After Shock: A Community Rallies in Napa Valley

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 09-02-2014

Credit: Vintner's Collective .

Credit: Vintner’s Collective .

As regular readers know, I write a free, twice monthly wine column that’s distributed to newspapers across the country.

These columns are hosted by Grape Collective. If you don’t see my column in your local newspaper, please send an email to your paper’s editor and CC me (David – at –

In my latest column, I share post-earthquake stories from Napa Valley. While people associate the community with expensive wines and Michelin-starred restaurants, Napa is a working-class community at heart. And across the Valley, people rallied to help those in need.

After Shock: A Community Rallies in Napa Valley

John Trinidad, a wine industry attorney who lives on Main Street in Napa, was cleaning up from a party when his home started shaking.

“At first, I thought it was a little roller,” he explained. “But then, it got pretty violent, with full-on shaking. I had already braced myself, so just kind of rode it out — but heard a lot of things crashing around me. After the shaking stopped, I looked around and yep, a lot had come out of the cupboard — broken glass, broken plates, lots of things on the ground.”

The 6.0 magnitude earthquake that struck southern Napa County on August 24 was the strongest California had experienced in 25 years.

The media quickly turned its attention to wine — and the economic impact of the quake. Although Napa Valley accounts for less than 4 percent of America’s total wine production, it’s the country’s best-known wine region. And it’s a big moneymaker. The region’s wine industry has an economic impact of $50 billion annually.

At its heart, though, Napa Valley is a working-class, farming community. And in the wake of the earthquake, brand Napa Valley — $300 “cult” Cabernets, Michelin-starred restaurants, and the like — was overshadowed by kinship and kindness.

Check out the rest of the piece on Grape Collective!

Daily Wine News: #QuakeCuvee

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 09-02-2014

REdTaggedCuveeIn an effort to assist the Napa community, the Matthiassons are releasing a “Quake Cuvée” to benefit the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund. Get some!

In Huffington Post, Mary Orlin details “How You Can Help Keep #NapaStrong.”

“Although tasting rooms up and down the valley are open, tens of thousands of cracked and broken wine barrels are still being plucked from winery rubble a week after the earthquake.” In the San Francisco Chronicle, Peter Fimrite discovers that small wineries were hardest hit by the recent Earthquake.

“Napa Valley’s seismically reinforced winery buildings generally held up to the largest earthquake to hit Northern California in a quarter-century, but the precious wine piled inside often did not.” The Associated Press looks at the safety of stacking wine barrels so high.

“A quarter-century on the wine road, yet here was a completely new grape variety to me, wriggling and flexing with personality like some freshly landed fish.” Andrew Jefford discovers new reasons to love wine.

“There were disappointments (boring selections, overpriced bottles, undereducated staff), but there were a number of happy surprises as well.” Lettie Teague visits some of the country’s more popular chain restaurants.

“In the winemaker letter, humbly offering us an exclusive $1,200 allocation (the honor!), there are no technical mentions. Nothing about harvest process. No mention of brix or tannins. And no discussion of aging, barrel types, etc.” Richard Stark is invited to purchase Promontory.

On, Nicole Schnitzler chats with Gotham Bar and Grill wine director Heidi Turzyn.

Lars Carlberg examines new wine-labeling regulations in Rhineland-Palatinate.

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.



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.

Daily Wine News: Down the Drain

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 08-21-2014

From Wikimedia.

From Wikimedia.

“This $100 bottle of wine is an undrinkable monstrosity… the BV was poured down the drain. Even if there’s no correspondence between price and quality in wine, it’s a bit shocking: how did BV end up crafting a wine that was impossible to drink?” Jonathan Lipsmeyer writes a provocative piece about Napa Valley.

“Grahm worries that the wine industry perceives him as a past-tense contributor, a caricature not unlike his wacky Ralph Steadman labels, when the truth is, he has big plans — huge, groundbreaking plans — and believes he is now making the best wines of his career.” In the San Jose Mercury News, Jessica Yadegaran spends time with Randall Grahm.

“I feel Chardonnay is a total monster. It is so incredible, interesting, and monstrous even in the vineyard. It wants to give so much.” Lily-Elaine Hawk Wakawaka talks Chardonnay with Maggie Harrison.

In Grape Collective, Jameson Fink chats with Nanette Eaton of Wine Harlots.

Elsewhere, Eaton names her favorite places to wine and dine in San Diego.

Fredric Koeppel lists the 50 wines that have shaped his palate over the last 30 years.

In Wine-Searcher, Ian D’Agata explores “Italy’s Weird and Wonderful Wine Grapes.”

Steve Heimoff chats with Mark Gordon, the senior digital communications manager for La Crema Winery.

In Tasting Table, Tejal Rao masters the art of day drinking.

Tom Wark brings attention to “Wineapalooza,” a fundraiser for Jameson Ranch Rescue, a new animal rescue operation created by David and Monica Stevens of 750 Wines.

The Week discovers seven dream homes in wine country.

Photos from Domaine Jacques Selosse

Posted by | Posted in Grape Adventures | Posted on 08-20-2014

My recent trip to Champagne ended with a tour of Domaine Jacques Selosse, led by the legendary vintner himself, Anselme. Much has been written about Selosse, of course. And I added to that yesterday with my latest piece for Grape Collective.

One thing I didn’t mention? The 10-room hotel and restaurant he runs with his wife, Corinne. The hotel was beautiful, the food was exquisite, and the entire staff was charming.

Below are some photos from my visit to the winery.

An assortment of wines brought by visitors to the Domaine. Note the bottles from Arnot-Robert and Sandhi!

An assortment of wines brought by visitors to the Domaine.

Ham, slowly curing. (Check out my recent Grape Collective column for details.)

Ham, slowly curing. (Check out my recent Grape Collective column for details.)



Barrel samples!

Labeling the bottles we selected to taste.

Labeling the bottles we selected to taste.

We opened the Version Originale, the 2002, and the Ambonnay Le Bout du Clos.

We opened the Version Originale, the 2002, and the Ambonnay Le Bout du Clos.