Almost as predictable as the setting of the sun, California wine is subject to cyclical patterns that sometimes can drive restaurateurs crazy.
In 2001, California was so flush with wine it was being called a lake. By early 2003, a $2 wine raised its head in retail shops and consumers, many of them hit by a declining economy, began trading down. And restaurants, still feeling the squeeze put on by the 9-11 disaster, saw their inventories as stagnant money-losers.
But then, the basic essentials of economics, as expected, kicked into place. Vineyards were abandoned, plantings of new acreage declined, and before long we began hearing about a wine shortage, similar to the shortages we faced in 1997 and 1998.
And what are we to think about the sort of wines that people are ordering with their meals? At one point, chardonnay led the world, with merlot racing to the front so fast that restaurants had to stock a lot more of these wines than they ever imagined.
By 2003, sauvignon blanc and syrah began to pull alongside the leaders, with white Rh