Any “best of” or “top” list is purely subjective, and this one is no exception. These are five wine stories that simply touched me, in a personal way, in 2016…
- The emergence of Prosecco.
The sparkling wine that Michelle and I served at our wedding in the fall of 2015 was quite similar to the Il Cortese Sereno — fresh, fruity, frothy and fun. We like to think that we’re trendsetters, but the truth is that Prosecco has been making inroads in the sparkling wine world for several years… and the trend continued in 2016.
- The passing of Mary Novak.
She not only was the matriarch of Napa Valley’s acclaimed Spottswoode Estate, but a pioneer among women in the wine business. It’s almost cliché to use a phrase like “blazed a path,” but in her case, it was true. Women who hold executive positions in the wine industry today, as well as women winemakers, owe a big thanks to Mary Novak.
As for us mere men, we can thank her for making sure Spottswoode was a viable business. I’ve had an almost-30-year love affair with the winery’s Sauvignon Blanc.
- The 50th anniversary of Robert Mondavi Winery.
Without the acclaimed winery owner, winemaker and cheerleader for the California wine industry, even Mary Novak may not have been able to sell Sauvignon Blanc, Mondavi was the vintner who helped popularize the varietal by marketing it under the very French-sounding name of Fumé Blanc.
- The passing of Peter Mondavi.
Like his brother, Peter made numerous contributions to the wine world, and I like to think that the fact he made it to age 101 is a solid demonstration of the connection between moderate wine consumption and good health.
- The 40th anniversary of the Paris Tasting.
This wine judging, at which French judges gave higher grades to California wines than to their French counterparts, made it possible for people like Mary Novak and the Mondavi brothers to make their marks in the world of wine. After the so-called “Judgment of Paris,” everything changed, and the wine consumer benefited.