Text Size:-+

~ November 2004 Archives ~



Kermit Lynch Signing Books on Saturday in Berkeley

Thanks to Derrick over at An Obsession With Food for the tip. Kermit Lynch, one of the best importers and sleuths of undiscovered European wines will be signing his new book (read the old one!) at Cody's Books in Berkeley on Saturday (as well as pouring some of his wines apparently. Here's the press release. CODY'S BOOKSTORE - SATURDAY, DECEMBER 4 KERMIT LYNCH writes of INSPIRING THIRST: VINTAGE SELECTIONS FOR THE KERMIT LYNCH WINE BROCHURE. One of the world's most revered wine merchants and importers, Kermit Lynch changed the way Americans drink wine and the way the French make it.... continue reading


The Key of The Wine: Crackpot Xmas Gift?

I promise, promise, promise, not to put together a Vinography holiday gift guide. There are lots of other places you can go to be told that every wine lover will enjoy the Rabbit corkscrew. It's all a load of junk. Just buy better wine. However, I couldn't pass up this little gadget (thanks to Jennifer Rosen for the tip) especially given the conversation last week about aging and cellaring wine. It seems that someone or rather two someones in France, "Laurent Zanon, chemist and oenologist, professor of chemistry and biology, in collaboration with a wine waiter, Franck Thomas, Working Meilleur... continue reading


Wine Tasting: My Techniques, Ratings, and Notes

A while back, someone who was interested in getting more formal about the way they taste wine asked me to tell them a little bit about how I do it -- my techniques, my ratings, etc. Here's a slightly extended version of my answer. MY RATINGS I use a 10 point system here at Vinography because that is the simplest system that makes sense to me. I don't believe in the 100 point rating system because, really, what is the difference between a 92 point and a 93 point wine? No one has ever been able to give me a... continue reading


1999 Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa

Every once in a while it's nice to be reminded why Napa Cabs have the mystique of being, well, Napa Cabs. Dalla Valle is certainly one of the progenitors and continued beneficiaries of the cult status accorded to many of the valley's best small producers. Dalla Valle started in 1982 with the purchase of 25 acres of hilltop vineyards and land on the hillsides above Oakville by Gustav Dalla Valle and his wife Naoko. Dalla Valle, an Italian born heir to 175 years of winemaking and winegrowing history in his family as well as the founder of the highly successful... continue reading


2003 William Fevre "Champs Royaux" Chablis (Chardonnay), Burgundy, France

It's wines like this one that make me begrudgingly admit that some of my friends have a pretty valid point. You see, I hang out with a bunch of folks who have completely sworn off of California white wines, especially Chardonnay, in favor of French whites -- in particular the Chardonnay based White Burgundies and Sauvignon Blanc based wines from the Loire. They clamor (at any given opportunity) that there are hundreds of wines that can be purchased for around twenty bucks that are infinitely better than most $20 California Chardonnays. Better tasting, better food pairing, and just all around... continue reading


Happy Thanksgiving From Vinography

I hope you aren't home surfing the Web on Thanksgiving, but in the off chance you happen to stop by here, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. May your day be filled with the people you love, great food, and, of course, some excellent wine! Regards, Alder... continue reading


2001 Two-Tone Farm Merlot, Napa

It's always a little icky to think that the wine you're drinking is just some marketer's idea of targeting a specific segment or niche in the marketplace. What happened to passionate people coaxing bottled poetry from the earth in the pursuit of something transcendent of mere grapes??? I mean, c'mon, isn't that where we all want our wines to come from? Well there are only so many of those types of wineries and wines, and the reality that's been beaten into everyone in the market these days is that its possible to make perfectly good wine, even excellent wine, under... continue reading


2001 Casa Vinicola Firriato "Chiaramonte" Nero D' Avola, Sicily

Sicily has been making wine for ages and ages, but it's getting a lot more attention these days as newer winemakers compete to get their wines a broader audience around the world and change their production methods to achieve higher quality. Firriato is a fairly new producer on the island. It was started in 1985 by Salvatore and Vinzia Di Gaetano in northwestern Sicily near Trapani. Things move slower in Sicily, I guess, as their first real production ended up being in 1994. Since their initial vintage, they have scaled their production levels to nearly 500,000 cases. That's a lot... continue reading


Thoughts On Older Vintages of Wine: Are They Worth It?

