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Randy Buckner

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Wine News: For all of you old farts who remember Diamond Creek....

by Randy Buckner » Wed Jun 28, 2006 4:43 pm

Al Brounstein, whose single-vineyard Napa Valley Cabernets became some of California's most prized wines, died yesterday at the age of 86 from complications related to Parkinson's disease, which he had been battling since 1983. The founder of Diamond Creek Vineyards had been admitted to St. Helena Hospital for treatment of pneumonia on June 20 and returned to his home in Calistoga, Calif., on June 23.

Brounstein had not anticipated becoming a champion of Cabernet Sauvignon and terroir when he cleared land for a vineyard in Napa Valley in the late 1960s.

At the time, there were fewer than 700 acres of Cabernet planted in the entire state of California. When Brounstein discovered he had several different soil types at his property on Diamond Mountain, he decided to bottle the grapes from his vineyards separately, and by the late 1970s, Diamond Creek Vineyards had established itself as one of Napa's Cabernet superstars, routinely producing three or four single-vineyard Cabernets each year.

Story continues on a paid site....
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TomHill

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Surely You Don't Mean ME????

by TomHill » Wed Jun 28, 2006 6:29 pm

Remember being very impressed w/ the '72's.... a miserable/rain-besotted vintage. Al harvested, as I recall, before the downpours. I collected them for a couple of yrs, but my tastes drifted from Cabernet to more interesting wines. When he released that $100 Lake Cab, I thought that was the most insane thing I'd ever done see'd. Little...LITTLE...did I know it was only the first crest of the wave.
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Re: Wine News: For all of you old farts who remember Diamond Creek....

by wrcstl » Wed Jun 28, 2006 6:55 pm

Bucko,
I am definitely old enough to remember. Somewhat like Tom don't think CA cabs are worth what the really good ones demand. Can't force myselft to spend more than $50 on domestic stuff, just my palate, and hot weather climates. Regardless, he was one of the great ones and have a friend that has several from the early 90's that will be shared.
Walt
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Lou Kessler

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Re: Wine News: For all of you old farts who remember Diamond Creek....

by Lou Kessler » Wed Jun 28, 2006 9:10 pm

I've known Al for longer than I would like to admit and it was always hard not to admire him in many ways. He was I believe the first vintner in CA to come up with the concept of the difference in flavor profiles from adjoining vineyards . I was fortunate to know people in the valley who were good friends of Boots & Al and had the use of his beautiful grounds for birthday celebrations etc., to which I was lucky to be invited. When he suffered from effects of Parkinsons, he liked to tell you he was auditioning for a Latin jazz band as the lead maracas player and due to his malady he was a cinch for the job. He never complained.
Tonight I'll put some loin lamb chops on the barbeque and open a bottle of 78 Red Rock Terrace cab. Very few people have a dream and are able to live it.
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Re: Wine News: For all of you old farts who remember Diamond Creek....

by Bob Henrick » Wed Jun 28, 2006 10:47 pm

Old farts who remember Diamond Creek? I would be one of them. I think one could find notes on verticals of the 1979 and 1981 vintages I took to Mo'Cool on seperate occasions. IMO they still rank as some of the best wines (Not just cabs) ever opened in that vast wine repetoire. I had only one occasion to ever exchange notes with Al and I found him to be a genuinely warm person, and not in the least how I would expect of the owner winemaker of a superstar winery. Fond memories I am sure for those who knew him personally.
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Randy Buckner

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Re: Surely You Don't Mean ME????

by Randy Buckner » Thu Jun 29, 2006 1:48 am

When he released that $100 Lake Cab, I thought that was the most insane thing I'd ever done see'd. Little...LITTLE...did I know it was only the first crest of the wave.


So true, Tom....
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Randy Buckner

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Re: Wine News: For all of you old farts who remember Diamond Creek....

by Randy Buckner » Thu Jun 29, 2006 1:49 am

Somewhat like Tom don't think CA cabs are worth what the really good ones demand. Can't force myselft to spend more than $50 on domestic stuff....


