OK, so how good is Two-Buck Chuck Chardonnay, the reigning champion , and low-price leader of California Chardonnay? It didn’t take my staff long to buy a bottle from Trader Joe’s (and a second bottle was sent to my office in Napa) and slip it into yesterday’s blind tasting of Sonoma Chardonnays (even though Two Buck carries a California appellation and the appellation was not disclosed in my tasting).
During yesterday’s blind tasting in Napa, amid a flight of sumptuous 2005 Sonoma Coast Chardonnays from the likes of Paul Hobbs and Chasseur, came a news flash across my computer screen. Glad I was sitting down.
I was at a party a while ago and a bottle of wine caught my eye. It had what one might consider a behemoth of critter labels—a colorfully etched bull elephant with its tusks crossed. The wine was a 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon from El Dorado, in the Sierra foothills, and it sells for $28 a bottle.
We all know California Pinot Noir is hot. In fact, Wine Spectator 's tasting department has tasted a lot of Pinot Noir in the past few months, and it appears that we may have set a record for a single varietal in one year.
The other night I had dinner with an old friend and we indulged in an old friend for dinner—the 1983 Guigal La Mouline … The wine brought back lots of fond memories. I’ve been drinking it since the 1980s and enjoyed it perhaps a dozen times since then.
Periodically people send me their tasting notes—sometimes in cases where we agree about a wine, but more often when we don’t. What I sometimes find fascinating is how differently people can perceive quality, as well as positives or negatives, and the words they choose to describe their impressions.
I’m always pleased when I hear that a vintner is trying out twist-offs. The tide of acceptance is turning as more of us tire of bad corks and appreciate how safe and easy twisties are to use. Still, I have one concern: Some wineries are splitting the difference on closures, bottling a portion of their wine under cork and the rest with twisties, causing us to debate which bottling we should review.
Thanks to Scott McLeod's spring prediction that 2007 would be a banner year, I’ve paid more attention to the grape set in California than ever before. McLeod's forecast seems to be right on target, so far.
The other night at our magnum party in Napa I spent a few minutes with Bill Harlan , of Harlan Estate, talking about Napa Valley wines. As we sipped a glass of Schrader’s delicious 2005 Old Sparky, bottled the day before, we discussed the proliferation of new wine labels and what the future holds for a market that some think is teetering on being oversaturated with expensive wines.
There are times when winemakers changing jobs resembles musical chairs. Here are three key changes in Napa Valley of late that bear watching. Quintessa has a new winemaker. Aaron Pott, who joined the Napa winery several years ago, has departed to focus on his consulting business.
The most pleasant surprise at Friday’s barrel tasting: how well the 2005 Cabernets showed. The last time I tried a group of these wines they struck me as elegant, balanced and understated, the kind of vintage that slowly unfolds and reveals itself over time rather than being up front, showy and opulent.
Today I’m headed to the Auction Napa Valley barrel tasting in St. Helena. More than 100 wineries will be pouring new wines, from a mix of new vintages, including 2005s and 2006s. All of these wines are available for sale as auction lots, and bidding is already under way.
I've been browsing through the Auction Napa Valley catalog (viewable at napavintners.com/anv) the past few days, reflecting on how this annual charity fundraiser has changed and evolved over the years.
One sale hardly signals a trend, yet the sale of Amber Ridge Vineyard makes perfect sense: Pinot Noir is hot, and prime Pinot vineyard land in Sonoma County is in demand. From a grower’s perspective, the time might be right to cash out, and certainly if the asking price is met, properties can be acquired.
Auction Napa Valley is taking center stage in Napa Valley this week. There are lots of events, dinners, tastings, open houses (with still more tastings) and the live auction itself on Saturday night. For many people, if not most, you have to register (and pay) to attend, and most of the events have already sold out.
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