Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Update on Judgment of Paris - The Movie

Steven Spurrier
It all began back in 1976 when British wine merchant Steven Spurrier organized the first Paris Wine Tasting. The event was meant to promote the “best of the best” in the French wine world, but something totally unexpected happened during the gala tasting.

French Judges
Eleven judges from the French wine industry took part comparing four white Burgundies against six California Chardonnay and ranking them in order, according to preference. The same with the reds: four red Bordeaux’s compared to six California Cabernets.

When the final results were tallied the top ranking white wine was a 1973 Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena in California. But you knew that if you’ve seen the 2008 movie Bottle Shock about the judging and the Barrett family vineyard.

Warren Winiarski
But wait, what about the winner in the red wine category? Whose wine won, and why haven’t we heard much about it? The winner was another California winery: Stag’s Leap with its 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon crafted by winery owner and winemaker, Warren Winiarski.

Antinori Family
(Stag’s Leap Winery was sold in 2007 to the  Antinori family of Tuscany and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates of Washington state with the intention of preserving the legacy of Stag’s Leap.)

So now it’s time to tell “the rest of the story.

George Taber
Time magazine journalist George Taber was the only reporter who attended the blind tasting in 1976. He had a front row seat to what went on in front and behind the scenes. Taber’s article was published in the June 7th edition of Time. But in 2005, Taber wrote an award-winning book, Judgment of Paris: California vs France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine that detailed, in depth what occurred during that historic tasting.

Bottle Shock, the movie, focused on Chateau Montelena’s story although according to several involved with the movie, including Bo Barrett, son of Chateau Montelena’s owner Jim Barrett, most of the background dealing with the family was pure fiction. Barrett called it “a love letter to the wine business.”

Alan Rickman as Spurrier
Steven Spurrier
Spurrier and Taber also reported that the movie had little to do with real life regarding the winery or the event. Spurrier said he was insulted by the manner in which he, and his business, were portrayed in fictional incidents. Spurrier has also said that the movie contained “many, many pure inventions.” So Spurrier and Taber set out to get the real story, (based on Tabor’s 20005 book and historic accounts) of what actually happened at the Paris Wine Tasting event; Over 30 years after the blind wine tasting was held.

Enter screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen, owner and vintner of Kamen Estate Wines in Sonoma, California, who wrote the screenplay for The Karate Kid, Lethal Weapon 3, and Taps. After reading Taber’s book, Kamen decided to write a screenplay based on following the lives of Stag’s Leap founder, Warren Winiarski and founder of the Judgment of Paris 1976 event, Steven Spurrier, or as the webpage states it: “The story of two men, two dreams, one passion.”

Jonathan Rotella
Naples Florida businessman Jonathan Rotella grew up as a fan of the Karate Kid and later, Kamen Wines. After reading Kamen’s screenplay, Rotella said he wanted to help make the movie. Rotella Productions was formed and the two men began considering ways to raise the capital necessary to fund the film.

Bart & Daphne Arajuo
Rotella decided to seek additional investment in the film and auctioned off a walk-on part in the movie during the Auction Napa Valley held in June. The winners were Bart and Daphne Arajuo of Napa with a bid of $140,000. Beside the walk-on role, the Arajuo’s high bid also bought them a private tour of Stag’s Leap, complete with cave tour and VIP tasting; lunch with the winemaker and the main principles of the story; dinner with screenwriter Robert Kamen, and a few bottle of Napa wine.

Jonathan Rotella and Robert Kamen
Rotella and Kamen are currently seeking “accredited investors” (as such term is defined by Rule 501 of Regulation D under the Securities Act of 1933) who can verify their status in accordance with applicable law.”

Kamen and Rotella believe that the timing on this movie could be perfect – In 1976 the California wine industry grossed $300 million; in 2013 the California wine industry grossed $23-billion.

Rotella Productions is billing the movie: “The Greatest Little Wine Story Never Fully Told … Until Now.” Check out the Judgment of Paris trailer  for a sneak peek. To keep up-to-date on the latest about the movie, follow Judgment of Paris, the Movie on Google + or visit the Judgment of Paris website for more info on investment, and the movie.

No firm date for the actual release, although sometime in 2014 is still being reported. For now, I suppose we need to pour another glass of Cabernet and see what develops …

~ Joy

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

3 Basic Wine Glass Shapes for a Multitude of Wines

3 Types of Glasses
You’ve heard it before: The shape of the glass affects the wine’s taste. But is that statement really true, or just another way to get wine lovers to purchase a lot of stemware?

Varietal Glasses
Choosing the correct wine glass is a little bit science and a little bit personal opinion.  It involves knowing something about the wine itself and which glass is said to optimize that grape’s characteristics.

But if we cut to the chase, there are three basic wine glass shapes that will meet the average wine drinkers needs.

Red Wine Glasses
1) For red wines, use a glass with a larger bowl that lets the wine receive more air on the surface allowing it to “breathe.”  That means the dense aromas of a red wine have a chance to mix with air and create those wonderful aromas in the glass. It is usually suggested that red wines be served in a 12 to 16 oz glass, filling it about 1/4 full for optimal swirling and aeration.

Bordeaux Glass
For red wines consider:
Bordeaux Glass – (Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah)
This glass is large with a longer bowl and taped at the rim.  The large bowl allows for plenty of swirling, which lets air into the wine and releases the aromas.  The tapered sides pull that aroma up for a full nose and the wine is directed to the back of the mouth.
Burgundy Glass

Burgundy Glass – (Pinot Noir) This glass has a wider bowl than the Bordeaux glass to allow more air to enter the wine. The slightly angled sides help create a full bouquet and direct the wine onto the tip of the tongue.

