Alaya’s Latest

Masi Amarone2001 Masi Amarone “Serego Alighieri” Vaio Amoran, (single vineyard Amarone) Veneto, Italy
As soon as I opened this bottling of single-vineyard Amarone, I was inundated with the layers of hedonistic scents on the nose – cherry, powdered cocoa, coffee bean, sweet tobacco, candied anise, molasses, ink, amaretto, lavender, violet, and subtle mineral create a heavenly combination. One could become excited just sitting and breathing it in for several minutes, especially when sharing with a friend, and watching each other’s appreciative reactions escalate into sheer ecstasy. Then, you put it in your mouth, and let your tongue become gently coated with what feels like candied velvet. Luscious layer after layer of round, black fruit and spice – cinnamon cookies, nutmeg, and clove – are followed by a mid-palate of plum jam, raisin, and mocha. The mouth feel is something to fall in love with, for it is smooth, sexy, and feels slightly naughty. Fine powdery tannins integrate all of these lush layers, making the finish surprisingly dryer than you expect, and the Amarone arguably suitable for food.

In the words of the charming Raffaele Boscaini, whose family has owned the Vaio di Masi estate vineyard since the 1800’s “This makes a very good friend for your steak.” By no means does an Amarone need food; in fact many would argue that pairing it to something would risk the true experience of Amarone. This wine is heavy and intense, and offers enough interest to be its own meal; dessert, perhaps. But, as Raffaele pointed out, and I think it’s good to remember, you should eat and drink together what you desire. If it feels right in the moment, then that’s all that matters.

Since the acquisition of the first vineyards of Masi estate in the 1800s, the Boscaini Family continued to purchase vineyard parcels in what can be regarded as some of the best viticultural areas in Veneto. Currently, Raffaele and his sister Alessandra represent the seventh generation of the Boscaini Family to be involved in the Masi wine tradition. In addition to the traditional millennia-old Appassimento system of Valpolicella, the Masi Amarone Vaio is also aged in cherry wood casks. During Appassimento, grapes are harvested and laid on bamboo racks to dry for approximately four months, then crushed as a concentrated juice. At Masi, they are then aged in Slovenian oak for 20-30 months. The addition of the cherry wood aging in the Vaio adds to its depth, complexity and elegant structure. (This is) a special bottle to share with someone you love, in celebration of romance. * Check out the Masi website for the history and winery details MASI

Alaya Wyndham-Price

Grapelive Latest: Firmly in 2008 Now

This new year is getting off to a great start with many exciting things happening and many great wines being reviewed for your pleasure, well and mine of course. Grapelive is launching a sister Website called Fermented Travel and we’ll be talking more about that soon, but you can see the preview and first column all ready at www.fermentedtravel.com.

Just as exciting, Grapelive is turning to young blood to bring you some interesting content and reviews, first we are happy to have Alaya Wyndham-Price on board as a guest columnist, reporting from the Pinot crazy state of Oregon. She is bringing a new view on the Oregon wine industry and the rest of the world as well. With her passion and drive I look forward to seeing more and more of her thoughts and I think you will as well. It is great to have a fresh face keeping me honest and covering the areas that I might otherwise miss. To see her first column read below, and to see her bio click on the link on the right hand panel.

Looking ahead there are some great wines to relate to you soon!

Well, I better get back to work…

Cheers and Enjoy

Hot Pick

Jennifer Pandol

2005 Jennifer Pandol Vineyards Pinot Noir “Schultze Vineyard” Santa Cruz Mountains

Jennifer is a bright spot locally, making superb Pinot Noir’s from select vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I got to try her premier vintage of which she made only a single barrel, which made just over 20 cases, and I can say she is going places! This was a fine effort that blew me away, I rated it highly and deservely so, this Pinot has wonderful ripe fruit and sublime balance with lush texture and a long finish. Jennifer sourced fruit from and was mentored by Jim Schultze, Schultze Family Vineyards, of Windy Oaks Estate fame. I have been a big fan of his wines and his vineyard since his first vintage from 1999. The bold richness and round flavors are amazingly pleasing and again this was her first Pinot bottling, so look for great things to come. This wine has black cherry and focused red berry fruits and coffee bean and creamy tea spices, and a touch of cola. The earthy and dried flowers notes add to the complexity and the warm sweet oak vanilla finish it off with good style. The bad news is that she is out of this wine, though she plans on bottling her riper and bolder 2006 soon, so we should see it released late spring, and trust me I’ll be watching for it! At this time she does not have a list, but if you are interested, just drop me a line and I’ll pass it on. (Est. $40) 93-94 Points, grapelive

Jennifer Pandol Vineyards, Balmaseda Winery, Santa Cruz.

