A true family endevour, the Poor Ranch in Mendocino is home to some wondeful old vines. The third generation is now working on the land and a fourth is one the way. The vineyard has always been farmed organically, in fact, this was the way vineyards used to be farmed and they just kept doing the way they had always farmed the land. They kind of laugh when people talk about the "new California" style of agriculture. True natural winegrowing by people that know no other way
It finally feels like fall in the Napa Valley. Some actual rainstorms and cool dew on the leaves in the morning. All the grapevines changing colors are beautiful with each variety having its own distinct hue.
The Dodgers and the Mets were in game five of the division championships and it occurred to me that the winner would be facing the Cubs in the NLCS. As a long time White Sox fan I'd spent the better part of the last three decades hating the Cubs. Normally I'd just assume I'd be pulling for whoever they ended up playing.
However, now I've been on the west coast for so long I've truly become a San Francisco Giants fan. To be a Giants fan means having a deep contempt for the Dodgers. So the idea of a potential Cubs and Dodgers NLCS made me face my true baseball fan soul.
What I discovered is that Tony Bennett has won out over Frank Sinatra and my roots are now truly more on the west coast than the midwest, where I grew up. The true measure of this was revealed to me when I realized in a showdown between the Dodgers and the Cubs I'd have to pull for the Cubs. Mind you I might not have been pulling very hard for them, but anything is better than the Dodgers getting to the World Series.
I guess we’re defined equally by not only the team we root for, but by the team we decide to see as evil incarnate.
There are several things that have made the Giants number one in my heart over the White Sox. Without a doubt winning three World Series in six years didn't hurt, but the fact that the White Sox, as they play in the American League, have a DH and the Giants don't has really changed the way I like to watch baseball played. The game is just better without the DH.
The Cubs, Dodgers and Yankees are rich teams in big markets. The (L.A.) Dodgers and Yankees have thrown their money at the game always feeling that anything less than a World Series Championship is failure. The Cubs, on the other hand, have been satisfied to just take the money from their fans and delivered mediocrity knowing they would still pack their quaint ballpark just by coming close to the playoffs every few years. Success at Wrigley Field has been measured by accountants not championships. It’s hard to like a team that has treated its long suffering fans so callously. Just think if they win the World Series this year they can ride that gravy train for another century. If is often joked about the Cubs that any team can have a bad century. But in fact the Cubs have had a tremendous century, they just haven’t won any championships. The lovable losers have been taking it to the bank for a long time now.
It was this attitude that eventually drove my loyalties from Wrigley Field to Comiskey Park and there they’ll stay in Chicago. I was drawn to the White Sox as, like me, they had to win to succeed. I felt closer to a team that had to produce results than one who was living on a type of inheritance and was milking it for all it was worth. It took a lot to drive me away from the team of my youth and the first place I ever saw a major league baseball game, but the Cubs did it.
My mother loves the Cubs and so if they do win I will be very happy for her and the other Cub fans so desperately praying for their beloved Cubbies to finally break the fabled curse. The same goes for the players who will be the real champions if they can pull it off. However, the ownership of this fabled franchise should not be let off the hook. They could have pulled this off much sooner with the resources at their command. The reason the Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908 is not due to the players or fans, but due to the callous economic interests of the various owners over the years.
I was lucky to visit Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer. It was an amazing experience for someone who loves baseball and nothing moved me more than the plaque honoring Ernie Banks. Behind me in my office sits a framed scorecard my dad kept when he took me to a game in Wrigley Field on August 24th, 1962, the day after my ninth birthday. Warren Spahn pitched for the Milwaukee Braves and Hank Aaron hit a home run. A young player named Lou Brock was playing center field for the Cubs. Billy Williams was in right and Santo was on third. The Cubs lost. On the front of that scorecard are the autographs of Don Landrum, Ken Hubbs and the incomparable Ernie Banks all scored for me by my dad.
So for my mom, dad, Ernie and that beautiful game in 1962 I will root for the Cubs to make it this time in spite of the suits who have run the franchise so cynically for the last century. Terrible owners have given Chicago the Black Sox and a hundred years of frustration for generations of faithful Cub fans. It’s time to think about the game, not them.
