Archive for 2005

December 7, 2005

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

Yes, construction is indeed underway on our new winery and tasting room complex.. Exciting, yes. Daunting, absolutely. Having never done anything bigger than adding a bedroom & bath to our house in Yountville years ago (and truth be told, Martha handled the bulk of that)- this is quite an adventure, to say the least.

The first great surprise was discovering a couple of days ago that what we thought were solid brick walls in the tasting room/lab/office building are actually two layers of brick on the outside, an air-space in the middle, and one layer of brick veneer on the inside. This little discovery will require a re-engineering of the entire seismic retro-fit and structural upgrade to this building – that’s all! One can only wonder what other exciting surprises await us with each new day of demolition and discovery!

In the cellar, malo-lactic fermentation is rolling along nicely – every lot is now active. We keep the cellar at 60 degrees so as to keep the process slow and have it last as long as possible. Some barrels will finish sooner than others, of course, but we expect everything to have come to completion by the end of the first quarter…

I’m really looking forward to a little break over the holidays. We’ll be in New Orleans for a few days to help Martha’s family celebrate and re-settle after the hurricane, and then on to Atlanta to see my three older children (2 daughters in college now and a son graduating HS in the spring – does that officially make me old?!) The holidays are the world’s greatest excuse for opening up a lot of Champagne. I’ll end today’s entry with the thought that many problems would certainly melt away if we all drank more Champagne… Cheers!

November 28, 2005

Monday, November 28th, 2005

First of all, thanks to all of you that came to vist and taste during our Open House weekend at the winery. About 2,000 of you visited over the weekend, and we had a ball. We were pouring tastes of the 2004 La Paulée and 2004 Audrey cuvées, and I’ve got to say that nothing is more exciting to a winemaker than to have people come and taste his wines, and like them enough to buy them. I am grateful to every one of our customers, and I sincerely appreciate all of your kind words and support. (And if our wines aren’t your cup of tea, that’s ok too – thanks for coming out!) We also heard from a lot of folks who are reading this blog on a regular basis – thanks for noticing! I will do my best keep this up to date and hopefully worthy of your interest…

I still can’t fully comprehend how fabulous my trip to Burgundy was last week. As many times as I’ve been, it never ceases to amaze and delight me – the hospitality and generosity of the Bourguignons, the wonders of the magical little village of Beaune, the great food – so marvelous in its simplicity, and the sheer amount of stunning wines.

I was priveleged to taste nearly 100 barrel samples of the new 2005 vintage, and at least as many of the 2004s still in barrel. By no means a comprehensive tasting, but enough for me to get an early handle on these vintages. I really like them both, but for very different reasons. The 04s seem to be a “classic” Burgundian vintage – excellent acidity, intensity of aromas and flavors, and very very true to their respective terroirs. The Chambolles taste like Chambolle, the Pommards like Pommard, as opposed to the 2003s – which more closely resembled New World Pinot Noir (albeit with much more intense concentration and acidity.) The 2005s, early on, seem to have the potential to be one of the truly great Burgundy vintages. The wines are incredibly well balanced, lovely and deep. Even the ever-hesitant to hype Burgundians are whispering about the potential for “”another 1961″. SHHH – we won’t tell anybody! It will be exciting to track both of these vintages as they develop and come to market in the years to come…

The famed Hopsices de Beaune auction added a new wrinkle this year, with the auction being conducted by Christies auction house, rather than the Burgundy Negociants Association as has been the tradition. This allowed anyone to bid, not just the registered negociants. It was thought that this would drive up prices – with a plethora of new bidders and a great 2005 vintage to boot. Prices were up – but only about 12% over 2004 – a year which saw prices drop precipitously. So, the wines were for the most part a relative bargain, and I was excited to purchase two barrels of exciting juice.

We are now the proud owners of one barrel of the 2005 Beaune 1er Cru cuvée Maurice Drouhin, and one barrel of the 2005 Meursault-Charmes cuvée Bahèzre de Lanlay. I tasted both prior to the auction, and they are both stunning. My friends at Maison Joseph Drouhin will do the élévage and bottling on these wines for us, and we’ll be excited to offer them as part of the Scott Paul Selections portfolio. (We will begin to offer them as Futures sometime next year – watch this space.)

