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07.01.2015

Warm Up: The Italian Influence in California

Grape harvest in California's Central Valley 1898 Courtesy of USC Libraries, Special Collections. CA Historical Society Collection Over the last couple decades, Italian varieties have become more popular in California. They have such momentum now that several up-and-coming producers have been able to stake much or all of their production on Italian varieties. Italians, and thus echoes of Italy's wine culture, have been a part of California for quite some time, and Italian influence gained serious momentum during the California Gold Rush. In a period of less than a decade, the gold rush brought thousands of '49ers from around the... continue reading

07.01.2015

I'll Drink to That: Megan Glaab of Ryme Cellars

Episode 273 of I'll Drink to That has been released, and features Megan Glaab, one of the partners of Ryme Cellars, a boutique wine label in Sonoma County. The interview discusses Megan's childhood growing up in the family restaurant, which is the wine focused restaurant Passionfish. The conversation touches on her time in Australia, working for Torbreck, where she met Ryan Glaab; coming back to California and working for Helen Turley at Marcassin; and starting Ryme with Ryan out of the Wind Gap winery facility, where Ryan was an Assistant Winemaker. There is some discussion of the different grape varieties... continue reading

07.01.2015

Listen Up!! I'll Drink to That on Vinography

We live in a golden age of wine content. There have never been more ways to read about wine, learn about wine, and otherwise simmer in thoughts and ideas about wine at any time in history. Whereas wine commentary used to be dominated by several prominent voices, now there are thousands. Perhaps more importantly, there are more people to directly engage with about wine than ever before as well. The sommelier scene is exploding. After a period of much consolidation, it seems like distributors and importers are now popping up like mushrooms after an autumn rain, and we see... continue reading

06.29.2015

A First Taste of Idaho Wine

Wine from Idaho? Why not? Idaho's climate and geology share many things in common with Eastern Washington State, a place that is making some pretty exciting red wines these days. Idaho's first grapes were planted in 1864, and several wineries grew to prominence in the late 1800's and early 1900s. Like in many places, Prohibition took its toll and wiped out the state's fledgling wine industry. Idaho wasn't planted with grapes again until 1970, but since then more than 50 wineries have sprung up around the state, and more than 1300 acres are under cultivation. When a case of... continue reading

06.27.2015

Tasting Integrity: 25 Years of Corison Napa Cabernet

"This is how integrity tastes," I found myself concluding as I tasted through 25 years of Cathy Corison's efforts to express what she thinks her little patch of Napa Valley can say. In addition to meaning honest and upright, integrity means wholeness and completeness, and both definitions apply to Cathy's wines individually, and as a group of 25 vintages. The honesty expressed in these wines manifested as a transparency to the qualities of each vintage, and a willingness to let the fruit speak freely without a veneer of oak. But perhaps more impressive was the constancy of these wines.... continue reading

06.27.2015

Vinography Unboxed: Week of June 21, 2015

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's tasting included a couple of tasty Pinot Noirs from minimalist producer Big Table Farm in Oregon. Their single vineyard bottling from the Pelos Sandberg vineyard is especially worthy of attention for its distinctive aromatics and unique personality. I'm always telling myself I don't drink enough Washington State red wine, especially after I encounter bottles like those I dug out this week from... continue reading

06.26.2015

Vinography Images: Baby Vines

Baby Vines PASO ROBLES, CA: A series of new vineyard plantings help to reshape the rolling hills near Paso Robles, California. Once one of California's largest AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), Paso Robles was recently subdivided into thirteen different sub-AVAs. 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... continue reading

06.20.2015

Vinography Unboxed: Week of June 14, 2015

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's tasting included a couple of tasty rosés made from Pinot Noir, one from the Sonoma Coast, the other from Oregon's Willamette Valley. Both are worth seeking out. There's also a Chardonnay from a very cute little outfit in Oregon called Big Table Farm, who have been making individualistic, small production wines with minimalist techniques for a few years. Finally, I'd like to... continue reading

06.19.2015

Vinography Images: Wine Country Lounge

Wine Country Lounge NAPA VALLEY, CA: A row of plastic lawn chairs are lined up overlooking a Carneros vineyard irrigation pond near Napa, California. The annual grape harvest has become a favorite time of the year for visitors to Wine Country, boosting global sales of more than $12 billion. 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

06.18.2015

America's Most Peculiar Appellation

To say that the economy of California's Yuba County peaked during the Gold Rush and has been in slow decline ever since would not be much of an exaggeration. This sparsely populated area of the state has been among California's poorest regions for decades. Yet seemingly out of the blue in 1985, it became home to one of the very first few American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in the country, and by then already housed the single largest vineyard in the entire state. The story of the North Yuba AVA sounds like something out of a satirical novel: a famous... continue reading

