Grapes of sorrow
It's odd that death at advanced years can remind one of youth, and the sad news in Napa Valley last month did just that.
Within two days, two pioneers of American wine, Peter Newton and Jamie Davies, died. They had lived barely 5 miles apart in the northern valley, he in a winery with English gardens on Spring Mountain, above St. Helena, and she on the old Jacob Schram place on Diamond Mountain, where some of the first caves had been dug and vines planted 100 years ago.
Newton, 81, a British newspaperman who started Sterling in 1969 and his own Newton in 1979, was one of the first to perfect an American merlot and to champion natural, unfiltered wines.
Davies, 73, with husband, Jack, had followed a more daunting dream: to create Schramsberg, California sparklers equal to France's. He died 10 years ago.
Their wineries' fame will continue to grow and remind us of how much they achieved in a single life span — and how far American wine has advanced in fewer than 50 years, with many vintages and generations to come.
A rare and pricey wine tasting
A special tasting of 1982 Mouton Rothschild and other Burgundy wines will feature Master of Wine and author Clive Coates at 6 p.m. April 14 at West Palm Wines, 2009 N 22nd St., Ybor City.
Coates is the author of An Encyclopedia of the Wines and Domaines of France (University of California Press, 2001) and the forthcoming revised edition of The Wines of Burgundy (University of California Press, May).
Tickets for the limited seating are $295 and include a signed copy of Cote D'Or, A Celebration of the Great Wines of Burgundy. Call (813) 241-8587 to reserve.
Wine of the week
Cycles Gladiator Rose, 2005
This was great advertising art for the grand new French velocipede when artist Georges Massias made it 100 years ago, and it's wheeled around in true vintage style today as the label in a fine line of Central Coast wines. Cycles Gladiator comes from the bright-idea crew that crafted Hahn,
Rex Goliath and Bin 36,
so you get winemaking
as clever as the marketing and better juice for fewer dollars.
The rose is a very modern dry rose in the European style, not a pink sweetie of old. It's a Rhone grenache, grown in California with a crystal-bright flash of color, clean and crisp with a burst of fruit in the nose. Call it a strawberry tart, not a cream puff, with medium body, a round mouth feel and not a trace of sugar.
It's welcome at any table with sandwiches and salads or a holiday dinner of lamb or ham. Keep one in the fridge and extras ready for the cooler or picnic basket.
Availability: $11 at wine shops, liquor stores and supermarkets.
Times staff writer