Also for the first time ever, the Hospices auctioned off an amazing collection of bottles and magnums of older vintages from their cellars, and we were lucky to grab a bunch of mags of Meursault-Genèvrieres from the 2000 and 1996 vintages. I’m not yet sure what we’ll do with these – probably put them up for sale in our new winery/tasting room next year…

Speaking of which – construction is underway on our new winery/tasting room complex. Yay! Barring any natural (or unnatural) disasters – we will have the tasting room open in some form by Memorial Day weekend at the end of May – wish us luck!

The meetings with potential Burgundian producers for Scott Paul Selections also went very well. I have lined up four exciting producers, with hopes and plans for another 6 or so to complete the portfolio by next spring. A new website specific to the Burgundy wines is in the works, and we should launch the entire enterprise early in the new year.

Don’t miss the entry below if you haven’t already read it – the lineup of wines from this year’s La Paulée celebration was truly astounding…

November 23, 2005

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

Just back from the week in Burgundy, which was amazing beyond words. As I recover from jet-lag in the next few days, I will try to do it all justice. In the meantime, I will post here the staggering list of amazing wines that were shared around the table at this year’s La Paulée celebration, hosted by my dear friend Véronique Drouhin in her family’s cellars underneath the streets of Beaune (formerly the cellars of the kings of France and the Dukes of Burgundy – cellars dating back to the 1200s…)

Truly, all of these wines were amazing. I have marked my very favorites with *** – though every one probably deserves it!

’73 Batard Paul Pernot
’85 Puligny Combettes Matrot
’93 Batard Niellon
’85 Chevalier Leflaive ***
’87 Montrachet DRC
’89 Montrachet Drouhin
’90 Meursault Clos de la Barre Lafon
’78 Montrachet DRC
’82 Chevalier Bouchard
’90 Corton-Ch. Latour ***
’93 Corton-Ch. Latour
’90 Corton-Ch. Bonneau du Martray ***
’47 Clos blanc Vougeot Heretiers Guyot
’92 Corton Chandon de Brialles
’99 Chevalier Leflaive
’64 Montrachet Nicolas
’86 Corton-Ch. Bonneau du Martray
’85 Volnay Champans d’Angerville
’99 Louise DDO
’93 Echezeaux Jayer
’29 Clos Vougeot R. Boyer
’85 Richebourg DRC ***
’90 Echezeaux DRC ***
’72 Clos de beze Drouhin ***
’88 Corton Clos du Roi Chandon de Brialles
’87 Corton Renardes F. Gay
’61 Bonnes Mares de Vogüé
’62 Chambertin Jadot ***
’89 Richebourg DRC
’91 Echezeaux Jayer ***
’89 Musigny de Vogüé
’91 Musigny de Vogüé ***
’79 Richebourg DRC
’78 Grands Echezeaux Drouhin
’91 Musigny – Mag de Vogüé ***
’49 Musigny Giroud ***
’85 Savigny les Serpentieres CDB
’97 Echezeaux Mugneret-Gibourg
’61 Clos de Beze Drouhin ***
’99 Chambertin Rousseau
’69 Echezeaux DRC
’69 Clos de Corton Faively
’96 La Romanée Bouchard
’72 Bonnes Mares de Vogüé ***
’45 Clos des Mouches Drouhin
’93 Musigny Drouhin ***
’61 La Tâche DRC ***
’55 Chambertin LeRoy
’43 V-R les Malconsorts unknown
’96 Mazis-Ch. Dugat-Py
’59 Beaune l’Enfant Jesus Bouchard ***\
’90 Amoureuses Roumier ***
’71 Amoureuses Drouhin ***
’78 Grands Echezeaux Drouhin
1830 Jerez unknown ***

Luminaries in attendance included Aubert de Villaine (DRC), Jean-Luc Pepin (de Vogüé), Pierre-Henri Gagey (Jadot), Louis-Fabrice Latour (Latour), Marie-Andrée & Marie-Christine Mugneret (Mugneret-Gibourg), Egon Muller, Francois de Nicolai (Chandon de Brialles), and Allen Meadows (Burghound.) Lunch was prepared by the legendary Michel Troisgros. Let me just say that I was humbled and honored to be a part of this amazing day. More soon, as I return to a semi-normal state of consciousness…

