Here Lies the Carcass of Napa Valley Winemaking



The Tragedy of Napa Valley,

as Seen Through the Lens of

BV Georges de Latour Private Reserve

Two weeks had passed, and I still couldn’t bring myself to pour the 2010 Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) Georges de Latour Private Reserve down the drain. It had been offered to me as a gift, and I knew damn well how much it cost. After relegating the bottle to my fridge and checking in periodically hoping that either the wine or my palate would change, I tried one last time and then finally accepted the inevitable.

BV 2010 outclassed by Marmandais malbec
Who better accompanied smoked duck magret? You guessed it.

This $100 bottle of wine is an undrinkable monstrosity. The $10 2011 Château Terrebert Cotes du Marmandais aside it is a far more alluring wine. The Terrebert was finished; the BV was poured down the drain.

Even if there’s no correspondence between price and quality in wine, it’s a bit shocking: how did BV end up crafting a wine that was impossible to drink? And what could the BV have tasted like?


André Tchelistcheff is a deity among California wine enthusiasts. If Georges de Latour — a French businessman who founded the Beaulieu Vineyard in Napa Valley in 1900 — was the visionary who selected the vineyard site and European vine clones to plant, Tchelistcheff was the humble master technician who (Click to Read more)

The Magic of an Unexpected Perfect Fit

Food and wine pairing epiphanies can be magical, particularly when a risky gamble pays off in spades and the pairing elevates both the food and the wine. It’s quite rare that things work out that well, but if they do, it’s typically because you’re venturing on a well-trodden path for the first time. More often, the wine and food simply respect each other: neither subtracts from the other, and both taste just as good as they did alone.

But even if you don’t hit the ‘mutual elevation mother lode’, sometimes you have a legitimate discovery on your hands. And so it was with silex and salsa: the 2012 Pascal Janvier Jasnières “Cuvée du Silex” got down to business with Enchiladas Suizas (recipe below).

jasnieres and enchiladas
Genetically predisposed haters of cilantro need not apply.

Who pairs Chenin and Mexican?! (Click to Read more)

Ma Cuisine and the Mysterious Mistress of Beaune

Making the pilgrimage to Beaune at least once to visit producers and vineyard sites is a rite of passage that nearly every Burgundy enthusiast finds themselves doing at some point. I’d heard long ago about how one simply had to eat at Ma Cuisine in Beaune. Amazing wine list; great food. The last time I was in Burgundy, I couldn’t get a reservation; this time, I’d set it up early.

Once greeted by a paper taped to the door with a hastily handwritten “RESTAURANT COMPLET”, my colleague and I felt like diligent little hamsters who’d thoughtfully done their work. Inside, it dawned on both of us that this casual, welcoming bistro atmosphere was exactly what was missing in our life.  As casual as it may have been, however, we immediately caught a glimpse of a more serious side: an imposing pyramid of some 50 Domaine de la Romanée Conti (DRC) bottles which attested to just how many high-rollers frequent the restaurant.

We had only recently discovered via chats with cavistes that quite a few Beaune restaurants had Coche-Dury for a reasonable price (vs. US prices and accessory allocation battles). We’d been dying to see what Jean-François Coche’s chèvre à deux bec manually-filled bottles 1 had in store for us, so when you tell me I can try 2010 Coche Bourgogne rouge for 57 EU in a restaurant, I don’t care if I’m committing infanticide, we’re ordering the Coche.

One look at the chalkboard menu and it’s clear Ma Cuisine serves classic French fare, perfectly devoid of modern pretentiousness or molecular what-have-you. The wine list is helpfully arranged by price, and even if my only qualm was that I’d’ve liked more Chablis in the 30-50 EU range, the 2011 Vincent Dauvissat Petit Chablis around 32 EU is nothing to balk at.

But I don’t get along that well with 2011. If that pyrazine green monster rears its head, and I realize I’m stuck with 75cl of something that reminds me of Sauvignon Blanc, I devolve into an upset little baby. So I selected a 2010 Domaine Patrick Javillier Bourgogne Blanc Cuvée des Forgets to go with our starters, and will you look at this damned thing. Instead of oeufs brouillés à la truffe, they should’ve called it truffes aux oeufs brouillés:

Oeufs brouillés aux truffes chez Ma Cuisine
This was simply transplendent, and I (Click to Read more)