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~ June 2004 Archives ~



Makers of Organic and Biodynamic Wine

A good friend of mine is heavily into organic food and drink and is constantly talking to me about it. Inspired by a recent conversation with her combined with a recent trip to see The Corporation and all the attendant guilt associated with supporting large corporate interests in just about everything we consume, I thought I might dig up some information about organic wine and see what was in the offing. I've had some organic wines before, which range from the lousy (shall remain nameless) to the pretty good (Yorkville Vineyards). I was surprised to find that a few large... continue reading


Restaurant Review: The Public, San Francisco

The last time I walked into the building at the corner of 11th and Folsom in San Francisco's SOMA district, it was a neighborhood Mexican joint, serving good but unremarkable food along with good Mexican beers to succor us worn out dot.com workers on the evenings we got out of work with the energy for a drink. Lucky for all of us those days are over, and even luckier are we for having that old brick building taken over by The Public, a new venture from Greg Luna (formerly of Delfina) and Chili Montes (formerly of the Cypress Club). These... continue reading


2000 Ceja Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa

Many of the small production wineries and their wines that I feature here are built with the help of migrant labor, so it's nice to be able to also tell the story of a winery that not only uses migrant labor, but is owned by some of the people that have been working in Napa valley for the last three or four decades. The Ceja's are and example of one of the first generations of migrant workers who came from Mexico and worked in the vineyards of Napa long enough to be able to buy one of their own. In... continue reading


The Truly Frightful Gourmet

Boing Boing today has a post about an LA Times story on the staggering eating habits and predelictions of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, also known as Our Dear Leader. Here's an excerpt from the story:Kim insists that his rice be cooked over a wood fire using trees cut from Mt. Paektu, a legendary peak on the Chinese border, according to a memoir written by a nephew of Kim's first wife. He has his own private source of spring water. Female workers inspect each grain of rice to ensure that they meet the leader's standards. (The nephew, Lee Young... continue reading


Hartford Family Vineyards' Current Releases

I've reviewed at least one Hartford Family wine here already, but on a beautiful, sunny Father's day afternoon this week, I took Dad out to spend a little time sipping wine, and decided Hartford would be a good choice for its low key, family run feel and because it's off the beaten path of the main wine routes through Sonoma. Tucked away off of Highway 116 in an idyllic little valley called Pocket Canyon, Hartford has a beautiful facility surrounded by a few small vineyards (which may or not be theirs. The people at the tasting room were unable to... continue reading


2001 Gargiulo Vineyards "Money Road Ranch" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville

I think there's an interesting phenomenon happening in Napa right now. It seems every day there's a new small Napa producer popping up with their first vintage. Many of these are, of course, landless labels which consist of talented winemakers who buy relatively small amounts of grapes from well known sources to produce wines at custom crush facilities or leased time and space from other vineyards. There are another sort, however, and we may be seeing more of them in the next couple of years. This type of label represents the new blood of Napa -- families and individuals who... continue reading


Food Porn: Jamie Oliver's Blog

My buddy Matt Jones points out in a recent post that Jamie Oliver has got a blog. Not only that, but Jamie's got each of his sections available as an RSS feed! As Matt puts it: "three or four doses of food porn a day..." (photos included). Ladies and Gentlmen, start your RSS readers...... continue reading


A 100 point wine by any other name...

Here's an article from Ben Gilberti and the Washington Post on a 100 point wine dinner he attended (10 wines which each received a perfect score of 100). It's a reasonably good article but is clearly written from the standpoint of a major oenophile which may turn some off. Interestingly (to me) he mentions that only about 120 wines have ever received that score, which is fewer than I would have imagined and ultimately justifies the lunacy of that system. Read the article here. (NOTE: requires free registration) The 100 point system has been compared to the 65-100 point grading... continue reading


Red wine is good for everything, apparently

Seems like every few months we get a new report on the health benefits of drinking red wine. I'm all for it, no matter what excuse you need. A while back I started cataloging the various benefits and for your pleasure I present some of the better ones. Before you ask, YES these are all real news stories and real scientific results. Red wine stops herpes. Apparently a little red wine splashed on your herpes or cold sores will do wonders. Red wine helps prevent colds. Supposedly, drinking a glass of red wine a day leads to 44% fewer colds.... continue reading


2001 Liparita Chardonnay, Carneros

Liparita was launched in 1987 with 100 cases of Chardonnay and derives its name from from the Sicilian island of Lipari (mod. Isolta Lipari). The volcanic soils of this tiny island were reminiscent of those found on Liparita's Howell Mountain property. Owner Bob Burrows and winemaker Kerry Signoracci have increased their production to 8000 barrels and have expanded from that initial Chardonnay to a whole portfolio of wines which include some excellent award winning Cabernets and a great Sauvignon Blanc. Much of the winery's fruit is sourced from elsewhere in Napa, and often from very high quality vineyards, known and... continue reading


Restaurant Review: Lombardi's Pizza (and Every Good Pizza Restaurant), New York City

