Welcome to The Grapevine! In this new weekly feature, we’ll be asking our favorite experts the questions that really matter: how they fell in love with wine, what wine trend they’d love to see end, and what they’ll be drinking on their deathbed.
10 Questions For: Craig Camp
You’ll find no 100-point scale at Craig Camp’s award-winning Wine Camp Blog, just thoughtful commentary on underrated finds, overrated bottles, and tons of gorgeous vineyard photography. A wine pro for nearly three decades, Camp now works as general manager of Cornerstone Cellars in Napa.
1.) Which wine first won your heart?
In 1973, I had just finished a semester on a university exchange program in Salzburg, Austria and then spent some time bumming around Europe. My first stop in France was Strasbourg and, thinking it a very French thing to do, I ordered a pitcher of Edelzwicker at a weinstube. That was it for me. I drank (that was before I found out you were supposed to call it tasting) every wine I could afford and when I got home I bought the Signet Book of Wine by Alexis Bespaloff. Then I started tasting everything I could find. I remember doing blind tastings between jugs of Almaden Claret and Burgundy. That’s funny, because they were probably the same wine.
My first wine “investment” was a case of 1971 Chateau Carbonnieux, Graves Rouge in 1975. I think it cost about $10 a bottle, which seemed very expensive to me at the time. I’ve always kept an emotional attachment to that Chateau and still buy the wines.
2.) If you could have an endless supply of just one bottle, what would it be?
That sounds more like a nightmare than a dream to me. It’s the diversity of wine and food combinations I find exciting. To go along with the premise I’ll pick 2004 Poderi Colla Barolo Bussia Dardi le Rose. It’s an incredible wine that will outlive me, always be delicious and with every year of aging will become a new wine as it evolves.
3.) What would you pour for someone who swears they don’t like wine?
Iron Horse Wedding Cuveé, Sonoma-Green Valley Sparkling Wine
4.) If you could settle in any major wine region, which would it be (and why)?
I’m living in the Napa Valley now and before that in the Willamette Valley and the Piedmont region of Italy. I love them all, but I’d have to pick Barolo/Barbaresco for the incredible combination of wine, food, natural beauty, and lifestyle. After all, if you live in Barolo you can drive to Burgundy, Rhone, Tuscany or Trentino/Alto Adige in one day and Champagne, Chablis, Alsace, Rioja or the Rheingau in two. Not a bad place to be.
5.) What wine trend do you think (or hope) is almost over?
Points and high-alcohol, over-oaked wines that don’t match well with food.
6.) What trends do you see on the horizon?
New media and Social Media is changing the way everything is sold. The potential for empowering small producers at the cost of mass produced industrial wines is very exciting. Hopefully it will start to break down the three tier system supported only by the new-prohibitionists and giant wholesalers.
7.) What are the biggest values on the market today?
For some reason that’s hard to explain they’re all from Europe. That’s pretty embarrassing for Americans as they have to put that wine in boats and ship it over here - not a cheap thing to do. My daily wines tend to be Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Loire whites and reds, Cava, German whites; Soave, Barbera and Dolcetto from Italy.
8.) What’s the biggest myth about wine you’d like to dispel?
That the greatest wines are the most expensive. It’s the big lie of the wine world.
9.) What’s the best food and wine pairing you’ve ever had?
1. Foie Gras Ravioli with 1989 Huet Vouvray Moelleux at Alain Ducasse in Paris.
2. That generic Edelzwicker with choucroute in 1973 it was a revelation that I was not expecting and it blew me away. The memory still does.
10.) You’re on your deathbed, and you can get one final glass: What’ll it be?
A great old Armagnac. It’s my favorite ending to a great meal and I can’t think of a better finish.