Cabernet Sauvignon in the World
Education # 63
Few would argue that the finest examples of Cabernet Sauvignon wine are found in Bordeaux and California, a standpoint supported by the 1976 Judgment of Paris. The past two decades have seen a raft of quality Cabernets emerging from New World regions such as Maipo in Chile and Coonawarra in Australia. These are gaining popularity with an increasingly broad consumer base as the world's most prestigious Cabernet Sauvignon wines become prohibitively expensive.
While Cabernet's good acidity, tannins and punchy cassis notes go a long way in a blend, it is worth mentioning that these qualities can make cooler climate Cabernet Sauvignon an awkward customer in the glass. To a degree, this explains why it was often blended in cooler regions like Bordeaux, while warmer climates enabled Cabernet's edginess to be softened – and often be encountered as a single-varietal wine in the likes of California and Australia.
Nonetheless, Cabernet Sauvignon has a large number of common blending partners. Apart from the obvious Merlot and Cabernet Franc, the most prevalent of these are Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenère (the ingredients of a classic Bordeaux Blend), Shiraz (in Australia's favorite blend) and in Spain and South America, a Cabernet – Tempranillo blend is now commonplace.
Cabernet Is Still King
Education # 62
Napa does it again. According to a statement issued by Liv-ex in May: "The California 50 index has outperformed the Liv-ex Fine Wine 1000 over the past year, providing better returns than Bordeaux and Italy." As you can imagine, most of this growth is being driven by the Napa blue chips. And there's more good news for the Golden State: California accounted for 7.5 percent of the Liv-ex trading market by value in 2021, while the number of wines brought and sold exceeded 500 for the first time.
"California's share of the total market (by value) has climbed from 0.1 percent to 7.9 percent over the past decade, making it the fourth most-traded fine wine region after Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne. The high quality of its wines, combined with strong branding and expanded distribution through La Place de Bordeaux, has contributed to its secondary market success," said a spokesperson from Liv-ex.
"It has been the King of Bordeaux for hundreds of years so I don't see it stopping anytime soon… Also take a look at acreage in Napa, it's just about all Cabernet and given the current stratospheric pricing, I would be stunned to see that change anytime soon," adds Donny Sebastiani, CEO of the Sonoma-based Don Sebastiani & Sons.
The World's Best Cabernet Sauvignons on Wine-Searcher:
|Wine Name||Score||Ave Price|
|Hundred Acre Wraith, Napa Valley||98||$710|
|Screaming Eagle, Napa Valley||97||$4694|
|Abreu Vineyard Madrona Ranch, Napa Valley||97||$599|
|Schrader Old Sparky Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard, Napa Valley||97||$1018|
|Carter Cellars Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard The GTO, Napa Valley||97||$466|
|Abreu Vineyard Las Posadas, Howell Mountain||97||$630|
|Eisele Vineyard, Napa Valley||96||$494|
|Schrader Cellars Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard, Napa Valley||96||$457|
|Promontory, Napa Valley||96||$899|
|Hundred Acre Few and Far Between, Napa Valley||96||$723|
Chardonnay Grape- The Come Back Kid
Chardonnay grapes were in oversupply from 2018 through 2020 and the wholesale prices dropped accordingly. Some growers even left perfectly healthy grapes on the vine because they determined it would cost more to pick and ferment them than they could earn from them.
Then came the disastrous vintage of 2020, which led to a shortage of the grape. Also, growers fearing a less Chardonnay-friendly future had grafted over to something else; there are actually fewer acres of Chardonnay planted on the North Coast than at any time in this millennium.
"Chardonnay is definitely a hot topic on the grape market," Klier ( From Turentine Brokerage ) said. "I see a huge rebound for Chardonnay. I see the Chardonnay market hotter than the Pinot market right now, in Russian River Valley. People should definitely consider Chardonnay as a replacement."
The World's Best Chardonnays on Wine-Searcher:
|Wine Name||Score||Ave Price|
|Kongsgaard The Judge, Napa||96||$956|
|Peter Michael Point Rouge, Sonoma County||96||$510|
|Aubert Wines Lauren Vineyard, Sonoma Coast||96||$259|
|Aubert Wines CIX, Sonoma Coast||96||$213|
|Morlet Family Vineyards Coup de Coeur, Sonoma County||96||$183|
|Aubert Wines Eastside Vineyard, Russian River Valley||95||$222|
|Aubert Wines UV-SL Vineyards, Sonoma Coast||95||$187|
|Kistler Cuvée Cathleen, Sonoma Valley||95||$206|
|Peter Michael Cuvée Indigene, Sonoma County||95||$258|
|Marcassin Estate, Sonoma Coast||95||$704|
Our Favorite Wine Writer of 2022 -
Dan Berger has been a wine columnist since 1976 and has resided in Sonoma County since 1986. Today, in addition to his privately published weekly wine commentary, Dan Berger’s Vintage Experiences, Dan writes a nationally syndicated wine column as well as articles for many publications.
