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North Bay Business Journal talks wine trends with sommelier Eugenio Jardim

North Bay Business Journal talks wine trends with sommelier Eugenio Jardim

Bay area sommelier and consultant Eugenio Jardim, discusses wine trends with the North Bay Business Journal and has some nice things to say about Chanin wines. You can read the full Q&A here.

Wine Industry Conference Q&A: Eugenio Jardim: Reconnecting vintners and diners
By Jeff Quackenbush, Business Journal Staff Reporter

Eugenio Jardim is a San Francisco-based wine consultant, sommelier and wine educator, with a career spanning three decades in the U.S. and Brazil.

This year, Mr. Jardim became a partner in small-scale importer Esprit de Champagne and director of wine studies at the San Francisco Cooking School. He is the wine expert for the weekly PBS television show Joanne Weir Cooking Class. For the past dozen years, Mr. Jardim was wine director for top San Francisco restaurant Jardinière.

How well are vintners matching releases with changes in consumer tastes?
MR. JARDIM: I think we are thankfully arriving at an era were the consumers trust themselves to make wine-buying decisions through education, rather than scores.

I think it is becoming really clear what I think about wine being categorize by numbers and scores. I think scores turn wines into luxury items, like fast cars, in my humble point of view.

I believe scores have helped consumers to drink better wines but did not motivate winemakers to make better wines. Wine became so dependent on high scores in order to sell that winemakers lost track of what they set out to do when they dreamed of doing this for a living. It became really common to see winemakers producing wines that they would not otherwise drink, or enjoy themselves.

So back to the question, I still see high-alcohol wines hitting the market when consumers are really asking for more subtlety. Big, chewy, tannic and oaky wines are still being made, when consumers want to taste the varietal instead of winemaking tricks.

I do need to say now that I have a tremendous amount of respect for winemakers, as I could never be one myself. How they sleep at night, I don’t know. It is amazing how much and how hard they work to provide us with this delicious beverage that I prefer to consume rather than talk about.

But I believe winemakers in general need to be more sensitive to their beautiful craft and should spend more time in the vineyard in order to let the gape varietal express itself better.

Having said that, many are already doing that, and some have been at it for quite some time: Cathy Corison always produced some of the most seductively beautiful cabernet sauvignon, even when the 100-points-chasing wines were clearly headed in a completely different direction. Ted Lemon, and Littorai Wines, stayed truthful to his Burgundian education and past winemaking traditions, while pinot noir wines started to climb the alcohol and extraction ladder, sending pinots into syrah territory. The Peays proved that it is possible to make very elegant wines, many different wines, if you choose your terroir carefully.

Some new(ish) kids on the block like Gavin Chanin in Santa Barbara, John Raytak in Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley are making some outstanding wines, focusing on purity and low alcohol without compromising ripeness. Yes, it is possible!

This is not to be misconstrued as the rant of an angry sommelier. These are my humble opinions at this time. I hope and wish that the wine industry will change for the best and that wines will find their way to every table with every meal. I want to live long enough to see wines regaining rightful place on the table with all the other beautiful products of the Earth.