Reflecting on current times

As I sit at one of my best friends houses in Tulsa Oklahoma, waiting patiently to embark on another journey of sending someone off into marriage, I can’t help but think of the times we all had this summer and what they mean for the upcoming. 

We’ve spend most of the summer enjoying, or trying to enjoy, the weather, being outside and anything else  that you would do during the summer time. It is now the middle of August, and although the weather won’t change much, the feeling of summer is slowly turning into early fall. 

Football is around the corner which changes everyone’s mindset for the better, if not crazier, and we start to wonder what kind of winter we are going to have. 

Let’s not forget to continue to live in the present time and enjoy every second of what we have rather than wishing the first football game will be here or wishing the weather would cool off just a little. 

How about we are thankful for today. And today. We drink rose and Beaujolais. Because this wine guy is going to be on a boat all weekend and although I will need my “flippy-floppies” (shout out to T-Pain) I will also need some cool wine to keep me rolling. A magnum of Schloss Gobelsberg Rose and a magnum of Chateau de la Chaize Cru Beaujolais should do the trick. Not to mention some prosecco for the mornings 😁

Find a way to work wine into whatever you are doing this weekend. Think about the back story. Think about the families who make their living making you that wonderful juice. And most of all, enjoy it. 

We will get back to regular blog posts next week. Thanks for your patience.

Have a great weekend

Cheers

The Fridge Wine Guy 

Winery #1: Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

A continuation from last week, so get excited about this! Let’s jump right in…

The 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars SLV Cabernet won the red portion of the 1976 Judgement of Paris wine tasting…yes we now know that, but what’s the deal with Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars?

First, let’s get an idea of where the Stag’s Leap District of the Napa Valley is located. See the map below and look for the bright, cornhusker red, area (couldn’t help it!)

 

I was going to type my version of the history of this amazing winery, but I found it much better served to use the timeline from the winery website. So below is how the winery tells their history, which is the perfect way to say it…

1969

The founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars first tastes with Nathan Fay, whose vineyard below the rocky promontory of the Stags Leap Palisades, so named because of the legend of the stag who successfully eluded hunters by leaping to freedom across the district’s landmark peaks, was the first planting of Cabernet Sauvignon in what later became the Stags Leap District.

1970

The founder purchases the 44 acre property, which was primarily a prune orchard, next to Nathan Fay’s vineyard, named the property Stag’s Leap Vineyards, and replanted it to Cabernet Sauvignon and a little bit of Merlot. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars was born.

1972

The first vintage of S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon is produced.

1973

The first winery building is completed, and the now historic 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon becomes the first wine made in the new red wine facility.

1974

The first vintage of CASK 23 is produced after consulting winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff, while tasting through the lots of wine from this vintage, decided that one lot, which was in the large wooden cask numbered 23, was so beautiful and deliciously distinct that it should be bottled separately.

1976

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars wins the Cabernet Sauvignon category in a blind tasting staged by Steven Spurrier, an English wine merchant in Paris, among French wine experts between American and French wines. This later became known as the Judgment of Paris.

1986

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars purchases FAY vineyard from Nathan Fay.

1989

The Stags Leap District in Napa Valley is established as an American Viticultural Area.

1990

The first bottling of FAY Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is produced from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.

1996

A bottle of the history-making 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon is placed in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s national Museum of American History. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars begins excavation of its wine caves.

2000

The Napa wine caves are completed with an entrance called The Arcade, designed by Barcelona-based architect Javier Barba. There are over 34,000 square feet of tunnels, and one of only about 50 Foucault pendulums in the world, which suspended from the ceiling, marks the passing of time and the aging of wine.

2001

The first vintage of ARTEMIS Cabernet Sauvignon, named for the Greek Goddess of the Hunt, is produced.

2007

A partnership between Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Marchesi Antinori proudly accepts the stewardship of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and its legacy.

2013

The 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon is named one of the Smithsonian’s “Objects that Made America”.

