By John ~ August 21st, 2009.
I always find it interesting when I hear or read someone describe a wine, that I consider to be terrible, as complex or a product of unique terroir. Who is right in a situation like this? Fortunately, in wine, there is no right or wrong answer. It’s what you like that counts.
But be sure to ask yourself, do I like this wine because it is “supposed” to be good according to some expert, because it has developed a cult following through great marketing, or because of a $100+ per bottle price tag? I do not believe that any of the foregoing is a good reason to believe you need to like a certain wine.
In fact, I’ve found several great farmers in Pacific Northwest wine country who are poor winemakers, yet they’ve developed a cult-like following. When you sample their wines, you get a telltale “funk” that they’ll say is unique terroir, but which I believe is a wine fault. In one case it is actually brettanomyces; in another, mercaptans. In other words, it is just sloppy winemaking.
The true test is when you find wines made by other winemakers with virtually the same fruit as those poorly made wines, and they are technically perfect. However, those “perfect” wines may not have the cachet of the faulty wines. Fortunately, I’m already seeing some pushback from consumers away from some of these faulty wines, and I’m sure there will be more who do the same as savvy wine consumers ignore the labels and reputations and really understand the difference between unique terroir and a wine fault.
For those of you who don’t know how to spot some of the common faults, here’s a brief primer:
Brettanomyces – mousy or yeasty
Mercaptans – garlic or onion-like odors
SO2 – burnt matches smell
H2S – rotten eggs
Volatile acidity – rancid butter, sauerkraut, vinegar, fingernail polish remover
If rotten garbage or a dirty locker room smell turns you on, then go for it. Since that doesn’t appeal to me, I’ll leave that “unique” terroir to you, if that’s what you believe it is!
Filed under: General Wine Information