Post-Fire Interview with Stu Smith of Smith-Madrone plus 3 wines with pairings and a helping of gratitude

Stu Smith of Smith-Madrone

“I like wine – I think it’s my favorite beverage on the face of the earth,” said Stu Smith General Partner and Enologist at Smith-Madrone. “Wine’s first obligation is to give pleasure—it’s hedonistic.”

Thank goodness for wine in 2020!

In a year full of fire and disease, drinking wine is one of the few pleasures we can count on, and for that we’re grateful.

But making red wine in 2020 from Napa? May not happen.

“This year has been a strange year for all kinds of reasons,” Stu said.

In the Before Times, I visited Stu at Smith-Madrone high above Napa Valley on Spring Mountain among the Madrone trees — hence the name, a marriage between the Smith brothers, Charlie and Stu, and the Madrones which embrace their vineyards.

winemaker to winemaker: Gretel Compton of Clos des Amis and Stu Smith chat at Smith-Madrone

Two weeks ago, Stu and I chat again via cell phone. Service is spotty in the best of times up there, and because of the Glass Fire, there’s no land lines. Power only recently returned thanks to several hundred PG&E employees who formed a temporary city at Charles Krug.

“What do you see when you look out?” I asked Stu who has found a spot near the winery with reception.

“I’m looking at Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc to the right and olive trees to the left,” he responded. The white wine grapes were losing their leaves, while the reds were still holding on to theirs. In the valley, he reported that with the temperature dropping down to the 20s, vines there had more color. Between the rows of vines on Spring Mountain, the cover crop was starting to come in fresh and green in response to the first real rains of the season.

“Looking over the vines I can see the part of Howell Mountain that burnt,” Stu continued.

Continue reading

Carménère: The Vine That Masqueraded as Merlot in Chile

Concha y Toro Carmenere

After phylloxera wiped out Carménère in Bordeaux, it wasn’t replanted: too prone to disease and too late in ripening. With so few vines planted, commercial Carménère was considered extinct.

Until in 1994, Carménère was discovered in Chile masquerading as Merlot! Continue reading

Successful Pairings of Salty and Savory with Semi-Dry Sweet Bordeaux #Winophiles

semi-dry Bordeaux paired with savory, salty, and semi-sweet meal

Who doesn’t love kettle corn, that salty and sweet combination? If you like me are a fan, then consider this: semi-dry Bordeaux white wines paired with savory and salty fare! Continue reading

WordPress WordFest 1/22/21: 24 Hours of Fun! Register Now!

Art Predator (CC) phot by Randy Stewart, and taken at WordCamp SF. “Feel free to use this picture,” he says. “Please credit as shown. If you are a person that I have taken a photo of, it’s yours (but I’d still be curious as to where it is).”

I was trying to finish up my Zin Day Post yesterday, when I noticed on my WordPress dashboard a call for speakers for the upcoming international 24 hour marathon WordPress online WordFest set for Friday 1/22/21. 

Well that sounds fun! 

So I checked it out and noticed right off the bat that in 90 minutes the submissions to speak would close. I instantly switched gears from Zinfandel to what should I talk about? 

Because here’s the truth: I love public speaking. Continue reading

A Zinfandel for Every One and Every Occasion: Happy Zinfandel Day 2020!

Truly, there is a zinfandel for everybody. Here are four are very different Zinfandel wines that work wonderfully for your holiday table, be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the Rose Bowl…

2018 Bartholomew Estate Antonia’s Garden Rose of Zinfandel Sonoma Valley
ABV 14%; SRP
Sue purchased this wine with an industry discount at the tasting room which is located in a historic military hospital. Continue reading

Local Love: 6 Ventura County Wines from Local Vines paired with Watkins Beef, Ventura Fresh Fish #WinePW

This is my 1000 post on Wine Predator.

“Congratulations on writing 1000 posts on wine predator!” says WordPress.

As such, it seems appropriate to make it about “Local Love, Local Wine” because while I first started going wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma then worked at Ridge Vineyards in the early and mid-80s, in the mid 1990s, I got back into wine as the Art Predator by writing a newspaper column that included “all that engages the whole soul” from art to literature to film to wine to food, all local. I didn’t make a lot of money in that gig, but I did have trade: free food and drink at many area restaurants.

One of the restaurants, the long gone Nora’s of Ojai, featured wines from The Ojai Vineyard Continue reading