Thursday, September 29, 2011

Adventures on the Wine Route

I've been hearing a lot about "natural wines" and have read some recent books about it but it was only when I read Kermit Lynch's book, "Adventures on the Wine Route" that I realized that "natural wine" is not a recent trend. Kermit Lynch began importing wine from France in the 1970's and this book is written about his interactions with certain winemakers in the various wine regions of France. I can tell when Mr. Lynch is enthused about a particular region because the chapters are long. It's interesting that Bordeaux is one of the shortest chapters and you guessed it, his Rhone chapter is divided into southern Rhone and northern Rhone. He is also a Loire aficionado. What popped out at me as I read his book (for a second time, as I usually do books I review) was that Mr. Lynch was already lamenting the fallout from wines that were being scored. One of the first things he comments on is that the proliferation of certain styles of wine in a region was because of the pairing of that wine with food, such as a Chablis with oysters. Scoring a wine or having a blind tasting was totally missing the point, in Mr. Lynch's opinion.
In the 1980's however, Mr. Lynch was dealing with the ramifications of wine scoring as he traveled the French countryside. He encountered the changing of the guard from the traditional winemakers to the new generation who brought in technology and changed the way the wine was made in many cases to chase after the high scores of the wine reviewers. The new generation using mechnical harvesters, stainless steel, and new oak treatments changed how wine was made and the proof was in the (lack of) flavor and aroma in these wines.
This is a good book to read if you have any interest in how Kermit Lynch selects his wines and who the major players were in the various French appellations that appealed to Mr. Lynch's palate.

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