Legendary winemaker speaks out against high alcohol wines

27 August, 2008
Page 11 
Napa Valley winemaker Randy Dunn has sent an open letter to trade and consumers calling for an end to high alcohol wines.

Dunn, formerly of Caymus Winery and who now runs his own winery on Howell Mountain, argues that high alcohol wines destroy any sense of terroir.

"The subtleties of terroir have been melted together in a huge pot called 'overripe' or the vogue 'physiologically mature' grapes," he said.

"Gone are the individ­ua­lities of specific regions, replaced by sameness - high alcohol, raisiny, pruney, flabby wines."

Dunn has called on wine consumers to speak up and reject wines with 15 or 16 per cent alcohol.

"These new wines are made to taste and spit, not to drink," he added.

He also urged consumers in restaurants to ask for wines that are below 14 per cent.

Th is tactic can, however, backfire on US wines as the ­sommelier usually comes back with a French or New Zealand wine.

Dunn, who made Caymus famous with its Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon during his tenure from 1975-1985, is the first winemaker of his stature to speak up on the controversial subject of high alcohol wines.


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Nick Strangeway

Hacha leads by example

Back in 2002 celebrity chef Jamie Oliver launched Fifteen, a restaurant made up of a team of trainee chefs from underprivileged backgrounds.

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