Cabernet in Napa, Cabernet in Walla Walla

The following is a slightly edited version of a speech I delivered at the first Celebrate Walla Walla event held the third weekend in June, 2013, comparing cabernet sauvignon in the two regions:

I want to thank the Alliance for having me up here for the weekend, to join with the Celebrate Walla Walla program – which has, so far, been wonderfully diverse and creative. In fact everything’s been great except for the fact the Miami Heat beat the Spurs in Game 7 – but I don’t blame Walla Walla for that. No, that blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Manu Ginobili.

I’ve been asked to speak briefly about Napa and Walla Walla cabernets and blends, a set of wines that constitute some of the most satisfying and celebrated wines in the American repertoire, and the wines most prized in these two places. I think it’s true that Napa put American cabernet-based wines on the map. I also think it’s true that without Napa cabernet, Walla Walla cabernet would not enjoy the success it does today. Continue reading

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WRO, A Taste of the Truth, December 2007

“A Taste of the Truth”

When you visit, the home page of the Kendall-Jackson, there is a picture of its patriarch and owner, Jess Jackson, leg up on a pile of attractive rubble in one of his vineyards. Beneath the pile of rock a single word appears: Truth. It’s not clear if this is meant to be a motto, a promise, a projection, or a character-defining trait, but the association and the positioning are pretty unmistakable. Continue reading

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WRO, l’Affaire Ojai, February, 2008

Adam Tolmach owns Ojai Winery, in California’s south Central Coast. He’s been making wine for more than 30 years, with significant stints at Zaca Mesa and a brief but important period as a partner with Au Bon Climat’s Jim Clendenen. He’s not new to the game, in short. He’s been around to see more than his share of innovations and trends, and evidently has given in to a few as well. Continue reading

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WRO, Wine as a Muse, July, 2008

I recently attended lunch at Lucques with Christian Moueix, one of the world’s best known winemakers, proprietor of legendary Bordeaux properties (most on the Right Bank) including the great Pomerols Chateau Trotanoy and Chateau Petrus, as well as Dominus, the fine Napa Valley estate.

The Right Bank is the ancestral home to merlot, a variety which gets a tremendous amount of abuse heaped upon it, some of it (outside of the Right Bank anyway) deserved. Moueix, though, is one of the certified masters of merlot; he stewards the world’s most fabled merlot property, Chateau Petrus, for one thing, but in his many other properties, merlot is the centerpiece and his principle medium for expression. So before you write off merlot forever, taste one of Moueix’s wines and remind yourself just how extraordinary the variety can be. In an era when most wines are meant to bonk you over the head with their power (and alcohol), the Moueix wines epitomize elegance, balance, and restraint. Continue reading

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2006 LA Dining Article for W&S

An article I wrote on the LA Dining scene (with wine) for Wine & Spirits.   LA restaurants W&S

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Hello world!

Hi all. This is my brand spanking new website, which will be filled with links to some articles, recent publications, status reports on my book project on the American Rhone Wine Movement, and (god help me) an occasional blog post as needed. Bear with me as I get used to talking about and writing about myself.


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