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~ January 2005 Archives ~



California's Best Zinfandels: A Report From The ZAP 2005 Tasting

Yesterday in San Francisco, thousands of wine drinkers converged on the Fort Mason pavilions in celebration of Zinfandel. Hosted by the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers trade group, the Annual ZAP Festival takes place over several days and culminates in this public tasting which is attended by over 300 winemakers and nearly 100 times that many wine drinkers, journalists, and members of the trade. I go to do one thing and one thing only: find out who's making the best Zinfandel in California so that I (and you, dear reader) can stock the cellar or at least keep watch on... continue reading


Your French Rental Car May Be Running On Bordeaux

Perhaps you may have heard that French wine sales are down? So much that they may even be letting winemakers advertise what their wines taste like now (gasp!). But that doesn't help them with an even more immediate problem: too much wine on their hands that is clearly not selling. So what to do? Well, how about turn it into gasoline? Under a current proposal, French vintners want to distill hundreds of millions of bottles of AOC wine into high grade alcohol which could be used for many industrial applications, including fuel. This isn't just crap wine, either, it's appellation... continue reading


After Fracture, Mondavi Family Begins to Mend, With Wine

Wine is a wonderful thing to share with old friends, and apparently it is good for mending the fractured ties of an estranged family. Especially if your last name is Mondavi. After what has been reported as a bitter family feud which ended in the breakup and sale of the Mondavi empire over the last couple of months, brothers Robert and Peter Mondavi (aged 90 and 92 respectively) have decided to make some wine together as a symbolic gesture of reconciliation. This single barrel of wine (with juice coming from each of the respective sides of the family disputes) will... continue reading


WBW5 Wrap Up Has Been Posted

Chez Pim has posted the wrap up to this month's global virtual tasting event: Wine Blogging Wednesday. The theme was "wacky wine names" and I gotta say, people found some real winners. Mad Housewife? Suckfizzle Augusta? Red Rock Underarm? Bad Impersonator? Ten Minutes by Tractor? Sinister Hand? Yes those were just some of the great names on offer in this version of WBW. With nearly 40 entries it almost doubled the participation in past events, and I swear about 4 new wine blogs popped out of the woodwork just to participate (and have been added to my list). If you're... continue reading


Bordeaux 2002 Vintage: A Report From The Union Des Grand Cru De Bordeaux

In addition to having the society connections of old family history, the Grand Cru producers of Bordeaux have an association much like the Napa Valley Vintners association or other coalitions of wine growers found in the United States. Like its Napa counterpart, since 1973 the Union Des Grand Cru de Bordeaux has served as a marketing, outreach, and advocacy organization to improve the visibility, accessibility, and reputation of the producers of Grand Cru classified wines in Bordeaux. Each spring, the main producers of Bordeaux hold a week long series of events called "en primeurs" where journalists and critics from around... continue reading


2002 Big Ass Cab, Napa

It's Wine Blogging Wednesday again, and this month's theme is Wacky Wine Names, hosted and invented by Chez Pim. I toyed with many options for a potential entry to this event, but ultimately, I was strolling through a deli up in Sonoma county when this wine's label caught my eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from screen doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again. The idea of big ass Cabernet is distinctly Californian, and frankly it's about time someone just put it on the label. If the Old World... continue reading


Current Releases Down Under: A Report from Australian Harvest Day 2005

Australia has recently overtaken all other sources as the location from which America imports the most wine. The success of Yellow Tail and several other value wine brands has imprinted them as a producer of excellent value wines in the minds of consumers everywhere. This is not only true at the bottom end of the scale but across all price ranges and types of wines. Simply put, you get a lot more quality for your money with Australian wine than nearly anywhere else on the planet. Couple this value orientation with a tradition of crafting excellent Syrah based wines, and... continue reading


2003 Adegas Galegas "Dionisos" Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain

It's always great for me to be able to bring you wines that are relatively cheap and totally delicious. It's even a bigger bonus if they are made by small artisan producers, which this producer sort of qualifies for (See more below). It is with glee that I present what is one of the best, if not THE BEST tasting Albariño I've ever had. Albariño is appreciated by many for the steely, highly mineral, crisp white wines made from it, mostly in the Rias Baixas area of Spain. Albariños typically have lots of calcium, lime, and slate flavors accompanied by... continue reading


