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Nobody Puts California Wine in a Corner

When it comes to current criticism of California wine, Tim Fish of Wine Spectator is mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore. His latest missive, "California Wine Doesn't Need Saving", is a salvo against the proponents of "the new California wines" (Fish's emphasis) who he feels are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. (Not Baby from Dirty Dancing.) Strange that he doesn't mention Jon Bonné's name, just this thinly veiled reference to his book along with describing those who opine that California wines are "lousy" as a "small but devoted group of sommeliers, winemakers, retailers and writers."

Fish looks back on his 25 years of reporting on California wine and feels these current fans of lower alcohol, less ripe, more esoteric wines are just part of a pendulum swing that has happened before and will happen again once the next hot trend comes along. And he offers some interesting perspective regarding what vintages and wines were really like back in the California of the 70s and 80s.

In conclusion, Fish starts with a "to each his [or her] own" stance on wine preference, but can't resist one last dig: "I only take issue when tastemakers feel obligated to tear something down in order make their preferences appear superior. It's transference, like making fun of the fat kid to feel better about yourself."

Do you find Fish's defense of California trenchant? Is the "new" California wine movement here to stay? Or have you heard enough about this "old" versus "new" dichotomy?



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