Archive for June, 2012

Roots, Reconnected (Tasting Inglenook’s 1960 Cabnernet)

Vinted on June 7, 2012 binned in elegant wines, on the road, wine review

Jeff Smith, of Hourglass wines (and who, incidentally, just took the rather bold move of parting ways with long-standing and celebrated consulting winemaker Robert Foley, and bringing on Cade and Plumpjack alumnus Anthony “Tony” Biagi), knows his Napa Valley wine history.

Fortunately for me (more on that in a minute or two).

Smith’s roots are there, as grew up in the Napa wine scene, his family having now seen the whole kit-and-caboodle; from the bootstrapping farmers who, in his words, “picked up the scattered bones of an industry after Prohibition and phylloxera,” to the influx of outsiders flush with cash and dreams of world-class vanity projects on which they could invest (squander?) their fortunes.

In other words, Smith remembers when it was pronounced Mon-DAY-vee and not Mon-DAH-vee.

Napa’s is a winemaking history that many a wine lover has heard about, but few have really delved deeply into from a visceral standpoint, simply due to the fact that there isn’t much of the wine from those “old days” around to taste, most of it having been imbibed, or gone bad, a long time ago.

The really fortunate part for me was that when Jeff and I caught up over dinner at Press in St. Helena, he was in the mood to reconnect with the Valley’s roots, by way of directly sampling some of Napa’s history… from about the time when his former employer Robert Mondavi nearly single-handedly reinvented the Californian fine wine scene…

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Sending Wine Back For Playboy, Wondering If Auction Napa Valley Was Really A Spicy-Thai-Dinner-Induced Dream, And Other Surreal Experiences

Vinted on June 6, 2012 binned in going pro, on the road

If you’ve ever wondered how to handle the delicate matter of telling a hoity-toity sommelier or wait staff that the wine you ordered isn’t up to snuff, without making one or both of you look like a total douchebag, you’re in luck because we tackle that very topic over at my latest Wined Down column for

For that article, I interviewed one of the sommeliers (a quality dude named Jeff Taylor, who also happens to be a true master of the “disco nap,” a skill which I witnessed first-hand having traveled a good bit of Australia with the guy) from NYC’s Eleven Madison Park – and in terms of hoity-toity restaurants, it doesn’t get much more hoity-toity than the award-winning EMP. So you’ll want to read what Jeff had to say about the right – and wrong! – ways of navigating that vinous territory.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how the gig is going, so I should probably offer a quick update on that. The important thing to remember when you read the following “status report” is that neither my recent jaunt through the wine worlds of Oz nor the gig are nowhere near the most surreal things that have transpired in my life lately (that honor belongs squarely to Auction Napa Valley)

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1WineDude TV Episode 47: Is Aussie Shiraz Poised For A Comeback In The U.S.? (The View From Penfolds)

Vinted on June 5, 2012 binned in 1WineDude TV, interviews, on the road

In this long (long) overdue addition to the episode list of 1WD TV, I report from a beautiful area of Barossa in Australia, & talk with Penfolds winemaker Stephanie Dutton. Is Aussie Shiraz poised for a comeback in the U.S.? Find out Penfolds’ view on the matter in today’s vid!

Watch it on YouTube.




Monday Mini Wine Reviews Round-Up For June 4, 2012

Vinted on June 4, 2012 binned in wine mini-reviews

So, like what is this stuff, anyway?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine sample tasting notes with you via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be quirky, fun, and easily-digestible. Below is a wrap-up of the twitter reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find them so you can try them for yourself. Cheers!

  • 07 Henschke Hill of Grace (Eden Valley): Elegant complexity, bottled; if you dig Shiraz, there’s probably none better on this planet $625 A+ >>find this wine>>
  • 11 Henschke Julius Riesling (Eden Valley): Spiced pear, kicking ass in elegant lime zest armor & with a sidearm of cold, hard steel. $40 A- >>find this wine>>
  • 10 Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Shiraz (Barossa): The heat might be a bit much for some, but it’s all firing some aromatic earthen clay pots. $19 B >>find this wine>>
  • 08 Henschke Tappa Pass Shiraz (Barossa): Power, elegance, focus, intent, and… tomato leaves; odd bedfellows, but it all works out. $85 A- >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Langmeil Orphan Bank Shiraz (Barossa): These orphans aren’t timid – in fact, they’re actually a big, leathery, brooding lot. $55 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 09 John Duval Entity Shiraz (Barossa): "You gave to me a new belief… and soon… the world will love you…. TEA LEAF….!!!" $55 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 06 Yalumba The Octavius Shiraz (Barossa): Explosively kick-ass blue & red fruits, aided in battle by some serious herbal kung fu. $100 A- >>find this wine>>
  • NV Dandelion Vineyards Legacy of the Barossa 30 YO Pedro Ximinez (Barossa): 375ml of voluptuous, caramelized, tasty toastiness. $30 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 06 Yalumba The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz (Barossa): Gritty, fresh & w/ a shot of incense it presumably stole from a church $45 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 07 Schild Estate Moorooroo Shiraz (Barossa): And so cried out the juicy dark cherries & raspberries, “it’s alive! ALIVE!!!!!!” $85 A- >>find this wine>>
  • 08 Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz (Barossa): Sir Galahad didn’t have as much purity as the blackberry fruit & eucalyptus herbs here $120 A- >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Langmeil Jackamans Cabernet Sauvignon (Barossa): The tannins might have grit, but everything else is silk-sheets levels of silky. $50 B+ >>find this wine>>



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