In 1976, a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District stunned the world by outclassing its French counterparts in the now infamous Judgement of Paris blind tasting. Since California had not been deemed capable of producing world-class wines by established old-world wine regions before, the results sent shockwaves throughout the wine world, forever cementing Napa’s reputation as a world-class wine producing region and catapulting it onto the world stage.
That very same year, Ron and Diane Miller acquired the Stags Leap Vineyard that would become home to Silverado Vineyards. In 1968, it has become the third vineyard to be planted to Cabernet Sauvignon within this now highly sought-after AVA, and also included plantings of Riesling and Pinot Noir at the time of the Millers’ prescient acquisition. But they immediately recognized the sites potential for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, quickly replacing those under-performing varieties with the the traditional Bordeaux ones that thrive there today.
From my Instagram – click the image to see more of my wine adventures!
The Silverado SOLO is produced solely from Cabernet Sauvignon from the original Stags Leap Vineyard that surrounds the winery. It represents the highest expression of Cabernet Sauvignon crafted at Silverado Vineyards. It was conceived to commemorate the winery’s 25th anniversary of producing wine from this special vineyard, a collaborative suggestion from Winemaker, Jon Emmerich and General Manager, Russ Weis.
Wine Blogger Julien Miquel Interview | Meet The Man Behind Social Vignerons
Photo Credit: Social Vignerons
Attending my first wine bloggers conference this past summer afforded me not only the opportunity to get acquainted with a new wine region, but also to get to know some of the most influential people in the world of wine writing. Julien Miquel requires little introduction to my fellow wine bloggers, but for my non-blogging readers, he is a talented, accomplished wine blogger and a social media powerhouse.
A former winemaker in his previous life, he has made wine in Spain with Michel Rolland, at Islander Estate with Jacques Lurton, at Chateau St. Jean in Sonoma and even the world-renowned first growth Chateau Margaux estate. Today he counts over a quarter of a million followers on Twitter and nearly fifty thousand followers on Instagram.
Yet you would never know to meet him! At one of the wine-soaked poolside after parties, I had the opportunity to get to know the incredibly modest Julien over a glass of wine. At first quiet and reserved, he opened up as he shared his fascinating journey to becoming a wine blogger. After he reached out to interview me recently, I thought it would be great to return the favor. I’m happy to report that I got him talking again!
Spring Fever? | 6 California Chardonnays You Can Count On Under $40
From my Instagram page. The Frank Family Chardonnay traveled with me all the way to Newport Beach! You can click the image to see more.
To say it has been an uncommonly warm winter here in the nation’s capital would be quite the understatement. In the last week of February alone, I witnessed cherry blossoms in bloom, heard the hair-raising crackle of intense thunderstorms, and played tennis in record-setting sunny seventy-five degree weather. Thank goodness climate change is a complete farce, right?! (Insert sarcastic, scared to death emoji here.)
So understandably all of this warmth has me reaching for chilled, crisp white wines far earlier than usual. I mean, this should be Cabernet Sauvignon prime-time for me! So I thought I would take this opportunity to point out some Chardonnays you can reliably count on in the coming months, as temperatures promise to rise alongside political tensions.
Reliably Good Chardonnays You Can Actually Find, and Afford!
Tenuta di Arceno Arcanum Review | Standing Out in a Tough Crowd
Tenuta di Arceno’s Tuscan estate | Photo Credit: Tenuta di Arceno
To say it was a tough crowd that crisp September day amongst the sun-drenched vines of Sonoma would be quite the understatement. Vintage Vérité is an annual event whereby those lucky guests have the opportunity to taste the most recent release of Pierre Seillan’s highly acclaimed Vérité wines alongside a library release (usually ten years old) to observe how well the wines develop with time in the bottle.
And develop they do, with enough interest to command nearly $400 per bottle and a bevy of perfect Parker scores to match (twelve to be exact). But while Vérité might be the star of the show, guests had the opportunity to sample more offerings from the Spire Collection’s compelling portfolio. When I remarked how taken I was with the 2012 Vérité Le Désir, composed predominantly of Cabernet Franc, I was offered a blind pour of a mystery wine, and it was beautiful.
Caballo Loco | The Still Valdivieso Wine You’ll Go Crazy For
To say that Valdivieso Winery is an iconic Chilean wine producer would be an understatement. It was all the way back in 1879 when Alberto Valdivieso founded Champagne Valdivieso, Chile’s first sparkling wine house; predating the laws in Champagne that would now prohibit such controversial nomenclature today.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting winemaker Brett Jackson, who had made wine all over the world (including France, California and South Africa) before arriving at Valdivieso, where he has been for an impressive 16 years now.