2014

Designed by Barcelona-based architect Javier Barba, the FAY Outlook & Visitors Center opens, allowing guests to take in beautiful panoramic views of FAY Vineyard while experiencing the top-notch Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars hospitality.

 

So that basically catches us up to  where we are today. This winery that helped put the Napa Valley on the map is still pumping out wines that are worth every penny you pay for them. Below are label shots of some of the wines you can find today.

 

 

 

Now, a wine that is a little more unique would be something from the “Hands of Time” series. There is a nice little exhibit at the winery they call their “Hands of Time”, and on this wall there are plaques with hand-prints from all of the people who made this winery what it is today.. These wines from the Hands of Time series are a tribute to them. The red blend is generally made up of an almost even split of Cabernet and Merlot and the Chardonnay is mostly done in stainless steel to preserve freshness. Anyway, these wines are a great way to get to know Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars before you jump up to the big dogs they have to offer.

So, when you go to get wine this weekend, pick up a slice of history and get to know some of the wines that got Napa Valley to where it is today.

 

Cheers

The Fridge Wine Guy

The Vinous “Shot Heard ’round the World”

I have been stewing over what to write about the last couple weeks and it finally hit me!

Welcome back! Hopefully July is treating everyone well and your 4th was as free as possible. I am going to jump right into this, because this story is about as cool as it gets for wine in America.

I am thinking this will take a few weeks to fully engulf this amazing wine story, but once we get done dissecting it I think you will have had a great time.

Some of you may have heard of the private wine tasting in Paris that is now famously called “The Judgement of Paris”. This year marks the 40th anniversary of this amazing event, so I do think it is necessary to shed some light on it.

For those of you that have already heard this, please relive it with me. I would guess, though, that even though you are all dedicated wine-o’s most of you haven’t heard this story.

Sometimes I forget how immersed in wine culture I am on a day to day basis and have to take a step back sometimes. For those of us who do this for a living, this is a living, breathing event that seems to come up on a weekly basis in some way or another.

Maybe not by name, but we talk about these people and these wines and their impact constantly.

If you want to see Hollywood give this a crack, then rent the movie Bottleshock…

I just got the cold sweats. Did I just say rent? “Yeah, Fridge Wine Guy, I’ll just go down to my local Blockbuster or Movie Gallery and ‘Rent’ that movie”

Sorry that was so 20 years ago. What I meant to say was…

If you want to see Hollywood give this a crack, then Netflix or On Demand the movie Bottleshock.

I feel much better now.

Anyway, Alan Rickman gives a great performance, along with many other unknowns to tell the story the best Hollywood could. It is entertaining and a great watch (everyone but Mike Grgich liked it! You will hear more about that later).

 

The story goes a little something like this…

There was a gentlemen by the name of Steven Spurrier (who is now one of the most famous wine writers in the world) who owned an up beat, innovative wine shop in the center of Paris. He was introduced to California and loved them and decided he would set up a blind tasting to see how the French wines everyone swooned over would compete against wines from the Napa Valley if no one knew what they were tasting. He picked the best of the best he could find from Napa of Cabernet and Chardonnay and pitted them up against the best the French had to offer of the same grapes.

The unthinkable happened, and on May 24th, 1976, California wines were officially on the map. Napa has since never looked back. To me this is the single most important day in the history of wine in America. Many things have happened, but to get world-renowned wine experts and people to have no way to judge anything but the wine itself and then to pick AMERICAN wine over theirs, is nothing short of amazing.

 

The two wines that won the blind tasting were the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet

and the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay.

