Wine Reviews: California Cabernet

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-30-2014

It seems Napa Valley will need a long time to recover from the recent earthquake. My heart goes out to everyone who was injured or sustained property damage. I’m saddened by all the social media images of broken library bottles, fallen wine barrels and spilled wine. But every year Napa vintners give us something to look forward to. Cabernet is Napa’s gift to the world, and I for one am thankful that so many people work so hard to make this great juice.

Many Napa Cabs appear in this report, but the wines come from all across California. They were received as trade samples and tasted single blind. Overall, I found this to be a high-quality crew, with some really beautiful standouts.

Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Interview: John Freeman

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 08-29-2014

waterbrook - john freeman - photoEach week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring John Freeman, the winemaker at Waterbrook Winery, a beautiful property in the Walla Walla Valley.

Eric Rindal founded Waterbrook in 1984 as Walla Walla Valley’s fourth winery. Needless to say, back then, Eric was one of a very small group of pioneers who believed in Walla Walla’s potential. Eric in particular knew that the Walla Walla Valley could produce world-class Merlot.

Waterbrook was the perfect match for John, who fell in love with Walla Walla Valley and joined Waterbrook as Assistant Winemaker in January 2003. This wasn’t John’s first job in the wine business – John had already spent twelve years in the industry at Franciscan Vineyards and at Miner Family – and it wouldn’t be his last, either. Two short years later, John was promoted to Winemaker at Waterbrook.

January 2015 will be the ten year anniversary of that milestone in John’s wine career. He and his family are now settled into the picturesque Walla Walla community. On most days, if you visit the winery, you’ll be able to see John walking the vineyards with his dog, chatting with growers about vineyard management, or experimenting with new winemaking techniques.

Check out our interview with John below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: State of Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-29-2014

USAOn NPR, Jon Bonné, Antonio Galloni, Mike Veseth, and Drew Bledsoe chat about “The State of America’s Wine Industry.”

“Great wine lists don’t need to be epic length. They don’t require classic, expensive bottles. And they don’t appear only in the conventional places.” Eric Asimov discovers “10 of New York City’s most surprising wine lists.”

“Because of our association with Beaucastel we come at winemaking with a more traditional sensibility.” In the Sacramento Bee, Mike Dunne chats with Jason Haas, the general manager of Tablas Creek.

In Wine-Searcher, Jane Anson offers “The Busy Wine Lovers Guide to Domaine Jean-Louis Chave.”

Elsewhere in Wine-Searcher, Katherine Cole chats with Piero Incisa della Rocchetta of Bodega Chacra.

The Montreal Gazette’s Bill Zacharkiw details what he drank on summer vacation.

“But sometimes the inter-webs take a mental vacation too. That’s how everyone ends up talking about the animal blood in Two-Buck Chuck.” Mitch Frank finds lots of hysteria in world wine web.

In Grape Collective, Jameson Fink discovers 10 highly entertaining YouTube wine videos.

Steve Heimoff opines on “what makes a winery great.”

Last summer, archaeologists discovered the world’s oldest known wine cellar. Now, we know what was inside the bottles.

Daily Wine News: Corporate Culture

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 08-28-2014

From Wikimedia.

From Wikimedia.

Thanks to LVMH’s purchase of Clos des Lambrays, “traditionalists are now beginning to fear the widespread infiltration of corporate culture” in Burgundy. In Punch, Zachary Sussman dives in.

In Grape Collective, Jameson Fink chats with Lenn Thompson of the New York Cork Report.

Laurent Ponsot doesn’t think 10 years in prison is enough for Rudy Kurniawan.

In Vice, Alison Ashe takes a close look at biodynamics, concluding that “It Takes a Lot of Cow Skulls to Make Good Wine.”

“There’s no reason why Lebanese wine cannot be the sexiest wine on the planet.” On CNN, Leone Lakhani and Eoghan Macguire investigate.

For Ron Washam, the HoseMaster of Wine, Sunday’s earthquake was a reminder “that we’re rather insignificant beings on this colossal planet.”

Aaron Ayscough drinks a new wine from Champagne vigneron Emmanuel Lassaigne, “Clos Sainte Sophie.”

