("Wine Etc." is a weekly syndicated column that appears in newspapers and on newspaper websites around the country. The author's home base is in Annapolis, MD, where the column can be found at capitalgazette.com)
BOYHOOD CHUMS REUNITE TO MAKE WINE
It’s a pretty cool story: childhood chums grow up as sons of famous Napa Valley winemakers, then reunite to make wine. But it may be more than nostalgia that makes the partnership of Carlo Trinchero and Josh Phelps a story.
It’s hardly unusual for offspring to follow in the footsteps of their winemaking parents – that tradition was set long after Italian immigrants, such as the Mondavis and Gallos, began to make wine in California. But most of them took what they learned as cellar rats and made wines similar in style.
Now comes the millennial offspring who are eschewing tradition to make wines under their own, non-traditional labels and in an approachable style aimed squarely at their generation. In short, these are not your daddy’s wines.
Trinchero and Phelps, friends since elementary school, continue to work in the front offices of their fathers’ operations, so at this point Taken Wine Co. is a past-time threatening to become full-time jobs. Their first vintage in 2010 was sold by hand from the back of their truck, but today the labels and quantities have expanded. They have Trinchero’s vast distribution system to get the wines into most states, but the millennials also have the social media savvy of their generation.
The wines range in price from $18 to $30.
We tasted Complicated, a blend of syrah, grenache and carignane grapes from the Central Coast. We wouldn’t call it complicated, but it was quite tasty.
Taken Wine Co. is not the only millennial team making wine. Four Mondavi sisters – grandchildren of Peter Sr. and Blanche Mondavi – are making expensive wine under the Dark Matter label.
Millennials – those born between the late 1980s and 2000 – are an adventurous lot who routinely eschew the critics who baby boomers follow. They are unlikely to collect expensive wines and instead buy wines for current consumption. It follows, then, that more approachable wines with clever labels are going to be popular with this trendy age group – second only to baby boomers in wine purchasing.
Millennials also like a good story and a wine with a fun label, so Trinchero and Phelps are wise to favor something clever. They will understand marketing to their own generation better than their fathers.
In last week’s column, we misidentified a recommended chianti. It should have read Coltibuono Cetamura Chianti DOCG 2013 ($11).
· Three Sticks Russian River Pinot Noir 2012 ($60). Winemaker Don Van Staaveren is making some spectacular wine at this California facility. The highly extracted pinot noir, grown in optimal conditions, is concentrated with black cherry and raspberry flavors and floral aromatics.
· Tinto Figuero Vinas Viejas Tempranillo 2009 ($69). This is among the best Spanish tempranillos we have ever tasted. It is far from simple with bright black berry fruit, concentration, and hints of licorice and mocha. The tannins are gritty and sweet, portending a long life in the cellar if you can wait.
· Kalin Semillon Livermore Valley 2000 ($39). No this is not a typo, this is the current release from proprietor Terry Leighton. The deep golden color suggests a young sauterne but this white wine is decidedly dry and not for the faint hearted. Floral and candied citrus nose and flavors emerge in a complex and intriguing style. If you have ever had a well-aged white Bordeaux you will know what to expect. It is 75 percent semillon and 25 percent sauvignon blanc. Very interesting and thought provoking.
· Cockburn’s Special Reserve Port N/V ($20). During these cold weather months there is nothing better than a glass of port . Some want to pair port with the classic match of stilton cheese and walnuts, which is fine but a glass after dinner or before bed is hard to beat. The rich sweetness is a dessert unto itself and the higher alcohol is the perfect aid to send you into dreamland. Intense fruit flavors of plums and cherries are mellowed by age and the natural grape sugars that sweeten this beverage.
· Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 ($28). This Napa Valley wine is a good value – depth but elegance with black cherry and plum flavors and a hint of chocolate.
· Mayol Viticultuors Glop Priorat 2010 ($30). We’ve been impressed with this viscous blend over the years, especially for the price. Many Priorats sell for much more. The composition is about half grenache with the rest made up of cabernet sauvignon, syrah and carignan. Ripe plum flavors with a load of licorice. “Glop” means “sip” in Catalan.