A full list of the wines tasted and their scores are as follows:

Red Wines Of The 1976 Tasting

  • Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973, Napa Valley (127.5)
  • Château Mouton-Rothschild 1970 (126)
  • Château Haut-Brion 1970 (125.5)
  • Château Montrose 1970 (122)
  • Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon ’Mountain Range’ (Montebello) 1971, Santa Cruz Mts. (105.5)
  • Château Leoville-Las-Cases 1971 (97)
  • Mayacamas 1971, Napa Valley/Mayacamas Mts. (89.5)
  • Clos Du Val 1972, Napa Valley (87.5)
  • Heitz Cellars ’Martha’s Vineyard’ 1970, Napa Valley/St. Helena (84.5)
  • Freemark Abbey 1969, Napa Valley/Rutherford (78)

White Wines Of The 1976 Tasting

  • Chateau Montelena 1973, Napa Valley/Calistoga (132)
  • Meursault-Charmes 1973, Roulot (126.5)
  • Chalone Vineyards 1974, Monterey County/Soledad (121)
  • Spring Mountain 1973, Napa Valley/Spring Mountain (104)
  • Beaune Clos des Mouches 1973, Joseph Drouhin (101)
  • Freemark Abbey 1972, Napa Valley/Rutherford (100)
  • Batard-Montrachet 1973, Ramonet-Prudhon (94)
  • Puligny-Montrachet 1972, Les Pucelles, Domaine Leflaive (89)
  • Veedercrest 1972, Napa Valley/Mt. Veeder (88)
  • David Bruce 1973, Santa Cruz Mts. (42)

 

Next week we will dive into the wine makers and 2 wines that won the tasting and where they are at today.

I get so jazzed up just thinking about that tasting! I mean… I can’t even contain myself and I have heard that story 100000000 times.

 

Anyway, if you are drinking wine this weekend.. and you should be…. make sure you stick to something you may have not had before. It could open up a new world of wine you never knew existed.

It could even be your own Judgement of Paris and give you the best wine you never would have tasted otherwise….

Until next time…Cheers

The Fridge Wine Guy

 

Patriotic Wine-ing

Happy 1st of July!

It is 3 days away from America’s birthday and it has me thinking… What makes being free so amazing? I think the short and long answer would both be…everything. During this time of “turmoil” in our country, we should reflect on how great it is to live here. What better time to do so than the birthday weekend of this amazing country?

We are currently all in flux about how terrible both of our Presidential candidates are. This is an interesting time yes, but would you rather live in Venezuela right now?

We don’t have enough trans-gender bathrooms to please anyone at this point. Would you rather live in the middle east?

I won’t delve too far into this, but what I will say is that we should take this time to really think about how amazing our country actually is. It is easy to think about the “greener” grass on the other side, but would all of these people across the world still be moving here if it wasn’t as amazing as it is?

Let’s learn about wine from our founding father’s to be sure we keep as Pro-America as possible.

Virginia Wine Map

As you can see above, we are going to talk about wine from…. Virginia??? 4th of July brings about all of the patriot in me, and what better way learn about wine history than talk about presidents making wine?

Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both produced wine on sight at Monticello and Mount Vernon respectively. Neither of their wine made it off their estate, but they were making wine long before Napa Valley was on the wine map. The experimented with all sorts of grapes, trying to highlight the wines they loved.

Fast forward to 1976 when Barboursville Vineyards was established by Gianni Zonin and Gabriele Rausse. Their efforts and help showed others the way, and by 1995 there were 46 wineries in Virginia! As of today there are over 254 wineries in Virgina, only being surpassed by California, Washington, Oregon and New York.

Lucky for everyone reading, there is one wine from the amazing Barboursville Vineyards that is currently available for you to purchase in the state of Kansas.

 

Barboursville Cabernet Franc

Barboursville’s Cabernet Franc Reserve is intense and luscious in flavors with ripe red berries in the forefront of the nose and palate. A long finish and strong tannins you would think would be harsh, but it is remarkably soft. This will pair wonderfully with your grilled fair you might eat this weekend. The weather is going to be perfect (let’s just hope) for a glass of this great Cabernet Franc from the state of Virginia.

So when looking around this weekend, enjoying the fireworks and family, let’s thank our founding fathers for our initial freedom and all of our friends and family who are currently still fighting for us in places we would all rather not bed.

Cheers to the greatest country in the world

The Fridge Wine Guy

 

Colo-wine-o!

This wine guy is heading to Colorado for a few days to celebrate for what shall be the most epic bachelor party ever!