Looking for some Champagne pairings beyond caviar? In Yahoo Food, Julia Bainbridge has put together a great list.

“You don’t see the C.D.C. saying that people under 21 years of age ‘drink too much’ if they consume a can of soda. But it should.” In the New York Times, Mark Bittman pens a Drinker’s Manifesto.

In the Hamptons, rosé is running dangerously low!

“From his many years as a Republican campaign meister, Mr. Dyke knew that to get attention he needed a stunt.” In the New York Times, Jennifer Steinhauer profiles Jim Dyke, the president of Mira Winery in Napa. Last year, Dyke dropped four cases of Cabernet Sauvignon into the Charleston Harbor to see how it would change the aging process.


Daily Wine News: Earthquake Updates

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-27-2014

10569062_10152639628591970_1923769008516066797_nAs wineries assess the damage from Sunday’s earthquake, there are many more updates worth reading. Be sure to check out the New York Times, Press DemocratNapa Valley Register, Washington Post, and SFist.

“Now that I’m feeling more fit, more balanced and clearer about how I can help get out the word about worthy wines, I look forward to doing a better job of that in the coming months.” Richard Jennings writes a wonderful post on “The Personal Pursuit of Balance.”

“If we were just starting out on our wine careers and wanted to taste the very best expression of Cabernet Sauvignon, but didn’t want to pay the high prices of Bordeaux, where would we look?” In the Wall Street Journal Europe, Will Lyons answers this question.

On, Cathy Huyghe measures the ROI of digital media with a look at Constellation Brands and Cornerstone Cellars.

“Are you in Seattle right now? Downtown? Excellent. Head to Le Caviste and get some vino. It’s a totally fantastic wine bar.” Some good advice from Jameson Fink.

In the Los Angeles Times, Marisa Gerber reports on the growing battle over vineyards in Malibu.

In Wine Economist, Ali Hoover visits Sababay, a winery in Bali.

Daily Wine News: Gettysburg Address

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-26-2014

PYCM“It’s not often that a winemaker’s genius can be detected in a bottle of basic Bourgogne.” But Lettie Teague found “the vinous equivalent of the Gettysburg Address” with a bottle of Bourgogne Blanc from Pierre-Yves Colin -Morey.

“In recent years, however, the two halves have been inching closer together, led by the region’s biggest names.” In Wine-Searcher, Jane Anson discovers that the line between the northern and southern Rhône valleys is blurring.

“Two of the country’s most vibrant wine regions are staring at hulking new casino projects.” In Palate Press, Evan Dawson explores what this might mean for Napa and the Finger Lakes.

In Provence, as Robert Camuto reports in his latest letter from Europe, more vignerons are betting on bubbles.

“Although the entire winegrowing region fits in a 5-by-5-mile square, it’s beyond the comprehension of Google Maps.” In the Oregonian, Katherine Cole explores Mosier, Oregon.

“There’s a point at which you can tell that a passing interest in wine has turned into something more involved. You don’t notice it at the time; it’s not a conscious decision. But at some point, all your holidays start taking place in wine regions.” Matt Walls explains how to plan a trip to wine country.

In her latest piece for Grape Collective, Amy Tsaykel confirms that “wine country is full of dreamers.”

On a personal note, I appeared on NewsmaxTV yesterday to discuss the Napa Earthquake.

Daily Wine News: #NapaEarthquake

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-25-2014

A facility where the Matthiassons stored wine. (Courtesy: Matthiasson Wine.)

A facility where the Matthiassons stored wine. (Courtesy: Matthiasson Wine.)

The big wine news this weekend was the Sunday morning earthquake in American Canyon, just south of Napa. Check out reports from W. Blake GrayJon BonnéTom Wark, and S. Irene VirbilaThe Washington Post has more, including photos from social media. NBC’s Nightly News was also out in Napa. My thoughts are with everyone out in wine country.

200 years ago yesterday, the British burned down the White House – and destroyed President James Madison’s treasured wines.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre attends TexSom, which Peter Wasserman has called “the most important sommelier conference in the world.”

