I was recently asked what a flabby wine was. Needless to say this is a loaded question but let me try to summarize it.
Flabby is a negative term typically used to describe a wine with low acidity and high PH resulting in an unbalanced wine that is not very enjoyable. However I would like to add a bit more context and dimension.
Aside from its [the wine] nuances – specific to the Vineyard and winemaker – a wine (and its varietal) has a certain profile of generally expressed characteristics. Think, tannin, acid, fruit (berry, plum, etc), terroir, and such. When the expression of these characteristics fall far short and out of balance of the expected and/or combine to create a noticeably unremarkable experience on the palate, the wine is often described as flabby.
It is a very noticeable if not glaring lack of intensity (zest) within the wine. A lack of dimension. An absence of complexity. This is usually a sign that the winemaker was trying too hard. That is, tinkering, altering with or grossly overcompensating for some characteristic(s) within the wine such that little dimension is left. This can also be as a result of the grapes not being great to begin with.
I’ve made an extremely flabby wine before. It is so painfully underwhelming. Which is why it boggles the mind why anyone would actually bottle a flabby wine and expect it to sell.
Nonetheless I hope this has helped advance your application for a good wine. Here is an exercise in extreme contrasts for you:
Stop by the gas station and pick up the cheapest Merlot or Pinot Noir you can find ($2-5). Then stop by a reputable wine store/shop and pick up a Bordeaux from Margaux, 2012 (7 years) or older ($40-100). Take them home and do a side-by-side tasting to experience first hand what a flabby wine tastes like… LOL.
Gary Farrell was my first stop as I wandered through Russian River Valley in search for Pinot Noir that I felt was representative of the region. Before I continue, I feel I must inform you that their tasting is by appointment only. This creates an atmosphere of calm and serenity devoid of any noisy crowds and distractions. Combined with the hilltop view of the valley below it creates an environment ideal for focus and reflection on what you are tasting. I think for the discerning palate this presents good value as you explore this region and what it has to offer. I will surely make an appointment on my next visit to this region.
The grounds were impeccably maintained, minimalist architecture and clean balanced interior decor really complemented the overall energy and experience. The staff were very warm and courteous and although I did not have an appointment they did go out of their way to at least get me a sampling of two of their Pinot Noirs from the region. They also offered to add me to their up-coming wine tour/tasting session however I was pressed for time. Very gracious indeed.
That being said, I was perfectly content sampling two of their Pinot Noirs as this would give me and quick idea of the caliber of the wines on offer. I must say, I was not disappointed. I instantly thought to myself, “this is what I came here for”. Rich, layered, complex, structured Pinot Noir. Further review of their menu revealed more Pinot Noirs from some of the most coveted vineyards all up and down the West Coast. I selected one of their Pinot Noirs from the Russian River Valley which I will be reviewing tonight and will post my thoughts.
This weekend I finally got around to exploring the Russian River region. After a weekend of camping in Bodega Bay with friends it seemed only fitting that we make a slight detour through Russian River on our way back to Sacramento.
I have had some amazing Pinot Noir from this region and I was eager get out there and get a sense of what it is about. I wanted to personally see what it is about this region that produces such great Pinot Noir.
As I meandered through the winding back roads sometimes almost getting lost, I wished for something off the beaten path. Small, family owned and operated wineries. No sooner than the thought crossed my mind, I noticed the sign to Gracianna Winery. I did not recognize the name. It did not show up on my google map search. I thought to myself, this could be precisely what I was looking for.
The grounds were neat, uncluttered, minimalist and generally understated. The Winery sits lower in the valley and is very easy to completely overlook. As I pulled up I had no expectations whatsoever. I merely wanted to taste some Russian River Pinot. The tasting room is one of the more interesting ones (read cool) I’ve seen in a while. It is and indoor/outdoor setup, welcoming you in one side and leading you to a terrace/patio and into the vineyards where your detailed tasting happens among the vineyards.
On the tasting menu were the following wines with some of my initial notes.
2018 Arozza Rosé – Rose was delicate, smooth and buttery.
2018 Sauvignon Blanc – Oakey, smooth, mild acid, hint of citrus, gentle overall.
2015 Chardonnay – Beautiful, delicate, buttery great floral notes, complex.
2016 Pinot Noir – More Burgundian style, crisp clean nose, subtle oak, subtle acid, hint of spice, delicate balance. What I was looking for.
2014 Pinot Noir – More of a big California style Pinot albeit restrained. Once opened huge earth/terrior dominates the nose, beautiful, perfect balance of jammy fruit, berry, bold tannin for a Pinot especially from this region. Rich. Should lay down a little more to fully develop. I will have to revisit this.
It is difficult to do an in-depth tasting on site while tasting other wines. So I picked up a bottle each of the Pinot Noir, one of which will be tonight’s occation and will post my thoughts shortly.
The Tasting was conducted by staff with extensive knowledge on the wines and the region at large. This really helped guide the tasting and added great perspective. The tasting was occasionally punctuated by the owner Trini who’s warm lively energy I found very reassuring as he shared the history of the winery going back generations. Equally impressive was his son’s ventures into viticulture and enology. This family is truly all about the love and passion for making great wines. It was a truly special and personal experience.
Thank you Trini, Fernando and the entire Gracianna Family. I look forward to seeing you all gain.
There are some great wineries tucked away in these hills. Were it not for a very helpful tip from my friend and Sonoma Vintner Roger Roessler of (rogerroesslerwines.com), I would have otherwise driven by and missed this gem.
The winery had a certain modern contemporary minimalist, uncluttered feel that I think helped enhance the wine tasting experience. I found the staff to be very knowledgeable about the wines, estate and history as a whole. Presenting wines from both Dierberg and sister winery Star Lane Vineyard which offers some very interesting and exclusive art in a bottle.
Even though I’m not much of a white wine enthusiast, I thought their whites were very approachable, really well made and with a refreshing amount of creativity too. All their reds were exemplary, really well built wines very much in line with the wines I had tasted so far on this trip. I left with half a case of their Pinot Noir. I will be posting my thoughts whenever I open one of them. I will most definitely be visiting Dierberg next time I’m in the region.