WineSpeed with Karen MacNeil | Joseph Phelps


(Sonoma Coast, California) $55 (750ml)

Say the name Phelps and most people think Insignia, the winery’s brooding, complex cabernet blend, considered one of the top wines of the Napa Valley. This is Phelps’ other masterwork—the Bacall to Insignia’s Bogart. It’s a pinot of great elegance and sensuality, with an intriguing savory/spiciness that draws you back to it again and again. Like so many of the top Sonoma Coast pinots, it’s a wine evocative of the cool Pacific coast. (14.1 precent abv)

94 points KM

Available at Joseph Phelps

Which of the following was the first Irishman to found a winery in California?

  • A. Jim Clendenen
  • B. Fred MacMurray
  • C. Patrick Campbell
  • D. James Concannon

Scroll down for the answer!

“I know that knowing a lot about wine means I know how little I know.”

—Carole Meredith, Professor Emerita, Department of Viticulture & Enology, University of California


Wine labels have evolved quite a bit over time, although the basic information (who made the wine, and where and when the grapes were grown and harvested) has remained largely the same. In ancient Greece, wine was shipped in large clay vessels called amphora, the handles of which often noted where the wine was made and by whom. From the Romans on, most wine was sold in wooden casks, which were marked with identifying stencils or branding irons. By the 18th century, as fine wines began to be shipped in bottles, the glass itself was generally etched with the name of the producer and vintage. And finally, around the turn of the 19th century, as affordable, durable paper and inexpensive printing techniques became available, modern wine labels (front and back) came into use.


A dank, old-attic smell in a wine, attributed to unclean storage containers and sometimes to grapes processed when moldy.

D.Livermore’s leading historic winery, Concannon, was founded in 1883 by Irish immigrant James Concannon. A devout Catholic, Concannon sent bottles of his wine to the Pope each year. The winery is now owned by The Wine Group, the world’s second-largest wine producer by volume and makers of Franzia wine-in-a-box.


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