Thursday, April 7, 2011


The variety of wines I choose to drink is probably too narrow in scope. There's a lot of good wine out there, and even if I had the budget to get through more, I don't have the time to properly enjoy it. As a result, I tend to ignore large segments of the market, sometimes with reason and other times without.

I'm particularly critical of California, but it wasn't always that way. When I took up this sport, I bought in to the idea (probably because I read it somewhere) that nothing went better with a big, juicy steak than a big California cab. But over time and many more bottles my tastes and preferences changed. I won't bore you with the reasons why, but new world wines in general, and California wines in particular, are low on my list for allocation of scarce resources (time and money).

Thinking back, I would guess that I haven't purchased a bottle of California wine in about three years. That's purely a result of stereotyping, narrow mindedness and unfair extrapolation on my part, but I have to make choices somehow, and, in my experience, California wine didn't offer anything to keep me buying.

Never say never.

Based on countless recommendations from people with similar sensibilities, I recently purchased of couple bottles of 2009 Edmunds St. John Bone-Jolly. It's a light and refreshing wine made from Gamay, and the label tips its hat to Beaujolais, from whence the best known, if not best overall (forget not the Loire), gamay-based wines hail. Although this is plainly not Beaujolais, it's not difficult to draw comparisons. The ESJ is fruity (maybe a touch too much so) and easy drinking, with laser-like acidity. I gulped it down with barbecued pork ribs (dry- I don't dig the sauce) and chips, and that's my measure of a wine's true vaule.

I've read that ESJ syrahs (I think there are several bottlings) age beautifully. I've also heard that ESJ used to be available in Chicago (Sam's, RIP), but I've never come across it here.

So, I suppose I won't paint with quite as broad a brush anymore. Like all consumable culture, wine styles change, and the wine press has been writing quite a bit about producers that are breaking out of what I perceive as the California mold. But nonetheless I will be taking baby steps back into this pool.