The Wine Cellar Insider http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com Bordeaux Wine Guide, Wine Blog, Wine Tasting Notes, Wine Reviews, Wine Food Pairings, Winery Profiles, Buying tips, Images Wed, 03 Sep 2014 00:26:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 Drink Napa Wine for International Cabernet Sauvignon Day 2014 http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/2014/08/drink-napa-wine-international-cabernet-sauvignon-day-2014/ http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/2014/08/drink-napa-wine-international-cabernet-sauvignon-day-2014/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:02:26 +0000 http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/?p=38324 This post first appeared in The Wine Cellar Insider

International Cabernet Sauvignon Day 2014 looks at Napa Valley wine in support of the earthquake ravaged community Californina wine making community.

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Drink Napa International Cabernet Sauvignon Day

Cabernet Sauvignon is arguably the world’s most important red wine grape. Of course it grows all over the world. But for August 30, International Cabernet Sauvignon Day 2014, I am asking everyone to please drink Napa and show your support for the wine region which was struck by a devastating earthquake just a few days ago.

August 24, at 3:20 am, the bucolic community of Napa Valley was rocked to its core by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake. Early damage assessments pegged the potential loss at more than $100 Million dollars. Subsequent reports now have a range of $500 Million Dollars to as much as $1 Billion Dollars! The full extent of the tragic losses are not yet known. Fortunately, the quake slammed the region in the middle of the night. Had it struck just a few hours earlier, when people were in the downtown Napa area, the potential for severe injuries cannot be understated.

Napa Valley Earthquake Damage

For the last few days, residents of Napa Valley have been digging themselves out of the destruction. With smashed bottles of valuable wine turning into rivers and barrels strewn all over the place like children’s toys left behind, it will take days to get a true assessment on the loss. Building after building and buckled, broken or breaking. That is why drinking Napa is so important for International Cabernet Sauvignon Day this year.

Plus, Cabernet Sauvignon based wines from the Napa Valley great! If you want to read about Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon we’ve tasted recently, please see our Wine Tasting Notes. If you’re reading this article with a glass of Napa wine for in your hand for International Cabernet Sauvignon Day 2014, that’s even better!

Jean Charles Cazes from Chateau Lynch Bages in Pauillac knows quite a bit about Cabernet Sauvignon. He’s also a big fan of Cabernet Sauvignon. Cazes explains what he looks for a Cabernet Sauvignon based wine.

Jean Charles Cazes – Lynch Bages “The greatest Cabernet Sauvignon wines are characterized by their capacity to age, combining a powerful structure with elegance and finesse. The Cabernet Sauvignon grown on our terroir at Lynch Bages often in their youth express black currants fruit, flowery violet aromas and a hint of minerality, for example graphite and shaved lead pencil. It tends to develop with a few years a more complex bouquet of spicy notes, or even cigar box aromas. The finish has to be smooth, polished and very long!”

Philippe Melka who owns his own, eponymous winery, and is an equally well-known as a consultant working with numerous estates in the Napa Valley is a fan of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and the Cabernet Sauvignon dominated wines from the Left Bank of Bordeaux, especially on the most famous First Growth wines.

Philippe Melka – Melka Wines “Chateau Lafite Rothschild is the benchmark for Cabernet Sauvignon. There is a sense of seriousness, coupled with the grace and sophistication in the wine.”

It’s important to drink Napa and support the northern California wine making community this year for International Cabernet Sauvignon Day 2014. One look at the historic Trefethen Family Vineyards tasting room, which is potentially lost forever helps explain why.

Napa earthquake damage

In California, many wineries produce wine from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, although blends are common as well. Cabernet Sauvignon based wines are the most expensive wines produced in California, with prices for Screaming Eagle hitting well over $1,000 per bottle! Harlan Estate is not far from that price point either.

Aaron Pott, the owner of Pott Wine, located in the Napa Valley on Mt. Veeder is equally well-known for the wines he makes, the wineries he consults, for example Seven Stones, Blackbird, Fisher Vineyards and Quixote along with his extensive experience at tasting a wide range of wines. Especially older vintages of Bordeaux and California wine.

What are some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon based wines Aaron Potts recalls tasting?

Aaron Pott “Cabernet Sauvignon has few peers in its age-ability. Some of the great Cabernet Sauvignon wines I have tasted over the year range from older vintages of Chateau Latour like 1947, 1949 and 1961 to older Mayacamas made in 1970 and 1974. Also from California the 1969 Chapellet and more recently, 1991 Ridge Monte Bello.”

The thick skins on the Cabernet Sauvignon grape are one of the grapes key attributes, according to Didier Cuvelier, the owner of Chateau Leoville Poyferre in St. Julien.

Didier Cuvelier – Leoville Poyferre “When we are harvesting, we are searching for phenolic maturity. Since the skin of Cabernet Sauvignon is very rich in tannins, perfect phenolic maturity is essential to reach the high concentrated and smooth tannins we are looking for at Leoville Poyferre.”

The actual discovery of the true origin of Cabernet Sauvignon is moderately recent. In 1996, a team of scientists led by Carole Meredith, the owner of Lagier Meredith, (a Rhone varietal producer who suffered intense damage from recent earthquake) used plant DNA material to determine the fruits origin. It is thought that the variety was created by an accidental crossing that took place sometime in the 17th century between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.

Cabernet Sauvignon grows in a myriad of different soils and terroir, it thrives in the poor, deep gravel soils and warm, sunny, dry temperatures. Cabernet Sauvignon requires more time on the vine than Merlot. Cabernet Sauvignon is not just famous for its success in Bordeaux, today, it is the dominant grape in the Napa Valley. But that is actually quite a recent phenomena that is barely 40 years old. Prior to the massive Cabernet Sauvignon plantings that began to take place in Napa and in other northern California areas, much of the vineyards were focused on Zinfandel, Italian varietals and field blends. Cabernet Sauvignon is always blended with other grapes in Bordeaux, but that is not the case in California. In fact, today there are countless wineries making 100% Cabernet Sauvignon in the Golden State.

Dominus, one of the quintessential wineries in the Napa Valley produces wines with a blend similar to what you might find in the Left Bank of Bordeaux. Aside from the fact that it works, it’s also understandable due to the fact that Dominus is owned by Christian Moueix, whose family owns chateaux like Trotanoy and of course Petrus. As Dominus is getting ready to begin picking their 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon the first week of September. Tod Mostero, the wine maker for Dominus explains what they look for at Dominus with their Cabernet Sauvignon in the vineyard.

“Tod Mostero – Dominus “We seek harmony, tantamount to the freshness of a rosebud as it opens. If you pick before or after, you have lost it. Cabernet Sauvignon, at its pinnacle, expresses purity, balance and complexity transcending its varietal character.”

Dominus, due to its unique, supple, balanced style is not only popular with American’s, it’s enjoyed by many people in Bordeaux as well. Jean Charles Cazes of Lynch Bages recalls tasting an older vintage of Dominus.

Jean Charles Cazes – Lynch Bages “I can remember a great bottle of Dominus stolen from the cellar of my father, Jean Michel Cazes. I think it was a 1994 Dominus. I served it blind to some friends and it was very misleading! Many thought it was Bordeaux. I was very impressed by the finesse and drinkability.”

