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Truchard Vineyards

2013 October 7
Truchard 2012 Roussanne

Mention Napa Valley and it conjures up quintessential images of vineyards, wineries and small towns that many wine drinkers may be familiar with, such as St. Helena and Yountville. However, the Napa Valley is a large area divided into several sub appellations that stretches from Calistoga in the north to Los Carneros in the south. Of these appellations, the Carneros AVA is unique because it spans both Sonoma and Napa; it’s closer to the Bay Area making it cooler and more moderated than the rest of the Napa Valley, yet it has those coveted southwesterly exposed hillsides. It’s in that southern-most district, Carneros, nestled up in the foothills of the Mayacama range and Mt. Veeder, that you’ll find Truchard Vineyards. Truchard Vineyards has been growing grapes for 40 years and making their own wine from grapes grown on their 400 acre estate since 1989. In the interest of full disclosure, I was sent these samples. I received three different wines of which I tried two so far. The third, a Pinot Noir, I’ll try at a later date.

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Ouch! That knife in my back still stings

2012 October 21

You may have noticed (or maybe not) that I haven’t written about wine on my blog for quite a while now. Truth is, moving back to Seattle sort of took the wind out of my sails. My recent visit to the North Bay area a few weeks ago reminded me that many people who know me don’t know the real story behind how I “lost” my job at VWE (Vintage Wine Estates) in Santa Rosa. Even now, two years afterward, the acrimony from what happened still infuriates me. Not so much for the job itself, but rather for the betrayals and deceit of people I thought were my allies and my friends. People who continue to work in the industry and act as if no injustice ever happened. Well, I’m tired of others getting ahead at my expense. I think it’s about time this story was told and others know what kind of people they’re dealing with.

Let’s rewind to the summer of 2009. A certain someone garnered a coveted position with Murphy-Goode winery and subsequently, with his help, the winery faded into obscurity. Several other people from that contest received employment offers, some temporary, some permanent. Many have since moved on to bigger and better ventures. I went back to Seattle after the contest, satisfied that I did my best, and confident that I could have done so much more with that position had I won. But things happen for a reason, and I told myself that I didn’t get the gig because something better would come along. At least, that’s what I thought.

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What can we learn about marketing wine from the Chinese?

2012 May 23

A few years ago, if I suggested that China would be a major player in the wine industry, you would have thought I was hitting my cellar a bit too often. But who would have imagined 20 years ago that nearly all our electronics and manufactured goods now come from a country that is the last bastion of Communism. Today, China is the fifth largest consumer of wine in the world and poised to be a major player both in its consumption and production. Just this week, Chinese wineries took home 18 medals from the 2012 Decanter Wine Awards including a gold for a 2010 Cabernet Franc from  Chateau Reifeng-Auzias in Shandong province, a joint French-Chinese venture.

Photo by Powell Yang

Given China’s enormous population, very few are actually wine savvy. The typical Chinese consumer buys cheap plonk made domestically that is either very sweet or highly-fortified wines that more closely resemble moonshine brandy. Those who can afford higher end wines have nearly cornered the market on first and second growth French Bordeaux and Burgundy. Seeing the photos from my Facebook friend, Powell Yang, conspicuously reminds me of this. However, it’s that huge potential middle-ground where many New World wineries are hoping to score big with Chinese consumers. But even if your distribution plans don’t include China or Hong Kong, you can still learn something from them.

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Keplinger 2006 Red Slope Grenache

2012 May 4
by Eric Hwang

This wine just keeps getting better and better. After opening this, I’m down to my last bottle of this wonderful vintage and I’m wishing I bought more. Soon I’ll have to start opening the 2007.

Deep brick red clear color. Fragrant aromas of violets, cloves and cherry. Helen’s feminine style is evident in this gorgeous wine. Silky and luxurious dark cherry and raspberry flavors. The savory characteristics beg for rich foods such as duck or pork belly. True, it’s very high alcohol at 15.5%, but the wine is so well integrated it doesn’t taste hot and maintains an understated richness on the palate. How does she do that? A medium finish with a hint of cracked black pepper. One of the best Grenache I’ve had from California. read more…