Flabby, Sweet, Cloying, Low Acid wines are killing me.

Not that this is a new phenomenon AT ALL, but I am constantly shocked by the percentage of wines I open that are plush, flabby, boring, non-ageworthy, over oaked, etc. Not sure if i am on a bad streak or I am just a guy with more new world wines in my cellar and more old world tastes and have become more sensitive to it recently. Many of my CA and Aussie wines have not aged well at all after even mid-term stays in the cellar. Flabby, sweet, oaky.

Who in Napa and Sonoma these days is making wines that have good acidity, ABV of 14.5% or lower generally, elegance, not overextracted, oak that is additive to and doesn’t mask the fruit, very little residual sugar, etc.?

From Pinot to Bordeaux blends to Syrah, the story seems the same by in large. Any recommendation of reasonably priced producers(non-cult, non-trophy), cooler climate producers, elegant styled producers, mountain producers where the terroir comes through, etc.

For the style you are after, I would try Copain (Syrah, PN, some Roussanne), Rhys (PN, Chard, a little Syrah), and Anthill Farms (PN and a mixed bag of other stuff). That’s just for starters. There seem to be more and more CA producers pursuing a low alc., high acid style these days.

I would add Sojourn to the list of somewhat more restrained styles.

I would suggest, though, that you try to acquire a couple of bottles from lots of different producers, and try them before you start buying big quantities. If you start buying a lot based on suggestions or scores, without trying them first, you’re likely to end up with more wine in your cellar that you don’t actually like.

It’s a work in progress but I try to resist both consuming and insulting these wines. They wouldn’t be made if they didn’t sell.

Any recommendation of reasonably priced producers(non-cult, non-trophy), cooler climate producers, elegant styled producers, mountain producers where the terroir comes through, etc.

There are so many, but you need to focus your searches. In almost every region and for most varieties, there are usually restrained options.



Some vintages of Fisher Mountain [although Whitney has been known to dial it up on the oak].

PS: Might also check out some of the wines from Laetitia, down in the Arroyo Grande.

Their Brut Rose is especially nice.

Why not look to Europe rather than trying to find the minority in California? Your chances of finding wines you like will vastly improve.

Personally I want to support my local businesses.
I also would like to figure out whether the prevailing “Flabby, Sweet, Cloying, Low Acid wines” are a product of some california terroirs or a product of generalized farming and winemaking practices.
My search for the California minority (which I want to support) continues.

Reasonable cab in that style - Myriad, Togni Tanbark, Snowden, Dehlinger, Seavey
Rhys and Dehlinger for both pinot and Syrah
Windgap for Rhones

Also, a great QPR cab in that style that I had the other night was an 04 Chat Chevalier.

that is very open minded of you. I think this is the best way to approach it. That’s something to applaud.


Hey, Ray! Settled in NSG?

I guess I don’t fully understand. You want to support local and won’t buy European but you have a bunch of Aussie wines in your cellar.

As far as recommendations, Seavey and Landmark were both good. I don’t know how newer vintages are. Sojourn makes a pretty good pinot. I don’t really know much else. These days, I am fully supporting domestic importers and distributors.

What Paul said. There are California wines within your specs but it’s way easier (and way, way cheaper) to find them in Europe.

Edmunds St John. Navarro. Dashe, in limited experience.

And what Paul and Keith said.

I didn’t say I won’t buy euro, i think that was someone else. I’m buying more French, Italian, and a bit of Spanish more than i ever did in the past. That said, i do want to find Cali/Ore producers in this style. My Havens as of late have outperformed a lot of bigger “name” and bigger score wines.

Hello Rich,

These style of wines are also not my favourite and I too have suffered so many soupy, unbalanced aged Australian wines that I now have a vanishingly small amount of Aussie wines in my cellar (only Grosset Polish Hill Riesling and some By Farr offerings, if you are interested).

However, we have to be careful not to get too much like that egomaniac arse Jonathan Nossiter about large-scale, ‘international’ wines (see this post for a torrent of articulate invective about that irritating tit). Such wines are enjoyed by many people and in some cases (let’s choose Penfold’s Grange as an example) these over-blown, extreme wines can actually be a regional/country-specific style. If there is a market for these wines, if people are willing to spend serious money on some of them, then the style cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Sure, I’m not going to buy many flabby, soupy, booze monsters, but if some people do want to I really cannot criticise them; “Non gustibus disputandum” and all that.


Also 1990s Mondavi Reserve from the Tim Mondavi era.

In particular, seek out the 1995 Mondavi Reserve.


I’d also look for older CA Cabs from the 1970s to mid-80s, ending in 1987. After our 1991 dinner the other night, I’m moving my vintage preference down a few years.

Exactly. Whereas in the Santa Cruz Mountains we have Rhys, Mount Eden, Ridge, Stefania, Varner, Windy Oaks, etc…

I opened a lovely 2001 Cooper Garrod Cabernet last night that’s exactly the kind of wine you describe.

try zepaltas, liocco, salinia, or arnot-roberts…disclosure…all friends of mine but that shouldnt be held against them

Actually, it should be a consideration… [tease.gif]

Adam Lee
Siduri Wines