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Vinography Unboxed: Week of July 26, 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 lovely Weissburgunders (known as Pinot Blanc to us English speakers) from the mountains in the north of Italy. If you like crisper styles of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, you'll love these very mineral, citrusy whites. The other white wine not to miss is the Wild Ferment Assyrtiko by one of Greece's best winemakers. And this is one... continue reading


I'll Drink to That: Leonardo LoCascio of Winebow

Episode 282 of I'll Drink to That has been released, and features Leonardo Locascio of Winebow, a wine importer and distributor he co-founded in 1980. Leonardo's interview is further evidence of how much the present day echoes the past in the wine business. When Leonardo started Winebow he looked at the market and decided that a focus on southern Italian wines made sense, because other importers had already snapped up a lot of the better wineries in the north. Southern Italy offered strong value and an open field to find new producers, if you were willing to introduce the consumers... continue reading


Vinography Images: Wind Gap

Wind Gap PETALUMA, CA: The hillsides and Petaluma River near Keller Estate Winery light up midst a summer sunset near Petaluma, California. Warm summer temperatures and a dry spring accelerated plant growth, resulting in vintners across the state expecting the earliest harvest in recorded history. 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... continue reading


The Brilliance of Canadian Chardonnay

Less than an hour from Buffalo, New York, some of the best Chardonnay I've tasted in years is being made, and practically no one in America knows about it. If Americans think of anything when it comes to Canadian wine, they almost always think of icewine. Just why this treasure trove of crisp and bright lemony Chardonnay goodness has remained almost completely off the radar of American wine lovers is a topic for another time. Right now, I simply need to tell you that Canada's province of Ontario is making some seriously world-class Chardonnay. I found out about it... continue reading


Warm Up: The North Fork of Long Island

Driving on the North Fork. Photo by Erin Scala. 10,000 years ago, when humans in the Fertile Crescent were just switching from nomadic to agricultural societies and civilizations began to spring up, a glacier retreated northward over New York and left behind unique soils, especially on Long Island's Forks. Today, several types of loam cover the North Fork. Back in the 1920s, these soils were used mostly for potato farming. But today, the North Fork of Long Island can claim over 40 years of winemaking history. John Wickham grew vinifera grapes in the 1960s and sold them at his farm... continue reading


I'll Drink to That: Kareem Massoud of Paumanok Vineyards

Episode 281 of I'll Drink to That has been released, and features Kareem Massoud of Paumanok Vineyards, a family-run estate on the North Fork of Long Island, New York. The truth about America is that most of its citizens are prohibited from having wine for a quarter of their lives, and then beginning at their 21st birthday, they are expected to develop a normal relationship with the practice of drinking. As if drinking hasn't been denied to them for a couple of decades, and been fetishized as a result. A lot of people who have experienced this particular head fake... continue reading


2015 Family Winemakers Tasting: August 16, San Francisco

Size isn't everything, they say, but sometimes it's mighty impressive. The yearly Family Winemakers tasting in San Francisco has as one of its many claims to fame that it is the single largest tasting of California wines in the world. That alone would not be reason for excitement, were it not for the generally very high quality of the wines that are on offer, year after year. Regular readers know that this tasting, now in its 25th year, is one of my favorites. While the definition of a "family-run" winery is stretched a bit to include behemoths like Jackson Family... continue reading


I'll Drink to That: Ryan Looper of T. Edward Wines

Episode 280 of I'll Drink to That has been released, and features Ryan Looper of T. Edward Wines, a wine wholesaler and importer in New York. This episode is a behind-the-scenes look at a distribution and wholesale sales world that most consumers of wine probably never imagine exists. The cold calls, the breaking open of accounts, the jockeying between the paid-on-commission sales reps of the same distributor. The interview covers changes in the market and how those play out in response to financial downturns or sommelier trends; selling to restaurants, selling to retail, and selling to hotels; determining when it... continue reading


Lost Treasures in the Sierra Foothills: The Wines of Renaissance Vineyards

Soon after gold was discovered in California in 1848, and word spread east, more than 80,000 prospectors descended upon the foothills of the Sierras in search of their fortunes. Most only found hardship and broken dreams. Almost as soon as the Gold Rush began, stories began to circulate about "lost mines," rich troves of gold that were never to be found again when their discoverers met with misfortune. Even today an occasional prospector still goes in search of these forgotten treasures. What would you think if I told you that the legends of a massive treasure buried in the... continue reading


Warm Up: The Wachau

The ruins of the Dürnstein Castle. Five to ten thousand years ago, grape vines first made their way up the Danube as they traveled with groups of people to northern parts of Europe. But during the height of the Roman Empire, Emperor Domitian banned grape growing north of the Alps to protect the Roman wine industry, and European winemaking cooled down. This decree was overturned in the year 280 by Marcus Aurelius Probus and the wine industry in now-Austria ramped up once again. In peacetime, Probus sent his troops north to help clear land for vineyards, including areas along the... continue reading


I'll Drink to That: Leo Alzinger of Weingut Alzinger

Episode 279 of I'll Drink to That has been released, and features Leo Alzinger, Jr. of Weingut Alzinger in Austria's Wachau Valley. This is an excellent interview to listen to if you think you have already heard it all about Grüner Veltliner, because I guarantee that there are some notes in the discussion that you won't have heard before. "Master Class" is a term that we hesitate to use, but, you know, if the dirndl fits... Also there are some takeaways on the differences between the Wachau and the nearby Kremstal, as well as a breakdown of how the terroir... continue reading


