The Sarah Jane English Newsletter:  110th Edition
June 2011

 

TOP PICKS OF THE MONTH (prices vary store to store) $Best Buy

WINERY OF MONTH, ROBERT CRAIG: I'm so happy to claim Bob Craig as a fellow Texan.  I met him  at the dinner party opening The Hess Collection new winery in Napa Valley where he was general manager.  Now Bob celebrates three decades as a “mountain man,” producing distinctive Cabernet Sauvignons from vineyards in the highest, most remote reaches of the Valley.  A pioneer in Napa Valley mountain vineyards, he has been a visionary in creating his wine style for Cabernets that emphasize ripe fruit, supple tannins, and early balance and integration.  Robert Craig spent 12 years researching Mt. Veeder's vineyard potential in the 1970s.  He learned to respect mountain vineyard land and regarded Mt. Veeder as the penultament place for growing incomparable grapes.  During the 1980s, Bob developed over 300 vineyard acres on Mt. Veeder and spearheaded the appellation campaign to have Mt. Veeder designated.  Eventually a Mt. Veeder appellation caught up with his knowledge about growing world-class Cabernet Sauvignons.  Bob and three long-time friends started his winery in 1992 with a dream to hand-craft small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon from great winegrowing appellations of Napa Valley.  His first Cabernet debuted in 1995.  In 2002, the Craig family completed a state-of- the-art winery located at nearly 2300 feet along the summit of Howell Mountain. 
ROBERT CRAIG 2007 Mt. Howell Cabernet Sauvignon (86% Cab Sauv, 10% Merlot, 2% Cab Franc, 2% Petit Verdot) $80: "Aromas and flavors include blackberry, red currant, raspberry and black cherry accented by notes of cracked pepper, lavender, savory spices, coffee, vanillaand Howell Mountain bramble.  The fruitiness flows seamlessly from mid-palate to a full-throttle finish.  Howell Mountain’s rugged terrain produces acclaimed Napa Valley’s Cabernets, and our estate vineyard and winery are at the highest elevation, along a ridgeline overlooking the valley at nearly 2300 feet.  The thin, rocky, volcanic soils are well-drained, causing the vines to struggle for water and nutrients and creating small, intensely flavored berries.  Daytime temperatures are moderate and nights are warmer, translating into an extended growing season that allows the berries to ripen slowly. Mountain berry, wildflower, warm spice, and pepper flow through this signature Howell Mountain Cabernet. Unfiltered and unfined, the 2007 vintage is a seamless wine, with all of the elements in the right place to create exceptional balance and complexity.  Decanting highly recommended."  1488 Cases.  Wine Spec. 92, Robt. Parker 96
ROBERT CRAIG 2007 Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot) $70: Craig's first Mt. Veeder Cabernet was made in 1993.  His winemaking skills in this 2007 wine display how his vision, knowledge and capability have been rewarded.  "The 2007 shows best how Mt. Veeder terroir gives wine great pleasure and prestige.  It has luscious fruit, fine, silky tannins and powerful finish.  Bob helped plant this single-vineyard source in 1990.  It is along the mountain’s summit at 1800 feet.  The steep contours offer quintessential Mt. Veeder terrain with multiple hillside exposures and changes in elevation.  The resulting microclimates create varied weather patterns that influence grape development and ripening.  The well-drained sandstone and blue shale soils provide an ideal foundation for growing small, concentrated berries.  Aromas and flavors include blackberry, black currant, dark chocolate, vanilla bean and creme de cassis underlain with cocoa, and cedar.  Concentrated fruit fills the palate, enlivened by bracing acidity and enveloped in refined, sweet mountain tannins for a noble finish.  Unfiltered and unfined, it aged 20 months in Chateau-style French oak and is among the most ageworthy of our mountain Cabernets--with 20+ years of enjoyment.   Decanting recommended."  Robt. Parker 93+ and Wine Spec. 94 Production: 1480 Cases
ROBERT CRAIG 2008 Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 7% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Malbec) $50: This classic Bordeaux-style Cabernet Sauvignon is from Robert Craig's estate vineyard in the foothills south of Stag's Leap.  "The 2008 blend remains predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, with Petit Verdot added for deep, concentrated flavors and a touch of Malbec introduced for further weight, complimented by silky Merlot and Cabernet Franc spice. The result is an intense, deeply satisfying, full-bodied wine that will reward with further bottle age.  Aromas and flavors include a mélange of dark black berries, dark-roast espresso and hints of anise underlying warm mineral notes, cassis, violets and spice with signature fruit entwined with more coffee, dark chocolate, and touches of violet and licorice.  A warm mineral component echoes the wine’s foothills heritage and its finish is firm with supple tannins that keep the luscious fruit aloft and bolstered by crisp acidity.  The foundation for Affinity is our estate vineyard and an adjoining property to the south of Stag’s Leap, in the southeastern foothills of Mt. George. The rocky soils and Bordeaux-like growing conditions produce distinctive black-red Cabernet fruit with hints of currants and violets. The fruit is hand-picked in small lots, each of which is kept separate during fermentation and barrel aging before the final blend. 4780 cases 
SPLURGE WINE OF MONTH: QUINTESSA 2007 Napa Valley Red Wine $155: QUINTESSA (a red meritage), like classic wines of the world, bears the same name as its vineyard.  The goal is to produce a wine each year that best expresses the extraordinary QUINTESSA vineyard.   The vineyard's diversity provides many stylistic options and the fruit from each block is harvested, sorted, and delivered by gravity to fermentation tanks.  Each block of wine ages separately for up to two years in French oak, then the components are selected for the final Quintessa blend.  Afterwards, bottles are laid down for another year before release.  While each vintage is unique, words like elegance and finesse and silkiness best describe the character of the vineyard.  "We blend fruit for harmony, balance, and length of flavors and above all, to make Quintessa a delicious food wine," says  Agustin Huneeus, Vintner/Proprietor
Skin contact: 35 days; Time in oak: 19 months; Oak Regime: 100% French (85% new), very fine grained, chateau style, medium plus toast.
"Quintessa 2007 opens to rich, complex aromas of dark black currant fruit with undertones of raspberry, anise and spice. On the palate, the wine delivers what the nose promises—power, refinement and complexity of cassis, blackberry, mocha and enticing spice flavors.  A broad, rich middle palate and a long finish offer a delicate balance of intensity and elegance, full fruit and supple tannins. This vintage will gain complexity in the bottle and age gracefully for a decade or more.” Charles Thomas , Winemaker
SPECIAL PRAISE of MONTH: VALLEY OF THE MOON: Consistently, VALLEY OF THE MOON has produced delicious, balanced, quality wines from Sonoma County vineyards with fine, rich volcanic soils.  For over a century the estate vineyard  provided grapes to discriminating producers.  Now, a block of its “old vine” Zinfandel 1940s plantation is complemented by recent plantings of Barbera, Sangiovese and Petite Sirah--all farmed sustainably with natural pest controls and soil amendments.  VALLEY OF THE MOON Winery is a cutting-edge, state-of-the-art production facility and its historic structures include the restored 1887 stone and redwood winery.  Wines include Sonoma County Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir and is a California leader in the production of up-and-coming wines--Syrah, Sangiovese, Pinot Blanc, Rosato di Sangiovese and Cuvée de la Luna, a proprietary Bordeaux-inspired blend.  In high demand, VALLEY OF THE MOON wines are worth the search, embracing time-honored winemaking traditions that balance the ancient and modern for contemporary harmony in making world-class wines.  Visitors are welcomed daily to the historic cellar in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. (Please see below).

