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04.17.2014

Book Review: The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert

Review By Stella Fong The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert will, at first, appeal to the reader's inner child. With thick cardboard pages, great illustrations, and scratch and sniff scent disks, the book offers elementary tools that provide good introductory wine information sans the verbiage that fill other basic compendiums. The author, Richard Betts gets right to the point, confessing to hating wine speak. Even as one of the fewer than 200 Master Sommeliers worldwide he sheds all wine snobbery, stating what he finds obvious, "Wine is a grocery, not a luxury." With humor and... continue reading

04.16.2014

The Beauty of 2011 Burgundy: Highlights from La Paulee de San Francisco

I don't drink nearly enough Burgundy. But that's not saying much. Most wine lovers without trust funds or best-friend-sommeliers might complain of the same thing. The region's really amazing wines are just too expensive for mere mortals to buy with any regularity. All of which is why I usually jump at the chance to attend the La Paulee de San Francisco event whenever it comes to San Francisco every couple of years. The La Paulee Grand Tasting provides an opportunity to taste a large amount of incredibly high quality Burgundy in an afternoon's walk around the Fairmont ballroom, with... continue reading

04.13.2014

Seven Percent Solution Tasting: May 8, San Francisco

There comes a point in every intrepid wine lover's life when the well-traveled road must be left behind. One can only drink so much Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc. But finding one's way out of the multitudes of these bottles to something more exotic and interesting takes some effort. Which is where the folks behind the Seven Percent Solution come in. These wine producers have organized themselves behind the fact that 93% of Northern California's vineyard acreage is planted to eight major grape varieties, leaving a mere seven percent for all the others. Of course, since we're... continue reading

04.12.2014

Vinography Images: Autumn Cellar

Autumn Cellar Vines of ivy turn ruby red in the autumn on the outside of a wine cave. 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

04.04.2014

Vinography Images: Vines and Sky

Vines and Sky Rows of sprawling vines find an echo in the puffy clouds above the Russian River Valley, in Sonoma County, Californa. 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... continue reading

04.04.2014

Are You a Red, Pink or a Purple Wine Stater?

Forget red states and blue states. Let's talk about wine states. They come in shades of pink and purple, according to a new map published by Business Insider based on a recent study by the Beverage Information Group. Serious props go to the folks in New Hampshire and Washington, DC for topping the charts at 25.7 liters and 19.6 liters per capita in 2013, respectively. Of course, that pales in comparison to the reigning champs at the Vatican, who consume a whopping 66.67 liters per capita each year, but everyone has to start somewhere, right? Wine consumption in the U.S.... continue reading

04.02.2014

2014 TAPAS Iberian Varieties Tasting: April 27, San Francisco

Given the similarities between the climates in Northern California and some parts of Spain and Portugal, one has to wonder why there aren't more Spanish and Portuguese grape varieties planted in California. The same might be said about Italian grape varieties, but they dwarf the plantings of Spanish grapes in California. There are almost three times as many acres of Sangiovese planted in California than there are Tempranillo. And let's not even talk about Pinot Grigio, shall we? Instead I'd rather talk about Touriga Nacional or Mencia or Graciano or Verdelho. Despite minuscule plantings throughout the state, these grape varieties... continue reading

03.29.2014

Taste Washington Day One in Brief

I'm up here in (yes, rainy) Seattle for Taste Washington, the annual festival and celebration of Washington State wine. It's been five years since I attended this event, and that's about four years too long. I came up here to lead a seminar for the event, which we carried off without a hitch this morning to a packed room of enthusiastic tasters. The seminar carried the title, The Allure of the Exotic, and featured off-the-beaten-path grape varieties from a selection of vintners from the tiny White Heron Cellars to the well known likes of Woodward Canyon and Leonetti. I... continue reading

03.28.2014

Vinography Images: Trailing Vine

Trailing Vine A vine trails between rows of a vineyard wet from an Autumn rain 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

03.27.2014

Checking On Some Older CA Pinot Noir

Once upon a time, among the many criticisms leveled at California wine, there existed the notion that California wines did not age as well as their European counterparts. While such notions are less common these days, I still frequently run across the assumptions that most California wine needs to be consumed within 10 years. "Is this stuff going to be any good?" someone will ask me, brandishing a 2001 wine they found in a corner of their wine rack. Despite ranking in the top tier of world-class wines that California produces, Pinot Noir in particular falls prey to doubts about... continue reading

03.22.2014

Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Some wineries are famous. Some are infamous. And some are legendary. Château Rayas sits comfortably between the latter two: equally enigmatic and revered. People don't speak of visiting the place as much as making a pilgrimage, and the stories of such visits often take on an air of the fantastic as well as the absurd. The reclusive and eccentric owner from 1978 to 1997, Jacques Reynaud, on various occasions would hide from visitors, or simply walk them around for a while and bid them adieu without offering them a drop of wine to taste. When Reynaud left the estate... continue reading

