Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Our Biases

All wine writers and reviewers have preferences. Yet the best wine writers try to set aside their personal tastes when evaluating a particular wine, and try to judge the wine on its stand-alone merits. Yet biases always show through – in wine, politics, romance, food, or any aspect of our humanness.

So in an effort at openness, we thought we’d discuss some of our general wine preferences. We hope we are still fairly evaluating wines outside our “favorite zone,” but thought you should know what styles we lean toward.

For reds, we like big, fruity wines – Amador County (California) Zinfandels; big Zins from Turley, Ridge, and the like; Petite Sirahs that stain your teeth black; many Grenaches. We also generally like minerally Pinot Noirs in the French style – we’ve said it’s like drinking French dirt (in a good sense). Other fruity reds appeal to us – Washington state Syrahs; fruity new-world Pinot Noirs.

We admittedly aren’t big fans of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, nearly all Italian reds, and most Bordeaux-style red blends – or, for that matter, most red blends at all. Yet we’ve had some wonderful wines in those categories, as well as many others.

With white wines, we generally like crisp and bright wines – the minerally French style in many white Burgundies (Chardonnay), rather than the oaky, buttery California style of Chards (or the similarly heavy white Bordeaux Sauvignon Blancs and Semillons). Yet we can still sometimes be blown away by a “big” oaky-style white, as some of our previous reviews attest. We love Rieslings and Gewurztraminers that perfectly balance softness/sweetness with acidity. And we love crisp Sauvignon Blanc, although sometimes the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are just too bright and grassy (although we generally do like them a lot).

We also gravitate to out-of-the-mainstream whites – such as Chenin Blanc (whether in the French Vouvray style or the lighter American wines), Marsanne/Rousanne, Muscadet.

So even if our “desert island” wines might be Sierra Foothills Zinfandel, French Chablis, and Chenin Blanc, we hope we are offering unbiased reviews of other wines and other wine styles.

Any flat spot will do.