By: Ryan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member
As a wine store clerk, I spend most of my day talking to people about wine. Common things I hear in the store include:
“Oh, I don’t like Chardonnay”
“No, Merlot is just too soft and fruity”
“Aussie wines are too big and jammy”
“French wine is musty”
My inner reaction to these is responses is "No, No, No, No!" I understand why people say these things, and that behind these statements are genuine reasons why people come to appreciate a particular style of wine - it is very important to drink what you like! However, the problem comes when wines are pigeon-holed like in the examples noted above. While I can give you all examples of Chardonnay that might put you off for life, Chardonnay, like all wine, is purely a reflection of the place and the winemaker’s intentions and can have very diverse expressions.
How can someone who likes white wine not like Chardonnay when styles range from the laser-like focus, bright acidity and mineral-driven flavors of Jaques Bavard’s 2009 Saint Romain, to the 14 month new-oaked, extracted and aptly named 2010 Butter Nut? With Merlot, again we could probably find some box-o-wine somewhere that wouldn’t do the variety any favors. But have the Merlot haters ever tried some old, Right Bank Bordeaux, some Pomerol even? Try the 2000 Haut Ferrand, Pomerol, and I dare you to not enjoy it! Closer to home, the 2009 Seven Hills Merlot from the Columbia Valley in Washington savages the soft Merlot stereotype with great structural acid and grippy tannins.
And so I go on - Aussie wines. Australia is 2,941,299 sq miles in size, the 6th largest country on earth. Saying the climate in Australia is hot is like saying America is hot, sure the Florida Keys average 77F annually - but what about parts of Minnesota averaging 40F? Oz, like the USA, has a huge range of climates and can produce wines that are 16%, over-ripe and jammy. They also make some 12%, elegant, high-acid Pinot Noir from cooler climates like the Mornington Peninsula (2010 Kooyong "Massale" Pinot Noir Mornington Peninsula Victoria). And France, yes, we have “musty” wine (and most of the time you have to pay the big bucks for it), yet we also have very bright, clean, perfumed, fruit-driven wines from all over France. The 2010 Mas Conscience "Ciel Cieux" Vin de Pays de l'Herault, is my current, somewhat-esoteric favorite made from 100% Cinsault.
So please people! Don’t limit yourselves by these geological and varietal stereotypes. Come talk to us about what you enjoy, keep all options open and we will try give you a pleasant surprise!
Visit the K&L Staff Review page for more tips and recommendations from Ryan and the rest of the K&L Staff!