I have to be careful as I write this. All of us wine lovers have snob potential. That is not a good thing.
I am as anti-snob as I can be when it comes to wine in the sense that everyone can and should be able to enjoy it. On the other hand, I am a true lover of wine, and I don't care for what's happening with all of the so called "value" wines, many of which are no value at all, that are flooding the market.
Often when I attend tastings, such as the Wine and Food Celebration in Springfield, Mo., there are a very large number of domestic wines that in no way distinguish themselves from any other. Most are retail priced under $12 and are simply not very interesting.
This could be taken as a snobbish attitude, except that it isn't. It is simply pointing out that a glut of wines with a generic "sameness" is not exciting.
Most of these wines lack any true character, and that's often because of the way they are produced. They are made too quickly and too little care is given to the individuality of the grape vintages and the lands from which they are harvested.
Although I would much rather write positive words than negative, I feel a duty to let my readers know that when you spend your money on wine, not everything that is packaged well is worth buying. Fancy bottles and superlatives on the label don't guarantee the goodness of what's inside.
For example, one of the wines I tasted was Rock Rabbit Syrah. The bottle designates Central Coast on the front label.
The grapes used in this wine are bought from all over the region with the purpose of creating a consistent product year after year. While it sounds like a solid strategy on the one hand, it also smacks a little of McDonald's philosophy of fast food.
It wasn't necessarily a bad wine, but to me it was unrecognizable as syrah. As one who often drinks hermitage from France's Rhone region, as well as Australian shiraz, I simply can't recommend this wine.
It's not that it sells for less than $10; rather there is nothing about it to cause me to choose it over anything else. In my notes, I wrote that it tasted like it was made from odd lots of grapes.
That was before I knew that the makers bought the grapes rather than growing them, quite a difference from a wine that results from the winemaker's relationship with the grapes from the vine to the bottle. To me, the difference on the palate is obvious.
I don't mean to make Rock Rabbit my whipping boy today or say that it is the worst wine I have tasted. Not by any means. Rather, it is typical of many wines on today's market.
Estancia's Paso Robles Cabernet was similarly disappointing. It was very thin and had the typical unbalanced acidity many of these wines possess.
Unfortunately, these wines don't represent what has made wine great over the centuries. Next week, I will tell you about some of the wines that I tasted and can recommend.
Write me at email@example.com with your thoughts, questions, or just to talk wine. Until next time, happy pours.