Dan Berger on wine: Napa Redux: a judgment on Parisian burnout? | Dan Berger


Not that Napa didn’t take advantage of this Gallic conquest, which instantly elevated several Napa homes to worldwide fame. The most important was Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, which achieved the highest score among cabernet-based wines.

Its founder, Warren Winiarski, has spoken eloquently at various 45th anniversary commemorative events, offering a philosophical perspective. He remains devoted to the style of wine his cellar developed in 1973 and that was his goal.

Despite the pomp, several aspects of all these postures make me nauseous.

On the one hand, the result of the victory was that the prices of all Napa Valley Cabernets started to rise to the point that no average income could afford it. (It reminded me of Harris K. Telemacher, Steve Martin’s character in “LA Story,” who needs a bank loan to get a table at the trendy restaurant in LA L’Idiot.)

Another thing: a statistical analysis of the Paris result produces a much more complex result in which it is difficult to select a single “winner”.

In addition, a re-staging of this event in 2006 in London and Napa, created an interesting result for the then 30-year-old reds. The highest rated Cabernet by both panels was a 1971 Cab made by Paul Draper at Ridge Vineyards – not a wine from Napa, but one from the Monte Bello vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains!

Another curiosity: where Bordeaux cherishes and promotes its sub-regional accolades and revel in the differences between Saint-Julien, Saint-Estèphe, Margaux and others, the Napans have consciously ignored any distinction between, say, Stag’s Leap, Mt. Veeder and Coombsville.

About Michael Brafford

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