Have a similar palate and I'll love you? Yeah, I'm easy. I felt like a big sore little toe in the world, out of synch, at odds with and like the wrong direction on the nap of corduroy.Today in particular I needed to see Kramer's piece in the Wine Spec entitled, The Fear of Austere. He understands me. And today, I am grateful for that. It could be love. Kramer starts his column by quoting a fellow at a Napa Valley blind tasting. "The wine is austere," said the taster, "And that's not a good word in my book." Kramer goes on to speculate, is that why so many of the wines today taste the way they do, because austere is considered undesirable? Both Kramer and I seem to be on the what's the matter with austere camp. We like austere! It might mean that the wine is an approachable 13% alcohol, maybe it didn't have its tannins erased and just maybe it is interesting instead of NyQuil-esque. A few years back at the Hospice de Rhone some guy said to Steve Edmunds about a syrah, "This ever going to open up?" Meanwhile I was writing a note to self: beautiful! Restrained beauty! I also differ with many on zinfandel. I remember one in particular Summit Ridge. It was a little wine. Not important. Who knows. it could have been a big spoof wine, but I liked it. I have no idea if it still exists or if it does exist it does so in the same way, but it was austere! It had edge, it had angles it had rooms. I also remember when people tasted it they had no context for the angular wine. Then there was Pierre Antoine Rovani at the IPNC. It was 2000 and the 98 red Burgundies were being discussed and slammed by the critic. I raised my hand amongst the masses and said, ďI love the 98ís. They have edge and tannin and itís a relief.Ē Or something like that. He basically told me I was wrong. Love that. I was wrong. Like a palate can be wrong. It can be misguided but can it be wrong? (Like the guy at Hospices. Well, he was told austere was bad, you see. He was misguided.). Shouldnít I learn to keep my mouth shut? (yes) But so far, ten years down the line, every time I see 1998 Iíve been really happy. This June when I had the 98 Gevrey VV from Pansiot I found it just delicious, firm and structured. Last week, even though the sommelier at Alta, in the west village, warned me against the í98 Matrot Blagny, (he actually said austere) it had lush aroma of just-evolved- burgundy, extremely floral and woodsy and a touch thrilling, especially at $52. And what about stems, while Iím at it? I love stems but perhaps they were removed from the equation because of FEAR OF AUSTERE? Austere is not a positive word. Austere has value written all over it, it has nun written all over it. But in todayís world I beg for come clerical austerity. And while others get this from stems, I get complexity. Stems in fermentation are endangered species in Burgundy. Book preview: in chapter seven, The Lone Guinea Fowl of Burgundy, I take on the disappearance of stems from Burgundy. I mean, where would DRC, Ponsot, Chandon de Brialles, Geantet- Pansiot, Domaine Leroy and Pacalet, to name a few, be without them P.S. Just got word that Mike Dashe has made a 2007 zinfandel, no added yeast, no overt oak influence. I canít believe it. This is a Californian wine I am excited to taste. Might even be worth a trip to Sonoma to taste in barrel.