Negly

2002 Chateau de Negly Porte du Ciel, Syrah, (Coteaux-du-Languedoc), France
This brilliant 100% Syrah cuvee is a powerful and dark monster that belies the region and vintage, in fact this wine is on par with top Hermitage wines! Look out for the intense nose of black olives that is strikingly potent and will transport you instantly to the South of France, then come the waves of blueberry, herbs and cassis. This wine takes lots of air to gather itself, but once loose it is all-together a bold and structured red with creamy, lush fruit and a super long finish that highlights its complexity and balance. This might go another 10 years easy and should get more interesting with each year of bottle age. There are layers of cherry liqueur, rocky earth, game, pepper, lavender oil and sweet fresh picked plums. There are some hints of wild flowers, violets and tarry fruits. This wine is immense, but ripeness is near perfect with out any odd prune flavors, just purity of fruit and terroir. I was just amazed by this wine, especially in such a vintage that was seemingly so tough in this region, proving you can’t judge a book by its cover! *Note, after tasting it, I found out that Robert Parker had rated it highly too, damn it I didn’t scoop the master… (Est $100-125) 94-96 Points, grapelive

Dee Vine Wines

Merry Edwards Pinot Noir

2006 Merry Edwards Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

This lush and fruit forward wine delivers big goodness now, with creamy texture and lovely flavors. The wine is easy to love and quaff, it is not shy, but there is little acidity to worry about. Everything about this wine says drink up! And of course I did and will! This Pinot has classic Russian River like black cherry, cola and red earthy berries that feel layered and balanced all ready, even for a young wine. Feel free to give it a year or so if you like, but I’d say it is great now. The toasted sweet oak notes are persistent, but feel natural here. A very nice effort from a top producer, now for the hard part, finding it! Good luck and good hunting…($42-75 Est.)

93 Points, grapelive

Sherwin Family Cabernet

2004 Sherwin Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain, Napa Valley

This is a near perfect example of Spring Mountain Cab, with rich, intense and loaded with fruit that is both dark and flavorful. It is hard to find anything that is not in balance or needed in this wine, it is simply a wonderful and complex wine that is easy to love. The black fruits have hints of briar, black mountain berries and fresh currants and there is a subtle smoky note to them. The structure is spot on and the whole wine is pure and everything it’s supposed to be. There are lovely cassis and vanilla touches that blend in nicely to the hints of lead pencil, tobacco and licorice that are present in the background. I recommend you get on their list and get at least a few bottle of this wonderful Cabernet and look for their other wines that they working on too. This is a great effort from a great location, I for one will go visit this vineyard on my next trip up that way! 95+ Points, grapelive

Sherwin Family Vineyards

Alaya Talks Up Oregon!

Oregon Pinot Noir–Boutique Style
By Alaya Wyndham-Price, Grapelive Guest Columnist

Alaya Wyndham-Price, Grapelive Guest ColumnistI am an Oregon Native. Yes, I know…we are truly a rare breed these days. It may seem only natural that I would find myself in the wine business, as I grew up along with our wine scene. I have always been drawn to the outdoors, and the way things work within natural systems. In parallel, I have been called a sensual person, with a lust for finding and honoring the joys that life offers. The evolution that is wine (grape growing to winemaking to savoring) holds complete intrigue to both my scientist and my sensualist. As Oregon is now well established, and world renowned for our production of high quality wines, especially great Pinot Noir, I find myself, now in an excellent business. We honor our fertile land, and all of its ecological magic; we have friendly, no-nonsense people, who still tell stories by the campfire and are leading the nation in sustainable agriculture; and we possess a smart approach to a cutting-edge food scene, based on the farm-to-table formula. We are still writing history.

