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~ December 2004 Archives ~



Happy New Year From Vinography

It's that time. Pop the cork, splash the glass, and let's toast to 2005. May your next year be filled with loving family, great friends, success in your goals, and lots of great food and wine. Cheers!... continue reading


Boutique Champagnes For Your Pleasure

I'm not a huge fan of the bubbly stuff, which is yet another thing that makes some of my wine collector friends roll their eyes and mutter words like "philistine" under their breath. But I will admit to having had a couple of really excellent ones that more often than not have come from producers I have never heard of, which is just the way I like it. Around this time of year it would have been great for me to do a little story on some boutique producers of bubbly, but unfortunately, I don't know any. Good thing for... continue reading


Spencer Roloson Winery: Current Releases

I first encountered the wines of Spencer Roloson at the Rhone Rangers tasting last March. At the time, I had their 2002 Viognier and thought it was one of the better interpretations of that varietal amidst a mostly lackluster showing. Their brightly colored labels with sans-serif type caught my eye at the time, and I recognized them at the Family winemakers tasting this fall, and spent some time tasting through their lineup and chatting with winemaker and co-owner Sam Spencer. Sam is one half of the ownership team of Spencer Roloson and the other half is Wendy Roloson. Sam brings... continue reading


1995 Pride Mountain Vineyards Reserve Claret, Napa

OK. Time to trot out another one of the classics from the cellar. I try and review a range of wines here on Vinography (I try to drink a range of wines) and the wines of the last few days represent perhaps two ends of the spectrum I normally travel. Last week saw perhaps one of the best wines for under ten bucks I've ever had, and this wine represents one of the best California Cabernets I've ever had. I'm keeping myself happy, and hope you're learning in the process. Pride Mountain Vineyards is located at one of the oldest... continue reading


The Best Bistros in Paris

There are few people I trust more on the subject of French cuisine, and in particular the institution known as the Bistro than my friend and fellow blogger Pim. Her blog, Chez Pim, is the envy of many an epicure, filled as it is with her frequent trips to Paris and infallible knowledge of the dining scene there. As a Christmas gift to all of us, Pim has succumbed to popular demands and posted a list of what she considers to be the best inexpensive meals in Paris. These include both her favorite Bistros, as well as some ethnic restaurants,... continue reading


2003 Azienda Agricola Trere "Sperone" Sangiovese, Emilia Romagna, Italy

Frequent readers will know that I'm a fan of Italian wines, in particular the muscular Sangiovese based reds of Montepulciano and Montalcino in Tuscany. I don't often find a lot of people who are a huge fan of this varietal in its Italian incarnation, as it tends to have dominant earthy and leathery flavors with heavy tannic structures that take years if not decades to mellow out. I break out an occasional Vino Nobile de Montepulciano and some folks edge their way to the end of the table that holds a Syrah or Cabernet, or something with more fruit. With... continue reading


What You Worry About If You Own A Vineyard

The life of a vineyard owner is not one that most of us would pity. Sure, we may not know exactly what's involved in raising grapes for other people to turn into wine, but how hard could it be? It's gotta be better than, say, punching holes at a cardboard box factory all day long, right? It may not evoke much sympathy, but here's a bizarre example of what elevates the blood pressure of high end growers in Napa: picking grapes very ripe. Yeah, I couldn't believe it either, but apparently a lot of growers, led by Andy Beckstoffer are... continue reading


2002 Feudo Arancio Syrah, Sicily

This is it. I've discovered by far the best wine for under ten bucks I've ever had. You think Yellowtail Syrah is a good value? In a street fight, this scrappy Sicilian is going to send Australia packing. Fortunately for us they're probably going to stay far under the radar of most consumers. While it's made by a relatively large wine conglomerate in Italy, they've not yet figured out how to market wines to the US in the same way that the Australians can. Never you mind though. Just go out and buy some. Feudo Arancio is a new winery... continue reading


