Friday, July 25, 2008

So Goes Chateau Montelena

News was just released that the famous Chateau Montelena winery in Calistoga, CA (Napa) has been bought by a French Bordeaux estate/corporation.  The irony is that in 1976, it was the Barrett's family and Ch. Montelena that produced the Chardonnay to rock the world of wine and beat French Burgundies in the famous Steven Spurrier tasting of 1976.  This is the tasting the movie Bottle Shock is based on, released in August.  Here's the link to the story, Revenge of Paris.  The article states that Jim and Bo Barrett will no longer be a part of Montelana.  This is another moment of great wine history slipping away in Napa's wine legacy.  Perhaps with the Euro being so strong right now, American "things" are looking really cheap to buy! -Salamanzar

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

State of the Estate Philosophy

I make no pretense that an estate wine automatically means the wine will taste good.  I have also had lots of home-made food which was not to my liking!  We regularly taste wine, and just this week after sampling seventeen estate-grown wines in one morning, we found only two which met our standards for quality, flavor, typicity, and value.  We are very selective.

Corporate owned wines are not all bad and can be quite nice to drink in some instances.  At Wine Authorities we choose not to support these Big Liquor Company (BLC) wines because they usually represent chemical winemaking vs. grape winemaking; marketing based on label designs and color vs. quality of wine; and we want to support small farmers who grow their own grapes and make their own wine. I cannot argue taste with as that is subjective. However, I can assert the BLC use of chemicals which harm the land, the chemicals used to adjust the wine's color, flavor, and aromas, the overpriced costs of wines which support the large corporate overhead, and the intentional manipulation of the market to make certain styles popular and trendy.

Our store also focuses on estate wines to distinguish ourselves in the market.  We want to offer a new wine experience to the consumer and to show some of the nearly 4,000 grapes used in winemaking around the world.  There are people who enjoy wines made from Friulano, Godello and MencĂ­a.  The BLCs put very little to no effort in making these wines available in the market.  If these grapes are not supported they risk becoming "extinct" leaving us with Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet choices.

The word "corporate" continues to get a bad rap, but I don't think all things corporate are bad.  I just think corporate wine making leads to cutting corners and cutting costs to the detriment of wine, wine culture, human culture and human health.  My gosh, we could be facing the downfall of human kind through bad wine! 
 - Salamanzar