A few years ago, when I had relatives living in Modesto, Calif., I had a most unusual Thanksgiving Day brunch with Ernest Gallo at his home in that San Joaquin Valley city. He and I had been talking about wine matters one day and he asked me when I would next be in Modesto.
It’s been a long time since I’ve ridden a roller coaster. Yet all the economic gyrations of late have left me with that same kind of unsettled stomach one gets when free-falling on an amusement park ride.
I spent last weekend in smoky Los Angeles, visiting friends and enjoying a slice of its diverse dining and social scene as wild fires raged nearby, making the air heavy with smoke and tinting the sun an amber color.
The Chateau Montelena deal may be dead and we may never know all the reasons why. I still believe that Montelena’s owner Jim Barrett wanted to sell the winery and was elated to have a buyer. Whether he changed his mind and wants to keep the property, or the economy changed the would-be buyer's mind and forced him to rethink his strategy, is unknown.
Ade desperately wanted the Wine Spectator Wine of the Year. So when the 1985 Lynch-Bages won honors in 1988, she searched high and low before locating two bottles in a wine shop in Santa Ana. She asked the retailer to put the bottles on hold and drove the 90 miles from San Diego to Santa Ana, where she happily claimed her two bottles, paying about the going rate of $37 each for the 97-point rated Pauillac.
The quality of California Syrah continues to skyrocket, and its success is pulling along other Rhône Valley grape transplants, chief among them Grenache. As we’ve tasted through dozens of new Rhône-style reds in recent weeks, it’s amazing how delicious so many of these infant wines are.
No one wants his or her taxes raised. Yet given the enormity of the fiscal challenges that lie ahead for this country, is a new tax on wine in order? I don’t think so, and certainly hope not. But in the past, anti-alcohol lobbies have eyed a tax increase on wine and spirits.
Four months ago we were told that Jim Barrett wanted to sell Chateau Montelena and we assumed there was a buyer. But now Barrett apparently can't sell it at the original terms or doesn't want to sell it at all.
I hadn’t given much thought to what I might drink tomorrow night. It’s been a long, grueling campaign, one that has consumed us for nearly two years. Still, I’m excited about the vote and the results.
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