It is not all doom and gloom in Napa Valley, even in the aftermath of the earthquake. Everyone in the valley is helping everyone else in the valley clean up and come together. But it’s going to take sometime to dig out of all the rubble and clean up the tens of thousands of broken wine bottles. As you can see from the picture, that’s just part of the reason you should drink Napa for International Cabernet Sauvignon Day 2014.

Napa Valley Earthquake

As we mentioned previously, in Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon is always used as part of the blend. It can be over 90% of the blend in some vintages at select estates in the Left Bank. At other properties, it might be as low as 50%, or even a little less. At Chateau Palmer in Margaux, they use one of the higher percentages of Merlot in their blend in the Medoc. Yet, without the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon according to Thomas Duroux, the director of Chateau Palmer, the wine would not have the same finesse.

Thomas Duroux – Chateau Palmer “Here at Chateau Palmer, the Cabernet Sauvignon grape is the main element we use to build the finesse in our wines. That why it is so important to get it right. In a vintage like 2012, the Cabernet Sauvignon grape is also needed to bring to bring freshness to the final blend.”

At Chateau Pichon Baron in Pauillac, the director Jean Rene Matignon explains what he looks for in Cabernet Sauvignon.

Jean Rene Matignon – Pichon Baron “We are seeking a good balance between tannins and acidity. In Bordeaux. there is no over ripeness problems with Cabernet Sauvignon. The challenge is to wait until as long as possible for the good tannins so we can preserve the tonicity and minerality in the wines character. The trick is to avoid flatness and dilution.”

With all this talk about Cabernet Sauvignon, what are you opening when you drink Napa to celebrate International Cabernet Sauvignon Day 2014?

The post Drink Napa Wine for International Cabernet Sauvignon Day 2014 was originally published in The Wine Cellar Insider.

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2011 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Speciale Wines http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/2014/08/2011-chateauneuf-du-pape-cuvee-speciale-wines/ http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/2014/08/2011-chateauneuf-du-pape-cuvee-speciale-wines/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:01:25 +0000 http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/?p=38281 This post first appeared in The Wine Cellar Insider

2011 Chateauneuf du Pape wines are approachable young. Yet the best wines, some of which are the special cuvees has the ability to age and develop additional complexities and nuances.

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I have a confession to make. I’m an unabashed lover of Chateauneuf du Pape. There, I said it. And I am proud of it! If you’re also a fan of wines from the Southern Rhone Valley, you’re in luck. With the exception of 2002, it’s been really difficult to find a vintage from the last several years that has not produced good wine. The plethora of good vintages has helped keep prices down for most wines. This is important because for some odd reason, Chateauneuf du Pape remains the wine world’s best kept secret.

Yes, at the top end, the best of the best Chateauneuf du Pape wines can be expensive. But once past that rarified level, most great Chateauneuf du Pape remains affordable. OK, I admit, I prefer the depth and concentration found in 2010 over the easy to like charms of 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape. But there are some very nice wines from this semi-maligned vintage that are worth looking at.

2011 Chateauneuf du Pape is a drinker’s vintage. The wines offer more complexity, depth and riper fruit than found in 2008. 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape are wines of pleasure made to consume while waiting for the more tannic 2010 to age and develop. It’s interesting to note that while many of these wines are high in alcohol, several are in the 15.5% alcohol range, they do not show any sensation of heat. At their best, they are fresh, lively and fun to drink.

That is not to say that the better wines are not going to get better. They are. But most 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape wines at all ends of the price spectrum are ready to drink on release and will probably show best during their first decade of life.

The following wines were not tasted blind. They were all tasted in June, 2014 in Chateauneuf du Pape.

2011 DOMAINE DE BEAURENARD BOISRENARD – A hint of oak is matched with sweet black cherry in the nose and fleshy, plush textures. The wine ends with a touch of oak and round, sweet red berries. Modern in style, I liked it, but others might not like it as much. This blend of 13 varietals turned out to be 14.5% alcohol. 91 Pts

2011 DOMAINE BOIS DE BOURSAN CUVEE DES FELIX – Menthol and crisp, peppery red berries pair with soft, silky textures and a polished, cherry finish. From a blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah and the remainder coming from assorted varietals, the wine reached 14.5% alcohol. 91 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DU BOSQUET DES PAPES CHANTE LE MERLE VIEILLES VIGNES – Blending 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 5% Mourvedre produced a wine with a smoky, incense and red berry nose. Fresh, silky, lush and concentrated, the wine ends with a blast of kirsch liqueur in the finish. This should get better with a few years of age. 92 Pts

2011 CLOS DU CAILLOU LES QUARTZ – With 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah in the blend, the wine is mineral driven, with dark, peppery, red fruits and herbs in the nose, finishing with silky, fresh, sweet kirsch and spice. 92 Pts

2011 CLOS DU CAILLOU RESERVE – Charcoal, barbecue, herbs and ripe, red berry notes create the inviting fragrance. In the mouth, the wine is lush and polished, making the intense fresh, spicy fruits come alive. Clearly, this is one of the top wines of the vintage. Produced from 60% old vine Grenache and 40% Mourvedre, the wine reached 16% alcohol without any sensation of heat. 95 Pts

2011 CAVE SAINT PIERRE LA TIARE IMPERIALE – Medium bodied, fresh red berries are complicated by dark, juicy plum and spice in the easy going finish. 89 Pts

2011 LA CELESTIERE CUVEE CONFIDENTIELLE – From 100% Grenache, the wine is packed with silky, polished, juicy plums and cherry notes with a fresh, peppery, sweet, red fruit finish. The wine reached 15% alcohol. 91 Pts

2011 LA CELESTIERE LA CROZE – Polished, fresh and pure, the elegant, silky, cherry dominated wine was produced from 100% Grenache. 88 Pts

2011 LA CELESTIERE LES DOMAINES – Elegant and forward, the wine serves up soft, sweet, cherries and spice in the medium bodied finish. Produced from a blend of 70% Grenache, and 30% Mourvedre, the wine reached 14.5% alcohol. Give it a few years to soften. 90 Pts

2011 CHAPOUTIER CROIX DE BOIS – Anise and fresh cherries on the nose lead you to a medium bodied, forward, fresh, elegant kirsch wine from 100% Grenache that is ready for drinking today. 91 Pts

2011 CHAPOUTIER BARBE RAC – Pure, sweet, vibrant and silky, the supple textured wine delivers a lot of polished ripe, lush fruit in the finish. Produced from 100% old vine Grenache, the wine reached 14.5% alcohol. 93 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE LA CHARBONNIERE LES HAUTES BRUSQUIERES – Silky, polished and smooth, the fresh, sweet, black raspberries make an appearance and leave a long impression in the finish. From a blend of 60% Grenache, 39% Syrah and 1% Counoise, the wine rechaed 15.5% alcohol. 91 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE LA CHARBONNIERE MOURRE DES PERDRIX – From 70% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre and 15% Syrah, the wine opens with notes of barbecue, black raspberry and herbs. Elegantly elegant textured, with a medium bodied finish, the wine serves up a delicious kirsch note in the finish. 90 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE LA CHARBONNIERE VIEILLE VIGNES- Blending 90% Grenache with 10% Mourvedre produce a plush, polished black cherry, spice and peppery wine. Open in style, easy drinking silky, fresh fruits appear with a touch of dryness in the 15.5% alcohol finish. 90 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE FONTAVIN DAVID ET GOLIATH – 95% Grenache and 5% Syrah produced a medium bodied, silky wine with sweet, black cherries and a hint of jam. The wine is fresh and forward in style and reached 15% alcohol. 90 Pts

