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“Hot” wines get dissed

By Dave Buchanan
Tip a bottle of California cabernet sauvignon today and you'll be pouring something closer to AA dragster fuel than wine. At least that's what longtime Napa Valley winemaker Randy Dunn, 61, of Dunn Vineyards (Howell Mountain AVA) claims in a recent e-mail he sent to various wine media-types. Blaming the current rage for red wines hitting upwards of 15- and 16-percent alcohol on several causes (including wine critics who give big scores to wines many people find undrinkable), Dunn says the consumers are the only ones who can keep wine-alcohol levels at approachable levels. "It is time for the average wine consumer, as opposed to tasters, to speak up," wrote Dunn in the letter you can read here: Winemaker Randy Dunn: 'Higher alcohol wines should stop.' "The current fad of higher and higher alcohol wines should stop. Most wine drinkers do not really appreciate wines that are 15-, 16-plus percent alcohol. They are, in fact, hot and very difficult to enjoy with a meal.” He compares winemaking to cooking in that "The end product should be enjoyable to consume - not just to taste." The answer, Dunn said, is to seek out wines with less that 14 percent alcohol, and if that means selecting a French, New Zealand or Colorado wine, that may send a message to California winemakers catering to the scores, not the palates. Sort of "Alice's Restaurant" meets Robert W. Parker.