So much of what makes Oregon wine, namely Pinot Noir, charming lies in its ability to express terroir. A place holds history, it will tell the story of its origins, if you listen. Oregon is full of stories, isn’t it? Think of our history; an iconic destination in the Pioneer days, Oregon has always been known by outsiders as rugged, with fecund landscapes, and the undeniable sense of possibility. Modernly, we are marked by figures that have shown academic, athletic, culinary, and environmental innovation. Now, more commonly, we see great innovation in the production of wine. It’s no secret that Oregon grows the Pinot Noir grape well. It’s also fairly celebrated in the wine world that Pinot Noir expresses its roots well. But what’s exciting is that each individual Pinot Noir vineyard site in Oregon offers its own very distinguishable character. Oregon is marked by a colorful geologic history, an array of weather systems, and a team of viticulturists who care to let their grapes grow as close to naturally within their land space as possible. We don’t just have the category “Oregon Pinot,” we have Momtazi, Shea, White Rose, Seven Springs, Meyer, Stermer, Anden, Deux Vert…You get the idea…Pinot. Each place has such an outstanding character, prized for different reasons, and quite a recognizable face within whatever bottling they are present.

Like some of the great single-vineyard Cabernets of California, Oregon is making waves with its single-vineyard Pinot Noirs. These wines are often the wine-maker’s personal ode to the land; to deliver unique, interesting if not geeky wines that are pure descendants of one little place and time; vineyard natives. Small in production, these wines have become anticipated worldwide. They carry a certain panache; brazen enough to show their rugged origins, to express themselves without much outside influence, to tell a true story that helps them to stand out–oh yes, those of us that wish we lived our lives as fully, just yearn to get our hands on them, and begin feeling wild, vicariously, through our glass. Available, often times, only for a few months out of the year, single-vineyard designate Oregon Pinot Noirs are worth the wait, the effort, and the price. If you are a serious buyer, travel Oregon, start with the Willamette Valley and sample its bounty. Find your coveted bottlings, visit vineyards and develop a sense of place as you try wines produced there. Then join the wine clubs of those producers you feel passionate about, and get on their futures list, this will ensure you an annual taste of their expression in a bottle.

Hot Pick

2004 Ayoub Pinot Noir2004 Ayoub Pinot Noir Willamete Valley, Oregon

I decided to open and decant my last bottle of Ayoub’s first bottling, his 2004 Pinot Noir, for my birthday. Like any pinot that Josh Bergstrom makes, this one is brawny, highly structured, and storm-proof. This wine is built-to-last, and I knew that air would serve it well, as it’s only 4 years into its progression.

Garnet in hue, showing just a touch of age, the wine looks like my birthstone; how appropriate. In the nose I get a lot of plum, some cassis, and a bit of wild huckleberry and licorice root. What’s really noticeable and fun, is the Mexican hot chocolate note. This draws you in, and soon after, you are greeted by game; bloody lamb, and earth; clay, iron, and morel. Flavors mirror the nose, lots of plum and licorice, with the added joy of strawberry-rhubarb pie-mix. Very earthy in taste, backing up the brawn of the structure, I taste ginger root, fossil-rich alluvial clay, and wet moss. Delicious now, would keep progressing over the next 6-8 years.

To think Mohammed “Mo” Ayoub released this as his first effort, humbly and enthusiastically 2 years ago. Quite a stunning first release, and one that definitely put him on the map as someone to watch. A one-man viticulturist and now winemaker, who lives and grows grapes near Dundee, travels the world for business, and manages to make phenomenal Willamette Valley Pinot right away, all while smiling and selling his efforts…now that’s someone I want to support!

