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~ February 2005 Archives ~

 

02.28.2005

How Much Should That Wine Cost? Feel The Dimple

Ah, there's nothing like a little pseudo-science to brighten up your day. Check out this headline: "Scientists Prove How to Value a Bottle of Wine, Just by Feeling its Dimple." Yes, that's right, the deeper the dimple, the higher the price. These "scientists" have even come up with an equation! Are you ready?:Price of Bottle = (Dimple Depth in Millimeters + $6.65) / 4.314 Hmm. We'll assume because we're nice that they forgot to make the basic disclaimer that this equation only works for current release prices, not for older vintages (we know that the dimples don't get deeper over... continue reading

02.27.2005

WBW#7 Has Been Announced: Obscure Red Varietals

I've been traveling on business, so I'm late to the game on this one, but Wine Blogging Wednesday #7 has been announced for a date of March 9th. Join the global virtual tasting event by drinking and writing about a bottle containing an obscure red varietal. This month's event is being hosted by Andy over at Spittoon.Biz. He's laid down the law as to what's acceptable and what's not. Don't even think about drinking a wine that's got any of the following varietals in it: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc, Pinotage, Gamay, or Zinfandel. Hmm.... continue reading

02.27.2005

2000 Domaine Alain Voge "Cuvée Vieilles Vignes", Cornas (Rhone), France

In 1950, just after the war, a bushel of peaches was worth more than a case of local wine from Cornas. That didn't stop Alain Voge from making it, though. His family had already been at it for three generations, and Voge, who was just taking over the management of the estate from his father, wasn't about to change things. Indeed, not much ever changes at Domaine Alain Voge, and according to Voge and his wife, along with countless devotees, that is not a bad thing. Voge has been farming the same 14 acres of 50+ year old vines for... continue reading

02.26.2005

24 Hours In The Life of a Chef

File this under the note: why I prefer to eat fancy restaurants not work in them. Louisa Chu, globe trotting chef and owner of the blog Movable Feast, has given us her own version of 24 -- twenty four hours in her life as a Chef at the two-star Les Ambassadeurs in Paris. It's a quick and entertaining behind-the-scenes look at what really talented cooks do all day long. It's also exhausting just to read. Check it out.... continue reading

02.26.2005

1996 Domaine Pichot Vouvray "Moelleux," Vouvray (Loire), France

The Pichot family is one of the oldest in Vouvray and can trace its members (mostly restauranteurs and viticulturists) back as far as 1739. The family estate is located inside the city limits of the town of Vouvray, and both the cellars as well as part of the family home are located in caves hewn from the rocky hillsides. The domaine combines two sets of properties "Coteau de la Biche," owned and managed at one time by the family patriarch Jean-Claude, and "Peu de la Moriette" owned and operated by his son, Christophe, who has recently taken over management of... continue reading

02.25.2005

2001 Domaine du Galet des Papes, Vieilles Vignes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France

Domaine du Galet des Papes takes its name from the large galet stones (literally "roller" or large round stones) which lie in piles over the extent of the twenty-some-odd acres farmed by Jean-Luc Mayard and first established before the turn of the century. From the cellars built by his father in 1929, he produces only 3,500 cases of wine. Mayard farms a bunch of small parcels in the Chateauneuf appellation, the youngest of which contains vines with an average age of 50 years. He produces two wines only " the first a traditional Chateauneuf-du-Pape that is about 80% Grenache and... continue reading

02.23.2005

Coming Soon: The Michelin Guide To New York

Michelin Guides, the venerable (or iniquitous depending on your point of view) institution behind the most elite restaurant guide in the world are doing a version for New York City. The guide and its inspectors will be covering about 500 restaurants and will also be bestowing the coveted one, two, or three star ratings to a select few. As if the bookies in town didn't have enough things to wager on. If there's any sense of humor to the world, I hope there's at least a little action to be had over which kitchens come out on top. Care to... continue reading

02.22.2005

The Dangers of Winemaking

Anyone who has looked into what it takes to actually make wine knows that it's hard, sometimes backbreaking work. Hand harvesting, hauling tons of grapes, putting them through the crusher, scrubbing big tanks, driving forklifts, etc. There's a reason mostly migrant workers do that stuff. It's brutal. I had no idea how dangerous it was, however. This week a worker at a South African winery was killed when the wine tank he was mixing literally exploded underneath him. Apparently a spark from the mixing machinery ignited some fumes in the tank (wine fumes? gas fumes?) and the whole thing blew.... continue reading

02.22.2005

The 2005 Independent Food Award from Vinography Goes To....