A post on a fellow wine blog got me thinking the other day about older vintages of wine -- buying them, cellaring them, drinking them. The question under consideration in that blog was a simple one that many wine drinkers ask: is it worth it? Specifically, is it worth it to cellar wines for a long time, or is it worth it to pay big money for older wines at restaurants or at auctions. The answer, like many of life's subjective quandaries, is that it depends. Here are the things it depends on:1. Your patience. Are you willing to let... continue reading


2000 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, Pessac-Leognan (Bordeaux), France

Most of the time when people talk about Bordeaux, they're talking about red wines, so it kind of tickles me to seek out and try the other side of the coin from the world's most famous wine region. Those interested in experiencing white Bordeaux could do worse than start with Domaine de Chevalier, an estate that has become as well known for its whites as its reds. Domaine de Chevalier was only converted to a winegrowing estate in 1865 (as opposed to many Chateau in Bordeaux who have centuries and centuries of history) by the Ricard family. It was shepherded... continue reading


Restaurant Review: Sushi Ken, Tokyo

Most people I've met who consider themselves devotees of a particular food style have a gold standard " one restaurant that serves as their shining example of what real is all about. Without a doubt, Sushi Ken remains for me the quintessence of sushi. Perhaps it also holds a fond place in my heart because it was the first sushi I ate in Toyko, in the capable hands of a CEO business partner, and it introduced me to a whole class of fish (and also different types of fish) that I had not imagined existed. Sushi Ken is actually two... continue reading


2001 Whitcraft "Bien Nacido N Block" Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, California

Chris Whitcraft is not subtle. "This is the best Pinot Noir in California," he said, as he poured my glass. While I'm not willing to make the same claim, I will say that the wine I tried reflects some of his brash confidence. Thankfully, that confidence is lacking in arrogance, and is just the way that Whitcraft operates -- he's an ordinary guy who is one hundred percent passionate about what he does. If you want to get a sense of his personality, you need go no further than his newsletters, which are honest and lacking in all pretense. Whitcraft... continue reading


Everyone Has Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations

Yes, everyone who does anything with wine publishes a list of recommendations for Thanksgiving wine. And that is precisely why I have avoided adding to the fray. However, when Josh over at The Food Section politely asked for some recommendations so that he might put an article together, I couldn't turn him down. So I won't be publishing a Vinography Best Bets for Thanksgiving, but if you're interested in what I think (along with some other wine bloggers) head on over to The Food Section's recent article.... continue reading


If Only You Had a Personal Chef....

Want to have a gourmet meal at home that you don't have to cook, but can't afford the personal chef? Sure, sure, there's Waiters on Wheels, but there should be an emphasis on the WAIT part of that name and who wants to hang out for 90 minutes to get food from one of your favorite restaurants delivered cold at your door by a cretin? A few San Francisco zip codes now have another option, pointed out to us by our friend over at Cooking with Amy: Wally's Food Company. Apparently, these folks purport to deliver gourmet California/French meals that... continue reading


Japanese Wine (Not Made From Rice)

The Japanese have a particular love of wine. I'm guessing it sprung up along with their penchant for buying impressionist and cubist paintings in the early 1980's during their economic bubble. But what then was a flagrant use of enormous wealth has settled into a more moderate appreciation for wine as a luxury item. Most of the Japanese businessmen that I worked with in 2001 and 2002 were huge aficionados, and I would occasionally get requests on my trips back to California to bring back something special. Currently Japan is one of the top consumers of higher end Bordeaux wines.... continue reading


Restaurant Review: Yokaro, Tokyo

To say that I have eaten at Yokaro more than any other restaurant in the world might be an outrageous sounding claim, given that it is a tiny little outfit found in a couple back alleys of Tokyo's business districts, but it's likely to be the truth. Over the course of the 18 months I spent living and working in Japan, I probably ate at Yokaro two or three times per week at a minimum. The scary thing is that I have ordered the same thing, starting from my first experience there to my last. Ah, my first experience. One... continue reading


2001 R. Stuart & Co "Big Fire" Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon

In case you hadn't noticed, Oregon Pinot Noir is hot right now. So hot, perhaps, that the folks at R. Stuart & Co. have called it "Big Fire." They could have also called it "Big Fun" and it would have fit within their brand image nicely. This quirky little winery operation/family/company is run by Rob Stuart, a veteran west coast winemaker who is now in his 21st vintage as a winemaker. His most recent stint was at Erath Vineyards but now he's focused on fulfilling his long time love of Pinot Noir by just making it for himself. Along the... continue reading