This pinot didn’t need a food accompaniment to taste great, in fact I sipped it after returning home from a sushi dinner as my dessert. But were one to pair it, I would recommend a nice Lebanese spiced lamb and rice dish, with hummus and fresh, hot pita bread. One could also easily enjoy an oily piece of smoked salmon, with an array of ripe sheep and goats milk cheeses, and some marcona almonds. AW-P

Ayoub Wines

Alaya Wyndham-Price

Visit Alaya Daily at www.myspace.com/winereviewsforpleasure

Latest News & Reviews

Grapelive Latest News, January 2008

This is a great time of year to catch up with your reading and spend some quality time with your favorite wines, or explore a little and find something new. These storms out west have given me a lot of time to sort out some of my tasting notes and I’m working on a “Best of 2007” list and I should have that out shortly. In the meantime, I’ve been lucky to have had some interesting new wines come my way and I have a few reviewed at rated below. Pinot Noir again, I know I always seem to be tasting Pinot, but that is because it is what is hot and it seems to only get better and better. If you are getting tired of Pinot you should investigate the wonderful Cabernet Franc wines from the Loire Valley in France, especially the 2005 vintage as these wines are fantastic. Try a Chinon or a Saumur Champigny, and enjoy the spicy goodness and elegant easy nature of these underrated wines, I like Philippe Alliet, Jogeut and the Clos Rougeard wines from this region. Then there is Piedmonte, Italy with its tasty Barbera and Nebbiolo reds that are pure and terroir driven wines, just stay away from the 2002 vintage and you’ll be fine. Top wines from there include La Spinetta, Bruno Giacosa and Vietti, so go explore. As for white wines in winter, I go for Alsace and Riesling, German Riesling, Italian Gewurztraminer and White Burgundies. Back to Pinot Noir, and close to my home, there are some amazing wines coming out soon from the Santa Lucia Highlands and the Santa Cruz Mountains, and I’ll tell you about those soon.

s5002103.JPG2005 Silvestri Pinot Noir Carmel Valley

This is the winery owned by famous film composer Alan Silvestri, of Forrest Gump, Back to the Future and Polar Express, which got the Academy Award for best original song. This Pinot has very ripe flavors and still retains high acidity, which makes the balance here pretty nice, but it really shines with food and comes alive with richness and terroir! Black and red fruits burst out on the palate framed with apple peal zestiness and spice notes. The plum and cherry are savory and long in the mouth with hints of raisins, forest brush, lavender oil and liquor. The finish is tangy with classic Pinot groove and subtle oak. This is not a shy boring wine at all, but don’t forget to have with food, or you’ll miss the magic!
90 Points, grapelive

Bouchee Wines

s5002100.JPG2005 Donum Estate Pinot Noir Russian River

Wow, I may have a new favorite Russian River Pinot here, and trust me you’ll love this wine, as it has it all and then some. This ranks right up there with Rochioli and Kosta Browne, so find some quick, because there is only 200 cases of this. Lush textures make your mouth water and the layers of fruit give big smiles on this near perfect wine. There is rich cherry, raspberry, currant and cola bean gracing the palate and lingering on the smooth long finish. Great oak toasty notes hint at vanilla and mocha with out being overly aggressive or out of place. This is a top flight wine that deserves lots of attention. 96 Points, grapelive

Bouchee Wines

s5002101.JPG2006 Brewer Clifton Pinot Noir Rio Vista Vineyard Santa Rita Hills

This might be the best value in Pinot going these days, a real world class wine at under $50 retail. These guys are good, I mean really, really good at making Grand Cru style Pinots, and this one lives up to the hype. Rio Vista gives thick and dark wines, but they always get an added dimension of purity and elegance from this site. This wine is soft and perfumed with great depth and balance making it great all ready. I must say this vintage has less acidity and is creamy, so maybe you’d want to drink it young. There is plenty of violets, rose petals and blueberry up front, with pure cherry and plum fruits. This beautiful wine is lusty and sexy all the way to the long savory finish. 95 Points, grapelive

Bouchee Wines

s5002100.JPG2005 Donum Estate Pinot Noir Carneros

This wine is bigger and more blooding than its sibling from the Russian River, making a huge impression and bolder statement. This Pinot has power and intensity with blackberry, cherry, plum and cranberry fruits leading to layers of spice, licorice and mineral notes. This might be the most complex and interesting Carneros Pinot out there! Since 2002 Donum Estate has been a stand out and this wine is by far the greatest effort to date and I can only see things getting better! This wine can go a long time, I see some cellar time giving big rewards, but don’t wait a minute to get it! 94-96 Points, grapelive

