Friday, May 7, 2010

Smoke and Mirrors for Anderson Valley

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, the entire 2008 vintage of Anderson Valley grapes was pretty much panned as the title, "Sipping These Wines Is Like Smoking And Drinking at the Same Time" indicates. It's not clear if the article started out to be a piece of sensationalist journalism about the 2008 fires that swept through Northern California, (including Anderson Valley as well as Sonoma and Napa) however, no mention is made of any other affected wine growing region.  The article is unjustly skewed toward the negative that Mary Elke's comment, "I'm proud of the wine I ended up producing," is quite lost in the hubbub. Five winegrowers were interviewed. What about the rest of the 2008 wines from Anderson Valley? Did the whites and ros├ęs suffer as well?

There are 26 wineries and 25 winegrowers listed as members of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association.  Each one represents a community of people whose livelihoods are already at the mercy of nature. Farming of any sort is one continuous gamble year after year. Rather than bulk dump their grapes, I have nothing but admiration for those winemakers, who had everything to lose, but instead, chose to take the risk and to make their wines to the best of their abilities. In my book, those are the real winemakers we should celebrate. I'm very curious to know if the reporter, Ben Worthen, tasted the 2008 wines, or at the very least, if he conducted a comprehensive tasting of the wines made by his interviewees.

You may ask yourself, "WHY is she going on and on and on about the 2008 Anderson Valley vintage?" Because. I recently blind tasted over twenty-five of the 2008 vintage and only two! of them showed any detectable smoke taint. Some were a little stripped from filtering and reverse osmosis than others, but being that pinot noir IS a medium bodied red wine, I thought they were all well within their varietal characteristics. In fact, there were quite a few that showed extremely well -- with the typically powerful palate profiles from their region. I was pleasantly surprised. And then, I started thinking....heeeeey! I have to say, I'm bothered by all the misleading bad press that Anderson Valley has been shouldering. (What ABOUT those fires in Napa and Sonoma?) I'm MORE than disappointed that a notable news source, the caliber of the Wall Street Journal, would be so irresponsible as to publish such a poorly researched, one sided article. The slow death of newspapers is not reason enough for this trespass.

The annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival is coming up on May 14-16. I'm throwing down the gauntlet to  all of you Pinot Noir lovers to come check out the wines for yourselves before you mistakenly write off the entire vintage. Come support the winemakers whose work you've enjoyed for years, and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.

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