Text Size:-+
08.24.2014

Earthquake Rattles Napa Harvest

This morning shortly after 3:20 AM Pacific Time, the strongest earthquake to hit Northern California since the devastating 1989 Loma Prieta quake struck in American Canyon, just south of Napa. Latest measurements are somewhere between 6.0 and 6.1 on the Richter scale. "All our 2013 red barrels are on the ground, don't know how much wine is lost yet" tweeted Steve Matthiasson of Matthiasson Vineyards this morning. The photo he shared (above) shows many barrels intact, but undoubtedly the damage from the quake will add up quickly. Sommelier and writer Levi Dalton was in the middle of a trip to... continue reading

08.23.2014

NIMBY Versus Vineyard in Malibu

Welcome to America's newest wine appellation, the Malibu coast. Just don't plant anything, especially not grapes. Only a matter of weeks after its approval by the federal government, the country's newest AVA may be the subject of local legislation that will not only prevent further vineyard planting in the area, but may also force some vineyards to be ripped out. In a classic case of Not In My Back Yard politics, the LA County Board of Supervisors in conjunction with the California Coastal Commission drafted a new Land Use Plan for the Malibu area that specifically outlaws new vineyard... continue reading

08.22.2014

Vinography Images: Precious Droplets

Precious Droplets Water beads on the tips of a freshly unfurled grape leaf in Sonoma County. As the 2014 harvest gets underway in the midst of a record drought, water continues to be a topic of serious conversation. 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 set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users... continue reading

08.20.2014

MORIC: The Apogee of Blaufränkisch

"I am hardcore," says Roland Velich, describing his winemaking while lounging in the mid-century modern comfort of his living room, where the decor, the casual angle of his body and the informality of this tasting seem to belie this claim. But putting my nose in the outsized Burgundy glass I hold in front of me, and smelling an intoxicating perfume of crushed juniper, forest berries, and wet loam, I recognize, as I have every time I have had a chance to taste his wines, the fruits of an obsession that can easily bear up to that characterization. Like others... continue reading

08.19.2014

2014 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend: August 29-31, Healdsburg, CA

Most people, when they come visit me in San Francisco and ask to be taken to wine country, assume that they're going to Napa. But at least half the time, that's definitely not where we end up. My well meaning friends aren't the only ones who seem to forget that Northern California has many different "wine countries." Napa casts a long shadow, as it were. I've got a bit of love for every piece of wine country we've got here in California, but there's a special place in my heart for Sonoma County, both because it is the place of... continue reading

08.19.2014

The (Still) Dismal State of California Chardonnay

It is the best of times, and it is the worst of times. In 2013, California celebrated its largest grape harvest in history, with just shy of 4.7 million tonnes crushed according to official government statistics. Chardonnay, still reigning supreme as the single most popular grape variety grown in the state, made up a full 16.1% of that total, representing a volume of wine roughly equivalent to the total yearly production of Hungary. This is no doubt the consequence of the wine's popularity at tables throughout the nation. The single best-selling wine in restaurants around the country has for... continue reading

08.16.2014

What a Way to Go: Wine At the End of Your Life

At lunch the other day, my companion shared the wonderfully poignant story of his aging father, the man who inspired his lifelong love of wine. He related how, as his father approached his final days, he would ask his son to "go to the cellar and get something good." Far too many great bottles of wine are denied their purpose: to be shared with those you love, or at the very least, to be enjoyed in contemplation of everything they represent, whether that be decades of careful cellaring, or the whim of a passionate purchase. I can understand the urgency... continue reading

08.15.2014

Vinography Images: Into the Tank

Into the Tank Grapes are dumped into the destemmer on the way to the tank in this harvest photo from Sonoma County. Harvest is well underway throughout Northern California, one to five weeks earlier than usual, according to most reports. 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 set the image as your desktop wallpaper,... continue reading

08.13.2014

72 Pinot Noirs on a Sunny Afternoon: Tasting at IPNC 2014

I go to a lot of wine tastings, and have come to really appreciate those that are produced well. It may not be immediately apparent how easily a large public tasting can be screwed up, but it doesn't take much to turn such an event from a pleasure to a chore. Quite consistently some of my favorite wine tasting experiences have been at the International Pinot Noir Celebration, in McMinnville, Oregon, in the heart of the Willamette Valley. Both afternoons during this event, the "Al Fresco" tasting takes place, in which half of the attending wineries pour a wine... continue reading

08.09.2014

The Great White South: An Introduction to Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc

One of the world's greatest white wines is also one of its least known. The wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape generally cross a wine lover's radar at some point, but even those who enjoy the vibrant Grenache-based reds from France's first officially declared appellation are often unfamiliar with the region's white wines. Yet they are often more consistently in their quality than the reds, and they can reward long cellaring with remarkable results. They also happen to be damn delicious. White wine makes up only a mere 7% of the production in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation, but that percentage has been rising... continue reading

08.08.2014

Vinography Images: Along the Row

Along the Row A row of vines takes on Fall colors under the bright sun in Sonoma County. 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 set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these. PRINTS: If you are interested in owning an archive quality,... continue reading

08.07.2014

Time For The World's Best Prison Wine

Inmates in federal prisons across the nation rejoiced today in anticipation of the possibility for improvements to their lot in life (without parole). Their celebrations were not the result of the implementation of new prison overcrowding reforms, which are due to take effect in the near future. Instead, prisoners everywhere trembled with the giddy excitement of Junior Prom queens at the possibility that they might soon share a cell block with Rudi Kurniawan, who was sentenced today to 10 years in federal prison. Kurniawan was found guilty in December of counterfeiting some of the world's most expensive wines for fun... continue reading

