The World of Pinot Noir – Part 3

Brian Clark Interviews Jamie Kutch of Kutch Wines

This is the final installment of a three part series covering the wine show: World of Pinot Noir.

Todays guests include Jamie Kutch of Kutch Wines, Augie Hug of Hug Cellars and show attendee David Lee.

To find out more about todays guests go to:

– Kutch Wines:
– The Pinot File:
– Lover of Wine:

To find out more about “World of Pinot” go to:

Sponsor: CellarTracker, The Wine Mgmt System:

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Show #92
(37:21 min 17 MB)

18 Responses to “The World of Pinot Noir – Part 3”

  1. 1 Michael Davis Jun 12th, 2006 at 12:16 pm

    Let me start by saying I love your show and have found it a great resource, but so far today I think today’s show is not up to your usual high standards.

    Your interview with Jamie Hutch strikes be as being not very good. Given that the show is about pinot noir, it struck me as odd that you barely discussed pinot with him at all.

    And I’m just not sure why you interviewed the guy. This all the hundreds of winemakers in California who have been working for years, why are you interviewing a guy who it sounds like has yet to even release any wine? I just don’t feel like I learned a thing from the interview. Jamie Hutch may be a great guy and a real talent, but he came off to me as more a dilettante than a real winemaker. The bit about how he proposed to his fiance was really pushing things over the top for me. This really came off as winemaking as a vanity business.

    I’m taking the time to give you this feedback because (as I said before) I really like your show. So far you are the best wine podcast I have found with good production values and generally very good content. You really are providing a useful service. Thanks.

  2. 2 GrapeRadio Bunch Jun 12th, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    Michael, I am glad you posted your complaint. I get the feeling that taken on a whole you like what we are doing. However minor such complaints may be
    , they need to be addressed. I agree with your complaint, but for different reasons.

    I feel it is important to shed light on the small, lesser known producers as well as the big, more established, heavy hitters. I also am trying to give a glimpse into the people behind the wine, not just a technical overview. In a way, Jamie is very represenitive of many of the new people coming on the wine landscape. Perhaps he has not earned the right to be respected for his abilities as a winemaker, but I have a great deal of respect for the drive it takes to attempt to live the dream.

    We probably should have talked to someone we have not spoken to in the past. Not an excuse, but keep in mind that some people say no to us, and others simply can not break free from their tasting table to talk to us. We also could have been more focused in our questions. Maybe the fact that I like Jamie so much was a distraction.

    I still feel Jamie was a worthy guest, I also feel we could have worked harder at producing the type of content that our “fans” expect.


  3. 3 Mark Ryan Jun 13th, 2006 at 5:22 pm

    Thanks for all the podcasts. As I am close to getting my sommelier certification, I find your discussions about wine to be a great resource.

    One thing I might suggest along the lines of the previous comment is to ask a few more critical questions to your guests (especially Jamie Hutch). I find it very troubling that someone with no previous wine experience can make a limited supply of yet another over-extracted high alcohol California Pinot and already be sold out before even crushing a grape! This is an alarming trend, especially in California wine. In what other business would you buy a product from an unknown manufacturer without having any idea of its quality? Even in Bordeaux they have en primeur sales which involve _barrel tasting_ to set prices and stimulate demand…and these are producers with sometimes hundreds of years of experience. Sometimes I think we as Americans are too prone to hype and can’t wait to jump on the next bandwagon. Today it’s big Pinots, yesterday it was oaky Chardonnay.

    To date, I feel your best podcasts were the Pinot Showdown (#67-70) where you had winemakers talk and _confront_ one another. They gave real insight into the issues that winemakers face. Sometimes it is not enough to learn that a winemaker “is a great guy” who has an interesting marriage proposal…I would much rather drink top quality wine from a jerk who knows what he is doing than from a all-around friendly guy with mediocre winemaking skills….

    Keep ’em coming. Thanks!

  4. 4 Jamie Kutch Jun 14th, 2006 at 12:09 pm


    How do you know what type of wine I have made for my first vintage when you refer to it as High Alcohol. Also what makes you think it is over-extracted? Thus far there have only been 3 people who have tasted my wine from barrel. My wines are nothing of the sort of how you describe them. 2005 was a marvelous vintage with weather that couldn’t have been much better. The wines are balanced, low in alcohol and certainly not over-extracted. It takes a lot of love to give up everyone and everything you know to follow a dream. This is my dream and I went for it unlike the large percent of Americans who sit back in their cush jobs. There is no hype to my wines just pure passion and obviously 600 people want to taste that passion. I busted my ass to make those wines and made them no different than the hundreds of other winemakers Michael above refers to.

    Maybe you should go out and drink _________ and _______ pinots because they consistantly get 97+ points from critics then come and talk to me about high alcohol and over-extraction.

