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06.26.2016

Volcano's Elixir: The wines of Somló, Hungary

I was on my third day in paradise when I had one of those flashes of insight that wine writers constantly pray for. I'd been lulled into a meditative state by the excesses of Spring that gently assaulted me in this far corner of the Hungarian countryside. Technicolor birdsong rippled through the air, dodging and weaving between the boughs of cherry and plum bursting into blossom above the vines, who were themselves beginning to unfurl the first downy pink leaves of their new vintage. A riot of tulips, buttercups and dandelions swayed in the light breezes tugging at the... continue reading

06.25.2016

I'll Drink to That: Aaron Miller of PlumpJack Winery

Episode 370 of I'll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Aaron Miller, the winemaker at the PlumpJack winery in the Oakville sub-zone of the Napa Valley. It is easy to think we know all about the famous hundred point wineries of the Napa Valley, and how they go about their business of winemaking. It is all cellar strategy, right? If you think that, you might be surprised at what Aaron Miller says in this interview, which is that the decisions that determine the wines at PlumpJack are largely soil based. Yep. The grapes grown in one part... continue reading

06.25.2016

I'll Drink to That: Ampelio Bucci of Bucci Winery

Episode 369 of I'll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Ampelio Bucci, the owner of the Bucci winery in the Marche region of Italy. Ampelio Bucci made a key move for the Marche region in the 1970s when he decided that his winery there would focus on high quality wines from the local Verdicchio grape variety. Most of his contemporaries in the zone were busy turning out schlock in large quantities, but Ampelio went in another direction. When you think about the steps Ampelio took back then, he clearly avoided what are now considered some of the... continue reading

06.24.2016

Vinography Images: Unglamorous Work

Unglamorous Work SEBASTOPOL, CA: A cellar worker at Kosta Browne Winery uses high heat steam to sterilize wooden oak barrels in Sebastopol, California. Barrel sterlization is an important part of clean winemaking for many producers. 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... continue reading

06.22.2016

A Lesson in the Loss of Denis Malbec

On April 16th, we lost one of Napa's greatest talents in a car crash. Denis was an acquaintance, and a man in the prime of his life, who I believe was making the best wines of his career. Today, the county coroner revealed that at the time of his death, Malbec's blood alcohol level was .21, or roughly two times the legal limit. We don't know the specific circumstances of the crash, or exactly what happened, but it's been determined that alcohol was a factor. This tragedy has no silver lining whatsoever. But it does offer an opportunity for many... continue reading

06.21.2016

I'll Drink to That: Kimberly Prokoshyn of Rebelle Restaurant

Episode 368 of I'll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Kimberly Prokoshyn, the Head Sommelier and wine buyer for Rebelle restaurant in Manhattan. Finding someone who is genuinely happy in the restaurant business, and who radiants that, is a great pleasure and a relatively rare one. Kimberly Prokoshyn has that, and the excitement about what she is doing, combined with a commitment to the job in terms of hours, has meant that she has very quickly ascended the wine ranks in New York City. Within three years she went from someone barely able to pour wine, to... continue reading

06.20.2016

Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 6/19/16

Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. 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. The Italian wine star that came back from oblivion Pecorino, baby! Paso Robles Winemakers Divided Over Water No permit required for cutting down trees, says W. Blake Gray. Dunne on Wine: Ferment over furmint Mike Dunne discovers dry Furmint, but doesn't pronounce it correctly. Fine Line Between Oaks and Vines Matt... continue reading

06.18.2016

Vinography Unboxed: Week of June 12, 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 a nice bright example of why we should all be drinking more Soave from one of its stalwart producers. After that white, however, the rest of the show is red. Let's begin with a pair of red blends from Carlos Pulenta's Vistalba Estate in Argentina, which are rich and ripe and just what your average Malbec lover seems to be looking... continue reading

06.18.2016

Warm Up: Richebourg

Richebourg sits in the village of Vosne-Romanée. In total, Vosne-Romanée contains about 200 hectares of vineyards, 8.03 hectares of which are Richebourg. For centuries, Vosne-Romanée was simply "Vosne" in various spellings and permutations. Its famous vineyard, Romanée, was not appended until more recently in 1866. The word Vosne was formerly Vaona, and this name can be traced back to a Gaillic word: either wadana, which means water, or vidumos, which means forest; and certainly, Vosne-Romanée is a forest... of vines. Romanée came to be the name of a vineyard when Ceasar drafted Gauls from Vaona (now Vosne), and later... continue reading

06.18.2016

I'll Drink to That: Jean-Nicolas Méo of Méo-Camuzet

Episode 367 of I'll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Jean-Nicolas Méo of Méo-Camuzet in Burgundy and the Nicolas-Jay winery in Oregon. I've noticed over time that one of the advantages Burgundy possesses is an abundance of highly articulate vignerons and proprietors to speak about the wines. The are a number of people who can bring thoughtful commentary to an understanding of the place. Certainly, Jean-Nicolas Méo is one of those, and this interview serves as an example of what might be called privileged time: in real life it can be difficult today to arrange for an... continue reading

06.17.2016

Vinography Images: It's Nice to be King

It's Nice to be King HEALDSBURG, CA: Kendall-Jackson's Sentinel Oak is perched above the fog near Healdsburg, California. The company has been buying up more boutique winery properties lately, including Siduri, and most recently Copain. 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... continue reading