We will get back into the education series when I return, focusing on regional wines to try.

When drinking wine this weekend, be sure to try something new!

I have been amazed by the number of people coming into the store asking for Vinho Verde recently. It has been so much fun seeing people’s eyes light up when I tell them we have a few to pick from. This is such a fun wine and is perfect for days that get up over 100 degrees!

Just goes to show you, that taking a leap of faith into something you are not sure if you will like pays off more often than not! This was something we rarely were asked for last year. I love when people are willing to take chances and try new things!

GO VINHO VERDE!

Have a great week and weekend.

Cheers

The Fridge Wine Guy

HOT Wine Takes!

Another Friday is upon us and it is as HOT as I can remember. Bennie the Bulldog couldn’t even play outside this morning, so you know it’s too hot to handle.

We will get to some refreshing wines for the weekend in a moment, but until then… wine sales!

Not selling wine, but wineries being sold to bigger wineries and suppliers is becoming a trend recently.

If you are a beer drinker you have heard plenty about AB-INBEV buying smaller, popular craft breweries in order to expand their reach in the market. This has become a, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em attitude. This is happening all over the beer world and because of how in tune beer drinkers are, they know all about it.

There is good reason for beer drinkers to panic though, as it has been proven that quality does not always carry over when a mega-giant buys up their favorite craft brewery. Does the brew master stay the same? Do they cheapen the ingredients?

 

These things are constantly asked as more and more sell out to larger companies.

How has this affected the wine world to this point?

There have been some big sales recently including but not limited to:

Meiomi selling to wine company Constellation

J Vineyards selling to wine company Gallo

and most recently, Orin Swift Cellars selling to wine company Gallo.

Will this start trending in the wine world like it has in the beer world? These bigger wine companies act as distributors of wine as well as having their own wines that got them famous enough to achieve that status. So they are wanting to add wines with big time names that make estate driven, high quality wines to their portfolios.

Who can fault them? and can you fault a family run winery who sells their winery and estate to a company like this? On the surface it is easy to, but tell me what you would say if someone offered you 200 million dollars for your winery…. say no to that!

The big concern over-all is quality. Is the quality of your favorite wine going to change if it is bought by a big wine conglomerate? As far as I can see at this point… No. The wines of the aforementioned places haven’t changed for the worse yet. If anything they have gained reach and some could be getting better.

Something to look for would be the appellation designation on the bottle. If you love J Vineyards Pinot Noir then keep loving it, but do pay attention. If all of a sudden you see that same bottle and it says “J Vineyard Sonoma County Pinot Noir” instead, then they might be cutting corners and not sourcing all estate fruit. These  could be things you look for in the future, but until then don’t let this bother you. Think of it has a huge investment to make the wineries you love even better.

The one thing it does 100% do is give your hard-earned money to big corporations. This could bother a lot of people. Does the money go to mom and pop making their wines at their family run estate? Not anymore. It goes to the biggest wine company in the world. This would be the main change. So if this bothers you, then ask your wine guy for comparable options that will help you support the little man instead.

If this isn’t your main concern then you can live free and wine hard!

A few wines to keep you cool this weekend….

SQUADRA Rose

Yet another amazing rose for around $10, Squadra wines produces a Sicilian rose from the Nero d Avola grape that will knock your rose loving socks off. Full bodied and refreshing, a straw is not frowned upon when quenching your thirst this weekend

Pfeffingen Blanc de Noir

This is a wine to really get excited about. A still wine, unlike others you have seen called Blanc de Noir. This is one of the most unique white wine experiences you will have. A white wine made from… Pinot Noir! Not to mention it is made by one of the most reputable German produces there is. Try it before it runs out!

Palladino Gavi

Gavi de Gavi, made from the Cortese grape, is made in the Piedmont region of Italy and produces crowd friendly whites that do normally have a slight natural frizzante to it. Light, refreshing and booming with fruit flavors, this is your new go to white for a party!

   Try one of those three while trying to stay cool this weekend!

