Daily Wine News: Cali Grand Cru

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 10-18-2011

Tyler Colman (aka Dr. Vino) reports that Sea Smoke — located in the western end of Santa Barbara’s Santa Rita Hills — has decided to put “California Grand Cru” on its labels for its 2009 vintage. The move is perfectly legal, but it’s “the most audacious packaging move” Tom Wark has “ever seen” by a California winery. And he thinks the decision was a mistake. What do you think?

Pia Mara Finkell thinks that drinking local should be part of the “eating local” craze. I agree! But too rarely practice what I preach.

Too many consumers still think of Australia’s wines as an “over-processed, over-marketed and over-discounted, thoroughly industrial product.” But according to Jancis Robinson, Australia is now “teeming with small-scale, well-travelled vignerons who are much more likely to take a Burgundian domaine as their model than to follow blindly the high-tech strictures of an Australian oenology degree.”

In Argentina, according to Andrew Jefford, “The red wines are better than ever.” In his latest Decanter column, Jefford argues that Argentina is home to “one of the greatest red-wine terroirs in the southern hemisphere.” The white wines, though, are still struggling.

In California, 2011 wasn’t the year of “endless sun and ripe bounty.” As Jon Bonné explains, “grapes were delayed first by frost, then by rain and cool weather throughout the spring.”

For the past two years, Copenhagen’s Noma has been named the world’s best restaurant in San Pellegrino’s Best Restaurant in the World competition. And the wine list, shockingly, doesn’t include a single bottle of Bordeaux. On the Wall Street Journal’s wine blog, Jay McInerney investigates.

“There’s something undeniably electric about a room full of people who are all deeply passionate about great wine — it’s an experience that’s impossible to duplicate on the Internet.” That’s why, this Friday, Lettie Teague will attend a Zachys auction at Gotham Bar and Grill.

A reminder: Terroirist is giving away two pairs of tickets to Wine Riot DC on October 22. Today is the LAST DAY to enter the contest!

Comments (8)

  1. regarding sea smoke…

    during an age when most cali pinot producers hate being compared (for better or worse) to burgundy, and wish to be seen for what they are, the decision for sea smoke to use this terminology is just bizarre.

  2. While one might argue that the grand cru/premier cru terminology adopted by, say, Burgundy is itself misguided, that terminology is still part of a greater standardized, legalized system. While critics might say that the AOC system is not objective or fair despite the fact that the power of classification is vested in a separate decisionmaking body, I think everyone would agree that there is some methodology being applied.

    I respect Sea Smoke (we served Botella and Southing at a restaurant I worked at up in Berkeley) and like it a lot, but its move to put “California Grand Cru” on its label strikes me as a bit of self-aggrandizing. They make great wine, and they have good vineyards, but neither of those automatically bestow a “grand cru” designation.

  3. i think it’s a fun exercise to talk about which vineyard sites around California truly deserve Grand Cru status…Hirsch and Selleck would be two that I’d propose off the bat.

  4. What about Peay Vineyard? Or if that’s not old enough, Allen or Summa?

  5. While I love the specific regions of California, with all their unique climates and flavors, this move by Sea Smoke is purely narcissistic. I’m fine with advertising and quoting the source for the grand cru comment, but stamping it on the label as fact? Well, let’s just say I’m positive the neighbors won’t be to happy about it.

  6. blake – unique climates? isn’t the hallmark of California that it exhibits almost zero vintage variance? people love consistancy

  7. Thanks for the shoutout and link David!

    Hopefully some good local picks will sneak into your lineup this month for Virginia Wine Month. :)

  8. matt – consistent yes, however they’re diverse microclimates producing very different flavor profiles.