Here is another 2011 Harvest update from our friends at the Napa Valley Vintners Association. The area depicted is our friends Jackse Vineyard. This vineyard was named after Austrian immigrant Stephen Jackse who ran a winery at this location pre- prohibition. -Chris
Many nights have passed with me sitting in my backyard, looking out at the Napa Valley, sipping a Cabernet and looking to the stars, wondering: "What is out there?" My parents always encouraged me to reach for the stars and think about the opportunities earthbound and beyond.
I can fondly remember April 12, 1981. I was on vacation with my parents. We went to south Florida and witnessed the first space shuttle launch. There have been many since, but I still get chills watching the shuttle blast off on television.
Sadly, the last space shuttle launch is scheduled for June 28. Knowing that, I began wondering: "Is there any connection between the wine industry and space? I'm sure astronauts have not been sipping a nice Cabernet in space ... or have they? What would be the best wine for space?"
After a little research, I learned that wine has indeed been consumed in space.
During the first Apollo moon landing in 1969, astronaut Buzz Aldrin (pictured) enjoyed wine while looking down to the earth. On the moon's surface, 250,000 miles from home, he opened little plastic packages holding bread and wine. He poured the wine into a chalice from his church; in one-sixth gravity, the wine curled up the side of the cup.
He then read the scripture: "I am the vine, and you are the branches. Whoever abides in me will bring forward much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing." Few people heard this ceremony, because it was done during a radio blackout. Aldrin planned to read the passage aloud to the people of Earth, but at the time, NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle concerning the separation of church and state.
Of course, my question is: What wine did he pour? We may never know, but I am sure many a winery would love to claim that their wine was served at possibly the most memorable wine-tasting event in the galaxy.
I also learned that cork has played a vital role in the U.S. space program since the 1960's. Here's a brief timeline:
NASA began testing cork as a thermal protection material for the NASA Scout and RAM test flight vehicles.
1960's and 1970's
The Apollo command module had a protective covering of ablative cork and Teflon-impregnated glass cloth, supported by glass honeycomb in the upper portion.
1990’s to 2010
The nose cone of today's space shuttles is made with cork, along with the Delta 4 rockets.
2010 and Beyond
Cork is used as thermal insulating material in the next-generation Ariane 5 space rockets (pictured).
As you open your next fine Cabernet or Chardonnay, look up to the stars and know that you and the heavens above have shared the wonders of wine and its contribution to the history of the U.S space program.
On Friday, Ann Littlefield and I participated in a very enjoyable visit from the members of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, who are currently touring the 2008 vintage to San Francisco (Jan. 21), Los Angeles (Jan. 22), Chicago (Jan. 24), Boston (Jan. 26) and New York City (Jan. 28).
I always enjoy the opportunity to compare a wide group of the best, organized by appellation, across an entire vintage. There is no other large-scale traveling tasting like this, that gives one such a complete picture of the vintage, in an important region like Bordeaux.
This year, 95 producers were available with selections to choose from, giving one the opportunity to taste 108 wines (including both the Blancs and Rouges from Graves and Pessac-Léognan producers). I was able to taste through everything in about two and a half hours.
The Winetasting.com team's conclusion on the tasting is that it is a relatively light vintage that favored the Left Bank, particularly St. Julien and Pauillac. For those Bordeaux drinkers like myself, who prefer lighter, more food-friendly Bordeaux, there are a number of attractive wines in this vintage with good acidity and balance. They should afford good early drinking, and will probably be showing up at pretty reasonable prices, compared to what we've been seeing from Bordeaux in recent years.
My favorite white Bordeaux was a usual suspect: the regularly excellent Domaine de Chevalier Blanc. My favorite Sauternes was represented by Aline Baly of Chateau Coutet out of Barsac, France. I had lunch with this charming lady at Morimoto's in Napa on Thursday afternoon, and I look forward to working closer with her and bringing some of her wines to you during the next year.
Most of the wines in this tasting are already quite approachable, and are consistent with wines that we have available at Winetasting.com from past vintages, such as:
Château du Piras 2004 Premieres Côtes de Bordeaux
Crimson color, powerful aromatic nose with touch of red fruits. Rich, full and round, with delicate tannins Finishes with a good length. Silver, Best Buy, 2009 World Wine Competition.
[BOR661] $14.99 - Sold out!
Aromas and flavors of cassis, berries and crushed strawberries. Silver: Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2006. Bronze, Recommended: 2010 World Wine Competition.
Chateau Pavie Macquin 2003, Saint Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe Bordeaux
In his 95-point review, Robert Parker says: "Huge fruit on the attack is followed by a powerful, masculine wine with huge extract, high tannin, low acidity, and formidable power."
[BOR664] $81.99 - Sold out!
Both Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast give high marks to this layered and powerful Bordeaux blend.
[BORWST9] $218.99 - Only 10 in stock!
|Photo by Orin Zebest|
Francis Sanders has done a great job as our blog spokesperson for the Geerlings & Wade brand. As we fold the Geerlings & Wade tradition into Winetasting.com, his role will continue to be instrumental to our long-term success. His voice and influence will continue as one of the many faces of Winetasting.com, as his perspective is much appreciated today and every day.
In the words of Francis:
I'll resist pulling a Bullwinkle J. Moose here, one of my favorite childhood incidents (no wonder my parents needed something stronger than wine). Co-creator Bill Scott, voicing the puppet host of NBC's 1961 The Bullwinkle Show, told the young audience "to take the knob off the TV set so you’d be sure to stay tuned." The angry network told the press that 20,000 or so kids had wrecked their family TV sets, my brother and I among them.
If I could only wield that kind of power moving people to the Winetasting.com blog ... and am actively taking suggestions on how to do so ...
Francis, if anyone could convince so many people to pull the knob (or pop the cork), it would be you.
Thanks for all you do!
Vice President & General Manager
Harvest is fast approaching, and what a great time in the Napa Valley! The weather is crisp and clear in the mornings, and the smell of wine is in the air.
To some, harvest is an intense time of year. Winemakers work long, long hours every day and sleep just a few hours a night. To me, harvest is an exciting time of year. I woke up this morning to nine hot air balloons buzzing overhead, landing in the fields just over the hill from my house, and I was reminded of the beauty of our great valley.
This month, there are many harvest parties, lots of buzz and tourists in the area, and the arts ... oh my fun! If you're visiting the Napa Valley soon, you should make time for a local art show that we're particularly proud of. It's called Art and Wine Expressions of the Industry, held at the Napa Valley Museum through Oct. 31 and sponsored in partnership with Winetasting.com.
You'll find paintings and photographs of winemakers and vintners, line drawings by Earl Thollander, portraits by printmaker Henry Evans, and photographs by Chuck O'Rear. In addition, you'll see a spectacular vintage poster -- the largest in the world -- created in 1892 by Alfred Choubrac. It features a party scene in Burgundy, France, celebrating the end of the grape harvest.
We're happy to partner with the Napa Valley Museum and bring this significant artwork to the public view. To learn more about the event, you can download this flyer (PDF) and get directions to the museum on Google Maps (55 Presidents Circle, Yountville, CA 94599).
While visiting the valley, be sure to stop by our partner winery Merryvale Vineyards. Besides making great wines, Merryvale is considered by some to be a work of art in itself. Their historic Cask Room is often cited as the Napa Valley’s most enchanting setting. Two stories of century-old 2,000 gallon casks line the stone walls and create an unforgettable ambience.
Did I mention that the wines are great? Visit our Merryvale page to see a full selection of Merryvale Vineyards chardonnays, cabernets and more.
Until next time, cheers!
Vice President & General Manager