Dan is a speaker at wine symposiums and universities on topics such as wine marketing, trends in the industry, regional character of wines, and the healthful benefits of moderate consumption. He also speaks to assorted groups interested in learning about wine, many of them unrelated to the wine business. And he also is an adjunct professor teaching professional wine courses at Santa Rosa Junior College.
Not only is Dan a wine columnist, but he is also an author. His books include “Beyond the Grapes: An Inside Look at Napa Valley” and “Beyond the Grapes: An Inside Look at Sonoma County,” and he has contributed to other wine books including the University of California/Sotheby Book of California Wine and the Oxford Companion to the Wines of North America. He was also the author and project director for the Reader’s Digest’s book, North American Wine Routes.
He is presently making a Sonoma Riesling wine with the adept wine maker Greg Lafollette.
It's incredibly divisive, painfully long, and utterly ubiquitous. It's Monopoly! Since first being published in 1935, the board game has been sold around the world, and the concept has been adapted for all sorts of variations to the point where seemingly every town, college, and existential thought has its own "-opoly."
But apparently, there's always room for more Monopolies, and this week, America's best-known wine region has announced it has finally gotten its own official version of the Hasbro-owned game: Prepare yourself for Monopoly Napa Valley Edition.
Much like every other Monopoly variation, the Napa Valley Edition — which is produced by game maker Top Trumps — replaces the game's original Atlantic City street names and locations with Napa Valley alternatives. Expect to find "representations of much-loved Napa Valley cultural sites, historic landmarks, and time-honored businesses, alongside customized Community Chest and Chance playing cards to ensure each detail of the game pays homage to the iconic wine region destination," according to the announcement.
Washington State Wines
Washington's 2022 vintage is like a football comeback. The game looked lost at the beginning and even through halftime, but two months of amazing weather have turned winemaker frowns upside down.
"It's gonna be a good one. It's going to be one for the ages," said Brian Rudin, winemaker for Canvasback on Red Mountain. "The pHs are gloriously low. Good phenolics. The tannins are very soft and very resolved. We've got enough there and they've been really easy to manage on my end. Overall really beautiful balance."
That said, crop size management could be an issue for some wineries. The wet winter weather supercharged what looked like an extra-large crop, and wineries that tried to leave it all on the vine might be looking at Friday's forecast of rain with trepidation, because a larger crop takes more time to ripen.
"If you didn't adjust your crop to a cooler vintage, I don't know what's going to happen to you," De Kleine told Wine-Searcher. "If you're hanging heavy, you're not going to catch up."
For those that did thin, the excitement is palpable. I heard the word "fruitful" from more than one person, which is an interesting word you could hear at any harvest but rarely do.
"It was a fruitful year for everything," said Jean-François Pellet, director of winemaking for Pepper Bridge Winery in Walla Walla. "I grow raspberries in my garden and we never picked so many raspberries."
The winery co-founded by Gavin Newsom just bought a major Napa vineyard for $14.5 million
The wine company co-founded by Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco billionaire Gordon Getty just acquired a major Napa vineyard for $14.5 million.
Oso Vineyard, located in a fast-changing area called Pope Valley, is the newest property in the PlumpJack Collection of Wineries, a group that includes the Napa wineries PlumpJack Estate, Odette Estate and Cade Estate. The group has purchased Oso from Michael Mondavi Family Estate, which had owned the 129-acre vineyard since 2006.
PlumpJack’s latest investment is sure to raise the profile of Pope Valley, a region in the northeastern outskirts of the county that’s always been less visible — with a reputation for less impressive wines — than areas like Oakville, the Stags Leap District and Howell Mountain, where PlumpJack’s other holdings are located.
But PlumpJack hopes to prove that Pope Valley is capable of producing better wines than it’s gotten credit for. “Pope Valley is the unheralded Napa Valley,” said managing partner John Conover. (Newsom, who put his ownership interest in PlumpJack into a blind trust when he became governor, is not currently active in management of the company.)