2011 CHATEAU FORTIA CUVEE DU BARON – Bright, fresh, herbaceous red fruits and a crisp red cherry finish. The wine was produced from a blend featuring a whopping 44% Syrah, 44% Grenache and 12% Mourvedre. 89 Pts

2011 DOMAINE GIRAUD LES GALLIMARDES – This delicious wine pops with flowers, cherries and earthy scents that bring you to a mouthful of freshness, flavor and silky textured, ripe, spicy, sweet red berries. There is a good prolonged sensation of freshness in the finish. The wine was produced from 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah. 93 Pts

2011 DOMAINE GIRAUD LES GRENACHES DE PIERRE – Made from 100% old vine Grenache, this lush, soft and silky Chateauneuf shows good richness and sensuous textures from start to finish. There is a blast of fresh, cherry and jam in the end note that lingers. This is another star of the vintage. 94 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DU GRAND TINEL ALEXIS ESTABLET – Fennel, pepper, fresh herbs and notes of plum are followed by a layer of elegant, ripe, sweet red cherries and spice. Produced from 100% old vine Grenache, the wine reached 15.5% alcohol. 92 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE LA JANASSE CHAUPIN – Polished and plush, sweet and spicy, this 100% old vine Grenache wine is open, lushly textured and serving up a lot of lusty charm. The wine reached 15.5% alcohol without any touch of heat. 93 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE LA JANASSE VIEILLES VIGNES – Full bodied, rich and polished, the fruit is fresh, ripe and expresses purity, length and supple textures. Produced from a blend 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre, the wine reached 15.5 alcohol. 94 Pts

2011 DOMAINE L’OR DE LINE CUVEE PAULE COURTIL – Medium bodied and all about the finesse textures found in the soft, red berries. Produced from a blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah and the remainder made up of various grapes planted in a field blend, the wine reached 15% alcohol. 89 Pts

2011 LE MAS SAINT LOUIS LES ARPENTS DES CONTREBANDIERS – Sweet jammy, red fruit notes, with hints of fruit cake and spice lead to an open, elegant, forward wine. 89 Pts

2011 LE MAS SAINT LOUIS GRANDE RESERVE – Red berries and citrus scents lead to an elegant, medium bodied, fresh, red berry wine. From a blend of 75% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah with assorted varietals making uo the remainder of the blend. The wine reached 14.5% alcohol. 88 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE MARCOUX VIEILLE VIGNES – Kirsch liqueur and garrigue on the nose are made even better by the soft, polished, elegant, layers of supple red fruits and spice. From 100% old vine Grenache, the wine reached 15% alcohol and is clearly one of the stars of the vintage. 94 pts

2011 DOMAINE DE LA MEREUILLE LES BAPTAURELS – 5 spice, blackberry and red plum on the nose. The palate enjoys soft, silky textures and a polished, accessible finish. From 100% Grenache, the wine reached 14.5% alcohol. 90 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DU PERE CABOCHE EISABETH CHAMBELLAN – Starts off with sweet ripe cherries and kirsch, with a blast of freshness and strawberry jam in the lively finish. Produced from a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre, the wine reached 15% alcohol. 89 Pts

2011 CHATEAU MAUCOIL PRIVLEGE – Light in color, soft in texture, ripe in fruit and forward in its cherry and red plum character, the wine was produced from a blend of 50% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 12% Mourvedre, 8% Cinsault and the remainder coming from assorted varietals, the wine reached 15% alcohol. 90 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE NALYS LE CHATAIGNIER – Better on the garrigue, earth, pepper and red fruit nose than the medium bodied, red berry finish. From a blend of 95% Grenache and 5% Mourvedre, the wine reached 15% alcohol. 89 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE NALYS RESERVE – From a Syrah dominated blend featuring 70% Syrah, 20% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre, the wine reached 14.5% alcohol. Medium bodied with forest notes and cherry tones, the wine end with crisp red fruits and herbs. 89 Pts

2011 DOMAINE SAINT PREFERT RESERVE AUGUSTE FAVIER – Licorice, earth and black cherry scents prime you for the silky, plush, round layers of sweet, red fruits in the finish. The wine was made from a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Syrah, reaching 15% alcohol. 92 Pts

2011 DOMAINE SAINT PREFERT COLLECTION CHARLES GIRAUD – Black cherry liqueur scents are all over the place before you feel the polished red fruits and tannins in the rich, concentrated, fresh finish. Blending 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvedre, the wine reached 15% alcohol. 93 Pts

2011 DOMAINE SERGUIER REVELATION – From 90% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre and 5% made up from various allowable varietals, the wine opens with sweet, ripe, fresh cherries. Medium bodied and forward, this is made in an elegant, fresh style, drink this wine young. 87 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DES TROIS CELLIER MARCEAU – Blending 67% Mourvedre, 17% Grenache, 8% Syrah and 8% Counoise, the wine reached 15% alcohol. With a nose of licorice, spice box, kirsch and earth, there is good freshness in the wine. Forward in style, drink it young, or age it a few years. 89 Pts

2011 DOMAINE RAYMOND USSEGLIO CUVEE IMPERIALE – From a blend of 95% Grenache and the remainder coming from assorted field blend varietals, the wine kicks off with black raspberries, kirsch and licorice. Plush, round sweet, ripe, plummy fruits and minerality are found in the finish. 92 Pts

2011 DOMAINE RAYMOND USSEGLIO LA PART DES ANGES – Espresso bean and spice box blended with black and blue fruits lead to an intense, rich, fat, juicy modern styled wine with purity and length. There is good potential for this wine to improve. From a blend of 70% Mourvedre, 20% Grenache and 10% Syrah, the wine reached 14.5% alcohol. 93 Pts

2011 CHATEAU DE VAUDIEU VAL DE DIEU – Elegant, fresh and inviting, with its clean sweet kirsch flavors and aromatics, the wine is sweet and polished in character. Produced from a blend of 66% Grenache, 27% Mourvedre and 7% Syrah. The wine reached 15% alcohol. 91 Pts

Depending on your point of view, I have two more reports to publish on my June tastings in the Rhone. Both reports are on the 2012 vintage. I will start editing my tasting notes over the next few days. If memory serves me, the articles should cover about 170 wines. I hope to have both articles published next week.

The post 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Speciale Wines was originally published in The Wine Cellar Insider.

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Napa Valley Slammed by a Magnitude 6.0 Earthquake http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/2014/08/napa-valley-slammed-magnitude-6-0-earthquake/ http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/2014/08/napa-valley-slammed-magnitude-6-0-earthquake/#comments Sun, 24 Aug 2014 15:25:19 +0000 http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/?p=38254 This post first appeared in The Wine Cellar Insider

To say 2014 is a challenging vintage for growers in the Napa Valley is a bit of an understatement. Previously the region was plagued by drought and fires. If that wasn't bad enough, residents of the Napa Valley experienced the biggest earth quake in 25 years!

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Napa Valley Earthquake

The Napa Valley in California was slammed by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake at 3:20am Saturday morning. For residents of California, we are sort of used to earthquakes. But a magnitude of 6.0 is scary. The last time the Napa Valley was slammed by an earthquake close to that size was in 1989 when an even stronger earthquake devastated parts of San Francisco.