Same here, Walt.
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Randy Buckner

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Re: Wine News: For all of you old farts who remember Diamond Creek....

by Randy Buckner » Thu Jun 29, 2006 1:53 am

I was fortunate to know people in the valley who were good friends of Boots & Al and had the use of his beautiful grounds for birthday celebrations etc., to which I was lucky to be invited.


Same here, Lou. I went to a large BBQ there when a trade friend turned 40. Terrific spot for such events. Do you know who owns/runs the place now?
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Randy Buckner

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Re: Wine News: For all of you old farts who remember Diamond Creek....

by Randy Buckner » Thu Jun 29, 2006 1:57 am

Fond memories I am sure for those who knew him personally.


I never had the honor, Bob, but I'm happy I got to visit the property -- it was just lovely -- one of my fond memories.
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Re: Wine News: For all of you old farts who remember Diamond Creek....

by Eric Ifune » Thu Jun 29, 2006 2:04 pm

I remember there used to be an annual picnic day in the vinyards and that's where I met Al. I still think I've got a couple magnums somewhere.
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Lou Kessler

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Re: Wine News: For all of you old farts who remember Diamond Creek....

by Lou Kessler » Thu Jun 29, 2006 3:15 pm

Randy Buckner wrote:Same here, Lou. I went to a large BBQ there when a trade friend turned 40. Terrific spot for such events. Do you know who owns/runs the place now?


Went to a birthday party held there at the ground a few years ago and nothing had changed. As far as I know the grounds are pretty much the same. They just have not been used that much in the last few years.
Al was a great fan of the arts and saw him often at chamber music, symphony, & other musical events here in the valley.
Redundant but never met a person who was so obviously in great discomfort & never bitched. Kept his sense of humor all through it, remarkable attitude. I don't think I could have ever done so well.
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Re: Wine News: For all of you old farts who remember Diamond Creek....

by Jenise » Thu Jun 29, 2006 3:29 pm

Didn't know Al, but in the last year I've had the 78 Red Rock twice and the 78 Gravelly Meadow once. Great, great wines, a testament to his belief in the differences of his vineyard. (Put me down for the Red Rock.)
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Lou Kessler

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Re: Wine News: For all of you old farts who remember Diamond Creek....

by Lou Kessler » Thu Jun 29, 2006 3:37 pm

Jenise wrote:Didn't know Al, but in the last year I've had the 78 Red Rock twice and the 78 Gravelly Meadow once. Great, great wines, a testament to his belief in the differences of his vineyard. (Put me down for the Red Rock.)


We had the 78 Red Rock last night with dinner still had plenty of life left in it. A wonderful complex wine. We could tell it didn't have the higher alcohol content of the present day wines. Wish they still made them that way. Just a few people do anymore, a shame.
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TomHill

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Why???

by TomHill » Thu Jun 29, 2006 4:27 pm

" Wish they still made them that way. Just a few people do anymore, a shame."


So, Lou.... why is it w/ all you old folks, you always wanta go back to the good ol' days?? Don't you all realize that those good ol' days were NOT that good?? :-)

I had the '78 RRT about a yr ago and it was in amazingly good shape, loads of that old Cab/cedary/pencilly character. Wonder what RP gave it on release?? :-)
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Lou Kessler

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Re: Why???

by Lou Kessler » Thu Jun 29, 2006 4:33 pm

TomHill wrote:" Wish they still made them that way. Just a few people do anymore, a shame."


Wonder what RP gave it on release?? :-)
Tom


Frankly Tom I don't give a damn! Apologies to Mitchell
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Randy Buckner

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Re: Why???

by Randy Buckner » Thu Jun 29, 2006 5:02 pm

Wonder what RP gave it on release??


I know exactly -- Spec gave it 96 and Arpy gave it a 94. We had the wine with friends at a 2000 NYE blowout.

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