Thursday, March 29, 2012

What's in your mailbox?

Twice a year I start to get excited about checking my mailbox. For a few weeks a year, that box is less about bills and more about fun. When The Bounty Hunter Catalog arrives, it’s time to celebrate. The heart of my excitement stems from the fact that I know that my friends and family (who also subscribe) are getting this little nugget of joy and soon we will begin a series of informal conversations about wine; what’s new, what’s hot and what’s tasting soooo good.

Over the course of the season I get to know the catalog by visiting and revisiting it – like a trusted friend, I always come back to it and get something new and wonderful to take away. For me, the catalog is like reading the Sunday newspaper – it’s a worthwhile investment of time. Packed with gems and jewels, it’s a treasure trove to discover what fits me and the way I like to enjoy wine (which admittedly is early and often).

So, where to start for this catalog…
The Gaja Grappa is wonderfully grapey and smells purely of the essence of harvest.
The ’08 Laird Napa Valley Cab is speaking my language in a brooding, whisky laden breath.
Holy crap – ’09 Columbia Crest “H3- Les Chevaux” rocked my world – voluptuous, pleasure-filled and at a great price.
Merlot is hot again – Shafer ’09 is intense, powerful and beautifully expressive... a Cab drinkers Merlot!

--Katy Long
Wine Educator

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Visit to Continuum

Recently our Wine Scouts had the opportunity to visit Tim Mondavi’s new project Continuum. Here are two excerpts on their experience.

One of the great joys of working in the Napa Valley wine industry is bearing witness to its evolution. It’s hard to see past the laid-back lifestyle to the real passion that motivates the people who dedicate themselves to the vine and write themselves into the fabric of the Valley. Then there are the occasional heroes that wear their passion proudly and, in doing so remind us, like that first “aha” wine moment, of why people like me choose to pack what they can fit in their car and head west.

Tim Mondavi is pure vision when it comes to Continuum, his family-run estate on Pritchard Hill, and his purpose is clear; to make one wine, from one specific site and make it on a world-class level. His singular focus is a philosophy that was a voice ignored leading up to sale of the Robert Mondavi family of wines to Constellation. It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to sell your family name, especially one with the importance of his family’s to the California wine industry.

Continuum is a new lease on life for Tim and his family and it’s obvious that they’re putting it all on the line. Even his daughter, Carissa, is able to rattle off every detail of the land from the water table to the soil types, different exposures, aspects of vigor and the highly detailed and proactive ways in which they intend to act as long-term stewards of their amazing property. Tim also has his winemaking approach dialed in like Ben Hogan’s golf swing. He has a very clear picture of the wine he wants to make and how to go about creating it. There are only two elements missing so far. The first is fruit. They are still only about 85% estate fruit from the Pritchard Hill site. In the past, they have utilized fruit from To Kalon to supplement the blend and have a few other tricks up their sleeve as well, but Tim will tell you that he believes that fruit produced on his site on Pritchard will rival anything in Napa Valley as an estate-grown vineyards source; Strong words! The second thing missing is, well, a winery, but that should be up and running soon enough and, having visited the site, let’s just say that, between the wine and the view, you’re going to have a hard time not agreeing that this is the next great story from the Napa Valley. The Mondavi legacy lives!

--Räm Hatley
Wine Scout

Standing in the middle of a vineyard, red volcanic dust coats my jeans up to my knees. When I look south I can see San Francisco. When I look north I have a beautiful view overlooking Colgin Vineyards and Lake Hennessy. It doesn’t take long to realize you are standing in God’s country.

I am standing at the top of Pritchard Hill, in the middle of the Continuum Vineyard. Tim Mondavi recently hosted the Bounty Hunter Wine Scouts. After touring the vineyard we sat down to lunch. An incredible cassoulet was served with the ’06 and soon to be released ’09 Continuum. Both wines show beautifully with lunch. The ’06 is just coming into its own. The tannins have softened and the black fruits are taking on an incredible velvety texture. It was a treat just to hold this wine in your mouth. The ’09 is definitely the big brother of the two. The cassis, cherry and blackberry fruits are bold and the tannins are powerful. There is no doubt it’ s destined to become another classic. Exactly as Tim has fashioned it to be! Even better, we were treated to three hours of listening to Tim talk about his vision and family’s remarkable story. A vision, that in just a few short vintage, has made Continuum one of the most sought-after and magical wines in Napa Valley. Tim Mondavi is an incredible man, with a wealth of knowledge, experience and talent, and it shows in every bottle of his wine.

--Sam Miller
Senior Wine Scout