Best of times, worst of times

For wine lovers and wine makers, this is Dickensian “best of times, worst of times.”

For makers, your situation depends on whether weather where you work was kind, and maybe how badly your government or industry screwed things up.

Gloriously for consumers, worst of times for makers can engender best of times for us.

Big harvests in Spain mean price-slashing surplus. Over-production and marketing mistakes in Australia mean gluts and bargains. In Argentina, mastery of malbec and monetary meltdown means deluge of delicious and affordable. In Chile, chilly Pacific winds evoke charming carménère and choruses of other delights as Chileans scramble to not be Australia or Argentina.

In California, maker of almost 90 percent of America’s wine, droughts and earthquakes shake things up, freaking out freaks and Big Wine alike. In France and Italy, some places excel, others went to hail and drenching, wrong-time rains.

Semi-marginal makers embraced opportunities: New Zealand, Portugal, Washington and Oregon, South Africa, Greece, Germany, Languedoc-Roussillon in France. Shoot, even Republic of Georgia and Turkey got good wine press last year. Texas wine industry continues to grow.

Bottom line: if you want good wine, world has gobs of good wine, more than ever before. Some of it is from unfamiliar places while traditional go-to stuff is stressed, but—fellow wine aficionados rejoice—this Dickensian time can be deliriously delicious. Try something different, break out of your comfort zone, score some seriously wonderful stuff without busting your budget.

And don’t cry for Argentina (or other suffering locations/nations/makers). Wine dudes who are on the deck today will toast success tomorrow. Such is way of weather, way of wine.

Tasting notes:
• Merlo Family Blackbird Trinity County Red NV: Syrah-zin blend; big fruit, ripe tannin, full body, spice & everything nice easy drinker. $15
• Conde de Velázquez Valle Alto Red 2011: Full-body syrah-cab blend; eco-farmed Chilean vineyard; clean, black cherry, chocolate; full, smooth tannin. $15
• MacMurray Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2013: Elegant, crisp, clean; citrus, lemon, green apple, nice acidity; restrained oak, subtle creaminess. $20

Last round: Bad decisions make the best stories.