#Vinopanion’s new wardkadel.com is live!

#Vinopanion: Domaine Chandon #wine


Well…the long wait is over!  If not for my fellow #Vinopanions, at least for my own incessant #wine cravings and the need to blast out my ramblings de vinos. WardKadel.com is finally live, as we are in the process of shutting down the long-running WineLog.net. With this relaunch, you will find more content combining my two passions of #triathlon & wine, as well as a newfound love of cooking and of course, the chronicles of our life in #Napa.

Indeed just last night, with the Lady (featured left in the vineyards of Domaine Chandon) in NYC for a fashion convention, I knocked out two very enjoyable recipes from Blue Apron, which has been a life-changer for me to finally learn and love to cook.

@BlueApron & #Beaujolais!

Cooking and first dinner (heh) was accompanied by the deliciously juicy 2015 Domaine des Quatre Vents Fleurie (review Vivino), from Beaujolais extraordinaire Georges Duboeuf. And since the journey of wine can never end (thank goodness, right??), I listened to my two favorite wine podcasts:


And so it with those two tasty #recipe‘s and these two brilliant wine podcasts, I will bid you adieu until my next Ward Kadel – #Vinopanion – @drXeNo post.

Vineyards of Domaine Chandon

Loving that #NapaLife!


Le Wine Buff Teaches Wine Finance

My super fine readers would have to be asleep not to know about my longtime wine project as Le Wine Buff (WineLog) for Enjoy Bordeaux (Twitter, WineLog).  Well, recently I sat down to lunch with reporter Ryan Flinn alongside my fellow ‘Buff Rebecca Chapa (Twitter, Facebook) and we discussed our efforts to get the word out about the quantity of affodable, high quality Bordeaux wine.  Lo and behold, Ryan Flinn put together a great article discussing just how relevant affordable, high quality Bordeaux wines within the context of the sky-rocketing prices of über-premium wines due to the rise of fine wine culture in China.  The article has already been picked up by Bloomberg, BusinessWeek and SFGate, so check it out at any of the prior links.  Cheers!

Man Falls in the Vines – #MFITV

I’m delirious to announce a new project that I’ve stumbled into, courtesy of my fantastic sabbatical, rather sabbradical, from my work at Genentech: I am working the 2011 wine harvest (#Harvest2001) at Chimney Rock Winery (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog) in the Stags Leap District (WineLog) of Napa Valley, CA.  I will be the harvest intern and cellar worker of which I’ve always dreamed…and basically working my ass off helping to produce fine Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, rosé, (Fiano), and Meritage wines.

My participation in the controlled chaos of crush at the Rock comes courtesy of Terlato Wine Group (WineLog), my best friend Jeff van de Pol, Assistant Winemaker; and Elizabeth Vianna (Twitter), Winemaker and General Manager.

Welcome to the craziest crush ever!  Elizabeth greeted with this smiling statement on my first day (10/17/11), at 6am.  Alongside fellow winery workers Cindy Cosco (Twitter, Winemaker, Passaggio Wines), Leo Almanza, Jorge Leon, Doris Garrido, and Rafa Alfaro, we crushed the annual tiny lot of Fiano, under the watchful eyes of Jeff, Elizabeth and Vineyard Manager Flavio Rodgriquez and Cellarmaster Eddie Lona.

Pressing Fiano - Chimney Rock Winery - #MFITV - photo by Elizabeth Vianna

Fiano is an ancient Italian white grape from Campania in the South, and makes a fairly powerful flavored wine, with drier grapey fruit flavors and interesting nutty and floral aromatics.  The winery team gets together to crush this small lot each year, helping to merge our efforts into one small, interesting lot of wine.  We used a small basket press to press out the little crush.

Rounding out our vino bonding session was Doug Fletcher, Vice President of Winemaking for Terlato Wine Group. Doug has been in the biz a long time and is an outstanding source for winemaking/growing knowledge, with fascinating stories from his many years as a winemaker at Martin Ray Winery, Steltzner Vineyards and Chimney Rock.  Good stuff.




My job at the Rock has been and will be a bit of a wildcard, partly due to my experience in my day job at the lab bench.  As such, this first week has been an extremely lucky and wonderfully fulfilling amalgam of vineyard work (sampling pH, TA and grams of acid; fruit integrity, ripeness and health), enology lab work (fermentation monitoring, berry and cluster weight), cellar work (tank and barrel inoculations, pumpovers, and punchdowns) and bringing in fruit on the crushpad (crusher/destemmer work and pumping juice into the tanks) and cleaning, cleaning, CLEANING.  All of this…just in the first week!