At Your Newsstand: Women in the Wine Industry

I've pretty much given up on the Wine Spectator. My subscription will not be renewed when it comes due next, especially since they have instituted an incredibly draconian policy which basically puts every shred of content on their site behind a login (which costs $49 a year). Mostly though I'm tired of their weak writing, shameless advertising dependency, and narrowmindedness. However, it might be worth visiting a newsstand near you to read (if not purchase and read) the article in the current issue about women in the wine world. Its well researched and written, if a bit predictable, but its... continue reading


Holiday In Carneros Tasting Event: November 20 & 21

Before you go off making plans for next weekend, consider penciling in the upcoming Holiday In Carneros, an annual event for charity that throws open the doors of some of the best wineries in Carneros, some of which aren't normally open to the public. It works like this: next weekend, you go to one of these wineries between 10AM and 4PM and buy a special wineglass. This glass becomes your ticket for entry and tasting at all of the 20 or so participating wineries: Adastra Bouchaine Vineyards Buena Vista Winery Carneros Creek Castle Vineyards Cline Cellars Curvare Winery (at Homewood... continue reading


2001 Chiarello Vineyards "Eileen" Cabernet, Napa

Here at Vinography I like to explore a broad range of wines available in California and around the world, and it's particularly interesting to compare some. In the last couple of weeks I introduced you to Jim Neal, a struggling, passionate young winemaker who started his career as a chef in wine country, and has now moved out of the kitchen and into the cellar. Today, I'd like to bring you a wine from someone similar in spirit but very different in circumstance. While Michael Chiarello may have struggled in his beginnings as a chef, the point at which he... continue reading


2001 Domaine De La Janasse Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes, Southern Rhone, France

Occasionally I'll just grab something as I'm wandering through a wine store to keep myself fresh - make sure I'm trying out new producers, new regions, new varietals, etc. I'll also grab things that just help broaden my experience with a particular region or a particular type of wine (those things that I like, I usually go back for and they end up in my cellar in varying quantities). I've had more than a few Chateauneuf's but I've had significantly fewer than say, the number of California Zinfandels I've ever tried. So when I remember, I like to grab one... continue reading


My Conversation With Robert M. Parker, Jr.

Regular readers know that I have both a good amount of respect for Robert Parker, the founder and author of the Wine Advocate Newsletter, as well as a tendency to strongly and vehemently disagree with him on occasion. So what happens when the world's most powerful critic and I get a chance to sit down and have a chat over some Syrah? I come away from the experience wishing everyone had a chance to do so. The man that comes across in the manila-colored pages of his newsletter, his books, and in other print vehicles, and the man I met... continue reading


Chinese Wine and Wine Culture

Our friend Bertrand Celce who is a freelance photographer and writer maintains a wine blog about French wines and wine tasting in France. Lucky for me it's in (quite good) English. Bert recently returned from a trip to Shanghai and has written a couple of entries about Chinese wine and the burgeoning wine culture there, as well as his experiences in some wine bars in Shanghai. They are both an interesting peek into how the Chinese are engaging the wine world.... continue reading


1999 Medlock Ames Merlot, Alexander Valley, Sonoma

I'm happy to bring you another small winemaker who has just set up shop in the southern part of Alexander Valley. Medlock Ames is a collaboration between two lifelong friends Christopher Medlock James and Ames Morison, who recently decided to follow their dream to become winemakers. Their story is not unlike many of the new boutique winemakers entering the market -- a desire to make great wine, a respect for the past coupled with a desire to innovate. These new winemakers typically fall into one of two groups -- those who start by buying their grapes on the market or... continue reading


Eight years, $27,000, and the Menu From Heaven?

