From the WSJ:
PHILO, Calif.—In wine vernacular, "smoky bacon" is a prized flavor for pinot noir. Not so is "wet ashtray," which is where the powdered sturgeon bladders come in.
The 2008 pinot noirs from here in California's Anderson Valley are starting to show up in stores. But severe forest fires during the growing season hit the grape crop that year. The fires left much of the resulting wine with "smoke taint," according to many local winemakers, a condition similar to that in a "corked" bottle in which one unwanted taste overwhelms everything else.
Sturgeon-bladder powder, called isinglass, is what winemaker Larry Londer added to a few gallons of his 2008 pinot noir to try to fix it. Isinglass has long been used to clear wine of unwanted elements, and Mr. Londer hoped it would remove what he and other vintners call the wet-ashtray taste.
It didn't. "We did things that we'd never do" in a typical year, says Mr. Londer, who grows pinot grapes on 15 acres at his Londer Vineyards. With the 2008 vintage, he says, "normal rules didn't prevail."