Alan Kropf - Wine Mutineer
So Alan Kropf first got in touch with us in the Fall of 2008, just before the launch of his new rag focused on the beverage industry. The publication is called Mutineer Magazine.
At first I wasn't quite sure to expect. Once I read the first issue, I figured it out pretty quickly and we decided that we didn't just want to do a quick post announcing the launch of the magazine. We wanted to get a full-blown interview with Alan to share with all you guys.
Alan and his team are now on issue #3 and the full magazine, which features Gary Vaynerchuk on the cover is available for viewing online here. (It is a .pdf). The magazine is going national soon but if you'd like to subscribe before it hits the newstands near you, please visit the subscription page directly.
We've enjoyed reading the witty articles which are aimed at opening up the palates of a younger generation. 1WineDude called Mutineer a "most promising up and comer" and Martini Groove said "Take a bit of Maxim, add some A.D.D, throw in some comic book stylings, then get drunk. Now you know how they came up with Mutineer Magazine."
Here is a picture of Alan so if you run into him on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles you can ask him for his autograph!
On to the interview...
What was the first memory you have of wine?
I remember drinking wine at church when I was young, which always really intrigued me. You could only have a very small sip, and I would hold this sip in my mouth for a good minute before swallowing. The wine was simple but very tasty to a ten year old experiencing a pleasure beyond his years.
What was the first wine that you considered to be good wine?
That is such a tough question to answer. I can definitely tell you the first wine I had that resulted in an almost sexual experience for me, and that was a 1994 DRC Richebourg while working at the Beverly Hills Hotel. This was after working at the hotel for about five months, during which I had enjoyed a ton of incredible wine, but that Richebourg took things to a whole new level for me. It was perfectly aged had a complexity that stopped me in my tracks. I had a similar experience with 1985 Krug rose Champagne around the same time.
Do you think it's the taste of a good wine or the experience while drinking the wine that makes it good? Why?
Definitely the experience, because an enjoyable experience is able to make the most rustic and simple wine taste spectacular.
How big is your cellar?
My cellar is quite small. I travel and move a lot for my writing, so hauling a bunch of wine around doesn’t make sense, and there is ample wine for me to enjoy wherever I’m headed. I wish I had a more extensive cellar to age bottles, but it just doesn’t make sense for me right now. I do a have a case that I drag around with me that I am aging, but that is about it.
What is your favorite varietal (i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot)? Why?
I like varietals with noticeable character. For red, cabernet franc, nebbiolo, and syrah come to mind. I’m not a big drinker of your typical big California cab unless it has some years on it. Give me a Sonoma Pinot Noir or Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from the early 90’s and I’m in heaven. For white varietals I am a fiend for riesling; I can’t get enough of the stuff. I really like sauvignon blanc for its transparency. Sauvignon blanc from France tastes a universe away from a New Zealand version, and the same goes for California, New York, and everywhere else the grape is grown.
What is your favorite region for wine (i.e. Napa Valley, Margaret River, Montelcino)
I could make an argument for every wine region in the world being my favorite, though I’ve always been drawn to Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and am fascinated by what they are doing in Southern Oregon right now.
What is your favorite vineyard or brand?
Another tough one to answer. I’d have to say DuBrul Vineyard in Washinton State’s Yakima Valley. This vineyard is incredible and does well with a range of varietals. It is special to me because I came across it by accident early on in my wine career and fell in love with the wine.
Do you have a favorite bottle? (varietal, region, year)
Haha, IMPOSSIBLE to answer.
What wine are you saving for a special day?
I have two that are particularly special to me. The first is a 2002 Cote Bonneville, which comes from the aforementioned DuBrul Vineyard. The other is a magnum of 2006 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir from a trip to the Willamette Valley with my parents.
Where do you buy the majority of your wine?
I tend to buy wine at local, independent wine shops. If I’m at the grocery store I’ll pick up a bottle for dinner if I have something in mind. I also buy a lot of wine while visiting wineries.
Have you ever had an organic wine? Did you like it?
I’ve had organic wines and found them very enjoyable.
What is the most you've ever spent on a bottle of wine?
I don’t think I’ve spent more than $300 on a bottle of wine. I’ve bought quite a bit of higher end Champagne, I have some Harlan, and I have a weakness for great Barolo.
What was your favorite wine experience (or one of your top experiences)?
I had a BLAST at the American Wine and Food Festival this year in Hollywood. The atmosphere was electric and the only thing more impressive than the food and wine was the abundant presence of beautiful women.
What one wine do you recommend for our readers to try?
German Riesling, particularly from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region. I’m a fan of the Kabinett designated wines myself, as I find these wines to be beautifully balanced and well suited for food pairing.
What is an up-and-coming wine (or winery) you think is a good value right now?
I tend to look to entire regions rather than single wineries. Oregon’s Southern wine regions represent an outstanding value with their Rhone varietals. Portugal’s Vinho Verde offers some very tasty and affordable white wines, and regions throughout Spain offer drinkers a wide range of red wine options at affordable prices. These are just a few of the regions out there offering drinkers values.
Any funny or embarassing wine story you care to share?
All of my funny stories are also not only embarrassing, but ridiculously embarrassing, and enough people know about those already!
About Alan Kropf -
Alan Kropf is among the world's youngest wine professionals and has studied with both the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. Alan spent a year as the Sommelier at the Beverly Hills Hotel before leaving to focus on his writing. Alan has contributed to magazines publications including Sante, The Tasting Panel, and SommSelections and currently writes a wine column for the Wenatchee World. He has also spent time working in the wine program at Gordon Ramsay in West Hollywood. He is currently writing his first book and is a wine consultant to restaurants and collectors.