My Opinion
Location, Location, Location!

I believe that wine is made in the vineyard.  Weather, soil type and elevation
greatly impact the quality of the fruits used in wine making, known in France as
terroir. Having said that, different varietals flourish under different conditions.

Location is king in wine country!  Where the fruit is harvested is a good indication.
 The prime source of fine wine helps to start with a high quality product.  That's
why I pay attention to wineries that grow and bottle their own fruits grown in:

Oakville, in my opinion, is the best Napa Valley Sub- appellation(AVA) to produce
fine wine from all five common Bordeaux varietals, especially Cabernet
Sauvignon.  In my opinion, it is Napa's perfect, Center Cut New York Prime Sirloin.

St. Helena, Napa Valley, home to some very fine wineries, producing high quality
Bordeaux varietals.

Calistoga,  is the newest recognized AVA, I think this area has some of the finest
Bordeaux and Chardonnay varietals.

Russian River Valley, in Sonoma County has the ideal conditions to produce
some of the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in North America.

That does not mean you cannot produce fine wines in other areas of California.
"Wine is like fine art we
enjoy and admire but unlike
art, to fully appreciate it we
consume it, thus destroy it.
Like most good things they
must come to an end."
What's in The Name:  

There is a major difference between the USA and Europe in the way that wines are specified.  In the States, wine's specified type is
based on the dominating grape varietal used in producing that wine. Regulations allow the wine producer to specify the type of wine
by its dominating varietal.        
For example, Cabernet Sauvignon, must contain at least 75% of the Cabernet Sauvignon varietal in it's content for the wine to be
called Cabernet Sauvignon.
In Europe on the other hand, the type of wine is based on the region where the fruit (grapes) are harvested.  
For example, Bordeaux wines are grown in the Bordeaux region of France.
Does The Glass Matter?

The right wine glasses can really boost the wine tasting experience and make your senses gush. That is
definitely saying something when you are spending a pretty penny to get a high quality wine.
Professor Claus J. Riedel was the first glass designer to recognize that the bouquet, taste, balance and
finish of wines are effected by the shape of the glass from which they are drunk.

Red wine glass: Have a big bowl to allow the flavors to spread out and the wider opening allows you to dip
your nose in the glass to get a lot more complex aromas.  

White wine glass: Have a narrower bowl, the smaller capacity helps keep the temperature cool longer and
let the lighter aromas waft.
For The Distinctive Epicurean and Wine Enthusiast
Chef   & Vintner
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
In the Spotlight;

An extraordinary last harvest is likely to turn hectic in October.  By now in Sonoma County harvest should have been
approaching the initial drive of harvest peek but many of the grape varietals are 10-14 days behind schedule due to the cooler
summer that Northern California has experienced this year.  This season many growers have endured cool summers harvest
delays, freakish sun damage and sluggish sales for the primary agricultural crop.  Now growers face the challenge of
completing harvest before the rain and autumn chill that can cause significant damage to their crop yield.  Last month, the 3
day heat spike caused about 10% crop loss countywide, which it could amount to about 20,000 tons.  There was an estimate
of 5-30 % of fruits that had to be dropped due to the heat wave last month.  Some varieties seemed to suffer more than others
including Zinfandel and a version of Chardonnay with larger berries.

Other damage factors included the orientation of the vines and whether they stand on flat land or a side of the hill.  It is
predicted that this week that the taste of harvest will start to pick up and the week after will probably be getting pretty busy.
By compressing the time of harvest growers face the possibility that wineries will turn down deliveries because their
fermentation tanks for red wines might be still full.  
In such instances the grapes are ready but the wineries cannot take delivery until they have the space.  Growers agree that
for maximum ripening the ideal daily temperature is around 89 degrees and sunshine.  As long as the 100 degree days are
limited, harvest should be fine.   In my opinion this was the perfect 1-2 punch for growers this season.  First the cool summer
days then the heat spike.  The delay of harvest was caused by the cool climates bu the heat damage is worse in Red varieties
than white, the darker skins absorb more heat.  We will have to wait and see the outcome of this unusual season of cool
summer, fog and extremely hot days.
                                                                                                                                                                       
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In The Spotlight;

No one knows for sure how much of the 2010 winegrape crop remains on the vine, but as much as 20 percent may have
received a soaking during last weekend’s storm.  Farmers and Grape growers fear that more rain will make vineyards
too muddy for crews and tractors.  No rot has shown up on the fruit clusters so far, according to some vineyard
managers in Napa. Once there is rot in the fruits, the wineries will reject the load.

The 90 degree weather recently in the last 10 days, which made almost everything ready to pick, was a great blessing
from the sky.  There will be a small percentage of fruit that will not get picked because it didn't ripen enough.

Accuweather meteorologist Ken Clark said reports from Napa County Airport show that 1.51 inches of rain drenched
Napa between Friday and Sunday. “That is what I would call a soaking,” he said.
Clark said there is a chance of rain returning Thursday afternoon, but he expects most of the rain to occur on Friday,
Saturday and possibly into Sunday morning.
Even though the weather was fine earlier this week, this past weekend’s rain, with more expected today through Sunday,
have pushed growers into a “hurricane” pace to pick all of their grapes.
For example, the situation on Spring Mountain is dire, as of this past Monday, most of the wineries have anywhere from
25 percent to 80 percent of their fruits still hanging, and some have 100 percent of their cabernet sauvignon out. Those
that can get into their vineyards were expected to pick Tuesday and Wednesday and others will gut it out and hopefully
wait for better weather after Halloween.
I still remain a little hesitant about this year's crop, however, it is per-mature, we will just have to wait and see until the
spring barrel tastings.                                                                                                                                       
10/28/2010
09/13/2010
In The Spotlight;

As we come to the end of the 2010 harvest, it has been an interesting
vintage year.  It was an unusually cool summer growing season, with a few
days of searing heat as harvest approached and a Pacific storm that
brought significant rain in late October.  In the past few weeks grape
growers worked around the clock and raced to get the final push of grapes
off the vines and to the wineries.  Most vintners are reporting that their
grape deliveries are complete which marks the end of a difficult season.  

In my opinion, this years biggest challenge was the cool summer growing
season, which forced grape growers to leave their fruits for longer hang
time to reach desired sugar levels (Brix). California winemakers tend to
harvest their grapes at a higher Brix level than their counter parts in
France.  

Brix, alcohol content and acidity has been a major fundamental difference
between California wines and French wines especially over the past 30
years.  It has been argued over decades..are the big overripe California
wines better than the French style wine with less fruit, less alcohol and
higher acidity?

Is bigger better?...............(Big fruit, high alcohol and less acid)-The style of
most California wines-mainly red wines.

Is less more?............... (Less fruit, less alcohol and more acid) - The style
of most French wines - mainly red wines.                             
Chef   & Vintner
11/15/2010                                                                             Read more > >