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January 11, 2007

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You touch on a reoccurring theme: there are always doubts about the suitability of a new wine-making region for fine wines, then the solid results come under renewed scrutiny by the critics when they are less-than-perfect. Every weakness is exploited by those who wish to cast dispersions on wines that are unconventional or those which do not exhibit the conformities of wines from more historic regions.

I've never understood why the impression is given that all wines from California and France are awesome, their styles superior, and that vinifera from other regions pretends to emulate these exact results. Wines from New York are what they are; a good merlot from Long Island has completely different qualities from a California Merlot (thank God). Riesling from the Finger Lakes has a distinct taste and style. Heck, if you like it, buy it. If it stands on its own, review it well. What's the point of going on and on about Long Island, or other small winemaking regions, as compared to California? The Golden State is large, has a diversity of climates, and does really, really well in some varietals.

I was in a shop the other day, looking at wines. The owner and I started to discuss an excellent Finger Lakes producer, and he lamented that the bottles were expensive (about $20) when a lot of decent California stuff comes in around $10-15. So what, I said, I've met the owner, laughed at his children playing in the tasting room, admired the view of the Keuka Lake bluffs out his window, and am quite familiar with the terrior and business challenges that go into each one of his bottles. He then tried to sell me a bottle of California pinot with a fancy cartoon car on the label.

A sense of place goes a long way. Not every area will grow good grapes, but those which can produce something of quality should be judged fairly on their efforts.

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