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!).
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Discover Puglia | Primitivo Finds its Footing in the Heel of Italy
As you make your way toward the southern reaches of Italy, you’ll find the sun-drenched region of Puglia in the heel of Italy’s boot. Surrounded by crystal clear waters on three sides, summer months have long attracted droves of tourists in search of a laid-back atmosphere, fresh seafood and pristine beaches. In other words, a uniquely Puglian respite.
But agriculturally, it’s historically been most notable for its olive oil and bulk wine production, which has been used to blend and bolster wine from more established regions, primarily northern Italy.
Despite wine having been produced for hundreds of years in the region, its only been in the last 20 years that Puglia has attracted recognition for its unique terroir and dry, sunny maritime climate. Today, a new wave of winemaking talent has recognized the potential of this oft-overlooked region, and its most noble wine: Primitivo di Manduria.
Buy Recommendation | Zaca Mesa Syrah Santa Barbara
I realize that I haven’t shared as many individual wine recommendations on my site lately. For that, I apologize, but the main culprit is that I just don’t have the time to write about every wine that might deserve the recognition. For that, I recommend following me on Instagram and checking out my stories. The other issue, is that I haven’t tasted many wines priced under $30 that have managed to win me over as much as the 2013 Zaca Mesa Syrah recently has time and time again.
I visited Zaca Mesa this past February when I did an in-depth tour of Santa Barbara Wine Country. I featured them in my coverage, so for the sake of brevity – let’s just say that Zaca Mesa’s history of pioneering the cultivation of Syrah in Santa Barbara may have some bearing on their ability to produce such an expressive, well-balanced, varietally correct and utterly delicious Syrah from entirely estate-grown fruit at just $28.
To say that Australian wine is suffering from an image problem would be a gross understatement. No other country suffers the same level of stigma that’s befallen Australia, as its practically become fashionable for oenophiles to discredit it as merely capable of producing big jammy Shiraz, lavishly oaked Chardonnay and mass-produced, bargain-basement grocery store wines.
These styles have fallen out of vogue with many of today’s consumers, as a movement embracing freshness, restraint and sense of place forces producers around the world to adapt and evolve their winemaking styles. As regions respond, consumers are rejoicing in response to exciting wines that are both expressive and well-balanced. Yet Australia seems to still be left behind, relegated to the abyss of abject winemaking – and it doesn’t deserve to be there.
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