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Uncorked: Is acidity and balance the latest trend in wine?

Trends come and go in the wine industry.

Just like the latest designer fad in fashion or development in pop music, winemakers can get caught up in a wave of similarity when crafting their final product. Maybe it’s the lure to follow the crowd making wines that critics will reward 90-plus points. Or simply the weather from a particular vintage narrowed their creative avenues.

Whatever the case, there’s a refreshing term winemakers from around the world are using with increased frequency: acidity.

Winemaker spotlight

Over-manipulation of oak had its stay.

Then there was the over-extracted, dense, deep purple fruit bombs. This isn’t a critique of either style. As a lover of fine wine, I enjoy the wide variety of styles available as I peruse the racks at my local store.

But, if trends move cyclically, the opposite end of the spectrum from both aforementioned styles seems to be en vogue.

Nearly every winemaker interview I’ve done in the past six months has the mention of acidity and balance playing a role in the wine they’ve crafted.   

“The U.S. consumer wants fruit forward wines,” said Tuck Beckstoffer, whose 2009 Melee a Grenache blend still stands as the finest interpretation of the varietal I’ve opened this year. “Somewhere though, it became the “supersize me” attitude. I think we are starting to see winemakers back off from that though. I was always taught to find balance in everything.”

Even the cult Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons, which can command triple digit prices and gained a following for muscular wines loaded with huge flavors, might dial down its profile in search of balance.

Yao Family Wines’ president and director of winemaking managed to do so with the 2009 Yao Ming Napa Valley Cab.

“The No. 1 premise was to find balance,” Tom Hinde said. “Not to push for extract. We framed the tannins using oak and acidity. There’s four components that should all work together. I like when things work together in harmony.”

It seems like consumers and winemakers also like when there’s balance in their wine. Or it’s just the latest trend.

• James Nokes writes a bi-weekly wine column for the Daily Chronicle. He’s been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Contact him at

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