American Oak May Be On Its Way Out

Various reports and editorials lately have mused at the backlash against over-oaked wines, particularly Chardonnay. While I had no doubt that this was the case, and was even thankful for it, the real proof of the decline is what's happening to the American Oak market: it's collapsing. Or nearly. Oeneo corporation, one of the largest of America's handful of manufacturers of oak barrels has had to sell its American oak cooperage facility at a loss, after losing nearly 2 million dollars in the last couple of years. In addition to the reduction in demand for American Oak barrels, which impart... continue reading


1998 Bodega Numanthia Termes "Numanthia", Toro, Spain

What is it with scraggly survivor grapes? It seems that the older they get and the more droughts, pestilences, and disasters they have been through, the better wine they make. The way old vines keep working is one of the magic elements of wine for me. I love the notion that I am experiencing the collective history of a particular place. The vines that produced this wine are old vine Tempranillo, anywhere from 70 to 100 years old, and the hardy survivors of the phyloxerra outbreak in the early part of the century that wiped out most of the grapes... continue reading


SPECIAL: Vinography and Manresa Present The Story Wine Dinner

Vinography, in conjunction with Manresa Restaurant, is proud to announce The Story Wine Dinner, on Thursday, February 24, 2005. OFFICIAL NOTICE: Since the beginning of time we have told stories about everything and anything that is important to us. They help us remember and they help us capture the magic and pleasures of this life we lead. Wine and food are two pleasures made all the more rich through narrative: the stories we have about our experiences with them and about the people and ingredients that have made them possible. Please join Vinography and Manresa for a wine dinner celebrating... continue reading


2002 Darcie Kent "Crown Block" Merlot, Livermore Valley, California

California's Livermore valley was once the state's largest single wine region. What? You don't remember that time? Well it's hardly your fault that you weren't around in the 1880's. But back then it was a happening place, with wineries springing up everywhere. Some of those wineries (or at least their vineyards) are still around, but most have been demolished to make way for high-tech manufacturing companies, office parks, and the now infamous Lawrence Livermore Labs. Amidst all that buildup, and the suburban sprawl that has grown up around it, however, over the last couple of decades winemakers have been rediscovering... continue reading


Spectator Ratings On Your Mobile Phone

Thanks to a tip from Professor Bainbridge, Vinography has just learned that you can get all of Wine Spectators wine ratings accessible through your cellphone. Of course, you can't actually look at the advertisement for the service, or find out anything about it without first becoming a paid subscriber to the Wine Spectator Web site, which as a fellow wine blogger put it so nicely yesterday, requires you to pay for even thinking about the site (yes, even if you are already a subscriber of the magazine, like me). <dripping sarcasm> Hmm. Yeah, I'm definitely in the habit of buying... continue reading


What's In A Name? How About 20% in Sales Growth

As much as I dislike it (and even try and fight it here at Vinography) we human beings are creatures of impulse. Perhaps especially when it comes to wine, which to many people is an inscrutable, intimidating realm, especially if it involves anything French. That's why we buy wines based on the label, and apparently why most consumers tend to avoid tough-to-decipher French wines. Witness a small winery in Oregon formerly known as Chateau Benoit who after simply changing their name to Anne Amie Vineyards and Winery saw a 20% jump in sales. Sigh. On good days I think that... continue reading


Jancis Robinson on Women and Wine

I stumbled across this interview with Jancis Robinson recently which is actually quite bad, because it dwells for the entire interview on the fact that Robinson is a woman, even though one of the first things she says in the interview is that making a big deal about women in the wine industry is patronizing and no longer news. That having been said, Robinson, who is the author of the definitive Oxford Companion To Wine, has lots of good perspective on women in the wine industry. Read the interview here.... continue reading