So I sat down this morning to write a snappy review of some of the best pizza I've ever eaten in my life, courtesy of Lombardi's Pizzeria in SoHo, which can reasonably claim to be the first pizza place in New York City, and for many years has also had a reasonable claim to being the best pizza in NY. However, due to the remarkable coincidence of fate that so often plagues the Internet and those who surf it regularly, I was notified this morning of a New York Pizzeria posting on one of the blogs I read regularly. Following... continue reading


2001 Stephen Ross Pinot Noir, Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, California

Continuing with my tastings in recent weeks of wines from the California Central Coast here is a great Pinot from the Edna valley under the Stephen Ross Label. Stephen Ross is basically the efforts of one man: Stephen Ross Dooley, who decided to leave his long time employment as President and winemaker at Edna Valley Winery in 1994 and start his own label. In addition to his tenure at Edna Valley, Stephen has spent time winemaking in both South Africa and Australia before deciding on California's Central Coast as the place to put down his roots. Stephen Ross was recently... continue reading


Milk: Wholesome drink turned Villain

Here's a fascinating article in Slate from Chris Suellentrop. ...America's belief in the goodness of milk has taken a darker turn. Milk has turned from a symbol of true-blue Americana into a token of everything that's wrong with the country. As with most cultural changes, the transformation began with extremists, but it has crept into mainstream discourse. Like Hulk Hogan suddenly becoming a wrestling villain, the symbol of saying your prayers and taking your vitamins, of right-thinking Americanness, has now become the bad guy. Continue Reading.... continue reading


Top 100 Lists for Inexpensive and Good NYC Restaurants

From the Fodor's Travel Blog, Right this Way:Village Voice critic Robert Sietsema's annual themed lists of the "best and cheapest" restaurants in New York are always work a look -- and often worth studying carefully. This year covers Italian. I was happy to see that cultish Brooklyn pizza joint Di Fara's came in at #13, and that all those mediocre Little Italy places were almost nowhere to be seen. Past Lists: Latin (2003) Asian (2002) Inexpensive (2001)... continue reading


2001 Detert Cabernet Franc, Oakville

It seems like many of Napa's best small producers have the same story: earlier in the century someone buys a choice plot of land in Napa Valley, which is handed down through the generations. The land is planted with grapes at some point and the family makes a modest income selling their fruit to the burgeoning wine industry in Napa. Then after a few decades in the wine business, one of the young members of the family (who has been working in the wine industry their entire life) decides to start making wine under the family label, and viola, another... continue reading


Restaurant Review: Jean Georges, New York City

Why do I splurge occasionally on a meal? Not just because I love good food, but because every meal I have is another point on my gastronomic map, a map which defines the best and worst of my dining experiences along with variety. I splurge not only to add one more experience to the list, but because I am also looking for experiences which re-set the bar for what is good, great, and what is truly sublime. This week, my measure of sublime just got pushed a little higher, thanks to the unique constellation of stunning interior design, impeccable service,... continue reading


Tea Renaissance in the Bay Area

A good article in the New York Times today about teahouses springing up in the Bay Area. One of them is in the Ferry Plaza. I wrote about the Imperial Tea Court in my review of that gourmet paradise.... continue reading


2002 Jacques & Francois Lurton "Les Fumees Blanches" Fume Blanc, Vin de Pays d'Oc, France

Jacques and Francois Lurton preside over a modern-day wine dynasty that breaks the mold of their predecessors. The sons of a well known Bordeaux owner-grower named André Lurton (of Châteaux Bonnet and Clos Fourtet among others) they have chosen to forsake their ties to the traditional estate, and instead become globe trotting multi-continental winemakers. The Lurton brothers either own vineyards or have control over vineyards in France, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Australia, and Uraguay, and use them to produce several lines of generally value-priced wines. More experienced wine snobs have often scoffed at the Lurtons' high production, shotgun approach to producing... continue reading


Restaurant Review: H&H Bagels, New York City

OK. OK. So it ain't a restaurant. Heck they won't even toast a bagel for you, not even if you beg and plead. What they are -- simply -- is the best bagel in New York City, and by extension, the world. It's sort of like even though we don't invite other people to compete in the NBA finals, we call the winning team the World Champions. The best bagels in New York, by default, end up being world class. I'm sure the folks at H&H would gladly compete on the world stage, but really they don't have to. They... continue reading


Restaurant Review: Bao 111, New York City

In San Francisco we tend to think of ourselves as flush with good fusion restaurants of all sorts, especially Vietnamese. With hometown stars like Ana Mandara and The Slanted Door, I was surprised to be introduced to a restaurant in New York that easily tops both of those popular institutions at significantly lower prices. Ah yes, New York. Last Sunday we joined Ruth's brother for a meal at Bao 111, a small Lower East Side establishment. Amidst the noise of a loud (but very good) live jazz trio and about 50 young hipsters, we enjoyed a great meal. Bao is... continue reading


