Need More Good Wines in California (and Texas): Blame Varietals
I recently read a good blog on why in the day of modern technology we don’t have more good wines that can be grown in warm regions (like California’s hot Central Valley). The question also applies to the warm growing region of Texas and focuses on questions of varietal selection. Why do Texas growers and winemakers still continue to depend on varietals that do better in cool weather wine regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy? Why can’t we get more Barbera or Tempranillo or Carignane!
Also, in addition to grape varieties that can handle the warm weather, Texas needs to select grapes that can also handle the late Spring freeze threat. The freeze is actually the major issue when it comes to just having enough Texas grapes to make wines that can qualify to be Texas Appellation year in and year out.
Read below a portion of the blog post from the Gray Market Report by W. Blake Gray and follow the link for more:
“European cheap wines are better than American. Here in the U.S., it’s not so apparent because of the shipping charges tacked on to the European wines. But in France, Spain and Germany, it’s amazing how many good wines you can find for less than 8 Euros (about $10 US) — and not just generic “critter wines,” but wines with some regional character.
There are some good U.S. wines under $10, but most of our country’s offerings in that price range tend to be bland multi-region blends.
Why is this?
There are many reasons, but here are two main ones:
- Varietal wines sell better — but only famous varietals
- We still haven’t recovered from Prohibition
About varietal wines: Some time, roughly in the 1970s, Americans became convinced that varietal wines are better than multi-varietal blends.
The problem is that we also became convinced that some varietals are superior to others, notably Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. Lately that list has expanded to include Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Zinfandel, with a smaller fan base for Syrah, Petite Sirah and Riesling.
Here’s the problem: Do any of those grapes grow well where agriculture is cheapest, in California’s hot Central Valley?
Zinfandel and Syrah are reasonable choices there, and that’s why cheap Zins and Syrahs are often good values. But there are thousands of acres devoted to Merlot and Chardonnay which would be much better suited to Barbera or Tempranillo or Carignane.
The same goes for Texas!