Doug Cook, founder of the amazing wine search engine AbleGrape, is smart guy. A really smart guy; as in, instantly-doubles-the-IQ-of-the-room-when-he-walks-in-no-matter-how-many-people-are-there smart. His intelligence level is matched only by his largesse, especially when it comes to sharing wines from his extensive and impressive cellar.
That generosity was on full display at the recent Pro Wine Writers Symposium in Napa, when Doug busted-out some vinous gems at one of the post-post-prandial (PPP?), informal gatherings (a.k.a., after-after-parties), the most brilliant and multi-faceted of which was a wine whose existence on Earth slightly predates my own, a 1971 J.J. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese from the Mosel.
The wine was, in a word, amazing: honey, flowers, orange rind, nuts, beeswax (yes, I actually know what that smells / tastes like, not because I’m a beekeeper – though I think beekeepers totally rock – but because I play didgeridoo, which uses beeswax as a mouthpiece); basically, a delicate and pure example of everything that Mosel Riesling stands for and to which the best examples should aspire. Alder Yarrow, who was with me at the PPP, summed up the sensory experience of that wine recently on Vinogrpahy.com so I won’t repeat it here. By the way, it was fun to watch a normally poised Alder about lose his sh*t over some of those wines.
Anyway, what I do want to talk about here is why the wine was so glorious – and what was in the bottle is only partly responsible for that…
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- 08 Emiliana Coyam (Colchagua): 8 red varities, 1 vineyard, 2 oak profiles, a ton of dark red fruits, & just touches of grit & green. $32 B+ #
- 09 Emiliana Novas Carmenere/Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua): Herbs, red fruit, spices, pepper, and a lot of sexiness. Needs 3-4 yrs. $15 B #
- 10 Emiliana Natura Chardonnay (Casablanca): Your food will like you for pairing it with this papaya, peach & slightly creamy good buy $10 C+ #
- 10 Emiliana Natura Carmenere (Colchagua): Greeen herbal notes & soda-pop, peppery shiraz action make for a bit of a strange combo. $10 C #
- 08 Morande Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc (Casablanca): A touch too sweet, but with botrytis at this price I should stop my bitching. $10 B- #
- 07 Morande Edicion Limitada Carignan (Loncomilla): Black, bold, spicy, concentrated & smooth as silk. Large amount of ass kicked here $23 B+ #
- 09 Morande Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo): Great sweet spice coupled w/ not-so-great green, but currants & earth work it out $15 B- #
- 08 Morande Gran Reserva Merlot (Maipo): They ought to need a license to carry a finish this nice @ that rpice in these here parts. $15 B #
- 10 Morande Sauvignon Blanc (Casablanca): Refreshing, but with acidity that can only be tamed by a healthy portion of cerviche. $11 B- #
- 07 Los Vascos Le Dix (Colchagua): Like a Bordeaux native in a Chupalla hat. Dark fruit, earth, woody spice, cinnamon,& a lot to love. $50 B+ #
- 08 Los Vascos Grande Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua): Sexy red fruit bosom supported by chalky, mineral-driven, spicy bra. $20 B #
- 09 Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua): The red-fruity, easy to handle, lighter side of Cab. Maybe a tough *too* light actually $10 C+ #
- 10 Los Vascos Chardonnay (Colchagua): A little slice of steely Chablis (at a bargain price) in the warm south of the Rapel Valley. $10 B- #
- 10 Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc (Casablanca): Starfruit & cream? The combo kind of works in this refreshing sipper, actually. $10 C+ #
As in, almost literally going for broke, because I don’t think they’re actually profitable yet. And that’s just fine with the people footing the bills. Sounds nuts but it will all make sense in minute. Or three…
What would you do if you went to work every day with almost no limitations? Tools, money, ideas – nothing really holding you back?
It’s a situation to which many would instantly want to switch if given the chance, but with which almost none of us can truly identify, and most likely most of us never will. But it’s pretty much the business-as-usual case for Trinchero’s young winemaker Mario Monticelli.
That’s because Mario works for Bob Trinchero, who owns the Sutter Home empire and the guy whose family name has been tied to wine in some way/shape/form for over 100 years (Bob Trinchero was recently inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame, a choice that I like to think of as a nice little reminder that while we all like to wax poetic over the tiny fine wine market, it’s the Fres, Sycamore Lanes, and White Zinfandels of the world that really make this industry GO). Interestingly, Trinchero’s beautiful St. Helena winemaking property has the new-kid-on-the-block, no-expenses-spared feel despite Sutter Home having about as deep a set of historical roots in the Napa Valley as any other producer along Highway 29.
“It’s a dream job,” Mario told me when I visited in February. “But it also means you have no excuses!”…
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Do wine certifications really matter? And which ones give you the most bang for the buck? Watch to find out (well, to find out my views on it, anyway). The moral of the story: experience trumps all, but certs. are a great way to enhance experience, gain knowledge, and help build that all-important network.
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