NEWS

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FERRARI-CARANO's Seasons of the Vineyard Tasting Bar & Boutique on Healdsburg Plaza (113 Plaza Street) is the place to enjoy the Healdsburg Jazz Festival.  Ferrari-Carano will host Brazilian jazz group Ricardo Peixoto Quartet on Saturday, June 11, 4pm – 6pm, paired with wine and small bites!  Admission is free, no reservations are required.  The Healdsburg Jazz Festival, June 3 – 12, 2011, celebrates tens days of great jazz from the industry’s multi-talented artists.  For information, (707) 431-2222, or visit www.seasonsofthevineyard.com or  www.healdsburgjazzfestival.org.

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TAPAS Grand Wine Tasting - June 5, 2011: The Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society (TAPAS - www.tapasociety.org) is hosting the most extensive annual tasting of domestically produced Spanish and Portuguese varietal wines in North America in San Francisco.  Iberian Peninsula grapes, also grown in America, produce some of the hottest-selling wines on the market.  Come sample wines from over 30 participating wineries and learn about varieties like Tempranillo, Albariño, Garnacha, Graciano, Mourvedre, Touriga, Verdelho, Bastardo and more.  Many TAPAS members are limited-production, family-owned wineries and will be pouring small lot wines that are not widely available.  This year the event will be held at the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion on Sunday, June 5, 2011.  San Francisco, CA   Tickets are $60 at the door, or $40 in advance at tapas4.eventbrite.com . For directions to the Fort Mason Center, visit www.fortmason.org . 

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WEST SONOMA COAST VINTNERS LAUNCH FESTIVAL: West of West (WOW) Wine Festival offers some acclaimed cool-climate Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and Syrahs created by the West Sonoma Coast Vintners (WSCV), an association of Sonoma’s coastline wineries and growers.  The WOW Festival, August 5-7, 2011, is one hour north of San Francisco in Occidental, CA with access to small production, limited-release wines, seminars, and the Whole Hog Feast at the 130-year-old Union Hotel.  Come experience first-hand the extraordinary wine, food and culture of the West Sonoma Coast!  Tickets: by event or the All-Access Saturday Pass and Sunday Open House Pass, $375.  To buy www.westofwestwine.com
WSCV members are dedicated to preserving and protecting the history, landscape and culture of the West Sonoma Coast, and to promoting its wines to the media, trade and public. The growing areas include Annapolis, Fort Ross/Seaview, Occidental, Freestone, Green Valley and the Sebastopol Hills.  Current WSCV members are Benovia Winery, Benzinger Family Winery, Boheme Wines, Ceritas Wines, Chasseur Wines, Cobb Wines, Evening Land Vineyards, FAILLA Wines, Flowers Vineyard & Winery, Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery, Freeman Vineyard & Winery, Freestone Vineyards, Hawk Hill Vineyard, Hirsch Winery, LIOCO, Littorai Wines, Martinelli Winery, Patz & Hall Wine Company, Peay Vineyards, Ramey Wine Cellars, Red Car Wine Company, Small Vines and Whetstone Wine Cellars.

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CENTRAL COAST WINE CLASSIC July 7-10, 2011: Enjoy the many festivities of the 27th Annual Classic for four days celebration of wines, cuisines, music, art and lifestyle of California's Central Coast.  For information: WWW.CENTRALCOASTWINECLASSIC.ORG   

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TOURS OF ALASKA
Alaska celebrates International Year of the Forests: Visit Alaska’s national forests in 2011 throughout the year to celebrate International Year of the Forests.   Designated by the United Nations General Assembly, events will promote sustainable management and conservation of the world’s forests.   Alaska is home to the nation’s two largest national forests, the Chugach, in Southcentral Alaska, and the Tongass, in the Inside Passage.  Together, they encompass more than 22 million acres for Alaskans and visitors to enjoy world-class sightseeing, hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, rafting, skiing and camping at more than 200 public-use cabins open year round.  Events in Chugach and Tongass national forests continue through November with film festivals, art shows, educational seminars and lectures, a hummingbird festival and other events celebrating the ecosystems and wildlife of Alaska’s forests.  For a complete calendar of events and more information, visit http://www.myalaskaforests.com.
Hikers get a virtual preview of Denali backcountry hikes: Denali National Park and Preserve has a new virtual tour, giving ideas of what to expect on a park-ranger-led Discovery Hike.  For decades Denali has offered visitors a day hiking with a park ranger in the backcountry where there are no trails or roads.  The adventures vary from moderate to strenuous.  The online guide covers challenges and difficulty of various hikes, how to sign up, what to wear, recommended gear and a glossary of important terms.  Hike occur daily and descriptions are published on the park’s web site each Thursday.  For Discovery Hikes information or the interactive guide, visit http://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/discovery-hikes.htm  
New birding, eco, culture and fishing tours in Nome: Alaska Northwest Adventures LLC will offer birding tours beginning June 1 on the waters of Safety Sound near Nome, a premier location to spot nesting or migratory birds.  Avid birders can visit areas inaccessible to independent travelers.  Alaska Northwest Adventures LLC will partner with Nome Discovery Tours for a new summer adventure to the village of Council (70 miles east of Nome) traveling by jet boat along the Niukluk River.   Boat fishing, instruction about local ecology and Alaska Native habitation are offered by Native Inupiaq hosts, Tom and BJ Gray. For information, visit www.nomebirding.com.   Book tours with Alaskan NW Adventures LLC at 907-443-3971 or Nome Discovery Tours at 907-443-2814.

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NEW YORK TIMES REPORT on INN at DOS BRISAS (Texas Travel Guide, March 2011): ". . . there's a  restaurant in Washington, Texas (50 miles east of Houston) which at least two sources rate on a par with some of the nation’s most acclaimed restaurants.  The restaurant at the Inn at Dos Brisas (opened 2004) has earned the elite Relais & Châteaux designation as well as five stars from the Forbes Travel Guide.  And the newest distinction is Chef Craig Shelton, a chef who pioneered the farm-to-table approach at the Ryland Inn in Whitehouse, N.J.  In the Dos Brisas kitchen, Shelton has been combined classical French cooking with cutting-edge culinary techniques involving thermocirculators, liquid nitrogen and vacuum chambers. Meals include selections of seasonal fruits and vegetables picked from the inn’s estate 10-acre organic farm, which features a 7,000-square-foot high-tech greenhouse.
“This is a seed-to-plate operation,” said Mr. Shelton, who honed his skills at restaurants like Bouley in New York.  He opened the Ryland Inn, where he earned a James Beard award, in 1991. A series of electrical and structural problems forced him to close the restaurant in 2007.
“Landing here is an incredible reversal of fortune,” he said. “This is a majestic platform where I can cook without constraints or pressure to turn tables and using the finest and freshest ingredients.”  The Inn at Dos Brisas, 10000 Champion Drive, Washington, Tex.; (979) 277-7750; dosbrisas.com. Five-and eight-course tasting menus are $105 to $135, with an additional $95 to $125 for wine pairings; à la carte is also available. (There is a mandatory 20 percent gratuity.)  Reservations should be made well in advance. 