Music Affects Taste?
"There is no doubt that music affects our emotions directly and these subconscious feelings can change the way we perceive stimuli through our senses," confirms professor Larry Lockshin, a professor of wine marketing at the University of South Australia in Adelaide.
"Our taste and smell are responses to stimuli and these stimuli are not an electric signal like a video file, but a cascade of interactions of chemical among nerve endings," he notes.
A 2017 study, revised a year later, by Charles Spence a professor at the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at Oxford University, notes that a growing range of multisensory tasting events, in which wine and music are paired, have been held over the years and have resulted in both small scale and "anecdotal reports of music supposedly changing the taste of wine".
Other academics tend to agree with Spencer about this emerging field of research. "The evidence is incontestable that music does affect the perception of taste and smell," shares Damien Wilson, a wine marketing professor at the Wine Business Institute of Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California.
He adds in the study that since then, "rigorous empirical research has managed to convincingly demonstrate the shared connections between hearing and tasting in the world of wine".
"The simplest way to improve the taste of what we are drinking is to listen to music that we like," he shares. Part of the synergy between the two art forms is "due to 'sensation transfer', transferring our liking for music to our liking for wine".
Education # 56
Hundreds of bottles of De Haartmann Cognac recovered from the wreck of a Swedish steamer sunk by a German U-boat in the First World War are to be put up for sale more than a century later.
The French shipment of 600 bottles of De Haartman & Co Cognac – plus 15 boxes of Bénédictine liqueur – is believed to have been destined for Tsar Nicholas II, but was intercepted in the Baltic Sea and sunk by a German submarine in May 1917.
Now Cognac house Birkedal Hartmann has refilled 300 of the recovered bottles with Cognac dating from the early 1900s, using packaging identical to the original, and is selling them for €9,000 each.
The wreck of the SS Kyros was discovered by Swedish explorer Peter Lindberg in 1999, but only in 2019 were salvage experts able to finish exploring it fully and recover its cargo, using a specialist salvage vessel, divers and unmanned underwater vehicles (ROVs).
Swedish company Ocean X Team AB and Icelandic business iXplorer used a specially equipped salvage vessel, Deepsea Worker, to explore the wreck in the Gulf of Bothnia, recovering the bottles in late 2019.
According to iXplorer, the salvage process was ‘probably the most complicated recovery work we have ever had to deal with’, thanks to the poor visibility around the wreck, which lies at a depth of 77 metres, and the hazards posed by fishing nets.
Four full bottles of De Haartmann Cognac, which were later auctioned to collectors for US$45,000 each, were recovered along with 300 empty bottles, which had had their corks pushed in by the pressure of the seawater.
A Decent Water Report
Education # 55
Lake Mendocino at 68% of its Seasonal Capacity
May 12, 2022 From the Press Democrat
State water regulators could begin suspending water rights in the Russian River watershed as early as next month as the drought extends into a third summer, intensifying water conservation needs in the region.
But curtailments are likely to affect fewer water diverters this year than last, when dangerously low reservoir levels forced state officials to freeze more than 1,800 water rights for landowners, water districts and municipalities to ensure minimal supplies remained in the two main reservoirs, especially Lake Mendocino, through fall.
The luxury of time has allowed this year’s plans to reflect a more refined, nuanced approach to cutbacks, based in part on public input, water regulators say. Their goal: to sustain base stream flows and stored supplies in a river system that is the lifeline for rural residents, farms and city dwellers in Mendocino and Sonoma counties.
That is no easy task this year, which began with three months that were the driest for any such winter period on record.
Lake Sonoma, the region’s largest reservoir, is at 58% of its seasonal capacity, lower than it was a year ago at this time.
The Eel River water is especially critical for farms, ranches, vineyards and thousands of rural residents along the upper river, in Mendocino County and northern Sonoma County.
The key reservoir for those users, Lake Mendocino, though only at 68% of its seasonal capacity, is in slightly better condition than it was a year ago, when the water level was the lowest ever for spring.
Boland-Brien said Wednesday that the state water board staff had expected to impose curtailments in May, but an April storm and splashes of rainfall since keep easing conditions just enough to forestall the inevitable.
Under the revised regulations, water rights holders will be required to track their status using the online Russian River Watershed Curtailment Status List and to comply with orders delivered there.