“Let’s play two,” said Ernie, the most beautiful quote in baseball. For the next two weeks, I’ll be a Cubs fan.
You hear software and hardware developers often use the phrase, “eating your own dog food.” It simply means if you make something that others use you better damn well be using it yourself. It’s the only way you can truly understand what you make.
As I review the Cornerstone Cellars portfolio now I can see I’ve been following this same dictum.
What American wines do I like to drink? When looking for value and direct pleasure I seem to find Rhône-style wines on my table. What wines do I think go best with my own personal daily style of cooking, which has become increasing lighter with decidedly less red meat? These meals are perfectly matched by Oregon pinot noir and chardonnay. When a special occasion presents itself often a grand aged cabernet sauvignon is retrieved from my cellar.
These preferences clearly come from the entire history of my wine drinking experience. When I seriously begin to immerse myself in wine in the late 1970s the wine world was French and that was the style of wine I learned to love and still do. Balance, elegance, freshness are still the characteristics I value most in wine. Being on a limited wine budget I delved with delight into the wines of the Côtes du Rhône and with great pleasure sought to understand the nuances of Sablet, Rasteau, Lirac and other village wines. Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie were still inexpensive in those days and I enjoyed them when I could find them. Then there was Bordeaux, which seemed the pinnacle of refinement and breed. You could gather a few wine lovers together and buy and taste all the First Growths from a vintage just chipping in fifty dollars or so each. Tasting the majesty of wines like Lafite, Latour and Mouton forever gave cabernet sauvignon a special place in my heart. The buttons these wines pushed when I was in my twenties they still push today.
Then there was my total immersion in Burgundy that started in the early eighties when I began importing the wines of Rebecca Wasserman. My time with Becky, both on her visits here and visiting her in Burgundy, built such a deep respect for the growers and terroir of Burgundy that these are among the most emotional of wines for me. Profound pinot noir touches both your soul and your intellect at the same time. It is irresistible.
The one gap here is the great love I have for the wines of Italy, which are as likely to be in my glass as any of the wines mentioned above. However, while I find great examples of wines from Rhône varieties, pinot noir, chardonnay and the classic Bordeaux varieties in the New World, with a few rare exceptions I find the noble varieties of Italy have not produced wines outside of Italy that I find personally compelling. When my palate craves nebbiolo, sangiovese, barbera, dolcetto and the many other Italian varieties I adore, I always reach for a wine from Italy. Obviously, no Cornerstone Cellars Cal-Ital wines are on the horizon.
What does this mean at Cornerstone Cellars? It means we are expanding our “Wine Dance” Rhone Ranger series of wines beyond our Corallina Syrah Rosé to include a whole range of Rhône varieties. It means we have just completed our eighth vintage at Cornerstone Oregon making pinot noir and chardonnay. It means that our Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley White Label wines have evolved into an elite group of single vineyard wines including the greatest of the Bordeaux varieties - cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot.
If you are going to eat your own dog food, you better make some damn good dog food. That’s my goal at Cornerstone Cellars. I simply want to make wines that I love. If I love them I know I can find others that will love them too.
The next step in this voyage will be the introduction of our new “Wine Dance” Rhone Rangers series wines in 2016. Now in the cellar happily completing their fermentations are viognier, marsanne, rousanne, mourvèdre and grenache from El Dorado and syrah from Mendocino. Our new “Wine Dance” whites will be released this spring along with Corallina Syrah Rosé and the first reds will arrive this fall. Along with the single variety wines there will be a red Rhône blend - remember I do love Côtes du Rhône. As with all of the Cornerstone Cellars wines these are limited production, single vineyard wines with only a few hundred cases of each produced.
I’ve always felt a wine is defined at the table. In this case I guess the wines of Cornerstone Cellars are defined by my experiences with wines at my table over three decades. That is the true “Wine Dance” the magical interplay of wine and food.
It is wonderful to be able to share those experiences with you.
It always happens. I tell someone we're harvesting or I have a pick in the morning and they say, "have fun!"
