SOMEWHERE IN SOUTHERN INDIANA – Indiana is not Napa, Willamette Valley, or even New York’s Finger Lakes when it comes to wine quality. But several of the state’s 70 wineries are making great wine. I’m equally sure there are a few I’ve not visited making good juice as well.
It’s a pleasure to tell the stories of the Uplands Wine Trail. I just did an interview Friday with Ted Huber about his winery winning top honors at the Indy International Competition.
But what to do when you visit an operation making substandard wine? It’s one thing for a wine not to be to your taste but totally another when the wine is flawed – or far beyond just flawed to poorly made and just plain awful.
I taste the sweet wines and the fruit wines and try to judge them for what they are and have found a respect for those winemakers producing such wines for our mass market of Hoosier sweet-lovin wine drinkers.
The Thomas Family winery is in a historic building in Madison, In. – one of the prettiest spots in Indiana. The Ohio River is beautiful in the stretch along this old river town. The family has a history of wine making dating back to the 1930s. As a matter of fact, the Thomas Winey has its roots in Indianapolis.
But for just the second time in my six years of wine writing I tasted wines today that were not well made and, arguably, turning people away from Indiana wines. I could go a step further and say it was a disservice to Indiana wines in general.
I tasted a white wine from grapes grown in Indiana and a red Zin made of grapes from Lodi, California. The tasting room person described the wines in detail and answered my questions. But her description of a raisin-like quality, similar to port, in the Zin was unfortunately right on target but the wrong comparison.
The raisin-like quality was much more a wine-gone-bad, corked, pour-it-down-the sink state of disgust. Maybe a bad bottle you say? Perhaps, but each bottle was opened for my pour. And, by the way, I never identifty myself as a wine writer on first-time visits.
The wine had gone bad in the barrel, bottle, or somewhere along the line. It was astringent with no fruit and the balance of a roller-coaster. The Indiana white wine was also oddly astringent and virtually undrinkable. Normally I enjoy a nice acidic white but not when the acid is closer to chemistry class than agriculture.
I’m neither a chemist or winemaker but I understand the principles of wine making. I taste hundreds of wines every year but thousands is probably more accurate.
The history and location had me wanting more. Perhaps a second visit is called for in all fairness.
Is it dishonest to praise the good and ignore the bad? I tend to think so. Leave a comment. Send me an email. I honestly would like to know what you think and expect.