November 14, 2005

Monday, November 14th, 2005

Just a quick note before I head off to Burgundy the day after tomorrow…. Malo-lactic fermentation has just begun in some of the 2005s. Kelley and I will monitor each barrel closely to make sure they all go through cleanly and completely… Just tasted through the 2004s in bottle the other night. The Cuvée Martha Pirrie is really stunning right now – lush and lovely, probably the best version of this yet. The 04 La Paulée is developing some nice aromatics, though it seems to be closing down a bit right now. Seems like it should come out of its shell by the April/May release. Same goes for the 04 Audrey, which is even more closed-up at the moment, but the purity and elegance is very much in evidence. I recall the 02s and 03s going through pretty much the same thing pre-release…

Hallelujah – construction on the new winery starts tomorrow! I can’t believe it is finally happening, and can’t wait to see it take shape. I’ll post photos from the construction phase here from time to time…

Scrambling now to get last-minute stuff together for the trip. really looking forward to all the meetings and events, and hoping that the Melatonin rescues me from the worst of the jet-lag. I’ll only be in Burgundy 5 full days, and don’t want to be a zombie the whole time!

I intend to post again on Nov. 23rd – I return late on the 22nd, and will try to shake out the cobwebs and relate all the news the next day – or at least the salient highlights. Until then, Santé, Bonheur! À bientôt…

November 8, 2005

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

Whoa, has it really been that long since my last post? It’s supposed to be a “quiet time” once you get harvest put to bed, but I don’t think there’s ever a quiet time in our world anymore. Certainly not this year, with construction getting ready to start at the new winery, and the launching of our new sister business. (What new sister business!!!???)

Oh yeah, I guess I’ve not really announced it anywhere yet, but we are starting up a new import division – to be called Scott Paul Selections – and we’ll be bringing in some of the top artisanal producers from Burgundy to sell in some of our key markets in the US. I’m on my way to Burgundy next week for a round of meetings with producers, as well as for the annual Hospices de Beaune auction and the famous La Paulée de Meursault. (This event brings together hundreds of the top Burgundy producers, and afficionados from around the word, for a 10 hour lunch – to which everyone brings a dozen or so bottles of some of the greatest Burgs ever produced and shares them freely with the entire group all day and into the night. A Burgundy geek’s dream if ever there was one. When I return I will post a list of the wines that crossed my path at this year’s Paulée – it truly staggers the mind… )

I also hope to purchase a barrel or two of the reportedly stunning 2005s that will be auctioned off – prices are likely to be up quite a bit this year, so we’ll see. If it doesn’t get too crazy, I’d love to grab a barrel of one of the Volnay or Meursault cuvées…

Speaking of France – have i ever mentioned that I’m a huge French Cinema freak? French film is my go-to escape valve, and one of the only things in life besides my family and Pinot Noir that I really really love. I love film, period – but there’s virtually nothing out of Hollywood of interest anymore, and only a handful of great US indie films each year, sadly. (Though I cannot possibly rave enough about Miranda July’s “Me and You and Everyone We Know” – one of the truly original, pure genius movies I’ve ever seen. Do not walk, RUN to your video store and rent this film immediately!) Lately I’ve been re-watching François Truffaut’s entire body of work. I absolutely adore his films, especially 400 Blows and the entire Antoine Doinel cycle. Pure genius indeed…

A quick reminder that Futures orders are due by November 15th. After that date, your only chance to purchase futures on the 2004s will be at our Thanksgiving Weekend Open House. We’ll be open Friday-Sunday 11-4 at the Carlton Winemakers Studio pouring the 2004 La Paulée and Audrey cuvées. Please join us!

October 24, 2005

Monday, October 24th, 2005

Well, everything is now in barrel and vintage 2005 has been put to bed. It’s one of the best feelings there is, to see a year’s worth of effort in the vineyards and winery now safely completed – finally a chance to breathe a sigh or two of relief.

It’s been a difficult fall this year, between my mother’s illness and death, the hurricane in New Orleans that caused Martha’s family to scatter across the country, endless pre-construction meetings for our new winery, Martha’s new job (she’s now the Marketing Director for the Portland Childrens Museum), closing on our new 2nd home in Carlton, and, of course, harvest! Mercifully harvest and winemaking was the least stressful of all this year.

