The WineSpeed Blog


Chardonnay 2016

(Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley, CA) $38

Trefethen made its first Napa Valley chardonnay in 1973, and 3 years later, its 1976 chardonnay was ranked Number One in the Gault Millau Wine Olympics in Paris. The best news of all: they’re still making beautiful, sophisticated chardonnay to this day. (Experience does count). Unlike the California butter bombs of the 90s and 2000s, this chardonnay harkens back to a time when top chardonnay meant one that was refined, lovely, fresh, lively, and wonderfully long. This is that wine. (13.4% abv)

93 points KM

Available at Trefethen

The Near-Death of California Cabernets

Some of the most riveting cabernets throughout California have all traced their parentage back to three clones (or genetic subtypes), simply known as clones 07, 08, and 11. The three were imported from Bordeaux (allegedly from Château Margaux) by Irish immigrant James Concannon, founder of Concannon Vineyard in the Livermore Valley, east of San Francisco. (He was also the first Irishman to own a California winery). Concannon’s agent in Bordeaux was the legendary San Francisco lawyer-turned-grapevine-dealer Charles Wetmore. While many clones died out during the Prohibition in the 1920s, the “Bordeaux/Concannon clones” survived the 13-year ban on wine. All thanks to Concannon’s reinvention of itself as the lead supplier of altar wine to the Archbishop of San Francisco.

A. Cypress

B. Pomegranate

C. Olive

D. Pine


To make retsina, small amounts of resin from the Aleppo pine tree are added to savatiano grape juice as it ferments. Retsina’s distinctive piney flavor with a turpentine-like aroma is delicious when paired with many Greek meze (small appetizers served like Spanish tapas). Resinated wines have a long history in Greece: traces of pine resin have been found in Greek wine amphorae dating back to the 13th century B.C. Now, retsina is made all over the country, although most is made in Attica, the wine region that surrounds Athens.

The efforts to demystify and simplify [wine] never ring true because they ignore the fact that wine by its nature is mystifying and complicated. These qualities can be embraced and celebrated without suggesting that they require mastering, but that would force us to think and talk about wine in a different sort of way, as a food staple to be enjoyed rather than as a symbol of status or as a ‘lifestyle.’”

—Eric Asimov, The New York Times, July 16, 2018


Meaning “muzzle” in English, a muselet (pronounced MOOSE-eh-lay) is the wire cage that holds a Champagne or sparkling wine cork firmly in place on the neck of the bottle. The muzzle is important when it comes to safety. Even though most people quickly remove it first, the muselet should actually not be removed before the cork is eased out. Rather, it should be removed with the cork at the same time.

Why Man’s Best Friend is Probably (OK, Definitely) Not a Canine

They drink alcohol and love spicy food. What attributes could be better in a best friend? And of course, it’s not your dog. The animal in question is a tree shrew, the only mammal (besides us) who likes habaneros, jalapenos, spicy Bloody Marys, you name it. If its furry forehead breaks out in a sweat, it’s just fine as far as a shrew is concerned. According to a report in Atlas Obscura, tree shrews are very closely related to humans but are smaller than primates so they are easier to study. In recent research, scientists discovered that tree shrews are similar to birds: neither are affected by capsaicinoids, the molecules that make chilis hot. So break out the Carolina Reapers and the Ghost Peppers—we think these guys can handle them.


Number of Master Sommeliers now in the United States, including 24 new MSs who just passed the tough exam earlier this month. Of the total group, 153 are men and 29 are women. The Master Sommelier title was created in England in 1977. There are 273 MSs worldwide.


Number of harvests in the United States thus far (including this year’s if the first one on record in 1607 produced any wine. (No one is certain if any wine was produced). The first U.S. winemakers were colonists in Jamestown, Virginia who used wild, musty-tasting scuppernong grapes they found growing in the region.


Number of millions of acres burned by wildfires in California so far this year, although prime wildfire season has only just begun. In addition to scorched land, a dozen people have died, and 1200 houses have been destroyed. The sixth straight year of drought and extreme temperatures has the state braced for more devastating fires this fall.

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