Articles Tagged auction napa valley 2012

Nickel & Nickel Provides More Than A Dime’s Worth In Unexpected Napa Valley Cabernet Terroir Masterclass

Vinted on July 17, 2012 binned in on the road, wine appreciation, wine review

One of the ancillary benefits of being hosted at Auction Napa Valley are the winery-sponsored dinners that take place during the evenings preceding the big auction event.The food is usually fantastic, the wine is flowing (often a bit too) freely, and it’s hard to beat the locations.

For example, when I attended a few weeks ago, I joined bidders on one evening at Ma(i)sonry in Yountville for dinner and wines provided by Ma(i)sonry and Blackbird Vineyards owner Michael Polenske (where I finally met Blackbird’s winemaker Aaron Pott, whose humorous personality matches exactly what’s been described in the media published about him over the last few years).

The dinners aren’t exactly my scene – the people, food, and beverages are all top-notch, don’t get me wrong, but I’m nowhere near fitting the ascot-wearing-rich-white-guy mold, and while most of the guests are affable, welcoming, and only fit that mold peripherally, I still feel mostly out of place at those things.

So when I showed up for the second dinner on my itinerary, at Nickel & Nickel in Rutherford, I expected to feel the odd-man-out (which I did) but to be welcomed warmly (which I was, by proprietress Beth Nickel), and to be served over-the-top steakhouse food, probably in the cellar (which we were).

What I didn’t expect, though, was to get a sort of masterclass in Napa Valley Cabernet terroir.

Which I did

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The Strangest Day Of My Life. So Far. (Almost Getting Bulldozed By Chef Emeril)

Vinted on June 28, 2012 binned in on the road, wine industry events

The most awesome among you who read these virtual pages regularly might recall my brief mention of an encounter with Emeril Lagasse (yes, that Emeril) and other surreal experiences involving live animals and The America’s Cup from Auction Napa Valley 2012 that, taken together, might have constituted the strangest day of my life.

I had promised that the full story would be revealed as the first entry in a new content-creation gig on which I was working, and I’m happy to tell you that article is now live over at WineTasting.com.

While I’ve only penned a couple of pieces for WT, I’m really excited about the gig because they’re backed by wine lovers who also happen to be the founders of 1-800-Flowers, and who have hired some ridiculously smart and talented people (myself excluded – just a hired gun of probably average intelligence here…!) to help them launch both their on-line property and what promises to be an amazing downtown Napa destination.

I’m including some photos below after the jump that didn’t make it into that first WT article, so that you can get a further glimpse into the madness of the day that spawned my travel monologue for them. Enjoy!…

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Auction Napa Valley 2012: One Dude’s Tasting Notes

Vinted on June 12, 2012 binned in on the road, wine review

Part of the madness of Auction Napa Valley (the annual over-the-top charity shin-dig that this year raked in about $8 million) – and the fun – is that both the one-percenters and the rest of us can bid on barrels of upcoming Napa Valley wine releases (and, in some cases, special one-of-a-kind lots) during the event’s barrel auction day (an e-auction also takes place, which is probably where more of the 99-percenters can realistically get in on the action).

This year, the barrel auction was held inside the extensive caves at Jarvis, a producer who brings their grapes underground into their man-made caves, with those grapes not seeing the light of day again until they exit as high-end, bottle-aged wines.

It’s a fun event, where wine producers, press, and the one-percenters (okay… that’s unfair… let’s say two-percenters) mingle on the lawn, sampling NV producer wines and enjoying a sh*tload of foodstuffs from local purveyors (and it wasn’t exactly run-of-the-mill food-truck fare, either – at one station, you could sample a mini version of The French Laundry’s famous salmon tartare “ice cream cone”).

2012’s version was a bit hectic (apparently so hectic that I was able to only take photos in portait orientation, from the looks of the inset pics), but in a fun way. However, the mayhem made even the hockey-arena-sized event space in Jarvis’ caves seem crowded. I gave up on critically assessing the barrel lots pretty quickly, once it became clear that it was going to take me a few minutes per taste just to work my way through the throngs enough to access the spit buckets.

So… I only got to about thirty of the hundred-or-so auction lots that day, and while it might come as no surprise to hear that a Philippe Melka wine and a Scarecow lot were vying for the highest-bid bragging rights during the auction, it might surprise those of you who have been following the NV wine scene to learn that Scarecrow came in second this time, losing out to Melka’s first-ever barrel auction wine under his own label.

Following are my takes on the best of what I got around to tasting critically that day, before I gave the hell up to the whole enticing craziness and just started drinking (mostly Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, since it was hot and sunny) instead of tasting… as well as some thoughts on the 2010 NV vintage overall…

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Sending Wine Back For Playboy, Wondering If Auction Napa Valley Was Really A Spicy-Thai-Dinner-Induced Dream, And Other Surreal Experiences

Vinted on June 6, 2012 binned in going pro, on the road

If you’ve ever wondered how to handle the delicate matter of telling a hoity-toity sommelier or wait staff that the wine you ordered isn’t up to snuff, without making one or both of you look like a total douchebag, you’re in luck because we tackle that very topic over at my latest Wined Down column for Playboy.com.

For that article, I interviewed one of the sommeliers (a quality dude named Jeff Taylor, who also happens to be a true master of the “disco nap,” a skill which I witnessed first-hand having traveled a good bit of Australia with the guy) from NYC’s Eleven Madison Park – and in terms of hoity-toity restaurants, it doesn’t get much more hoity-toity than the award-winning EMP. So you’ll want to read what Jeff had to say about the right – and wrong! – ways of navigating that vinous territory.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how the Playboy.com gig is going, so I should probably offer a quick update on that. The important thing to remember when you read the following “status report” is that neither my recent jaunt through the wine worlds of Oz nor the Playboy.com gig are nowhere near the most surreal things that have transpired in my life lately (that honor belongs squarely to Auction Napa Valley)

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