Harvest is many things: inspiring, rewarding, fulfilling, exciting, meaningful, exhausting, but it one thing it isn't is fun. At least not if it’s your life and your living. It may be fun to work a harvest or chip in for a few days, but if you have to take that fruit, make wine, bottle it and sell it fun is not part of the equation. Harvest is the worst thing and the best thing that happens to you every year if you want to make wine that means something. Making great wine is not fun, it's an obsession. Most of all it is intensely rewarding, not financially, but somehow, spiritually.
The mental and physical exhaustion that is harvest is what wells up inside of you when someone asks you about how many points your wine received from some critic, but then you remind yourself it's a lot easier to make opinions than it is to make wine.
It's hard to describe the intensity that we focus on our wines. The hours and hours of walking the vineyards and agonizing over every little choice that is made in the sometimes years long path a wine takes from the flowering in spring until it has the Cornerstone Cellars label applied to its bottle.
The experience of each harvest may not be fun, but the memory of it most certainly is as each moment comes back to life with every cork you pull of that vintage for years to come.
Worth it? You bet.
I couldn’t believe my eyes as the last bin was lifted off the scale and they handed me the weight tag. I blinked in disbelief as I read 2.25 tons. That was less than half of what we picked from this vineyard last year.
Making things even more painful was that this was not just any vineyard, it was our Oakville Station Cabernet Franc block. We just had just bottled the 2013 Cornerstone Cellars Oakville Cabernet Franc, Oakville Station Vineyard and there were only 101 cases from that banner vintage. A small amount of this exceptional cabernet franc is used in the blends for Michael’s Cuvée and The Cornerstone, but we save enough to bottle as a single vineyard as this is one of the most distinctive cabernet vineyards in the world and to not let it sing its own song would be a sin. The 2015 Cornerstone Cellars Oakville Cabernet Franc, Oakville Station Vineyard could end up being less than fifty cases.
This one of those situations when you find out if you are a optimist or pessimist - a half-empty or half-full glass sort of person. The half-empty of this situation is the small amount of fruit harvested, the half-full is what little we got is of exceptional quality. We’ll take the half-full side of this situation as quality is always more important (and more delicious) than quantity.
A little very welcome rain fell on the Napa Valley yesterday hopefully giving the firefighters a little help in their struggle against the Valley Fire. For us that meant no fruit today, but tomorrow we’ll be harvesting Grigsby Syrah in the Yountville AVA.
It will be full speed ahead now until the end of harvest. Yields will obviously continue to be light, but we’ll keep our glass half-full outlook.
Yesterday at daybreak it was cloudy, cool and showers were threatening. Today more of the same. Finally it feels like harvest in Oregon. It was ninety degrees just a couple of days ago and the crew was working in shorts and t-shirts instead of the usual fleece and flannel garb usually associated with Oregon harvests.
The weather we started harvest in was a reflection of the entire growing season in the Willamette Valley. It was hot. The hottest ever. The Oregon wines from this harvest will reflect that, just as they should. After all, isn’t the point of growing pinot is letting the idiosyncrasies of each harvest and vineyard speak for themselves?
What are the results of this warm Oregon vintage? It means that the grapes are being harvested at brix levels that are considered high in Oregon, but low in the Russian River Valley. In other words they will be big pinots by Oregon standards, but not those of California. What I think they will be are rich, charming wines that will be ready to drink, and should be drunk, young. This is the way nature should work with some vintages better for drinking young and others needing time to reveal their true character. Their rich textures and softer acids will mean a lot of wines getting big points from certain critics. Just remember, sometimes the closer the score is to 100 points the more the likelihood that you should drink the wine young.
Yesterday we were very lucky as our fruit, from the Saffron Fields Vineyard in Yamhill Carlton, arrived at the winery early in the morning allowing us to get a quick start on processing fourteen tons of pinot noir. This is really the maximum amount of fruit the team can physically handle. I assure you your arms and legs are tired after hand-sorting that much fruit. Doing it day after day gradually wears you down and getting out of bed in the morning becomes a creaky, sore process. The day finished with a quick tour of the vineyards remaining to be picked to get samples and determine when they’ll be harvested. There will be a break of a few days now as rain comes through the area. The remaining vineyards just need a little more time to fully develop their flavors.
