“Fun and Messy and Wonderful” – An Interview With Buehler Vineyards’ Helen Buehler

Vinted on January 20, 2010 binned in California wine, interviews

Earlier this month, a guest on Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV caused a bit of a stir.

That is, if you consider over 550 comments and an eight-page forum thread devoted to the episode “a bit of a stir.”

The guest was Helen Buehler, who is a member of the family behind Buehler Vineyards, whose 2006 Napa Valley estate Cabernets have become members of the ‘90+ point review club’.

I missed of all the Wine Library TV hoopla involving Helen, as I’m not a regular viewer of Gary’s show – this has nothing to do with Gary, and everything to do with the fact that I’m borderline ADD and can’t watch any on-line video that’s over 3 minutes long.  In fact, I hadn’t seen the episode until Helen contacted me asking if I’d seen it, and generally wondering what my impressions were about the whole thing (my response, in a nutshell, was “I don’t think it’s a big deal.”).

Not one to miss an opportunity to selfishly capitalize on a prominent media event gain insight into the winemaking world, I thought it would make interesting reading to see what Helen had to say about the WLTV episode, get her take on what it’s like to grow up around wine, and see what changes she thinks the Millennial generation will bring to the wine market.  Helen agreed, and kindly accepted an interview invitation.

It seems ironic to me that one of the criticisms laid out against Helen from her WLTV appearance was that she lacked passion; while she may not come off on video as being passionate about wine tasting, she certainly comes off as passionate when she’s discussing winemaking.

If you’ve seen Helen’s WLTV appearance, then this interview will give you another perspective on Helen’s place in the wine world; if you haven’t yet seen it, then you can check it out at the end of this interview, formulate your own opinion on Helen’s representation of Buehler Vineyards, and (as always) share your thoughts in the Comments…

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Carrot-Top Elegance: The Inaugural Releases of Rossi-Wallace

Vinted on January 19, 2010 binned in California wine, wine review

I should just cut to the chase and tell you that the first releases from Rossi-Wallace border on beguiling, and that you should buy them now if you can, especially given their limited production.

But that’s just downright boring, right?  So, I feel obligated to kind of, you know, spruce it all up a bit.

I’ve been sitting on samples of the inaugural releases of Rossi-Wallace’s 2007 Napa Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for months – well, not literally sitting on them, of course, just quietly ignoring them in my cellar… ah, you get the idea…

I suppose that’s a sad commentary of just how behind I am in tasting samples.  A sadder commentary still is that I wasn’t already familiar with Rossi-Wallace’s winemaking team, despite the fact that  Ric Forman and Cheryl Emmolo have been involved in Napa wine in some way/shape/form for 40+ years.

Clearly, their time and experience have been very, very well-spent.

Rossi-Wallace’s namesake is a clever combination of the names of Forman’s and Emmolo’s red-headed mothers – just so you don’t confuse this post’s Carrot-top-reference in the title (we’re NOT talking about the comedian who seems hell-bent on trying to become a  Thundercats’ Liono look-alike wearing a tuxedo).

I could regurgitate the information on their website and press materials about the care and techniques they brought to bear on the first releases of their new label, but you’re smart folks and you can read all of that yourselves.  The bottom line is that if you like your Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to have the in-your-face, indelible stamp of modern, bombastic California winemaking, then these are NOT the wines for you…

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2009’s Most Engaging Wine Blogs and Our Utter Lack of Diversity

Vinted on January 18, 2010 binned in about 1winedude blog, commentary, wine blogging

Last week, I found out that I finished in the top ten of PostRank.com’s list of the most engaging wine blogs of 2009.  PostRank’s list is based on algorithms that measure online social network reactions to blog articles.  I think, anyway – it all seems a little complicated and makes me glad that I like writing instead of math.

I’m pleased as spiked sangria punch to be sharing the top 10 list with such talented and esteemed company.

I’m less pleased at how similar we all seem to be.

As you will note from this handy inset graphic, the list is comprised almost entirely of white males (click to embiggen):

To be fair, both Decanter and Lenndevours are blogs with talented staff, not all of whom are white males.  Just the vast majority of whom are white males.

The lack of diversity is kind of odd, and sad.  I wonder if we represent the majority of wine consumers?  I doubt it, considering the studies that point to women being the driving force behind wine consumption (especially in the U.S.).

I’ll stop now as I expect to get flamed for even bringing up the topic (those of you who know me have figured out by now that I can’t help myself) and turn to the somewhat safer discussion of which 2009 1WineDude.com blog posts PostRank measured as being especially engaging.  But I’ll warn you, that this list had me scratching my head just as much as I did over the ‘white guy convention syndrone’ of the top 10 list…

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