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Winemakers

Napa, Inc.

The story titled “Napa Stunner” reported that Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, one of the most prestigious and historical names in Napa, sold out to wine giants Antinori and Chateau Ste. Michelle. This week’s story was so big that it almost obscured Duckhorn’s sale to a mysterious “investment group” and William Hill’s sale from Beam Wine Estates to Gallo.

Truth in Wine



Recently I had the privilege of interviewing Paul Draper, winemaker for Ridge Vineyards since 1969, over lunch. Without a doubt he is my favorite winemaker in America—not just for the wines he produces, but also for his views, his techniques, his beliefs and his inexhaustible curiosity and interest in wine. At age 71, he is as spry of mind and youthful of spirit as I could ever imagine anyone being.


More of Italy's Finest


Gaia Gaja with Mauro Cirilli

Next winemakers to come into town was Gaia Gaja (the first and last name are actually pronounced the same way), the daughter of perhaps Italy's most famous winemaker, Angelo Gaja. Here is Gaia, sitting next to Mauro Cirilli, Perbacco's terrific sommelier.

The Gajas, father and daughter, produce many different wines, but are best known for the Nebbiolo-based wines from the Piedmont region of Italy, as well as for Brunello di Montalcino, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Italy's Finest

When I say “Italy’s Finest,” I'm not talking about the Carbinieri, Italy's state police force that’s the butt of many jokes (e.g. "Why do Carabinieri always work in pairs? Because one knows how to read, the other how to write").

Not long ago, I attended a couple of tastings featuring Italy's finest wines—the ones you don't get to taste every day, but are worth writing about when you do.


Chablis Raveneau

There are few things I enjoy more than a glass of Chablis.

The region just north of Burgundy on France's east side is famous for its chalky white soils, which gives that minerally texture and Chardonnays of lovely power and grace. There are many great producers, my faves being Dauvissat, William Fevre, Louis Michel and of course Domaine Raveneau, who makes highly individually styled wines and is also greatly popular in San Francisco.


Chablis Raveneau

Three Syrahs

At a nice dinner the other night, several friends and I decided to compare three top single-vineyard Côte Rôties from the vintage of 2001. If you don't know, Côte Rôtie is one of the top Syrah appellations in France's Rhone Valley. Actually, it’s one of the top Syrah appellations in France—okay, the world. All right, to my mind, it's the greatest place for Syrah in the world. Some might argue that Hermitage is better, but I'll take Côte Rôtie's lighter body, floral high notes and silky tannins any day.


Three Syrahs

Up in Wine Country

So I had business up in Mendocino last week, but managed to sneak in and see a couple of my favorite wine producers in the entire state of California. I thought you should know who these guys are, because they are young, they are talented, and their wines are off the hook now, and getting better.


Andy Peay

Taste3 on Drinks

I was fortunate enough to attend the Taste3 conference in Napa last week. Sponsored by the Robert Mondavi company, the gathering of food, wine and art minds from around the world is supposed to be a sort of culinary TED conference and—if you have an extra $2-grand and consider yourself a die-hard foodie—is well worth your time and money. Great thinkers, scientists, story tellers, cooks, taste makers and thinkers gather together for two days of awesome talks on everything from bees and mushrooms to terroir, food blogging and new kitchen inventions. And you can rub elbows with the speakers at several lunches and dinners.

Three Syrahs

JC Cellars is small winery located in Oakland and run by Jeff Cohn, former winemaker for Rosenblum, and his wife Alexandra. A Rhone-wine specialist--meaning he works mostly with Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne--Cohn also makes a bit of Zinfandel.


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