Winemaker Brett Jackson Eveluating A Wine | Photo Credit: Valdivieso Winery
Brett explained that it wasn’t until the 1980’s that Valdivieso began to focus their efforts on producing still wines in addition to the sparkling wines that had been a runaway success for the winery.
Chateau du Moulin-a-Vent | The Serious Side of Beaujolais
When you think of Beaujolais, Beaujolais Nouveau is likely first to come to mind. This simple, light-bodied, uncomplicated quaffer arrives to market with substantial fanfare, produced from grapes that were literally hanging on the vine just three months earlier.
The King of Beaujolais, Goerges Dubouef, would be proud of such instant recognition, which he is largely credited with creating. It is after all arguably one of the greatest marketing feats known to man, itself a case study in effective marketing that has captivated an often mercurial audience, the wine consumer.
Crane Family Vineyards | A Tradition of Family Winemaking in Napa
The view from Crane Family Vineyards, overlooking Don Raffaele Vineyard
There simply aren’t enough Napa Valley producers you can visit where you’ll be greeted by the proprietor themselves, at their home, to discover their unique story and the wines produced as a result of their own hands-on efforts. But that was just the case when I visited Crane Family Vineyards on a crisp, sunny late summer morning.
Proprietor Tom Chiarella was quick to greet me and welcome me to his cozy, rather idyllic front patio which overlooks much of the 7 acre Don Raffaele Estate Vineyard surrounding his home, as well as commanding views of Browns Valley. It was here in 1990, on this beautiful property nestled in the foothills of Mount Veeder, that Tom’s parents Peter and Frances decided to build their home in one of the most beautiful places in America.
Lake County Cabernet | The Other Other California Cabernet
If you’re not familiar with Lake County, that’s okay. Most aren’t yet aware of the potential of this sleepy section of Northern California wine country. But that’s about to change, as one of Napa’s power players just made a Warren Buffet style investment in these sun-drenched hills.
What’s interesting is that up until 1861, Lake County and Napa County were actually the same county – yet this quiet community with deep farming roots has mostly missed out on the fantastic wine industry successes of neighboring Napa and Sonoma counties to the south – and with it all of the tourism and hospitality fueling those economies today.
Though still quite small in comparison to Napa, vineyard acreage is on the rise, with around 9,000 acres now planted to vine, up from just around 100 in 1965. Compare that to over 45,000 in Napa and 60,000 in Sonoma, and you’ll see that Lake County has room for growth – and none other than Napa grape-grower extraordinaire Andy Beckstoffer has taken notice, in a big way.
Perliss Vineyards | Expect Big Things from this Small Producer
When you think of Calistoga, you would be correct in thinking that this sleepy locale nestled within the Northern stretches of Napa Valley is known for its relatively warmer temperatures than those areas of the valley located further south, with their proximity to the cooling influences of the San Pablo Bay.
Yet on the beautifully clear August morning when I visited Perliss Vineyards, I pleasantly surprised by the cool, persistent breezes serenading me as I explored the organically cultivated, gently sloped 2.6 acre Raven Vineyard with vintner Anthony Perliss.
Fall for Merlot this October | Merlot Month is Here!
Did you know that October is International Merlot Month? Woo hoo! That’s right, not only does Autumn bring with it brisk weather and the stunning fall foliage, but a reason to celebrate this polarizing, often misunderstood varietal. I can’t get enough of these wine holidays!
But what if you dislike Merlot? Do memories of limpid, poorly made Merlot’s linger in your memory with the indefatigability of a coarse finish? If so, then you’re probably thinking that entire month of Merlot is entirely too long and wholly unnecessary, especially when other varietals must suffice with merely a day of festivities. But I would argue that this noble varietal deserves an entire month of attention, as it has been unfairly punished…
How you might ask? By what I call the ‘Sideways Effect’. Released in 2004, Sideways took us along for the ride while the unsuccessful writer and depressive middle-aged lead character played by Paul Giamatti joins his best friend for a weekend of wine tasting and fraternizing throughout scenic Santa Barbara wine country. Garnering serious accolades including an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, it went on to gross over $100 Million at the box office. You could say it was a hit, and it undeniably left an impression.