Not a lot new has been written about California wines and winemaking in the past decade. Certainly books of winemaker interviews and compendiums of wine opinion have been published but nothing quite like “The New California Wine,” penned by Jon Bonne, the wine columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Mr. Bonne profiles the California producers and growers that he thinks are on the cutting edge of things, both in the vineyard and in the cellar. To the extent that these folks are radical in the their viticultural philosophy, they are almost revolutionaries, given the prevailing wisdom and status quo of what he calls “Big Wine” and “Big Flavor.” The latter terms refer to the large corporate wineries who, he claims, have homogenized wine to the extent that they’ve reduced every bottle to a big flavor bomb and nothing more. He claims there is hope for hand crafted wines in California again.
If you think you know a lot about California wine, think again, then read this book. You may not agree with everything (Mr. Bonne can be a bit strident and precocious at times) but your thinking about what’s in your glass will probably be challenged. One man's opinion, true, but a very researched and reasoned opinion, it’s my wine book of the year.
2013 Wine book of the year: "The New California Wine” by Jon Bonne (Ten Speed Press, $35).