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Eric Asimov writes The Pour for the New York Times. It’s a fine column. So good I aggregate it into this site.

California’s Pinot Noirs and their style are the topic of this article <link> and boy does he start a debate; 81 comments and counting. This one from Phil is my personal favourite and as a sommelier I’m prepared to believe him.

“Eric – Bravo, thank you for this article! Us wine geeks, sommeliers, and wine industry people are infinitely grateful for your tireless efforts in getting Americans to understand that wine should not taste like strawberry jam.

I wish you could be a sommelier for a week around town (Hey – didn’t Bruni wait tables in Boston for a week?). The fact is – diners love this jammy gross crap. You honestly have to see it for yourself, up-close. It’s depressing and disheartening. I feel like misunderstood Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons at times. But the older I get, the more I can’t stand the taste of these horrible pinot noirs in my mouth. As a sommelier, I always try to taste each bottle that I open to make sure that the wine is drinking as it should…..and with these disgusting Cali Pinot steroid monsters…. I can smell their overripe nastiness from a mile away. I pour, grin, and bare it. “I’m glad you’re enjoying it,” just comes out of my mouth and I have to run away so I don’t burst out laughing.

Guests see “Russian River Valley” and a name they know, order some $120 Pinot and are in heaven. It’s disgusting. These wines are disgusting. Sea Smoke was the worst! It was like the Silveroak of the Pinot world. And Eric – you are being very diplomatic by not naming names of the pinot noirs you don’t like, but I will.

Anyone who thinks Burgundy is thin and astringent has zero concept of finesse, subtlety, complexity, elegance. You can say the same about great art, great films, great music (whether we’re talking about jazz or electronica), or even fashion. Subtlety is the whole point – whether it’s a Catherine Malandrino dress, a John Digweed set, or a Scorsese film.

To enjoy something that wallops you over the head and is in your face basically means you have cheap taste. To enjoy subtlety, finesse, and elegance, means that over the years you have developed a sophisticated palette and an appreciation for something made with care, talent, and integrity.

I can’t tell you how many times I have served a Rhone Syrah or Grenache, or maybe even a Bordeaux and a guest has not liked the wine, dismissing it as “too light!” (let alone a Burgundy) – their palettes deadened by years of MALBEC and Shiraz and wine spectator 92 points. Maybe they should try scotch?

Anyway, Eric, thank you again a million times and please do not get off your New York Times soapbox, you are my favorite wine writer in the world and fight the good fight.”

The Rivers Marie Pinot (above) gets a mention in Eric’s article.

“Thomas Rivers Brown and his partner, Genevieve Marie Welsh, combined their middle names for their venture, which specializes in Sonoma Coast pinot noirs. Their wines are intense yet beautifully balanced, with lively acidity that makes them refreshing. I particularly liked their wines from the Occidental Ridge and Summa Vineyards. They also make a terrific chardonnay.”

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