Some years are unarguably more momentous than others. The question is whether we can really recognise them without the benefit of hindsight. History may prove me wrong, but as 2014 comes to a close I'm prepared to declare it one of the most important years for American wine. The last 12 months were filled with more than a few revelations, triumphs, and vindications, even as they revealed a good measure of hard truths for some. Keep drinking America The first wine-related news story of 2014 still lingers for American wine lovers as a warm glow of satisfaction. By the end... continue reading12.12.2014
New Growth A grape tendril unfurls in a Sonoma County vineyard. All the rain this week has most of us thinking about what comes after the vines emerge from this winter hibernation they just entered. 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 reading12.11.2014
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 more recent releases from Medlock Ames in Sonoma's Alexander Valley. I continue to be impressed with these wines, which I have been following off and on since their first release. I think they've never been better. Other reliable producers showed up in this week's tasting pool, including Cornerstone and Smith Madrone, both of whom can be counted on for... continue reading12.10.2014
Giving gifts to wine lovers during the holidays can be a royal pain. Especially if your recipient tends to have many of the basics covered when it comes to wine. That's not even considering the royal pains that people like me tend to be for prospective gift givers. I'm one of those wine lovers who already has most of the gear that he wants, and has strong opinions about everything else. Sound like anyone you know? I've said before that buying wine for your favorite wine lover can be an exercise fraught with peril. Many wine lovers I know... continue reading12.06.2014
"I have been condemned to death four times," says the man that everyone calls Senhor Baron with a smile that emerges broadly from underneath his thin mane of snow-white hair and droopy eyelids, "but as you can see, here I am." It is two days after his one hundred third birthday and he is dressed in a bold three piece houndstooth suit with a brilliant blue tie and matching pocket square. His wrinkled, pale hands wrap sturdily if slightly trembling around the well worn handle of his cane, and he leans in with a conspiratorial air to tell me... continue reading12.05.2014
Lonely berries A lonely, stunted group of Cabernet Sauvignon berries pokes through the canopy in an Alexander Valley vineyard 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... continue reading12.04.2014
I'll admit it. I'm basking a little bit in the glow of having my book, The Essence of Wine, included in the New York Times list of best wine books of 2014. As many of you know, I've been doing a series of events to both promote the book and to simply enjoy wine with anyone interested in the subject around the Bay Area. The next one will be at the Commonwealth Club on December 17th, beginning at 5:30 PM. There will be a lot of wine available for tasting, including some pretty fantastic (and pricey) bottles, and I'll be... continue reading12.03.2014
While biologists have recently established that our relationship with alcohol may stretch back more than 10 million years, that still doesn't mean we can reliably stick our noses in a glass and figure out what it is we are smelling. Night-blooming jasmine. Creme-de-cassis. White peaches. Graphite. Ambitious newbies, eager to experience the breadth and depth of what the world of wine has to offer, often find themselves frustrated at their inability to pick out some of the tantalizing scents that wine critics offer up in their tasting notes. In his book How to Love Wine, New York Times wine critic... continue reading11.28.2014
Cold Snap Most of America is experiencing the first serious cold front of the winter, and plenty of grape leaves lie encased in ice like this one from Sonoma county. Many more are already buried under snow elsewhere in the country. 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... continue reading11.28.2014
Hey, all you folks in Cincinnati, come have a drink with me! I'm coming to town to promote my book, The Essence of Wine. It's a short trip, but I'm trying to pack a lot in. The main event is an afternoon of wine tasting and talking about the book at 1215 Wine Bar. I've selected a bunch of wines, and will be there to talk with people about them, about tasting, about the world of flavors and aromas, and about my book. If you live in Cincinnati or nearby, I hope you'll consider joining me. I don't often... continue reading11.27.2014
I am thankful for the fact that I am still alive, and healthy, and able to enjoy my life. I am thankful for my family and my friends and those who have touched my life in so many wonderful ways. I am grateful for the privilege to live a life free from most wants, from strife, and from pain, full of so much that many go without. I am grateful for wine and food, and the world's infinite bounty of deliciousness that I have the great fortune in which to partake. I am thankful for the opportunity to express... continue reading11.26.2014
