Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Oak Joke on Parker

Yesterday I opened up a 1991 Bonair BFD Riesling. After 18 years the wine was a deep golden color, but still retained bright fruit with a nice bottle bouquet. The wine was amazing with a simple halibut entrée pan-fried in olive oil and butter. You snobs who think only red wines age are just plain ignorant. Riesling is the longest lived wine in the world. (It all boils down to pH and TA for those who know anything about making wine.)

There is an interesting story behind this wine. This is the only Bonair wine to be rated by the "Wine Advocate." Bobby Parker himself, of course, didn't rate the wine. He doesn't stoop to rate northwest wines. (Gag me with a spoon.) It was someone else, maybe Cesar Rovanni. I can't remember and really don't give a shift. It was a typical Washington Wine Commission event where the important people do cellar tastings and ply these leeches with food and wine and afterwards the also-rans meet at a restaurant and present their wines.

This occasion took place at Birchfield Manor, a local chef-owned gourmet restaurant and B&B. We wineries queued up and presented our wines one at a time - from dry whites, to dry reds, and on the late harvest wines. Then the next winery would present in the same order, so the dumb bastard was always going from sweet dessert wines to dry table wines.

When the article came out, our BFD (anyone who has attended Washington State University knows what BFD stands for) or Barrel Fermented Dry Riesling got an 86 or something non-committal like that. In the review, the Wine Advocate stated that "the oak overpowered the fruit." Here lies the joke and maybe the reason I am now a grumpy winemaker. The barrels that the wine was fermented in came from Pittsburgh, PA and were made by United States Steel. This wine never saw so much as an oak chip let alone an oak barrel. So, does the label influence Parker. You bet it does! Well, that and the weight of the bottle and maybe some nice perks.


  1. Reminds me of when Wine Depressed Northwest called my Reserve Syrah a typical, overoaked "reserve style" wine. (aged for nine months in a four year old French barrel by the way). As the old man deems them- sexual intellectuals...