To say 2014 is a challenging vintage for growers in the Napa Valley is a bit of an understatement. Previously the region was plagued by drought and fires. If that wasn’t bad enough, residents of the Napa Valley experienced the biggest earthquake in 25 years!

The epicenter of the earthquake according to the USGS located north of Vallejo. Vallejo is the largest city in Solano County with population of more than 100,000 people. The suburb, American Canyon, situated in the southern end of Napa County also suffered severe damage. There are several warehouses in the American Canyon area with large stocks of wine that are held for retailers, shippers and wineries. Due to the difficultly in getting into and out of the American Canyon area, it is not yet known the full extent of the damage in that region.

Parts of Highway 37 are closed. The Napa Valley Airpot is closed. Numerous residents and businesses throughout the region are without power. Many residents are also without water. Up to 25% of the Napa Valley area could be effected for one week or longer. On the bright side, had the Napa Valley quake struck only a few hours earlier, the amount of personal injuries would have been much higher, as the struck the densely populated city of Napa.

According to the USGS, the source of the earthquake can be placed on the little known, West Napa Fault. The West Napa Fault covers a 35 mile stretch that starts close to Benicia and heads north to St. Helena. Earthquakes are semi common in California. In 2000, a much smaller earthquake struck region, centered close to Yountville. That quake registered 5.1 magnitude on the Richter scale. It is though that the 2000 Napa Valley earthquake caused as much as $50 Million dollars in damages. This new tumbler was much more severe. Damages could exceed $100 Million!

If you are in the Napa Valley or surrounding area, if you can, please feel free to post and let people you are OK and if you have suffered any damage. Having numerous friends in the Napa Valley, I wish everyone the best and hope the only destruction suffered was to bottles and not people.

The Governor of California, Jerry Brown is already working with Napa residents and Office of Emergency Services to help the county. Damage from the quake hit the downtown area of Napa the hardest. Because that area is populated with residents, stores, buildings and other commercial, the damage was quite severe. It is not yet known the extent of the damage suffered at any of the famous wine regions wineries. Napa Valley is the home to some of the world’s best producers of Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

Aftershocks are still being felt in the Napa Valley. If you have not experienced an earthquake or its aftershocks, from personal experience, the initial aftershocks can be almost as scary as the earthquake. Aftershocks range in motion from a quick, violent moving of the earth to swaying motions, which feel similar to an amusement park. Trust me. There is nothing amusing about an earthquake of the magnitude felt by the residents of Napa Valley this morning. The full extent of the damage is not yet known. Injured people crowded in the local Queen of the Valley Hospital due to earthquake related injuries. The first wave of patients arrived at the hospital due to injuries sustained during, or shortly after the quake. Additional people needed medical care came to the hospital due to injuries suffered while trying to cleanup the aftermath of the quake. I hope all my friends in Napa are OK this morning. Being in Los Angeles California, I have experienced earthquakes before. Earthquakes that strong are scary!

Picture after picture of damaged homes and broken bottles are all over Facebook. Twitter is also filed with numerous images of the damage, especially to various cellars with layers of broken wine bottles soaking in rivers of wine. Barrels of wine were tossed like they childrens toys.

Napa Valley Earthquake Damage

This incredible photograph was taken by Steve and Jill Matthiasson of Matthiassons Wine. They not only produce wine, but Steve is a well-known consultant as well. It’s scary to look at all that destruction. We wish them all the best.

The downtown Napa area with its numerous, older brick buildings suffered the most damage. The streets of the downtown Napa are littered with broken bottles, smashed windows, bricks and debris. Days of cleanup face the residents of Napa Valley.

The photograph of the broken bottles in the cellar was taken by David Duncan, CEO of Silver Oak and posted on his Twitter page showing the extent of the damage suffered.

The post Napa Valley Slammed by a Magnitude 6.0 Earthquake was originally published in The Wine Cellar Insider.

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Baroness Philippine de Rothschild Passes Away at 80 Years of Age http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/2014/08/baroness-philippine-rothschild-passes-away-80-years-age/ http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/2014/08/baroness-philippine-rothschild-passes-away-80-years-age/#comments Sat, 23 Aug 2014 12:19:55 +0000 http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/?p=38226 This post first appeared in The Wine Cellar Insider

Philippine Rothschild represented the epitome of grace, elegance, charm, drive and frankly, everything that is great about Bordeaux. She was liked by everyone and will be missed by all.

The post Baroness Philippine de Rothschild Passes Away at 80 Years of Age was originally published in The Wine Cellar Insider.

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Philippine de Rothschild

It is with great sadness that we are reporting on the passing of one of the world’s great ladies of wine. The Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, the owner of Chateau Mouton Rothschild reportedly passed away late Friday night, August 22 or early Saturday morning, August 23. Services were held for the Baroness Philippine de Rothschild Monday, September 1, 2014 in Pauillac, Pauillac is where Chateau Mouton Rothschild is located. It is expected that more than 2,000 people will attend the services.

1933 was an important year for the powerful Rothschild family. Baron Philippe Rothschild had already changed the future and fortune of the legendary chateau, Mouton Rothschild by introducing chateau bottling at the estate a decade earlier. The Grand Chai of the famous Pauillac estate was erected and in full use. The Baron Philippe Rothschild added to their holdings with the purchase of a neighboring vineyard, Chateau d’Armailhacq. More importantly, the family announced the birth of their daughter Philippine Mathilde Camille de Rothschild on November 22, 1933 from Paris.

The proud parents, Baron Philippe Rothschild and Elisabeth Pelletier de Chambure, were not married at the time. They eventually married in 1934. The famous couple separated in 1939. Sadly, in 1943, the young Philippine Rothschild witnessed her mother, Elisabeth Pelletier de Chambure being taken by the Gestapo. Her mother died in a concentration camp in 1945. The future Baroness Philippine Rothschild was fortunately saved from that cruel fate.

Before entering the world of wine, Philippine Rothschild graduated from the Paris Conservatoire National d’Art Dramatique in 1958. She tried her hand at acting, appearing in numerous plays, including the production of “Harold and Maude” under the stage name of Philippine Pascal.

Theater was not her destiny. By 1981 she was continuing to increase her involvement with Chateau Mouton Rothschild, which was now a First Growth chateau by creating the first travelling public exhibit of the original art for the famous labels used on all the different vintages of Mouton Rothschild. She remained passionate about the arts her entire life. Philippine de Rothschild was personally involved in the selection of artist chosen each year to design the label for Mouton Rothschild.

Philippine Rothschild

The Baroness Philippine Rothschild married the actor and director Jacques Sereys. The couple had two children, Camille Sereys de Rothschild born in 1961 who is an is an owner of Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Philippe Sereys de Rothschild born in 1963. Philippe Sereys de Rothschild currently holds the title of Vice-Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA and is an owner of Chateau Mouton Rothschild. Philippine Rothschild married a second time to Jean-Pierre de Beaumarchais, a well-known scholar. They had a son, Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild born in 1971. ulien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild is a member of the Supervisory Board of Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA and an owner of Chateau Mouton Rothschild. The Baroness also leaves behind 10 grandchildren.

In 1988, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, who had been associated with Chateau Mouton Rothschild for some time, succeeded her father who passed away that year. Under the direction of the Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, in 1994, Chateau Mouton Rothschild began to produce a much needed, second Bordeaux wine, Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild. Le Petit Mouton takes its name from the official residence of the Baroness and her family, which is a small house located next to the chateau that is known as Petit Mouton.