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 major accomplishment for me: I have officially unboxed and sorted every wine sample in my basement. That's only happened about twice in the last 5 years. There are usually piles of unopened boxes lying around. I'm sure there will be again soon. But on to the wine. I'm thrilled to have tasted through a group of wines from a blogger-turned-winemaker... continue reading11.24.2014
Judging from media coverage alone, no other holiday in America instills as much wine anxiety as does Thanksgiving. From bloggers to television hosts to nearly every newspaper wine column in the country, wine advice pours forth to salve the worried minds of the wine inclined "A Guide to the Best Wines For Thanksgiving." "Top Thanksgiving Bottles." "What Wines to Serve for Thanksgiving Dinner." "Which Wine's a Winner for Thanksgiving?" The advice is well meaning, and the need very real. Everyone seems to want help figuring out what to drink, and serve, with America's most important meal. My words here serve... continue reading11.22.2014
In the pantheon of global wine regions, Portugal doesn't rank among the most storied, at least as far as the average wine lover is concerned. Most wine drinkers have heard of, if not tasted Port, the dark, rich dessert wine named after the town at the mouth of the Douro river in the country's north. I may be on the younger side of a generation of wine drinkers that were both enthusiastically, and sometimes regrettably (after a few bottles) familiar with Mateus Rosé, which proved, in my case, to be somewhat of a gateway wine. Fewer wine lovers have... continue reading11.21.2014
Rain at Last A double rainbow frames Sonoma county vineyards. Northern California finally got a good rainstorm this week. We still desperately need more, but it was a good start. 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... continue reading11.19.2014
A good friend of mine was recently given the opportunity to join the most exclusive club in the world of wine: the individuals who get a chance to purchase the wines of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti directly from the estate. And how did this young lady pull off a feat that almost anyone in the wine world might have considered undergoing a minor amputation in order to receive? She doesn't know. She just happened to sit next to the correct person at a dinner party and the next thing she knew, she was an insider. Despite my friend's remarkable... continue reading11.18.2014
Antonio Galloni announced today the acquisition of Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, as reported on Forbes.Com. The acquisition will involve a merger of the IWC, it's staff and content with Galloni's own Vinous platform. This move represents a new dynamic in the wine criticism landscape. Up until this point Robert Parker's Wine Advocate was the only outlet for wine criticism that had grown through acquisition. By bringing on writers, many of whom had their own smaller niche publications such as Galloni's Piedmont Report, Parker significantly increased both his breadth and depth of coverage around the world. I think it a... continue reading11.15.2014
I promise I'm not going to turn this web site into the California Wine Law Blog, but for Pete's sake, it seems like California law has suddenly turned on one of it's largest economic players. First it was the utterly ridiculous Proposition 65 madness that is letting rogue legal groups all but extort money from wineries. Then it was enforcement of a law basically designed to prevent abusive labor practices against wineries letting their customers volunteer to work at harvest. Now it's threatening to take away the liquor licenses of wineries (and a few breweries) because they're re-tweeting wine events... continue reading11.15.2014
I've been out of the country and away from most sources of news for the past week. For instance I'm just now hearing about some comet or other that we're busy invading. But now that I've crawled out from under my rock, I'm shocked to learn that the Australian mob seems to be buying Peter Lehmann wines. I returned from my trip to Portugal to find two sets of news stories in my inbox. The first was the shocking news that one of the three Casella brothers running Yellow Tail wines in Australia had been arrested on drug trafficking charges.... continue reading11.14.2014
Tendrils A new grape vine leaf unfurls against the bright sky, along with its multi-colored tendrils. 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... continue reading
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2014 - Worth Celebrating Vinography Images: New Growth Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 7, 2014 Holiday Gifts Worth Giving to Wine Lovers A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Vinography Images: Lonely Berries Come Taste Wine With Me at the Commonwealth Club: December 17, San Francisco What do You Really Smell in That Glass? Vinography Images: Cold Snap Cincinnati Here I Come!
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 KirÃ¡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
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