“Unlike with other kinds of forfeitures, such as cars that can be donated to a nonprofit or diamonds that can be sold with the money supporting law enforcement agencies, there is only one option with alcohol: destroying it.” Remember the Pennsylvania attorney who was arrested for selling wines to a small email list? The state wants to destroy his contraband.

“Step through the door and you’re instantly back in a California wine country free of pretense, one that winks at the charms of the past.” In the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Bonné finds “Mendocino’s great strength.”

In the Wall Street Journal, Lettie Teague finds “The Elegant, Serious Side of Vinho Verde.”

Last week, Philippine de Rothschild, the owner of the legendary Château Mouton Rothschild, died. She was 80.



Wine Reviews: Languedoc Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-23-2014

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of touring the Languedoc region of France. It was an eye-opening experience, and I found many underdog wines worth rooting for. Since my last tasting report on wines from the Languedoc, I’ve tasted through a few rosés and reds and found some impressive and interesting wines. Most of them are solid values as well.

These wines were all received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Interview: Marti Macinski

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 08-22-2014

standing stone - marti - photoEach week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Marti Macinski, the winemaker at Standing Stone Vineyards, a bucolic family-run winery in the Finger Lakes Region.

Both Tom and Marti had established careers prior to entering the wine business. Tom was working at IBM; Marti was practicing law. They were both incredibly dedicated to their respective jobs, logging in long hours day in and day out. But that must have meant that they couldn’t spend much time together. They wished that they could log in the long hours together as a husband-and-wife team. So, in 1991, after weighing several business options, they decided to found the Standing Stone Vineyards.

While Standing Stone was new, the vineyards were not. Standing Stone’s land had been planted to Riesling and Chardonnay in 1972 by preceding vintners. Emboldened by that history, and armed with the conviction that their vineyards could produce world-class Riesling and Gewurztraminer, Tom and Marti bottled their first vintage in 1993 – and never looked back. This weekend, they are celebrating and reflecting on Standing Stone’s 20th anniversary by pouring some of their first wines from 1993 and 1994.

Check out our interview with Marti below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Muddy Pumas

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-22-2014

Thomas Duroux.

Thomas Duroux.

“While not uncomfortable in the requisite boardrooms and suits, [Thomas Duroux] would just as soon walk the vines in jeans, baseball cap, and muddy Pumas.” In the New York Times, Eric Asimov visits Chateau Palmer. (As regular readers may remember, we interviewed Duroux last May.)

According to Alder Yarrow, “Roland Velich makes the best Blaufränkisch on the planet.”

“Since the recall, sales are as strong as ever, Lambrecht said. Why? You only have to look at the cellar of just about any wine lover, who inevitably harbors dozens of bottles he or she is afraid to open.” In the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Gil Kulers chats with Greg Lambrecht, Coravin’s inventor.

“Eyrie Pinots are so consistently pure, and so devoid of shouting, that you have to lean in really close and let them whisper to you, on their own time.” Joe Roberts visits the Eyrie Vineyards.

“In the end, descriptions like “flinty overtones of dried cranberries in a dusty tobacco pouch” may be a good test of the wine writer’s vocabulary, but meaninglessly overwrought prose for the wine consumer.” Lewis Purdue thinks the tasting note is in big trouble. Steve Heimoff has some thoughts of his own.

The HoseMaster offers a “Guide to Wine Marketing.”

In wine marketing, use of the word “natural” has exploded.

Legend has it that Marie Antoinette’s left breast served as the model for the first Champagne coupe. Now, Kate Moss has her own glass.

In Russia, some members of parliament are pushing for the state to take over the production of wine. Because communism worked out so well.

In Palate Press, Michelle Locke visits Staglin Family Vineyard to learn about the family’s extraordinarily successful efforts to raise money for mental health.

“Boxed wine seems to be the antithesis of the refined experience we typically associate with wine… [But] things are starting to change.” In the Atlantic, Megan Kaminski finds some “modest pleasure” in boxed wine.

From Wine-Searcher, “10 Things Every Wine Lover Should Know About Marqués de Murrieta.