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Many of you know that in addition to running a technology focused communications agency (now with 23 exits in the last nine years) that I have a passion and deep, deep interest in wine that was nurtured some 26 years ago with my first trip to Santa Barbara's then just beginning wine industry. Over that time my interest has turned from simply enjoying a good bottle of wine, sharing them with friends to actually for many years writing about it. The whole thing started with an email chain called Road Reports that went to friends back in the 80's and early 90's. There was also the starting ground on the Compuserve Wine Forum, and then more and more writing with a list called WinePals and a supposed attempt at a wine blog called WineScene. Unfortunately, time and focus put my energies behind writing about VoIP, the growth of Comunicano, and other pursuits.
Recently though, with more time being spent at home, and more time to delve into wines over the past year, I've begun to really like wine beyond collecting again, and the idea of winning in that world too has become part of my mission in life, so not only am I out now for my clients to be winning in technology wars, but for myself in the wine war world. You see, by nature winning is in my blood.
Back on September 23rd I hosted a dinner in Solana Beach at Pamplemousse Grille as part of a worldwide series of dinners to celebrate International Grenache Day. In preparation for the dinner I assembled 28 different wines, all with Grenache in the bottle. (red, white, grey, rose and sparkling). My list won. As IGD organizer and owner of Rhone Valley winery Chene Bleu, Nicole Rollet wrote:
"Ok Andy, you win the prize. Of the hundreds of Grenache events taking place around the world today, this one has the best line-up of wines of anyone I've seen or heard of."
So with that win under my belt, I felt that I can build a winning wine list. But, I never thought what would happen next was even possible. That being to make a winning wine.
As a matter of fact, since I first learned of the taste off that would include the 2009 Comunicano Wine Company "Double AA" Cuvee" that was being organized outside Montpellier, France by friend and languedoc wine industry professional, Bernard Bardou. Back in March three of the bottles of the wine that I made with Doug Margerum, winemaker at Margerum Wine Company were brought over to France by my wife, Helene Malabed.
One went to Domaine D'Aupilhac's Sylvain Fadat who has been an inspiration to me. Another was shared with Mark Williamson, proprietor of the famed Willi's Wine Bar in Paris and now winemaker with Evening Land in Oregon at times, as Mark has been a guiding light to me in wine for many years . But the third bottle was given to Bernard, who has been a friend for half a dozen years and has perhaps the best knowledge of Languedoc and Roussillion wines of anyone I know. Sometime over the summer he cooked up the idea of having the wine tasted in a blind taste off against other wines made with predominantely Syrah like the Double "AA" Cuvee is.
My standing joke to friends was "yeah, and like with the famed Paris tasting of 1974 California Cabernets...." the American wine will win. Yeah. Right.
Well, it's true. Of the wines tasted blindly against, which included wines made by famed French producers the Margerum/Abramson made wine that was assembled on morning after Doug's birthday the day before in 2010, won.
Bardou wrote in my Facebook wall:
"Better than a North Rhone : The Aromas of a Fruity BURGUNDY, the general balance of a St JOSEPH and the 3D Volume and emotion of a Rare LANGUEDOC ....What a Mix, but simply the Best 2009 bottle !!!"
But it was his two messages to me that made my night on Sunday when they arrived on my iPhone:
I've just opened your AA Syrah....What a beautiful very fruity nose...without any reduction !
could you please give me back the détails of the assembly and idea of the soil (terroir) and the vinification + grown up...?
So what does this have to do with VoIP? Well at the 2010 IT Expo in Los Angeles at the so called "Andy Wine Dinner" which I put on thanks to the encouragement of friends like Rich Tehrani and Scott Kargman, we poured the first six bottles ever bottled of the wine. Many people that night remrked how well they liked it and actually preferred it over others. While I blushed, inside I was beginning to think they may be right.
Well, Bernard's tasting proved they were. And to all who have tasted it, and to all who will, I say "Merci"
To all who encourged me to do this, to Doug Margerum for really being the winemaker who guided and steered the process, and to the person who started me on the wine road, my old friend the YAS-Larry Yasner, I really say, THANKS. This win is for all of you too.
P.S. The wine is a blend of 98 percent Syrah, 2 percent Grenache. There's some Viognier in the base blend of the 20 percent Uber co-ferment. Net net..this is a wine made to be like a Northern Rhone.