    Until then, please wait to meet me and taste my wine before putting both of us down.

  5. 5 Michael Davis Jun 14th, 2006 at 12:43 pm

    I agree with Mark the that the Pinot Showdown podcasts were great. There are a zillion sources for tasting notes out there, which are generally someones personal impressions of a wine. Finding tangible facts about wine can be much harder. The Pinot Showdown did a great job of showing a real struggle going on going on in the California wine business. It was just hugely insightful.

    And Mark I completely agree with your comments about this “alarming trend”. We Americans are indeed a trendy lot.

  6. 6 Youndy Hung Jun 14th, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    That’s funny, I thought the Pinot Showdown shows were a low point for GrapeRadio; more like the Jerry Springer-ization of wine. Whatever floats your boat I guess. Also, if you’re going to bag on a guy, at least spell his name right. It’s Kutch with a K, not an H!

  7. 7 Mel Hill Jun 14th, 2006 at 1:38 pm

    WOW, I never thought I’d see the day where Jamie breaks bad on some dude! 🙂
    Must be something in the Graperadio kool-aid that gets really nice pinot producers like Jamie and Brian to want to bust some heads!

    Keep up the great work guys!


  8. 8 Ryan P Jun 14th, 2006 at 6:57 pm

    Contrary to some, I really appreciated hearing the interview with Jamie Kutch. While it may have not been the hard-hitting interview with the biggest name in the business, I felt it was great to hear about the issues that new winemakers are confronted with and the road they have taken. I probably wouldn’t shell out big $ for Jamie’s wine until I’ve had the chance to try it, I respect him for diving head-long into this and if one day I am able to try his wine and like it – I’d be proud to get on the list.

    I, too, thought that the Pinot showdown was a bit over the top. I felt that Joe’s analogies were way off-base and was waiting for someone to defend Brian’s style with some more fitting analogies. His style is not a Yugo or Big Mac but more so young and fresh. More like the difference between dry-aged beef and sushi. Both are great but are simply different styles.

  9. 9 Mark Ryan Jun 14th, 2006 at 7:05 pm


    Easy…easy. I’m not faulting your passion or your dedication, I am faulting the wine culture at large for buying wine from an unknown winemaker before having a clue how it tastes. Nothing personal at all (my apologies for mispelling your name), your winery just happens to be a prime example of this trend. The fact that you are already sold out when only 3 people have ever tasted your wine is exactly my point indeed: that’s called hype whether you like it or not. They’re not buying passion, they’re buying wine hype. I’m not saying that you are hyping your wines, it just happens that you are making a wine which is, shall we say, hype-worthy. Consumers hear buzzwords like “Pinot Noir”, “Russian River Valley”, “limited supply”, “same vineyard as Siduri” and Americans lose their minds and race to sign up.

    If your wines are not over-extracted then great…all I’ll say is market forces will be working against you if you decide to release a Burgundian-style, light garnet-colored, 12.5% alcohol, age-worthy, moderate+ acidity, with a bit of tannin in it…if this is the “low alcohol”, not over-extracted wine you are making, well then I’ll be the first to beg you to be on the mailing list. Until then all I can do is be amused by “much ado about nothing” — literally.

  10. 10 GrapeRadio Bunch Jun 14th, 2006 at 7:46 pm

    Mark, I find your position puzzling
    “I am faulting the wine culture at large for buying wine from an unknown winemaker before having a clue how it tastes.”
    Some people are willing to try a wine from an unknown winemaker because
    • They know the vineyards sources
    • The mentors helping the winemaker
    • They have heard statements made by the winemaker that leads them to belive that the winemaker will make a wine that they like
    • They personally are compelled due to the dedication of the winemaker
    • Etc
    “Consumers hear buzzwords like “Pinot Noir”, “Russian River Valley”, “limited supply”, “same vineyard as Siduri” and Americans lose their minds and race to sign up.”
    With the exception of limited supply, I feel all those other factors you mentioned are reasonable factors for people to use when deciding about trying a new wine.
    Otherwise, you are going to make your decision based on the reports of others, I see this as a contradiction to your position.
    BTW, Jamie please correct me if I am wrong. People have signed up represent people that have expressed interest in receiving an offer. They are not people that have committed to buying anything.


  11. 11 Jamie Kutch Jun 14th, 2006 at 10:03 pm

    Correct Jay, although people have signed up for the mailing list there is no commitment other than that they will receive an offer.

    Mark, I have thought about how to reply to this post for most of the evening now and have come up with the following:

    Please send me your address so I can ship you off a bottle of my wine once it’s been bottled. After all its what’s inside that counts. — I apologize for my brief snap earlier.

