A Night Out with Wine Spectator
Last night was the Wine Spectator Big Bottle Party. This is an annual event held at the Hotel Healdsburg, just prior to the Napa Wine Auction. It's a virtual who's who of the Sonoma County wine industry and an ideal place to perfect one's schmoozing skills. (Sadly, The HUSBAND couldn't join me due to the Little League championship game he was coaching. So, try as I did to hobnob with the best of them, I felt guilty the entire time. Except when sipping, rare wines from magnums @#*!)
One of the more interesting conversations I had was with the Associate Editor, Tim Fish. Tim qualifies as one of the nicest writers in this industry. And, despite his success and following, he's managed to retain his down to earth honest approach. That doesn't mean he minces words though. Last year, he bluntly told me he thought our Zinfandels were too thumby for his taste. Try as I might, I couldn't figure out what he meant. This year he told me he thought they had improved. I smiled and nodded knowingly as if we had intentionally removed the thumbiness from our wines. (At least they weren't pinky waving!)
We also discussed the future of the Dry Creek Valley. Specifically, why as a region we have not achieved the critical acclaim and status of other appellations and what we can do to change this. (As the region's namesake winery, I wholeheartedly believe that our future success is connected to the reputation of the entire valley.) It all boils down to quality and focus. In Tim's mind, our region is a bit too splintered. Wineries should be focusing on one or two varietals that they do best. Until we focus ourselves in this way, it will be difficult to achieve the kind of prestige that other regions have garnered. So there you have it, practical advice straight from an expert's mouth.
It all makes sense, but honestly, it's hard to imagine life without our adored Fumé Blancs. Or, Zinfandels without Petite Sirah. Or, Cabernets without the subtle enhancements of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. And, what about our dear little Chenin Blanc? While the grapes are grown in the Clarksburg area, (Sacramento Delta) and not the Dry Creek Valley, why on earth would we stop producing this sensational summertime sipper? I suppose Tim is right. Regions that have achieved super star status do only concentrate on a singular variety. Maybe two. Just look at Burgundy, Chianti, etc. But, how DULL is that? I for one, am holding out for the day when Dry Creek Valley is known for more than just Zinfandel.
But then again, I like my ice cream in a variety of flavors.
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