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:
Over the last 7 years (yes, my blogo-versary was just last month!), I’ve managed to overwhelm everyone I know with my mad passion for vino. So, it might come as some surprise to casual readers that the last 1.5 years have seen a new passion start to share space alongside my wine fridge: triathlons. I have mentioned this healthy kick a couple of times here on Vinopanion, but this is the first time that those two passions have collided into a wonderful blend of health, wine, and healthy wine. I’m very happy to announce that I will be partaking in the 2014 Rodney Strong Vineyards Vineman Monte Rio Olympic Triathlon this Sunday, June 8, while proudly sponsored by none other than the kind winemaking folks over at title sponsor, Rodney Strong Vineyards (WL, FB, Tw, IG, YT)! Vineman (FB, Tw, YT) has a rich history of triathlons and multisport competitions in the Sonoma County area and this is the second year for this new USAT-sanctioned, olympic distance triathlon.
More #triathlon & #wine details after the leap!
There are plenty of #wine fests these days, celebrating this region or that grape varietal, indeed the Napa Valley has plenty of its own festivals throughout the year. When you think of the Napa Valley in particular, what wine comes to mind….umm, yeah CABERNET SAUVIGNON. And then strangely, you realize that there is no festival that celebrates King Cab here in the Val. That is…until this year! The newly relaunched Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater (FB, Tw) hosted the very first wine festival devoted to Napa Valley Cab, #CabFestNV 2014, in March of this year. We were fortunate enough to attend all three days on a media pass and we were very impressed by the inaugural festival.
More recap deets 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!
While not everyone pays attention to the crazy going-on’s on the Left Coast in California, you might have heard about the quickly accelerating and unprecedented drought that is beginning to devastate its traditional agricultural backbone. Contained within that agricultural spine are vineyards and winegrowing, of course. It is here that we get to the crux of why I felt it was so important to share the weather going-ons here in the NorCal: the weather, this third winter in a row, is beginning to severely impact our precious wine grape vineyards here in wine country.
More news after the jump!
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!
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:
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.”