Today I’m heading back to the Napa Valley as we’re picking Oakville Station Cabernet Franc at the crack of dawn tomorrow. After that harvest we’ll be sampling our cabernet sauvignon vineyards (that’s all that remains in Napa) to set the dates for their picks.
It seems clear at this point that everything will be picked by the end of September. Crazy, simply crazy.
It’s 6:30 in the morning and it’s time pick the grapes. However there is no picking crew waiting except us. This vineyard was going to be harvested by the four of us. This is the Maverick Vineyard, in the Oregon Willamette Valley sub-AVA of Yamhill Carlton. It’s just a baby and an infant like Maverick does not produce enough fruit to interest a crew of pickers paid by the bucket. The fruit needed to be picked so the four of us picked it.
Then to the winery where over the next twelve hours seven of us hand sorted and processed 15 tons of pinot noir, from our other vineyards, which are now happily cold soaking as we finish cleaning up the mess that only handling ton after ton of grapes can make.
An interesting thing happens after you hand sort that much fruit. The tartaric acid crystallizes on your fingernails making them look like they’ve been painted white. I don’t think it’s good look for me.
You’ll excuse me after fifteen hours of hard work for not being more eloquent, but I’ll give you a more detailed look at our Cornerstone Oregon harvest tomorrow. Good night as another fifteen tons will be waiting in the morning.
"I'm down, I'm really down, How can you laugh..."
It's true across the board in the Napa Valley. We're going to make a lot less wine than we have the last several vintages as the crop yield in Napa is down, really down. From what we've seen so far we will be down thirty to forty percent this year and more in some vineyards. That means a drop from 5,000 cases to around 3,500. Ouch! For example last year's 500 cases of Corallina Syrah Rosé will be around 250 cases in 2015.
On Friday we picked three vineyards:
- Oakville Station Merlot, Oakville AVA
- Hazen Merlot, Yountville AVA
- Pokai Cabernet Franc, Calistoga AVA
While there may not much fruit, we got less than five tons from each, what there was tasted wonderful with deep, sweet flavors and bright acidity. Very, very, promising.
Just a word on this week's heat spell, while we could have done without it, September heat spikes are quite normal in the Napa Valley. It did put stress on the vines, but at this point they are focusing the little energy they have left to ripen their seeds, not making more sugar. With this upcoming cooler weather and some judicious irrigation the remaining fruit (which is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon) will be refreshed and brix levels should drop slightly. As we are always intensely concerned about our levels of acidity you can bet we will be picking as soon as possible as extended hang times are not our style.
As I write this I'm on a flight up to Oregon to pick our chardonnay and pinot noir. Our next pick in Napa is scheduled for next Wednesday when Oakville Station Cabernet Franc will come in. After that pick is done we'll be out sampling our Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards and setting the dates when they'll be harvested. It really seems that we'll be done in both states by the end of September.
Today and yesterday we’ve been Rhone Rangers as on Wednesday we brought in our first marsanne and rousanne from the David Girard Vineyard in El Dorado. As exciting as that was, today is always a special day for us as we harvested our Crane Vineyard Syrah for what has became a very special wine for us - Corallina Syrah Rosé.
In what as become a rather innocuous wine category as rosé became more popular, I’m very proud that Cornerstone Cellars is known for making a rosé with true character. I’m glad the media agrees with us making Corallina Syrah Rosé the top ranked rosé in California http://cl.ly/d3uE
The only problem with the 2015 Corallina Syrah Rosé will be there won’t be very much of it. Due to poor fruit set we are looking at about a 40% drop in production. No worries, we’ll be sure our friends get their Corallina first! As always we seek to make Corallina better every year and this will be the first vintage that is 100% barrel fermented. This will make the wine even deeper and more complex. The juice this year is particularly deeply flavored and colored and I expect the 2015 to be a dramatic rosé.
The marsanne and rousanne are part of our new expanded “Wine Dance” series of wines made from classic Rhone Valley varieties. Joining Corallina Syrah Rosé will be this rousanne/marsanne blend, a viognier, a grenache and a mourvedre from El Dorado and an old vine syrah from Mendocino. These are our “Rhone Rangers” and you’ll be introduced to these new releases in 2016. The style is ultra-traditional with no new oak used to maximize the bright, fresh fruit flavors of these wines.