Does Success Change A Wine?: Rosenblum is About To Find Out

Get out your microscopes and train them on the petri dish of the East Bay to see how a family winery goes from garage to gargantuan. Will they survive to resemble the winery we know and love? Rosenblum Cellars has quite possibly been THE shooting star in the Northern California wine industry in the last 5 to 10 years. Since 1978 they have gone from a small portfolio of carefully crafted Zinfandels known only by aficionados, to a huge portfolio of carefully crafted wines that have raked in high scores like nobody's business, in particular over the last few years.... continue reading


2001 Domaine De La Verde, Vacqueyras (Rhone), France

For a while I've maintained a strong attraction to the wines of Gigondas, a tiny little appellation tucked into the southern Rhone, and I'm beginning to develop a bit of a crush on its even tinier neighbor, the microscopic town called Vacqueyras. This little 12th century village is situated in the general Cotes-du-Rhone winemaking region, but like a few other small villages in the area, it also has its own appellation with the same name. Vacqueyras is located in the Ouvèze valley just to the west of the Dentelles de Montmirail, whose limestone peaks are the primary geologic feature of... continue reading


Today's Value Wine Pick: 125,000 Bottles for $100

In what has got to be one of the steals of the century, Ken Jacques of San Luis Obispo just bought 125,000 bottles for less than $0.01 per case at auction. Apparently the bottles, from James Estate Winery, were auctioned off to pay for a debt that resulted from a court judgment. Guess who the winery owed money to? That's right. Ken Jacques. I guess its sort of a case of having having his wine but getting to drink it too.... Read the full story here.... continue reading


2001 L'Aventure "Optimus" Red Blend, Paso Robles, California

One wouldn't necessarily be immediately attracted to a wine that has been dubbed "a bastard blend" yet that is what L'Aventure owner and winemaker Stéphan Asseo affectionately calls this wine. His choice of that nickname is both intentional and meaningful, coming as he does to Paso Robles from 17 vintages as a winemaker in Bordeaux to which he came after having been trained in Macon, Burgundy. Asseo has set down roots in Paso Robles and rather than make wines in the local Rhone style or any of the styles prescribed during his years in France, Asseo has gone about making... continue reading


Thoughts On The Occasion of Turning One

One year ago yesterday I embarked on a project to catalog my wine and food adventures in an informative way. To create a record for myself of where I ate and what I drank and at the same time provide recommendations to the growing number of friends that looked to me for such things. I was interested in the blogging phenomenon, and it seemed like a good form for my notes. At the time there were two blogs on the Internet that dealt with wine, neither of which had been updated in months when I started posting. I had little... continue reading


Is There a Genetically Modified Wine in Your Future?

This week at a symposium in Napa, various stakeholders came together to discuss the future/possibility/fallacy of genetically modified wine grapes. The proceedings are falteringly covered by a poorly written article in the Press Democrat. This is an issue that's worth talking about though. Here's a Vinography Cliff's Notes version: Environmentalists, Slow Food, Stanford Professors and general Organic-istas Genetically modifying plants is morally and ethically wrong ("playing God" is a phrase that's used often) not to mention dangerous from an environmental perspective. We don't know enough about the consequences of mixing DNA from various species together to understand what we might... continue reading


2002 Saxum Vineyards "Broken Stones" Syrah, Paso Robles, California

Since the age of 10, Justin Smith has been growing grapes in the same place in Paso Robles. At that tender young age he was planting grapes on the hillsides and ridges that his family still farms today. He has lived his life on this hard calcerous soil, kicking his feet in the dry dust, and unearthing his share of ancient petrified whale bones from the cement, hard ground, sometimes with the aid of a jackhammer. Wine was in his blood, you might say. Justin, still very young by nearly anyone's standards, started Linne Calodo Cellars in 1997 with a... continue reading


Help Vinography Celebrate One Year of Wine Blogging

Dear Vinography Subscribers, Supporters, and Friends, On January 15th, 2005 (this coming Saturday) Vinography.Com turns one year old. It's been quite a year. I never imagined that I would have so many loyal readers and supporters when I decided to start jotting down my thoughts and notes about wine in the middle of last winter. In celebration of this past year, I'm throwing a little party, and I would love it if you felt like attending. I know you're spread out all over the country, but I'm inviting you anyway. I have had a chance to meet some of my... continue reading


