Another family-owned winery has been bought out by a mega-conglomerate wine company. Following in the footsteps of other such pioneering family wineries like Mondavi and Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Rosenblum Cellars of Alameda has been sold to Diageo for US $105 million. Kent & Kathy Rosenblum founded their winery 30 years ago and then made the move to their current home in Alameda in 1987. The deal was announced 01/25/08.
On Saturday 01/19/08, I had the outstanding opportunity to attend the latest K&L Wines Bordeaux tasting, fortuitously all from the very well-regarded 2005 vintage. I have to thank Jason & Kim for the chance to attend and big shout out to my friend Spesh (WL) who first notified me of the event. It was held in the hall of the old Federal Reserve Building in San Francisco. I hopped on BART at 2pm and headed out to the first major French tasting that I've ever had the chance to attend. Stepping back a little, I had a bit of confusion when I first heard about the event. I initially saw an email that said it would include all Classified Growths from Bordeaux, which was actually in error. There is an organization of Bordeaux Chateaux separate from the Bordeaux Official Classification of 1855 (Grand Crus Classes en 1855), somewhat misleadingly called Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux. It is made up of both classified and unclassified growths of Bordeaux vintners. Regardless of my misinterpretation of which Chateaux would be pouring, I had a brilliant time tasting all of these wines, particularly the ones that I will probably never be able to afford, ever again.
Wine.Com has taken the esoteric and somewhat archaic direct wine shipping laws into their own hands. At the very end of last year Wine.Com, took direct aim at competing online wine retailers by engaging in their own "sting operation" to flush out competing retailers that flout the direct wine shipping laws. Wine.com claims to spend millions in an attempt to satisfy these laws for their own business needs. This was first reported in the Wine Market Report 12/27/07, where they actually published some of the letters that Wine.Com wrote to state governments detailing these non-law abiding retailers, complete with order confirmations and receipts as evidence of the wine that was shipped illegally to Wine.Com's "sting operators" in each requisite state. The Wine Market Report was immediately credited and re-told by Alder Yarrow in his venerable Vinography blog on 01/04/08 and the report itself, was archived at the Specialty Wine Retailer's Association (SWRA) site here. Since Alder's post, the issue has exploded across the blogosphere and into more traditional print magazine sites...
Last night I had the surreal experience of having a wine that makes my lifetime favorites list. Indeed, this wine must be within the top 3 that I have ever tasted. Last night we went over to the apartment of our new friends Jeff and Andrea, for a night of food, drinks and the fantastically fun Rock Band. Our hosts were incredibly gracious and a very good time was had by us all (and I realized that I'm *terrible* at that game!).
My father and I started a new annual tradition in 2005, the year that I started at Genentech. While not an obsessive like myself, Pops is a wine-guy (kind of hard not to be while living in Napa). We decided back in '05 that we should start taking a wine-tasting trip every year that I get the week off between Christmas and New Years. The first year we stayed in Glen Ellen and hit much of the Southern region of Sonoma Valley. Last year we stayed in Healdsburg and took care of the Northern regions. This year we decided to make it a little cheaper and just stay at the house and go to the many places in the Napa Valley that we hadn't hit yet. Indeed, we stayed very low-profile on Thursday, just taking a taxi downtown and hitting some of the many tasting rooms that have or are about to open up in the city of Napa. The Napa downtown has (finally) come into its own again over the last 3-4 years, somewhat coinciding with the completion of the Napa Valley Opera House restoration. There are almost no empty storefronts any longer and there is actually some building going on and further restoration work happening in various places. The other part of the resurgence has been the proliferation of tasting rooms. The Napa Valley Register published a list of 17 tasting rooms downtown (15 are currently open already) earlier this year in August (thanks Na!) and we used that list to plan out our day. We heard later that there are supposed to be up to 10 additional tasting rooms that are to open downtown in 2008!