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Wine Love Letter, January, 2004
Dear Wine Lover,
Happy New Year to Everyone!
I am still trying to understand how a two week trip to South America has put
me eight weeks behind but here I am running very fast to try to catch up.
Harvest is over, the turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie were devoured in
November, it's time to put away the Christmas ornaments and menorah at our
house, and it's 2004. Wow!
We will try to give you a complete but concise view of all that has
transpired in the wine world since our last newsletter.
Having spent a quiet New Year's Eve reflecting on the past year, I am
still in the mode of being thankful for all that happened. 2003 brought so many
blessings. I am grateful for...a wonderful family, incredible friends, good
health, good wine, art, delicious food, laughing, the people that dedicate
their lives to helping others [including our firefighters (my husband
included), police, medical personnel, and of course, teachers], independence,
and freedom. In addition, Affairs of the Vine continues to grow at an
unbelievable pace with hundreds of new members every week.
As you make (and break your New Year's resolutions, add one more). In
2004 drink what you like, when you like. At Affairs of the Vine we say,
"If you like the way it looks and you like the way it smells and you like
the way it tastes...it's good wine!" So let Affairs of the Vine share
our opinions about the wines we taste and help you discover new wines, but
above all else, remember to trust your own palate!
THE CHARDONNAY SHOOTOUT... A WINE CHALLENGE
TOP CHARDONNAY PRODUCERS SHOOT IT OUT
A unique wine competition, the 2003 Chardonnay Shootout has been completed
and some fabulous Chardonnays are victorious.
Some of us did not want to have a Chardonnay Shootout. We'd gotten into
the ABC (Anything but Chardonnay) habit. The over the top, over-oaked
Chardonnays that had become so prevalent had encouraged other varietal
Well, this Chardonnay Shootout was a real eye opener! Most of the wines we
tasted were beautifully made, well-balanced and inviting.
The real winners of the Chardonnay Shootout are those of us who got to taste
over 200 great Chardonnays submitted from top producers the world over to
narrow it down to the best of the best. For an overview of the process visit Chardonnay Shootout Results
Because so many of the wines we tasted were excellent, the 2003 Chardonnay
Shootout was a true challenge for the wines and for our panel.
Complete results can be viewed at Chardonnay Shootout
- The top ranking Chardonnays had one thing in common...balance.
- The producers range from the very, very small (producing less than 5,000
cases a year) to wineries that produce over 250,000 cases per year.
- The top rated Chardonnays ranged in price from $9 per bottle to $40 per
- Although eight of the top ten were from California, there were two
surprises - Mission Hill 2001 Reserve from Canada (yes you read it right) and
Fantelli from Mendoza, Argentina. Although we have been aware of the quality of
wines that are coming from British Columbia and South America, I must admit
that I was still surprised that these wines were able to successfully challenge
appellations and wineries more noted for Chardonnay.
- The wines hail from many different appellations - Napa Valley, France, Dry
Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, San Francisco Bay (AKA Livermore Valley),
Santa Barbara County, Edna Valley, Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, and as
mentioned above, Okanagan Valley, Canada and Mendoza, Argentina.
Everyone one of these wines had many great admirers and few, if any,
detractors. For our money, you won't go wrong with any of them because they
are all so well made. The determining factor will have to be - what style of
Chardonnay do you like?
Begin an affair with these great wines
PASSIONATE ABOUT PINOT NOIR
The second annual Pinot Noir Shootout was completed in early
December. The results will be revealed at The Pinot Noir
in San Francisco on February 7, 2004.
For the results of the 2002 Pinot Noir Shootout visit the Pinot Noir Shootout.
THE PINOT NOIR SUMMIT
FEBRUARY 7, 2004
1:30 PM - 6:00 PM
The City Club of San Francisco
San Francisco, California
Affairs of the Vine and The City Club of San Francisco invite you to
experience the ultimate Pinot Noir adventure. The Pinot Summit
includes The Final Showdown of the Pinot Noir Shootout
featuring 30 of the top rated Pinot Noirs, Pinot Noir workshops and tastings,
the Pinot Noir Shootout Awards Ceremony, and a reception
featuring top Pinot Noir winemakers showcasing their wines with specially
paired hors d'oeuvres.
Attendees will pit their palates against the expert panel in The
Final Showdown, a blind tasting. Each guest will taste the
wines and rate their preferences. Winners will be announced at 5 PM.
$125.00 per person plus tax.
Attendance is limited to 100.
online or call 707-874-1975.
PINOT NOIR WINEMAKERS DINNER
February 7, 2004
City Club of San Francisco
155 Sansome San Francisco, California
Affairs of the Vine will host a Pinot Noir Winemakers Dinner at The
City Club of San Francisco on February 7, 2004. A four-course
dinner will be paired with the wines of four outstanding Pinot
Noir winemakers who will join the attendees for dinner. The evening
begins at 7:00 P.M. The cost is $135.00 per person. Register
online or call 707-874-1975.
