Noble Rot Talks Podcast Series

In 2011, Jonathan Cristaldi worked harvest in Napa Valley. While there, he interviewed a handful of influential winemakers for a podcast series he dubbed, Noble Rot Talks. Each interview is archived below. Please enjoy.

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This Week’s Podcast: Chris Phelps (Ad Vivum Cellars)

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Winemaker, Chris Phelps, was on the program just before Thanksgiving. We revisit discussions with Chris as he talks about his own private label called Ad Vivum Cellars. Chris has had an illustrious career of making wine in some of Napa’s premier wineries: Caymus, Dominus and Swanson Vineyards, to name a few. He’s a tried and true Francophile who spent time at the University of Bordeaux, and early on in his career at Chateau Petrus, the quintessential Merlot house of Pomerol, and so Noble listeners without further ado, meet Chris Phelps – thanks for listening.

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This Week’s Podcast: Robert Foley

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Simply put, it was mere happenstance in the fall of 2007 that inspired my thirst to learn more about the wine industry: the owner of a store in Shelburne, VT demanded I try a Merlot from Engel Family Vineyards. The bottle cost more than I was prepared to spend, but the reward was priceless. A Merlot that was silky, full-bodied with resplendent dark fruit, a wine I wanted to gulp – I had to know who made it (the internet revealed nothing!). Thankfully the owner of the store knew: Robert Foley. I jumped at the chance to try his own label, Robert Foley Vineyards, and my first was his 2005 Merlot, which raised the bar into the wine stratosphere of brilliance. “Bob” Foley is an iconic winemaker whose roots run deeper than most vineyards in Napa. He’s built numerous wineries including Markham, Pride and his own. He’s dug several caves and can boast a career of nearly four decades making wines that have become cult-classics. I had the opportunity to visit with Bob at his winery up in Angwin, CA. I was honored and humbled to speak with the very winemaker who inspired me to educate myself and eventually others to the pleasures of truly fine wine.

Also – have to point out that Foley makes wine at the Red Hook Winery in Red Hook Brooklyn, which we’ll feature in an upcoming episode.

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This Week’s Podcast: Jesse Fox

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Jesse Fox of Ram's Gate Winery

In the first week of my stay in Napa, I was invited to join Jesse Fox and his wife for a picnic in the town of Sonoma for the Sonoma Farmer’s Market, which is anything but your ordinary Farmer’s Market thanks to the open bottle policy! So we parked ourselves in the park, bought some food-truck delights and sipped on Rose. A mutual friend from New York put us in touch. Fifteen minutes into meeting the world seemed incredibly small: Jesse, it turned out, was hired to be the Assistant Winemaker at Ram’s Gate Winery, a brand new “Zarathustra” on the mountaintop winery perched on a hill in Sonoma/Carneros with 360 degree views of the rolling hills of Southern Sonoma. And consequently where I had been hired to consult on social media and events. Jesse and I became fast friends and over the course of my stay in Napa had many a drink, dinner and conversation pow-wow. Jesse was headed for a career in the restaurant world, having come to Napa to work at The French Laundry. His story of transition to the wine industry is a great tale. You’ll get a real sense of place thanks to Nature’s underscoring soundtrack… After listing to the interview, if you’re curious to read about my personal experience working with Ram’s Gate, visit Winetology. Listen, enjoy and elevate your afternoon.


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