We co-fermented the rousanne and marsanne and the juice had this glorious, rich honeyed character that is sure make an expressive and delicious wine.
Tomorrow will be a very long day. We’re hitting the vineyards at 5:30 a.m. and will be picking two merlot and one cabernet franc site here in the Napa Valley. I’m sure the sun will be down before we get everything in the fermenters.
It was almost cold at 6:30 a.m. when dawn started to break and I considered heading back to my truck to get a jacket. But by 9 a.m. it was already hot. Winemaker Kari Auringer and I were out to sample the fruit in all of our Napa Valley vineyards and to start to pick harvest dates. By 2 p.m as we finished it was pushing 100 degrees.
Some wine regions worry about rain and hail. In the Napa Valley this year we are worried about the heat. It has always been my belief that the problem vintages in the Napa Valley are the hot ones, not the cool ones. This has been a odd year, as they all seem to be these days. We started with a very early bud break due to the warm, nonexistent, winter, which was followed by a cool, damp spell at flowering. This meant an uneven fruit set and a lot of unripe bunches needed to be dropped before veraison completed. This, of course, means a smaller crop for us this vintage. Fortunately, what’s left looks great. Summer itself was mild by Napa Valley standards, but as we approach harvest a serious heat wave is upon us.
The results of our vineyard tour is setting things in motion for what is sure to be a hectic vintage that could even be over before the end of September. Crazy. This Friday we will be bringing in merlot from two vineyards and cabernet franc from another. The Oakville Station Cabernet Franc should follow the middle of next week and cabernet sauvignon looks to be about two weeks out, but who knows with this heat.
This late season heat spike is forecasted to be over by Saturday so our remaining sites will be able to finish ripening in a more civilized environment. Just what we like, letting them coast over the finish line.
Saturday I’m headed up to Oregon to start our chardonnay and pinot noir harvest. Strange as it seems, up to now, Oregon has had more days over 90 degrees than the Napa Valley. Things seem a bit upside down when it comes to the climate these days. I’ll update you on Oregon this weekend.
Essentially all wines are cuvée blends to one degree or the other. Unless a wine comes from a single barrel or tank that passed from fermenter to bottle with no additions all wines are are blends. They’re either blends of barrels or vineyards or varieties or all of the above. The important thing is why you make a cuvée. Like so many wine terms, reserve for example, there is no legal restrictions in their use so it is only the integrity of the producer that gives these terms their meaning.
We have the privilege of working with some of the finest vineyards in the Napa Valley, which means some of the finest vineyards anywhere in the world. They are so exceptional that we have decided to bottle them in small single vineyard lots in order to let their beautiful personalities clearly sing in their own voice. The first of these single vineyard wines will be released this fall.
However, sometimes even the finest singers love to sing with others finding a new harmony and complexity in blending the textures of their voices. It’s the same for winemakers, we can’t help but explore the new layers and personalities that can be created by blending.
It is in this spirit that our Cornerstone Cellars Michael’s Cuvée was born. A selection from our finest vineyards and varieties, Michael’s Cuvée is a unique expression of the best of each vintage brought together in a new and distinctive harmony. Such an important wine could not have just any name and so we chose a name deeply and emotionally tied to the entire history of Cornerstone Cellars. Michael’s Cuvée is named for founder Dr. Michael Dragutsky, whose spirit and passion have fueled Cornerstone Cellars since our founding in 1991.
As befitting the first release of such an important wine, the 2012 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Michael’s Cuvée is a true statement wine. Combining some exceptional vineyards with an extraordinary vintage we have crafted a memorable wine that will evolve for many years to come. The 2012 Michael’s Cuvée is 91% cabernet sauvignon with 9% merlot. The blend was selected from the Oakville Station Vineyard (To Kalon) 57%, 28% Kairos Vineyard in Oak Knoll and 9% Ink Grade Vineyard on Howell Mountain. Less than 250 cases were produced.