David Kinch and Manresa Restaurant For: The Best Reinvention of A Culinary Cliché By now, everyone knows what Surf and Turf is. It has been spun, calqued, and re-imagined a thousand times. If someone tries to serve me lobster and a steak on the same plate ever again I swear I will get up and leave the restaurant. That stuff just doesn't belong together, thank-you-very-much. Yet just when I thought beef and seafood could never find a happy marriage, along comes Chef David Kinch, of Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos, California with something so simple, so unexpected, it took my... continue reading

02.21.2005

2002 Steltzner Claret, Napa

If you're a Napa wine drinker, even if you've never heard of Steltzner Vineyards, you have almost assuredly had a wine that in some way has been touched by Dick Steltzner. A third generation Californian, from a farming family, Steltzner originally wanted to leave all that behind and become an artist, and in the early Sixties he was living in St. Helena following his dream. By 1964 though, he was having second thoughts about his chosen path, and in what would be a fateful decision, bought some land in the Stag's Leap district and started growing grapes. Having been acquainted... continue reading

02.20.2005

The First Real Good Discussion Topic About Sideways

Yes, I finally saw the movie Sideways (thanks for asking) and had a good time watching it and found myself laughing hard a few times, but didn't think it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. In particular, I didn't think it nor the hoopla about it was worth discussing here. Yes it is a movie that incorporates wine and wine jargon, romanticizes it a little. OK. So what? But now, The New York Times has brought up a great question. How come no one is talking about the fact that the main character could easily be classified as an... continue reading

02.19.2005

WBW6 Roundup Has Been Posted: South African Reds

The summary of this week's Wine Blogging Wednesday #6 has been posted on Cook Sister. It comes in two parts: Part I, and Part II, as poor Jeanne was overwhelmed with the number and variety of wines being tasted from bloggers all over the globe. This was a good showing (over 20 folks) and many were first timers to this online tasting event. Check it out and learn a little about South African wines. I did.... continue reading

02.19.2005

2000 Massolino Barolo, Serralunga D' Alba (Piemonte), Italy

One of the first pieces of news that I related here at Vinography was the announcement by the Wine Spectator that they were rating the 2000 vintage in Piemonte, Italy a perfect 100 points. As I've done my wine shopping over the last year, I've selectively grabbed some 2000 vintage wines and stuck them downstairs to pull out as occasion warrants and try them out. Tonight was just such an occasion. Most of these are not the $150 bottles that one should lay down for a decade, they're more in the $20 to $50 range and are probably best drunk... continue reading

02.18.2005

Robert Parker On Charlie Rose: The Transcript

The worlds most influential wine critic, Robert M. Parker, Jr. appeared on Charlie Rose recently for a good amount of time. The transcript to the interview has been posted on the bulletin boards of Parker's web site, and is an interesting read for those who follow the movements of The Nose or those who want to learn more about him.... continue reading

02.18.2005

Slate Reviews The Celebrity Wines

I've written before about the rapidly increasing ranks of celebrities (living and dead) who are putting their names and images on wine (see If Your Wine Was Gerard Depardieu What would It Taste Like?). Thanks to a tip from Luxist, it looks like Slate has one-upped me and actually had Michael Steinberger review them. Damn. I wish I had done that. Oh well, I encourage you to enjoy the slightly witty, if a little tired, results of his forays into liquid Elvis, et al.... continue reading

02.17.2005

California Petite Sirah: A Report From The Blue Tooth Tour

Petite Sirah is a grape that is under the radar of most consumers, and confusing to many more. It is, of course, confused with Syrah to which it is related (being a cross between Syrah and a varietal called Peloursin), and most people have never had a wine made entirely of Petite Syrah (though many have tasted it unknowingly in small amounts in some California red wines). Petite Sirah, it was recently discovered is in fact the same grape known as Durif in the rest of the world. Us crazy Californians decided to plant some of it in the late... continue reading

02.17.2005

Introducing My First Guest Bloggers

Recently, because of previous commitments, I was unable to attend a wine event that I wanted to bring you coverage of here at Vinography. As a result I have enlisted the help of two friends, Sasha Verhage and Greg Piatigorski, who attended the event for me and will be reporting on their impressions. Sasha Verhage is the winemaker and proprietor of Eno Wines. He has been making award winning wine since 6 years. His passion is Pinot Noir, his first love was Old Vine Zinfandel, his new love is Grenache, and he is curious about the potential of Syrah in... continue reading

02.16.2005

Pssst. Hey Buddy. Wanna Buy Some Used Pinot?

