Evan Dawson, who writes about Finger Lakes wines for the New York Cork Report (and who we last saw here), recently tweeted that he was in Napa. I asked him if he wanted to contribute a post from his travels and he suggested his stop at Mayacamas Vineyards. Today we have his thoughts. Tomorrow, John Gilman offers his tasting notes on several decades’ of Mayacamas wines.
By Evan Dawson
Whither Napa Cabernet? The economy dealt a blow to the iconic American wine as consumers started reaching for less expensive bottles. Now, a growing number of critics and consumers, including those in California, are openly wondering if the Napa Cabernet train has come off the rails: commentator Dan Berger, for one, last week dismissed California Cabernet as “little more than a parody of itself.”
High up the side of Mount Veeder one sunny but cool, midwinter morning a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t help wondering if the way back might offer ideas for Napa’s way forward. After all, the Cabernets of the 1970s helped put Napa on the world wine map, so it seemed reasonable to wonder if in wine, as in fashion, the past could provide inspiration.
To find one answer to this question, I had ventured to the Maycamas Vineyards. Celebrated in the 1970s as a leading producer of Cabernet, I was curious if the once-hot style would seem as out of place as bell bottoms or as appealing as Mad Men. After all, not much had changed there. Read more…
An reader mail came in last week from Centcom in Iraq–not the usual place of people needing wine help! It turns out that the author, Bob Krumm of Nashville, TN, is a wine geek embedded in our military. Stationed at Camp Basrah, not only is he making a huge personal sacrifice by helping to protect our national interest, but he has even had to give up wine to do so. I asked him to contribute a “postcard” from Basrah describing what it’s like as a wine lover in a very dry zone.
Greetings from Basrah, Iraq!
I’ve started your newest book “A Year of Wine” and instantly took a liking to what you wrote in the introduction about how enjoying wine is as much about the context as it is about the wine itself. One of my pet peeves is the waiter rushing me for a wine selection before I’ve decided what I’d like to eat. The meal, the occasion, the company, they are all part of selecting the proper wine.
I’m here with the Minnesota National Guard, although I’m not from Minnesota myself. They have a great group of supporters back home. One local organization, Serving Our Troops, flew over here last weekend with 7,000 steaks and a dozen chefs from several great restaurants in the Twin Cities. Needless to say, the meal was the best I’ve had in six months. And while I certainly would have enjoyed a zesty zinfandel with my steak, I didn’t really miss it. Again, it’s about context. I’m not sure that there is a perfect wine that goes well with Iraq. (Although in the dead of summer, a cold Mosel or Bandol might do the trick.) Read more…
I’m in an undisclosed location where rum is cheaper than Yellow Tail.
We have the good fortune of being on a family vacation in the tropics. But what’s a wine lover to drink?
If you’ve read my book, A Year of Wine, you’ll know that I’m a fan of pairing wine with context, which includes the food, the mood, and the people. So if you’re on sun-drenched vacation, it’s easy to insert any wine, be it fetid or feted, and you’re bound for a great time since the setting is ideal, right? Perhaps. But this trip, I brought my own to make sure we had a good pairing.
Seeing some space in one of our bags, I threw in three wines from the Loire: two bottles of Muscadet and a bottle of Gamay. Low in alcohol, with refreshing acidity, and all under $15, I thought they would do the trick nicely when we grew tired of umbrella drinks and beer. (You can tell I am a wine geek since I was probably the only one bringing alcohol to the islands as opposed to returning with bottles–although I don’t rule that out.) I put them in a three-bottle wine shipper and they were still refreshingly cool to the touch when I unpacked. So I kept them that way by putting them all in the fridge on arrival.
The real stand out was the Domaine de la Pepiere, Clos des Briords, 2007 (about $15; find this wine), a superb wine in its own right that I’ve mentioned before. Throw in a sunset, 80 degrees, grilled fish, family and you really have a perfect wine moment. I rate it 100 points.
What’s one of your 100 point wine moments?
Friend of the blog and über travel blogger Mark Ashley sent in this photo from his flight from Munich last week: yes, he ordered the infamous Rich prosecco in a can! (We captioned their poster girl Paris Hilton last year.) Oddly enough, I’d just been noticing an increase in wine appearing in airline ads from Qantas to Air France to Lufthansa. Your theories as to why are welcome in the comments; perhaps it is because wine is a relatively cheap feelgood for marketing, certainly cheaper than giving you a seat that could, say, comfortably fit a human being.
In a jab at other airlines, Mark writes, “In Lufthansa’s defense, despite the wine being… middling… at least the wine is free.”
After two bad wine travel experiences this summer, I finally got it right about ten days ago. Returning by plane from a business trip to the Windy City, I found myself unencumbered by either checked baggage or children. Thus the time was right to return to the storage locker that I couldn’t empty when we moved from Chicago over three years ago.
I bought two Styrofoam shipping containers at a wine store and filled them with 24 bottles, some collectible, others I could ditch if necessary. Since I was flying United, I was worried; readers have posted comments on this blog about rogue United agents refusing to check passengers with wine. And Paul Gregutt recently wrote about the experiences of some Washington wine country travelers who were only allowed five liters of wine (less than seven bottles) because the airline agent thought the TSA limit on spirits also applied to wine. Read more…
The 28 wineries in Ulster, Dutchess, and Orange counties have launched a new web site to boost awareness of their new but old region. They claim “the country’s oldest vineyard can be found in the Hudson Valley,” dating back to 1677. Whoa! Them’s fightin’ words!
While the site offers itineraries, history and links to wineries, I have to wonder about the authenticity of one of the pictures. Consider this picture on the left, from their site. Compare to the photo that we pondered earlier on the right, which is a cellar in Hungary with the distinctive red banding on the barrels and the bare bulb illumination.
If the cellar depicted on their site is REALLY in the new/old Hudson Valley, then I will go to that winery and visit!
Because I was flying on United, I was a little wary. A previous commenter on this site had noted that the airline had confiscated his wine even though it was in his checked luggage. (Their policy now states that all wine in the hold must be in a Styrofoam shipping container even if it is in luggage.) So I didn’t want to splurge on too many bottles or any at too high a price in case they were taken away.
I put six bottles in a cardboard carrier and put it in my wheelie duffel. When I arrived back at Laguardia, my six pack had turned into a a five pack and my bag smelled like a winery. Fortunately, the pinot washed out without a problem.
I’ve put a lot of wine in my luggage over the years and thus far escaped unscathed. But it can’t hurt to use a little extra padding–or even use that Styrofoam shipper! Click through for a gory picture of my broken bottle–and of a funny celeb I saw making a spontaneous gate announcement in the terminal. Read more…
As wine geeks are wont to do, we brought a case plus a few bottles on our Adirondack adventure. The wines were from different producers and I bought them from different retailers. We had enjoyed several of the wines in the preceding two weeks and decided to share them with our relatives.
Yet several of the wines tasted too advanced. And we’re talking some 06s and 07s, which shouldn’t be advanced at all.
So what happened? I’m not sure. We did stop for a three-hour lunch with some friends on the way. I parked the car in the shade but when we returned, it was in the summer sun. I’m tempted to say this stint was the cause of our wine woes. But I’ve received so many wines via UPS that must have had even more exposure to the heat of summer than that. Do you have a theory?
Fortunately, the wines were diminished but not destroyed and some seemed unaffected. But as a precaution, I might bring a cooler next time we are going to make a stop on a trip like that. Assuming I can fit it in the car with all the kids’ gear etc!