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Food from the grill seems to demand red wine

Time:2018-10-10 19:14wine - Red wine life health Click:

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Summer and fall are often characterized as “white wine time.” But with all those cookouts, it’s also BBQ grilling time. The grill usually produces foods which demand red wines.

Price, aging and other issues can perplex consumers. It’s a pleasure to chat with winemakers and winery owners to ask their recommendations and thoughts on what’s happening in the wine industry.

Trevor Durling is general manager and chief winemaker at the historic Napa Valley Beaulieu Vineyard and Winery. Durling is a Sonoma native. He has worked at Moon Mountain Winery, Provenance and Hewitt Vineyards. Among his accomplishments, was helping craft the 2010 Hewitt Vineyard Cabernet which Wine Spectator named its wine of the year. He joined Beaulieu vineyard last summer. He’s just the fifth winemaker in the iconic winery’s 117-year history.

Taking over the winemaking duties at a legendary winery founded by Georges de Latour in 1900 was never in his career plan. As a young man, he thought he’d have a career in the military. But fate took him back to the California vineyards he grew up around. He recently answered a few questions exclusively for Madison Magazine and Grape Sense newspaper column readers.

“I feel incredibly privileged to contribute to Beaulieu’s future legacy, and I’m very focused on honoring and respecting the history and heritage of the past, while innovating for the future,” Durling said. “Beaulieu’s legacy honors the marriage between state-of-the-art technology and gentle, traditional winemaking methods.

While winemakers want to focus on terroir and winemaking methods, he shared thoughts on consumer-oriented questions. What about the ever-increasing prices of Napa Cab? And, how long should the big red wines of California be aged before drinking?

“The only thing that concerns me about the raising price of Napa Cabernet is that I can no longer afford to purchase and enjoy many of these wines myself,” he said, perhaps with a bit of tongue-in-cheek. “But we’re very conscious about this, and the wines are very reasonably priced across our portfolio, considering the quality that we’re delivering. Many of the reasons that the cost for Napa Cabernets has gone up is because the price of the land in Napa has risen.

“Additionally, costs for the resources and materials that go into winemaking have also gone up (e.g. barrels, labor, etc.). We’ve been investing significantly in improvements to our vineyards and improvements in our winemaking tools and cellar capabilities. We’ve been conscious not to carry these investment costs into our pricing, so this doesn’t trickle down to the consumer. For example, the price for our icon wine, the Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon has stayed consistent a bit above the $100 price point for the past several years, while we’re also offering great values options with introductory level Cabernets, like our Napa Valley Cabernet at around $30 and our Rutherford Cabernet at around $50. We think it’s important to offer a Napa Cabernet to match a price point that makes these wines accessible to almost every consumer looking for great quality and value from Napa.”

There are wine regions where visitors might bump into the winemaker or owner in the tasting room. That seems to happen infrequently in Napa. The winery recently got approval to increase its daily visitor account by 100 people and is moving its tasting room into one of its more historic buildings. Durling tries to interact with customers in the tasting room whenever he can. There he enjoys a glass of wine and doles out wine advice.

His advice on aging your big reds fits any label, but of course he focuses on Beaulieu wines. “All of our reserve wines have great depth and aging potential. However, my goal as a winemaker is to craft a wine you can age 30 years if you want to, but I also want primary fruit to be the focus because I know consumers are not laying down wines like they used to — so I want it to be delicious to drink now as well.

“For example, two of our current wines, the 2014 Tapestry Red Wine and 2014 Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon are showing beautifully now, but these could certainly age for five years or more. There are always some exceptions to this. Last year we introduced our once-in-a-decade wine, the 2013 Rarity Cabernet Sauvignon, from a truly exceptional vintage. Only 1,500 magnum-sized bottles were produced from the best of the best barrel-lots selections from BV Ranches 1 and 2, and this is a wine that will age for decades. Opening this bottle now only gives a slight glimpse at the potential greatness that we’ll be able to experience in 20 years.”

There is nothing like a great Napa Cab in the summer time with some charred beef. You don’t have to lay down $100 for a bottle of Cabernet. Certainly not all, but many of the bigger Napa names do an affordable entry-level wine. Beaulieu offers an entry-level bottle at $30 and a Rutherford Cab at $50.

Durling said it’s an exciting time to be a consumer because quality has never been better. He knows wine buyers have lots of options. He’s on point, though, when recommending the long-established iconic brands for beautiful Napa Cabernet.


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