Thanks to some fellow bloggers and readers, I was clued into a funny phenomenon that's going on with the Google ads on the right side of the page. This phenomenon looks like this: I guess when you're eBay and you're a 58 billion dollar company you go kinda wild with those niche ad placements. There must be at least one person in the universe who would buy some used Pinot Noir, so why not put an ad up? I'm thinking of that spit bucket scene in Sideways. Listen if any of you readers out there are so desperate for some... continue reading

02.16.2005

2001 Mooiplaas Estate Shiraz, Stellenbosch, South Africa

This wine review is my entry in this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday tasting event (#6), hosted by Cook Sister. This month, our theme is South African Reds. Winemaking has been around in South Africa for a long, long, time. Even though it is lumped in with the rest of the "New World" winemaking regions (i.e. everywhere but Europe) grapes have been crushed and fermented there since the mid 1600's by the various settlers (primarily Dutch) that colonized the region at that time. Like many regions around the world, South Africa has had its ups and downs when it comes to... continue reading

02.15.2005

The Danger of Eating Winery Food

WARNING: if you have a delicate stomach, do not read this post. If you've got a reasonable amount of mettle, and you don't have a sandwich in your hand at the moment, feel free to continue. I've long been suspicious of wineries that in addition to offering you tastings of wine, also try and sell you food and other "marketplace" items. Not that there's anything wrong with it, mind you, but why not just concentrate on making great wine? Perhaps with the exception of full blown restaurants like the dining room at Domaine Chandon, I will never be eating at... continue reading

02.14.2005

2002 PhillipsHill Estates "Oppenlander Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Mendocino, California

Sometimes I hesitate to write about wines that are so small in production that they are virtually impossible to get. In this case, however, it is possible to purchase the wine online, so I'm going to go ahead. A mere 100 cases of this wine is extracted from 18 acres of prime Pinot Noir vineyard located at the mouth of the Anderson valley as it opens up to the Mendocino Coast. Known as the Oppenlander Vineyard, it is named after homesteaders with the name Oppenlander, who eked out a living on this property in the 1860's and were so isolated... continue reading

02.13.2005

Wine Judging: Jury Duty With Alcohol

The Sacramento Bee has got a great article this week about wine judging for competitions. The Bee's staff writer J. Freedom du Lac (great name or what?) gets invited to be a judge at the S.F. Chronicle's annual wine competition. Simply a wine aficionado like most people reading this site, du Lac gets a good taste of what he calls palate paranoia. It's well written and funny, and an interesting perspective on what large scale wine competitions and the judging process is all about. Think tasting 160 wines in six hours is a piece of cake? Think again. At least... continue reading

02.12.2005

1998 Muga Reserva Crianza, Rioja, Spain

I'm a big fan of progress, and of technology, but I have a soft spot in my heart for winemakers who eschew both and simply say, "Dammit, we're gonna do it the way we've always done it." That is, of course, as long as they make decent wine. Bodegas Muga has been making wine in Rioja since 1932. Kept in the family and built into one of the largest producers in the region, the winery makes its wines in exactly the same way it did in its first year. Muga prides itself on the use of primarily homemade wooden casks... continue reading

02.11.2005

What Is A Perfect Wine?

My fellow blogger Tom, who writes Fermentations, had a great post yesterday (and see his follow up) about a discussion he was observing (for the Nth time) on the bulletin boards at Robert M. Parker's Web site. The topic? Perfect wines (i.e. those which are scored as 100 point wines by the critics, or otherwise deemed perfect by those who are not critics). The question at hand, is whether it is really possible to proclaim a wine as perfect. Tom uses Cartesian (a la Renee Descartes) philosophy to assert that in order to judge something perfect objectively, you must yourself... continue reading

02.10.2005

Vinography And The Wine Fairy

Just a small snippet for those who may be interested. I was interviewed this week on Wine and Dine Radio, which hails from North Carolina and is syndicated in several other geographies around the US as well as distributed through the iTunes Music Store. Lynn Krielow Chamberlain (the Wine Fairy herself) interviewed me for about 10 minutes about Vinography and wine blogging as part of this week's show. Here's a link to a file that will allow you to listen to the hour long show on your computer if you have an MP3 player like iTunes. I appear about 37... continue reading

02.09.2005

Restaurant Review: The French Laundry, Yountville

How does one approach what is supposed to be the best meal of one's life? Whether or not most people actively contemplate the answer to this question, everyone who visits the French Laundry for the first time has to negotiate the reality of how their own expectations measure up to whatever best describes the reputation of this hallowed institution " mystique, hype, fantasy, legend? This is, after all, the restaurant that gave Anthony Bourdain the best restaurant meal of his life and was named the best restaurant in the world last year by Britain's Restaurant Magazine. My own expectations for... continue reading

02.08.2005

WBW6 Has Been Announced: South African Reds

The sixth incarnation of Wine Blogging Wednesday has been announced for the date of February 16th. Each month, of course, we choose a theme, and then bring you a variety of bloggers (last month it was over 40) who all taste wines according to that theme and then post their notes online. For the next version of this global wine tasting event we will be sampling South African Reds, hosted by Jeanne at CookSister. Jeanne originally hails from South Africa and who has provided some background information on the region for those who are interested. Hope to see what you... continue reading