Another of this year’s revisions provides additional authority to the state water board staff to curtail diverters in four priority subwatersheds — Green Valley, Dutch Bill, Mark West and Mill creeks, strongholds for imperiled coho salmon and steelhead trout — even in the absence of other curtailments.
Grape Growers Get Ag Aid
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said about $6 billion will be made available for crop disasters in the past two years, including severe drought and the devastating 2020 North Bay wildfires that led to significant reductions in the California North Coast wine grape harvests.
California viticulture advocates said the new money through the USDA’s Emergency Relief Program is poised to do more than previous help to cover a roughly $400 million shortfall between crop insurance payments and the value of fruit that couldn’t be picked amid the Glass and LNU Lightning Complex fires in Napa, Sonoma, Lake and Solano counties.
“USDA’s announcement of the Emergency Relief Program will provide much needed help for wine grape growers who experienced unprecedented losses due to devastating wildfires in 2020,” said John Aguirre, president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, in a statement. “There is a substantial difference between the estimated value of crop losses, due to smoke damage, and the crop insurance indemnities paid to growers.”
The USDA on Monday said it would be paying the disaster assistance through its Farm Service Agency for commodity and specialty crop growers on yield and value loses.
Support for Ukraine From the Wine Industry
Education # 53
The brutal Russian onslaught on neighboring Ukraine has been swift and sudden – not as swift as the reaction of retailers around the world, who have dropped Russian products like hot rocks since the tanks swept in.
Offer data for Russian products show that numbers have fallen off a cliff since Putin's troops swept into Ukraine, with the number of products being offered by retailers falling by 28 percent since this time last year and by 33 percent since last month.
Among the major markets, the US is leading the charge. Offer numbers in the US have declined by almost 55 percent since the invasion and by 41 percent year-on-year. That follows a healthy period of growth for Russian products; the number of offers had grown by 15 percent over the previous 12 months.
Figures for offers in the UK are similarly grim for Russian producers. Although there were relatively few UK offers for Russian products (641 in February, out of a total of 723,000 offers), the number has dropped by 30 percent in the past few weeks. Compared to the same time last year, offer numbers are down by 20 percent.
It's interesting to look at offers in the NATO countries, too.
Of the 30 countries that are part of NATO, we have figures for 24 of them and the level of disapproval over the invasion is pretty clear. The number of offers available in each country has dropped in all but five of the NATO members. Estonia tops the chart, with a decline in offers of a massive 73 percent year-on-year, followed by Iceland (down 57 percent), Canada (down 52 percent), and then Croatia, Luxembourg and Denmark, where offers have halved since the invasion.
Reported by Wine Searcher 4/1/22
Fighting to Save the American White Oak Trees
Education # 52
American white oak's health has been threatened by a now depressingly familiar cocktail that includes incompetent land management, climate change and invasive species. Other trees, notably maples and beech trees, are choking out younger American white oaks.
Of the forests recently surveyed by the White Oak Initiative, 60 percent of American white oak acreage had no white oak seedlings, and 87 percent had no white oak saplings.
On its current trajectory, the White Oak Initiative study found that the multi-billions in annual economic activity generated by the trees will not be sustainable in a decade, with more significant declines ahead.
The American white oak not only provides shelter and sustenance to a network of animals, birds, insects, plants, fungi and microorganisms, it is an essential component in the furniture, flooring and cabinetry of homes, and the flavor of wines and spirits around the world.
But in a refreshing change of pace, a coalition of private, public and corporate citizens have become alarmed enough about the pending crisis to take action together, in a bid to save the tree (and their own hides).
In winemaking, the vessels used for aging truly abound. There's American white oak, but there’s also French oak, English oak, Hungarian oak, Italian chestnut to name a few – and that's just the wood options. There's also concrete, amphora, steel….
American white oak barrels are cheaper than their European counterparts, partially due to the fact that the wood tends to be more dense and less porous, allowing more of the harvested trees to be used for the barrel. Chemically, American white oak is higher in lactones and vanillin, which translates to sweeter flavors of vanilla and coconut in the glass. French oak also has more tannins.
Invests in Champagne With a Cause
DiCaprio recently joined majority shareholder Rémy Cointreau group with his investment in Telmont Champagne, a house with some of the most ambitious goals for greater sustainability in the region.
