The SOMM Journal

May 2014

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24 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2014 { one woman's view } Contact Us 800-601-0600 Get Started Download a free demo. Enhance Experiences. Optimize Sales. Tastevin is a user-friendly iPad app that empowers restaurateurs with a dynamic selling tool that saves time and money while exciting guests. Revolutionize Your Restaurant Tastevin customers: • Experience up to 15-30% increase in beverage sales • Leverage data intelligence through customer preferences • Manage back-end inventory • Boost slow-moving inventory Enhance Your Guest's Experience Give your customers the ability to: • Explore Wines and discover tasting notes to their preference • Enjoy an all over experience through videos and photos about their wine options • Search a large array of wines, spirits and beers • Receive emails regarding wine selections and restaurant promotions FROM THE MOMENT I GOT BART ARAUJO'S startling email on July 24 of 2013, announcing the highly unexpected sale of Araujo to Groupe Artémis, owner of Château Latour, I have wondered what would happen to the pristine estate and its pedigreed Eisele Vineyard. For the past year, Araujo has been a silent place. Then, unexpectedly, I had the opportunity to sit down with Antoine Donnedieu de Vabres, the new CFO and acting General Manager. The conversation that ensued surprised even me. Among those surprises was the thickly-accented Donnedieu de Vabres him- self, who looks about 22 but must be considerably older given his academic credentials: a Master's degree in business management from Paris's École des Hautes Études Commerciales and a degree in philosophy from the Université de Paris X Nanterre. Donnedieu de Vabres was hand-picked by his mentor Frédéric Engerer, the celebrated President of Château Latour. I asked Donnedieu de Vabres about Araujo in a Latour era. Karen MacNeil: Many in the U.S. wine industry consider Araujo the equivalent of a Napa Valley first growth. What are Château Latour's plans for the estate? Antoine Donnedieu: This is a place to which we can relate. Araujo wines are innately distinct. They have always been wines of balance and finesse. We are not going to change that. There is no revolution happening. We respect the universe Bart and Daphne Araujo built; the Eisele Vineyard in particular was in perfect condition when we bought it. Starting with the 2013 vintage, who will make the wine? Araujo's winemaker of the last three years, Nigel Kinsman, will stay on, though we want to rely less on consultants, so we have let Michel Rolland go and Araujo's longtime consultant Françoise Peschon has decided to leave. Frédéric Engerer and Latour's Technical Director, Hélène Génin, will come occasionally to have . . . let's say, a conversation. There have been notably few French acquisitions or startups in Napa Valley. For Groupe Artémis and Château Latour, why now? Napa Valley is at an interesting point in its evolution. There is a lot of history here, but the valley is simultaneously building its future. At the same time, this is a moment in Château Latour's life when it is not afraid to expand its horizons, and to have an adventure apart from Pauillac and apart from France. Do you think that the style of the wine will change subtly—and perhaps subconsciously? After all, everyone in Latour's senior management has a French palate. It's a hard question. Our palates were indeed educated in France and that inevitably has an influ- ence on how we see things. We have a preference for freshness and we are not used to high alcohol. But Araujo already possesses the style we are comfortable with and the style we think gives pleasure. KM: What is the most important thing Château Latour brings to Araujo? Clarity. PHOTO: BURGES SMITH My Conversation with Antoine THE FUTURE OF ARAUJO UNDER FRENCH OWNERSHIP by Karen MacNeil Eisele Vineyard near Calistoga was first planted more than 125 years ago and has been principally dedicated to Cabernet Sauvignon for the past 50 years. It is widely recognized as one of the greatest terroirs in Napa Valley. I tasted the not-yet- released 2012 Eisele Sauvignon Blanc and the 2011 Eisele Cabernet Sauvignon. Here are my notes: Araujo 2012 Eisele Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley ($58) Simply gorgeous. Napa Valley's answer to Haut Brion Blanc. Absolutely no green flavor what- soever, but rather an explosion of minerals, salt, brine and something akin to dried flowers. This is one of the Sauvignon Blancs (along with Rudd, Vineyard 29, Arietta, Quintessa and others) forging a new, top-class direction for this varietal in Napa Valley. Araujo 2011 Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($TBA) A great Cabernet has the power to consume you—it seems like it's drinking you rather than the other way around. Every atom of this wine screams purity, intensity and aliveness. For me, however, the best part of all was the fact that what I call the wine's "center of grav- ity" was way back. The wine made you wait and wait and wait—almost as if you were drinking it in slow motion—before the luscious finish finally began to arrive. Karen MacNeil is the author of The Wine Bible and the upcoming The NEW Wine Bible. She is the only American to win every major wine award given in the English language. Q: Q: Q: Q: Q: Somm Journal June/July.indd 24 5/9/14 12:08 PM

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