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FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA’S RUBICON ESTATE Renamed INGLENOOK With a New Winemaker:  Coppola acquired the Inglenook trademark for Rubicon (Rutherford, Napa Valley) to revert to the properties original historic name.  Additionally, Chateau Mârgaux Winemaker Philippe Bascaules will be INGLENOOK Estate Manager and Winemaker beginning the summer of 2011. BACKGROUND HISTORY OF RUBICON AND INGLENOOK: Inglenook Vineyards was founded in 1879 by fur-trader Gustave Niebaum who settled in Rutherford and planted vineyards.   His great-nephew John Daniel inherited the property and during the 1940s and 1950s built a reputation for fine Cabernet Sauvignon.  Nonetheless, monetary matters in the 1960s forced Daniel to sell the property.  By 1975, when Francis and Eleanor Coppola purchased part of the famed property, the Inglenook Estate had been broken up and its name sold. The Coppolas spent the next twenty years reuniting the vineyards and restoring winemaking to the historic Inglenook Chateau. Today, Inglenook is restored to original dimensions and is again a great American wine estate.

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SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY WINES: Continuing the century-old tradition of producing fine grapes and wines made from them, The San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association is proud to announce the latest awards from some of our Member Wineries at recent competitions: 
GOLD MEDAL: Cardella Winery 2009 Sangiovese, Fresno County, Fundus Vineyard
GOLD MEDAL: Fasi Crest 2007 Syrah, Madera
SILVER MEDAL: Fasi Crest, 2008 Sweet Syrah, Madera
2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition:
Birdstone Winery won the following:
GOLD MEDAL: Tinta Madera Port, California, '97
BRONZE MEDALS: 2008 Malbec, Madera; 2008 Primitivo, Madera; 2008 Tempranillo, Madera
Established in 2008, the San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association is the non-profit trade association responsible for promoting and protecting the San Joaquin Valley as a sustainable winegrowing region.  Our association serves as the voice for the specific needs and issues of winegrowers, wineries and associates throughout our eight county region.  For information, please visit www.idrinkwine.net.

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NIAGARA Food & Wine Expo May 27 -29, 2011 Niagara Falls will welcome chefs and visitors to the Scotiabank Convention Centre to enjoy local food and wine. The Chef Stage is an opportunity for Expo attendees to experience award-winning foods with delicious wine. Scotiabank Convention Centre, Niagara Falls. www.niagarafoodandwineexpo.ca

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CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE KEEPS GETTING GREENER:  Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) is leading environmental preservation with initiatives to reuse woody biomass and wastewater from wine production.  The Champagne appellation-wide program will transform 150,000 metric tons of wood waste from vineyard pruning into energy, reducing pollution and helping replace fossil fuels used in wine production with a renewable source of energy.  Through this BIOVIVE (Biomasse Viticole) initiative, the Champagne region is working with local utilities to cut the current carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 10,000 metric tons per year, the equivalent of taking 5,000 vehicles off the road.  (please see story below)

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Consumer Wine Awards: Consumers (120) and Rotarians (100) in Lodi, California, participated as Consumer Evaluators (aka judges) for the 2011 Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi.  They voted their favorites from 700 entries with wine results as diverse as the judges.  Twenty-one won platinum--including a Lodi Zinfandel, two Pinot Grigios, a Napa Valley Bordeaux blend, a Pennsylvania Chardonnay, a Chardonnay from Virginia and a generic-boxed “Rhine” wine from California.
"Uniquely, panels of consumers (not wine critics or experts) judged the wine categories. Consequently, awards were given by people who buy the types of wines they judged."
Competition Co-Director Pooch Pucilowski said they recognized that some wines which get a shrug from experts get kudos from consumers who buy and drink them.
Master of Wine Tim Hanni devised the focus and methodology for the event and says, “Consumer Wine Awards encompasses the things we value and are working to bring to the wine community. We're exploring a better understanding of consumer preferences in order to give them additional wine recommendations."
A full listing of results and information on the 2012 Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi can be found at www.consumerwineawards.com.
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Master of Wine Tim Hanni has investigated consumer research studies on wine preferences.  Embarrassed to admit that you like White Zinfandel?  Don't be.  He discovered that opposite to drinkers of big, tannic, alcoholic red wines, there’s a huge potential market for folks who love sweet wines.  For the full report, please see www.timhanni.com  

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AUCTION NAPA VALLEY: Grapegrower Beckstoffer.  For the first time in its 31-year history, Auction Napa Valley is offering wines made from grapes grown by independent grower Andy Beckstoffer and his heritage vineyards: To Kalon in Oakville, Dr. Crane in St. Helena, and Vineyard Georges III in Rutherford.  (Please see full story below)

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SPRING VALLEY VINEYARD CELEBRATES TEN VINTAGES of Uriah Estate Walla Walla, Washington at the TEXAS HILL COUNTRY FESTIVAL.  Please see report, tasting notes below. 

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HOTEL HEALDSBURG and WILLIAMS SELYEM will  introduce an exclusive new package during October.   “Behind the Scenes with Williams Selyem” provides guests a   first-ever visit to the world-famous winery, traditionally closed to the public.   The package includes a tour and tasting at Williams Selyem winemaking facility, lodging at Hotel Healdsburg, dining at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen, and extraordinary wines from the cult Pinot Noir producer.  The package is available June 1 – October 31, 2011Package price is $1,156 midweek and $1,276 weekend for double occupancy.  There is an optional upgrade to a suite for an additional $150 per night.  For reservations, please call Hotel Healdsburg Concierge 800-889-7188.

