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East vs West: Cool Climate Palates and California Chardonnay

One very interesting aspect of the wine tasting profession is the notion of a regional palate. The difference is clear to those who judge at competitions that use tasters from all over the world, or even just from different parts of North America, from east to west coast. There is a definite propensity for those who taste mainly wines from the west coast, whether it is the Okanagan Valley in BC, Washington, or California, to prefer lower acid, “bigger,” more fruit forward wines. West Coast palates also tend to be far more tolerant of higher alcohol wines.
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Visiting State Side of Niagara Wine Country

It’s one o’clock in the morning and I am helping sort pinot noir grapes under a not-quite-harvest moon at Freedom Run Winery on the Niagara Escarpment of New York State. It’s been a gorgeous, warm growing season, and the fruit is ripe, sweet, and juicy—dream conditions in a cool-climate state. But the winemakers are more excited about what’s in the throwaway bin.