Weekly Interview: Brian Brown

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 03-29-2013

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring winemaker Brian Brown from Round Pond Estate in Rutherford, California.

Brian first became curious about wine while attending high school in Perth, Australia. While there, the local vineyards piqued his interest — so after graduation, he headed to UC Davis to study viticulture and enology.

After college, Brian worked harvests at Iron Horse Vineyards in Sonoma, Salitage in Pemberton, Australia, and Napa Wine Company in Oakville before landing a position as an enologist at Trefethen Vineyards. He then moved to Vineyard 29, where he worked alongside Philippe Melka and Celia Masyczek.

Brian joined the team at Round Pond in 2007 as assistant winemaker, and became the head winemaker in January 2009. In addition to his work at Round Pond, Brian co-owns Emerson Brown Wines with Vineyard 29 winemaker Keith Emerson. (As regular readers know, we interviewed Keith Emerson last May.)

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

Daily Wine News: Spitting Wine

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-29-2013

Gary Vaynerchuk sits down with Tech Cocktail to talk about spitting expensive wine, salesmanship, and the future of marketing.

Jon Bonné chats about American Wine with Jancis Robinson and Linda Murphy. 

“It’s a vintage where the right terroir certainly helped, but vigilance in the vineyard was ultimately the key, to ward off disease and get a crop as evenly ripe as possible.” Over at WineSpectator.com, James Molesworth heads to Bordeaux to see how the 2012 vintage is shaping up. 

Lars Carlberg profiles Henrik Möbitz, a German winemaker best known for his Pinot Noir. 

“Admittedly, it’s not going to have the Bordelais quaking in their boots, but there are some surprisingly good wines considering that this is a tropical climate and it is such a young industry.” In Wine-Searcher, Rebecca Gibb visits Thailand’s wine country. 

Lily-Elaine Hawk Wakawaka compares the 2011 and 2012 offerings from Massican, via a collection of super cool drawings.  

Jeff Siegel wants to drink more wine, at lunch. (Me too.) 

In the Press Democrat, Virginie Boone profiles Paul Hobbs, writing about his efforts to target Millennials with his CrossBarn label. 

Aaron Nix-Gomez has an intimate lunch with Ian Morden of Cloudy Bay. 

In the New York Times, Eilene Zimmerman profiles Jayla Siciliano, who is helping give wine spritzers a “second wind” through her company, Bon Affair. 

Finally, a cocktail recipe just in time for Easter: “An adult version of black jelly beans.”

Free Tix to Le Cercle Rive Droite in NYC!

Posted by | Posted in Wine Events | Posted on 03-28-2013

Having just returned from a fabulous trip to Bordeaux, my only regret is that I had time for only one bank. I spent several days on the Cabernet-dominated Left Bank, but missed out on the elegant and structured wines of the Right Bank.

Fortunately, I’ll have a chance to remedy this omission at the upcoming Le Cercle Rive Droite event in New York, where 32 Right Bank producers will  showcase their recently released 2009s and 2010s.

Terroirist is happy to offer a reader giveaway for two tickets to the Le Cercle Rive Droite Event in New York City on Thursday, April 18th. The event takes place from 6-8pm at Millesime at The Carlton Hotel (92 Madison Avenue at 29th Street). Tickets regularly sell for $150, with 10% of ticket sales going to Citymeals-on-Wheels.

To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment on this post naming your favorite Right Bank chateau! We’ll randomly select a winner on Monday, April 8th. Additionally, all Terroirist readers will receive a 30% off discount code for tickets to the event! More to come on that when we announce the winner.

Leave a comment to enter today!

Daily Wine News: A Sympathetic Light

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-28-2013

From Domaine Jacques-Selosse.

“Galloni has managed to achieve something that didn’t seem possible: he’s cast Parker in a sympathetic light.” Mike Steinberger comments on the lawsuit between the Wine Advocate and Antonio Galloni. 

Some terrible news out of Champagne. Last week, nearly 4,000 bottles of wine — along with 16,000 labels and 12,000 bottle caps — were stolen from Domaine Jacques-Selosse. 

On Monday, Ridge Vineyards winemaker Paul Draper was awarded the Institute of Masters of Wine’s prestigious Winemakers’ Winemaker Award. 

The BBC’s News Magazine explores why the French are drinking less. (H/T: Eric Asimov.) 

“If you ever find yourself wondering why laws concerning access to products usually disregard the interests of consumers,” check out Tom Wark’s latest post on the political donations of alcohol producers and alcohol wholesalers in the most recent election cycle. 