06.16.2015

Drink Different: Highlights From the 7% Solution Tasting

One of the "worst" mistakes any wine lover can make involves the wine drinking equivalent of getting stuck in a rut. Lots of people know what they like, and choose to stick with it, always opting for the Merlot, or the Pinot Noir, or the buttery Chardonnay because they want something they'll enjoy and they don't want to have to think too much about it. There's nothing wrong with this inherently, but those who always drink the same thing and never explore anything else are robbing themselves of an immense amount of pleasure. Variety being the spice of life,... continue reading

06.13.2015

What's Holding Wine Back in America

I guess by now I should not be surprised at the vitriol that wine sometimes inspires, especially given that people have been killed over it through the ages. But nonetheless, many of us currently live in a bubble where everyone enjoys wine and we think it's the most natural thing to drink, love, and explore it. But not everyone feels that way. In fact, some people feel quite the opposite. Perhaps in the heat of recent political races you heard right-wing commentators using the adjective "wine drinking" to characterize their despised opponents? Not everyone thinks of wine as just... continue reading

06.12.2015

Vinography Images: From the Fog

From the Fog SANTA ROSA, CA: New Pinot Noir vines at Gaps Crown Vineyard are dampened by a thick fog near Santa Rosa, California. 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: Fine art prints... continue reading

06.12.2015

The World's First Wine Bar

Scientists have long known that our relationship with booze goes back a ways, so to speak. This past year, they traced our genetic predisposition to digest alcohol back to at least 10 million years in our past. To put that 10 million years in perspective, that's about when we were known to separate (or speciate, as the technical term would have it) from the lineage of great apes. This fact may also mean that wine bars may have exploded on the scene about 10 million years ago. Of course, they looked a bit different back then than they do now.... continue reading

06.06.2015

Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 31, 2015

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's tasting included some older wines that were rather fun to observe in their evolution. Ever had a nicely aged Zinfandel? A couple of examples from Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves showed off the qualities of older Zinfandel quite nicely. Two major highlights this week would certainly be the wonderfully mature Cabernet blend from Craggy Range in New Zealand as well as the... continue reading

06.05.2015

Vinography Images: Sky Drama

Sky Drama HEALDSBURG, CA: Despite the current drought conditions, Wine Country has experienced a number of spectacular sunsets due to sub-tropical moisture, such as this one seen above the Alexander Valley, near Healdsburg, California. 2015 has been the driest year in recorded history and a water State of Emergency exists for all of California. 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... continue reading

06.03.2015

Secrets of the World's Best Wine Lists

Up until this year, I had been a strong admirer and customer of great wine lists, but had never had an occasion to truly analyze them or compare them. I had come across great lists in my travels around the world, but hadn't spent a lot of time thinking about what made them great other than that they had wines on them that I wanted to drink. My point of view about great wine lists, to paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Stewart and perhaps oversimplify slightly, was simply that I knew one when I saw one. That all changed this... continue reading

05.30.2015

Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 24, 2015

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's tasting included a couple of the current release Pinots from Saintsbury, though not from their Carneros vineyards, instead these hail from the Sonoma Coast, including a single-vineyard offering from the Pratt Vineyard. Both are quite tasty. If you're looking for something unusual and interesting, you'd do well to take a look at this very pretty red blend called Cauquenina from Chile, which... continue reading

05.29.2015

Vinography Images: The Happy Canyon

THE HAPPY CANYON SANTA YNEZ, CA: Syrah grapevines at Star Lane Vineyard & Winery estate, located in the Happy Canyon wine appellation near Santa Ynez, California. Because of its close proximity to Southern California and Los Angeles population centers, the Santa Ynez Valley has become a popular weekend getaway destination. It has also become a source of excellent Bordeaux grape varieties. 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... continue reading

05.26.2015

Drinking Time Itself: The Champagnes of Anselme Selosse

The world's greatest winemakers almost always have something in common with their wines. This would be expected, of course, as one serves as the shepherd, if not the creator, of the other. But I'm not talking about the kind of physical resemblance that can sometimes humorously be observed between dogs and their owners. Instead I am referring to the expression of something much deeper -- an almost uncanny character that makes a wine, at times, feel like the reflection of a person seen briefly in a darkened antique mirror -- dim, but unmistakable in its identity. Both Anselm Selosse... continue reading

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Most Recent Entries

Warm Up: The Italian Influence in California I'll Drink to That: Megan Glaab of Ryme Cellars Listen Up!! I'll Drink to That on Vinography A First Taste of Idaho Wine Tasting Integrity: 25 Years of Corison Napa Cabernet Vinography Unboxed: Week of June 21, 2015 Vinography Images: Baby Vines Vinography Unboxed: Week of June 14, 2015 Vinography Images: Wine Country Lounge America's Most Peculiar Appellation

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

A Weakness for Wine Wines of the World Vinolent Wine on VI Georges' Nose Knows The Wine Stalker Wines of the World The Grape Belt A March in the Vines

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