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Tag Archives: California wine

Expensive wine 60: Grgich Hills Chardonnay 2011

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Expensive wine 60: Grgich Hills Chardonnay 2011Year in and year out, regardless of wine trends, fads, and the latest critical darlings, Grgich Hills is a model of consistency. Want quality wine at a fair (if expensive) price? Grgich rarely disappoints. My notes for previous vintages are amazingly similar: Classic. Rich. Tasteful. Balanced.

The 2011 chardonnay ($42, sample, 13.5%) is no exception. It’s everything one expects of a Napa chardonnay at this price — oak and vanilla balanced by apples and pears that play off each other; a rich mouth feel that doesn’t overwhelm, which is not easy to do; and a long finish that has you swallowing for many seconds after the wine is gone. In other words, classic and tasteful.

This is wine for celebration, whether birthday, anniversary, or even a dinner with someone you care about and want to share a great wine with. In this, it proves something that I learned a long time ago — wine isn’t about price or scores or trying to impress someone else, but about who you drink it with and where you are when you do.

Francis Ford Coppola, wine, and family

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Francis Ford Coppola, wine, and family

“I like to drink wine.”

Francis Ford Coppola spoke for 2 1/2 hours in Dallas last week, a monologue that covered his Academy Award-winning film career, his very successful wine business, and his grandchildren. But perhaps the most impressive thing was his modesty.

“I like to drink wine, but I don’t make wine,” he told the audience of 150 or so. “I don’t know how to do it. I suppose I’ve learned how it’s done, but that’s not why I do this. I like to drink wine.”

Which, in my 20-plus years of talking to celebrity winery owners, was the first time anyone has been that forthright. Talk to the entrepreneurs, actors, and musicians who get into the wine business, and they throw winespeak around like heart-shaped cards on Valentine’s Day, assuming that’s how they can make their bones. But Coppola didn’t say brix or clones, never mentioned scores or critics, and spent more time showing pictures of his family — and singing about them — than almost anything else.

More, after the jump:

My lunch with Randall Grahm, part II

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Randall Grahm, part IIThis is the second of two parts detailing my recent chat with Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm. Today, reviews of the wine we tasted. Part I — Grahm on wine, winemaking, and the post-modern wine world.

My Boony Doon moment came during the 2011 Le Cigare Blanc. I said I liked it a lot, and Grahm smiled and offered that it would be even better when he added picpoul to the blend, which is currently grenache blanc and roussanne. Which demonstrates his creativity and passion, but also what Grahm admits may be a less than consumer-centric approach to winemaking. It’s not as if wine drinkers are clamoring for a $25 white blend made with three grapes they’ve never heard of.

But how dull the world would be if all we drank were chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. Which, of course, is part of Grahm’s reason for being, and why so many of us appreciate what he does. After the jump, the eight wines and cider we tasted (all were samples):

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