In Santa Barbara County, reports MaryAnn Worobiec, a grapegrower has petitioned the TTB to expand the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. As one might guess, the proposal isn’t sitting well with his neighbors. 

In Wine Enthusiast, Michael Schachner wonders if restaurant proprietors are “taking increasingly larger margins on the wines they sell. 

“If you are interested in the intersection of culture, class, and commerce, Red Obsession has a lot to offer, even for those not obsessed with wine.” Jameson Fink reviews Red Obsession, the new documentary about the rising popularity of wine in China and the nation’s endless thirst for top-flight Bordeaux. 

“If you eat local, why not drink local?” The Daily Sip highlights this year’s DrinkLocalWine conference, taking place in Baltimore on April 13. 

In the Washington Post, restaurant critic Tom Sietsema “shares the secrets of Washington’s top bartenders.”

Daily Wine News: DeVine Intervention

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-27-2013

From Wikipedia.

“It has been just five months since Hurricane Sandy came along, and yet relief efforts have come to a trickle. To keep a focus on the ongoing needs for New Yorkers who were hit hard by the storm, the team at Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group have launched DeVine Intervention.” Jon Bonné brings attention to an important new charity auction. 

“Can anyone tell me why California Petite Sirah doesn’t get more love from the cognoscenti?” In the Washington Post, Jason Wilson gives Petite Sirah the respect it deserves.

Lily-Elaine Hawk Wakawaka writes (yet another) excellent piece on Stephen Lagier and Carole Meredith.

“Washington State produces much more wine than Oregon, but Oregon wines are sometimes easier to find outside the Pacific Northwest.” Mike Veseth explores this paradox.

William Allen writes about the reemergence of unique wine styles — and Randall Grahm. 

Wine Spectator sits down with SNL alum Rachel Dratch to chat about “matching palates with Larry Stone, challenging know-it-all waiters, and Manischewitz.

Beer has edged out wine as the beverage of choice for women ages 18 to 34. 

Perhaps that has something to do with marketing. In recent years, beer marketers have started to ignore Joe Six-Pack. Instead, they’re “encouraging drinkers to trade up to pricier line extensions such as Bud Light Platinum or new concoctions like Redd’s Apple Ale.”

Daily Wine News: Real Victims

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-26-2013

Nominations for the 2013 Wine Blog Awards are now open!

“Without TWA scores and analysis, how will we know which Sonoma wines are worth paying way too much for?” In Table to Grave, a (hilarious) look at the real victims of the lawsuit between the Wine Advocate and Antonio Galloni. 

In Bloomberg, Elin McCoy explains why Domaine de la Romanee-Conti is the hottest label at wine auctions. 

Jancis Robinson heads to the Eden Valley in South Australia to taste through all 50 vintages of Hill of Grace Shiraz. Her conclusion? “Hill of Grace deserves its pinnacle.” 

Meanwhile, during her recent trip to the United States, Jancis Robinson tasted the 2011 Turley El Porrón Cinsault from Lodi. She says it was “stunning.” 

In Italy, a Siena court has sentenced Andrea di Gisi, the cellar worker who destroyed five vintages of Soldera, to four years in prison. 

In Wine-Searcher, Caroline Henry sits down with Richard Geoffroy, the cellar master at Dom Perignon. 

According to Jon Bonné, Pacific Northwest Riesling is better than ever before. (Subscription required.) 

According to Robert Whitley, “Beaulieu Is Back.” 

“Since the start of 2012, dozens of North Coast wineries and premium vineyards have been sold, with an estimated $326 million — and possibly much more — changing hands in in a business where sales prices usually are kept under wraps.” In the Press Democrat, Cathy Bussewitz writes about the buying spree in Northern California.

Attending a Burg-orgy: The DO’s and DON’Ts of La Paulée

Posted by | Posted in Grape Adventures | Posted on 03-25-2013

Les Chanteurs de Bourgogne: they drink, then they sing!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending my first La Paulée de New York, a week-long celebration that founder Daniel Johnnes calls an “uncontrolled, unplugged, unleashed expression of Burgundy,” and that Tyler Colman submits is “hedonistic to the extreme.”

Johnnes, the wine director for Daniel Boulud’s restaurant group, founded La Paulée in 2000 as homage to La Paulée de Meursault, a traditional end-of-harvest celebration in Burgundy. In recent years, the American version has alternated between New York and San Francisco. The full event consists of four days of seminars, formal tastings, lunches and dinners, but the main event is always the Gala Dinner—a formal affair where collectors engage in “friendly but intense competition . . . as bottles are uncorked, shared and imbibed.”  Or, as Lettie Teague calls it, “a very expensive BYO meal.”