Bouchee Wines

s5002102.JPG2003 Tangley Oaks Merlot Napa Valley Lot 7

If you like Silver Oak or Australian reds you will love this Merlot, and at $20, you’ll really love this wine. With sweet American oak barrels giving lots of vanilla cream, coconut oil and caramel this lush Merlot feels big and smooth with cherry and plum fruit. The wine gets richer and expansive on the palate giving subtle chocolate, sage and smoky spice. The fruit comes on strong at the finish make this an impressive wine. 88 Points, grapelive

Bouchee Wines


s5002062.jpg

2005 Chateau Puligny-Montrachet Clos-du-Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet White Burgundy

This is awesome Chardonnay and a terrific value, no doubt this normal Bourgogne is fantastic stuff with sublime flavors and purity. What more can I say? Well mostly I can tell you to find it and buy cases of it! At about $30 or so bucks this wine destroys many wines at three times the price. Beautiful in every way this white has perfume, body and elegance with white flowers, fresh lemon, delicate pear and lovely minerality. With a dose of apple pie and hazelnut in the background, this beauty has style to spare and a long zesty finish. This is what Chardonnay can and should be, a regal and noble wine that has it all. This might be hard to find, but press your local merchant to look for it. ($28-35 Est) 93+ Points, grapelive

Imported by Beaune Imports, Berkeley, Calif.

Bouchee Wines

Grapelive Hot Picks! Dec. 7th

s5002047.JPG

2005 Ryan Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands

Peggy Ryan has the touch to make pretty and lush wines that rewards those lucky enough to get her wine! This may just be her finest effort from this famed vineyard, with big and powerful flavors delivered in a velvety and balanced way. This Pinot just gets richer and deeper with air in the glass and is hard not to love right away with lots of complexity and style. There is cool raspberry, dark cherry, sweet plum and lots of rose petal and spice too. The wine has some very interesting crushed stones, toasty oak and a finish that is long and vibrant making you wish there was lots more of this wine in your glass and in the bottle! 93 Points, grapelive

*New Release

Bouchee Wines

s5002048.JPG

2005 Loimer Pinot Noir “Terrassen” Kamptal, Austria

So cool and so rare, I had to buy a bunch for myself, and then to my surprise it kicked ass! This is an intense and complex wine and very juicy to boot. Lots a fresh flowers, roses, violets and wild flowers give perfume with a strong grenadine and strawberry essence. the wine picks up depth and focus on the palate with clear and rich cherry and red berry fruit and a lush plumy texture. The wine has a sexy earthiness with a mushroom and mineral touch as well, which gives a Burgundy like feel, but this is a unique gem that is a no brainer if you can find it! Finished in screw-cap and very modern in packaging, this Pinot is a winner and a fresh terroir to talk about. 92 Points, grapelive

Bouchee Wines

*And is only available in select markets

Hot Picks Dec. 2nd

s5002012.JPG

2005 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Rouge (Rhone Style Red) Paso Robles

This amazing Chateauneuf-du-Pape styled red is rich, lively and full of fruit and texture with super balance and focus. This is one of the best red wines for all around quality out there. All red drinkers will find something to love about this wine, and I rate it as one of the top wines of the vintage period! This wine has power, depth and class with lovely perfume and a super long finish and is a wine that goes beyond the varietal and showcases the purest nature of terroir. There is lots of plum, black cherry, bramble berry and grenadine flavors up front with smoke, cassis, pepper and spicy oak notes in the background. The wine uses the best of its make up to be everything to every person with a combination of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and a few other Rhone grapes that all add to the pleasure here. Finally Tablas has full-filled its mission, we have now the American Chateauneuf that is not a copy but a true expression on that theme! ($45-49 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

*Just being released

Bouchee Wines

s5002010.JPG

2005 Willowbrook Pinot Noir Morelli Vineyard Russian River

This lovely and round Pinot is totally enjoyable and lush in fruit and full in body. There is lots of raspberry, and a big burst of cherry fruit with toasty sweet oak giving creamy vanilla which make this a modern wine, but with classy style all the same. There is a background of spice, cola and mocha that just add to the tastiness! I really enjoyed this Pinot, the only problem is finding it again, as it is very limited and hard to find. Check good old Google or your local wine merchant. The winery only makes a tiny amount sadly, but they do produce a another couple of single vineyard and estate Pinots. 93 Points, grapelive