    Drink well,

  12. 12 GrapeRadio Bunch Jun 15th, 2006 at 11:58 am

    Jamie, I think your wines will be just like Mark says they will be. Of course, if you wish to change my mind ….. 🙂


  13. 13 Mel Hill Jun 15th, 2006 at 1:26 pm

    If I insult your mother will you send me a bottle too? 😀

    I’ll PM you my address just in case!

  14. 14 steve elzer Jun 18th, 2006 at 8:21 am


    Kutch has a strong mailing list because he is in fact well known in the community — the community of wine geeks. He started as one of us and as a budding winemaker, he has been embraced by us. We are rooting for him because he represents the average passionate wine guy who followed his bliss and abandoned his day job for the risky world of winemaking. He is being mentored by some of the best pinot makers on the scene today and his fruit source is strong.

    Next time do a little research before the slap down.

  15. 15 Mark Ryan Jun 18th, 2006 at 9:57 pm


    I don’t see my position as contradictory, far from it. What I have been trying to emphasize this whole time is that _reputation_ is something that needs to be built, and that the success of a winery should not be built around hype. To address your points:

    Vineyard sources: Yes good fruit is the foundation of good wine, yet I have had plenty of horrible 1er Cru Burgundy. Could that fruit have been made into good wine by a competent winemaker…? Quality fruit absolutely has to be complemented by a good winemaker in order to make a good product.

    Mentors: The idea of requiring a mentor for a full-fledged winery concerns me. One is mentored under an _apprenticeship_, which over time, leads to bigger and better things. This is how reputations are built (e.g., he/she was the winemaker for such-and-such winery before they launched their own label). In other words, those who are mentored are, by nature, in a subservient position, NOT in a position of being a winemaker in their own right.

    “Statements made by the winemaker…”, “Dedication of the winemaker”: This comes down to salesmanship/hype. Of course as a winemaker I will tell anyone what they want to hear in order to sell product!

    Jamie, I am sorry if it sounds like I am being hard on you (it is definitely nothing personal because I really know very little about you, and I am addressing the larger issue of new wineries and sometimes even newer wine consumers that are often suckered by buzz words and hype). I just strongly feel that wineries that charge high-end prices should have something to back them up, preferably by the wine itself (in bottle or in barrel), and/or by the reputation/past experience of the winemaker. You may go on to great success and I hope you do, so long as your wine warrants it. Your offer of a bottle is generous, and I am never one to refuse a gift. 🙂

  16. 16 GrapeRadio Bunch Jun 19th, 2006 at 4:42 am

    Mark, we seem to be talking past each other. I never said anything about “requiring” a mentor. I disagree with your statement that the use of a mentor, by definition means, “they are in a subservient position, NOT in a position of being a winemaker in their own right.”

    A solid track record is definitely a great indicator of a winemaker’s ability. I for one, am willing to be part of the group of consumers that is willing help the winemaker build that reputation (through my drinking experiences). Personally, my own experiences with a wine are the “reputation” that matters most to me.

    I understand and agree that hype exists in the world of wine. Maybe you are more cynical than others. I believe most true wine geeks are able to distinguish the difference between “hype” and solid indications of potential. Wine geeks are a passionate lot. We are willing to experiment and make informed buying decisions.

    Feel free to call me if you are wish to discuss further.

    p.s I would like to talk to you about an unrelated (to this thread) matter. I have an idea I would like to float by you.

  17. 17 MrWalker Jun 25th, 2006 at 11:53 am

    I believe everyone understands your perspective. It is, however, something of a misplaced comment. Michael Davis’ post set the tone for a negative feeling, which he is entitled to. However, to assume is to look past reality. Jamie has not sold his wines, true. However, what he represents is a demographic of people who ‘wish’ to do something, as he did. The thing is, Jamie actually got out of his office chair and is attempting to fulfill a dream. Can he speak about wine sales or past vintages? No. However, his experience as someone beginning work in this business is something of interest to many(myself included). Hearing of his experiences also gives some idea of what others might be experiencing in his position. When his wine comes to the market, I am sure he will let his wine speak for him.

  18. 18 Smokie Jun 26th, 2006 at 11:55 am

    As far as the “wine culture at large”– I doubt that the people on Jamie’s list fit the bill. Jamie’s list is made up of wine super-geeks who either know him personally or feel like they know him through the BB’s. It is fun for us to support his quest, and enjoy his adventure with him. Is there anything wrong with this? Lighten up Mark, it’s just wine– the worst thing a sommelier can become is a wine snob. I also doubt that Kutch will be charging “high end” prices– like Kistler/Marcassin, etc.

    By the way, the 2005 barrel sample at the Pinot Fest yesterday was superb. Of course the next challenge will be expanding vineyard sources/production and flying solo from the mentors, but that will be fun too. Go Kutch!

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