Ridge Vineyards Makes a Mistake…and A Great Point
Yesterday, at my front door, I signed for a package of Ridge Vineyards' newest vintages, including their Estate Chardonnay. I happen to be very fond of the Chardonnay that is produced from the Monte Bello Vineyard high up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. However, I didn't order this Chardonnay. It was sent to me as press samples.
I'm not going to review these wines. But they'll get drunk. I can promise that. Still, it was probably a mistake for Ridge to send me these wines because wines are never reviewed here. Or was it a mistake?
Inside the package, along with really amazingly detailed sheets on how the wines were made and the the specifics (the VERY specifics) of the vineyards, was an article by Ridge winemaker and CEO Paul Draper on the winery's "Pre-Industrial" winemaking techniques.
Draper sets out by noting he's not really sure what the current and trendy notion of "Natural Wines" means. Ok…I'm with him on that.
Then Draper goes on to note all the various ways in which wine is made or transformed into that soft, velvety, undistinguished liquid that that the proponents of "natural wine" disdain. It's a pretty long list of technological marvels and tricky baits and switches.
But what Draper then points out, in defense of his homeland, is that while California wines seem to have born the brunt of the accusitory brush of Manipulated Wines, it is a fact that the Europeans too have indulged significantly in the creation of this simple style of wines, and through a variety of methods.
Draper is of course correct about this, and the long held thought by some that Californian winemakers are primarily guilty of creating manipulated wine for the masses is nonsense. Yet, Draper's defense of Californina, such as it is, is a fairly rare thing. While Californian winemakers and California wine tend to come in for an inordinate amount of criticism and brushing off, particularly by overseas dwellers, it is very rare to see a Californian stand up and make a defense by pointing the finger back at them.
My view is that a little bit of chauvinism is a good thing. And maybe a little bit more is called for at times.
While not reviewed, the Ridge wine will be drunk and when it is a special toast will be made to Paul Draper.