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THE FINGER LAKES WINE CENTER has opened as the first educational wine facility in New York.  It will be a new gateway into the expansive Finger Lakes wine region.  Visitors can explore an entire wine region by tasting brands at the facility where experts help guests express their palettes and map out specific wine trail routes.  Additionally, various seminars teach aspects of the wine process.   "With more than 200 wineries in 14 counties, the Finger Lakes is known to produce the best Riesling and Gewurztraminers outside Germany," says Anna Tabakh of Quinn PR.  For information: http://www.fingerlakeswinecenter.org  

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RANDALL GRAHM Wins 2010 Born Digial Wine Award.  A post on Been Doon So Long, the winery blog authored by Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard, has received the 2010 Born Digital Wine Award for Winery Self-produced Content. In the article, “On a Mission: The Germ of an Idea,” Grahm discusses the rather radical (in the most literal sense) notion of growing grapes from seeds, rather than vegetative cuttings as is common practice.  He considers the theoretical possibility of a diverse genetic pool of familial vines creating a unique opportunity to express terroir in an unconventional manner.  A prolific writer, Grahm in 2009 published a collection of his writings on wine, life, literature, and philosophy titled Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology. The book won the 2010 James Beard Award and was named 2010 Georges Duboeuf Wine Book of the Year. Grahm’s winery blog Been Doon So Long won the 2010 Wine Blog Award for Best Winery Blog.  Grahm, a maverick innovator, is best known for his work popularizing Rhône varietal wines in California.  His first vintage of Le Cigare Volant, in 1984, was an hommage to Châteauneuf-du-Pape and firmly established him as the leader of the Rhône Rangers movement in the United States. Grahm established Bonny Doon Vineyard in 1983 in the bucolic northern California hamlet of Bonny Doon. The winery produces wines reflective of terroir in a natural, un-manipulated manner, imbued with life force. Since adopting Biodynamic vineyard practices in 2003, Bonny Doon wines evidence a deeper sense of place, more complex character, and a noticeable note of minerality. Bonny Doon Vineyard, a rationally scaled 25,000 case winery, produces a select assortment of super-premium wines, notably the Rhône-influenced Le Cigare Volant, Le Cigare Blanc, Vin Gris de Cigare, and Le Vol des Anges. A new, paradigm-shattering estate property in San Juan Bautista is under development, its rationale deriving in large part from arguments advanced in the blog under discussion. To learn more about the winery, please visit bonnydoonvineyard.com. “On a Mission: The Germ of an Idea,” the winning post, can be read on the Been Doon So Long website at http://www.beendoonsolong.com/2010/11/on-a-mission-the-germ-of-an-idea/   

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CHEFS GO LOCAL for  2011 GO TEXAN RESTAURANT ROUND-UP-- Statewide dine-out week highlights local ingredients, benefits food banks  During the statewide dine-out week, July 25-31, GO TEXAN member restaurants are offering special Texas menu items.  Restaurants also are encouraged to donate part of their proceeds to local food banks and will receive a special menu feature on the Round-Up website for doing so.   “Our farmers, ranchers, winemakers and fishermen make it easy for chefs to serve fresh Texas fare,” Commissioner Staples said. “The GO TEXAN Restaurant Round-Up celebrates that connection while Texans enjoy local products and support local food banks. For one of the nation’s largest statewide dine-out weeks, we encourage patrons to ‘Go Out. Go Eat. GO TEXAN.’”
Hundreds of Texas restaurants across the state are participating in this year’s Round-Up, including Johnny Cace’s Seafood and Steak House in Longview, Southwest Bistro at the Hyatt Regency Austin, Haven in Houston, Calesa in Harlingen, Canary by Gorji in Dallas and Glazed Honey Ham Co. in Lubbock.
“I’m excited to show that we care about serving fresh local food and authentic Texas wines,” said Jim Baron, owner of Blue Mesa Grill and TNT / Tacos and Tequila in Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin. “Our customers are interested in where their food comes from and appreciate fresh local products.  This is a great opportunity for Texas restaurants to partner with local food producers and give to local food banks.”
 

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NEW RELEASES (quotes are winemakers' comments and prices vary from store to store)

VILLA MARIA ESTATE: "The 2010 vintage was superb for Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough New Zealand, producing wines with weight, concentration, vibrancy and flavor. The late February rain events, moderate yields and long warm, dry autumn period resulted in excellent vine vitality, optimal balance and clean fruit allowing each site to show its true potential.
Our VILLA MARIA ESTATE 2010 Private Bin and 2010 Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blancs are now in market.  Villa Maria was founded in 1961 by Sir George Fistonich who, through his dedication to quality, has led Villa Maria to become the New Zealand wine icon it is today. His entrepreneurial spirit has seen Villa Maria push the boundaries in every aspect of winemaking. Villa Maria was the first wine company in New Zealand to declare the winery a "cork-free zone," sealing
all wines from the 2004 vintage onwards with a screwcap to ensure quality in every bottle. It was also the first New Zealand producer to employ professional viticulturists. 
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SPRING VALLEY VINEYARD URIAH Estate Walla Walla, Washington CELEBRATES TEN VINTAGES: Uriah Corkrum was born in 1866, shortly after his family's wagon train
arrived in Walla Walla Valley.  As a young man, he farmed before losing his land in the depression of 1893, but fortunately could purchase Spring Valley Ranch in 1897 and spent his life farming it.  Decades later, Uriah's granddaughter Shari and her husband Dean Derby planted the first merlot grapes at Spring Valley.  "We were thrilled our grapes were prized by producers," Dean says.  The first Spring Valley Estate Vineyard wine was the 1999 vintage.  The Derbys’ son Devin Corkrum Derby served as winemaker until his untimely death in 2004.  Devin’s assistant and friend Serge Laville took over as winemaker and continues the legacy of Spring Valley Vineyard.  “I was taught winemaking in France,” he says, “but I learned how to make Washington wine from Devin Derby.”  Both men believed in relying on the vineyard and allowing nature to take its course in the winemaking process with minimal, careful intervention. 
Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival featured a tasting of Spring Valley’s URIAH, including the first vintage, 1999, which showed generous fruit, an elegant smoothness and a layered complexity.  All vineyards are estate and over the years the maturing vines have evolved superbly.  As Winemaker Serge Laville says, "Blending is the last step of quality."  The fine 2003 vintage of URIAH blended 77% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.  It was filled with aromas and flavors of dark fruit, chocolate, and luscious, soft tannins with a balanced evolution over the palate.  The small-crop 2004 is the only Uriah that includes Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend (about 5%).  It has perfumy aromas and flavors of blueberry, wood-spice, raspberry, dark cherries with a strong, firm finish.  The 2006 vintage was a dry season with a low yield, giving an intensity of fruit with game overtones, vanilla and bees-wax nose, well-melded flavors, and a floral fragrances.  It includes 54% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Franc, 7 % Petit Verdot and 6% Malbec.   The ideal growing season was dominated by a hot, dry summer and a long, mild ripening period that lasted into October, producing small berries loaded with condensed flavors.  The 2007 Uriah is rich and big with a  good, bold structure and balance, a subtle nose reminiscent of leather and blackberries with big flavors and good acidity.   The 2008 vintage had very cool conditions with record low yields.  The wine blend is 53% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Franc, 8 % Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec and is the current release.   This wine is young and shows great promise and I would cellar it for for two or three years for greater pleasure.  Uriah wines cost about $50.  Only a few thousand cases are made each year, but finding these extremely well-made wines is an immense reward.
 
