rant against single vineyards

There’s a reason some winemakers are considered great: they know how to blend vinified grapes into great wines.  Blend is the key word here.  And nothing argues more against the current fad for single vineyard wines than some of the single vineyard wines themselves.

Recently, I tasted three single-vineyard wines from a well known Argentina winery, and it was Goldilocks time.  The first one structured but lacking in fruit.  The second fruity but lacking finesse.  The third delicate and sustained but without depth.  After we’d finished, I poured them all together in one glass: Ah, that was more like it.  Even this primitive in-glass “blending” began to exhibit this winery’s great potential.

A few weeks ago I tasted another single vineyard grouping, this one of dessert wines – a category I know well.  Disappointment set in: each vineyard carried its own set of apricot or peach, honey or grapefruit zest aromas and flavors, along with a variety of structural components.  It was an interesting deconstructional analysis for me as a wine writer.  But blended together, the wine would have shown its greatness to everyone.

So what’s with all the praise heaped on single vineyard wines lately? It’s about marketing. Wineries and their promoters periodically need new ways to sell wine, and “Single Vineyard” happens to be the current flavor.  Not that there aren’t some great single vineyard wines.  (Burgundy comes to mind.)  But all too often, single vineyard wines turn out to be the Emperor’s New Clothes.

Should wine writers warn the public about this?  On one hand, we don’t want to heap artificial praise on wines that don’t deserve it.  On the other hand, is it better to have this faddish hook that gets more people to try more wines?  What do you think?
Email your thoughts to Becky@BeckySueEpstein.com

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