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Annia 2016

(Napa Valley, California) $30

Every person I’ve ever served this wine to has said the same word—fascinating. And that’s what I wrote, too, the first time I tasted this intriguing fresh dry white, a blend of two Italian grapes–ribolla gialla and friulano—with a small amount of chardonnay. (Some of the friulano in this wine was planted in Napa in 1946!). The wine seems to encapsulate the pure foresty aromas of the mountains ringing Napa Valley, and yet the flavor of the wine is definitely Italian. Massican (the name comes from a mountain range in southern Italy) is dedicated to making California wines with what the owner calls Italian “intellectual verve.” Delicious verve, we might add. (12.8% abv)

90 points KM

Available at Massican Winery

The WineSpeed Blog

Wine Question

Currently, there are 239 AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) registered in the United States. Match the following AVAs with the geographical regions that contain them:

1. Chalk Hill

2. Horse Heaven Hills

3. Ribbon Ridge

4. Bell Mountain


A. Columbia Valley, Washington

B. Gillespie County, Texas

C. Sonoma Valley, California

D. Willamette Valley, Oregon

1-C, 2-A, 3-D, 4-B.

Chalk Hill, named for its white volcanic ash soils, is located in Sonoma Valley, California. Horse Heaven Hills is within the Columbia Valley of Washington State. It was named for the knee-high grasses there that roving bands of feral horses once fed on; hence a horse heaven! Ribbon Ridge, a ridge along the northwest end of the Chehalem Mountains, is located in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. And Bell Mountain is in the central Texas county of Gillespie, and was the first designated AVA in that state.


“Wine is so special because it is mankind’s one source of comfort and courage, his only medicine and antiseptic, his one resource to renew his tired spirits and lift him above his weary saddened self”

— Hugh Johnson,

British wine authority,
author, The Story of Wine

Wine Words


Descriptive term, not necessarily negative, for a wine that is not brilliantly clear. A wine can be slightly cloudy because it has not undergone fining or filtering. Some wines, however, are cloudy as a result of faulty winemaking.

The Wine Clip

Survival Guide:


From the Oh No! Files

Yeah so, everybody knows that when it comes to smelling fire hydrants, pooches are pros. Anything with urine? A dog will ace it every time. Certain aromas, however, elude man’s best friend. New research by Dr. John McGann and published in the journal Science suggests that when it comes to smelling wine (and bananas if you must know), humans perform better than canines. You can thank your complex orbitofrontal cortices and intricate olfactory bulbs for the advantage.

Fascinating Facts

It’s in the Mail…
The History of Winery Mailing Lists

Getting on a top winery’s mailing list can be harder than scoring tickets to the Super Bowl. Indeed, there are now waiting lists to get onto mailing lists. How did such coveted access begin? The quick story starts in the 1940s, when Fred and Eleanor McCrea purchased a Napa Valley homestead called Stony Hill. In 1954 they released their first wine—a 1952 chardonnay which cost $21.69– a case (tax and delivery included). Although the state of California did not yet keep viticultural records, fewer than 200 acres of chardonnay probably existed at the time. Fred, who was a Mad-Men-style advertising executive, marketed his chardonnay via handwritten letters to friends. That Stony Hill private list of customers—kept on index cards—was the first winery “mailing list” in the Napa Valley.


Number of extra bottles of Champagne that Taittinger expects to sell in Russia next year when Russia hosts the FIFA (Soccer) World Cup. The big uptick is the result of the Russian government’s recent decision to abolish taxes on Champagne as well as on brands that have sponsorship agreements with FIFA. Taittinger scored on both accounts; it was the “Official Champagne” of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.


Amount (in millions of U.S. dollars) that Auction Napa Valley has donated to support community health and children’s education since the famous auction’s creation in 1981. This year, among the 200 e-auction lots available are the “Howell Mountain Lot”: 13 bottles of top wines from famous reclusive mountain estates and the “Shafer Lot”: a Salmanazar (equal to 12 standard 750 ml bottles) of Shafer Hillside Select. Bidding opens this Sunday, May 28 at noon and closes Sunday, June 4. To participate, go here.


Average price (in U.S. dollars) for a ton of chardonnay grapes in California (by comparison, the average price for a ton of cabernet sauvignon is $1,468). At nearly 100,000 acres, chardonnay is California’s most planted wine grape, followed by cabernet sauvignon (#2) and pinot noir (#3). You might think that Sonoma would be the county with the most chardonnay in the state, but it’s Monterey.

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