** LAST MINUTE FATHER’S DAY “HOT TAKE”**

If your dad is not a wine drinker and you haven’t bought him a gift yet, get him a bottle of Hirsch Small Batch Bourbon. One of the best bourbons you’ll find at any price… and I bet he hasn’t had it yet either!

Cheers

The Fridge Wine Guy

 

Are Box Wines for Real?

It is Friday and this begs the question…. Should I buy wine that comes in a box?

I mean, there are many more questions on Friday that come up as well.

What am I doing this weekend?

If I decide to bare the 100 degree heat, should I have a beverage to cool myself off?

Will I watch the NBA Finals on Friday night?

Should I clean my house?

Will I binge watch Netflix instead of getting anything done?

Will I spend the weekend with the kids?

What’s great about all of these questions is the one thing they have in common… You can drink wine while doing all of them!

If you’re with your kids, then of course within reason.. but still!

And boxed wine is the topic of the day. What should you drink while watching the Cavaliers tie the NBA Finals up 2-2 tonight? Why would you even think about boxed wine? Boxed wine is that super low quality, swill they shove into a box to make money, right?

 

Well, I would say sort of right. Sorry Fred Franzia, but in your case, this is true. Franzia is about as low quality as it gets and has given all of the new box wines a bad name. Here is the deal though, this is one man’s opinion. If you love Franzia, love the value it presents, and love drinking it, more power to you! This is one of if not the most popular wine we sell, so I would say those of us that don’t like it are in the minority.

 

If you are talking about quality wine in a box, though, Franzia does not fall into this category. There are numerous amounts of wines that do and they are growing by the day.

 

Yes we know Bota Box, Black Box, House Wine, Fish Eye and the like, but I am not talking about these either. I would call those middle ground in box wine quality. I am talking about

“Hey, we make wine in bottles but want to put it in a box because we can” wines. I am talking about “Wow this wine comes in a box, no way!” wines.

These are growing by the day, and I have found a number of them that are worth a shot…

 

LAB Wines

     LAB resides in Portugal and makes some of the best value wine available. The boxes come in Red Blend, White Blend and Rose.. all dry! Whatever style you like will fit when talking about these boxes.

Shania

  Shania boxes hail from Spain and are made from one of the best Spanish wine importers in the world. They make a Monastrell in a box, which is one of my favorite grapes in the world, and is a wonderful dry red. They also have a Malvasia in a box, which would be a dry white that in this case presents itself like a lighter Chardonnay.

La Nevera

   From Spain again and translating to “The Fridge” (see what I did there?) these wines are a little more traditional Spain. The Red is Tempranillo, the white is a blend based on the grape Viura and the Rose is a little lighter than the LAB we spoke of and a bit drier.

Rocky’s Block

  A little more “normal” if you want to call them that, Rocky’s Block hails from California and is made by the people who make OZV wines. Their Cabernet, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir range of choices are about as good as they come from California in a box.

COMING SOON

   Vina Borgia

  Back by popular demand will be the Vina Borgia Garnacha box. This Spanish Garnacha is the first box wine I have ever seen with a rating (RIGHT?!?) and hits the spot. This along with the Shania Monastrell are the two best red box wines out there. When this does happen to come back around, check out the white and rose as well. This is coming from the end all be all of Spanish wine importers, Jorge Ordonez. Vina Borgia is where it’s at.

We might be on the look out for some higher quality French boxed wines as well, along with many others.

The next time you see a box, don’t turn your nose up. Ask your wine guy, and if I am your wine guy then you now have your answer. It is hard to beat 4 bottles of wine in a box for only $5 a bottle, when the quality is through the roof!

They are practical, last for about 2-3 months when opened and have a fun little spout. Some people go to their fridge to get water, I, go to mine to hit the rose tap! These wines will pleasantly surprise anyone and be worth a shot for sure.

Picture me, bulldog in my lap, wife and daughter sleeping on the couch near me, Shania Monastrell box on the table next to me with the NBA Finals on. That is me. Tonight. as you should be as well!

Have a great weekend

Cheers

The Fridge Wine Guy