Smoke Taint 2020 Northern California.

I just read Jeb Dunnuck’s report that came out today on 2019 and 2020 Northern California vintage. He says this about the 2020 wines.

“ Roughly 75% of the samples I’ve been able to taste have been affected and range from muted aromatics to outright obvious smoke taint”

I just thought everyone should know. Myriad is releasing next week and this is rather disturbing report.


Did Jeb release his 2020 scores? Myriad sent out an email with his scores for their '19s, but nothing about the '20s. Regardless, I’m not planning on buying and 2020 Napa Cab this year.

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He just released his 2019’s scores. He added notes for 2020 vintage.

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He was referring to all varieties across all of Northern California? It’s a pretty big and diverse area.


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Here’s additional information from his article.

“ All I can recommend is caution. I would not buy a single 2020 red from the North Coast without personally tasting it. Even then, given smoke taint’s ability to emerge in the bottle over time, I would plan on routinely opening bottles to ensure their soundness”

I can’t imagine Mike Smith releasing tainted wine but Dunnuck’s report is pretty damming. I have heard the same thing from a couple wine makers when we were in Napa last month. Will pass on all 2020 Cabs.

Mmmmmmmmmm… Smoky flavor for the beef stew.

Coincidently, I was drinking a 2018 Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico this evening. Both the '18 and the '16 have a strong wood smoke note, and I found myself asking if I’d consider this a flaw if the wine were from California. I like it on the sangiovese, but it’s quite pronounced at the moment.

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Do you know if this is true of the 2016 Rancia?


I can’t recall having it.

FTR, the only 2020 California red I’ve had has been Bedrock OVZ, and I detected no taint at all. Quite different from 2008 Anderson Valley, where everything tasted like ashtray.

We’ve had multiple bottles. Oddly tonight’s had strong notes of star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, orange peel, and cloves. Then I remembered that it was mulled wine, and all was good.

I feel a little bad using a Bedrock for mulled wine, but good wine makes good mulled wine.

I’ve had 4 northern CA winemakers come by my store and said smoke taint wasn’t an issue for them. We shall see ofc but none of the 2020 wines we’ve tried so far showed any signs of smoke taint.

Many people like that cigar box undertone in French wine. I’m thinking if a wine is just very very mildly effected it might be an interesting flavor.

I’d imagine if the smoke taint was really awful producers would just sell it off as bulk juice and all the cheap wine blends from there will have smoke taint.

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I don’t want cigar box in wines where it doesn’t belong.

That’s fine.

Your palate, your money, your choice.

Some people don’t like eucalyptus notes that are clearly not from under ripe grapes but from the biome the grapes are grown while some do.

Cigar box and smoke taint are very different aromas. If you don’t know the difference I would be extremely wary of buying wine from you.

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Thanks for your concern.

I am aware. I am also aware what the difference between charred vs. burned pizza crust.

Your posts make it very clear you don’t.

Wouldn’t that be part of the terroir?

I’m glad you’ve combed through all my posts. I’m honored you’ve paid such attention. There’s no point in furthering this conversation with you if you’re going to decidedly be dismissive.

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