02.07.2005

2001 Audelssa "Mountain Terraces" Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma

This wine is a family project ten years in the making, from the planting of the vineyards to the naming of the first estate produced wine. In 1990 Dan and Gloria Schaefer started planting vines on some heavily terraced land at 1800 feet above sea level in the Mayacamas Mountains, overlooking the Sonoma Valley. They selected the site for its ideal southwestern exposure, and for its soil potential, deemed to be promising, especially considering its famous neighbor, the Monte Rosso vineyard which lies downhill just to the south. Starting with the first vintage, the grapes have been sold to wineries... continue reading

02.05.2005

2002 Chateau de Lascaux, Coteaux Du Languedoc, France

OK. So I bought another wine because of the label. And because I'm into Languedoc wines these days. And because it was imported by Kermit Lynch. But really? I bought it because of the name and the label. You see, I have a thing for Lascaux, the gorgeous cave site that hosts a massive mural of 18,000 year old prehistoric art beautifully preserved into modern times. I've never been there, but some of the figures from the wall, including the small horse which adorns the label of this wine are indelibly etched in my mind. Some day I will make... continue reading

02.04.2005

Whine By The Glass

Thanks to Noah over at Juice for the tip on a thought provoking article in Food and Wine about wine by the glass in restaurants. Why the hell DOES wine by the glass cost so much? You know the drill, you're in a nice restaurant, by yourself or with a friend that doesn't drink, or maybe you need to drive home. A whole bottle is out of the question and maybe they don't have half bottles on the menu. So you're relegated to the glass list, which starts with a Sauvignon Blanc at $13 a glass. Now you and I... continue reading

02.03.2005

Who Is Responsible For Hedonistic Fruit Bombs?

Thanks to Tom over at Fermentations for the tip on a wonderfully written article in the London Review of Books that in the process of reviewing a few books and a documentary film manages to adrioitly discuss Robert M. Parker's influence on the world of wine, and in particular on the "global palate." Check it out.... continue reading

02.03.2005

2002 X Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa

Why should wine lovers constantly be tasting wines, even from wineries that don't make great wines? Because they can, and sometimes do get better. Now I'm not saying you should be going out and buying cases of stuff from wineries whose wines you don't like. But what I am saying is don't write anyone off completely. Case in point: this wine from X Winery up in Napa. Their 2001 Cabernet was one of the first wines I tasted and wrote about after starting Vinography, and frankly I hated it. It was vegetal and tannic and really closed. I was probably... continue reading

02.02.2005

A Menu For Hope: Rihaku Shuzo "Dreamy Clouds" Sake

Communities all over the world have come together in support of tsunami victims, their families, and their countries. I am happy to be taking part in a special effort by food and wine bloggers to contribute to these relief efforts. Several of the most respected and prominent food bloggers on the Internet have assembled the following menu of recipes (or in my case wine pairings) which we are providing to our readership to stimulate charitable donations (and good eating). I encourage you to take and use these recipes, drink the suggested wines, and more importantly, donate to a worthy cause.... continue reading

02.01.2005

2003 TAZ Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, California

It's always a little bit of a mystery to me when I come across small producers that are part of huge wine corporations. Firstly, I wonder at their ability to remain relatively independent entities and I'm inherently suspicious about whether they are actually small producers that perhaps one day decided to cash out and become part of a conglomerate, or whether they are cleverly executed niche marketing programs set up by savvy corporate marketers. Take TAZ Vineyards for instance, which is part of the large wine conglomerate known as Beringer-Blass which produces a staggering 7.7 million cases of wine per... continue reading

02.01.2005

Waiter, This Wine Smells Funny

We've explored the blossoming wine culture in China before, but it seems like it has taken a somewhat unexpected turn recently as the Chinese, ever the innovators, have discovered that you can make wine from fish. Not only that but it has the bonus of being unusually good for you -- you know, all those amino-acids and anti-oxidants, etc. Sommeliers in Hong Kong's finest hotels may now have to patiently explain "No, that bottle is not corked, sir, you're just smelling the cod liver oil in the blend...."... continue reading

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Most Recent Entries

How Much Should That Wine Cost? Feel The Dimple WBW#7 Has Been Announced: Obscure Red Varietals 2000 Domaine Alain Voge "Cuvée Vieilles Vignes", Cornas (Rhone), France 24 Hours In The Life of a Chef 1996 Domaine Pichot Vouvray "Moelleux," Vouvray (Loire), France 2001 Domaine du Galet des Papes, Vieilles Vignes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France Coming Soon: The Michelin Guide To New York The Dangers of Winemaking The 2005 Independent Food Award from Vinography Goes To.... 2002 Steltzner Claret, Napa

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud 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 World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.