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KORBEL 2009 California Brut Organically Grown Champagne $16: “Luxurious and earth friendly, this sparkler is Korbel’s third release.  It shows classic character and crisp, elegant style along with its green credentials. In 2007, Korbel received certification from the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and – using certified grapes (without usage of synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers) – released the inaugural organically grown California Brut Champagne.  An expanded selection of organic grapes and fine-tuning of production techniques have given this 2009 champagne refined fruit, classic complexity and uncommon finesse.   It shows Korbel’s commitment to sustainability.
Produced – like all Korbel California champagnes – using the time-honored méthode champenoise, the 2009 Korbel California Brut showcases delicate yet lively green apple, lemon zest, fresh citrus and white peach aromas and flavors, accented by subtle yeast complexity.  This appealing champagne’s lithe palate and persistent effervescence lead to a long, crisp finish.
Established in 1882, Korbel Champagne Cellars produces the United States’ most popular méthode champenoise champagne.  Owned and managed by the Heck family since 1954, Korbel currently makes 11 California champagnes and a small amount of still wine. In a separate facility, Korbel also produces one of the country’s most respected brandies.

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FERRARI-CARANO releases several new vintages. Since 1985, Ferrari-Carano has been a leading producer of world class, nationally acclaimed wines.  Vintage after vintage, the wines exhibit a remarkable consistency of style and elegance.  Don and Rhonda Carano's uncompromising commitment to quality and excellence is a reflection of their desire to produce memorable wines that enhance the pleasures of gracious entertaining and not focus on short-term financial goals.

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BONNY DOON VINEYARD; “The Bonny Doon 2010 Vin Gris de Cigare Central Coast ($15) stylistically follows the 2009, with some slight vintage-dependent variation. The wine is a blend of 70.5% grenache, 16.5% roussanne, 11% grenache blanc, and 2% mourvèdre.  But what is most significant is that the wine is in fact a true Vin Gris; that is, made from juice created by direct pressing of the grapes, not as a saigner.  I have historically anguished in the thirty years of making this wine, about getting the color ‘right,’ having enough fruitiness in the nose, all of the neurotic things that winemakers of vins d’effort anguish about.  I am delighted to report that at least in the instance of pink wine, less truly is more.  Now, there were some very strange vintage specific phenomena, mind you.  This wine, fermented with indigenous yeast, (as are all of our wines), underwent spontaneous malolactic fermentation, (as did all the white wines in our cellar this year.)  While not precisely the outcome that we intended, we went with the flow. The wine was left on lees until April, and stirred vigorously; the discreet lees autolysis has given the wine a wonderful texture and savoriness. (3298 cases produced.)

BONNY DOON VINEYARD; “As far as the Bonny Doon 2008 Central Coast Syrah, “Le Pousseur,” you know, I am a bit of a contrarian, and with the chiens courant of the wine press pronouncing the syrah category, like Generalissimo Franco, still thoroughly dead, I feel personally compelled to pursue this category thoroughly a main. This is our ‘entry-level’ Syrah, produced from three coastal vineyards, (62% Alamo Creek, 15% Chequera, and 23% Terra Bella) with yields kept well in check and harvested at a rational level of maturity.  What I love best about this wine is its earthy, mineral character, which I largely attribute to the gravelly soils of the Alamo Creek vineyard.  Very pleasant acidity, with an earthy, savory meatiness, this is precisely the Syrah that I believe the Central Coast can do exceptionally well.  2705 cases

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SHAFER NAPA VALLEY WINES : The Red Shoulder Ranch in the Carneros region offers a long, consistently cool growing season, which is ideal for retaining acidity in Chardonnay fruit.  The vineyard is draped across rolling hills within sight of San Francisco Bay.  Here we've planted a blend of five Chardonnay clones that give us small clusters, low yields and abundant flavors.  To focus on varietal flavors, Shafer uses only wild yeast for fermentation and does not put the wine through malolactic fermentation.  Shafer’s Carneros vineyard is home to countless gophers who love to feast on young vine roots.  To contain this problem, Shafer has erected owl nesting boxes and hawk perches to encourage day and night rodent patrol. “The Red-shouldered hawks and other birds of prey do such an outstanding job, we named the vineyard in their honor,” says Doug Shafer.   "The long, cool growing season in Carneros allows the fruit to mature slowly and evenly, letting us wait for the right moment when sugar and acid achieve balance," says Doug Shafer.

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RUSSIAN HILL Estate Winery: In the heart of the Russian River Valley, Russian Hill Estate is a family owned and operated winery.  Edward Gomez and Ellen Mack established Russian Hill in 1997 after a two-year intensive search for the appropriate site.  It was imperative that the land be capable of producing outstanding estate vineyards but also allow for construction of a winery. Only by having full control of both the vineyard and wine production, did the team at Russian Hill feel they could produce wines of the quality they envisioned.   They are dedicated and relentless in their pursuit of fine wines.   Using the utmost care from vineyard to bottle, Russian Hill is dedicated to the production of world-class wines: Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay and Viognier.  The key philosophy of the winery is to maintain the highest degree of excellence in viticulture and winemaking practices to allow wines to fully express the source of their various vineyards.  These wines are a real treat.  Be diligent in searching for them because the production is limited.  They are indeed worth the search.

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SMITH & HOOK 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Central Coast  $30: "Rich and bright on the nose, this Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon, has aromas and flavors of black plum, black cherry, black currant, cassis, clove, and cedar.   Layers of dark fruits and chocolate blend with a medley of ripe berries with vanilla hints. The substantial, mature and chewy tannins  finish with a finely integrated acidity.  Made from grapes grown at our own Smith and Hook Ranches and crafted from the vine to the bottle with attention and care, the Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine that is sure to please even the most discriminating palate.   Pair with aged red meats and cheeses, rib roasts and braised shortribs.

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NAKED EARTH and GREEN TRUCK celebrate Earth Day 365 days a year by creating wines that inspire awareness and appreciation of our Earth's natural environment.  The Bronco Wine Company portfolio includes several organic brands that are easy on the environment as well as the budge.   NAKED EARTH and GREEN TRUCK are two of them.  NAKED EARTH wines come from the South of France.  The rolling hillsides of France's Languedoc-Roussillon region are where Naked Earth earns its name.  Conjured from completely natural grapes that bask in the warm day glow of southern France, and rest in its cool and tranquil nights, Naked Earth is the product of Mother Nature – never touched by harsh chemicals or unnatural fertilizers. Blends are made with certified organic grapes grown in the Languedoc-Roussillon, a sun-soaked vineyard region.  Viticulture practices are stripped-down basics so minimal that grapes are made by the environment: Vines live in ecological harmony with the soil, water and organisms.  Natural settings create healthier grapes.

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FAT CAT Cellars: "At Fat Cat Cellars, our vibe is velvety varietal wines.  Wines inspired by the jazz music we love.  So try our jam session Cabernet Sauvignon, mellow Merlot, smooth Pinot Noir, bebop-crisp Chardonnay, or our new and exuberant Pinot Grigio. You’ll find a fusion of rich flavors and genuine Cat-itude in every glass. You dig?"