Petaluma Gap Wine Tasting: August 8th, Petaluma, CA

The American Viticultural Area system that defines the legal geographic origins and labeling restrictions for American wine is, like all such political constructions, deeply flawed. The process of creating an AVA can just as easily be driven by money as it can genuine viticultural differences. But that doesn't mean AVAs have no value, nor does it mean that sometimes new ones aren't a very good idea. Take, for instance, the Petaluma Gap. Winegrowers have long used the name to refer to the south easterly sloping valley that leans down to where the Petaluma river slips into the San Francisco... continue reading


I'll Drink to That: Monica Samuels of Vine Connections

Episode 278 of I'll Drink to That has been released, and features Monica Samuels of the importer Vine Connections. This interview covers a lot of ground concerning the sake world, from styles of sake to methods of production to terminology to the historical and current market for the product. There is a lot of discussion of sake in the context of restaurants: how to pair sake, how to serve sake, and how to potentially find more success selling sake. But the cool thing about this episode is that Monica's personal story is so intertwined with what she is saying that... continue reading


Vinography Images: Cool Climate Chardonnay

Cool Climate Chardonnay OKANAGAN FALLS, CANADA: Steep hillside vineyards at the See Ya Later Ranch slope downward with a view toward Penticton and the lower lake on June 6, 2013 in Okanagan Falls, British Columbia, Canada. Located across the U.S. Border in the northeast corner of Washington State, the Okanagan Valley is marked by an 83 mile long Okanagan Lake and has become a major Canadian retirement center and vacation destination. I'm attending the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Symposium this weekend on the Niagara Penninsula in Ontario, Canada, so I thought it appropriate to bring you a Canadian vineyard... continue reading


Vinography and The Essence of Wine Shortlisted for the Roederer Awards

Hello everyone. Brief tangent from the normal wine commentary to announce that Vinography was shortlisted this week in two categories at the Louis Roederer International Wine Writer Awards, one of the most prestigious awards bodies in the business. I'm very proud to say that Vinography was shortlisted for Best Online Wine Communicator, and perhaps even more importantly, The Essence of Wine was shortlisted for Wine Book of the Year. I honestly don't expect to win, as the shortlists in both categories are very strong (and quite long, in the case of online communicators). I'm quite proud of The Essence... continue reading


2015 West Sonoma Coast Wine Festival: July 31 - August 2, Sebastopol, CA

Cool climate has become a popular catchphrase in the world of wine, thanks, in part, to global warming trends that threaten some popular wine regions' abilities to produce their traditional wines in the same styles to which they are accustomed. But serious wine lovers have also long known that great wine can often come from the very fringes of possibility -- places or situations where grapes struggle to survive, let alone bear ripe fruit. As winemaking traditions migrated from the old world, where grapes are planted "where they have always been planted," to the new world, where intrepid winemakers... continue reading


Warm Up: How Wine Grapes Got to Australia

The first vinifera vines were brought to Australia from South Africa in 1788. They came with the First Fleet, a group of 11 British ships that sailed for about 250 days to establish a penal colony in Australia. Before sailing across the Indian Ocean, the Fleet stopped at Cape Town to gather provisions, and they stocked up on pigs, cattle, seeds, and of course, grape vines. They got their vines from the Dutch who-- to the First Fleet members-- had been successful with wine in South Africa for more than a century. By 1822, one of the early settlers,... continue reading


I'll Drink to That: Alister Purbrick of Tahbilk Winery

Episode 277 of I'll Drink to That has been released, and features Alister Purbrick of Tahbilk winery in Australia's Victoria wine region. This interview charts a history of an estate that goes back to the early 19th century, and of an Australian wine industry that exploded in the 1980s. The scope of this interview is pretty immense, and if you want to understand Australian wine as a whole you have to think about the Tahbilk Winery, which was one of the first created in Australia and one of the first to move to table wine production as opposed to fortified.... continue reading


Pacific Northwest Swelters

It's not so much of a heat wave as it is a suffocating blanket. Until yesterday, 14 July, the Walla Walla Valley in Eastern Washington State had a record-breaking 15 out of 16 days of temperatures above 100 °F/38 °C, with two days in a row topping out at 111 °F/44 °C. 'That's the longest stretch of heat I've ever seen', says Bob Betz of Betz Family Winery, who has been making wine in the area since 1975. 'It's really dramatic and continues to amaze all of us.' Brandon Moss, partner and assistant winemaker at Gramercy Cellars has a... continue reading


Vinography Unboxed: Week of July 12, 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 three recent releases from one of my favorite Pinot Noir producers in California, Ross Cobb. His nervy wines are usually jam packed with bright acidity, so it's no surprise that his 2012s are very nice, indeed, and that he's avoided the flab-trap that some producers fell into during this generous, easygoing vintage. Speaking of acid, is there anything more crisp... continue reading

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Most Recent Entries

Vinography Unboxed: Week of July 26, 2015 I'll Drink to That: Leonardo LoCascio of Winebow Vinography Images: Wind Gap The Brilliance of Canadian Chardonnay Warm Up: The North Fork of Long Island I'll Drink to That: Kareem Massoud of Paumanok Vineyards 2015 Family Winemakers Tasting: August 16, San Francisco I'll Drink to That: Ryan Looper of T. Edward Wines Lost Treasures in the Sierra Foothills: The Wines of Renaissance Vineyards Warm Up: The Wachau

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

South Carolina Wine Joe A Weakness for Wine Wines of the World Vinolent Wine on VI Georges' Nose Knows The Wine Stalker Wines of the World

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