Vote for Vinography: 2004 Food Blogging Awards

It's official. Vinography is one of five nominees for Best Wine, Beer, and Spirits Blog in the 2004 Food Blogging Awards, and the voting has started on the host site: The Accidental Hedonist. The nomination process reminded me of a middle school popularity contest, which brought back horrible, scarring memories, but despite my refusal to send e-mails to all my friends asking them to vote for me, I've made it to the final round. For that, I owe those of you who nominated me a word of thanks. Now that I have been nominated, I'd like to ask (once) for... continue reading


An Italian Prince and His Magic (Moldy) Cellar

Thanks to Jack, a regular reader of Vinography, for the tip on an excellent -- nay, enchanting -- article by Eric Asimov in today's New York Times about an eccentric Italian prince, Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi, who started making wines in the 70's by himself on his estate, and prior to his recent passing, handed over his 14,000 bottle cellar to be distributed (once everything was extracted from a carpet of white fuzzy mold that covered everything (including the barrels during winemaking, according to those familiar with the Prince's operation.) His story is a perfect wine fairy tale for the holidays:"A... continue reading


Wine is Next

I know there are a number of you who read Vinography that aspire to be in the wine business. Heck, don't we all harbor even the tiniest of fantasies about making a fabulous living being a winemaker, a sommelier, a vineyard owner, or (ahem) a wine writer? There may be no hope for me (what kind of writer does make a fabulous living?) but the rest of you might just be in the right place at the right time. Courtesy of Tom over at Fermentations, comes this juicy tidbit: Entrepreneur magazine has added Wine as one of the top 13... continue reading


Restaurant Review: Moto, Chicago

Smack dab in the middle of the meatpacking and grocery district of Chicago, it would be easy to miss Moto if you were not looking carefully, especially at night. On its block it is only one of two swanky modern designed fronts amidst a full lineup of brick-fronted produce purveyors that extend for blocks on either side. Alighting from your cab between all of the slumbering delivery trucks, you enter an airlock of sorts at the front of the restaurant and emerge into a narrow, but not cramped bar area and lounge at the front of the restaurant. The decor... continue reading


2000 Chateau Cabrieres Chateauneuf du Pape, Rhone, France

Say the word Chateauneuf and some wine drinkers will simply swoon. I don't know what it is about this stuff, but it drives some people mad, like Joseph Fiennes walking into a girls school gymnasium. It's tasty stuff, I'll give them that, and when it's well made, you will have a hard time finding a better wine to go with food of all sorts. Part of Chateauneuf du Pape's mystery is due to the alchemy of its blending, closely guarded secrets by Southern Rhone producers, who are allowed to use something like 14 different varietals according to the rules of... continue reading


2001 Celler Vall Lach "Embruix," Priorat, Spain

There are a lot of American celebrities moving into winemaking these days, and their wines are most often accompanied by massive marketing efforts rather than acclaim from the masses, if you know what I mean. However, there are other places in the world where the famous are making wine and at least in one case, doing it quite well. Celler Vall Llach (no that's not a spelling mistake, it's Catalan) was founded in the early Nineties by the Spanish singer Lluis Llach and his friend Enric Costa. They selected a small village named Porrera, one of the nine villages in... continue reading


Cooking Schools Around The World

If you're like me, this time of year tends to fill you with equal parts holiday cheer and soul wrenching dread. I spent 20 minutes today in a traffic jam inside a parking garage in downtown San Francisco when I decided to stop by a store to pick up a gift for Ruth. Big mistake. It's around now when I really start dreaming of a vacation that is a complete and utter departure from daily reality. Someplace I can just lounge, eat, and drink all day. Or better yet, cook. Yes, cooking school vacations are all the rage now, from... continue reading


2002 Vincent Girardin Corton-Charlemagne, Burgundy, France

Do you really know what Chardonnay tastes like? Really? There was a point at which I thought I knew. I was young, a hip Web designer who for the first time in his life had some disposable income and I was buying Hawk Crest Chardonnay from gourmet grocery stores and drinking it with homemade pasta and cream sauce. The height of sophistication, right? But just like when I finally went to Italy and realized what real fettuccine with a perfect cream sauce tasted like, I also discovered one day that the Chardonnay I had been drinking was preceded in history... continue reading


