North316 wrote:Being wooters, I would venture to say that a majority of us look for value. While understanding that certain appellations can have significant "pedigree", those often come at a price, and not as much value. I think the biggest arguement with great appellations (same can probably be said for great vintages) is that even the mediocre winemakers can produce some good wines from good appellations, while the great winemakers can make excellent wines.
The difference being that great winemakers can still do wonders with grapes from "lesser" appellations, producing wines that are far superior to those that mediocre winemakers are making from great appelations.
I guess my point is that, while appellation is incredibly useful in determining expected characteristics of wine, and at times a premium can be rightfully justified based on appellation AND winemaker, I personally put a much larger emphasis on the winemaker and style then I do on appellation. But then again...I am just a cheap accountant. Hah.
This is very well put. AVAs are critical in determining the raw materials the winemaker has to work with.
Take Howell Mountain, for instance. There really is no way of making a wine that is not remorselessly tannic from those grapes, and the wise winemaker will embrace that character and make as graceful a monster as possible. It would be a rip-off to press sweet and make a lighter style, because the consumer is expecting big, blocky, angular tannins.
I had a Chateau St. Michelle Merlot over the weekend, and I was disappointed that they had made a mainstream style which, to me, lacked the signature acidity I look for from Washington Merlot.
Trusting winemakers over AVAs makes a lot of sense, because they are traceable and accountable. I can't afford to make empty promises, especially in a forum like woot, because you guys would rat me out in a heartbeat and I'd lose credibility with the tiny niche that "gets" what I'm up to.
An AVA is accountable to nobody. Napa is above the law. No matter how much complaining goes on about its overblown, caricature style, the extended hangtime, high alcohol, poorly aging trend goes on because there's always a greater fool.
All that said, Napa is an amazing place to grow Cabernet Sauvignon, and one of these days, I'll put my $100 Cab, Crucible on a woot sale so you can see my best - Napa Cab done right. It's really an extraordinary wine, and a bargain for what it is. But don't buy it because it's Napa. Buy it because this is me you're talking to.
There is, in fact, 4% of the 2006 Crucible in this blend, and even in that tiny fraction, it contributes substantial body and substance.