2001 Chase Zinfandel, Hayne Vineyard, Napa

Sixty acres of old-vine Zinfandel, Petite Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon have been handed down through the Chase family since before the turn of the century. Originally a grubstake for an early independant woman pioneer, who settled her family between St. Helena and Rutherford, the Hayne vineyard is now reknown amongst die hard fans of Zinfandel for producing the most exclusive wines produced by the cult label Turley Cellars. Andrew and Pam Simpson, the current proprietors and descendants of the original Chase Family, have historically sold their grapes to other producers, but like many family owned vineyards, have started to make... continue reading


Looking for a Farmer's Market?: Try the US DoA

The US Department of Agriculture apparently keeps a list of farmer's markets around the States. Find one in your area.... continue reading


2001 Gulfi Estate Vineyards Rosso "Nerojbleo" Nero D' Avola, Sicily

As some readers know, I'm a pretty big fan of Italian wines, especially those of Tuscany and Piedmont. I've recently begun to sample the wines of Sicily, especially after the urging of some friends whose opinions I trust when it comes to these things. So when the opportunity arose at a recent lunch to try out this Nero D' Avola, I jumped at the chance. First of all, for many people, including myself, Nero D' Avola is not a well known red varietal. It happens to be one of two primary native varietals from Sicily -- the other being the... continue reading


2001 Westerly "Estate" Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley California

It's unfortunate how sometimes the best way to describe something you like is a word or phrase that doesn't normally make people think good thoughts. Such is the unfortunate case for Sauvignon Blanc which, at times, manages to smell just a little like cat piss. Yes. I know. Who would drink a wine that reeks of a vengeful or incontinent feline? I've definitely experienced a few wines (mostly old Sancerres or Pouilly Fumes) in which this aroma was so overpowering I could not bring myself to drink them. However in many wines it is a mere background aroma, one that... continue reading


2002 Qupe "Bien Nacido Cuvee" White Meritage, Central Coast

After a recent review of a nice Edna Valley wine, let's move south and west along the central coast to the Santa Maria Valley and this all-purpose white from Qupe Wine cellars. Qupe shares a production facility with the famous Chardonnay producer Au Bon Climat, which is a cult favorite from the Central Coast appellation that commands hefty prices on the market. Qupe was founded Bob Lindquist who got his start, like many of today's small producers as a cellar rat for Zaca Mesa winery where he met and learned from winemakers Ken Brown and Jim Clendenen. After seven years... continue reading


2001 Cinnabar Estate Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains

Cinnabar has been around since 1983, when owner Tom Mudd, a scientist and researcher, decided to take his interest in grapes to a new level. For many years, this little winery that sits high in the Santa Cruz Mountians near Saratoga was a well kept local secret, but with its recent vintages it has garnered widespread acclaim for producing wines that are both high quality and great values. Named after the mineral that contains murcury and was prized by medieval alchemists, Cinnabar strives for modern day alchemy in the transformation of its land and fruit into something extraordinary. Tom and... continue reading


2002 Londer Chardonnay, Kent Ritchie Vineyard, Sonoma Coast

So I seem to be on a little bit of a quest. An attempt to understand and experience a particular piece of terroir. After drinking and reviewing a Londer Pinot the other day, I happened to notice that Londer also makes a Chardonnay from the Ritchie Vineyard. Regular readers will be familiar with my raves about the Aubert Chardonnay and more recently the Tandem Chardonnay from the same vineyard. When I saw that Londer also made one, I had to give it a try, especially knowing that winemaker Greg LaFolette (who is also responsible for the Tandem Chard) has the... continue reading


If your wine was Gerard Depardieu, what would it taste like?

My local grocery store has a special on the newly released J. Garcia wine, named for the late great leader of the Grateful Dead. They've even decorated the bottle with one of his paintings. The fastest appreciating wine produced at the Napa Wine Company each year is the Marilyn Merlot, featuring the (also late) actress in a different pose each year and while current releases are about $25, the 1985 goes for $3,500 a bottle these days. What is it with celebrity and wine? Become a big name star and either you've got a wine named after you, or you're... continue reading


1999 Ballantine Reserve Zinfandel, Napa

Wine is naturally a vehicle for history, so tied as it is to a place and a soil and a climate. Grapes express so much about how and where they came to be, it seems only natural that they carry with them the histories of the people who craft them into wine. Enter Ballantine Vineyards. Every winery in Napa has some sort of history, every winemaker has a story, but the story of Van Ballantine, his wife Betty and how they came to own and produce a wine that carries his name is truly epic and vast in its scope.... continue reading

But Wait, There's More!

This page only has the last sixty entries in this category. If you're interested in digging farther into my archives, you'll want to use the complete list of archives to access my articles by month.

Calendar of Postings

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Most Recent Entries

Makers of Organic and Biodynamic Wine Restaurant Review: The Public, San Francisco 2000 Ceja Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa The Truly Frightful Gourmet Hartford Family Vineyards' Current Releases 2001 Gargiulo Vineyards "Money Road Ranch" Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville Food Porn: Jamie Oliver's Blog A 100 point wine by any other name... Red wine is good for everything, apparently 2001 Liparita Chardonnay, Carneros

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

Archives by Month


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