Category Archives: Uncategorized

Opus One – Napa Valley’s First Growth Gets the Tasting Room it Deserves

Opus One needs no introduction, but when The Partners’ Room opened in April of 2021, it was a welcome addition to the love child of two of wines most revolutionary visionaries, Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Opus One more than a handful of times over the years and I’ve always found its relaxed and understated elegance an irresistible combination. The wineries original architect, Scott Johnson impeccably married classic French architecture with sleek Californian style (Fun Fact: The aerial view of the winery also impeccably resembles a wine glass!).

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A Visit to Couvent des Jacobins | A Jewel in the Heart of Saint-Emilion

Couvent des Jacobins has just celebrated their 120 year anniversary since the Jean family acquired the estate in 1902. As only one of two Grand Cru Classe located within the historic walls of Saint-Emilion, the estate boasts a longstanding history of producing estate wines, but Monks were the early vintners in this monastery, originally crafting more simple wines from the Merlot grapes they cultivated.

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A Time for Reflection, and Looking To The Future

A Time for Pause and Reflection

To say that the current health crisis in which we find ourself has presented us with a dizzying array of challenges would be an understatement. It has touched the life of every single person in this country, and in many parts of the world, and is sure to leave a lasting legacy. But it has also been incredible encouraging to see the strength of humankind in our ability to endure and adapt, and to come together to support one another. 

In this time, when a return to normalcy seems almost an alien prospect, it’s as important as ever to celebrate the good things in life that motivate us, the things that draw the air into our lungs. For me, the love of wine and travel and being able to share it with you sits at the very top of that list.

This difficult time has given me the opportunity to reflect on all of the incredible experiences I’ve been so fortunate to be able to enjoy over the years. I am deeply grateful for that, as well as for your tremendous support and readership of this blog over the years. Thank you.

I’ve taken advantage of some of the downtime to relive past travels, and thought it might be fun to share a few photos with you throughout this post. This first one took some real digging…

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Gerard Bertrand Cultivates the Arte de Vivre with Annual Jazz Festival Jazz A L’Hospitalet

For just five nights each summer Chateau L’Hospitalet, a serene retreat nestled in the Languedoc region of the South of France, undergoes a spectacular transformation as the picturesque locale becomes center stage for Gerard Bertrand’s annual Jazz Festival known as Jazz L’Hospitalet.  

The charming estate is a destination in itself and offers a bit of something for everyone. Consisting of a winery, restaurant, hotel, tasting room and art gallery, it truly comes to life as 1,400 guests descend on the property to savor a moment of the Arte de Vivre as wines, gastronomy, music and culture so harmoniously intersect in the South of France – in a uniquely intimate environment to enjoy the talents of your favorite musicians. 

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Castello di Montepo – A Tuscan Treasure Begging to be Discovered

Imagine a postcard from Tuscany, and you’ll likely envision a medieval castle prominently perched high atop a a hill in the picturesque sun-drenched countryside that’s often referred to as the California of Italy. 

Now imagine that one of Italy most iconic wine families has purchased such a castle, renovated it to its 11th century grandeur and intends to soon welcome the public for visits. That family is Biondi Santi, and the estate is Castello di Montepo, situated in the lesser-known Maremma region of southern Tuscany. 

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Highlights from Bordeaux | Behind the Scenes at Two Prominent Château

Château du Tertre

Dating all the way back to 1736, Château du Tertre is a breathtaking property nestled in Bordeaux’s Margaux appellation. As a member of the Millesima Blog Awards jury, I had the opportunity to visit and experience their incredible hospitality. We enjoyed a gorgeous lunch paired with their finessed, elegant wines. 

One of the highlights for me was their sleek 2005 Margaux, along with the sun-kissed 2010 Caiarossa from Italy – a Super Tuscan that’s produced by the owners of Chateau du Tertre. These wines truly speak to their respective terroir, and unique sense of place.

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The 2018 Bordeaux Vintage – Powerful Yet Playful

During the first week of April, I had the great honor and privilege of returning to Bordeaux as a jury member for the 2019 edition of the Millesima Blog Awards. Once there, we had the opportunity to greet the award winners and share a truly special evening together at Chateau Cos d’Estournel – more on that in my next post.

My visit coincided with en primeur, the much-anticipated annual event where Bordeaux producers offer a preview of the most recent, and largely unfinished vintage – in this case 2018. Journalists, merchants, and critics descent upon Bordeaux each year to assess the quality of the vintage. You can learn more about en primeur here

After attending and experiencing en primeur during last year’s 2017 preview I was looking forward to see how the latest vintage would measure up. After three days of extensive tastings from Saint-Julien to Saint-Emilion, I’m excited to share my impressions. In my next post, I look forward to taking you behind the scenes at two prominent Bordeaux producers.

The 2018 Vintage – Powerful Yet Playful

2018 didn’t begin as a terribly promising growing year, with six months of very damp weather creating mildew problems while isolated hail storms resulted in losses for some producers. But mother nature warmed up beginning in July, and Bordeaux enjoyed three months of unusually warm, dry weather that resulted very ripe, concentrated fruit. Due to the heat, soils eventually struggled for water, resulting in small berries with thick skins and lower yields of roughly 25% for many producers. 

The result: 2018 Bordeaux is proving to be quite promising with generous, ripe fruit, intense concentration and fine tannin quality. It’s both powerful and playful, age-worthy and approachable in its youth, with very consistent quality.

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American Rosé? | In Defense of Drinking our Pink

American Rosé? | In Defense of Drinking our Pink

American Rosé

Photo credit: iStock

A recent article published by The Telegraph caught my attention when they bashed California rosé, swiftly and unapologetically admonishing the entire category in one fell swoop. The article advises readers to “steer clear of over-confected Californians”, while recommending examples from nearly every other prominent wine-producing region throughout the world, including France, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, and Italy to name a handful.

Some might argue that California deserves this reputation, and I’ll concede that there is a valid point to be made there. When winemakers figured out that they could bottle, ferment and sell the juice that they were bleeding from their fermentation tanks (to concentrate their red wines) and sell it as rosé (as opposed to discarding it), this process of rosé production (called the saignée method) quickly became popular because it provided a quick infusion of capital for cash-strapped wineries.

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Crane Family Vineyards | A Tradition of Family Winemaking in Napa

Crane Family Vineyards | A Tradition of Family Winemaking in Napa

Crane Family Vineyards

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.

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Fall for Merlot this October | Merlot Month is Here!

Fall for Merlot this October | Merlot Month is Here!

Merlot Month

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.

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