One of my favorite Wine-blogs, Chris Kassel’s INTOXREPORT posted this this morning:

Hot Wine: Summer in the Vineyard I think it is supposed to be a lame song-reference or something but I’ve tried singing it several ways and now the neighbors want to have a chat.  Go read it and see what a real wine-blog looks like and decide if you want to come back.

One of my most-cherished discussions.  Just where is the ‘proper’ AL supposed to be in a wine?  I used to subscribe to specific numbers, but gradually–as ABV has crept up and up and up–have stopped worrying so much about it and just let the wine speak for itself.  I purposely do not ever look at ABV on a label until after I have tasted the wine and allowed myself a guess.  If you go to a wine-shop or super-marche in Europe–even Southern France–you can look high and low and you would be hard-pressed to find a wine over 13-5.  I DARE you to go into any store in California and find a bottle UNDER 13-5.  Like I said, a decade ago I was horrified at the drastic upward climb and trotted out finite numbers almost religiously to hammer into anyone who dared go higher–or suggest plausibility in doing so.  “It is all a trend for big fat tasteless Americans in their jacked-up 4X4 trucks to get their big fat syrupy wine on and YEE-HAW THAT WINE IS HUGE gonna get drunk tonight, FO SHO!!!”

And what of all those wonderful perfect 12-5 cabs from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s?  What about BDX?!?

Lee Bettencourt told me when he and Fred Brander planted cab in Santa Ynez in the early 70’s with contracts in the Napa valley with Krug or Inglenook or something–I’ve forgotten who exactly–Standard of the Industry was to pick cab at 22* brix.  They would pay a 5% premium for every degree above 22*.  Lee told them he could get 25* and they did not believe him.  Long story short, Lee got them to 25.5* and made 15% premium on the fruit.  22* @ +-.55 conversion will give you a solid 12.5.

So has wine-tasting become more complicated?  Yes it has.  While I have always been about balance, in the olden days it was a merry-go-round of fruit, acid, and structure.  Not until the mid-90’s did a potential for fat, glycerin-ey, ripeness and overt alcohol start toying with the edges of our mouth-feel.  Wine Has Changed.  Period.  ‘Balance’ has become way too complicated for the average Joe to even comprehend and that is why you need my guaranteed satisfaction Somm Discreet service just 39.95 a month in 7 easy installments and I will tell you what kinds of wines you like.  Get those dialing fingers ready and have a credit card handy.

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