Urbin Report

Friday, September 26, 2003

Something to wine about.

Personally, I think the 1970s and 1980s was the golden age of California winemaking; the most successful wines of that era—Ridge Monte Bello, Phelps Eisele Vineyard, Heitz Martha's Vineyard—had ripeness and power, but they also had finesse and elegance, qualities not currently found in many California wines. These days, the signature California style is flashy and in-your-face—"hedonistic fruit bombs," in the Parker vernacular. Though these wines tend to flow across the palate with all the subtlety and grace of the Soviet Army rolling into Prague, they do have a certain burlesque appeal, and they have been undeniably popular in recent years. Still, sales aren't nearly as brisk as they were just two or three years ago. Obviously, the weak economy has hurt business, particularly at the high end.