Despite it being my first time, I felt I was adequately prepared for the Paulée experience, and upon reflection, I think I was able to make the most of it. There’s a fair amount of misperception out there about the event, so in the spirit of sharing, I offer this list of ten suggestions for how to maximize your enjoyment at what is the greatest wine event in the country.

DO: Go with friends!

Johnnes says La Paulée is intended to evoke “the Burgundy spirit of generosity and camaraderie.” And there’s no better way to capture that spirit than to share a glass with friends. Having Burg-loving companions with you for these events makes everything better. You can certainly make lots of new friends (more on that below), but it is a lot more fun to have someone you know around to debate the current vintage at a tasting, discuss the wines being passed at a dinner, and join forces when moving around in search of pours at the Gala.

DON’T: Spend your money on the rare wine dinners or lunches!

As I mentioned, the Gala is the main attraction of La Paulée, but there’s a lot more going on, most of which is absurdly expensive. For example, Wednesday night included a “Rare Wine Dinner” featuring Champagne Salon, a vertical of Dauvissat Chablis going back to 1983, and a ridiculous selection of Roumier wines, including a 1955 Bonnes Mares, all direct from the domaines’ cellars. The price for admission?  $4,750 per person. Friday night featured a similar “Legends Dinner” for the same price, but this time the wines were from Domaine Leflaive and the legendary Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

I don’t know about you, but $5,000 is a lot of money to spend on a dinner, even if it does include three older vintages of La Tâche (1971, 1978 and 1985). Here’s the thing, though: all told, the dinners are not a very good value, and you have no control over the wine and food. So here’s my suggestion—and one that more and more Burg-o-philes have been choosing in recent years—skip the pricey “official” events, make a reservation at one of the scores of great restaurants in Manhattan, and bring some great bottles to enjoy with friends in a more relaxed setting. That’s exactly what my group did this year, at the wonderful Corton in Tribeca, where we popped the corks on some great bottles, including a magnum of 1982 Pierre Gimonnet Champagne, a 1990 Leflaive Pucelles (older than any of the Pucelles at the “Legends” Dinner), a 1990 Leroy Brulées, a 1993 Méo-Camuzet Clos de Vougeot, and a 1967 Cathiard Suchots, among many, many others.

DO: Attend the Grand Tasting!

That said, you absolutely must attend Saturday afternoon’s Grand Tasting, which features 34 of the best domaines from Burgundy pouring a selection of wines (usually four) from the most recently released vintage—in this case, the gorgeous 2010s. In many cases, these are rare, expensive, highly-allocated wines that you might not have a chance to taste, let alone buy, anywhere else. For a budding Burgundy collector like myself, it was an invaluable opportunity to gauge the vintage characteristics, but also to identify my own stylistic preferences among the varied producers. Without La Paulée, it would take months, if not years, and hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to compare and contrast the styles of, say, Dujac versus Fourrier.

I have only been drinking Burgundy for a few years, so I don’t have much of a reference point, but I can say this: across the board, 2010 was a fantastic vintage. The whites have amazing freshness, and are delicious now, but also have the structure to age (premox concerns notwithstanding). In particular I enjoyed the entire lineup from Christian Moreau of Chablis, and the Les Preuses from both Dauvissat and Fèvre, the latter of which practically pulsed with electric acid and minerality. The Bâtard-Montrachets from Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey and Leflaive also were predictably brilliant. Olivier Lamy’s wines, on the other hand, were reminiscent of chewing on wood chips.

The reds were equally, if not more, stunning. Bright fruit, supported by ample acidity and substantial, but not overbearing, tannins. These wines were oh-so-tasty last month, but are built to last seemingly forever. The highlights of the tasting, for me, were Liger-Belair’s Echézeaux, Hudelot-Noellat’s Romanée St. Vivant, and Roumier’s Ruchottes-Chambertin. These grand crus are not cheap—they will eat into your retirement, but also will drink well into your retirement. For relative(!) values, look to the village wines of Gevrey-Chambertin (especially examples from Fourrier and Trapet) or Vosne Romanee (Mugneret-Gibourg and Hudelot-Noellat). I also very much enjoyed Lafarge’s whole lineup of Volnays.

DON’T: Forget to pace yourself (or overdo it)!