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KENWOOD VINEYARDS 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay will make your summer much better.  Kenwood Vineyards makes wine people enjoy drinking and sharing and the key is respecting the variety by enhancing its intrinsic character without over-manipulating.  The three newly released 2010 white wines from Kenwood Vineyards illustrate the tastiness of this approach.  Pinot gris grapes yield extraordinary quality when grown in very cool conditions of the Russian River Valley.  This grape’s fresh tropical fruit character is a natural crowd-pleaser, so Kenwood winemakers gently whole-cluster press and cold-ferment the juice and bottle early for maximum fruit.
To fully capture Chardonnay’s rich character, Kenwood Vineyards harvests grapes from the very cool Russian River Valley and somewhat warmer (but still cool) Sonoma Valley.  Judicious oak fermentation and aging complement Chardonnay’s assertiveness and depth.  In 2010, Kenwood barrel-fermented approximately two-thirds of the harvest in small French oak barrels and aged the young wine in barrels on the yeast lees for five months, during which it underwent malolactic fermentation to achieve additional elegance on palate.
KENWOOD VINEYARDS 2010 Pinot Gris Russian River Valley $16: "Fresh and vibrant, aromas and flavors combine just-picked pineapple, papaya and lemon with a hint of almond, for a  dry and refreshing  Serve well-chilled for a summer wine without peer and delicious on its own or with a wide variety of lighter foods.  1,250 cases.  Available in select markets nationally or directly from the Kenwood Vineyards website, www.kenwoodvineyards.com.
KENWOOD VINEYARDS 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County $12 (13.5 % alc.): "KENWOOD Sauvignon Blanc has set the standard for more than 30 years.  The popular consistent competition winner ranks as a California classic.  Now this classic has an environmentally friendly bottle (ECO Series™) and new closure.  The new ECO Series™ bottle is appreciably lighter and has a 25 percent reduction in the CO² needed to produce and transport it compared to the traditional wine bottle.  The new Stelvin screw cap preserves the wine’s fresh aromas and flavors, and eliminates the risk of oxidation and taint. From the small and cool 2010 vintage, Kenwood harvested grapes from five Sonoma County appellations at optimal maturity.  Individual vineyard lots were cold-fermented separately and the young wine remained in neutral stainless steel tanks until bottling to preserve its delicious fruit.  This 2010 Kenwood Sauvignon Blanc’s fresh, alluring aromas of guava, lemon and lime gain complexity from a background note of new mown hay.  Vibrant flavors of lemon and lime are accented by a dash of herb complexity.  Flavorful yet lithe on the palate and fine natural acidity enhance this superb wine’s long, food-friendly finish."
KENWOOD VINEYARDS 2010 Chardonnay Sonoma County $14: "This wine showcases appealingly complex aromas of red and green apple, butter and vanilla, together with a subtle nutmeg accent. Apple, lemon and toasty oak dominate the medium-bodied flavors. Generous on the palate but smooth in texture, it culminates in a long, crisp finish. This is a fresh, balanced, complex Chardonnay that can certainly be appreciated unaccompanied, but really shines with chicken and seafood dishes. The vintage produced an impressive 87,400 cases.

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JOSEPH PHELPS VINEYARDS  has two new releases for your pleasure: JOSEPH PHELPS 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2010 EISÉBE.

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MAYACAMAS VINEYARDS Winemaker-Owner Robert Travers has released two delectable white wines to brighten your summer.  Bob takes great pride in his wines, as well he should.  He knows what he's doing and every aspect gets scrutiny from his discerning eyes.  The steep rocky slopes of the vineyards at Mayacamas yield small crops of tiny grapes.  This small fruit is intensely flavored and results in very full character development in the wines. Winemaker Robert Travers designs winemaking procedures to preserve this intensity.  Annual Chardonnay production averages nearly 1,500 cases.  It is made entirely from Chardonnay grapes.  Pressing is accomplished immediately after crushing and destemming.  Cool fermentation follows and lasts about three weeks.  Secondary malolactic fermentation is not induced.   Then Mayacamas Chardonnay is given several rackings and a light fining during the next six months of aging in 600 to 1,200 gallon American oak casks.  A year of aging in 60 gallon French oak barrels precedes bottling. These wines usually reach maturity at five to eight years of age but some hold near their peak for many more years. Mayacamas produces several hundred cases a year of Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is made entirely from Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  Crushing, destemming and pressing are followed by three weeks of cool fermentation.  Several rackings and a fining during the eight to ten months of cask aging precede bottling.  Usually released when a year and a half old, Mayacamas Sauvignon Blanc is usually at its best when three to five years of age, but some vintages age well for several more years.

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KITCHEN SINK:  Like a great chef who creates a culinary tour de force from whatever mix of flavors and spices the cupboard provides, our winemakers embrace the same "kitchen sink" approach to crafting deeply flavored and harmonious artisan blends from our cellar's diverse selection of vineyard and varietal lots. Our Kitchen Sink brand includes a red blend and a white blend both created in a fruity, lush and approachable style. 

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CONCANNON'S portfolio has released two new vintages of GLEN ELLEN.   All GLEN ELLEN wines are available in 1.5L magnums and in 750 ml sizes and, as a  partner with Concannon, benefits from state-of-the-art winemaking facilities and Central Coast fruit.  Additionally, CONCANNON 4th-generation vintner John Concannon reports, "For over 125 years our family has been producing great wines at exceptional values, and there are no better examples than the wines from our Selected Vineyards tier, all released nationally for $10.   Here are our three new releases from Central Coast.

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PANTHER ROCK WINE COMPANY has new releases: COTTONWOOD CREEK CELLARS  and MOTOS LIBERTY.   COTTONWOOD CREEK is a new organic red wine made with 100% organic grapes.  It has a green focus from the vineyard to the table: Made with CCOF Certified Organic Grapes; Eco Lightweight Bottles; Natural recyclable Cork; Recyclable Paper Labels; Soy Ink Printing; Non-bleached, Kraft Natural Shippers.

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BRIDLEWOOD ESTATE WINERY Winemaker David Hopkins says he takes full advantage of the wealth of grapes available in the Central Cost region. "At Bridlewood, we craft a range of premium wines that reflect the kaleidoscope of flavors found in dozens of Central Coast vineyards from Monterey to Santa Barbara," Hopkins says.  "I spend a great deal of time in the vineyards that dot the Pacific Coastline, searching for grapes that will give unique flavors in the glass.  In the winery, it's all about blending.  We meld different vineyard lots to coax the best flavors into his Syrah, Viognier, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines.  The result is a collection of wines that are generous of fruit and seamlessly integrated – balanced wines that speak to the flavors of the Central Coast."