The 2012 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Michael's Cuvée is a classic, powerful, but elegantly structured Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Deeply colored with rich, cassis laden aromatics, it is youthful and concentrated at this point and will develop even more complexity and elegance as it ages over the next decade or more. While voluptuous and richly textured it is still bright and fresh with a long, smooth finish.
Where is the line between red and rosé? As it all things wine, it’s all up to your palate. I’ve always loved wines that almost cross the line from rosé to red. So many rosé wines these days seem to do their best to avoid any personality at all and their only mission in life is to be pretty in pink.
One of my favorite recent wine discoveries is the Rouge Frais Impérial of Domaine Comte Abbatucci in Corsica, a light red that exudes the freshness of of rosé and enjoys the chill just just as much. Then there is the richly flavored Domaine de la Mordorée Tavel with a depth and complexity many a red only attain in their dreams. These are wines that are deeper in character than they are in hue.
For our first Rocks! Rosé we’ve made a wine inspired by wines like these, not the wimpy, barely pink wines that are flooding the market these days. The 2014 Rosé Rocks! by Cornerstone is a muscular rosé. Richly colored, flavored and dry-as-a-bone our Rosé Rocks! has the guts to take on real food. This vintage’s blend includes sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and syrah.
A muscular rosé like the 2014 Rosé Rocks! by Cornerstone is the ultimate match for grilled steaks, chops ands sausages on hot summer days and you’re unlikely to find a better companion for cheese and sausage pizza. If the meal seems to call for a red wine, but the weather report calls for something chilled our 2014 Rosé Rocks! by Cornerstone is the perfect choice!
Blends are stylish now, but when I learned to love them in the early 1980s they were anything but fashionable. In one region they were controversial newcomers in the other just the way things had always been. The first time I tasted Vintage Tunina with Silvio Jermann it blew me away. Tunina was exciting, new and Silvio was breaking the rules and created something totally new in Italy. However, he was also building on Fruili’s past. Then there were the southern French wines that I was introduced to by Christopher Cannan. Often the exact percentages of these blends were not exactly known even to the producers, who were making the wine that the vineyards gave them. A mix of varieties was a practical thing that helped protect the grower from the vagaries of vintages. Some years there was a little more of that and a little less of this, but the wines tasted good and the local consumers where not obsessed with percentages and pH and just wanted a good glass of wine.
So when I decided I wanted to make a “house wine” that met the standards of our Cornerstone Cellars club members blends were the natural direction for me to go. It sounded like fun to create some wines that were not tied down to varietal labeling restrictions and just let our creativity go wild. So Rocks! was born and we could not be happier or more surprised by the success of what started out as such a small project. If anything the wines are better than ever. As Rocks! grew many more wines became available to us and the blends became more complex, delicious and fun. All are ready to drink tonight and at just $15 these wines are all exceptional values. We wanted to create wines that were good enough to satisfy our demanding Cornerstone Cellars customers for those days and meals when something simpler, yet still delicious was the right choice. We are confident they do indeed rock!
2013 Red Rocks! by Cornerstone - Not your simple, fruity California red, Red Rocks! has backbone, depth and just enough of a earthy touch to give it complexity. This wine will make your friends believe you brought out the expensive stuff for them. Steaks, chops, burgers and sausages are the perfect compliment for a wine with this much breeding. In the blend: cabernet sauvignon, syrah, zinfandel, petite sirah, pinot noir.
2014 Rosé Rocks! by Cornerstone - A very dark rosé that almost touches being a light red. Unlike almost any rosé in this price range it is bone dry. Ideal for those nights that are too warm or just too relaxed for a big red, Rocks! Rosé is the most versatile of wines matching perfectly with steaks, pizza or salmon. In the blend: sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and syrah.
2014 White Rocks! by Cornerstone - Lifted, bright, zesty and exploding with aromatic fruitiness, White Rocks! was crafted with picnics and parties in mind. With just the right amount of refreshing fruitiness to enjoy on its own as an aperitif it is also the perfect compliment to those dishes with just a bit of heat. Ideal with Asian dishes, BBQs and chips for that matter, White Rocks! is a refreshing quaffer! In the blend: chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, viognier, orange muscat.
