This just in: if you like Toasted Head Chardonnay, take note! R.H. Phillips is closing up shop. The product is being moved to Robert Mondavi's Woodbridge enterprise. I'm sorry to hear about the closure not because I enjoy Toasted Head, but because it is closing to improve "efficiency". Granted, this is no doubt a wise business move. But if you've ever read about the French winemakers scrambling to make ends meet just to produce their wines because they feel so passionately about creating something wonderful, it is more tragic. Not that I'm comparing the small French winemaker/viticulturist to a larger than life U.S. corporate entity that churns out wine like water. Rather, to me wine at its best is artisanal. I simply wish Big Business had nothing to do with it. That said, and knowing that's how it is in some cases, I'm bummed the local community will suffer. Meanwhile, on the heels of my Leftover Bubbly article, it turns out Zork is set to launch a special closure for sparkling wines - one where you open the bottle and can reseal it with the same closure thereafter. Studies indicate the wine will keep it's mojo for several days after being opened. I'll believe it when I see it - though if anyone can do it, it'll be Zork.
But the grand prize on wine journalism this week goes to (drum roll, please...) Decanter, for Richard Woodard's article about scientists' efforts in South Africa to pinpoint the reason these wines have a general reputation for smelling (and tasting) of burnt rubber. I'm chuckling because research to date has been "inconclusive" and - get this - they "have not yet estabilished scientifically...whether it is unique to South Africa". Having just completed the March-May trade tasting season (which included several fairly large South African portfolios), I'm pretty confident stating here this characteristic is ABSOLUTELY unique to South Africa.
And so my question heading into the Memorial Day weekend is....
Why does it feel like New World wine regions in particular are constantly trying to use technology or science to "prove" some characteristic about their wine? Does anyone else feel this way? Can't it just be what it is?