Australia Day Harvest Festival and Wine Tasting, January 20th

This is a new one for me. Never been and never heard of it before, but it seems to be an event of a reasonable size that makes it hard to miss. On Thursday January 20th at Fort Mason, for $50 visitors will be able taste over 300 different Australian wines as well as attend mini-seminars about Australian wine as part of WineAustralia Harvest Day. Tickets are available through the web site Local Wine Events. WineAustralia Day Harvest Festival and Wine Tasting January 20th, 2005 Fort Mason Center Herbst Pavilion San Francisco 6.30 pm - 9.00 pm... continue reading


2002 Spann Vineyards "Mo Jo" Red Blend, Sonoma

Everyone comes to the wine business from different places and for different reasons. Peter and Betsy Spann describe their entry into the wine business as "a combination of stupidity and bad real estate decisions." Peter had worked in the wine business for years - in retail, wholesale, marketing, you name it - when he and his wine decided to move to the Bay Area for work during the height of the dot.com boom. They couldn't afford to buy a house anywhere near San Francisco and so started looking farther and farther north until they found themselves visiting properties that came... continue reading


We Need More Winemakers Like This...

Here's a dynamo winemaker from Spain who is truly the people's winemaker. He makes wines that are $80 a bottle and he makes wines that are $8 a bottle, and he's psyched about the $8 ones. Food & Wine's editor-du-vin, Lettie Teague, spends a week with Spain's "Driving Winemaker" Telmo Rodriguez, criss-crossing the Spanish countryside and documenting gems like: "Every place I make wine, I work with a family....I deal with so many different types of people I should be a psychologist." "I think the architects of Spain should go to jail. They are destroying the landscape." This guy is... continue reading


ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) Wine Events: January 23-26

Perhaps the primary reason that California wine lovers look forward to January is the annual ZAP weekend. ZAP, which stands for Zinfandel Advocates and Producers is one of the largest and most fanatical organizations in the United States devoted to a single varietal. They also know how to throw quite a party. Every year towards the middle of January, San Francisco is packed with people and events for three or four days all celebrating Zinfandel. Wine dinners, auctions, etc. culminating in a tasting event. This year, the aforementioned events are taking place January 26th through the 29th, with the final... continue reading


Restaurant Review: Myth Restaurant and Lounge, San Francisco

In trying to gauge my own reaction to the recently opened Myth, I recall my first experience of Restaurant LuLu nearly 10 years ago. At the time, this recently opened restaurant seemed, well... effortless. It knew what it wanted to be and managed to nail it perfectly, crafting an atmosphere, a menu, a wine list, and an overall experience that were its own, and both confidently and pleasingly so. This is not to say it achieved anything close to "perfection" (whatever that meant to my culinary sense then or now) but merely that it was the right thing, in the... continue reading


The Wine Police Blotter

If you had any doubt about wine's gaining popularity around the world, you need look no further than this: even the criminals want it. And we're not talking about just grabbing bottles off the shelf of a convenience store. These thieves know what they are doing. From the guy in Bellevue, Washington who managed to find eight bottles in a store whose combined value topped $3,400 (his top three were 2000 Chateau Latours) to Canberra, Australia where thieves broke in and took $100,000 worth of wine from a private collection, targeting only the most expensive (top of the list was... continue reading


2002 Tulip Hill "Old Vines" Zinfandel, Lake County, California

I've been curious lately about some of the more fringe appellations of Northern California, such as Lake County. A lot of grapes are being grown there, but not a lot of wine shows up with Lake County as its appellation on the bottle. What does this mean? Mostly that juice from these grapes is being blended in with juice from more "fashionable" appellations by wineries big and small in quantities below the 20% level that would require them to disclose their origin. It's nice, then, to see winemakers like the folks at Tulip Hill making a wine that is 100%... continue reading


Who Wants to Keep You From Ordering Wine?

