Posts From May 2009
May 28, 2009
America's First Lady of Champagne Honored June 6
Saturday, June 6 when wine enthusiasts from around the world assemble at Meadowood for an annual celebration of Napa Valley, America’s first lady of bubbly will be honored by her many friends. With her husband Jack, the late Jamie Davies arrived in the wine country in 1965 and immediately launched the year’s long revival of the historic Schramsberg estate on Diamond Mountain, the twenty-second winery in Napa Valley to reopen its doors following the repeal of prohibition. Jamie and her husband joined a group of enthusiastic, visionary vintners who together transformed the Napa wine industry, elevating the world’s passion for wine to new heights in the process. Upon Jack’s passing in 1998, Jamie, with her inspired legion of friends and employees, carried their collective mission forward.
In February 2008, the valley and the wine community at large lost Jamie as well. Her infectious spirit and energy will live on for generations to come, and with this special lot 24, we offer a tribute to that dream that has captured us all.
I count myself among 25 of Jamie's dearest women friends and who have come together in her honor with a landmark Auction Napa Valley lot. Included are fifty Napa Valley magnums from our collective cellars These wonderful women will join the winning bidder and 24 guests at a tribute luncheon in Jack & Jamie's Grove amongst the J. Davies Vineyards on the Schramsberg Diamond Mountain property. Tentatively scheduled for May 2010, the afternoon will be a celebration “Jamie Style” amongst the vines and trees of her favorite place along with her closest friends in the Napa Valley. Napa chef Holly Peterson will prepare an al fresco feast paired with a selection of Schramsberg's and J. Davies’ finest vintages
May 22, 2009
Wine God at Stagecoach Tasting
How I Tasted 95 "2008" Wines From Stagecoach Vineyard and Lived To Tell The Tale
by Roy Piper, eRobertparker.com
I remember back before I moved to Napa, on one of my excursions here, I found my way up to Stagecoach Vineyard above Oakville East. I had read all about the development of the property in the excellent book “The Winemaker’s Dance” and wanted to see the place for myself. I remember thinking when I got there that there is no way one would ever really get a handle on the massive estate and that it would be near impossible to figure out if there was any thread of “somewhere-ness” or terroir that one could sense on such an unwieldy property.
Little did I know that owner Jan Krupp has been holding annual winemaker tastings for eight years, where most of the winemakers who source fruit every year get together at Coles Chop House in Napa to pour their wines and compare notes. I was fortunate to be invited to this years gathering, held over two consecutive Thursdays. The first was all non-Cabernet varietals and the second Thursday was an all-Cab affair.
In total, I tried 95 wines from the 2008 vintage from probably close to 20 producers, each with their own winemaking style, goals and methods. After each flight of 5-8 wines, each winemaker would comment on what they thought, how they made the wine, thoughts about their block and then field questions. It was a fascinating experience, both hedonistically and intellectually.
The property itself is East and slightly South of Prichard Hill and Oakville East. It shares similar soils overall with those regions but is slightly cooler. This is a generalization though, as in listening to the various winemakers present, soil and orientation can vary one block to the next and have enormous impact. A few spots can get really hot and others are more like Atlas Peak in their coolness. This kind of mystery is one any Pinot lover or vineyard geek would enjoy, as figuring out the best little pockets to plant and how vineyards blocks can vary one step fall to the next is part of the fun. There are over 500 acres planted on the 1200-acre property and they are not done! Using Google Earth I calculated the planted area to be two miles in length by .85 miles in width. This is almost the distance from Mustards in Yountville to Mondavi winery in length and from Mondavi to the Mayacamas Mountains in width. All this between 900-1700 foot altitudes on extremely rocky soil. A sight to behold. Although Cabernet is the mainstay, the vineyard also has all the other Bordeaux varietals as well as Viognier, Marsanne, Syrah, Petite and Zin.
There is no way I could reprint all 95 tasting notes, but here are my favorites, categorized by producer. Each producer gets their own block or blocks and makes their own call on picking time.
May 19, 2009
Look for Napa Valley's Newest Hotel
In Time's Green Design 100
Bardessono Napa Valley, Calif.
It may be small — just 62 rooms — but from the vertical garden in the entry to 82 geothermal fields for heating and cooling to 100,000 sq. ft. of reclaimed wood, this hotel packs a lot of green for the punch. www.bardessono.com
May 6, 2009
Salumeria, A Beard Week Discovery
In New York for the high-spirited, food world love fest, The Beard Awards, I was delighted to find some time with Tuscan chef Cesare Casella who has opened the new Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto at 73rd and Amsterdam. Casella’s pure Tuscan heritage, closeness to the earth, talent and enthusiasm bring quality and heart to his new venture.
I first met Casella at Arlene Feltman Sailhac’s De Gustabus about 16 years ago when he’d just moved from Lucca to chef at Coco Pazzo. In town to pour Stags Leap Petite Syrah for Wine Experience, I was lamenting that it was truffle season in Alba (Italy), yet nearly impossible to replicate the intoxicatingly delicious fungi I’ve savored in Monforte Alba. Casella insisted that to correct this notion we must come to his dining room later that night.
We arrived to lines of guests qued up for the last seating whom we were spirited past and led to a corner table for two. There, unfolded a euphoric white truffle dining experience unlike any other. When Casella appeared in the dining room to check our reactions, he was clearly jubilant about what was going on in the kitchen and confident he’d find expressions of pure pleasure on our faces.
Now at his tiny West Side salumeria, his involvement with farms and partnerships with Parmacotto and, I’m told, American salume producers, has produced an authentic and sumptuous menu, particularly for lunch and late night repast. Casella’s love of food and friends is as powerful and evident as ever. With three restaurants open in Manhattan, he manages to confirm my lunch reservation personally by e-mail in the wee hours of the morning; make us feel that he’s in his dining room while he is, in fact, across town honoring the 50 best chefs in the world (including Thomas Keller) with S. Pellegrino and return just as lunch is ending to see how we fared.
At midnight, we walked by Salumeria Rosi on our way home from the Beard Awards to see Casella hosting a private party. Again, personally.