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Prediction: California’s 2009 Vintage Will Be A Hot Mess

11 Feb

This according to the Los Angeles Times.  I’d be interested to see how the 2009 vintage turns out, however.  I am predicting it will produce two broad types of wine: a HUGE volume of swill and a large volume of super-sized alcohol bombs.

The article states the following:

For consumers, the year’s bounty is expected to bring more availability and cheaper prices for all types of California wine, particularly premium and ultra-premium wines.

But I don’t see how this is possible.  Premium and ultra-premium wines?  It is an immutable truth of winemaking that lower yields mean better wines.  Fewer grapes mean that a vine will focus its energy on whatever fruit it has, which is why (fine) winemakers everywhere prune, prune, prune like crazy.  This leads to more concentrated, intense grapes, which in turn lead to better wine.

This is what Kermit Lynch had to say about it in his fantastic book, Adventures on the Wine Route:

When his crop yields 40 hectoliters to the hectare (4,000 liters per hectare, or 2,200 bottles per acre), Paul [Tardieu] says he is satisfied.  For a cheap vin de pays it is a drastically minuscule production.  In an abundant year such as 1979, the Meursault vineyards in Burgundy yield twice as much juice per acre and the wine sells for five to six times the price of [Tardieu’s].

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