There's talk of a pending grape shortage in the Golden State, and with it, the prospect of rising prices. Don't be concerned unless you exclusively buy California wines.
If California wine prices continue to rise—and that doesn't seem to be a widespread phenomenon—they will do so because of heightened demand. Typically that means brand by brand. As it is, California has long lagged the broader wine market when it comes to value anyway. People looking to get the most from their wine dollars shop across borders and oceans.
I'm finishing a retrospective tasting of 2002 California Cabernets this week, most of them from Napa Valley. Revisiting wines you reviewed seven or eight years ago is the best way to evaluate how the wines are aging and recalibrate drink recommendations.
It can also be a minefield of second guesses. There is one thing, however, that becomes obvious to those of us who routinely revisit wines we rated years ago: You can't replicate the moment.
For the longest time, Bordeaux has been the envy of most vintners everywhere.
Its wines have history, tradition and prestige and are often in great demand. The top classified-growths produce thousands of cases that command top-rung prices. Most of the elite wines are sold before they're even bottled. As a business model, it has few peers.
Yet apparently it's not perfect. Last week, Château Latour announced it would abandon the long-time tradition of selling wine futures, a move that sent shock waves through the Bordelais wine trade, primarily because of Latour's status.
Yao Ming, the world's tallest vintner, has put a towering price on his premiere wine. Yao's 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve, priced at $625 a bottle. All 300 cases have already sold out in China, the only market the where the reserve was offered. A second Napa Valley Cabernet, also from 2009, was released at $175; 5,000 cases were made.
The quality of the reserve is impressive. Here are my notes.
A life-size statue of André Tchelistcheff may be on the market. If I had a $1 million, I'd bid on it. Seriously.
It could be auctioned as part of the liquidation of the bankrupt Copia, which begins with sales at the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts' gift shop this weekend and culminates in two days of auctions April 20 and 21. It will be an estate sale of unparalleled scope and value, at least here in Napa.
I consider Mr. T perhaps the most influential man in Napa Valley history, right up there alongside Robert Mondavi. Though André the Great has been dead for two decades, winemakers still speak of him in reverential terms. One could write a book about his contributions to wine. But today I'll just mention a few of the ways Tchelistcheff stood out.
Think what you may and drink what you like, but California Chardonnay is alive and well. At the top end of quality, the wine is not only surviving, but thriving.