So you have to go to the Grand Tasting, but the Gala is only a few hours later that day. How do you do it? SPIT! Don’t drink too much (or any) wine in the afternoon, or your night will be ruined. Trust me; it’s a marathon, not a sprint. The Gala starts around 6:30pm, ends after 11:00pm, then the after-party, which lasts into the wee hours of the morning. La Paulée helpfully provides plastic spit cups in addition to your souvenir Riedel tasting glass, and buckets are everywhere (and are frequently emptied), so take advantage. There’s also some great food at the afternoon event, so don’t try to evaluate over 100 wines on an empty stomach! My advice also is to go back to your hotel and take a nap after the tasting, and maybe squeeze in a run or something. Whatever you need to do to prepare yourself for the big event.

DO: Be “aggressively friendly”!

The Grand Tasting is not the place for wallflowers. You cannot be afraid to introduce yourself to strangers, and you cannot be reluctant to ask people for tastes of wine. If you stay put at your own table and never leave, you are severely limiting the number of wines you will get to try. Get up, move around, shake hands, and express interest in what others are drinking. BUT don’t be a jerk. Aggressive, but friendly, is the name of the game. If you act entitled to a taste, or worse yet, demand one, you will be shunned. Ask nicely, be gracious and complimentary.

Jim Clendenen, proprietor of Au Bon Climat Winery in Santa Barbara, was at the other end of my table. He brought tons of great wine with him. I have never met him before, and none of my friends knew him, but I introduced myself anyway. Within minutes I had a taste of 2001 Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux in my glass. This may very well be the only taste of Jayer I ever have in my life (at over $5K per bottle, it’s a safe bet), and it was suitably amazing. If I wasn’t aggressively friendly, I would have missed out.

(Stay with me for five more tips after the jump!)

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Wine News: Brilliant Aging

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-25-2013

From Ridge Vineyards.

In Lex Vini, a wine law blog from the Napa-based Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty, John Trinidad and John Heffner dig into the details of the Wine Advocate’s lawsuit against Antonio Galloni. 

“Monte Bello is very slow to show its charms but ages brilliantly.” In the Wall Street Journal, Jay McInerney writes a wonderful piece on Ridge Vineyards and its longtime winemaker, Paul Draper. 

“Bordeaux and Brunello, Brunello and Bordeaux.” Tim Atkin MW explains why “both great wine regions could learn a thing or two from one another.” 

Later this month, Tokyo will host the Best Sommelier in the World competition. Maclean’s has the fascinating details. 

Today, a Manhattan court will begin hearing Bill Koch’s lawsuit against Eric Greenberg. 

NPR’s All Things Considered raises a glass to Jim Barrett. 

“When discussing the wines of the Lubéron AOC district, the most obvious question to address is, ‘Where is the Lubéron?’” In Wine Review Online, Ed McCarthy explains. 

In the Washington Post, Warren Bass reviews Nose, the excellent new wine-centric mystery by James Conaway. 

“When it comes to alcoholic beverages, you start with nothing. You can only do what your permit specifically allows you. All else is forbidden.” In Wines & Vines, Paul Franson writes about the absurd restrictions in California alcohol regulation.

Weekly Interview: Julien Fayard

Posted by | Posted in Interviews | Posted on 03-22-2013

Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring winemaker Julien Fayard from Purlieu in Napa Valley.

A native of Saint-Étienne, France, Julien grew up in the French Riviera and studied agribusiness and winemaking while in university. After school, Julien worked in both Provence and Bordeaux – including stints at Château Lafite-Rothschild and Smith Haut Lafitte. He came to the Napa Valley in 2006, where he landed a job Quintessa and quickly became Phillipe Melka’s right-hand man. 

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

Daily Wine News: PA Gets Closer

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 03-22-2013

Huge news out of Pennsylvania! A proposal to phase out the state’s 600 state-operated liquor stores has passed the House and is on its way to the Senate. 

Just in time for Passover, S. Irene Virbila writes a wonderful profile of Jeff Morgan, who makes some incredible kosher wines in Napa. As regular readers may know, we interviewed Jeff last February. 

Eric Asimov comments on the Wine Advocate/Antonio Galloni lawsuit. 

According to the International Organization of Vine and Wine, global wine production dropped 6 percent in 2012 to the lowest level in at least 37 years. 

According to Mike Veseth, craft beers are starting to infringe on wine’s turf. 

Steve Heimoff writes a thoughtful post praising Heidi Barrett, Ehren Jordan, and Bill Harlan, three “highly successful people who haven’t let it go to their heads.” 

Drew Bledsoe is urging Massachusetts lawmakers to legalize direct-to-consumer wine shipping. 

Joe Roberts offers his thoughts on the 2013 Argentina Wine Awards. 

Decanter.com reports that Clos Fourtet has purchased three more Saint Emilion estates.

Gangnam Style is so 2012. That’s why Jordan Wines in South Africa is doing the Harlem Shake.