Ripe Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon - #MFITV

Elizabeth’s opening comment quite aptly described the 2011 grape harvest. We had late, big rains in June, regretfully well timed to cause some shatter and/or poor set (or pollination), on some of the grape clusters.  This means that the 2011 NorCal grape clusters look as though they are missing grapes, a result of these late rains.  Then we had a lot of cool weather, just like last year, making the harvest much later than the average, up to 5 weeks in some parts of the state.  Yet, we finally got some stable warm (not hot) weather later in the summer, which allowed for cool, even ripening and no hint of sunburn, dehydration, nor mold, as long as you cut back a lot of foliage to allow for this slow even ripening.  Further rains and cool weather in early October enhanced the fears for mold.  Fortunately,  Elizabeth foresaw these possible weather outcomes early in the season and ordered the proper amount of defoliation, with great execution by Flavio and Rios Vineyard Management. Now we’re bringing in excellent Estate fruit, despite the somewhat ominous misty and cool weather that we had much of last week.  All that said, the day I arrived, crush finally took off and I dived headfirst into a very compressed harvest.  Indeed, we brought in 150 tons of premium Estate fruit Thursday and Friday of last week, alone!

Follow all of my adventures during this crazy sabbradical, by keeping up to date here at Vinopanion and following the #MFITV hashtag on Twitter, and all of the content that I’m pushing to my Facebook.  The project also has it’s own photo albums on Facebook and Flickr.  Lastly, all of the videos will be posted to my YouTube channel.  Don’t be shy, I’ll add you to any profiles!

Below you will find a list of Chimney Rock wines on WineLog.  I have reviewed some of these before my #Harvest2011 antics began, but I cannot, of course, review any while I am working for the Rock.  Cheers!

Chimney Rock Winery (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog) wines on WineLog:

[winelist query=”Chimney%20Rock%20Winery&order=rating” num=”100″]

In Pursuit of Balance: Pinot in the Spotlight

Pinot Noir grapes at Chehalem Ridgecrest Vineyard, Newberg, OregonFollowing on the heels of my panel workshop at the very successful 9th Pinot Noir Summit this past month, I’m involved in another new, rather exciting Pinot adventure this month.  California Pinot Noir: In Pursuit of Balance (Twitter) is a revolutionary new partnership intending generate dialog about balance in Cali Pinot.  The partnership was founded by Jasmine Hirsch (Twitter) of Hirsch Vineyards and Winery (Twitter) and Rajat Par, longtime wine director for the Michael Mina family of restaurants including his own Rn74 (Twitter).  As a well-respected family winegrower and an international restaurant wine director respectively, they are knee deep in the world of Pinot each and everyday. It is through this dedication to a single varietal that they realized a conundrum: is California Pinot becoming too big and unwieldy?

Hirsch Vineyards and WineryThis conversation is very timely, as the topic of balance vs. power, elegant vs. burly in Pinot has truly reached fisticuffs a peak.  I was excited to be approached to work on this event because balanced, medium-bodied and earthy, cool climate Pinot really fits my palate.  Thomas L. Powers (Twitter) of the web-based HD food and wine series Gastrotommy, will be doing a live broadcast of the trade seminar and filming for a future Gastrotommy episode.  Rn74 - Michael MinaI will be the online moderator for the broadcast alongside panel the on-site moderator Ray Isle (Twitter), Wine Editor of Food & Wine Magazine (Twitter).  In addition, John Trinidad (Twitter) has written an awesome primer for IPOB, over at his SF Wine Blog.

The event drops 03/28/11 at high noon at the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco (Twitter) and Rn74, so come check it out online we’ll chat about @BalancedPinot!  Catch the full deets for the seminar and trade and consumer events are below and follow on Twitter with the hashtag #IPOB.  Cheers!


On March 28 twenty-one wineries will gather in San Francisco to share their pinot noirs. These wineries and their wines have been selected by Rajat Parr to promote the theme of balance and hopefully inspire passion and dialogue around this topic. Please click here for the list of participating wineries.


Seminar: In Pursuit of Balance

* Open to members of the press and trade by invitation only. Please RSVP to info@inpursuitofbalance.com in order to reserve your seat. Closed to the public.
Moderator: Ray Isle, Food & Wine Magazine
Panelists: Wells Guthrie, Copain; Vanessa Wong, Peay Vineyards; Geoff Kruth, MS, Director of Operations – Guild of Sommeliers and Wine Director – Farmhouse Inn
Location: Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 222 Sansome St. (between Pine and California
Time: noon – 1 pm

Trade Tasting

* Open to members of the press and trade by invitation. RSVP kindly requested to info@inpursuitofbalance.com. Closed to the public.
Location: RN74, 301 Mission St. (between Beale and Fremont)
Time: 2 – 4 pm

Public Tasting

* Advance ticket reservation required. Please click here to reserve your tickets.
Location: RN74, 301 Mission St. (between Beale and Fremont)
Time: 5 – 8 pm

Finished wines confirmed for the seminar (IPOB2011March):

[winelist query=”IPOB2011March” num=”100″]

The WKBadges.

Ward Kadel - @drXeNoI am extremely excited to announce the launch of a new and exciting way for me to communicate, in a very deliciously simple way, the best wines that I come across, each and every week.  The brand, spankin’ new WKBadges, spectacularly designed by Mofunsun Enterprises, LLC,  are 5 simple notices that tell you a wine is worth the lightening of your wallet. The concept really is quite simple:  do they sport a WKBadge?  Then they deserve your money. BLEDOW!