White Wine Glasses
2) For white wines use a glass with a smaller bowl to allow less air onto the surface to the wine. The smaller bowl shape helps contain the aromas and keeps the wine cooler, longer. The narrow mouth directs the aromas directly up to your nose and delivers the wine directly to the front of the tongue for optimal tasting.  White wine glasses usually hold 10 to 12 oz. of wine.

Pinot Gris Glass

Sauvignon Blanc Glass
For white wines consider:
Sauvignon Blanc/Pinot Grigio Glass
This glass has a narrow bowl that leads the aromas straight to the nose.  It also directs the wine directly to the sides of the tongue where the full crisp taste can be enjoyed.

Champagne Glass
3) For sparkling wines or Champagne, use a flute shaped glass.  This shape helps keep those bubbles bubbling the longest since the surface of the wine isn’t exposed to the air too quickly.  It also keeps the aromas concentrated.

This glass is tall and narrow so that the bubbles keep coming.  The narrow opening helps keep the wine chilled and the fizziness enjoyable. You’ll recognize a Champagne glass when you see it.

All Purpose Glass
Water Glass
Or just opt for an all-purpose wine glass if you don’t want a glass for reds and a glass for whites. This is the glass that’s also used as a water glass with a short stem and large round bowl.

Glasses to Consider -
Riedel is an eleventh generation Austrian crystal maker that has produced lead crystal wine glasses for over 250 years. Riedel also produces glasses that are machine blown and free of lead; plus a line that is dishwasher safe.

Bottega del Vino crystal wine glasses are hand blown, yet suitable for restaurant use. As Bottega del Vino’s slogan says, “If the wine matters, so does the glass.

Ravenscroft is the world leader of lead-free crystal wine glasses.  They offer close to 30 different hand blown wine glass styles, crafted at their European factory.

Vivant wine glasses are made by Riedel for Target.  These glasses are machine-made but much easier on the pocketbook and are dishwasher safe.

Crate & Barrel wine glasses are one of the best values out there; great price, nice designs, and durable. If you’re just starting out with wine, or just want an all-purpose set of wine glasses, this would be my choice. (Check out the stemless glasses too.)

Care of wine glasses:
It is best to hand-wash most wine glasses in hot water, especially if they are delicate or expensive.  But more and more glass companies are offering quality wine glasses that can be machine-washed.  Just be sure the glasses are clean of soap and residue after washing.

Still Can’t Decide?
Do a wine tasting of your own.  Buy a couple of high quality wine glasses and compare the same wine in them and a lower quality, mass produced glass. 

Remember, wine is a subjective experience and the glass can affect how you perceive a wine.  Each glass is shaped to increase the wine’s aroma and where it hits the palate.  But it is still personal opinion if the glass affects or improves the wine’s taste.

For Reds
For Whites
If you want to experience all of the nuances of a wine – go for the glass created for it.  However, this does not mean you have to purchase a different glass for each wine you like. You can decide to buy a high quality Bordeaux glass for reds and a higher quality Pinot Gris glass for whites and be amply covered.  Just remember, the best wine glass is the one that fits well in your hand and makes the wine taste the best to you!

~ Joy

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

7 Savvy Tips for BYOB

BYOB stands for “bring your own: beer, bottle, beverage, booze … you get the idea. For this post, we’ll keep it to “bottle” for wine.

With the prices of a glass or bottle of wine at a restaurant, BYOB may be just the option you’ve been looking for, and numerous restaurants allow it, from the very swanky to moderately priced to your local mom and pop pizza joint.

But before you grab that bottle of vino and head out for dinner, there are a few rules and regs you need to know.

1) Check with the restaurant where you will be dining to see if management permits you to bring your own wine. Check the website, or call and ask for the manager or head bartender so that you get the latest restaurant policy information on BYOB.

2) Find out how many bottles you can bring. Some restaurants will have a limit but usually two will be allowed; that gives you the option of pairing a wine with the entrée and another with dessert.

3) Ask what the corkage fee is. This is a fee the restaurant charges to uncork and serve your wines. (And, yes, this is legal.)  The fee is usually around the cost of a glass or two of wine: $5 to $20, although some restaurants will waive the fee if you purchase a certain amount of food, or on designated days as a “special incentive” to visit. Be sure and ask the manager about this. (More expensive restaurants may charge a corkage fee of $50 -$85.) If you find that the corkage fee is too high, it may be because the restaurant is trying to discourage BYOB.

4) Check the restaurant’s website and peruse the menu so that you can pair the wine you will be bringing with the food available on the menu. And don’t be afraid to ask the wait staff /wine steward/sommelier for suggestions that might go with your bottle of wine. If they are unfamiliar with the wine allow them to taste in order to make a better recommendation. (Good manners: Invite them to taste, regardless.)

5) And while you’re checking the website for menu selections, make sure you’re not taking a wine the restaurant already offers. (Yes, I know it’s cheaper, but it’s just bad form.)

6) It’s up to you to have your wine ready to serve when you arrive at the restaurant. If it’s a white wine that needs chilled, keep it cool in an insulated wine bag.

7) When you’ve finished, leave the bottle on the table to be cleared with the rest of the meal’s remains. (And please, tip well!)

Some of the most BYOB-friendly cities in the U.S. include Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and the state of New Jersey.

Remember, the restaurant is allowing you to bring your own bottle: It is not a right; it’s a privilege. Treat it as such, tip well, and hopefully, BYOB will become more available, not just in the larger cities, but throughout the country.

~ Joy