Extreme Wine/Food Pairing as Marketing

So will it be red or white tonight with that dish of alligator on a bed of sautéed earthworms, crickets, and scorpions? What do you want to pair with that appetizer of tarantula and rattlesnake fricassee? Call it extreme wine pairing, or call it gross, but it certainly attracts attention, which is what Redwood Creek seems to want. They call it "Taste for Adventure" and along with Gene Rurka, biologist and exotic-foods chairman of the Explorer's Club, they are serving up dinners of the strangest and scariest things that most American's are ever likely to see along with a tastefully... continue reading


Vinography in Bon Appetit

I was quite surprised and pleased to learn to today that Vinography was featured in the January issue of Bon Appetit Magazine that hits newsstands today. The issue is about what's hot and new in the food and entertaining world, and apparently food blogs are "all the rage." Along with yours truly, the magazine mentioned Saute Wednesday, SliceNY, The Food Section, and Grocerylists.Org. If someone had but bothered to ask, I could have pointed them to several others of high quality (see my links to the lower left on the front page), but I'm certainly not complaining. I'd like to... continue reading


2002 Altos de Medrano "Las Hormiga" Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina

A while ago, I posted some commentary on a few predictions made by Robert M. Parker, Jr. about the future of the global wine trade. One of my comments which generated a lot of conversation here at Vinography was my comment that while I understood Malbec's prominence as a varietal in Argentina, and its long history of use in Bordeaux, I had actually never had a Malbec that I really liked. Sure I'd had some that were powerful and clearly made with care, but most of them were over-oaked, very tannic, and wholly unbalanced. A number of readers agreed with... continue reading


2004 Food and Wine Blog Award Nominations

I'm really not into the whole end of the year Best Of, Top 100, Great Recommendations, Recap Everything in The Universe, listmaking frenzy. However, Kate, over at the Accidental Hedonist, has decided to run the 2004 Food (and Wine) Blog Awards because, well, no one else was doing it. And they should have been. So kudos to her, and if you're interested in that sort of thing, stop by and nominate your favorite site. Vinography has been graciously nominated for the Wine Blog category among others, and I thank whichever of you readers were so kind as to do so.... continue reading


2000 Domaine Marcel Deiss "Gruenspiel," Alsace, France

Domaine Marcel Deiss is one of the more famous, and possibly infamous, producers in the Alsace region of France. Proprietor Jean-Michel Deiss a magnet for criticism over any number of things. Alsace is the one region in France where it is common practice (and legal) to label wines by their varietal, but he chooses not to, instead labeling his wines by single vineyard designations. Most wines in the region are single varietal, and his are not only blends, but field blends made from interplanted grapes all harvested together and crushed together. Most people think you shouldn't (because it doesn't work)... continue reading


(Some) Best New American Restaurants

Travel and Leisure Magazine has a relatively new feature on some of the best new restaurants in the country, which include Quince, which I reviewed yesterday. The list runs as follows (see the article for their full reviews): San Francisco: Restaurant Michael Mina Frisson Quince Houston: T'afia Rouge Shade Atlanta: Rathbun's Nan Thai Fine Dining Los Angeles: La Terza Table 8 Philadelphia: Meritage Striped Bass Chicago: Green Zebra Moto Pluton Alinea New York: Cru Kittichai Per Se Miami: Chispa Talula Seattle: Union Lark Boston: Salts L One thing is for sure, single word names for restaurants are the next big... continue reading


A Pean to Luigi Veronelli, Wine Critic

I have a soft place in my heart for Roberto and the guys down at a little strip mall wine store in Santa Monica, California called Wine Expo. I stumbled on them one day on the way to a friend's house (I was in need of a bottle to bring) and quickly discovered that I had ended up at one of the best wine shops in LA and probably one of the single best Italian wine purveyors in the country if not the hemisphere. These guys know Italian wines like none other, and their newsletter is always at turns cracking... continue reading


Restaurant Review: Quince, San Francisco

Pasta will never be the same in this town. It would be very easy to call Quince the best Italian restaurant in San Francisco, but saying that it's better than the likes of Delfina, Pazzia, Incanto, Frascati, A16, or Acquerello, all of which might be able to make that claim, is to fundamentally mis-classify it and even more tragically, underestimate the work of chef and owner Michael Tusk. Quince has chosen an unexpected, quietly residential location in lower Pacific Heights, and just as quietly it has redefined San Francisco's notion of what Italian cuisine can be, among other things. For... continue reading


