An Icon Passes

Jim Barrett, founder of Chateau Montelena, passed away at the end of last week. Barrett was propelled into fame on a world stage when his 1973 Napa Valley Chardonnay took first place among the white wines at the famous (or infamous) Judgement of Paris wine tasting in 1976, and though American wine would no doubt have gotten the recognition it deserved eventually, he did his part. “A life well lived,” his son Bo says, and reports that the winery will stay in their family for “as many decades going forward as we have enjoyed during his life.” 


Not a bad legacy.


Something Other Than Wine: A Review of Willett Straight Rye

I did it. I shelled out the $60 and bought a bottle of Willett Rye. I did not mention to my girlfriend just how much it cost.



From the distillery good enough to have the web address comes this tasty little gem. Aged four years in new, charred white oak, it was surprisingly smooth for a rye. I tend to find rye whiskies a little abrasive; this had a tinge of that element,  but in a charming way. The nose was nice, slightly citrusy with a piney, spice element and not too much alcoholic heat. A nice burn on the palate (thanks, 110-proof!) that I really appreciated; I like to know when I’m drinking spirits! The pine element really came out on the palate as well, but like I say, this was very smooth for a rye. Pepper, mint, cloves. Lovely, warm length; it went on just long enough to satisfy, and then it was time for another sip!

Tasted neat, with a couple drops of distilled water.

Recommended! 92 points. Seek it out if you can.


Purchased at Downtown Spirits: