I first met Tom on my first trip to Napa when I was just beginning my quest into fine wine. A close friend and I stayed at the Provenance guest house for two days and had a marvelous time drinking Guinness beer and playing croquet next to the vineyards surrounding the big red barn where Provenance makes their wines. I remember the winery tour we went on where Tom took time out of his busy schedule during harvest to show us around. Passing through the winery we came upon a big vat of freshly macerated grapes where Tom proceeded to plunge his whole arm in while talking about the newly picked vintage. We jokingly asked him if he had ever actually taken a full body bath totally emerged in the grape juice and skins, to which he seriously replied "Yes, and it's quite a euphoric feeling!"
Today at a wine seminar held at the Westin here in Scottsdale, Arizona we again had the great opportunity to here from Mr. Rinaldi where he talked to us as a group in great detail about a subject of which he is very familiar, Merlot. As you might or might not know Tom was the winemaker at Duckhorn Vineyards for over 20 years before joining Provenance and is one of the pioneers in bringing world class Merlot on the scene in California. He had many great things to say that made us all believe that although Merlot has been drug through the mud countless times, it is still a world class variety that can often outshine even the best of Cabernet's.
In my honest opinion the Best thing about Tom Rinaldi is that although he is this super star winemaker that many are aware of and respect, he has the ability to put that aside and be just one of us little guys who just loves to taste and enjoy good wine. Oh, and his 2002 Las Amigas Merlot was the best wine I have tasted in months! That's pretty damn good if you consider I have been to about 6 main trade shows in the last month and tasted over a thousand wines.