Saturday, September 01, 2007

American Wine Month Round Up

American Wine Month at Joe's Wine was an experiment, of sorts. But before I go on a Euro-bender, I thought I would quickly review my thoughts on American wines in general, and this month's seventeen wines in particular.

This was my first theme-based month (there will be more - open to suggestions), and a chance to delve deeper into American wines - wines that I do not drink frequently. By opening my wallet and donating my liver I hope that my site, dedicated to ALL of the world's wines, can no longer be accused of overlooking this important wine producing country - the world's fourth largest wine producer and probably THE most blogged wines in the English language blogosphere.

A couple of broad observations:
  • Quality: America produces many great wines. More importantly, I have rarely encountered a truly bad wine, so you can almost buy at random. Unfortunately, I sometimes question the QPR, which brings me to price...
  • Price: The main problem I have with U.S. wines is price. Before I get the hate mail, this is the view of a "foreigner" purchasing those U.S. wines that are exported in larger numbers. I can usually substitute American export wines with equal or better wine from elsewhere at a lower price. This is a generalization, but especially surprising as of late given the strength of the Canadian dollar vs. the U.S. dollar. Looks like I have some shopping to do when I visit Sonoma - just five weeks away!
  • Alcohol: These wines frequently sport high levels of alcohol and low levels of acidity, which makes for unbalanced wines (and difficult to pair with meals), in my opinion. While I am not averse to high alcohol wines, it can be difficult to get the balance right. It was nice to see a few selections this month were not over the top in terms of % alcohol.
  • Stats: Fourteen of the seventeen wines came from California. This 82% is below the ~90% of U.S. production represented by California, but close enough in the murky world of statistics. The other three came from Oregon (1) and Washington state (2). Note that only five of these were a Meritage blend and only one was a Pinot, so a rather diverse varietal selection.
  • Best Wines? I think the most memorable wines were the Washington state reds featured in the Perigee vs. Apogee experiment, followed closely by my encounter with Chateau Montelena's Chardonnay. The Bonterra Viognier was a terrific value, as was the Ravenswood Zin.
Thanks for joining me in this review from wherever you live. While the quality of American wines has never been in doubt, it was satisfying to see this first hand in a rather impromptu format. Light on Pinot, perhaps, but I will rectify that soon.


PS - I am very disappointed that my American friends could not guess from which state of the union this expat wine blogger hails from...(see here for a clue).


David said...

interesting that WA state wines came out on top. I've heard good things about them but they're hard to find here in Boston area. Beyond Chateau St. Michelle at least.

David McDuff said...

Um, Wisconsin?

Joe said...

Hi David - to be fair, those WA wines were probably the most expensive. With only five cabs in total, I could hardly call this month broadly representative of what California has to offer. Perhaps a rematch is in order (after my Sonoma trip).

Hi McDuff - thank you, thank you, I was beginning to think that the wine blogosphere was devoid of NFL fans. Yes, this blogger was born a cheesehead, but has spent most of his life in Canada, most recently in Montreal. Love your blog, thanks for the link.

David McDuff said...

You're welcome, Joe, but I'm not really much of an NFL fan. I just had the feeling that "the pack" was some kind of vague reference to football and then narrowed down the odds from there. And thanks for the link, as well.

Joe said...

I will confess, I am not much of a fan either (although I will watch Green Bay in the playoffs), but I thought I might catch a few others. Cheers!