• It's always great to see a celebrity in wine country, but there are some who probably wear out their welcome. In our book, though, Conan O'Brien is welcome back to Napa any time. O'Brien, who recently spent a week taping Late Night in San Francisco, took a side trip up to Napa along with a camera crew to have a look around Spring Mountain Vineyard. "It was so off the cuff," said vineyard manager Ron Rosenbrand. "They didn't tell us what to do or say. We were just told to play along and have fun with it." Highlights throughout the 8-minute segment included Conan's learning to spit (he proved much better at imbibing); remarking that the glass thief for pulling wine from the barrel "looks like something I'm gonna have to use when I'm 80"; and bringing his own, two-foot-tall tasting glass. Riedel would be so proud. Our favorite moment, though, was when Conan donned a tasting helmet with a glass affixed to each side. Not all gags go according to plan, though. According to Rosenbrand, the show's editors cut the part when Conan couldn't get the straws to stop siphoning, and wine was pouring out his mouth, all down his shirt, and all over the floor. A shame, since we were just about to go out and find tasting helmets of our own.
• DNA for DRC? Maybe. A new wine authentication system developed by Applied DNA Sciences in Stony Brook, N.Y., could protect premium wineries from future fraud--and provide collectors with a foolproof method of identifying stolen wine. According to CEO James Hayward, his DNA-based system, called SigNature, embeds a customized botanical DNA segment into a specialized ink that is then applied to a wine bottle, a cork or a label. "Once applied, the segment can be detected in a simple spot test or analyzed forensically. SigNature cannot be copied or removed," he explained. Given the rise of fake vintage classics both at auction and at retail, plus an increase in wine thefts, the potential benefits of an encrypted identification system are exciting. For example, a collector could have his entire cellar encoded so that in the event of theft, the bottles would be readily identifiable by police, auction houses or wine merchants. It costs about $16 per bottle to prepare and apply a marker for a 5,000- to 10,000-bottle collection, including authentication certificate and scanner. The price drops substantially to anywhere from $1.50 to $3 per bottle for larger cellars or producers. We haven't tested it, but if it works, it sounds like a small price to pay to know you're getting the real thing on the auction block.
|At the last imaginary-persons blind tasting event, this guy left Aquaman and the Green Lantern in the dust.|
• You can't accuse Francis Ford Coppola of thinking small. Last week, the vintner and noted film director unveiled the plans for Sonoma's Chateau Souverain, the winery he acquired in 2006. The winery's new name is Rosso & Bianco, referring to Coppola's popular value red and white blends. With the help of an elaborate multimedia presentation, Coppola announced that he hopes to turn the winery--now home to the value wines as well as the Diamond Series--into a family-friendly destination. Plans include adding two public swimming pools surrounded by a bank of cabanas, bocce courts, a small amphitheater and a dance floor. While the facility already has a restaurant, Coppola would like to add a second, outdoor dining area. Coppola also hopes to make the winery the new home of his movie memorabilia collection, which has been on display at his Rutherford winery for years. This is all starting to sound like the Godfather trilogy, actually. Part I was very good and groundbreaking (Niebaum-Coppola winery), while Part II was a little more grand (Rosso & Bianco). Our crystal ball says that like The Godfather Part III, which was just a light and fun way to end the saga and introduce daughter Sofia to the screen, Coppola's third act will be to build a winery just for Sofia, Coppola's sparkling wine. You heard it here first.
|Riff-raff not included.|