Telmont’s path to sustainability began four years ago, when it earned its first Agriculture Biologique France Certification for organic agriculture for a portion of its 60 acres of estate-owned vineyards in 2017. As part of a larger, multi-pronged project the house refers to as “In the Name of Mother Nature,” they pledged to convert all estate-owned vineyards to organic agriculture by 2025 and all cultivated areas—including vineyards from which they purchase grapes—by 2031.
“Champagne Telmont, together with its partner winegrowers, has set its sights on producing 100 percent organic Champagne, ensuring a completely sustainable production lifecycle in the coming years,” said DiCaprio in a press release announcing his investment. “From protecting biodiversity on its land to using 100 percent renewable electricity, Champagne Telmont is determined to radically lower its environmental footprint, making me proud to join as an investor.”
From The Wine Spectator
Coppola Does It Again
120 Tanks Underground
Education # 50
Coppola is a filmmaker first, of course, but the business of making wine has taken up more and more of his time over the years. There are, he told me, 120 distinct growing areas of grapes on his property at Inglenook. On most vineyards, the fruit from these unique parcels of grapes go into far fewer fermenters, where they mix. But what if, Coppola wondered, you could build 120 fermenters, one for each growing area, and in doing so, learn which ones are truly great, which are average, and so on? The only limit was space and the neighbors, who probably would not take kindly to a giant fermenter plant being built anywhere they could see it. So, Coppola decided: We'll build it underground.
“I'm so proud of this because I think the biggest thrill in life is to have a dream or imagine something and then get to see it be real,” Coppola said. “There's nothing like that.”
Pruning in the
Education # 49
The vines above are a great example of 'need to be pruned soon'. For a myriad of reasons, vines just get neglected and are not pruned in time. In time means as soon as the ground is not soaking wet from the rains. The ideal time to prune in California and the West Coast is January and February. That allows the vines to start to 'push' or send out its flowers by March and April. That timing also relates to the harvest time. With potential fires in the Fall, the sooner we can harvest -the better. Ideal time to harvest is August 15 to September 15. If you prune too late, you run the risk of a late harvest and more problems that farmers do not need. As they say "timing is everything".
Leslie Has a New Discovery For You
This fabulous new winery - Ektimo is a rare gem. Tucked away in the Russian River "Green Valley" appellation, this family owned boutique winery offers very limited production specialties to tickle your fancy.
For a special introductory offer, they would like to share their magnificent wines and motivate you to try them. Choose your favorites and then choose your deal. For an introductory 4 bottle sampler use code GOURMET15% at checkout and get 15% off the purchase price. For the curious connoisseur order 6 bottles or more and use code GOURMET20% at checkout to get 20% off on your purchase.
Leslie Hennessy tasting notes:
2018 Ektimo Russian River Chardonnay
A light golden color leads to a big apple bouquet. A voluptuous wine with a full intro, harmony, crescendo cascade that creates a dynamic palate pleasing composition that is satisfying start to finish
2017 Ektimo Russian River Estate Pinot Noir,
A blueberry and strawberry bouquet leads to a very soft and silky finish. Our inaugural Estate wine from our Green Valley Vineyard and quite a charmer. Bright, elegant and delicate, all things Pinot Noir.
to get a virtual view of our modest winery
Glass of Wine
New York 1939
Just had some fun going through our family’s history and came across this wine menu from Childs Restaurant in New York City in 1939. My fabulous Mother Dolly Hennessy was sent to New York in 1939 to work as an in-house maid for a wealthy family. At the golden age of twenty-one it was a way to leave home and make money for the family back in St. Cloud Minnesota. Being very adventurous she went out as much as possible. Collecting memorabilia such as this Childs Restaurant menu was part of her life style. Notice the only two wines on the menu were the Claret and Rhine wine for twenty cents a glass! A nice bit of history.
Debating the Health Benefits of Wine
As Reported in The Prince of Pinot
Dr. Stockley’s review of key cohort studies found a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure by about 30%, reduced risk of ischemic stroke by about 20% and a decrease in high and unbalanced cholesterol by about 10%, with the consumption of 1-2 drinks per day of alcohol compared with lifelong abstainers.
Do we live longer if we enjoy a glass of an alcoholic beverage on a near-daily basis? The answer, for healthy post-menopausal women and men over forty is still very much, ‘yes.’
Current scientific data indicate that adults who consume alcohol regularly, with food, and without binge drinking, have a lower risk of most of the diseases of aging and tend to live longer than if they consumed no alcohol.
From : Rusty Gaffney MD | Contact the Prince: [email protected]