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11.22.2014

Plumbing the Depths of Portugal: A Tasting Journey

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 reading

11.21.2014

Vinography Images: Rain at Last

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 reading

11.19.2014

The Mysterious Art of Selling Direct

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 reading

11.18.2014

Critical Consolidation in Wine

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 reading

11.15.2014

What Has California Got Against Wineries?

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 reading

11.15.2014

Dirty Money for a Legendary Brand

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 reading

11.14.2014

Vinography Images: Tendrils

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

11.11.2014

Highlights from Tasting Champagne with the Masters

The best wines often have a quality that I tend to summarize as gulpable. While I am perfectly content with that word as an adjective, a slightly deeper analysis of the term would yield a set of components that a wine needs to have in order to be gulpable. Those almost always include juicy acidity that gets the mouth watering, a combination of fruit and more savory characteristics that excite the palate, and a lack of the massively thick richness (and often accompanying alcohol) that is better sipped than gulped. Many wines have these qualities, but none so many... continue reading

11.08.2014

Off to Portugal for a Drink

After a couple months of busting my rear for the day job, today I get the opportunity to enjoy one of the perks of my night job. I'm headed to Portugal for a whirlwind orientation to that country's wine regions. The Wines of Portugal organization is bringing myself, a couple of other journalists, and a mixed case of sommeliers (that is the proper collective noun is it not?) over for some extended maceration in several of the country's wine regions. As it is my first time, I thought this kind of trip would be the thing to do. We're... continue reading

11.07.2014

Vinography Images: Hazy Afternoon

Hazy Afternoon The afternoon sun filters through the haze over a hillside 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 owning an archive quality, limited edition... continue reading

11.06.2014

The Dark Queen of Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Domaine du Pégau

She may be the Dark Queen of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but the darkness doesn't come from her. In fact, Laurence Feraud is hard to characterize as anything but light, even after a full day skiing and a long drive to meet me at her little winery on the edge of town. Bundled in her ski parka, her hair in braids, Feraud may be tired, but she still exudes the casual, gregarious charm that has endeared her to just about everyone I know who has ever met her. This is a woman in command of her life, and at the top of... continue reading

11.01.2014

Does California Have Too Many AVAs?

Last week, my friend Blake Gray described the current state of California AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) as too much of a good thing. In his nicely written piece for Wine-Searcher.Com, which came just days after the announcement that the Paso Robles region had been subdivided into eleven new AVAs, he made the definitive claim that California has too many AVAs. I'm in complete agreement. But I also think the state needs a few more. The problem with AVAs, as Blake points out, seems to be how they are established. For those unfamiliar with the process, it merely involves petitioning the... continue reading

11.01.2014

Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 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's dive into the boxes piling up downstairs resulted in a beautfully aged California Chardonnay whose exact age most people would have been hard pressed to guess tasting it blind. All Mayacamas wines are known for their ageworthiness, and their Chardonnay is no exception. This bottle was drinking extremely well. Many people haven't heard of the tiny producer Blue Rock Vineyards from Alexander... continue reading

10.31.2014

Vinography Images: Shades of Autumn

Shades of Autumn Grape leaves show their intense autumn colors in a Sonoma County vineyard. 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... continue reading

10.30.2014

16th Annual Pinot Fest: November 22, 2014

One of the longest running wine tasting events in San Francisco is also one of its best. While the city often plays host to really huge public tastings like ZAP, Family Winemakers, and PinotDays, some of the better tastings are more intimate and focused. Both words appropriately describe PinotFest, a low-key event held every year at Farallon Restaurant. Despite practically non-existent marketing or announcement, PinotFest quietly pulls together 60 or so top producers of West Coast Pinot Noir every year for a dedicated crowd of Pinot lovers in San Francisco. This year will be the event's 16th anniversary. Attendees get... continue reading

10.29.2014

Hang out with the World's Top Wine Writers. For Free.

One of the great perks of having been at this wine writing thing for some time involves my association with the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, for which I am now a member of its Advisory Council (just by way of a disclaimer in advance of the plug which follows). And one of the great pleasures of this association is getting to spend a few days every year attending the convocation that occurs under this association's banner, nestled into the luxurious surroundings of Meadowood Resort in the Napa Valley. I've been to all of these Symposiums in the last... continue reading

10.25.2014

Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 19, 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's dive into the boxes piling up downstairs yielded an interesting range of wines, beginning with an excellent Riesling from the Finger Lakes that offers everything you'd want in a dry Riesling, brightness, juiciness, and a very reasonable tariff. Stoller is a well known name in the Willamette Valley, but it's been a while since I had a wine from them that impressed... continue reading

10.24.2014

Vinography Images: Divine Droplets

Divine Droplets Dew beads on the down of a newly unfurled grape leaf 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, limited edition... continue reading

10.23.2014

Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets

It sounds like the beginnings of a joke: how do you hook a wine writer? The answer, it turns out, at least in my case, involves offering to put on the most comprehensive tasting of Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet ever held. When the Santa Cruz Mountains Winery Association made the offer, I suspect they knew I would have a hard time refusing. Just in case it was a trap, I brought my friend Elaine with me (you can read her writeup of the event here). As it turns out, the event was a trap, and a cleverly designed one... continue reading

10.21.2014

US 2014 Vintage - Early, Fast, Eventful

It has become my habit each year to check in with winemakers across the United States as harvest concludes in order to get a sense of the vintage as a whole. Without fail, the assessments I receive from the far-flung winegrowing regions of the country generally sound like descriptions of something completely different from what we have experienced here in California. If nothing else, these reports serve as an excellent reminder of the dangers of generalising about the character of any one harvest, especially in a country as large as America. Despite their differences in 2014, most of the winemakers... continue reading

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Most Recent Entries

Plumbing the Depths of Portugal: A Tasting Journey Vinography Images: Rain at Last The Mysterious Art of Selling Direct Critical Consolidation in Wine What Has California Got Against Wineries? Dirty Money for a Legendary Brand Vinography Images: Tendrils Highlights from Tasting Champagne with the Masters Off to Portugal for a Drink Vinography Images: Hazy Afternoon

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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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

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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

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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.