Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Ideal Wine

An Ideal Wine : One Generation's Pursuit of Perfection - and Profit - in Californiaby David Darlington, chronicles the California wine industry primarily through two players: Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon and Leo McCloskey of Enologix. Into these two people's main stories, the book seamlessly integrates numerous other interesting tales ranging from the outrageous Beverly Hills Wine Merchant, to the rebuilding of the wine educational system post prohibition, to the formation of Kendall-Jackson, Two Buck Chuck, and [yellow tail], just to name a few. Randall and Leo take very different paths to try and create great wine, exploring drastically different parts of the wine world, both equally interesting, and sometimes in opposition. Randall searches for the perfect terrior, while Leo uses state of the art wine analysis.

I really enjoyed this 337 page book. Both of the characters are interesting and I love the way the author integrated the multitude of interesting subplots. I feel like I've learned a lot about how wine is made and the history of California wine.

Reading this book has also put a hankering inside me to revisit Bonny Doon, now that I have a history of the place, the man behind the wine, and his struggles. I also wish I could do some sort of blind tasting of a Randall vs Leo wine.

Some Randall Grahm Quotes I Love

"The great pinots are the greatest wines. They're captivating-they have depth, seductiveness, fragrance, complexity... There's nothing like them-they're unrivaled"

Pinot being one of my favorites, how could I not like this.

His description of Zinfandel : "oversized, loud, blustery, lacking finesse...the SUV of grapes...a wine for enthusiasts, not connoisseurs."

I'll be using this to prod Jose, a good friend and Zinfandel nut, for years to come.

I found the chapter on Rhys Vineyard very interesting. I wanted to try their wine so I signed up for their mailing list on their web site. Here's the response I received:

"We have added you to our waiting list. We currently sell all of our wine to our active mailing list. We estimate that there is a 1-2 year wait before you will be able to purchase wine and move onto our active mailing list."

Interesting Terms

biodynamics - Think organic farming to the nines and a little crazy.

lees - The leftover junk (sediment, pulp, and yeast cells) that settle out of a wine after it's been pressed. They consume oxygen, contributing to the chemical process known as reduction.

micro-ox - The controlled injection of oxygen into wine to help soften the tannins.

reverse osmosis - A filtration process that separates a wine's flavor and color from its water and alcohol.