While on a short, but much needed vacation I was made aware that Charles Banks was in fact leaving Screaming Eagle. I have readers who are particularly fond of the wines at SCREAMING EAGLE and I should point out an aside that if they would like to share those wines my door is always open. Most of my readers appreciate the buzz because it doesn't advocate spending your sons future tuition on high-end (and in this case SUPER high end wines), and turn their noses up on the idea that a dowry sized price tag on a single bottle of Napa Cabernet is about as ridiculous as Sarah Palin key note speaking at a Mensa conference... Have I had it? Yes and I think that it is absolutely sublime. Would I drive a Ferrari? Heck yes, if I had no qualms about money. What Banks did say about his parting ways with S.E. was that he wanted to go somewhere where he oversaw reasonable retail costs again.
I'm not rich by any means, I'm fairly sure I'd actually keep up with this blog if I had to work less on amassing a fortune great enough to keep up with my ferocity for wine; but I have to appreciate small gestures such as his. S.E. has gotten as glutted and inflated as formerly humble estates like HARLAN and OPUS ONE. Do I like those wines? I'd probably push a baby seal in front of a bus for a vintage Harlan Cabernet; but will I?
And thats the point Im trying to make. Most owners of successful and still filthy rich vineyards will SAY they want the prices to fall back down to reasonable numbers; but the honest truth is that they are just SAYING that. Banks stood up for the everyman, and those everymen couldn't have ever bought his wines to begin with. Before I get on my pedestal I must reiterate that he's not going to win a pulitzer prize, or get a ticker tape parade; but I hope that my audience out there goes wherever he sets his sights, and supports a shining beam of hope for an increasingly exclusive Appelation like Napa Valley. No you don't see a lot of charity and admiration for the every day wine drinker, not unless his everyday plonk has a price tag that looks like his phone number. Go out right now, and by right now I mean when you have a special occasion, and buy a bottle of HARTWELL: MISTE HILL. I love Ben Touqett, and I think his wines for the Hartwell family are some of the best if not THE best wines under $70 dollars. Succulent, off drying, rich but not overly obtrusive; his Cabernet Sauvignon is a parade of flavors for even the pickiest of wine enthusiasts. I'm a huge BARLOWE fan too, yes it's huge, but dang it thats what we Napa Nuts love the most; so deal with it.
If you take anything from this, its don't let someone tell you that the most innaccesible wines of the West Coast are necessarily WORTH IT; I mean hell even Charles freakin Banks took a stand. Go out there and find yourself a wine that suits YOUR budget. An associate of mine, and a cool dude, Todd Anderson sells his GHOST HORSE Cabernet Sauvignon at staggering heights; but I find the wine faultless. Did I pay for it? Heck no, but if I had the kind of money his clients do, I'd always buy faultless wines. What do I buy? I buy the best wines for my own budget, and so should you. Furthermore I buy wines and suggest wines with integrity, so again it is always a pleasure to see the little guy get a big supporter....