Hot Picks: Richard Alfaro, Santa Cruz Mountains Chard & Pinot

s5002001.JPG

Richard Alfaro Scores Big with Santa Cruz Mountains Chard & Pinot

Nov.24th Carmel, Ca

I just finished tasting wines from Richard’s great line up of wines, both under the Alfaro Family and Martin Alfaro labels. His Santa Cruz wines are world class and full of rich and exotic flavors, but remain amazingly faithful to Burgundy. He poured the 2006 Central Coast Chardonnay, his own 2006 Lindsay-Page Chard, the 2004 Schultze Family Vineyard Pinot, the 2005 Lindsay-Page Pinot and the yet to be released 2006 Deer Park Pinot with all scoring plus 90 Points!

Alfaro Family Vineyards

2006 Martin Alfaro Chardonnay Central Coast
This is a great Chard that is both affordable and filled with flavor. The fruit comes from solid vineyards including Sleepy Hollow and delivers big time, with intense fruit and lovely toasty oak notes. There is apple, pear, peach, pineapple and fig fruit and creamy layers. This wine tastes full and thick, but has nice zesty spice and is lively through out. ($18 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Martin Alfaro Winery

s5001999.JPG

2006 Alfaro Family Chardonnay Lindsay-Page Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains
This is a big full bore Chardonnay that is ultra rich and incredibly deep and focused with lovely flavors and a long lush finish. Hazelnuts and white flowers lead to pure pear and apple fruit, with touches of clove, mineral, honey and vanilla. This wine is still a month or so away from release, but it is well on its way to be a classic. (Due to be released in Jan. 2008) A little more than a hundred cases of this wine is heading to market, so get on it now! ($30 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Alfaro Family Vineyards

2005 Alfaro Family Pinot Noir Lindsay-Page Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains
This is a beautiful and darkly rich Pinot that has intense ripe fruit and exotic spiciness that is lush with plumy sweet flavors and smoky layers. Raspberry, cherry and candied cranberry burst out in this Pinot and vanilla mocha linger on the finish. This is a wild ride to be sure, but it is so good and it just seems to get better each time I try it. ($40 Est.) 92 points, grapelive

Alfaro Family Vineyards

s5002049.JPG

2006 Martin Alfaro Pinot Noir Deer Park Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains (Pre-Release Sample)
This wine will be released in December 2007 and I can hardly wait to buy it myself that is my way of putting my money where my mouth is. The potential is real that this will be an awesome wine and like I said it is something I’m going to bet on. It is all ready to enjoy now, but there is a lot more to come. This wine is tangy fresh, but it has heady perfume and clear focus with soft and pretty flavors that just stay with you a long time. There is lots of classic cherry, plum and currant fruit and earth, spice and mineral notes. ($35-38 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Martin Alfaro Winery


s5002000.JPG

2004 Martin Alfaro Pinot Noir Schultze Family Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains (Library Selection)
This is a Burgundy-like gem of a Pinot that is sensual and earthy with delicate layers and subtle intensity. It starts with rose petal, dried wild flowers and red fruits on the nose with lush cherry and plum fruit. There is vigor and depth as well, but it comes in smooth layers that have a sense of terroir inter woven. There is mineral, mushroom and spice mixed with each layer and it finishes long and tangy. ($35-38 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Martin Alfaro Winery

*Some of these wines are available at:

Bouchee Wines

Hot Picks

s5001993.JPG

2005 Tudor Pinot Noir Tondre Reserve, Santa Lucia Highlands

This Pinot is all about purity and elegance with subtle power and solid structure and balance making it all that more impressive. Tudor got the max from this site and produced a wonderful and pretty wine, and one that will fill out and get richer over the next couple of years. There is everything to like and nothing to complain about here with this lovely Pinot. Soft full flavors and nice textures make this a joy to drink now, in fact I’m sure I would not be able to keep my paws off it! The flavors are vibrant and lush with cherry, raspberry and fresh ripe plum flowing through out. The has depth and complexity, but is more about pleasure and smoothness which makes it very friendly right now. The finish is long and has a lingering stawberries and cream note that really stays with you. Touches of toast, cranberry, vanilla and tea spice add to the wines allure. ($60-65 Est) 93-94 Points, grapelive

