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Thursday, October 20, 2016


Last week I enjoyed some excellent wines at a Wine Spectator dinner, hosted by the Kahala Resort in Honolulu.  Among the gifts was the 40th celebration of their magazine.  

Inserted within this issue was the very first copy 11-page edition dated 15 April 1976:
  • One article featured Concannon's Muscat Blanc as a delight.
  • A couple of years earlier--so that would be 1973 or so--when I was spending the summer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, living adjacent to one of the Wente Brothers vineyards, I was asked by a co-worker, a Concannon, to help him taste an early bottling of a Petite Sirah his family had begun to experiment with.  My recollection was that they were the very first to grow this grape in America.  Those were the days I drank Lambrusco, so my reaction was that the wine he served me was terrible!  Today, Petite Sirah is the paramount wine grown in California.  Where this grape has particularly flourished is Paso Robles, located nearly 200 miles south.  In the period of the late fifties and early sixties I must have driven through this city a dozen times, never once stopping for anything.  Sure, the first grape was planted here in 1797, but I doubt if there was even one winery with a tasting room in 1960.  Today, there are more than 200 wineries.  Try finding a cheap Petite Sirah today from Paso Robles.
  • One article from France touted the healing power of wines.
  • It was reported that California produced 273 million gallons of wine in 1975.  Forty years later, California produced 638 million, 85% of the total U.S. production.
  • How quickly things can change, for Yellow Tail from Australia zoomed from zero bottles in 1999 to #1 wine import to the U.S. in 2003...then in 2005 the #1 brand sold in the entire country, ousting Kendall-Jackson and Beringer.
  • Wines are produced in all 50 states of the Union, with California #1, Washington #2 and Oregon #3.
Wine Spectator began publishing in 1976 from La Jolla, California by printing 3,000 copies, and began making strides in 1979 when Marvin Shanken (New York) took over.  They now report a world-wide audience of 3.5 million, and are best known for their 100-point rating scale.  Here are a few highlights from their 15 November 2016 issue:
  • Robert Monday and Baron Philippe de Rothschild met in Hawaii in 1970, where they concocted what became Opus One in 1979.  The cost was $50, then more than three times the price of expensive California wines.  For at least five years I then proceeded to purchase several Opus Ones, then they became too expensive.  A typical 2013 now sells for $280.
  • Chateau Margaux sold in 1982 for $38, Chateau Le Pin Pomerol for $23.  In recent auctions, that Margaux went for $774, the Pomerol for $9,800.  (The minimum price for a  2015 Pomerol today is $1707, while a 2015 Margaux can be had for a bit more than $500.)
  • Georges Duboeuf in 1982 had the brilliance to hype up the first bottling of wines from Beaujolais.  Cases were sent by the Concorde, and Ivana Trump welcomed them at the Plaza Hotel.  Thus was born Nouveau Beaujolais.
  • Donald Trump bought Kluge Vineyard and Estate in 2011 and renamed it Trump Vineyard and Estate.  He does not drink alcohol.
Not from Wine Spectator, but I found the following from the International Business Times to be interesting:
  • Top Ten Grape Varietals Worldwide
    • Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Merlot
    • Airen (white from Spain)
    • Tempranillo (red from Spain)
    • Chardonnay
    • Syrah
    • Garnacha Tinta
    • Sauvignon Blanc
    • Trebbiano Toscano
    • Pinot Noir
  • Top Ten Wine Producing Countries
    • France (21%)
    • Italy (16%)
    • Spain (12%)
    • USA (9%)
    • China (6%)
    • Argentina (5%)
    • Australia (4%)
    • Chile (3%)
    • South Africa (3%)
    • Germany (3%)
    • Russia (2%)
  • Preserves your memory
  • Burns calories in your body for better weight control
  • Boosts body defenses
  • If you're female, guards agains ovarian woes (like preventing cancer)
  • Again, more for women, but drinking wine leads to higher bone mass
But if you're male, drink wine anyway, for wine should increase your life expectancy.


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