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BAREFOOT CELLARS has a trio of summer wines ready for you.  Winemaker Jennifer Wall tells me that Barefoot Cellars is the most awarded wine under $15 in the U.S. "We got our start as a 'garage wine' back in the Sixties but really stepped up what Barefoot was about in 1986 when Michael Houlihan and partner Bonnie Harvey decided to relaunch the brand.  The two of them, along with the first Barefooter, Randy Arnold, believed in making and selling wine that was both delicious and affordable and that could be enjoyed by everyone from first-time wine-consumers to hard-core aficionados.  We believe that we can both promote our brand and satisfy our desire to make the world a better place by partnering with various non-profits and pouring at various fund-raising events. Over the years, Barefoot has been a part of thousands of non-profit events and our popularity has grown along with our support of these ground-breaking organizations.  We took another big step in 2006 by becoming a sponsor of the Association of Volleyball Professions (AVP) Beach Volleyball supporting a grassroots sport that originated in our state-California. We’ve also teamed up with the grass roots non-profit, the Surfrider Foundation, to create the Barefoot Beach Rescue Project, designed to clean up beaches and ensure they are "Barefoot friendly." These two initiatives help us spread a sense of fun in the sun while furthering the Barefoot philosophy of giving back.  Over the years, our wines have garnered numerous accolades and professional awards, but more importantly to us, we have a growing circle of loyal fans who love to enjoy our wine and who have joined us in the spirit of giving back to our communities and to our world. For us, and we hope for all of you, that’s an achievement well worth toasting with a glass of Barefoot wine.

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BRONCO WINE COMPANY releases several summer sensations that just might become year-round preferences.  They are delicious and affordable and will be great for celebrations like graduations, birthday, weddings and such.  Bronco has been in business for more than 110 years and has a knack for offering reasonably -priced, well-made wines.

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VALLEY OF THE MOON: VALLEY OF THE MOON SANGIOVESE: Sangiovese are known for producing savory reds.  The grape also produces fresh rosés.  A California sangiovese pioneer, Valley of the Moon Winery makes both and the new releases of Sangiovese wines showcase two sides of this grape--each distinctive and delicious.
The dominant red grape of Italy, sangiovese is equally at home in Sonoma County, with an affinity for appellations with very warm days and cool evenings such as Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley and the northern reaches of Sonoma Valley.   These locations deliver the variety’s distinctive character of spice and bright acidity.  The winemaking, however, makes the skilled contrasts.  The Sangiovese red is fermented to dryness at moderate temperatures, then pressed and racked into small French oak barrels to age for 16 months.  Small percentages of Barbera and Merlot in the final blend enhance the finished wine’s aromas and texture. The Rosato di Sangiovese gets its brilliant color from an overnight soak of crushed grapes and juice.   After gentle pressing, the juice is fermented at very cool temperatures in stainless steel tanks. The young wine remains in stainless steel until bottling to maximize fresh fruit character.  VALLEY OF THE MOON Unoaked Chardonnay fulfills the requests for for this style of Chardonnay.
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AUCTION NAPA VALLEY:
Lot Honors Grapegrower Andy Beckstoffer
For the first time in its 31-year history, Auction Napa Valley is offering wines made from grapes grown by respected independent grower Andy Beckstoffer and his heritage vineyards: To Kalon in Oakville, Dr. Crane in St. Helena, and Vineyard Georges III in Rutherford. “The Napa Valley Vintners, through this auction, is spotlighting Napa Valley history and vineyards. This is important,” said Beckstoffer.
“This is a fantastic honor both to me and to the seven vintners whose wines will be presented. Even more important, it is a singular honor and recognition for all of the independent growers, their vineyards, and the long history of grapegrowing in the Napa Valley,” said Beckstoffer. “Most people don’t realize that half the grapes in the Napa Valley are grown by independent grapegrowers who do not make wine. We are dedicated to growing the grapes and preserving the Napa Valley as an American premier viticulture region. Great wines are made in the vineyards, so the vineyards must be preserved.”
Over the years, vineyard owner Andy Beckstoffer has painstakingly acquired some of Napa’s most historic and highest quality vineyards in the Napa Valley – vineyards that have produced great wines for more than a century. Now one of the 40 live auction lots at this year’s Auction Napa Valley will feature some of the best wines from these vineyards. The lot includes the following 3 liter bottles, all of which scored above 95 in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (two scored a perfect 100). Each will be personally signed by Beckstoffer and the winemaker:  
1.       REALM 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard, St. Helena
2.       B CELLARS 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard
3.       CARTER 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard
4.       MACAULEY 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard
5.       POETIC JUSTICE 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard
6.       SCHRADER 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard CCS, Oakville
7.       SCHRADER 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard MMVII, Old Sparky
8.       TOR 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard Clone 4
9.       TOR 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard Clone 6
10.     REALM 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard
11.    SCHRADER 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Beckstoffer Vineyard Georges III, Rutherford 
Included in the auction lot is a large wall hanging of a beautifully recreated antique map of Napa County from 1881, showing the location of historic vineyards such as Dr. Crane, To Kalon, and Georges III. “The wines are fabulous, but this map may just steal the show,” said Beckstoffer. Also included is a viticultural tour of the Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard for eight people, escorted by Andy Beckstoffer and the respective winemakers. Then it’s off to the Beckstoffer estate in Rutherford for a tasting of great vintages of Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard and other heritage vineyard wines, followed by a lunch prepared by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer. The auction itself will take place June 2-5 at Meadowood, St. Helena, California.
Andy Beckstoffer was a leader in developing a winery definition ordinance that required Napa wineries to focus on making wines from Napa grapes. Beckstoffer Vineyards has researched, promoted and implemented the latest in modern viticulture techniques. The Heritage Vineyards have been farmed with the very best that art and science can offer, and have produced some of the most famous and highly rated wines in the world. This lot of wines captures the essence of these vineyards, and the remarkable story behind them.
About Beckstoffer Vineyards
Beckstoffer Vineyards is the largest family, non-corporate vineyard owner in Napa Valley. Vineyard acquisitions include several of Napa Valley's most historic and pedigreed vineyards, including Las Piedras (established in 1841), Missouri Hopper (1850), Dr. Crane (1857), To Kalon (1865), Bourn (1872) and Georges III (1895). A pioneer in environmental awareness, technical development, sustainable farming, and business practices, Beckstoffer Vineyards is the largest seller of luxury premium wine grapes (primarily cabernet sauvignon and merlot) in the North Coast. Beckstoffer Vineyards delivers grapes to more than 50 wineries, sourcing the finest grapes for vineyard designate (or single-site) wines to over 20 luxury premium wineries. In a 2009 Wine Spectator review of California Cabernets, nearly 40% of the top-rated twenty-five wines were grown by Andy Beckstoffer.
About Napa Valley Vintners     The Napa Valley Vintners is the non-profit trade association responsible for promoting and protecting the Napa Valley appellation as the premiere winegrowing region.  From seven founding members in 1944, today the association represents over 4oo Napa Valley wineries and collectively is a leader in the world-wide wine industry.  Proceeds support health, youth and affordable housings non-profit programs in Napa Valley. 
 