Here's something to remove from your list of things you want to be the first to do: visit all the Michelin three star restaurants in Europe. Seems that an Englishman named Andy Hailer with a lot of patience and deep pockets beat you to it. Took him eight years and the better part of thirty grand (that's just the food costs) to do it. In the process he determined his favorite chef to be Joel Robuchon, and he has composed an ideal menu among all the dishes he experienced in those years. Call it the menu of his dreams. Appetizer:... continue reading


California's Best Boutique Wines: A Report From Family Winemakers 2004

To those whose idea of serious wine tasting involves hitting seven or eight wineries in a day trip to Napa instead four or five, it may come as a surprise to hear wine tasting described as exhausting. Yet that's just the right way to describe any serious attempt to sample the offering at an event like Family Winemakers. One of the largest (and in my opinion, the best) tasting events in California, this marathon tasting makes available wines from over 400 different wineries, each of whom belong to the Family Winemakers Association. With so many wineries, and each pouring between... continue reading


WBW4 Has Been Announced: New World Riesling

The 4th incarnation of Wine Blogging Wednesday will take place on December first, and will be hosted by Derrick over at An Obsession With Food. For this next virtual tasting event Derrick has selected New World Riesling. Grab a bottle and a blog by December!... continue reading


Family Winemakers Tasting This Weekend

I've been travelling around the country on business so you'll have to forgive me my lapse in mentioning this earlier, but this coming Sunday and Monday, San Francisco plays host to probably one of the best public wine tasting events in California, the Family Winemakers Tasting. This is a massive event for both the trade and the public with nearly 300 family producers pouring their latest stuff. "Family run" it turns out, is a fairly loose designation, as Mondavi Corp and Kendall Jackson seem to qualify, but in general, the majority of the producers are just what I like --... continue reading


WBW3 Roundup Has Been Posted

The results of this week's Wine Blogging Wednesday have been posted by our host Seattle Bon Vivant. It's a great read of 19 different people's experiences with 19 different Australian Shiraz wines. Enjoy.... continue reading


California "Garagistes" Winemakers

I occasionally like the subjects and so rarely like the writing in the wine section of the San Francisco Chronicle that I have stopped even checking that paper on Thursdays, when the section comes out. However, I am pleased to report that today's contains a well written article about a subject that is dear to my heart -- small time winemakers, whom the author calls "Garagistes." While Stephen Yafa doesn't bother to tell you the history of the term (coined to describe the efforts of Michael Gracia and some other Right Bank winemakers in the Bordeaux region who turned the... continue reading


2003 Alice White Shiraz, South Eastern Australia

This is my entry for WBW3, the third Wine Blogging Wednesday event online, where folks who have blogs all drink and review wines on the same day. This month's event is being hosted by Seattle Bon Vivant, so visit with her in the next couple of days for a complete listing of all the participants. For last month's event, I drank a pricey, critically acclaimed, upper echelon wine. This month I'm doing the opposite. However, I was unable to get my (lazy) hands on a bottle of Yellow Tail Shiraz which is what I wanted to review. I know, I... continue reading


Jim Neal Wines: Current Releases

I'm particularly excited to be able to introduce you to Jim Neal, a winemaker you probably have never heard of. As you know, one of my goals here at Vinography is to "discover" great new wines that we all want to drink. I use quotes around that word because I don't pretend to be the first person that has ever heard of these winemakers, some of whom have been making wine for years, but many are extremely small and below the radar of most wine consumers. Some, like Jim are even struggling to get their wines into retail shops and... continue reading


Buy Your Own Wine At a (Five Finger) Discount?

I'm not about to set up a police blotter on this site, but couldn't help sharing the slightly humourous and definitely poignant tale of one Adam Belsky, who recently had a prized collection of 249 bottles of wine stolen from his house. The wine ended up at a small time liquor store elsewhere in the city, and tipped off by the police, Belsky went to the store and was offered several of his own bottles at a "special for you today" 20% off the retail price. Ouch. That smarts.... continue reading


Food For Your Vote

After you've gotten your $1 glass of wine at the Ferry Building, why not stroll over to RNM where they are holding an election night special. Thanks to Le Blog de San Francisco, we learn that you can get a three course meal for $26 if you can prove you voted on Tuesday. RNM is a swanky and incredibly pricey meal, so this offer is especially sweet.... 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

April 2016

          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Most Recent Entries

Kermit Lynch Signing Books on Saturday in Berkeley The Key of The Wine: Crackpot Xmas Gift? Wine Tasting: My Techniques, Ratings, and Notes 1999 Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa 2003 William Fevre "Champs Royaux" Chablis (Chardonnay), Burgundy, France Happy Thanksgiving From Vinography 2001 Two-Tone Farm Merlot, Napa 2001 Casa Vinicola Firriato "Chiaramonte" Nero D' Avola, Sicily Thoughts On Older Vintages of Wine: Are They Worth It? 2000 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, Pessac-Leognan (Bordeaux), France

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