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05.03.2016

Hungarian Wine: Hope, Dreams, Heritage and Progress

As I began writing this, I was halfway across the North Atlantic on my way home from a trip to Hungary. The quiet, darkened lower deck of an Airbus A380 and a cup of coffee provided me the perfect opportunity to reflect on what I took away from my latest visit to the land of Furmint (where I've spent a week battling Apple's maddening tendency to autocorrect Furmint to Ferment). I last visited Hungary in 2012 when provided with the fantastically educational opportunity to serve as a judge for what was then the most prominent national wine competition, the... continue reading

05.02.2016

Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 5/1/16

Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the Interwebs. I post them to my magazine on on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren't Flipboard inclined, here's everything I've strained out of the wine-related muck for the week. Enjoy. White Lights Way for Napa's Rosemary Cakebread Le Pan profiles one of Napa's under-sung winemakers Want some wine with that overcriminalization? Yes, our laws are that stupid. The Best-Value French Wines for Your Money Lettie Teague on the charms of the Loire. Thousands of Bottles of Bootleg Kosher Wine Found in... continue reading

04.30.2016

I'll Drink to That: Charles Philipponnat of Champagne Philipponnat

Episode 355 of I'll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Charles Philipponnat of Champagne Philipponnat, and offers a somewhat cerebral tour through the Clos des Goisses, but it is certainly interesting. Charles Philipponnat did not originally intend to work at the Champagne house that bears his name, nor did in fact he intend to work in Champagne, as his father had for several decades before him. But he has in fact held the mantle at Philipponnat for 15 years now, and in that timespan he has made a number of changes to how the house makes wine.... continue reading

04.30.2016

Vinography Images: White Wall

White Wall HEALDSBURG, CA: A thick blanket of fog rolls into the Russian River Valley near Healdsburg, California. Channeled by the river, the fog creeps up the river valley and spills into the Russian River Valley growing area allowing the production of some of California's most storied Pinot Noir. INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting "save link as" or "save target as" and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their... continue reading

04.27.2016

I'll Drink to That: Author Ian D'Agata

Episode 354 of I'll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Ian D'Agata, the author of Native Wine Grapes of Italy, as well as the Scientific Director of the Vinitaly International Academy, and a contributor to Vinous Media and Decanter. When it comes to Barolo, many commentators have long focused on technique and style, placing Traditional against Modern in an epic battle of personalities, market share, and moral codes. There are few wine regions anywhere in the world where the technique and the process have been as discussed as with Barolo. Which is fine. But what that conversation... continue reading

04.27.2016

West of West Pinot Tasting: May 19, San Francisco

There are more wine events than you can shake a stick at these days in San Francisco, which is a great thing. But not all public wine tasting events are created equal. Leaving aside all the organizational stuff, which can sometimes make or break a tasting, what really distinguishes the best tasting events ends up being the quality of the wines on offer. Which is why the West of West wine festival that is held each August up in Sonoma County is one of my favorite tasting events. So many of the wines, all from the far western edge... continue reading

04.26.2016

Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 4/24/16

Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the Interwebs. I post them to my magazine on on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren't Flipboard inclined, here's everything I've strained out of the wine-related muck for the week. Enjoy. Amarone Family Soap Opera What's in a name, indeed? Jefford on Monday: Sardinia's Secrets Andrew sips Cannonau and reflects... Zinfandel in Croatia: A Sort of Homecoming Cliff Rames on the detective story that led back to Croatia. From Mateus Rosé fan to Bordeaux fine wine guru FT on the guy replacing... continue reading

04.24.2016

2016 Garagiste Wine Festival: May 19, Oakland

Small is beautiful. There's just something special about wine made in small quantities -- it offers an intimacy and affords a level of care that can't be found at larger scale. Some wineries are small because they're just getting started, and others are small because they've decided to stay that way. Both types of wineries can be found at the annual Garagiste Festival, which offers a remarkable opportunity for discovery. Curious wine lovers can come across tiny producers that they'd never discover on their own, simply because when you make 1000 cases of wine a year, your marketing budgets... continue reading

04.23.2016

Warm Up: Tannins

By Erin Scala Aging wines to perfection is a mix of cold science and subjective art. Finding that "sweet spot" to open a special bottle can be a very personal decision, and when we nail it, a truly magical wine experience can unfold. But what exactly are we calibrating our palates to be tasting as wines age? What exactly is going on inside the bottle? If we focus in on tannins, we find that our perception of tannins greatly affect how we perceive the texture of wine. Tannins feel differently based on what kind of tannins they are: hydrolyzable... continue reading

04.23.2016

I'll Drink to That: Winemaker Andy Erickson

Episode 353 of I'll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Andy Erickson, the co-owner of Favia Wines with his wife Annie Favia, and a winemaking consultant for a number of Napa Valley wineries, including Mayacamas and Dalla Valle Vineyards. Andy Erickson has worked with several of the Bold Faced winery names of the Napa Valley, and so it is quite a comparative tour to go with him behind the scenes as he recounts his career working with wine. Learning about the "Euro Funk" from John Kongsgaard, working with the precision tuned philosophy of Bob Levy, identifying soil... continue reading

04.23.2016

Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 17, 2016

Hello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I'm pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently. This week included some preparation for summer, in the form of a few bottles of bright crisp juiciness. First off, take a look at the Stoller Family Vineyards rosé of Pinot Noir, which begs for a hot afternoon on which to be served ice cold. It's nice to see people making pale, crisp, pink wines that are picked for the purpose of being rosé.... continue reading

