You may recall a story posted here last April, a review of the “Wine Event of the Year.” (Go to http://www.napaman.com/napamancom/2009/04/the-wine-event-of-the-year-and-its-only-april.html)
It was hosted by Acme Fine Wines, in St. Helena, and featured some of North America’s very best winemakers who poured their top cuvees.
Shortly after that purple-teeth-staining blowout, the two principals of the business, David Stevens and Karen Williams, parted company.
“I wanted to get back to basics. I want to spend quality time with our winemakers, one-on-one, and more time with clients,” says 58-year-old Stevens. “Business was getting out of hand.”
David’s new venture is called ‘750 Wines.’ I asked why?
“Think about it; my ‘brand’ appears on nearly every bottle of wine in the world – 750 mL. I figured this would be a good, subliminal message to reinforce my brand!”
The tall, long-haired, Stevens is soft-spoken; you’d never guess that, when he’s not talking about fine wine, which he also makes, he’s a near-out-of-control, wild, rock-and-roll bass guitarist. And a helluva good one at that.
David’s band, Wristrocket, features other valley wine personalities: Jeff Smith (Hourglass) plays lead guitar, Mike Hirby (Relic, Realm, Winter) also plays lead guitar and Scot Turnidge (Silenus) plays drums.
You may know David from his many years in wine activities in Napa Valley. For seven years, he was director of wine programs at Tra Vigne; for six-and-a-half years, he ran Acme Fine Wines, which he co-founded.
Now, at 750 Wines, many of the best winemakers in Napa Valley are regrouping around David, based on their mutual long-term relationships. Here you will find treasures of the liquid literati, crème de la crème wines made by winemakers such as Heidi Barrett, Russell Bevan, Celia Welch, Andy Erickson, Sarah Gott, Mark Herold, Mike Hirby, Craig MacLean, Philippe Melka, Robbie Meyer and Pam Starr.
While David will not turn away walk-in traffic, he would prefer to have clients make an appointment to taste wine. 750 Wines will be open six days a week.
Finding the property is a bit tricky on your first visit; even a Google map won’t put an X in the right spot, so pay attention! Go to 1224 Adams St., in St. Helena, and when you are facing the clothing store Sportago, look for an unmarked alley on the west side of the building.
The alley leads to an unmarked entrance at the back/side of the building. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200; this is the home of 750 Wines. Push the door open and expect to be thrilled by the wines you are going to discover and taste.
Initially, David is launching two monthly wine subscriptions:
Planet Wine – 3 bottles/month, a combination of domestic and imported wines. 12 x / yr, $125/month for your three pack, shipping and taxes included.
Wow Factor Wines – 2 or 3 bottles/month, mostly domestic, mostly Napa Valley. 12 x / yr, $350/month for wine only, shipping and taxes additional.
As well, David is going to email his client base with details about two different monthly limited offerings:
Winemaker’s Studio – 3 to 6 different labels from the same winemaker will be assembled each month, bottles signed by the winemaker. This is a great way to learn about the talents of any particular winemaker. This month, for example, David is offering three wines from Bob Foley, who has been making impressive wines in Napa Valley since 1977. Included in the October 3-pack ($306 plus tax and shipping) are the 2007 Foley Vineyards Claret, the 2007 Switchback Ridge Merlot, and the 2007 Hourglass, Blue Line Vineyard Cabernet.
Tried and True – The classic winemakers in Napa Valley tend to get overlooked by the press and by wine merchants who are always chasing the “next new wine.” These are winemakers who make stellar wines, year after year, and who may have lost recognition for their spectacular wines. I put Spottswoode, Togni, Grgich Hills and John Arns wines in this category. David has his own list of classic winemakers who, year in and year out, rarely falter. Their wines are not over-ripe, over-extracted, over-alcoholized, overindulgent, and, for sure, not overpriced. But they get lost in the Spectator/Parker race to discover new sipping thrills.
David ‘s first example of a Tried and True winemaker is Robin Lail, whose Lail Family wines have been making mouths happy for decades. Robin has personally touched the great wines of Mondavi, Dominus, and Merryvale; her family’s history in the valley is legendary. Yet contemporary wine writers, wine merchants and wine drinkers tend to forget how good her wines can be.
David won’t let us forget. He’s selling three different wines from Robin this month for $360 plus tax and shipping.
In many respects, David Stevens is like the canary in the coalmine; we send this guy down the dark wine shaft of life to check out the viability of certain wines. He resurfaces, offering to sell only what he has tasted and personally likes. That’s my kind of canary!
750 Wines. 1224 Adams St., Suite C, St. Helena, CA 94574. Tel: 707-963-0750.
Tastings by appointment only, six days a week. Closed Sunday.