Several hundred owner/investors in Willamette Valley Vineyards flowed into Walla Walla on May 14–15 to celebrate the groundbreaking of their newest enterprise, the Pambrun winery. Managing Partner Jim Bernau welcomed them to a dinner celebration on Saturday evening and a groundbreaking ceremony on an unusually wet and windy Sunday afternoon. The weather didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits, as each individual planted a vine tagged with their name in the sprawling SeVein (suh-vane) development, on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla valley.
Pambrun is named for Pierre-Chrysologue Pambrun, a French-Canadian trapper and great great great great grandfather of Bernau, who arrived in the Walla Walla Valley in 1832 to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Nez Perce. SeVein partners Marty Clubb (L’Ecole No. 41), Chris Figgins (Leonetti Cellar) and Norm McKibben (Pepper Bridge) joined Bernau and winery director Christine Collier in the groundbreaking ceremony.
Until the vineyard comes into production and the winery is built, Pambrun wines are being made by Jon Meuret from Maison Bleue with purchased fruit.
The Last Rolls-Royce Phantoms Have Fold-out Champagne Bar
As production ends on the current generation of Phantom Coupes and Dropheads, Rolls-Royce has launched 50 limited edition models as part of its Phantom Zenith Collection. The Zenith cars come with a wealth of opulent extras, most notably a split tailgate that holds a glass shelf and upholstered seats to enjoy a glass of chilled bubbly from the car’s trunk-mounted Champagne refrigerator. The mini-bar is large enough to cool two bottles of bubbly and eight glasses. All cars are custom commissioned and built to spec.
Oregon Wine Board Releases First Statewide Touring Guide Magazine
Visitors to Oregon wine country have a new comprehensive resource to plan winery visits throughout the state. The newly published Oregon Wine Official Touring Guide offers in-depth information on Oregon’s four major winegrowing regions and ideas for day trips to the Oregon coast. Locals contribute their must-visit restaurants, attractions and a variety of wine country activities. A digital version of the guide is available at www.oregonwine.org.
Bainbridge Yama Whiskey Aged in Mizunara Oak From Japan
A small organic spirits distillery on Bainbridge Island (located a short ferry ride from Seattle) has released a single grain whiskey it claims to be the first to be aged in Japanese mizunara oak outside of Japan. It honors a long gone village named Yama, founded on Bainbridge in 1883 by some of the earliest Japanese immigrants to the United States. Yama vanished almost a century ago, but the ruins represent last untouched settlement of first generation Japanese immigrants left in the United States.
Yama Whiskey is aged 3-4 years in the mizunara barrels, long prized in Japan for the distinctive flavor profile they impart. It was named “Best Single Grain Whiskey In The World” at this year’s Ultimate Spirits Challenge.
Passages: Languedoc Legend Aimé Guibert of Mas de Daumas Gassac; Gosset Cellarmaster Jean-Pierre Mareigner
Aimé Guibert, Languedoc winemaker and founder of Mas de Daumas Gassac, has died at the age of 91. Originally a glovemaker by trade, in 1974 Guibert and his wife Veronica planted Mas de Daumas Gassac’s first vineyard. Earning recognition for their first 1978 vintage, over the decades to follow Guibert is credited with a renewal of quality in Languedoc wines, and a reputation as one of the region’s top producers.
Jean-Pierre Mareigner, cellarmaster of Champagne Gosset for 33 years, has died at the age of 60. Gosset has issued a statement saying, “It is with great sadness and regret that we inform you of the passing of Jean-Pierre Mareigner. For the past 33 years, as Cellar Master of Champagne Gosset, he has been the creator of the highly renowned cuvées of the Maison, the oldest wine house in Champagne from his home town of Aÿ. Our cellars are full of his work and will remind us of him for a very long time.”
Meanwhile, In the Trade
Court of Master Sommeliers Welcomes Three New Members
May 16–18 in Aspen, Colorado, 63 participants attempted the rigorous Master Sommelier Diploma Examination. Of the dozens to take the test, the court welcomed just three new members to its ranks: Jim Rollston of Manresa (Los Gatos, California) David Keck of Camerata (Houston, Texas) and Kyungmoon Kim of The Modern in (New York City). Their addition brings the total number of Master Sommeliers who have been appointed worldwide since 1969, to 233.
Jackson Family Acquires Copain
Jackson Family Wines has reached agreement to acquire Copain Wines. Founded in 1999 by Wells Guthrie, Copain specializes in vineyard-designated wines from Anderson Valley. They are known for combining French stylistic sensibilities with sustainably-farmed California grapes, notably Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.
“Joining the Jackson Family Wines portfolio is an exciting and logical next step as we look toward the future,” said Guthrie. “We believe the Jackson Family’s commitment to preserving the integrity of what we’ve built, while providing the resources to elevate our wines, will be a winning combination as we look to promote our style of winemaking on a broader scale.”
Copain Wines will continue to operate as before, with Guthrie as winemaker. He retains control over winemaking decisions, including grape sourcing. Jackson Family Wines will focus their efforts on providing sales, marketing, distribution and administrative support.
New Investors for Far Niente
The owners of Far Niente, known for high end Napa Valley Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, have agreed to an investment from GI Partners, the majority shareholder of Duckhorn. The deal includes the Far Niente winery, as well as sister wineries Dolce, Nickel & Nickel, EnRoute and Bella Union. Winery owners Beth Nickel, Erik Nickel, Dirk Hampson and Larry Maguire remain shareholders. Far Niente’s team of sales, marketing and production employees will remain in place, as well as relationships with growers, distributors and existing accounts.
Scotch Whisky Sales Decline Begins To Level Off
The Scotch Whisky Association says the decline in Scotch whisky exports is now slowing, suggesting a more optimistic future for the spirit. The value of Scotch whisky exports for 2015 was £3.86 billion, a decline of 2.4 percent from 2014, following a 7 percent decline from 2013 to 2014. It’s not all bad news—the total value of exports is still 56 percent higher than a decade ago.
The biggest declines by value were in Brazil, Latvia, South Korea and South Africa. Strong performers included the Japan, Mexico, Turkey, China and the U.S., the latter accounting for nearly a fifth of all Scotch exports.
50-Year-Old Port To Celebrate A Half Century In Style
With the success of its 1964, 1965 and 1966 Limited Edition Single Harvest Ports, Taylor Fladgate has confirmed that the series will continue indefinitely. Taylor’s holds some of the most extensive reserves of very old, cask-aged Port of any producer. The Single Harvest Ports are vintage dated and aged to maturity in seasoned oak casks.
Taylor’s Managing Director Adrian Bridge remarked, “A 50th birthday or anniversary is a landmark occasion. Taylor’s Single Harvest Ports offer a unique opportunity to celebrate with an extraordinary 50 year old wine in perfect condition.”
On The Scene
This week goes out to Zinfandel lovers. Take note, ZAP members receive special perks at all of the following events:
Greenwich Village Tasting, New York City. June 15, 2016.
ZAP’s Big Apple Zinfandel Experience, New York City. June 16, 2016.
Simply Summer Celebration, Geyserville, CA. August 14, 2016
Zinfandel Experience, San Francisco. February 23-25, 2017
Check out ZinfandelEvents.Com for more information.