In 2004 she changed the fortunes of Chateau Mouton Rothschild again when she brought in Philippe Dhalluin. Philippe Dhalluin helped the estate once again rise to the top of the First Growth pyramid in Bordeaux andon the world’s stage. In 2006, Chateau Mouton Rothschild produced the wine of the vintage. In 2009 and 2010, Chateau Mouton Rothschild was among the best wines in all of Bordeaux with its rich, ostentatious style.

Mouton Rothschild Barrel Cellars

Under the direction of Baroness Philippine Rothschild, she oversaw the dramatic renovation of Chateau Mouton Rothschild, which was completed in 2013. She also managed to completely renovate the Fifth Growth estate, Chateau Clerc Milon, turning the property into one of the most green, environmentally friendly wineries in the Medoc. In 2013 Philippine Rothschild received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Institute of Masters of Wine during the week of Vinexpo in Bordeaux. Those were not her only awards, she also holds the coveted Officier de la Legion d’Honneur as well as an Officier des Arts et des Lettres. The Baroness Philippine Rothschild was also involved in numerous charitable and philanthropic causes.

It was not only Mouton Rothschild that she continued to propel to greater heights. As the chairman and majority shareholder of Philippe de Rothschild SA, she helped improve the quality of all their estates and increased sales worldwide for their numerous brands which included; Chateau Clerc Milon and Chateau d’Armailhac in the Left Bank of Bordeaux. Aside from their three Classified Growths in Bordeaux, the baroness oversaw massive growth with one of the world’s leading branded wines, Mouton Cadet and Champagne Barons de Rothschild. The company Philippe de Rothschild SA also produces wines in the Napa Valley with Opus One, in Limoux with Domaine de Baron’arques and at Almaviva in Chile. When added to all their branded and negociant wines, in total, the company sells more than $350,000,000 worth of a wine each year!

Philippine Rothschild represented the epitome of grace, elegance, charm, drive and frankly, everything that is great about Bordeaux. She was liked by everyone and will be missed as she is one of the regions last remaining links to the past.

The post Baroness Philippine de Rothschild Passes Away at 80 Years of Age was originally published in The Wine Cellar Insider.

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2011 Chateauneuf du Pape a Drinkers Vintage http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/2014/08/2011-chateauneuf-du-pape-drinkers-vintage/ http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/2014/08/2011-chateauneuf-du-pape-drinkers-vintage/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 14:53:48 +0000 http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/?p=38164 This post first appeared in The Wine Cellar Insider

Every vintage is unique. Fortunately, there are vintages that offer complexities and personality, that do not require cellar time which can be enjoyed in their youth, for their fresh, vibrant forward qualities.

The post 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape a Drinkers Vintage was originally published in The Wine Cellar Insider.

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Chateauneuf du Pape wines and Bottles

Variety is the spice of life. At least that’s how I see it. The variances in vintage signatures is proof of that. Each vintage carries its own unique character, personality and allure. Of course there are vintages that require time in the cellar for the tannins to meld and allow the wines to develop secondary characteristics. Those vintages are important and sought after by wine lovers and connoisseurs all over the world. Those years are also the most expensive vintages in the marketplace.

Fortunately, there are also vintages that offer complexities and personality, that do not require cellar time. They can be enjoyed in their youth, for their fresh, vibrant forward qualities. That is what you find in 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape wines. They are not the most concentrated vintages,

The wines were tasted in two sessions, in the morning and after lunch. The first session, which is the wines in this report are all Chateauneuf du Pape tradition, classique or regular cuvees. The following 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape wines were all tasted non blind in Chateauneuf du Pape in June, 2014.

2011 Chateauneuf du Pape Wine Tasting Notes.

2011 DOMAINE DE LA BARROCHE SIGNATURE – Licorice, garrigue and kirsch notes lead to a plush, polished, luscious blast of ripe, sweet, peppery fruits in the finish. 91 Pts

2011 CHATEAU BEAUCASTEL – Medium bodied, in lighter, early drinking style that focuses on fresh, sweet red fruits and spice, with a sweet, spicy, slightly dusty, garrigue and kirsch finish. There are some tannins remaining to resolve. This could definitely improve with a few years of bottle age.

2011 DOMAINE DE BEAURENARD – With an earthy quality, the dark cherry notes, forward personality and sweet kirsch in the finish leave a nice impression. 89 Pts

2011 MAISON LOUIS BERNARD – Medium bodied, with garrigue and strawberry in the forefront, the wine is ready for prime time drinking. 86 Pts

2011 MAISON LOUIS BERNARD LA CRAU DES PAPES – Opening with a blast of fresh herbs and cherries, this medium bodied effort leads to a soft red berry ending. 87 pts

2011 DOMAINE BOIS DE BOURSAN – Earthy notes complicated by strawberry and raspberries produced an elegant, clean and fresh wine for early consumption. 90 Pts

2011 BOSQUET DES PAPES TRADITION – Silky, lush, ripe peppery berries, freshness and a blast of kirsch in the end that really stays with you. 91 Pts

2011 MAISON BOUACHON LA TIARE DU PAPE – Fresh herbs, red fruits and a medium bodied soft wine with some dryness in the bright finish. 84 Pts

2011 CAVE SAINT PIERRE – Open and forward, medium bodied and focused on its red berry core. There is a touch of dryness in the fresh finish. 84 Pts

2011 LA CELESTIERE TRADITION – Red berries, earth and herbs, medium bodied with a light cherry note in the finish. 86 Pts

2011 CHAPOUTIER LA BERNADINE – Straight forward, open, medium bodied, pleasant, focused on its cherry core, but lacking in complexity. 87 Pts

2011 DOMAINE LA BISCARELLE – Spicy, jammy, black raspberries, the soft, sweet, ripe and spicy tones really shine all the way through. 89 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DES TROIS CELLIER ALCHIMIE – Fresh, ripe, sweet cherries and fennel open to polished textures and a wild strawberry and herb filled finish. 89 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE LA CHARBONNIERE – Spicy berries, soft, lusty textures are topped by peppery, fresh, spicy red fruits and herbs in the finish. 90 Pts

2011 CLOS DES BRUSQUIERES – Polished and sweet, ample, sweet red plum, cherry and spice are found from start to finish. 89 Pts

2011 CLOS DES PAPES – Medium bodied, but not light, the nose kicks in with 5 spice, kirsch and peppery scents. The wine offers soft, round textures and a spicy, fresh, cherry, fennel and black raspberry finish that is further complicated by a hint of spearmint on the endnote. 94 Pts

2011 CLOS SAINT MICHEL – Silky, soft, spicy red fruits, earth and pepper start things off before your hit with a blast of spicy red cherries with hints of bright strawberries in the finish. 90 Pts

2011 CLOS DU MONT OLIVET – Fresh kirsch, silky textures and a sweet, soft, polished, peppery, red berry finish are found in this delicious wine. 91 Pts

2011 DOMAINE COMTE DE LAUZE – Medium bodied, spicy, fresh and serving up a tasty blast of sweet, peppery, black raspberry notes in the finish. 89 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE CRISTIA – Truffles hide just behind the sweet kirsch sensations. This is followed by a plush, sensuous pop of ripe, spicy, black cherries to complete the experience. 91 Pts

2011 DOMAINE LA CONSONNIERE – Fennel and garrigue bring you to a medium bodied, light, open styled cherry filled wine that needs to be consumed young. 87 Pts