04.22.2016

Vinography Images: Bright Emerald

Bright Emerald SANTA YNEZ, CA: Vineyards and hillsides in Happy Canyon are still green from winter rainstorms in Santa Ynez, California. Though much of Southern and Central California have entered a fifth year of drought, the grapevines are coming back to life due to recent warm weather. INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting "save link as" or "save target as" and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their desktops. To... continue reading

04.20.2016

Warm Up: Hermitage

By Erin Scala Standing sentinel over the town of Tain-l'Hermitage, the hill of Hermitage rises up from a crook of the Rhone River. The wines of Hermitage have been on the radar of royal European courts for centuries, and their popularity dates back to Roman times. You'll even find some vestiges of ancient Roman winemaking in the production of Vine de Paille, or 'straw wine,' a sweet wine made from dried grapes. You'll also find Marsanne-Roussanne blends, and haunting Syrahs grown near a 13th century knight's refuge, or hermitage, from where the region takes its name. Hermitage faces some... continue reading

04.20.2016

I'll Drink to That: Winemaker Jean-Louis Chave

Episode 352 of I'll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Jean-Louis Chave of Domaine Jean-Louis Chave and Jean-Louis Chave Selection in the Rhone Valley. At the Chave family home in Mauves there exists an archive of notebooks from every generation of the family, stretching back into the 1400s AD. Some of these are written in an old rendering of the French language that would be unreadable today if it were not for the translations provided by the middle generations. This archive chronicles the important life events for each member of the family, and continues into the current... continue reading

04.18.2016

World's Greatest Sommelier Success Stories

We live in the age of the superstar sommelier. The little movie SOMM was a relatively runaway success (if only measured by the number of non-wino friends who continue to ask me if I have seen it), a follow-up TV show is on Esquire's network, and something of a sequel has been recently released. I'd venture that half of the stories published about wine and the American wine scene are either sommelier related, or feature opinions from the tastemakers who are increasingly supplanting wine critics as the public's go-to source for wine recommendations. I, for one, welcome this world... continue reading

04.18.2016

Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 4/17/16

Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the Interwebs. I post them to my magazine on on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren't Flipboard inclined, here's everything I've strained out of the wine-related muck for the week. Enjoy. California Has Put 'Winemakers Before Terroir' Maria Sinskey offers her thoughts on California wine's trajectory Winemaker Denis Malbec cast large influence over North Coast wine industry A horrificly tragic loss Jefford on Monday: Hitting first Andrew Jefford discusses French tendencies Wine aged at the bottom of a lake tastes like... Tastes... continue reading

04.17.2016

I'll Drink to That: Christian Seely of AXA Millésimes

Episode 351 of I'll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Christian Seely, the Managing Director of AXA Millésimes. Mostly, this is a discussion of Quinta do Noval, where Christian got his start running a property for AXA. Christian Seely's wine career began while spending time with his dad, James Seely, who was an author of wine books. At one point the elder Seely brought his boy along for six months of tasting research in Bordeaux, and the trip seems to have proved decisive for Christian's own career choices. It took some time, but eventually Christian approached someone... continue reading

04.17.2016

A Rescued Vintage: 2013 Burgundy Highlights from La Paulée

The world of wine offers no end of fantasies. One of mine is the chance to have the money and time to visit Burgundy every year and sample the latest vintage of some of the world's greatest wines. That dream may have to wait for retirement or some unexpected windfall. In the meantime, on rare occasion, however, you don't have to go Burgundy. Burgundy instead comes to you. La Pauléve, an event put on each year, alternating between New York and San Francisco, represents the best of such opportunities. Created by superstar sommelier Daniel Johnnes and modeled on the... continue reading

04.16.2016

Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 10, 2016

Hello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I'm pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently. This week included some flavors of the volcano, courtesy of Sicilian winery Tasca d'Almerita. Don't miss their Carricante, in particular for its deep stony quality and yummy floral crispness. Speaking of crisp, Williams Selyem has just recently released their unoaked Chardonnay, which is zingy and bright. On the other end of the spectrum, there are a few bruisers in this week's roundup for those... continue reading

04.15.2016

Vinography Images: Standing Tall

Standing Tall HEALDSBURG, CA The vineyards are still dormant at Shone Farm in the Russian River Valley near Healdsburg, California in this photo. Much of Southern California has entered a fifth year of drought, but the irrigation ponds and reservoirs in Sonoma County Wine Country are filled and the vines are budding as we head towards summer. INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting "save link as" or "save target as" and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the... continue reading

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Most Recent Entries

Hungarian Wine: Hope, Dreams, Heritage and Progress Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 5/1/16 I'll Drink to That: Charles Philipponnat of Champagne Philipponnat Vinography Images: White Wall I'll Drink to That: Author Ian D'Agata West of West Pinot Tasting: May 19, San Francisco Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 4/24/16 2016 Garagiste Wine Festival: May 19, Oakland Warm Up: Tannins I'll Drink to That: Winemaker Andy Erickson

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune

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Wine Blogs I've Newly Discovered

Wine and Tourism in Provence I Like This Grape Wine Cooler Direct The Wining Hour Wine Snark Wine Dabbler The Daily Barrel Houston Wine Guy The Vine Daily South Carolina Wine Joe

Want more? Check out blogs and podcasts from around the world on the complete list of wine blogs.

Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud