‘Twas the Night Before the ‘Wine of the Year’ Was Announced

Santa Claus

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the winery,

my tasting room staff wore their holiday finery.

The sales were outstanding. ‘Twas like nothing before.

All the wines (even Merlot) seemed to fly out the door.

My winemaker fretted as the deadline drew near.

Wine Spectator 100, would this be the year?

To be on that list would be so prestigious.

But another year missed would be so egregious.

Then out in the vineyard there arose such a clatter.

I feared it was mildew, Pierce’s or shatter.

There, atop a small sleigh that defied quantum physics,

sat a round, bearded man and eight tiny critics.

They were chuggin’ down Harlan, the music was crankin’.

I knew in a moment it had to be Shanken.

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2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 Years After (part 1)

WineSnark 2006 Napa Cab ShowdownNapa Valley has proven time and again that when it comes to Cabernet Sauvignon (and its half-sibling Meritage), it is capable of producing some of the world’s most jaw-dropping, heart-thumping, and awe-inspiring interpretations of this celebrated variety. Napa Valley Cabernet’s most provincial quality, some might argue its finest quality, is its graceful power. Not its significant weight and texture- which can present itself like a sumo wrestler in a silk robe, nor its lumbering relationship with oak – which has been known to make termites weep with joy, not even its bold concentration, although it can offer palette-crushing substance. No, the reason we celebrate Napa Valley Cabernet is the same reason we embrace Olympic Rugby but not Olympic Badminton. It’s the reason we love Star Wars, Stephen King, NASCAR, and ribeye with the bone in.

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Napa Auction Sets New Records For Single Lot, E-Auction, Barrel Tasting, & Blood Alcohol Level.

Live Auction stage at Auction Napa Valley 2015.

Live Auction stage at Auction Napa Valley 2015.

The Auction Napa Valley 2015 came to a close on Sunday night after raising $15.8 million for programs in children’s education and community health. While the total didn’t break the old record, new highs were set for a single Live Auction item, the E-Auction total, the Barrel Tasting total and how many gallons of Cabernet I can drink without falling down.

The Napa Valley Vintners reported, “Since its inception in 1981, the NVV has given more than $145 million in Auction Napa Valley proceeds to Napa County nonprofits.” The proceeds help more than 90,000 clients annually in Napa County, some of whom need the community health assistance after trying to lift all that money.

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It Was The Best Of Wines. It Was The Worst Of Wines.

Chapter Eleven. Parts One & Two.
The November 1997 issue of the Wine Spectator rated the Louis Latour 1990 Corton-Charlemagne 98 points … and 88 points.

98 LOUIS LATOUR Corton-Charlemagne 1990
Exotic, wild and savage. A deep, “gonzo-crazy” terroir wine, full-bodied and packed with dried herbs, honey and spicy oak. Almost tannic in structure, it explodes like a small volcano on the palate for an unbelievable experience. Not for the faint of heart though.

88 LOUIS LATOUR Corton-Charlemagne 1990
Mature, with an herbal, slightly leathery accent to the pear and oak flavors. Shows its age via dryness and coarseness on the finish.

In the same issue the 1995 Arrowood Réserve Spéciale received 95 points … and 82 points, and the Rochioli 1995 Allen Vineyard Reserve was awarded 96 points … and 85 points. These dyslexic point spreads were not the result of ADD (Alcohol Drinking Disorder); these Dickensian observations were simply a tale of two critics.

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Forget The Oscars, Emmys & Grammys. It’s The Yeasties!

The 87th Academy Awards are tonight and filmmakers and actors will soon know if they won an Oscar (the metaphorical equivalent of a 100 point score) or came in second place (equal to 89 points and a one way ticket to the close-out bin). Since a wine awards show is long overdue I’m reposting my ideas for the Academy Awards of Wine.

Chapter Five, Part Two.
The Wine Trophy CupHumans are a competitive lot. We’ve created entire industries that do nothing more than grade, score, award, and rate everything from our kids to our eggs. Does it bother you that your kids go off to school and the best they can rate is an A, but your eggs are graded AAA before they’ve even crossed the road?

Speaking of eggs, if you feel the need to put wines into a pecking order, evaluation systems have been developed to help objectively rate and record your observations. There are systems based on pure science (one short-lived magazine based their ratings on chemical analysis without ever tasting any wine) and systems cloaked in pretense (for just $499 you can own The Connoisseurs Master 60 Aromas Kit in a beautiful wooden display box!).

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