Random Musings

Wines People Love to Hate

There are no shortage of wines that collectors consider polarizing. Pegau for the often noticeable brett. Cayuse for the funky smells that I oh so love. Silver Oak for the dill pickle smell from American oak. Beyond these examples though there is a special pedestal for the most polarizing wines. Literally, the wines that collectors love to hate. The two poster child wines for this category are undoubtedly Kosta Browne and Quilceda Creek.

Any thread on a wine board about either of these producers draws out detractors who are only slightly less vociferous than your friend on Facebook who has to post about our current president every day of the week. Comments like “I dropped that list in 2009” or “I emailed the winery and told them to remove my name from the list” are somewhat commonplace on these threads. No one really cares, but the same individuals feel compelled to weigh in any time the wines are mentioned.

Kosta Browne was founded in 1997 by Dan Kosta and Michael Browne. The first several vintages produced were rich, plush and hedonistic. They received very high scores from James Laube at the Wine Spectator. Despite the high scores the wines were criticized for not resembling Burgundy in any manner shape or form. Many questioned the ageability of the wines. Starting in 2007 or so the wines seem to have become more balanced and nuanced all the while still having this amazing fruit forward style that fans of Kosta Browne adore. Prices have steadily increased and the appellation wines now cost $68 and the SVD wines over $80. This is another point of contention for the naysayers. In spite of all this the waiting list at Kosta Browne is about as long as any list in California.

Quilceda Creek Vintners was founded in 1978 by Alex and Jeanette Golitzin. The wines have always been well known in the state of Washington but it was a series of 100 points scores from the Wine Advocate in the early 2000’s that propelled Quilceda Creek to the very pinnacle of domestic Cabernet Sauvignon. Many detractors point to a clear change in style about the time the high scores started rolling in. The wines made pre 2002 were more old world in style with traditional Bordeaux like structure and taste. The 2002 vintage, and subsequent wines have been made in a fashion that many say catered to the Robert Parker crowd. Big, lush, hedonistic Cabernet with more of a blue fruit profile. The high scores led to increased demand and subsequently higher prices. The cost for their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon doubled over the course of a decade.

So what do these wines have in common? Both are tremendously successful and have received high praise from critics. Both have rightfully raised prices over time. Both clearly cater to a new world palate. I’m not sure any of this is bad or should draw the ire of a certain group of collectors. Perhaps early members of the winery mailing lists felt alienated as prices increased or styles changed? Either way I am not sure what compels them to weigh in every time either winery is mentioned. Life is short and wine should be fun. Please move on and let the rest of celebrate Kosta Browne and Quilceda Creek.

I blogged about Kosta Browne and Burgundy in Kosta Browne Does Not Taste Like Burgundy. Get Over It.

I blogged about Quilceda Creek price increases in An Open Letter to Quilceda Creek Winery.

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1 thought on “Wines People Love to Hate

  1. My brother got on the KB list. He’s never offered to open one during visits, so he’s obviously a collector. Then again, I’ve never asked

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