Tudor Direct

Meet Richard Alfaro at Bouchee in Carmel Nov.24th

snc10080.JPG

Winemaker Richard Alfaro, of Alfaro Family & Martin Alfaro Winery Will be Pouring his Wines at Bouchee Bistro in Carmel Nov. 24th (Saturday12 (Noon) to 4 PM

I’ve been a huge fan of this talented winemaker for a few years now, and I recommend you check him out! He will be at Bouchee Bistro and Wine Merchants in Carmel-by-the-Sea this Saturday and he’ll be pouring his latest releases. Plus I believe he’ll try to bring a future release and a library selection of his Pinot Noir.

Bouchee Bistro & Wine Merchants 

Has The Wine Spectator and Robert Parker Hurt the Wine Industry or Helped?

I was asked about the influence of The Wine Spectator (magazine) and Robert Parker (famous wine critic) and whether it has been a negative or a positive? The angle that was posed to me was that wines were now made for them and their taste rather than done as had been done traditionally and that wines were now more all the same… It seemed to me as if it was a statement of fact… Really, are we going to blame The Wine Spectator or Robert Parker this perception? Really? Okay, I’ve heard many frustrations regarding these wine critics, and from time to time I’ve taken issue with their assessment of a wine or two, but I guess I would have to defend them overall. My Opinion is as follows on the subject.

My view, or my two cents worth, on Robert Parker (Wine Critic) and Wine Spectator (Wine Magazine) is as follows, I like we must be fair and admit both Parker and The Wine Spectator have done wonders for the wine industry and bashing them seems to me to be sour grapes, sorry no pun intended! While Spectator seems highly political and maybe more money motivated, overall it is positive force for the consumer, though even it might help the collector more than the average wine drinker. As for Parker, he likes what he likes and who am I to argue with that, I am the same! I don’t always agree with him, but really he is good and I can’t fault his reviews or ratings much. People complain that wineries now make their wine to please him, rather than doing things per tradition or hanging when they pick the grapes to make a more fruit driven style. Maybe this is true, but if they make a better wine and people buy it, is that not good? Really, you must be realistic, Robert Parker has made fortunes for the wine industry and in my opinion, I think he almost saved the French wine trade at a time when it didn’t look good for them. The argument is that we are losing terroir driven wines, wines that show the true nature of the place or region. That is also highly suspect, I am finding more terroir driven wines now then ever before and I believe that this trend is not going to decline any time soon. It would be fair though, to say one of the bad effects, that both Parker and the Wine Spectator must accept as natural for the course, is greed.  This is a negative influence on the market place and can be traced back to good ratings from Parker especially, but the marketplace is always going to be controlled by the wealthy and what they are willing to pay. It has also been suggested that the Wine Spectator and Robert Parker are responsible for higher prices and a lack of quality wine at lower price points, okay someone needs to get a life and maybe stop taking the “Kool Aid” as this is crazy talk. The real problem is the cost of winemaking especially in California, small wineries can’t afford to make $2.99 bottles of wine here, honestly it costs most small producers about $7.00 a bottle at least to make good wine, so by the time it gets to the customer with some profit for each stop on the way, it will sell for about $20. You must remember they must grow the grapes, all the farming and utility costs, ferment, barrel age and bottle the wine, then there is staff, marketing and packaging too.  No you can’t blame Wine Spectator or Parker for those costs. There are factory made wines that sell for anywhere from $2 to 9 that have made it more hard for the small family winery to sell cheaper wines, I mean why would anyone want to compete in that price range, it would be crazy to do so. So small wineries are making more distinct wines for niche markets, that is their only hope. Especially as I haven’t even mentioned quality inexpensive wines that come from South American or even Australia. In summing it up, I can tell you that there are many factors to be reviewed and putting fault on Robert Parker’s or the Wine Spectator’s door is too simple and not fair in the slightest. All of us must grudgingly admit we all have been more helped by Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator than hurt, to me it is not even close.

Wine Reviews, Articles & Travel