2011 MAISON DELAS LA HAUTE PIERRE – Unadorned, simple, but correct, the wine is on the short and sweet side. 85 Pts

2011 DOMAINE ISABEL FERRANDO COLOMBIS – Medium bodied, flowery red berries, soft, open and forward, the wine is all about the elegant fresh, ripe cherry and garrigue character that carries through the finish. 91 Pts

2011 DOMAINE LA FAGOTIERE- Fresh, short and sweet, the wine is spicy with red plum and cherry tones. 86 Pts

2011 DOMAINE FINES ROCHES – Medium bodied with red fruits and spice, the wine is open already, ending with a soft, kirsch finish. 88 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE FONTAVIN TRADITION – Elegant and soft, this medium bodied, lighter styled, red berry filled wine display’s some dryness in the finish. 87 Pts

2011 DOMAINE FONT DE MICHELLE – Spicy, peppery, soft, ripe fruits in a forward style that is already showing its stuff. 90 Pts

2011 CHATEAU DE LA FONT DU LOUP – Silky, ripe, round cherries, mint and peppery herbs get you going and keep you there from start to finish. 90 Pts

2011 CHATEAU FORTIA TRADITION – Light ruby in hue, this medium bodied, earthy, cherry dominated wine is already open and ready to drink. 88 Pts

2011 CHATEAU DE LA GARDINE TRADITION – Medium bodied, easy going, simple, peppery, red fruits are presented in a pleasant, straight forward manner. 87 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DU GRAND TINEL – Silky smooth, medium bodied with a kick of kirsch. That fresh, red berry sensation continues through to the fresh finish. 90 Pts

2011 LES GRANDES SERRES LA COUR DES PAPES – Forward and ready for drinking with its open, spicy, cherry and plum character. 88 Pts

2011 DOMAINE GIRAUD TRADITION – Kirsch, kirsch and more kirsch, coupled with spicy, peppery notes lead to an approachable, rich, sweet, silky finish. 92 Pts

2011 CHATEAU HUSSON – Medium bodied, open and accessible, there is a softness in the texture of the peppery, kirsch finish. 88 Pts

2011 DOMAINE ALBIN JACUMIN – Oak, black pepper, garrigue and black raspberries, this medium bodied, forward kirsch expression is already fun to taste. 88 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE LA JANASSE – Sweet, ripe, silky red berries linger, until more, spicy, fresh fruits make their way into the long, seductive, fruit filled finish. 91 Pts

2011 CHATEAU JAS DE BRESSY – Round textured and supple, the wine has a plush, polished spicy personality with ample, fresh, sweet red fruits. 90 Pts

2011 DOMAINE LAFOND ROC EPINE – Soft textured, open and with good freshness in the sweet, ripe, black raspberries and kirsch flavors that are at the heart of this wine. 90 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE MARCOUX – Floral in nature, with sweet cherries and silky textures, the essence of kirsch shines through to the peppery finish. 91 Pts

2011 DOMAINE MATHIEU – Light red berry notes, elegantly styled, this will drink best young. 87 Pts

2011 MAISON GABRIEL MEFFRE LAURUS – Sweet, spicy red fruits, soft, medium bodied, with fresh, spicy plum and fennel notes that stick with you through the finish. 88 Pts

2011 MAISON GABRIEL MEFFRE SAINT THEODRIC – Light in color and fruit, this correct, medium bodied, red fruit dominated wine is an easy drinking charmer that will be best young. 86 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE LA MILLIERE VIEILLES VIGNES – Light red fruits with a hint of licorice in the short, clean finish. 87 Pts

2011 CHATEAU MONGIN – Oak dominates the nose in this early stage, the supple textures are a treat, but the oak carries through to the finish. Modern in style, some tasters will like this better than others. 86 Pts

2011 DOMAINE LA MONTAGNE VIEILLE – Medium bodied, on the light side of the style range, there is some dryness in the red fruit finish. 85 Pts

2011 CHATEAU MONT THABOR – Candied red berries, medium bodied and forward, this lighter styled wine should be best young. 87 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE LA MORDOREE LA REINE DES BOIS – Licorice, vanilla and spice framboise couple with floral notes to create a smoky, sensuous, rich wine, finishing with ripe plum notes. A few years of age should add even more complexity to the wine. 93 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE NALYS – Earthy dark cherries, polished textures and a spicy, peppery finish. 87 Pts

2011 CHATEAU LA NERTHE – Coffee bean, fresh, ripe red berries and spice on the nose carry through to the silky, smooth, creamy, kirsch filled finish. 90 Pts

2011 CHATEAU LA NERTHE LES GRANIERES – Light on the nose, medium bodied on the palate, the forward styled, easy to drink wine requires consumption in its youth to get the most from its red berry character. 85 Pts

2011 DOMAINE L’OR DE LINE – Medium bodied, finesse styled wine with an herbal quality in the red fruit finish. Drink young. 87 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE PANISSE CONFIDENCE VIGNERONNE – Light in style, with a short, tart, fresh, red berry finish. Drink this young. 85 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DU PEGAU CUVEE RESERVEE – Earthy, barnyard and wild cherry scents lead to you to a rich, warm, full bodied, spicy wine that is filled with garrigue, pepper and jammy strawberries in the finish.

2011 DOMAINE DU PERE CABOCHE – Medium bodied and elegantly textured, there is good freshness in the spicy finish. 88 Pts

2011 DOMAINE PONTIFICAL – Light in the nose, the wine serves up delicate, tart fresh red plums in the spicy finish. 87 Pts

2011 PORTE ROUGE – Medium bodied, soft and forward, this easy drinking wine ends with a spicy, kirsch filled finish. 86 Pts

2011 MAISON RAVOIRE ET FILS OLIVIER RAVOIRE – Medium bodied early drinking wine with an herbaceous, cherry center. 86 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE LA RONCIERE LOUIS GEOFFREY – Sweet and spicy, with an open, peppery, dark red berry, elegant personality. 89 Pts

2011 CHATEAU DE RUTH CUVEE EMILIE – Light in hue, light in fruit and flavor, drink this light wine young. 84 Pts

2011 DOMAINE SAINT PREFERT CUVEE CLASSIQUE – Licorice and kirsch notes to a soft, medium bodied, open, fresh core of spicy, fresh red and black plums. 90 Pts

2011 DOMAINE SAINT ROCHE – Fennel and garrigue, complicated by spearmint and red berries develop into a soft, medium bodied, spicy, red kirsch filled wine. 88 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DES SAUMADES – Light in color, floral in nature, this medium bodied wine will show its red berry charms best in its youth. 86 Pts

2011 DOMAINE SERGUIER – Fresh herbs and pepper couple with sweet kirsch, soft textures and a forward, medium bodied style. 87 Pts

2011 CHATEAU SIXTINE – Lush red fruits and spice, with a polished, black cherry personality with good character and a supple finish. 91 Pts

2011 CHATEAU SIXTINE MANUS DEI – Supple easy tasting and forward, some dryness is found in the spicy, cherry and wild strawberry finish. 87 Pts

2011 CUVEE DES SOMMELIERS – With a light cherry and garrigue nose, the wine offers soft textures, a medium body and freshness in the red berry finish. 87 Pts

2011 – DOMAINE PIERRE USSEGLIO – Black cherry liqueur, garrigue and fresh kirsch are on display in this , plush, open wine that is already drinking with pleasure. 91 Pts

2011 CUVEE DU VATICAN – Easy drinking and forward in style, enjoy this, bright, red berry focused wine young. 86 Pts

2011 CHATEAU DE VAUDIEU – Medium bodied, soft, forward and spicy, ample red berries and garrigue carry though from start to finish in this tasty wine. 91 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE LA VIEILLE JULIENNE LES TROIS SOURCES – Sweet flowery cherries and red berries bring you to young, tannic wine that finishes with fresh, crisp raspberries in the end note. This will be better with a few years of age. 92 Pts

2011 DOMAINE DE LA VIEILLE JULIENNE LES HAUT LIEUX – Earthy, fresh, spicy fruits with a peppery, zippy personality, leaving you with an impression of sweet, ripe, black raspberries and kirsch in the lush finish. 93 Pts

The next report will focus on the 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Special wines. This should be published later this week. At least that is plan.

