America has a long history of making wine. They wines they are most famous for tend to be bold, brash and characterful. They are often high in alcohol and extract and make a huge impact in your mouth … and wallet. Due to exchange rates and America’s belief they make the best wine in the world, the pricing of most of their great wines puts it beyond all but the most committed collectors and drinkers.
Judgement of Paris
The American wine industry received a massive boost when Steven Spurrier (now of Decanter) arranged two blind tasting events with some prestigious wine critics. The idea was to compare Classic French Cabernet and Chardonnay to the up and coming producers of California. Removed from label snobbery and the bias that comes with it, the judges awarded the American wines the best in both varieties stated. It was an embarrassment to the established wine aristocracy in Europe and a major boost to the American market which has not looked back.
The Situation It is a big country and the climates range from desert to snow-capped. A fair few latitudes are traversed and the effects of two large oceans can be felt (or not) depending on where on the continent the grapes are grown. The most famous and concentrated area is on the West Coast with the state of California having produced over 80% of the country’s volume. It has large areas of suitably sundrenched vineyards to make wines of all sorts, styles and flavours.
The History When Europeans started exploring North America they were so impressed with the proliferation of grapes that they called the place Vinland. When they tasted the wine from these native grapes they immediately set out to replace the foul tastes with the more familiar and lovely flavours of vitis vinifera. Hence the American wine industry was born.
The Wine Everything and anything is made. If they can make it in Europe then the Americans can do it much better. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Zinfandel are a focus, with some interesting Riesling coming on stream too.
One Bottle each of the wines below.
Tunkalilla Vineyard Riesling Oregon 2010
Elk Cove Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2014
Kings Ridge Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2014
A to Z Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2013
Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2012
Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2013