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Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

(Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California) $55

Over the last few years, I’ve heard lots of wine lovers yearn for the Napa cabernets of the “old days”—wines that were more sleek than plump; wines that were unafraid to show the savory sage side of cabernet; wines that were rich but not saturated. And best of all, wines that sported just a bit of sexy tannic grip, like Clint Eastwood with a 5 o’clock shadow. Well here’s that wine. Stu Smith planted his vineyards on the top of Spring Mountain in 1972 and in many ways, the reclusive mountain man has stayed true to an old fashioned muse. I hope he always does. (14.2% abv)

93 points KM

Available at Smith-Madrone

The WineSpeed Blog

Wine Question

What is irp?

A. The slight sound a screwcap makes as the seal is broken

B. A large pewter vessel for carrying wine

C. The ancient Egyptian term for wine

D. A chalk like chemical added to white wine to help in fermentation


The ancient Egyptians, held wine in high regard, reserving it for the elite. Irp was consumed by royalty and upper class citizens at various festivals during the year, and is primarily associated with the god of the afterlife, underworld and the dead, Asar or Osiris. According to the Egyptians, the life cycle of the grape vine signified renewal and gave hope for life after death.


“…. it’s not really just the chemistry that makes wine interesting or valuable. There’s a lot more behind the story of wine than chemistry. I know that might be disappointing for some chemists, but the reality is that people love wine. And people love wine not just because of the way it tastes.”

— Andrew Waterhouse

Professor of Viticulture & Enology,

University of California at Davis

Wine Words


A phenomenon that can occur in the spring whereby individual grape berries become separated from the stem and fall to the ground. Shatter may be caused by cool, wet weather which tends to prevent the tiny cap on each fertilized berry from falling off. Then as the berries start to grow, they push against the cap and shatter, significantly reducing yields.

The Wine Clip

Survival Guide:


From the Oh No! Files

Binge-ing in Italy?

A friend once told me that when an Italian drinks too much, they don’t say he’s drunk too much; they say he hasn’t eaten enough food yet. By that standard, the residents of Alto Adige must be famished, because a new study by ISTAT Aspetti Della Vita Quotidiana (Italy’s National Institute of Statistics) has found that nearly 20% of the population of Alto Adige over 11 years old (yes eleven) has participated in binge drinking in the last year (defined as drinking more than 6 alcoholic beverages on a single occasion). Interestingly all of the other heavy-drinking regions of Italy were also in the northern part of the country. By comparison, Sicilians and Campanians were the least likely to drink a lot in one sitting—just 4.1% and 4% of over eleven-year-old respectively.

Fascinating Facts

Are you a Placomusophile?

Here’s some great dinner party trivia: If you look at the top of an enclosed bottle of bubbly, you will find a round, metal plate resting over the cork. The wire cage rests on top of this flat disc which is often called cage plate or plaque. Plaques vary in design, and are typically marked with the logo of the House that produced each bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine. Collectors of these “souvenirs” are called placomusophiles, while the act of collecting these plates is called placomusophilie.


Amount (in U.S. dollars) that Diageo is paying to buy actor George Clooney’s tequila company, Casamigos. Clooney founded Casamigos in 2013 with Cindy Crawford’s husband Rande Gerber. The two built their vacation homes in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, side-by-side and drank a lot of tequila together, before deciding to create their own brand. Casamigos, meaning “house of friends,” makes three tequilas: Blanco, Resposado, and Anejo ranging from $40 to $60 a bottle.


Number of 3-star (the highest rating) Michelin restaurants in the United States. Currently Michelin Guides rate restaurants in 4 U.S. localities— the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C. The San Francisco Bay Area and New York are tied with six 3-star restaurants each. Chicago has two 3-star spots and Washington D.C. is awaiting its first 3-star. Thomas Keller is the winningest chef, with two 3-star restaurants to his name.


Number of square meters of wine “leather” that can potentially be produced from by-products of winemaking annually. The new artificial leather, known as Wineleather, is produced by the Italian company Vegea from leftover pomace (the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems of the grapes after pressing). Wineleather is poised to be used for apparel, accessories, furnishing, packaging, and maybe even the seats in your car.

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