The post 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape a Drinkers Vintage was originally published in The Wine Cellar Insider.

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Annual First Growth Bordeaux Wine Tasting and Barbecue Dinner http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/2014/08/annual-first-growth-bordeaux-wine-tasting-barbecue-dinner/ http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/2014/08/annual-first-growth-bordeaux-wine-tasting-barbecue-dinner/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 20:46:20 +0000 http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/?p=38030 This post first appeared in The Wine Cellar Insider

Some of these winesare now so expensive, they are treated more like treasures than wine. Meaning, they are often relegated to being opened only on rare, special occasions. Or when other wine lovers congregate where everyone enjoys, and gets to taste some of these potentially majestic elixirs.

The post Annual First Growth Bordeaux Wine Tasting and Barbecue Dinner was originally published in The Wine Cellar Insider.

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FG Wine

Clearly I do not post enough about wine. I should write about it more often. I certainly drink enough. Or at least try to. On the other hand, can one really drink enough great wine? I am not sure about the limits some of my friends have, but we tried to find out last week at Chez Leve. The group, a blend of friends and members of 7 Blind Men were ready and so was I.

The occasion was simple. The annual First Growth, backyard barbecue tasting. I cannot afford, or at least can’t justify buying First Growth Bordeaux at today’s prices. But I am lucky enough to have purchased enough of these treasures in my youth, as well as in their youth, to last for quite a while. That is one downside to the recent price increase over the past few years. Another downside is, some of these wines have now become so expensive, they are treated more like treasures, and not wine. Meaning, they are often relegated to being opened only on rare, special occasions. Or when other wine lovers congregate to share an experience where everyone enjoys, and gets to taste some of these potentially majestic elixirs that are seen just about as often as unicorns these days.

FG CHicken

I am all for progress. I’m a Capitalist through and through. If the market wants to pay high prices for the world’s best wines, those wines should sell for a lot of money. It’s just life and part of the passion that comes with collecting.

Bottles of famous Bordeaux wine or other vinous treasures look great in the cellar. They are even more beautiful in the glass, when their ruby hues and complex aromatics are on full display. Better than that of course is when these wines move from the glass and caress your palate. Now, this is where the true, sensuous pleasure really starts to get going. While some of these famous 1855 Classified Growths of the Medoc, along with their Right Bank counterparts can cost an arm and a leg, at the end of the day, they are just wine. They serve no purpose except when they are opened, shared and enjoyed.

Needing a moderate crowd, a group of 10 intrepid souls willingly submitted to eat my cooking and enjoy a perfect Los Angeles, hot summer night. This was paired with great wines of course and killer classic rock and blues tracks. We’re talking Hendrix, The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, BB King and more.

FG Dinner

I missed taking notes on one of the whites and the 95 Dom Perignon which started off the night. I might have another bottle of bubbly as well. They were busy pouring while I was in the kitchen. The 1996 Ausone was slightly corked. Sadly, the magnum of 1998 d’Yquem was horribly corked. I was surprised to find others did not agree. But it was not up to me to spoil their fun.

The wines…

2009 Marcassin Vineyard Chardonnay – Terrific expression of great California Chardonnay. It’s ripe, tinged with vanilla bean, citrus and spice, the concentrated wine offers lush textures and the finish shows off its ripe, apple, pear, citrus and vanilla bean character. 95 Pts

1990 Angelus – This is so sexy, it deserves an XXX rating. Opulent, sensuous and silky, the wine slips and slide all over your palate with its decadent textures. Complex and concentrated, this is ready for prime time drinking. 98 Pts

1995 Ausone – Quite nice, with air. Mineral driven, plum, earth, tobacco and spicy red and black fruits were in abundance. Other bottles have felt softer. There was depth, flavor and character, but this specific bottle was not quite as good as the previous bottle I last tasted. Once again, there are only great bottles, not great wines after 15 years of age. 93 Pts

1989 Cheval Blanc – Really nice charmer, with silky, soft, textures, sweet, plum, earth and chocolate that is perfect for drinking today and for at least the next decade. 93 Pts

2000 Haut Brion – his is all about the potential as this is so young and primary. It’s fresh, vibrant, concentrated and deep. Clearly, there is the structure to age for at least 50 years or more! There is length, texture and balance, but it demands another 5-10 more years of age before it shows what it’s really made of. 97 Pts

1990 Haut Brion – Now we’re talking. Edging close to its 25th birthday, the wine is clearly expressive. Smokey, tar, cigar box, forest floor, cassis and blackberry, with hints of dried cherry make up the nose. Sweet, soft and velvety, the wine personifies grace and elegance. 98 Pts

Tomato bread salad

1986 Margaux – This is a very good wine, but it’s always going to have this tannic spine that even with 4 hours of decanting, remains part of its character. The fruit is there, as are complex aromatics and concentration of flavor, but it lacks the soft, sensuous side of Margaux at its best. This is a good wine, in a more classic style that has the potential to become one of the better 1986 wines with more age. 95 Pts

1989 Margaux – Medium bodied, lighter style of Margaux that is drinking nicely today. The texture is soft, the fruit is close to crispy, finishing with some dryness in the tannins coupled with herbal notes and cassis. This is not worth the money it trades for today. 90 Pts

1990 Margaux – Wow, what a sublime example of Bordeaux. Rich, sensuous, ripe, plush, polished and silky, the fruit stay with you long after the wine has left your glass. You drink this now, as it’s just showing so much charm and complexity. You can drink it in 10 years, or if you have kids, in 20 years, it will be even better. This is pricey, but it’s Margaux at its best. 98 Pts

1982 Latour – Great wines are going to be different in character, but they are not going to get better than this. The wave of fruit that drenches your palate is packed with polished, elegant, lush berries. The nose is a turn on and the finish last over 60 seconds. To use a quote from one of my favorite movies; “This is the stuff dreams are made of.” 100 Pts

All I can say is, thanks to all my friends for helping make this another perfect night. Only 3 days to go until the next 7 Blind Men dinner. Thank God, I was able to get in some training for what’s coming next.

The post Annual First Growth Bordeaux Wine Tasting and Barbecue Dinner was originally published in The Wine Cellar Insider.

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Rudy Kurniawan Sentence 10 Years in Prison From Wine Bars to Jail Bars http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/2014/08/rudy-kurniawan-sentence-10-years-prison-wine-bars-jail-bars/ http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/2014/08/rudy-kurniawan-sentence-10-years-prison-wine-bars-jail-bars/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 22:02:08 +0000 http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/?p=37918 This post first appeared in The Wine Cellar Insider

The case of Rudy Kurniawan has changed the collectible wine market for generations. There is no way to know how many wines were sold, and then resold are real.