Adventures In Wine - South of the Border
We were fortunate enough to be invited on a fabulous tour
of Chile and Argentina, visiting 15 wineries as honored
guests - sampling the wines, walking their vineyards, barrel
sampling, and dining on local fare paired with the wines
at each property. We have tried to chronicle our journey
for you. All of our good intentions of updating you as we
traveled were foiled by Internet connection problems but
here are our journals. Hope you enjoy reading about our
exploration half as much as we enjoyed the adventure.
2004 Wine Boot Camp® Attracts Wine Lovers
RAW RECRUITS and WINE GENERALS
ARE WELCOME TO ENLIST
If you love wine and want to know all there is to know, if you've always
dreamed of working in a vineyard or winery, if you are intimidated by wine
stewards or wine knowledgeable friends, feel out of your depth when confronted
by rows of wine bottles, or unsure of which wine to buy next, then Wine Boot
Camp® can fulfill your dreams and give you the confidence you
Wine Boot Camp® offers one day of intensive wine training and
is the ultimate fantasy experience for wine lovers.
Wine novices and experts experience firsthand the joys and frustrations of
winemaking. You'll have the opportunity to work hands-on in the vineyard
and the cellar under the tutelage of top winemakers and viticulturists. Wine
workshops and tastings of outstanding wines are an integral part of the
Conducted by AFFAIRS of the VINE, Wine Boot Camp® is a
challenge to the senses, awareness, and understanding of fine wines. Upon
completion of basic training, your marksmanship in the field of fine wines will
be right on target. Business associates and friends will marvel at the
leadership of Camp graduates as they storm the wine lists of America and the
An intensive, highly enjoyable one-day training program, Wine Boot
Camp® provides the experience and knowledge needed to become
totally confident in the understanding and appreciation of fine wine.
Raw recruits and wine generals alike are welcome to attend Wine Boot
Camp®. Only the strongest will survive!
The cost of WINE BOOT CAMP® includes all seminars and
educational materials, lunch in the vineyard, dinner paired with appropriate
wines, extensive wine tasting, a bottle of wine created by the recruit,
transportation to all food and wine events, and an I Survived Wine Boot
Camp® T-shirt. Enlistment is $375 per person.
To enlist in WINE BOOT CAMP® contact Major Drady at firstname.lastname@example.org or
June 12, 2004 - Russian River Valley Wine Boot Camp®
- July 24, 2004 - Napa Valley Wine Boot Camp®
- August 14, 2004 - Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Boot Camp®
- September 4, 2004 - Monterey Harvest Wine Boot Camp®
- October 2, 2004 - Sonoma County Harvest Wine Boot Camp®
- October 9, 2004 - Sonoma Coast Harvest Wine Boot Camp®
LETTERS FROM THE TROOPS
Read what some are saying about their Wine
Boot Camp experience.
Affairs of the Vine creates unique Team Building events for you.
Let Affairs of the Vine help you create RARE alliances with your team,
customers and vendors with a customized wine tasting or wine workshop.
Do you want you team to work together more effectively? An Affairs of the Vine Wine Blending Workshop is
Affairs of the Vine's expert and congenial staff educate without
Let Affairs of the Vine create a RARE event for you. We
will help you accomplish your goals to enhance Relationships,
create Access, activate Response, and
experience Empowerment. Contact Affairs of the Vine to discuss
unique programs that will help you accomplish your goals. We can customize
events for your specific needs or industry. Call Barbara Drady at 707-874-1975
to discuss your event or meeting planning needs today.
Affairs of the Vine believes that sharing and learning about wine should be
fun. Yes, there is a lot to know but the information can be served with smiles
and even laughter. We've discovered another great wine columnist who not
only shares our mission but delivers a terrific weekly wine column, loaded with
information and delivered with humor. Natalie MacLean shares her wine knowledge
in an easy to follow format and serves smiles as an accompaniment. Signup for
Natalie's free newsletter at www.nataliemaclean.com
How does one produce a top notch wine? Findings presented at the annual meeting
of the Geological Society of America in Seattle suggest that recent climate
changes may help vintners to produce more outstanding vintages. According to
researchers, the majority of the world's most renowned wine regions have
experienced warming during their growing seasons. This can create better
overall vintages and more consistency from year to year. Studies have shown
that vintages which are rated as outstanding tend to occur in years when the
temperatures during the growing season are slightly warmer than in average
years, as little as three to six or seven degrees Fahrenheit. So...with a
warming trend we can hope for better grapes coming from the vineyards. It could
even mean that some regions that are currently too cold for winemaking may be
able to produce grapes in the future. Hmmm...Chardonnay from Antarctica?
A WINE BOOT CAMP® PICTORIAL
Dear Affairs of the Vine,
First of all....Having a bottle wine with a screw-cap has no romance at all.
Half the fun is opening a bottle with a wine opener. There's no point in
saving the wine after it has been open...it loses its character due to
oxidation. I haven't come across any interesting wine yet out of screw-cap
Thanks for your comments.
Try the Sauvignon Blanc from Jackson Estates in Marlbrough, New Zealand.
How about Plump Jack Merlot? How romantic is it to have a corked bottle? By the
way, once a bottle is opened, you should try Private
Preserve, it's pretty spectacular at preserving the flavors with or
without a screw-cap.
Send your comments to email@example.com.
We'll share your thoughts in the next newsletter.
The Staff at Affairs of the Vine