Sushi: Everything You Ever Needed To Know

I'm a huge sushi fan, as some of you know, and recently two things have crossed my path that seem like excellent resources for those who may share the same addiction. The first came my way via Alaina over at A full Belly who posted a link to the excellent guide entitled simply "How to Eat Sushi" which is in my somewhat trained opinion, one of the best descriptions of how real sushi conoisseurs in Japan go about it. Many of the things in there were taught to me by Japanese colleagues while I lived there, but there were some... continue reading


2001 Martinelli Reserve Pinot Noir, Sonoma

Martinelli has been a familiar name to be for most of my life, though not always associated with wine. I was born and spent most of my summers in Sonoma county, just down the road from the large Martinelli apple cider production facility. Going most places during the summer, I would pass by the open lots filled with crates of apples, and on more than a few hot days I would find myself drinking their sparkling apple juice. Martinelli has been in the apple and wine business since 1896, making them one of the oldest producers in Sonoma county. Like... continue reading


WBW5 Has Been Announced: Wacky Wine Names

Dead Arm? Footbolt? Sinister Hand? Goats du Roam? The Hammer? Little Miss Dangerous? Richard The Lionheart? Where do these people come up with these wine names anyway? (Yes those are all real wines). We'll get to find out in January when our dear friend Pim hosts the next Wine Blogging Wednesday with the theme of wackily-named wines. Any wine, any varietal, any price, just make sure it has a strange name -- the more bizarre the better. If this weren't such a brilliant idea, we might suspect her of choosing a theme where it wouldn't matter if she bought the... continue reading


Drinking Anniversary

There's always something worth celebrating. Not like you need an excuse to pop another cork. However if you're at a loss for something to toast this evening, you would do worse than to toast the repeal of Prohibition, 71 years ago today. Yes, that's right, a mere 71 years since the country regained its senses. I'll leave it to others to discuss if we're still in posession of them. In the meantime, drink to being able to have a drink. If you'd like a little history with your wine, check out the Ohio State University Project on Prohibition History.... continue reading


Drink Like a Tsar: Perhaps the World's Most Unique Wine Collection

This just in. For those of you who missed out on your chance to buy wine from the Titanic, here's another fascinating way to spend big bucks in pursuit of what might be truly extraordinary wine. Apparently a boatload of wine that came from the private state collections of both Tsar Nicholas II and Joseph Stalin is on the auction block at Christies. Stored in deep granite caves at what some call the most perfect cellaring conditions in the world, these are mostly fortified and sweet dessert wines, including one with the name Honey of Altae Pastures, which sounds fantastic.... continue reading


WBW4 Roundup Posted: New World Riesling

Derrick has posted the roundup for WBW4, the Wine Blogging Wednesday virtual tasting event where wine drinkers around the world post reviews of wines based on a preselected theme. This month's was New World Riesling, and there are some great reviews to be had. Enjoy.... continue reading


2002 Leeuwin "Art Series" Riesling, Margaret River, Australia

This is my entry for WBW4, the fourth installment of Wine Blogging Wednesday, which this month is being hosted by Derrick over at An Obsession With Food. Derrick is a huge fan of Alsace, Austrian and German wines and so it's no surprise that he selected Riesling as the theme for this month's virtual tasting event. That would have been fine with me, even exciting, but the bugger had to go one dastardly step further and tell us it had to be New World Riesling, ruling out the whole set of wines that he likes, and even worse, ensuring that... 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

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Most Recent Entries

Happy New Year From Vinography Boutique Champagnes For Your Pleasure Spencer Roloson Winery: Current Releases 1995 Pride Mountain Vineyards Reserve Claret, Napa The Best Bistros in Paris 2003 Azienda Agricola Trere "Sperone" Sangiovese, Emilia Romagna, Italy What You Worry About If You Own A Vineyard 2002 Feudo Arancio Syrah, Sicily Vote for Vinography: 2004 Food Blogging Awards An Italian Prince and His Magic (Moldy) Cellar

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