Posts Filed Under California wine
“Stay out of Malibu, deadbeat!!!”
As a stunning display just how behind I am on everything, my take on the upstart, bootstrapping wineries of Southern California’s Ventura County was recently published over at PalatePress.com.
Yeah, that’s the one I talked about back in January when we featured the recent releases of Ventura’s Four Brix Winery (and that was written about six months after my visit). Whatever, look, I’m kind of busy lately, alright?
Thus endeth the triumvirate of articles I’d planned resulting from that S. Cal. jaunt, the remaining third being an overview of the wineries in the Ventura County wine trail for Wine.Answers.com. Mini-reviews might peek out here and there, though, to further highlight a few of my faves from the trip. Otherwise, it’s on to all of the other shizz on which I’m similarly several months behind.
The PalatePress.com piece continues a theme of sorts on which I’ve focused in my features over there: talking about off-the-beaten-wine-path vino areas about which almost no else is talking, and certainly mainstream media has been touching with a ten foot punch down pole, such as Ventura, Colorado, and Pennsylvania (incidentally, I’ll likely be sticking to that theme for future PP pieces, since whenever I veer from that and talk about ultra-expensive wines, or whether or not critical acclaim matters for wines that are so popular that they’ve created enduring brands, I create a veritable sh*t storm and get into all kinds of trouble… see, and you thought that only happened here on 1WD!).
But it (the article, I mean, which technically is still the subject, despite the ludicrously long sentence above) also explores the idea of whether or not Northern California’s vineyards exhibit terroir, and if so whether or not that individuality and vinous fingerprinting can be interpreted and displayed by bootstrapping upstarts buying the region’s grapes, just as the better producers on the Ventura County trail are attempting right now. I’m not yet convinced that they’ve fully achieved it, but the experiment is still in progress, and of course gives us geeky fodder about which to conjecture (is that a verb?… if not, it should be)…
This past weekend, The Guardian (the one “over the pond” in the UK) published my recommendations of wine and food places to hit when driving from Seattle to northern California, as part of their America Uncovered series.
Like 99.9% of all of my other paying gigs, this one found me [ editor’s note: this is not how I’d recommend that you go about any type of freelancing career yourself, by the way; not going out and hustling for work is insanely stupid, and I’m beyond all reasonable standards of lucky that this stuff keeps coming my way ].
Like any publisher with an editing staff, they decided to cut 80% of the piece’s original ideas and mentions and focus instead on a handful of my suggestions, which will explain why [insert your favorite wine and/or food stop in Northern California here] wasn’t included.
What did make the cut are things that I don’t think many of you would have guessed (let’s just say I’d eat my left sneaker if anyone could have figured out the focus of this one prior to its publication). It turned into a Sonoma valentine of sorts: Chalk Hill, Claypool Cellars, and The Girl and The Fig (okay, that last one some of you would have gotten ahead of time). Once again, I’m figuring that Ross Cobb owes me some money (or at the very least, some more Pinot and Chardonnay samples)…
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At this point, I think we can agree that Sonoma winemaker Ross Cobb now owes me some money.
Certainly I’ve reviewed and featured a few of his wines here, with quite favorable results – though that’s not, of course, why I think he should be paying me (really, we’ve had enough of that alleged behavior lately, haven’t we?).
No, I think he owes me money because I might have helped seal the deal on his latest gig. Finder’s fee? C’mon, a little slice off the top of that is kind of standard business practice, right?!??
[ Editor’s note: I do not actually think that this guy owes me money. ]
In all seriousness, I’ve been covering the recent trajectory of both Ross’ wines and those of his latest consulting client, Sonoma’s Claypool Cellars – so I’m happy to report that the two are now working together.
During my recent jaunt to Sonoma, I spent a few hours with Chaney Smith Claypool, wife of rocker Les Claypool and the driving force behind their up-and-coming wine venture. The Claypool Cellars wines are quite solid, and very good (in the case of their 2009 Hurst Vineyard “Purple Pachyderm” Pinot, very, very good), and what’s in barrel for their Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is already tasty and sporting a ton of exciting spicy, bright-fruited potential.
Despite the laid-back, bohemian carnival atmosphere of their brand, they make serious juice – and Chaney is serious about taking Claypool Cellars to the next level. One thing she told me stuck with me several days later: “I want a legacy that we can give to the kids… if they’ll take it!” This is coming from someone who’s tasting room is a caboose train car, by the way…
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I recently had a conversation with a celebrity involved in the California wine biz that went something like this:
CA Wine Celebrity: “Hey – have you ever had cannabis-infused wine?”
CWC: “Yeah. Totally. Pot wine?”
Me: “No – but I wouldn’t be surprised if every other winemaker in California was drinking it; and probably making it.”
CWC: “I just tried some. It was weird. It smelled exactly like…” – at this point he extended a long, lanky, outstretched arm ending in pinched fingers directly under my nose – “…like someone stuck a bud in there; it smells just like a big ol’ bud right up in your nose!”
Turns out, he wasn’t very far off. It is with very, very little surprise that I give you the findings of Michael Steinberger’s recent article for The Daily Beast, titled Marijuana-Laced Wine Grows More Fashionable in California Wine Country: apparently, a lot of winemakers in California wine country make the stuff (by dropping about one lb. of dope into fermenting grape juice, Cabernet apparently being the variety of choice, and nearby Humboldt County being the marijuana source of choice), because a lot of CA winemakers dig pot.
Whoa – now there’s a news flash [ Editor’s note: sarcasm intended ].
We are talking about California here, people…
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