Over at Palate Press Remy Charest has written an interesting piece on Clark Smith:
This is a writer who extolls the virtue of biodynamics â€œbecause of its impenetrability to conventional scientific investigatory practicesâ€, but then goes on, on the very next page, to denounce â€œnatural wine nonsenseâ€ and criticize the proponents of natural wine (notably Alice Feiring) for not providing a clear definition of what natural wine is.
He also insists that â€œa complex natural ecologyâ€ is essential in providing â€œdistinctive and soulful characterâ€ to wine (and other foods), yet will advocate that bringing a wineâ€™s alcohol content down by 3% or using cultured yeasts and other additives is a way to create a wine that better expresses terroir.
One example of this is the â€œFaux Chablisâ€ he makes under his own Winesmith label. To create this Napa Valley chardonnay, Smith takes Napa chardonnay grapes at what he deems to be optimal maturityâ€¦ and then takes out a significant amount of alcohol to bring out the â€œlemon oilâ€ character that, he claims, is the true signature of Napa terroir in chardonnay grapes.
To me â€“ and many others â€“ this kind of statement is an obvious contradiction. If chardonnay grown in Napa results in high alcohol at maturity, then high alcohol is a signature of terroir. If that results in an unbalanced wine, then doesnâ€™t that mean that the grape is simply not suited to the place? Wouldnâ€™t it make more sense to plant fiano or roussanne in Napa Valley, grapes that would likely yield a better balance of acid and alcohol and flavour at maturity, in the valleyâ€™s climate?