All of our fruit was picked at a lovely peak of flavor, with excellent pH and acid balance as well, and all of the vinifications went beautifully. My early favorites in barrel are the Ribbon Ridge lots and Shea Block 21, but as always many twists and turns will happen along the way. It will be interesting to track the development of these wines. I’ll keep you updated here as things progress…

October 18, 2005

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

It’s been a great week at the winery, with everything now in barrel save for the Maresh Vyd. lots, and those will be drained and pressed tomorrow. Kelley & Jeremy have the cellar in fabulous shape, and the wines are behaving quite nicely. I have never been so happy with young wine in the barrel – I really feel we have something very special this year…

Now we’re in a holding pattern waiting for final construction permits for the winery/tasting room complex – and we should be on track for a November 1st start. Having never tackled more than adding a bedroom and bath to our old house down in Yountville, this should be quite an adventure, to say the least! Thankfully we are in excellent hands with our architect Ernie Munch leading the way, and builder Marty Knopf on top of it every step of the way. It is becoming clear I will be spending a lot more time with these two guys than any family members for the next year or so…

Check out www.thewineoffensive.com – Maggie Dutton’s tremendous wine & food blog out of Seattle. Interesting and provocative stuff, without all the usual hype and drivel…

I have just finalized plans for a quick trip to Burgundy next month. I’ll be there for the annual Hospices de Beaune auction and Véronique Drouhin’s La Paulée – perhaps the ultimate assembly of Burgundy geeks and amazing wines in one place at any given time on the planet. I promise to take notes and report back…

Orders have been flying in for futures on the 2004 Audrey and La Paulée bottlings – thanks for your enthusiastic support. Futures orders can be placed up until Nov. 15th, and you can also order futures at our Thanksgiving Weekend Open House – we’ll be pouring samples at the Carlton Winemakers Studio from 11-4 Friday-Sunday on the holiday weekend. It is truly one of the best events of the year – with wines from nine of Oregon’s best artisanal producers all in one spot. Please join us!

October 11, 2005

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

Wow! If you follow Burgundy at all, you’re probably familiar with Burghound.com – Allen Meadow’s publication that is considerd by many to be the definitive coverage of the wines of the Cote d’Or. Last year Allen began covering domestic Pinot noir as well, reporting on California and Oregon wines in a special report once per year. This year’s Oregon report has just been released, and I am thrilled to announce that one of our wines received the highest score of the report, and another of ours received the 2nd highest score! Coming in #1 and #2 is beyond my wildest imaginations, and I am honored and humbled to have the wines appreciated by such an esteemed palate.

The review focused on 2003 Oregon Pinots, and our 2003 Audrey drew the top score with 91 points, and the 2003 La Paulée placed 2nd with a score of 90. (Allen is a notoriously difficult grader – a 90 or above on his scale is high praise indeed. He scores many wines that he really thinks are wonderful in the 88-89 range from what I’ve seen over the years. He’s also never given a wine a score of 100 – “There’s always room for improvement.”)

Go to www.burghound.com if you’re interested in subscribing and seeing the entire report. If you buy more than a couple of bottles of Burgundy a year, it is clearly worth every penny.

October 10, 2005

Monday, October 10th, 2005

Well, we have just finished de-stemming our final fruit of the year – Maresh blocks 10, 12 & OV, and we are done with crush. Hooray! It’s always a wonderful feeling to have the last of the fruit safely in the winery for the year, especially when it has been such a stellar year. This year provided clearly the best fruit we’ve worked with yet, and the wines should be stunning. I truly believe we will reach new levels with the ’05 wines.

We went to barrel yesterday with Shea blocks 10 and 21, and they are both showing nicely. Block 21 is especially nice – more complex than the other Shea lots, but with similar dark berry flavors and excellent concentration. Tonight we’ll go to barrel with all of the Ribbon Ridge and the Shea clone 828, and everything will be put to bed except for the Maresh that just came in today, of course. Kudos to Kelley and Jeremy for tremendous work. Attention to detail really shows itself in the wines…

October 7, 2005

Friday, October 7th, 2005

Excited to report that we drained and pressed six tanks yesterday, and the first 2005 wine is now in barrel. Three different lots from Stoller Vyd. – blocks 21, 32, and the newly re-named “Goat Block” (Kelley & Jeremy provided the moniker) were the first to finish fermentation this year. Flavors and aromas have been stellar throughout – a nice mix of red and black fruits, and the wines are already showing exceptional length.

As of now, it looks like we will pick our Maresh Vyd. blocks on Monday the 10th – ripeness and flavors are there, and a couple more days of hangtime should bring even more interesting flavors to the mix. Sugars at picking will be about 23.8-24.2, I predict. It’s also likely that several of the Shea and Ribbon Ridge lots will be dry and ready to go to barrel within the next 48-72 hours. More as it happens…