Peter Michael Wines 2005-2019

Depending on how much you believe in destiny, it will come as no surprise that when, in 1982, Peter Michael established his eponymous estate winery, it was in Sonoma’s Knights Valley. Seven years later, after a long career as an entrepreneur and technology executive, he was made a sir, making his purchase of 640 steep, rugged acres on the western slopes of Mount St Helena even more apposite.

Raised on Bordeaux and Burgundy, Sir Peter credits the taste of a Chateau MontelenaChardonnay while visiting San Francisco in 1973 as the inspiration to make California wine. Many California wineries have similar origin stories, but they usually feature dreams of making the next great California Cabernet rather than world-class Chardonnay. Sir Peter, it turns out, would go on to do both.

Diminutive in both size and profile, the Knights Valley AVA sits between Napa Valley and Sonoma’s Alexander Valley. Its 2,000 acres of vineyards (Napa has more than 45,000) sit mostly on the narrow valley floor, making the Peter Michael estate on steep volcanic hillsides both a world apart and a marvel of viticultural engineering.

This is a tasting report that I wrote for the fine wine magazine, Club Oenologique. Continue reading the complete article here.

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Daily Wine News: Defining Greatness

“Great wines ought to have a sense of place, and they ought to refresh. But the sorts of wines that are age-worthy and develop complexity tend to be rare and increasingly expensive, and few people have access to them. These sorts of bottles represent a tiny fraction of what’s produced and consumed. At the same time, many people experience greatness in wines that don’t necessarily fall under the classic definition. I know I do.” In the New York Times, Eric Asimov ponders what makes a wine great.

Over the last 50-plus years, the wine club has gone from stuffy boys’ club fodder to niche restaurant selections. The pandemic has led to an explosion of options that go beyond a passive doorstep drop. Megan Krigbaum surveys the wine club scene in PUNCH.

Might our palate be conditioned by visual cues and cultural constructs? In Decanter, Andrew Jefford argues that tasting is a synesthetic experience greatly affected by assumptions and expectations

In Wine-Searcher, Barnaby Eales explore’s France’s newest wine region: Brittany.

In Forbes, Cathy Huyghe highlights two less-traveled wine regions: California’s San Benito County and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

In Grape Collective, Marco Salerno talks to Salvo Foti about the human side of winemaking on Mount Etna. 

In People, Sophie Dodd pulled together a gift guide for wine lovers.

Daily Wine News: Mechanized Port

Is grape stomping a thing of the past for Port?

Grapes for Port have traditionally been crushed by foot, but does that foot need to have a pulse? In Wine-Searcher, Kathleen Willcox reports on the Port producers transitioning to mechanical foot-treading machines.

In the Drop, Janice Williams rounds up the best Cyber Monday wine deals to hop on today.

Also in the Drop, Henry Jeffreys longs for carefree parties and the bad wine served at them.

Dave McIntyre highlights the best wine books of 2021 in the Washington Post.

In Wine Enthusiast, Sean P. Sullivan explores how wine auctions have evolved during the pandemic.

CNN reports on Burgundy’s catastrophic 2021 vintage, and the silver linings discovered at the Hospices de Beaune charity auction.

Meininger’s reports on the Hospices de Beaune auction and how this year’s sale seems to be representative of prospects for the 2021 vintage.

Jancis Robinson recommends a wide range of festive bubbly.

Antonio Galloni shares his notes on new Champagne releases in Vinous.

Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 11/28/21

Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren’t Flipboard inclined, here’s everything I’ve strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.

Brittany: France’s Newest Wine Region
Billionaire pushing buttons.

What Makes Savoie’s Wines So Prized?
Wink Lorch digs into Chignin.

Mechanization Versus Wine’s Human Touch
Do you taste those robotic feet in your Port?

Why Martinborough Pinot Noirs Are New Zealand’s Best
Some are certainly among the top.

Circling back in Napa: what the Araujo family did next
Blake Gray writes about the Aurajos.

Andrew Jefford: ‘A wine’s visual cues shout, stamp, whistle and roar’
Andrew appreciates discombobulation.

Turbocharged by the Pandemic, Wine Auctions Evolve
Digital doubledown.

Sir Peter Michael’s journey from Silicon Valley to Knights Valley
A California wine icon transitions to the next generation.

Everything Old Is New Again: A Completer Septicentennial
I want to attend a 700-year-old’s birthday, too.

Shipping Wine the Old Way Gains Favor
This is a thing now.


The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Beaujolais Nouveau
Maybe, but I’ve moved on to cru.

Fine wine is increasingly the preserve of the wealthy. Who cares?
Robert Joseph response to last week’s Oliver Styles piece on making wines affordable to those who make them.

The New Wave of Cahors Malbec
This is good news.

Fire, frost, smoke: how climate change is threatening the wine industry
From an investor’s perspective.

In Defense of Bad Wine
Not really. It’s defense of the good times, when bad wine is sometimes served.

No Matter How Big the Bubbles, Size Isn’t Everything
A candidate for the Ignobel Prize?

The impatient, disloyal customer
Switching costs are very, very low.

A Master Sommelier in North Texas Faces Sexual Assault Allegations
Local details on Texas victims.

Georgia’s forgotten wine region
BBC goes full Qvevri (video).

The Rich Diversity of Canada’s Top Wines
Good stuff, north of the border.

Scandinavia’s Wine Scene Is Growing, Partially Due to Climate Change
Danish wine, Swedish wine and more.

Tool Frontman Talks How Climate Change Is Affecting His Wine Business, Speaks on Difficulties He Faces
Maynard James Keenan talks climate.

How the man who put California wines on the map is helping others deal with climate change
Winiarski goes for legacy.

What Makes a Wine Great? It’s Not Just Old and Complex.
Eric Asimov gives great context.

A New Era for American Sparkling Wine
It’s getting good.

Turning Point for US Sommeliers?
Robert Joseph weighs in.

History in a glass: Valdiguié encapsulates Napa’s grape growing past
Good ol’ Napa Gamay.

Napa Valley Winery Sues Insurance Company Over Failure To Pay Smoke Taint Claim
Messy business.

Inside Cava’s Quest to Upgrade its Reputation
A long saga, not ended.

Acker Merrall ‘record-breaking’ sale faces counterfeit claims
Insert eyeroll here.

Nina Caplan’s wine diary from an extraordinary year
Some good stories and some good bottles.

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up for November 29, 2021

I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

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