I have been immersing myself in the study of #wine in a semi-systematic manner for much of the last 8 years. Indeed, #Vinopanion‘s 8 year anniversary with @WineLog is approaching in the middle of this month. Yet I have slowly realized that something is lacking in my devotion to the knowledge of the vinous delights: focus, structure and external credibility. You’d think that a trained scientist would have recognized this long ago and I did notice these thoughts in the back of my mind a few years back. But they were always battered back by “where’s the time?” and “I’m still receiving plenty of media travel & event invites,” along with “my wine consulting services continue to expand.” Then I reached last year and I started to recognize some clear patterns in my wine work. While I had plenty of media opportunities and my fellow wine colleagues were continuing to get work, I could see that the pace of my own trade offers beginning to slow down. It was then that I noticed that most of my colleagues began to sport letters after their names on their business cards: they were taking certified educational courses to formalize their wine training. I needed to set up my wine game. It was then that I contacted the good people at Napa Valley Wine Academy (FB, Tw): “help!”
Over two weeks have passed since a significant earthquake hit Napa and the surrounding cities, at 3:20am Sunday morning 08/24/14. Named the South Napa earthquake by USGS, the 6.0 quake hit Napa particularly hard, despite what could be considered a quake of intermediate intensity. Due to the east-west nature of the quake movement, “river valley sediments,” and the fact that the rupture “propagated NNW” in direction, the bulk of the quake’s energy was sent “NNW towards Napa,” according to USGS scientists. All of these factors resulted in very significant damage that was almost entirely localized to the city of Napa, especially to its historic downtown and to the southwest neighborhood of Browns Valley, my childhood neighborhood and still where my parents reside (ShakeMap copyright USGS). The Lady and I live about 1 mile NE of Browns Valley, on aforementioned river valley sediment/silt, in fact. It is for these reasons that it can be hard for even other Bay Area residents to understand just how much this earthquake has affected our dear valley. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of this natural disaster is that has hit in the middle of an early harvest, so the Valley must recover while still going through its annual vinous renewal.
As mentioned previously on these vinous epages, the Lady and I have happily ensconced ourselves back in the wine country of our roots. Our move to #NapaMode has been just about as cool as anyone might ever dream…yes, living in one of the most beautiful places in the world, point zero for #wine & #foodie heaven definitely has its benefits, I won’t blathe. One thing that we’ve come to learn in this fine place is that you can’t get anything DONE during the weekends, however! Apparently, when one is surrounded by beautiful land to traverse by bike, foot, or DeLorean; wine to sip and food to savor, you just kinda want to do that every day that you’re not in the grind. Huh…who’da thunk?
That said…what if you were here on a vacation…that’s free…and filled with free food & wine activities? Why, a #winecation is just the antidote for getting your guilt-free glutton-on! The new wine marketplace Underground Cellar (FB, Tw) has you covered!
More details after the leap!
Tomorrow evening at 4PM PDT (03/18/14), I have the very fun opportunity to taste through some new sparkling #wine releases from France that clearly break the affordable mark. Well-respected Languedoc producer Domaines Paul Mas (WL, FB, Tw) and BrandLive have teamed up to bring Mas’ Limoux AOP sparklers from his Côté Mas label. For centuries, the Mas family has been producing renowned wines from across the Languedoc, with fourth generation patriarch Jean-Claude Mas (Tw) leading the charge since taking over the family company in 2000. Tomorrow night we get to taste his affordable bubbly from two of the AOC from the commune Limoux.
More info after the leap!
I’m never one to make big leaps in my life. Yes, about every ten years or so, the lady Beth Fontaine (Tw) and I seem to subconsciously start the process to evaluate our future in the context of our present. Yet, I can’t say that I have ever just done something on a leap of faith, staring at nothing but risk and hoped for reward, but that is the only way that I can explain our rather sudden move back home to Napa Valley. And so we’re both happy to say that now after a month+ into our new lives back in wine country, that we’ve made a fantastic decision:
Sometimes simpler is better. Occam’s Razor, An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything, simple syrup: all things designed around the concept of simplicity, and are proven examples that complexity is not always better. This brings us to the issue of wine bottle closures, specifically, capping an unfinished bottle for the night. What’s the best temporary fastener? It is here that the simplicity of CapaBunga (FB, Tw, P) comes into the fore, in that “why didn’t I think of that??” type of manner.
So, uh, what the hell are infographics? Wikipedia defines them quite nicely as “graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly.” While they’ve proliferated a ton in recent years and in very creative directions due to cool new online and offline tools, as well as very graphic-oriented news and sportscasts, we’ve actually been using them for many years. If you’ve ever looked a transit map, you’ve used an infographic.
Recently, there has been an explosion of very useful and very informative wine-related infographics. Leading the charge has been the super-fun wine folks at Wine Folly (Tw, FB, g+), led by fearless leader Madeline Puckette. They’ve put together a number of fantastic ones, that they also sell as posters, and rightfully so: knowledge can definitely be art. Another one that really popped out to me was directed my way by my buddy Steve; which nicely combines my science side (meta-analysis) with my wine side (flavors of white wine varietals).
Napa Valley: St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery (FB, Tw, YT, WL). Located in the Rutherford appellation, dead center for some of the best vineyards in all of Napa, St. Supéry has been producing fantastic wines at enticingly low prices since the 1980’s. They have also been the hosts of some fine tastings, including a Bloggers’ Forum, a visit during the Pops & Son Wine Trip 5 (#PSWT5), and another great tasting by family owners, Skalli Family Wines. Now all of us have a chance to speak live online via ToutSuite with their winemaker Michael Scholz. A lot of the history of St. Supéry has been discussed there, so I won’t rehash their wonderful story right now, but suffice it to say: St. Supéry makes some of the finest Napa Valley wines…the majority priced at a level that we can refreshingly afford.
More tasting event details after the jump!
It’s time for another Twitter tasting (2/15 4-6pm PST), and I’m happy to be a part of this one, which features one of the most well-known families in all of American wine. Steven Kent Mirassou (Tw) is the 6th generation of the family Mirassou to devote his life to wine. He grew up working the family’s namesake winery in San Jose, but didn’t actually fully embrace his family’s vinous legacy until 1996. It is then that he teamed with his father to create a Cabernet-driven winery, born out of his father’s previous labels and wine works, that he had moved to the Livermore Valley. It was here that Steven Kent Winery (Tw, FB, YT, WL) was born. Later, he refined his love for Livermore Cab with the singular project Lineage (Tw, FB, YT, WL), and then complemented those efforts by the purchase of La Rochelle Winery (Tw, FB, YT, WL) from his very own cousins, with its focus on Pinot Noir. The Steven Kent Portfolio was complete!
I have some very exciting news to share with my happy and wine-loving Vinopanions! While I hinted at this news earlier this year, I can now announce the official Kickstarter campaign for the fantastic new wine store and web destination, Block122 (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog). Founded by four BOULEVARD restaurant employees, Block122 will showcase the finest, small production producers of wine from the left coast, much of which lies along the meridian 122° west of the Prime Meridian. These boutique wineries are those that many times, only produce wines for 1-2 small stores or restaurants, have no distribution, and can’t even provide an online web store. It is these vinous finds that Block122 will revel in sharing with you on their website with stories, videos, and a retail store; all inclusive, with all snobbery excluded.