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California critic's book aims to shake up an industry

Published Thu, Feb 6, 2014 · 10:00 PM
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[WASHINGTON] As wine editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonne is the leading voice in a general-interest publication covering the heart of the California wine industry. He's also controversial, for he has been one of California wine's harshest critics.

In The New California Wine: A Guide to the Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste, published in November, Bonne argues that California's wine industry has been on the wrong path for more than two decades, pursuing bigger, riper wines and higher point scores from critics at the expense of the character that made California wines great in the first place. "Again and again I was disappointed by what I found to be the shortfalls of California wine: a ubiquity of oaky, uninspired bottles and a presumption that bigger was indeed better," he writes.

Bonne is not the only prominent writer to criticise the prevalent style of California wine. Eric Asimov of The New York Times champions winemakers who strive for a more elegant, lower-alcohol style of wine. Bonne, however, is harder to ignore because of his base in San Francisco. Many in the wine industry regard him as a pest.

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