Gina Dallara: March 2009 Archives

sundawg_wine.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

The 2007 Pinot Noir harvest in the Russian River Valley was a thing of beauty, leading to the production of wines with elegance and power, grace and personality. I know all this because I was there, working as a cellar scourge for a couple of glorious days when I played hooky from my responsibilities in the city. And now, as the results of that harvest begin to trickle in for release nationwide, I couldn't be more pleased to taste the positively delicious results in the bottle.

Wineries to Watch

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By Courtney Cochran

Each year I attend countless wine tasting events where I am inevitably plied with the wines of hundreds if not thousands of producers from our own backyard and the far corners of the globe.  Along the way, I sip, swirl and spit the likes of sparkling wines from Brazil, sweet wines from Sonoma, soulful reds from Lake County and intriguing, sea-scented whites from Galicia.  I also shake hands, take notes, snap pictures and invariably return home with piles upon piles of notes enthusing about the nuances of new wines and their various vintners.

What follows is a list of some of the more memorable wines I've sampled lately.

Mutineer Makes Good

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mutineer.jpegBy Courtney Cochran

Twenty-something sommelier Alan Kropf tried going the traditional route - logging stints as a floor sommelier at The Beverly Hills Hotel and alongside resto great Gordon Ramsay in West Hollywood - but ultimately, his career calling came from somewhere wholly unexpected: the page. Now Editor-In-Chief of alt-beverage publication Mutineer Magazine , Kropf and his team of snarky scribes pen edgy editorial that encompasses the worlds of wine, beer, spirits, coffee, tea, soda and even water - and are attracting no shortage of intrepid beverage advertisers and readers along the way.

Wine Country Wackness (In a Good Way)

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juddhill.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

I've always admired second-generation Napa vintner Judd Finkelstein's penchant for marching to his own beat.  Whether playing the ukulele in his wine country band, The Maikai Gents Featuring The Mysterious Miss Mauna Loa , or producing award-winning Cabs at his family's Judd's Hill winery, Finkelstein doesn't do things the typical wine country way.  And so when I bumped into his wife, Holly, several weeks ago at Premiere Napa Valley at the CIA Greystone in St. Helena, I was thrilled to hear that Judd has undertaken a refreshingly "out there" new adventure: an online wine show featuring his family's winery and his very own brand of quirky humor.

Recession Proof?

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domperignon96.jpgBy Robert Farmer

You see the term "recession proof" tossed around a lot these days. Yet increasingly things that have been deemed to be so are turning out to be anything but. And so it was with great curiosity that I saw an item recently proclaiming select French wines to be valiantly resisting the downward economic trend. According to the global wine search website Wine, French wine has remained in high demand during this downward spiral into the financial abyss. Based on the data collected by the world's largest and most widely used wine search engine, shows that houses like Lafite, Margaux, and Dom Perignon remain in hot demand across the globe.

Crush on Bordeaux

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By Robert Farmer

You've heard me go on about how great custom winemaking programs are, and how a few of them go beyond the simple do-it-yourself drill to provide an experience you won't soon forget - and wine you can actually drink. One such program is the popular Crushpad, a Napa-based company that has helped set the standard for individual winemaking.
By Courtney Cochran

When it comes to restaurant wine sales, the news is largely not good - for the restaurateurs, at least.  To that end, the Wine Market Council - in conjunction with The Nielsen Beverage Alcohol Team - reported this winter that on-premise sales of wine have slipped dramatically from 2007 and early 2008 levels, with some restaurants even forced to shut their doors as a result of sluggish sales.  Happily, there's a silver lining to this latest tale of recession-induced woe: by-the-glass sales at on-premise locations are still strong, and restaurants are responding by injecting new life - and appeal - into their BTG programs
By Robert P. Farmer

In California's Wine Country, most of the talk is about the Valleys--Napa and Sonoma. But where there's a valley, there are mountains nearby. For decades, brave winemakers have looked to the mountains as a place to claim their stake. And indeed the mountains that flank the valleys have taken on identities of their own. From Howell Mountain to Spring Mountain, the names are gaining reputation alongside the valley counterparts. The latest Wine Country mountain to peek through the clouds is Pine.

Second Label Standouts

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goldeneye.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Just because your inner shopper is insisting upon a "save" rather than "splurge" strategy these days doesn't mean you can't still score a little of the good life in your glass.  Thanks to the "waste not, want not" mentality of many a high-end vintner, wine that doesn't make the cut for some of wine country's most sought-after labels is finding a home in cheaper bottlings from the same wineries - often at deep discounts from what you'd pay for the vintners' first-label offerings.