Monday, November 30, 2015

Is it possible to create a new cult wine?

November 23, 2015 by  
Filed under Wine

  Some years ago (and I quoted her in New Classic Winemakers of California), Heidi Barrett told me that the success of Screaming Eagle surprised even her, the winemaker. It was like a “prairie fire,” she said: lightning struck ready ground, and the winery became a legend. Recent developments and discussions have led to me […]

A Cameron Hughes Cabernet vertical

October 29, 2015 by  
Filed under Wine

  Cameron Hughes Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. Sold as a six-pack vertical, 2006-2011 vintages, $449. Cameron Hughes was kind enough to send me this six-bottle vertical for review. (Full disclosure: He also was kind enough to come all the way to Oakland and buy me a sushi lunch.) All the wines are obviously […]

Crying all the way to the bank

October 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Wine

  What are we to make of the winemakers quoted in Karen MacNeil’s latest column in The Somm Journal? Asked by Karen their views on the word “cult” to describe their wines, the sextet unites in condemning a term they all say they loathe. Bill Harlan says the word “implies blind followers who lack discernment.” […]

A great Pinot Noir tasting

October 23, 2015 by  
Filed under Wine

  Farallon, the popular seafood restaurant in San Francisco’s Union Square, is having their annual PinotFest taating of Pinot Noir this November 20, and I’m already champing at the bit. Look at this list: Alma Rosa, Archery Summit, Au Bon Climat, Bonaccorsi, Byron, Calera, Charles Heintz, Chehalem, Cobb, Costa de Oro, Domaine de la Côte, […]

Napa Cabernet better than Sonoma? A cliche

October 14, 2015 by  
Filed under Wine

  You all know that I work for Jackson Family Wines. I have so say that upfront, because of what I’m about to write, which is how good and fine a place Sonoma County is for growing Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varieties in general. If I were still the California wine critic for Wine Enthusiast […]

Three great new Napa Cabernets, and a little context

October 12, 2015 by  
Filed under Wine

  I do not suppose there can any longer be even the pretense of justification for critics, or would-be critics, who have negative things to say about the quality of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. That quality is stupendous, and I’m hardly alone of thinking so. After I wrote this post, I got my new (Nov. […]

California wine, Blue Bottle, Led Zepp, IPAs and pot: What do they have in common?

September 22, 2015 by  
Filed under Wine

  For years the meme has been out there that California wine is getting bigger, badder and bolder—wine on steroids. Some critics decry this, which is their right; but consumers by and large do tend to favor this riper, fruitier style. But why is this happening? Is it really the Parkerization of wine, as many […]

The San Francisco Chronicle’s wine coverage, and Vegas, here I come!

August 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Wine

  I got my Sunday San Francisco Chronicle and, what do you know, there was an entire section on California Wine! Sixteen pages. That’s the most wine coverage I’ve seen in the paper in years. Maybe they got the message—not just from me, but from others, including the Napa Register’s Paul Franson–about how skimpy their […]

Classic, schlmassic: another silly wine word to get rid of

August 17, 2015 by  
Filed under Wine

  I’m tempted to say, pace Justice Stewart, that I can’t define “classic” wine, but I know one when I taste it, except that I can’t say that, either, because it’s not always true. I do know a classic wine when you tell me its name. You: “Here’s Chateau Lafite-Rothschild.” Me: “Oh, that’s a classic […]

Thoughts on a Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet tasting

June 25, 2015 by  
Filed under Wine

  In California, we don’t get the extremes of weather that Europe does, but still, our vintages vary considerably from each other. You just have to know how to read the subtleties. Four years ago, 2011 was “the year summer never came,” and many of the wines have a lean, green streak, if not actual […]

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