FAIRNESS OF WINE LAWS: Imagine if Texas lawmakers, in a bid to protect mom-and-pop bookstores, barred Amazon.com from shipping into the state. Or if Massachusetts legislators, worried about Boston’s shoe boutiques, prohibited residents from ordering from Zappos.com.
Such moves would infuriate consumers. They might also breach the Constitution’s commerce clause, which limits states from erecting trade barriers against one another.  But wine consumers, producers and retailers face such restrictions daily.
Last month,  Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah, introduced a bill in the House that would allow states to cement such protectionist laws. It should appall wine snobs, beer swillers and even teetotalers. In this case, the law would protect not small stores and liquor producers, but the wholesale liquor lobby.
Like virtually all of America’s liquor laws, this proposal traces its origins to the temperance movement. When Prohibition was repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1933, states were given the authority to regulate the “transportation or importation” of “intoxicating liquors” within their borders.
States were allowed to decide whether they wanted to remain dry. As alcohol again started flowing freely, states either assumed control over its sale and distribution, or created a wholesale tier to sit between producers and retailers.
Before Prohibition, many bars were owned by brewers or distillers. Temperance advocates blamed these bars for some of the ills associated with drunkenness, and believed that keeping the producers away from the business of selling directly would help society.
Lawmakers hoped this wholesale tier would weaken producers. And indeed, the wholesaling industry grew quickly, as most alcoholic beverages had to pass through it before ending up at liquor stores, bars and restaurants. It was, essentially, a state-mandated middleman.
Today, wholesaling is big business. Together, the nation’s two largest wholesalers — Southern Wine & Spirits and Republic National Distributing Company — have revenues of about $13 billion.
 A chunk of that cash is funneled to lawmakers. The National Beer Wholesalers Association maintains the nation’s third-largest political action committee, and since 2000, it has donated $15.4 million to candidates for federal office — about $5 million more than the A.F.L.-C.I.O donated in that time.
In the past decade, it spent $5.6 million on lobbying Congress; the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers of America spent $9.3 million.
The expenditures make sense. The wholesaling industry’s survival depends on maintaining today’s highly regulated system. It is estimated that because of wholesalers, consumers pay 18 percent to 25 percent more at retail than they otherwise would.
And in recent years, the industry’s dominance has been threatened.
Last year, the United States passed France as the world’s largest wine-consuming nation (in bottles, not yet per capita). America’s love affair with wine deepened in the early 1990s, when many people developed a preference for high-end wines and started ordering directly from producers.
Wholesalers didn’t like being cut from these transactions, so they pushed state lawmakers to prohibit “direct shipping.” Many did. By 1999, just 19 states allowed consumers to order wine from out-of-state producers.
But in 2005, the Supreme Court ruled in Granholm v. Heald that the 21st Amendment “did not give states the authority to pass nonuniform laws in order to discriminate against out-of-state goods.” Thus, lawmakers could prohibit out-of-state wineries from shipping into a state only if they were willing to block their own wineries from shipping out.
In the six years since, several states have liberalized their wine laws. But many restrictions remain.
Alabama oenophiles can order wine only from an out-of-state producer if they have received written approval from the state’s Beverage Control Board. Wineries can ship into Indiana and Delaware only to consumers who have visited the winery and made a purchase in person. In 37 states, residents are prohibited from ordering wine from online retailers or auction houses or even joining wine-of-the-month clubs.
The bill under consideration in Congress will make things even worse.
This proposal would allow discrimination against out-of-state producers and retailers if lawmakers can prove that such laws advance “a legitimate local purpose that cannot be adequately served by reasonable nondiscriminatory alternatives.”
That means that if a state’s discriminatory liquor laws produce tax revenues, for instance, they can’t be challenged in court.
But instead of burdening consumers by foisting more restrictions on alcohol sales, lawmakers should free the market and expand consumer choice by scrapping this bill and letting wholesalers know that it won’t be considered again, as the commerce clause reigns supreme.
Nationwide, there are more than 6,000 wineries, and about 7,000 American wine retailers have Web sites. Wine clubs affiliated with newspapers (including this one), gourmet stores and even rock bands are taking off. Yet most Americans have access to only a small fraction of what’s available.
The wholesaling industry is right to be nervous.  After all, consumers have shown that they will order directly from producers and specialty retail shops if given the chance.  But that’s no reason to save an antiquated system that gives Americans fewer choices and makes them pay more.
David White is the founder and editor of the wine blog Terroirist.
CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE KEEPS GETTING GREENER:  Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) is leading environmental preservation with initiatives to reuse woody biomass and wastewater from wine production.  The Champagne appellation-wide program will transform 150,000 metric tons of wood waste from vineyard pruning into energy, reducing pollution and help replace fossil fuels used in wine production with a renewable energy source.  Through this BIOVIVE (Biomasse Viticole) initiative, the Champenois work with local utilities to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 10,000 metric tons per year, the equivalent of taking 5,000 vehicles off the road.  Similarly, wine production results in 600,000 cubic meters of wastewater and byproducts each year.  Since 1990, the Champagne industry has steadily increased its environmental stewardship; now 95 percent of wastewater is treated and 91 percent is recycled.  "Champagne only comes from Champagne.  Its distinctive land and climate cannot be replicated and the people of Champagne understand that they must preserve the region's centuries-old wine-making tradition," said Sam Heitner, Champagne Bureau director and CIVC representative to U.S.  "These efforts are a few of the many environmental initiatives undertaken to reduce the region's carbon emissions 25 percent by 2020."
 Champagne is not only wine; it is a unique region with a long history of winemaking expertise.  Located 90 miles northeast of Paris, the region covers less than 80,000 acres. Only grapes handpicked in the delineated plots inside the appellation can produce Champagne.  The CIVC, comprised of all grape growers and houses in Champagne, has led these environmental initiatives to ensure that Champagne continues to focus on quality and preserve its unique wine-growing location.  
The region's leadership in emission reduction began in 2002 with the first-ever wine region environmental impact assessment. Based on the audit results, the Champagne region set itself the goal of cutting carbon emissions 25 percent by 2020 and 75 percent by 2050. Consequently, more than 40 initiatives currently reduce the region's environmental footprint.  For example, after determining that production, packing and shipping accounted for 33 percent of the region's carbon emissions, the CIVC announced a new standard bottle in 2010 (more than two ounces lighter) that will reduce the annual CO2 output by 8,000 metric tons, equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of 4,000 cars.  The new design  changes the bottle neck and was tested to ensure it maintains the performance, safety and character of the bottle historically used in the region.   "In 2002, the Champenois showed true leadership by engaging in the most comprehensive environmental audit of a wine region that had ever been conducted," continued Heitner. "Introducing a lighter bottle, reusing wood waste and capturing wastewater are small steps that, when implemented throughout the region, help make a significant difference in the carbon emitted from the Champagne appellation."

 

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