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Interviews | 1 Wine Dude - Page 9

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1WineDude TV: Candid Conversations With Napa’s Next Gen Winemakers

Vinted on July 28, 2010 binned in 1WineDude TV, California wine, interviews, on the road

What do you get when you gather five young, “next-generation” Napa vintners around a table and talk shop?  Besides “buzzed on some really good juice,” I mean?

Essentially, that’s the question I was hoping to answer when I worked with the Napa Valley Vintner’s Association to set-up a round-table discussion with some of Napa’s best next-generation family winemakers, hosted at the stunning Viader Vineyards property on Howell Mountain.  I’ve had the opportunity to interview some of the next-gen Napa set before (see previous one-on-one’s with Hailey Trefethen and Helen Buehler), but until last week I’d never taken a deep dive into the unique spin that the next-generation has been putting on Napa’s family-run wineries and their wines.

As it turns out, I visited only family-run Napa wine operations during my latest Napa jaunt, and the most obvious common thread tying them together were wines of high-quality and often stunning vitality.  Acid is back in fashion, and so is balance – and for the most part, Napa’s next-gen set are making wines that they themselves enjoy drinking.

Included in our roundtable were Florencia Palmaz (Palmaz Vineyards), Alan Viader (Viader Vineyards & Winery), Judd Finkelstein (Judd’s Hill), Andy Schweiger (Schweiger Vineyards) and Elizabeth Marston (Marston Family Vineyard).  We tasted through several of the recent white and red releases, and talked wine scores, winemaking styles, savvy wine consumers, music, social media, and which wine critics they’d most like kick in the crotch.

Two-parter video (1WineDude TV Episode 16 and Episode 17) recapping the roundtable is after the jump.  Enjoy!…

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1WineDude TV Episode 14: Greece is the Word

Vinted on July 13, 2010 binned in 1WineDude TV, interviews, on the road

In which Joe conducts a brief interview with Paris Sigalas, winemaker at Santorini’s Domaine Sigalas, and with the help of their eonologist attempts to translate the term “kick-ass” into Greek.

For more Greece in images, check out the photos – non-lazy (i.e., for me, written) coverage is in the works:

Cheers!

Through The Electric Grapevine: The Les Claypool Interview

Vinted on July 8, 2010 binned in best of, interviews

I have, quite clearly, met my match when it comes to quirky wine interviews.

His name is Les Claypool, and he’s probably most famous for fronting the talented and popular hard rock band Primus (who are on tour this Summer).

As a (wannabe) bassist (going on 20 years) myself, I’ve often found Les’ music and technical proficiency inspiring.  I recall being an undergrad in university and hearing Primus’ live album Suck On This! for the first time; “this kicks ass,” I thought, “but I doubt anybody but bass geeks like me would get into this stuff.”  Thankfully for millions of music fans everywhere, my prediction was very, very wrong.  Primus went on to release two Platinum and one Gold album, achieving impressive chart success with their singles and wildly eccentric videos.

What many people might not know about Les is that he’s also been a filmmaker, as well as the driving force behind multiple successful and stylistically diverse rock bands such as Oysterhead and Flying Flog Brigade. He has, somehow, also managed to find time to create a wine brand – Claypool Cellars, which produces a promising and very enjoyable Russian River Pinot Noir (“Purple Pachyderm”) with help from Shad Chappell at Vinify Wine Services.  Les’ description of the `07 Pinot:

“We’ve ended up with a California Pinot with a fairly low alcohol content (13.9%), strong color, and good extraction that gives complexity without being overly “jammy.” Coupled with a moderate amount of French oak and some whole cluster fermentation, we have a vino that sits silky in the mouth with a finish that glides away with elegant authority.”

`08 was a bit of a different story, as heat in the RRV made trying to render a low alcohol Pinot much more challenging.  I tried samples of two bottlings of the 2008 Claypool Cellars Purple Pachyderm: one a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (307 cases, about $42), the other an RRV Pinot from Hurst Vineyard (110 cases).  Both are big and expressive, just like Les’ music; while some might shy away from the boozy palate on both of these wines (each is around 14.4% abv), few would deny that the red berry fruit on the nose packs a substantial amount of depth and intensity while deftly avoiding the dreaded “jar of red jam” territory, despite the heat.

I managed to catch up with Les via email during a break in Primus’ current tour, to talk shop on the wine front. I still count Suck On This! and Tales From The Punchbowl among my favorite albums – and after 20 years of bass playing, still have trouble copping Les’ intricate, driving and chord-driven bass lines (though I’m making good progress on “Southbound Pachyderm”…) – so this interview was a particularly fun and inspiring one for me.  I think you’ll find it fun as well, especially after witnessing how effortlessly and eloquently Les one-ups me in the quirkiness department.

Enjoy!…

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The Art of Simplification: An Interview With Andrea Robinson

Vinted on June 23, 2010 binned in interviews

Many, many wine personalities talk about wanting to make wine more accessible and simple for consumers; few deliver in the manner that today’s interview guest, Andrea Robinson, has. She’s practically raised the task of simplifying wine to an art form.

After ditching a 9-to-5 day job (“surely there is a special place in Heaven for the person who lured me off Wall Street (Remi Krug, in fact)” she noted), Andrea became a Master Sommelier and (to put it mildly), never looked back.

Andrea’s list of accomplishments since her days on Wall Street is long and storied enough to turn the most stalwart over-achiever greener than a bottle of Vinho Verde:

She was the first woman ever chosen Best Sommelier in the U.S. by the Sommelier Society of America; she was the first appointed Dean of Wine Studies for COPIA; she was appointed Master Sommelier for Delta Air Lines (overseeing all of the in-flight wine choices for its Business Elite cabin); she received the Wine Literary Award for ‘Exceptional Contribution to the Literature of Wine’ and in one year (2004) was inducted into the James Beard Foundation‘s “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America,” selected as ‘Wine & Spirits Professional of The Year’ by Bon Appetit Magazine, and received the ‘M.F.K. Fisher Award’ by Les Dames d’Escoffier International; No, we’re not done yet – in 2002, the James Beard Foundation named Andrea ‘Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional’.

We’re still not done: I didn’t mention the two TV shows she has hosted, or the fact that she’s written eight books (with her first, Great Wine Made Simple, garnering a James Beard Award nomination).  Normally, you’d be justified in already being sick of her, but in Andrea’s case her engaging personality can soften even the most jaded temperament – an aspect of her successful approach that comes shining through in the interview that follows.

Presumably, Andrea isn’t busy enough, and so has decided to launch a new website, a new line of stemware, a wine DVD / video series, and is making a push behind her on-line brand by running a contest to incent wine lovers to connect with her on twitter and Facebook. She (somehow) found time to answer my questions, in which she provides her thoughts on wine education, Sesame Street sing-alongs, and reveals some of her favorite wines.

Andrea told me “I like dry wine (and sweet, and everything in between), but not dry interviews!” – but as you’ll see below, suffering a dry interview isn’t a likely possibility when she’s involved. In fact, Andrea is not shy in voicing her views on wine education, winemaking styles, and wine critics – all of which you’ll get a glimpse of in our interview.

Enjoy…

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