Posts Filed Under California wine

Bohemian Severity? (Ross Cobb And Claypool Cellars Team Up To Make Serious Sonoma Pinot)

Vinted on May 1, 2012 binned in California wine, wine news

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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Dude, Where’s My “Wine?” (Marijuana And Wine Remain Popular Pairing For California Winemakers)

Vinted on April 18, 2012 binned in best of, California wine, wine news

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?”

Me: “Cannabis-infused?”

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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Blast From A Cult Winemaker’s Past: Buehler Vineyards 1985 Cabernet Sauvignon

Vinted on January 16, 2012 binned in California wine, wine review

In the world of winemakers, Heidi Peterson Barrett is a household name, and not just because she shares a last name with her husband, who founded the only winery that can rightfully claim to be a full-fledged movie star.

That Heidi Barrett is a household name, a winemaker’s winemaker, can be attributed to two words: Screaming Eagle – Napa’s Cult Cab among Cult Cabs, manifest in concentrated style, produced in small quantities and regularly fetching over $1000 per bottle.

Those slugging back bottles of SE in the comfort of the temperature-controlled cellars inside their custom yachts probably don’t know that Heidi Barrett landed her first head winemaking job back in 1983, when at the young age of 25 (now that I’m nearly forty, I can call 25-year-olds “young”) she was hired by St Helena’s Buehler Vineyards (for more on Buehler, check out my interview with owner John Buehler’s daughter Helen, who now looks after their Social Media and Sales).

So when I was invited to talk shop over lunch by long-time wine biz veteran (and very nice guy) Bob Trimble, I was intrigued by the selection he picked to help us wash down our meal – Buehler’s Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from 1985 – since it was not only a glimpse into Napa Cab’s past, and into Buehler’s past, but also an opportunity to turn back the clock on Barrett’s (now storied, but then just promising) career

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