All posts filed under: The Tasting Panel 2014

Journey to the west

San Francisco has long been a destination for travelers. Some, like Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, arrive and spend a lifetime realizing their dreams, while others cross the globe for the purpose of sharing their dreams. Croatian-born Mike Ggrich made his way west in 1958 and set the wheels of his destiny in motion when he began making wine at Souverain Cellars. Mike’s legacy is a familiar one, and now, at age 91, the man whose hands made the Chardonnay that helped put California on the map when it won the Paris Tasting in 1976, is a bona fide and well-deserved bon vivant. At a recent retrospective tasting hosted in the newly-renovated Ranch House at his Napa estate, Mike, his nephew and winemaker for Grgich Hills Ivo Jeramaz and daughter Violet seemed as much a part of the terroir as the wines themselves. Together they presented a vertical of Grgich Hills Yountville Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 1991, 1994, 1997, 2004, 2007 and the just-released 2010 for almost 20 years of perspective on the vineyard. Grgich Hills Yountville Selection …

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Eclectic, Electric Lodi Zinfandel

Lodi has long been synonymous with Zinfandel. The region which is defined by seven sub-regions produces 40 percent of the state’s crop. Vineyards of old and downright ancient vines have survived due largely to sandy, Phylloxera-free soils and the popularity of white Zinfandel. As a mono-varietal red, Zinfandel’s exuberant character has made it a favorite among consumers and fueled Lodi’s focus on the production of world-class wines. As early as 2003, when there were 50 wineries in the AVA, the Lodi Winegrape Commission began evaluating wines submitted by producers as part of a selected case known as the 12 Zins of Lodi. A decade later and with over 80 bonded to its credit, Lodi Zinfandels are being made in a broader range of weights and styles which makes the prospect of a representative case even more intriguing. Read the article here: Lodi Zinfandel 42014

Fanfare for Castello di Nipozzano’s Vecchie Viti

Story and photos by Deborah Parker Wong

Grands Crus Classés of Saint Émilion 2010

It’s alive! Unlike its Left Bank counterpart, the Saint Émilion classification is indeed a living thing. The promotion of 17 châteaux not previously classified to the status of Grands Crus Classés in 2012 made this year’s tasting of 33 (of the 63 classified) all the more interesting. Having tasted the 2009s during visits to several of these estates prior to their promotion, focus was squarely on the 2010s during the San Francisco tasting held at Terra Gallery in early November. It’s fascinating to witness change, and the châteaux, which were on an upward trajectory in 2009 for the most part, didn’t disappoint. Read the full article here at Grands Crus Classés of Saint Émilion.

Turning Data into Dollars

A virtual tidal wave of data is fueling the race toward accurately predicting consumer preferences and buying behavior. With intelligent computer systems now gathering information in real time, businesses of all sizes are experiencing a sea change in the way they and their customers use technology. Until very recently, we looked to the past and relied on historical data to identify current trends and to predict consumer behavior. But now we’re looking forward. Information technology has spun us around 180 degrees and given us the ability to use data to extrapolate and make predictions. With a new generation of applications being developed to predict consumer preferences and wine-buying behavior, companies of all sizes are clearly pursuing the promise of big data. “Predication is the nut that everyone is trying to crack,” said data scientist Michael J. Tompkins, cofounder and chief science officer for Houston-based startup VineSleuth. For Tompkins, whose typical project may involve millions of unknowns, wine has its own unique set of challenges. “It’s not as if we have the answer yet,” he said. …

Going to Extremes

On the first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere, a cold, dry Zonda or rain shadow wind swept down the eastern slopes of the Andes and dropped a blanket of snow over the vineyards of Mendoza, Argentina. “It’s a beautiful sight but devastating to budding vines and fruit trees when followed by a frost,” said Andrés Rosberg, President of the Association of Argentine Sommeliers. Early-budding Chardonnay (and the stone fruit trees) in the Valle de Uco and San Rafael suffered this vintage, but frost and hail storms are the exceptions in Mendoza, where wine-growing conditions are considered less than extreme. Argentina’s most rigorous wine-growing conditions are found at the country’s extremes: from remote 10,000-foot sites in Salta to the north and the cold, arid steppes of Patagonia to the south. But the country’s wine culture traces its roots to more hospitable sites. Vines first arrived in the northern province of Santiago del Estero and were brought from Chile to the San Juan and Mendoza regions in the mid-16th century. The arrival of European immigrants …