06.15.2016

It's Time for American Wineries to Grow Up

OK America, it's time to put on your big boy pants, and start playing responsibly with the rest of the world. 10 years ago, the U.S. Government cut a deal with the European Union that guaranteed we would not allow companies in this country to mis-use the protected place names for European wine regions. That means that no one in the U.S. is allowed to create a product called "Chianti" "Port" or "Champagne," and in exchange, the EU agreed that no one would be allowed to put words like "Napa" or "Sonoma" on European wines. Sounds pretty fair, right? Well... continue reading

06.14.2016

I'll Drink to That: Joy Kull of La Villana Winery

Episode 366 of I'll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Joy Kull of La Villana, a winery she recently co-founded in Gradoli, Italy. Joy Kull was a hospitality school student at Cornell when she developed an interest in wine that would in a short amount of years take her to Italy to explore winemaking hands on. Finding a secluded crater lake surrounded by vineyard terraces miles from Rome, she decided she had found her terroir. After working for a year at a winery in the area, she has taken up the founding of her own establishment, dedicated... continue reading

06.14.2016

Marin County Wine Celebration: June 26, Mill Valley

It's all too common these days for wine producers to play a game of one-upmanship when it comes to the extremity of the growing conditions in which they make their wine. And none of these games is more prominent than the chest thumping of "my-climate-is-cooler-than-yours." Yes, yes, cool climate viticulture is super exciting, and yields some of the most interesting and dynamic wines around, especially in California. But sometimes it seems winemakers trumpet their lack of growing-degree days (an esoteric measure used to classify grape growing regions) to the exclusion of the things that really matter when it comes... continue reading

06.14.2016

Pursuing Balance in California No Longer

On 23 May, Jasmine Hirsch and Rajat Parr issued a press release announcing their intention to end the massively popular 'In Pursuit of Balance' wine-tasting events that they initiated in 2011. In the past two years the event had expanded to several international locations, including London. Hirsch, the daughter of pioneering Sonoma Coast winegrower David Hirsch, and Parr, a famous sommelier-turned-winemaker, conceived of IPOB as a way of shining the spotlight on what they saw as alternatives to the dominant style of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay being made in California at the time. While extremely ripe and often heavily oaked... continue reading

06.14.2016

Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 6/12/16

Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. 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. Way Out on the West Sonoma Coast Excellent guide by Virginie Boone. China's Bordeaux: winemakers in 'gold rush' to turn desert into vineyards In-depth story on the land grab. Are bacteria the secret to a great wine vintage? Microbes are increasingly the rulers of this planet. Everything You Need To Know... continue reading

06.13.2016

I'll Drink to That: Bruce Tyrrell of Tyrrell's Wines, Australia

Episode 365 of I'll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Bruce Tyrrell of Tyrrell's Wines, the winery based in the Hunter Valley of Australia's New South Wales. The Hunter Valley was one of the first Australian regions to be planted with grapevines, almost 200 years ago, and in a way befitting that history, Bruce Tyrrell offers up a sweeping interview that goes across the decades of the modern Australian wine industry with ease and first person insight. This interview is full of personality in its anecdotes, whether they be about the uncle who liked to kill snakes... continue reading

06.13.2016

Warm Up: Semillon

By Erin Scala Likely from Bordeaux, and possibly from Saint Émilion, Sémillon's name may come from an old pronunciation of Saint Émilion. In France, Sémillon is usually blended with Sauvignon Blanc to make Bordeaux Blanc. When grown in the right climate, its thin skins are fairly prone to botrytis, and if late harvested with botrytis it can transform into excellent dessert wines in Sauternes and Montbazillac. Like many iconic French varieties, Sémillon has spread throughout the world, and in the diaspora you'll find strongholds in South Africa, Chile, and Australia. If you focus in on New South Wales in... continue reading

06.11.2016

Vinography Unboxed: Week of June 5, 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 a wine that made me very happy, my first taste of a California-grown Blaufränkisch from the quirky, little, Austrian-influenced producer, Solminer. Their Grüner Veltliner and rosé also made it into this week's roundup, and all are worth seeking out if you can track them down. Perennially favorite producer Lang & Reed's latest Chenin Blanc is a winner, and Dutton Goldfield offered... continue reading

06.10.2016

Vinography Images: Vine Viewing

Vine Viewing TEMECULA, CA: Hot air balloons prepare to take flight near Monte De Oro Winery in Temecula, California. Temecula Valley, Southern California's Wine Country, located 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles and one hour north of San Diego, attracts over a million visitors each year. 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... continue reading

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Most Recent Entries

Volcano's Elixir: The wines of Somló, Hungary I'll Drink to That: Aaron Miller of PlumpJack Winery I'll Drink to That: Ampelio Bucci of Bucci Winery Vinography Images: Unglamorous Work A Lesson in the Loss of Denis Malbec I'll Drink to That: Kimberly Prokoshyn of Rebelle Restaurant Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 6/19/16 Vinography Unboxed: Week of June 12, 2016 Warm Up: Richebourg I'll Drink to That: Jean-Nicolas Méo of Méo-Camuzet

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

The Bulgarian Wine Blog The Dionysian Impulse Artisan Swiss Filivino Wine and Tourism in Provence I Like This Grape Wine Cooler Direct The Wining Hour Wine Snark Wine Dabbler The Daily Barrel

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