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Return to Paradise

It was two years and two months after the wine country wildfires when I returned to Paradise Ridge Winery to see how the rebuild was coming along. I had no idea it was the first day of their soft opening.

In October of 2017 their hospitality center and production facility burned to the ground. I’ve come to know the Byck family fairly well over the years and I’m thrilled to see the return of Paradise. Owner and family member Rene and I sat down in January so he could catch us up on the challenges his family faced the past two years, the new building and some changes they have in mind. See an artist’s rendering of the new building and more at PRWinery.com.

To hear Rene talk about the loss of the winery just 4 months after the fire and see photos of the devastation click here.

Faire La Fête

In this interview I talk with Master of Wine Peter Neptune about the rich and centuries long tradition of Mardi Gras. You won’t believe how many centuries! You’ll also hear about the sparkling wine that was developed in southeastern France that ties into the historical roots of the celebration, Faire La Fête Brut. As you’ll hear, sparkling wine was developed in the Limoux region, (no, not Champagne) making Faire La Fête the ideal sparkling for Mardi Gras celebrations. You gotta love a history lesson with a party theme!

Return to Paradise

The week of the soft opening during a foggy winter’s day.

Return to Paradise

A small part of the new tasting room featuring the new art work referenced in the interview.

Return to Paradise

The Paradise Ridge Blanc De Blanc sparkling wine and Vineyard Select Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.

It’s not intentional that this podcast was uploaded just a couple weeks after the movie Wine Country was released. Artesa Estate Vineyards and Winery is one of the wineries the ladies visited.

The fact is, their winemaker Ana Diogo-Draper was on my radio show in April, so she was next in line for my podcast. As you’ll hear, Artesa is influenced by Spain, Napa Valley and Portugal. You can taste those influences in the many wines Ana crafts. Varieties include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Alberino, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and a sparkling.

Join us in the tasting room to learn about Artesa Estate Vineyards and Winery, the rich history, and their delightful winemaker.

Learn more about the winery here.

Artesa Vineyars and Winery

My guest, winemaker Ana Diogo-Draper

 

 

Artesa Estate Vineyard and Winery

A portion of their tasting room

 

Artesa Estate Vineyard and Winery

The gift shop

Artesa Estate Vineyard and Winery

Additional tasting bar for events and overflow

 

 

One of several beautiful period paintings that hang in various tasting spaces

You can click on these photos to see a larger image

 

 

 

 

The Galatea we discuss. It’s 53% Tempranillo, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon and 100% delicious!

What is a vintage wine?  It’s the wine made out of the single year’s harvest, the date on the label is the vintage. It does not indicate the year the wine was bottled.

Non-vintage wines are those produced by mixing harvests of two years or more. On occasion you’ll see NV on the label marking the distinction.  This is a common practice with Champagne and sparkling wine producers as winemakers provide a continuous house style through the blending of various vintages, to create the yearly non-vintage Champagne.

It’s not uncommon to see vintage year sparkling wines in California. However, in the Champagne region of France, vintages are generally produced three or four times a decade. This represents less than 5% of total Champagne production.

Vintage and Non-Vintage Wine

As you see, the vintage of this Lanson Champagne is 1998

Vintage and Non-Vintage Wine

This label does not indicate a year which would suggest a non-vintage Champagne

I should note, often a vintage date may appear on the foil of the bottle or on an attached tag,
especially these days with screen printed wine labels.

As you see here, Lanson does put their vintage dates on the label so it is likely the Black Label is a
non-vintage Champagne. As it turns out, Black Label was chosen to indicate a specific non-vintage Champagne they bottle to honor the long relationship it has with the British Court.

For centuries the French monk Dom Perignon was thought to have invented champagne in the late 1600s. However, the facts are as grounded as the bubbles in the wine itself.  Dom Perignon he was cellar master at the Abbey of Hautvilliers but there is no evidence that he was the first person to taste sparkling wine. Additionally, his famous quote, “I am drinking the stars!” also is false, with the first documented mention of that line appearing in an advertisement in the late 19th century. But to give credit where credit is due, it is said he was the first to use cork as a bottle closure.

Interestingly, the first sparkling wine is considered by some wine historians to have been invented by Benedictine Monks in the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire, near Limoux, in Languedoc in 1531, almost a hundred years before Dom Perignon was born. Research has been unable to unearth any exact date of the creation of sparkling wine using, what is referred to today as méthode Champenoise…with one exception.

An English scientist, physician, naturalist and metallurgist is said to be the first to document “How to put the fizz into sparkling wine” in 1662.  The scientist, Christopher Merrett of Winchcombe was the first person to describe the second fermentation process and use the word “sparkling” when referring to the end product, says Winchcombe historian Jean Bray. The fine English residents of Winchcombe in the Cotswolds, U.K. are so convinced Dr. Merrett was the first to create sparkling wine they have installed a plaque in his honour. (Yes, that’s honor with a “u” out of respect for the locals)

Merrett