EDITOR'S NOTE—New Directions
Grab a glass of syrah and cozy up to the fire. You’ll find plenty to read in this issue, starting with Patrick J. Comiskey’s tale of two winemaking buddies in Sonoma who grew famous making wines they no longer particularly like to drink.
Pax Mahle (Pax) and Wells Guthrie (Copain) both developed critical followings based on powerfully rich syrahs and pinot noirs. But in recent years, they’ve turned their back on that style of wine, focusing instead on cool, far-coast sites where they now grow fresh wines with energy and drive.
As critics at W&S, Patrick and I both love these new wines—though there is at least one leading critic who has called the pursuit of such wine styles “vinofreakism.” Other critics may have their sway in the market. But if liking these wines is vinofreakism, then I am proud to be a freak and excited to promote talents like Mahle and Guthrie, who are making wines they like to drink.
The model for these wines is the northern Rhône, where legends like August Clape and Thierry Allemand grow syrah that turns once-pragmatic New World winemakers into passionate followers. As Josh Raynolds points out, the critics and collectors are focused on Côte Rôtie and Hermitage, but a lot of New World winemakers are looking to Cornas, where those aforementioned legends are based. Raynolds, a longtime critic for Steve Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar and a legendary wit on the tastings circuit, debuts in this issue of W&S with a perspective on Cornas that Mahle and Guthrie may well find to their taste.
In another W&S debut, David Rosengarten of The Rosengarten Report brings his love of food and wine to readers with the first in a new series of articles. In this case, a recent visit to Western Australia—particularly the ocean-influenced region of Great Southern—led him to discover a different side of Aussie wine. We gave him four of our favorite Western Australia wines, and asked him to create an Oz-inspired recipe for each. These are not the standard-issue Aussie good drinks—they’re not powerfully explosive or hugely endowed with fruit. Instead, they are elegant, graceful, ocean-inspired wines that resonate with David’s whimsical Aussie food. They’re the wines we like to drink.
There are plenty more discoveries in our tasting section for this issue, whether syrah, shiraz or Rhônes, carmenères, malbecs or New Zealand pinots. I hope they’ll lead you to some wines you like to drink.