03.21.2014

Vinography Images: Tuscan Garden

Tuscan Garden The sun falls on an exquisitely manicured, Tuscan-style garden at Newton Vineyard in Napa, 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: If you are interested in owning an archive quality, limited... continue reading

03.18.2014

IPOB - The Tasting That Became a Movement

It began on a whim and has become a focal point for the conversation about where California wine is going. The tasting known as In Pursuit of Balance, held last week at Bluxome Street Winery in San Francisco (see below), and six weeks ago in New York, has now become the most talked-about wine event among the cognoscenti on either coast. The event began four years ago as friends Jasmine Hirsch, daughter of famed Sonoma Coast pioneer David Hirsch, and sommelier Rajat Parr of the Michael Mina group fantasised about getting a group of their favourite California Pinot Noir producers... continue reading

03.15.2014

Does Vine Age Matter?

Vielles Vignes. Alte Reben. Viñas Viejas. Vinhas Velhas. These terms appear, if not frequently, then with some regularity on wine labels throughout the world. Here in California we're treated to "old vines," "ancient vines," and sometimes even "century vines," thanks to some particularly well-preserved specimens throughout the state. Winegrowers sometimes make a big deal out of old vines, particularly when they are in possession of them. But do they really matter? And if so, how? These were two of many questions that I set out to answer with a panel of winemakers and their wines last week at the In... continue reading

03.14.2014

Vinography Images: The Future Vineyard

The Future Vineyard Through the fog, stakes mark the site of future vine plantings in the Sonoma 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 you are interested in owning an archive quality,... continue reading

03.13.2014

A Little Vinography Housekeeping

I owe a lot of you readers an apology of sorts. You've probably noticed that over the last few weeks, Vinography has been generating a lot of unwanted e-mail in your inbox. Those of you who have used the "subscribe to replies" feature of my blog have borne witness to the fact that I am under an attack of SPAM comments the likes of which I have never seen in 10 years of writing this blog. I'm getting about 300 comments per day, despite having a very aggressive filter for this sort of thing. In order to avoid your inboxes... continue reading

03.12.2014

2014 Rhone Rangers Tasting: April 6, Richmond, CA

Spring is in the air here in San Francisco. The plum and some cherry blossoms have already burst forth, those with allergies are suffering a bit, and we've got sunshine into the dinner hour thanks to the magic of daylight savings time. Spring means a lot of different things to different people, but for any wine lover in San Francisco, it certainly means wine tasting season. This is the time of year that winemakers get a little break -- malolactic fermentation is well underway if not finished -- so there's time to pack the suitcase and go show off some... continue reading

03.09.2014

Napa Wines and a Diversity of Opinions

Who would have thought a simple little tasting of lesser known grape varieties made into wine in Napa would be so divisive? Last month, as many of you know, a bunch of journalists and aspiring journalists attended the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers in Napa. This three-day event offers a unique opportunity to both network with fellow wine writers, as well as to improve one's craft. The organizers (which includes me, by way of full disclosure, as a member of the event's advisory board) attempt to create an agenda that focuses partly on wine knowledge, partly on the craft... continue reading

03.07.2014

Vinography Images: Sunlit Ridges

Sunlit Ridges Sunlight dapples ridges in the Carmel Valley, south of Monterey, 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: If you are interested in owning an archive quality, limited edition print of this... continue reading

03.06.2014

Returning to Chateauneuf-du-Pape For the First Time

I am in love with Grenache again. Estrangement from the grape hardly describes the last ten years of my life, in which my consumption probably outpaced your average wine geek. Yet as the furiously working windshield wipers revealed more and more of the rain-soaked banks of the Rhone north of Montpellier a few weeks ago, I found myself thinking about how long it had been since I pulled one of my once-treasured bottles of Châteauneuf-du-Pape out of my cellar. The honest truth is that, like a man with far too many mistresses, I have been neglecting one of my... continue reading

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Most Recent Entries

Book Review: The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert The Beauty of 2011 Burgundy: Highlights from La Paulee de San Francisco Seven Percent Solution Tasting: May 8, San Francisco Vinography Images: Autumn Cellar Vinography Images: Vines and Sky Are You a Red, Pink or a Purple Wine Stater? 2014 TAPAS Iberian Varieties Tasting: April 27, San Francisco Taste Washington Day One in Brief Vinography Images: Trailing Vine Checking On Some Older CA Pinot Noir

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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 Királyudvar "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

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Wine Blogs I've Newly Discovered

VA Wine Princess Wine, Dine, DIY Grape Experiences Zinfandel Chronicles Winery Explorers Unlock Wine Local Food and Wine Cherie du Vin

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.