The post Rudy Kurniawan Sentence 10 Years in Prison From Wine Bars to Jail Bars was originally published in The Wine Cellar Insider.

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jail cell hands

Loud cheers were heard all over the world-wide wine community the moment Rudy Kurniawan was handed a ten year prison sentence. And why not? Rudy Kurniawan is responsible for changing the face of collecting wine for decades. How much time will Rudy Kurniawan actually serve? With time served of 29 months, with good behavior, perhaps Rudy Kurniawan will get out of prison in about six and half to 7 years. In addition to prison time, Rudy Kurniawan was also ordered to forfeit $20 million dollars and was further ordered to pay $28 million dollars more in restitution. Where he is going to get the 48 million dollars is beyond me.

This is less than the prosecution sought. They demanded 14 years in prison, coupled with only a small fine of $175,000. The prosecution stated Rudy Kurniawan was responsible for no less than $20.7 Million dollars in fraudulent sales. However, other parties have stated Rudy Kurniawan could have sold as much as $100 Million dollars in fraudulent wine. I imagine the truth is somewhere in the middle.

The defense tried arguing that the loses to others through fraudulent sales were only $9 Million, thus, the judge would have to sentence Rudy Kurniawan to less time in jail. While it’s the responsibility of a defense attorney to mount the best defense possible, at the sentencing hearing, the defense attorney tried making the claim that because the victims of Rudy Kurniawan could easily afford the loses, the sentence should be less. When did it become OK to rob the rich? Didn’t that go out the door with Robin Hood? Fortunately the judge did not see it that way and recognized, theft is theft and fraud is fraud. When allowed to speak, Rudy Kurniawan told the Judge, “I am really sorry. I just want to go home and take care of my mother.” Judge Berman was unmoved by the pleadings of the defense or by the whispered apology of Rudy Kurniawan. A sentence of ten years in prison was handed out to Rudy Kurniawan before the gavel was pounded.

Ten years in prison is a long time. But when you think that as a minimum, Rudy Kurniawan profited by $50 Million dollars, that comes out to $5 Million dollars a year. I would have liked to have seen him receive 15 to 20 years in the hopes that it will set an example for other current and future forgers.

Rudy Kurniawan was being sued by the powerful Bill Koch. A few weeks ago, July 23, Bill Koch agreed to settle out of court with Rudy Kurniawan. Part of the settlement was that Rudy Kurniawan agreed to pay $3 Million dollars and cooperate fully with Bill Koch as the extent of the fraud committed by Rudy Kurniawan. What does cooperate fully with Bill Koch as the extent of the fraud committed by Rudy Kurniawan mean? Was Rudy Kurniawan actually able to commit his crimes on his own? Or did he need help in perpetrating his fraud, especially as it was massive in scope and scale? Were auction houses complicit? Did auction houses simply look the other way? Or did they just not want to know, as there was so much easy money to be made? If Rudy sold at least $50 Million dollars worth of wine at acution, that comes out to $10 Million dollars in commissions. That is a lot of money and unlike the wine, the money was real. Hopefully, these questions will be asked and answered.

I’m not great at math. But this comes out to $51 Million dollars owed by Rudy Kurniawan for fines and settlements. Rudy Kurniawan faces deportation back to Indonesia once he has finished his sentence.

Bill Koch might not get much good press. He does not seem like a nice guy. But the truth is, wine collectors for generations to come owe him a massive debt of gratitude. Thanks to the non stop efforts of Bill Koch, collectors are going to see a lot less fake and counterfeit wine sold at auction.

Goodbye and good riddance Rudy Kurniawan is being heard all over the fast moving Internet. A few years ago, Rudy Kurniawan was laughing all the way to the bank, over the all the money he made selling counterfeit wine. Today, the joke is on him, as people everywhere are all smiles that Rudy Kurniawan has traded in his Armani suits for orange colored jumpsuits. Rudy Kurniawan who was once known to drop more than $100,000 in a single night at wine bars in New York is for the next few years, spending time behind a different kind of bar. Standing behind his new type of bar, he won’t like the stemware. Instead of great Bordeaux, Petrus, the First Growths and all the other wines he has become used to, perhaps he’ll develop a taste for Pruno. Who knows? Jailhouse lawyers are in big demand, perhaps with his blending skill, Rudy Kurniawan could help make Pruno more palatable.

The sentencing of Rudy Kurniawan is going to be the main topic of conversation for wine collectors for quite a while. But conversation should really be about the depth of his crime and how it all happened in the first place.

Rudy Kurniawan Evidence

How much counterfeit wine did Rudy Kurniawan truly produce and sell? This is going to be debated for years. When you add up the massive amount of money earned from public sales that has to be more than $50 Million dollars. That is even giving some credence that a portion of the wines sold were real. Those wines were bought from legitimate sources and sales and later resold for profit. You also need to factor in the millions of dollars of wine sold in private sales, some of which we know about, and others which we don’t. We do not know all the sales because many people that are smart enough to earn enough money to think nothing of spending $250,000 to $1,000,000 or more on wine, are going to be embarrassed by their gullibility. The swindled wine buyers are in good company. In 1925, Victor Lustig sold the Eiffel Tower to investors believing it was going to quietly torn down and sold as scrap metal. If folks fell for that con, buying fake wine is not that hard to believe.

I know, you are saying to yourself, how could anyone believe that one person could have every great bottle of wine for sale? You add that there were so many countless treasures, no one could truly count them all. But that is in hindsight, which as you is know is always 20/20.

The case of Rudy Kurniawan has changed the collectible wine market for generations. There is no way to know how many wines were sold, and then resold are real. That fact has changed how people view the sales of old wine. On the bright side, today, sales at all the major auction houses have never been more secure. The vast majority of old wines are now scrutinized over again and again, looking for signs of fraud and potential forgery. Wines with true provenance, especially those that are being sold by the winery are going to sell at higher and higher premiums, as that is a true guarantee of provenance.

It’s important to note that Rudy Kurniawan focused on producing fraudulent wines of extremely high caliber, with the price to match. For example, old Pomerol like 1950 Lafleur in magnum, 1900 Margaux, 1947 Cheval Blanc, 1945 Haut Brion and other assorted, high end, famous gems. While auction houses today are exercising more due diligence than ever, there are numerous fakes and forgeries being offered by retailers all over the world, knowingly and unknowingly. Keep in mind the old saying, “If it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true.” Many, if not most of those great wines are impossible to find today, especially in large formats. When they do come up for sale, one should exercise extreme caution before buying as I imagine, the vast majority being offered are not going to be real.

While Rudy Kurniawan was involved with forging the best of the best, as prices for young wines have risen to extreme levels, there have been numerous examples spotted for current forged, high end wines, for example DRC, First Growth Bordeaux and other in-demand wines. One should always exercise caution. With young wines, know your merchant. With older, high priced, rare wine, be more than careful. Today, those are often best bought at auction with today’s level of scrutiny.

With luck, one day, there will be a trial for Hardy Rodenstock. While Rudy Kurniawan was holding his breath when the judge was about to issue his sentence, I won’t be holding mine waiting for the Rodenstock case to come to trial.

The post Rudy Kurniawan Sentence 10 Years in Prison From Wine Bars to Jail Bars was originally published in The Wine Cellar Insider.

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