We know that I’m not terribly fond of massive tastings. I did thoroughly enjoy myself at Premiere Napa Valley, however, even if I didn’t get to try all 200 of the wines, mostly because the experience, with lots of people in close proximity to wine and to each other, is uber-social. For a gadfly like me, it’s like social crack, only with ultra-premium wines and the opportunity to catch up with friends, chill with industry folk, and ask geeky questions of winemakers.
In other words, it’s like super wine crack for me.
I’ve decided not to rate any of the wines I tasted at PNV, because a) you’re unlikely to find them, and b) we are talking some of the best-of-the-best in CA winemaking here, and the scores on my cheesy A-F scale for are in the A- to A+ range for all of these wines; there’s no real point in sharing those subtle shades of differing scores, now is there? I mean, I’m not getting into a 94 vs 96 points discussion, thankyouverymuch.
Anyway, following are some of my favorites among a field of very, very impeccably made wines (in PNV auction lot order):
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Sometimes the best way to convey the essence of an event is via comparison. Especially when that event might be too noisy and hectic to capture on video. Or, when you’re video recorder isn’t fully charged, so all you have are pictures, words, and memories.
And teeth stains.
Honestly, I think that my dentist is about to have a windfall…
Such is the essence of Premiere Napa Valley, which recently took place (February 20th) at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, and is the spot where members of the Napa Valley Vintners Association hock ultra low-production amounts (often only one barrel / 5 cases worth) of (presumably) ultra-premium red wine.
Winning lot bidders obtain a unique product available nowhere else on the planet, specially bottled for their restaurant / merchants / stores / etc., along with (presumably) bragging rights at achieving the exclusivity. In other words, it’s a (very stiff) competition, presenting (presumably) the best-of-the-best from 200 of Napa’s most storied and well-respected producers; a tooth-staining, mouth-puckering wine spectacle orgy of Cabernet-based California goodness.
As for the comparison: PNV is like a cross between Best In Show, the Superbowl, the Emmys, Calligula, and (with a lot of Japanese buyers thrown in for good measure) a Godzilla movie.
It will make sense, in a minute (or two)…
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Alternative title: “What I Learned (So Far) At the 2010 Professional Wine Writers Symposium in Napa”
- Symposium Chairperson and Wines & Vines editor Jim Gordon, may, in fact, be the sweetest and most patient person on the planet (there remains one more day of symposium activities in which to properly test this theory).
- The amount of downtime built into the entire week of Symposium activities is approximately 47 seconds.
- The amount of raw talent and brain power among the symposium attendees is staggering, but is immediately doubled in terms of IQ points the moment that AbleGrape.com founder, Yahoo search pioneer, and twitter search guru Doug Cook walks into the room.
- When you read aloud (over a loudspeaker) a tasting note that you’ve written in which you compare a glass of Syrah to an uncomfortable satin thong, you will piss off famed author, wine educator, and television personality Karen MacNeil [ Editor’s note: this was recently substantiated via personal experience. ]
- Both Eric Asimov and Steve Heimoff are practical, warm and charming in person (meaning that I have lost at least two bets and the week isn’t even over yet).
- Harlan wines will be poured judiciously at Symposium after-hours gatherings, but only when I am not available that evening to attend any of them.
- Journalism jobs, freelance writing gigs, and book deals net you more money than Amazon.com affiliate fees. But not much more.
- If you take the ethical standards of critical writing / wine review writing, combine them in number, double that number, square the result, and divide by 0.0002, you will arrive at roughly the number of ethical violations that I might have inadvertently committed. Before lunch. On day one.
- When Alder Yarrow uses the term “folks at our level” and you realize that he is talking about wine blog writing and is including you, you have to suppress the urge of performing a double-head-fake and then blushing.
- If you are serious about wine writing, then you should get serious about attending the Symposium in 2011.