I've been reluctant to take up the issue of interstate wine shipping because a lot of other people more qualified than I have written about it and because the court is still in deliberations, or whatever they call it. However, to anyone interested in some of the legal battles surrounding this issue, Tom over at Fermentations has highlighted an important and frightening faction that has been at work in the lobbying against opening up direct shipping of alcohol. Take a look at his post "Wine & Hypocrisy...An Ugly Tale."... continue reading


2001 Clos de la Coulee de Serrant "Becherelle" Chenin Blanc, Savennieres (Loire), France

One of the things I love about the world of wine is the sheer size and mystery of it. There are so many wines out there, and no matter how many times I taste what various winemakers do with a certain varietal, one day or another I come across a wine that makes me reassess what I think a particular grape can taste like. Perhaps I will feel differently when I've been seriously drinking wine for 40 years but I hope not. This particular wine was one of those where I thought I knew what it would taste like, even... continue reading


Vinography In The Sacramento Bee

I'm beginning to get a little overwhelmed by the press that the holiday season has bestowed on Vinography. Any more and I'll have to give it it's own category. In yet another gracious and praiseworthy mention, this site was featured in Mike Dunne's end of the year wine wrap up today in the Sacramento Bee. Mike expanded his usual Best Red, Best White of the Year coverage to include several other categories of wine, one of which was Wine Blogs, where he had this to say about Vinography: "Alder Yarrow's San Francisco-based blog - www.vinography.com - only recently came to... continue reading


2003 Caves Plaimont "Colombelle" Blanc, Vin de Pays, Gascony, France

A few weeks ago I came across one of the best values in red wine I have encountered in a long time, and it seems this week I am bringing you its mate in the white wine category. What do I look for in a value white wine? Something that has enough complexity to warrant sipping on its own and something that pairs well with food. Caves Plaimont has managed to meet both of these criteria with a wine they call "Colombelle" which is a play on the primary varietal used in the wine, Colombard. For many, including myself, this... continue reading


Aw, Shucks. Vinography's First Award

I'm thrilled to pieces to find out that Vinography has won a Foodloggy or whatever they're going to call the award that results from the 2004 Food Blogging Awards, recently hosted by The Accidental Hedonist. From a field of 5 excellent contenders, Vinography was awarded honors as the "Best Food Blog - Wine, Beer and other Spirits." Thank you to any and all of you who took the time to both nominate and vote for me in this process. I'd also like to extend a special thanks to Kate who runs The Accidental Hedonist and who took it upon herself... continue reading


Masters of Food and Wine, February 17-20, Carmel

I normally like to post info about events within most folks' attention spans -- that is about 2 to 3 weeks. However, there are some events worth mentioning that will sell out long before that time. The annual Masters of Food and Wine is one such event. I have never attended, but like the Aspen Food and Wine Classic, it has one of the largest draws of people from around the country, and the assembled culinary talent is frankly astonishing. Taking place February 17th through the 20th at the Park Hyatt Carmel, this event features meals, wine tastings, cooking demonstrations,... continue reading


Dine About Town Season In San Francisco

Yes, the new year brings with it many things. I've always been a contrarian by nature, so while most are making their resolutions to lose weight and get in better shape, I usually make a resolution to indulge myself at 5 new restaurants in San Francisco in January. Why in January? Well, because it's Dine About Town season. Following (or perhaps forging? I'm not sure which was the original) the lead of other major metropolitan areas, San Francisco has a special dining season that is marked by significantly discounted meals at some of the top restaurants. Specifically, starting today (1/1/05)... 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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10 11 12 13 14 15 16
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24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Most Recent Entries

California's Best Zinfandels: A Report From The ZAP 2005 Tasting Your French Rental Car May Be Running On Bordeaux After Fracture, Mondavi Family Begins to Mend, With Wine WBW5 Wrap Up Has Been Posted Bordeaux 2002 Vintage: A Report From The Union Des Grand Cru De Bordeaux 2002 Big Ass Cab, Napa Current Releases Down Under: A Report from Australian Harvest Day 2005 2003 Adegas Galegas "Dionisos" Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain American Oak May Be On Its Way Out 1998 Bodega Numanthia Termes "Numanthia", Toro, Spain

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