You like potato and I like potahto
You like tomato and I like tomahto
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto
You say 92 points and I say 92 points
A tomato is a tomato no matter how you say it, but it doesn't matter how you pronounce 92 points - your 92 and my 92 are not the same things. Let's call the whole thing off?
Unfortunately, we can’t call off the 100 point wine rating system at this point. It’s now too entwined in the marketing system to simply go away any more. Without a doubt it has done some good things, but overall it has been far more damaging to the cause of balanced, retrained wines to justify the few good things it has accomplished. In all honestly, we all would have to admit, those good things would have probably happened anyway.
When it comes to giving wines a number rating it’s all to true that my tomato and your tomahto can have little or nothing to do with each other. Then there is the simple scientific fact that humans are not perfectly calibrated wine rating machines. Your tomato one day can easily become a tomahto the next day depending at such basic variables as mood, weather, time of day and the wine you tasted just before all have a measurable impact on the ratings we give wines. Anyone who believes that they can reliably taste and give accurate number ratings to hundreds of wines over a few days is not only lying to themselves. That is if you choose to believe the scientists who have proven over and over again that humans do not possess the the tools required to accomplish such feats. I wonder if the people that deny such clear scientific facts are also climate change disbelievers?
So why do people like me, who think the 100 scale is a bunch of hooey, pump out those scores to the market when we get them? I think for most wineries there’s a sense of desperation in the hyper-competitive wine market we live in today. Do we feel a bit dirty after sending out a press release pimping some 90+ point rating? Of course we do. However, as long as we stick to our ethical guns when it comes to winemaking, I hope we can be forgiven this moral shortcoming in our marketing. The sad truth is that the wine industry itself is more to blame for the proliferation of the 100 point scale than the media people that conceived it. It was our hammering away with shelf-talkers, case cards and advertisements that truly popularized the 100 point system to begin with.
So the next time you get a press release from me touting some score, please forgive me for I am weak. No matter if it’s a tomato or a tomahto you’ve got to find a way to sell it. In my heart I always believe once I get someone to taste our wines I’ll have a new customer. If I have to get down in the pointy mud once in awhile to accomplish that I’m willing to do it. A simple case of the ends justifying the means. As long as I’ve put my heart and soul into the wine itself I can still sleep well at night.
I can’t wait until we find a way to call the whole thing off.
I have a new Apple Watch. It’s a bit buggy, a first generation piece of hardware that will be out of date in a year. It’s one of the most exciting things I’ve ever owned.
My first computer was an Apple IIe in 1983. It did not have a hard drive and you had to boot it up with floppy discs each time and then put in more floppies for each program you wanted to run - one at a time. While it seems primitive now, at the time it seemed a miracle.
This Apple Watch is what the Apple IIe was to me then, it’s a miracle on my wrist. Having experienced the evolution of that Apple IIe into my Retina MacBook Pro I can see that the Apple Watch is indeed a time machine as it is letting us look into the future.
After a week wearing it the novelty has worn off and it has simply become an incredibly useful tool - an unobtrusive one at that. It is staggering to think what it will do in five years. When I compare my iPhone 6 Plus to my original first generation iPhone and the progress that has been achieved in such short time, my imagination soars for what might be possible.
For the next several decades after I got my first computer it always seemed like I had to wrestle technology to get it to work and then patch together solutions that still usually fell short of what I wanted it to do. These days my phone, tablet, laptop and now my watch are all perfectly in sync. In fact they are no longer independent devices, but just different interfaces for working with the same data and contacts. When I have a real problem I am almost shocked as they happen so rarely.
I am perfectly happy with this cocoon of technology that Apple has built around me for the simple reason that it “just works” for me. For the first time in my life all my gadgets are doing all the things I had always wanted them to do. We are now entering an age when our devices will start not just doing what we have always wanted them to do, but will start doing things for us that we never thought of and that is very, very exciting. The Apple Watch is just the beginning of a whole new age.
The Apple Watch is an amazing time piece as not only does it tell us the time now, but also shows us what time will be in the future. With all it’s shortcomings as a first generation device, I find it fun and exciting to be there at the beginning of a new era. The future is indeed bright.
Now when I put on my old watch is seems lifeless. Once you’ve touched it, you have to get back to the future.