wine -- how can there be an allergic reaction to sulfites? And second, there are many technical methods to make wine without sulfites -- pasteurization, as is done for Japanese sake, to name one. That's not my interest.
It seems like they all are. After the intense early September heat of 2004 and the extreme cold of 2005, we’ve seen our share of recent physiological peculiarities in California fruit. But Nature continues to find new motifs with which to toy with us and test our mettle.
In the August 2006 edition of The Wine Spectator, we see once again the old armchair viticulturist refrain regarding crop yield that less is always more. James Laube’s assessment of the 2005 vintage is that it should be a good vintage, but he finds that its size casts that into doubt. Putting aside that the record crop is mostly based on record bearing acreage rather than high yields per acre, I contend that in many cases, (Napa Cabernet being the most glaring), quality suffers mainly from under cropping.
California winemaking gives me the creeps. And I'm not alone. Everything winemakers do is completely dependent on hispanic labor. Yet we treat these people like animals. You have no idea.
When I negotiate a sale of a piece of Napa real estate to be converted to vineyards, the first thing we do, before the D9's can fell trees and rip land, is to hire Mexicans to hand-carry out the bedsprings (which foul the backhoes of the machinery) left behind by the displaced tenants.