I taste a lot of wines every year, indeed, the last three years I’ve tasted over 3,000 wines, with 1,742 logged on my WineLog, as of 08/02/10.  I feel pretty confident that I can now break down the biggest winners into 5 badges for you fine readers.  Consumers and wine biz peeps can find all of these badges for viewing and download (Creative Commons: No Derivative licensing) at my WKBadges Flickr set.

08/06/10 UPDATE: The interwebs are going wild for the #WKBadges: Twitter, Facebook.

02/05/11 UPDATE: The WKBadges have launched on WineLog.net!  See a great example with the 2008 Madeleine Paicines Chapitire IV – Au Rendez-Vous de la Marquise Cabernet Franc.

AwesomeWK - WKBadges

The AwesomeWK badge.

A WKBadge signifying that this wine is plain awesome and must be bought and tasted if ever encountered with your vinopanions!

KeeperWK - WKBadges

The KeeperWK badge.

A WKBadge signifying that this wine is an excellent candidate for laying down and aging in your cellar before it reaches its peak of wonderfulness.

NewWorldWK - NewWorldWK

The NewWorldWK badge.

A WKBadge signifying that this wine is a particularly good example of a New World wine: big, bold and balanced.

OldWorldWK - WKBadges

The OldWorldWK badge.

A WKBadge signifying that this wine is a particularly good example of an Old World wine: elegant, earthy and balanced.

QPRWK - WKBadges

The QPRWK badge.

A WKBadge signifying that this wine exhibits particularly good Quality to Price Ratio, AKA, tasty value for the buck.

You’ll begin to start seeing these badges around not only the interwebs at your favorite spiffy online wine shop, but also in brick and mortar wine stores that reside in the physical world.  Without further ado, I’m pleased to announce the first wines that I humbly deem worthy of one (or more!) of the 5 fully radical WKBadges, kindly provided by Mofunsun:

[winebadge id=”55525″]

AwesomeWK - WKBadgesAwesomeWK:

Marita’s Vineyard Napa Valley Select Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Color: Deep garnet with garnet edges

Nose: Loam, mushroom and good earthy black and deep red fruit, quite good, with savory char, integrating toast and some dried violets.

Palate: Anise, cool and bright red, then angry black fruit showing great complexity. Dried leather, black currants, that loamy wet earth and fine tannins complement the full silky and powerful body. Quite good.

KeeperWK - WKBadgesKeeperWK:

Georis Winery Clos des Moutons Estate Merlot 2004

Color: dark ruby

Nose: thick blackberry, zest of orange, and touch of walnut bouquet.

Palate: middle has smooth Carmel earthy texture w/ finish that projects new French chateau oak amnd light nuance of clove.

NewWorldWK - WKBadgesNewWorldWK:

Marita’s Vineyard Napa Valley Select Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Color: Deep garnet with garnet edges

Nose: Loam, mushroom and good earthy black and deep red fruit, quite good, with savory char, integrating toast and some dried violets.

Palate: Anise, cool and bright red, then angry black fruit showing great complexity. Dried leather, black currants, that loamy wet earth and fine tannins complement the full silky and powerful body. Quite good.

Marita’s Vineyard Napa Valley Select Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Color: Garnet/brick core with garnet edges

Nose: Savory herbs here with bright red fruit, dark black fruit lurking and baking spice and toast.

Palate: Bright and cool black fruit in the fore, with more baking spice, sweeter red cherry and fine tannins in the mid with good acid. Finishes juicy, with lurking toast and a sweetness to the red fruit.

OldWorldWK - WKBadgesOldWorldWK:

Wild Horse Santa Barbara County Unbridled Pinot Noir 2007

Color: Medium garnet

Nose: Spicy, peppery rose petal here, then some darker red fruit comes in with some earth.

Palate: Med full, juicy black cherry and black fruit here, toast and a charred slate finish. Good and darker.


Luigi Bosca Luján de Cuyo Reserva Malbec 2007

Color: Dark violet/ruby core with violet edges

Nose: Earthy, slightly sweet fruit here of dark anise, cassis and wild blackberry, ripe plum and black cherry with a very slight toast

Palate: Full and not overdone, this does well at this price point. All that black fruit and slight char is here too, but then some blue fruit pokes through with some slight black pepper. Medium acidity and a cassis finish.

Wild Horse Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido Vineyard Unbridled Chardonnay 2008

Color: Deeper golden

Nose: Deeper with more tropicals here, but still good bright Meyer lemon and lime with a slight toast and mineral underlay.

Palate: Bigger and fuller, with lemon meringue and some cream, then more great tart lime towards the mid-palate and finishing with tropical fruit, brightness and some pear.

Some other recent wines of note:

B. Legacy Oak Knoll District Reserve Merlot 2006

SOMA Napa Valley Limited Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

So keep an eye out for these badges at a wine store or site near you.  Cheers!