08.04.2014

Coastal Diamonds: The Rieslings of Oregon

About every two years, I get an invite to attend the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon's Willamette Valley. The event continues to be one of the best run and highest quality wine events in the country, with a fantastic combination of excellent wine and equally fantastic food. More about Pinot Noir in a day or two. In addition to attending one of the best wine parties around, IPNC also gives me (and a number of other wine writers) the excuse to do something slightly less expected: taste a lot of Oregon Riesling. Each year following IPNC, the Oregon... continue reading

08.01.2014

Vinography Images: The Red Window

The Red Window The last light of sunset fades to a deep red as light streams from a window at Jordan Winery in Sonoma's Alexander Valley. 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 set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these. PRINTS: If... continue reading

07.31.2014

Taking Celebrity Wine to the Next Level

It seems like we hear about a new celebrity wine project almost every month. I long ago stopped reporting on these new projects because, well, after a golfer, a porn star, an NFL quarterback, and a rapper all have wines, what else is there to say? OK, Chateau Miraval is pretty damn good. I admit it. But why wouldn't it be, in the hands of Famille Perrin?!? There is celebrity wine, and then there is celebrity wine. Because who the hell wants to just bottle your own wine, when you can run your own wine region? No one ever suggested... continue reading

07.25.2014

Vinography Images: The Blue Berry

The Blue Berry Inside the orbit of a single Pinot Noir berry, the world collapses to shades of green and blue. 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 set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these. PRINTS: If you are interested in owning... continue reading

07.23.2014

2014 Family Winemakers Tasting: August 17, San Mateo

Size isn't everything, they say, but sometimes it's mighty impressive. The yearly Family Winemakers tasting has as one of its many claims to fame that it is the single largest tasting of California wines in the world. That alone would not be reason for excitement, were it not for the generally very high quality of the wines that are on offer, year after year. Regular readers know that this tasting, now in its 24th year, is one of my favorites. While the definition of a "family-run" winery is stretched a bit to include behemoths like Jackson Family Estates and Gallo,... continue reading

07.22.2014

Will Climate Change be the Death of Cork?

There's a lot of talk these days about the impacts of climate change on wine. Weather patterns are shifting, volatility of weather continues to increase, and yes, temperatures continue to rise in some areas of the globe, pushing harvests earlier and earlier. Most of these discussions focus on the impact to grape growing, but a recent study shows that another component of the wine world may be under threat from climate change: corks. Over the past twenty years, cork bark has been getting thinner and thinner. According to a group of researchers at the University of Lisbon, who published findings... continue reading

07.21.2014

The King of Zweigelt: The Wines of Umathum, Burgenland

Austria, for good reasons, continues to be better known around the world for its white wines than its reds. It's hard to compete with such an incredible wealth of Riesling and Grüner Veltliner. And in truth, far more bad red wine is made in Austria than good. But over the last decade or two, Austria has been making serious strides in its red wine production, following the lead of a few producers who have long been dedicated to the potential of Austria's native red grapes. Few would deny that Josef "Pepi" Umathum belongs in that number, and many would... continue reading

07.19.2014

Vinography Unboxed: Week of July 14, 2014

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 A few nice 2012's from LIOCO, a favorite producer. Their "Savia" bottling of Pinot from the Santa Cruz Mountains had all the hallmarks of full-cluster fermentation, and was all the better for the stemmy, green herb note on top of beautiful fruit. Flora Springs came through with a pretty Merlot, Far Niente with a surprisingly savory and well integrated Cabernet, and... continue reading

Pre-Order My Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Delectable Flipboard

Free Tasting Tool

Use Vinography's free aroma card to help you learn how to better identify the flavors and aromas in wine. In seven languages!
Find out more

Most Recent Entries

Earthquake Rattles Napa Harvest NIMBY Versus Vineyard in Malibu Vinography Images: Precious Droplets MORIC: The Apogee of Blaufränkisch 2014 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend: August 29-31, Healdsburg, CA The (Still) Dismal State of California Chardonnay What a Way to Go: Wine At the End of Your Life Vinography Images: Into the Tank 72 Pinot Noirs on a Sunny Afternoon: Tasting at IPNC 2014 The Great White South: An Introduction to Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 KirƃĀ”lyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

Archives by Month

 

Wine Blogs I've Newly Discovered

Desert Wine Guy Matthew's World of Wine and Drink Shiba Sommelier Wine 4 Your Life VA Wine Princess Wine, Dine, DIY Grape Experiences

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

Food Blogs I Love

What Katie Ate News for Curious Cooks Ideas in Food Chez Pim 101 Cookbooks Cooking with Amy An Obsession with Food Deep End Dining

Other Great Food Sites

Zester Daily Foodieview Recipe Search Engine Fork & Bottle Epicurious

Useful Wine Links

Find wines to buy and drink at Wine Searcher Find wines to buy and drink at Vinquire Find wine release dates Find local wine events in your area

Collaborative/Community Wine Reviews

Boozemonkey Vinobilia Cruvee Project Vino Vinix WineApe Snooth WineChatr.Com Adegga Belmaati eBacchus Yvinos (Spanish) WineDemocracy Vino2Vino VinoRati (English and French) Bottle Talk WineMega.Com Nirvino Scrugy WineFans.Net WineFetch OpenBottles WineLog.Net Cork'd Logabottle.com Cellartracker.Com TastyDrop BottleCount WARPA

Wine Publications

Wines and Vines Sommelier Journal The World of Fine Wine Quarterly Review of Wines The Wine Report The Wine News Decanter Magazine The Wine Advocate Wine Enthusiast Wine Spectator Food & Wine Wine & Spirits

Online Wine Shopping Tools

Hunt down a place to buy a specific wine you're looking for. Wine Searcher Wine Zap

Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud 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 World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.