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.
The Chevalière of the French bubbly scene in Napa is the elegant and indomitable, Domaine Chandon (WL, FB, Tw). It is the first French foray into domestic bubbly by the esteemed Moët & Chandon in 1973; the producer of arguably the most famous Champagne in the world: Dom Pérignon. Indeed, when many consumers think of sparkling wine in the US, they think of the name “Chandon.” And it is at this beautiful estate, biking distance from our home, that we happily enjoyed media passes for their étoile Prestige Tour, followed by lunch at their in-house resto, also named étoile. We attended courtesy of the winery, and oh!, what a visit it was…
Find all the tasty deets, after the jump!
As my lovely #Vinopanion readers already know, I am a *huge* fan of Spain, Spanish culture, food, and of course, #wine! Indeed, I have had the great fortune to attend media trips to both the Navarra and Murcia wine regions of that Iberian country, and I just hosted two events for #MurciaWine at #WBC14 last weekend. The Lady Beth Fontaine (Tw) also attended the Murcia trip and we are constantly on the prowl for Spanish culture here in the US (including the fantastic Zuzu in our Napa hometown). Indeed, our very first trip together to Europe was an epic tour through Spain, finishing with some downtime in the equally beautiful land of Portugal. It was on this very trip that we discovered our most beloved city in all of this fair world: Barcelona. The jewel of Catalan culture has bewitched us ever since, with its glorious and unique districts, tapas crawls, #Cava sparkling wine, and many MANY amazing sites, architecture and museums. This brings us to the featured event of this love story to Catalunya y España:
Chilean #wine has exploded in the US and around the world over the last decade+. Indeed, during the Lady and my vacation to awesome Belize late last year, we were surrounded by the Wines of Chile, with very few exceptions. While the wines that most of us enjoy in the US are at the very affordable level, say <$12, I have also tasted through some great upper-end Chilean wine tastingsof late, which showed off what the finer, more boutique end of the fine wine range can do from this country. Late last year, I had the chance to attend two tastings that spanned the breadth of wine Chilean wine powerhouse of Concha y Toro (WL, FB, Tw, YT). From affordable to supercrazypremium, these wines showed consistent quality, regardless of their actual price.
I’ll break it down after the jump!
Wine country, almost by definition; is a gorgeous, relaxing, and delicious set of regions to visit. But how does one choose which region to visit and which wineries to whet one’s vinous whistle? Sometimes you just want a gorgeous setting, with wine that is at least, enjoyable. Other times you might just want the best wine that fits your palate, surroundings be damned. And sometimes you want to go beyond just the wine and have it paired with tasty bites of foodie porn. Fortunately, you now have at least one destination that takes all of these experiences and wraps them into one 3 hour, vino/foodie heavenly wine timeout from reality: the newly launched Jordan Vineyard & Winery (FB, Tw, YT, Fl, P, WL) “Estate Tour & Tasting.”
Take a listen: monastrell wine is on the rise. Yep, I’m making a call, here in Q4 2013, that the monastrell grape will be a major #wine force across the vinous world in the next few years. Wine tends to follow cycles and loops in popularity…Napa cab is here to stay yes, ever since it blew up in the late 60′s and 70′s, but then there was chard right along with it, then zin hit, Italian varietals almost did in the late 80′s and early 90′s, but merlot did, big time. Then sideways pinot took over like a soft-handed monster, and bets on syrah didn’t pan out, while shiraz did (same grape, people). Now, riesling is on the rise, rosé is finally making it big, malbec has been charging for a few years now and
I PREDICT: monastrell throws down a hammer goblet of good quality, price, and sales.
It is with great excitement that I can announce my latest media trip abroad: I am headed back to Spain! Two years ago I had the fantastic pleasure to cover the rich wine, food, and cultural mecca of the Kingdom of Navarra. Now the Lady, Beth Fontaine of Rollerskating With Scissors, and I have the very fortunate chance to dig deep into another part of our favorite foreign food and wine hub: we are headed to the Region of Murcia (FB, YT, Wiki). We will taste the wines of this lesser known Spanish jewel, alongside the tremendous food that can always be counted upon in this Iberian cultural juggernaut. We will be attending 06/23/ – 06/28/13 courtesy of Instituto de Fomento de la Región de Murcia (INFO), and led by our trusty leader from Navarra, Michael Matilla (Kraynick/ARGOS). Follow along, as we tweet and Facebook with #Murcia8 (Tw, FB) & #Murcia (Tw, FB), post photos on Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr, and of course, post here at Vinopanion - WineLog.net.
You might have noticed that I have been a bit MIA the last couple of months. Now I realize that I said that I would be more devoted to my vino bloggie-blog this year and I was…but then life got in the way. I work a pretty busy day job, as many of you know, conducting applied research for cancer drug development at a large biotech. I do all of the wine stuff on the side, which includes ambassador positions, education, consulting, and other writing gigs.
All of that adds up to a pretty fun and busy life, not to mention fantastic quality time with the Lady, of which and whom, I absolutely adore. Recently my side-life got even busier (but healthier), by getting pulled into triathlons by my bro in-law. I competed in my first USAT sanctioned adult race earlier this year, throwing up a 03:45:02 time in what many people consider to be the most difficult Olympic length triathlon, at Wildflower 2013. Whew…that’s a lot of moving parts! But OK enough whining, let’s talk about other people with side gigs, namely, insanely talented winemakers that produce wine under their own, tiny production labels.
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.