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~ March 2005 Archives ~



All Wine News, All The Time

Interested in more technical aspects of wine? Want to be alerted when the 2304th study comes out showing that red wine is good for you? The folks over at Decanter Magazine have just launched a wine news aggregation site called Wine Science News. They claim it is updated every 30 minutes with the latest in wine news from around the globe. Looks good to me so far. Now if they would only publish some darn RSS feeds.... continue reading


2001 Chateau Potelle Estate "VGS" Chardonnay, Mt. Veeder, Napa

In the espionage business, spies "cross over" or are "turned" to become double agents, working for the people they once used to spy one. When Marketta and Jean-Noël Fourmeaux first came to California, they were on an official mission from the Appellations of Bordeaux and the Northern Rhone to learn as much as possible about California wine, winemaking and winegrowing for their French employers. After 6 months, they are reported to have sent back a telegram saying "Looks good. We'll stay." And thus began Chateau Potelle. The Fourmeaux bought a piece of property high on Mount Veeder in 1988 and... continue reading


2001 Chateau Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan (Bordeaux), France

I've actually had a number of people tell me something approximating, "I just don't understand what all the fuss is about Bordeaux." I'll admit that early in my wine drinking career I felt much the same. I occasionally went to wine stores and spent twenty or thirty dollars to buy a wine that said Bordeaux on the label and enjoyed it, but without the heavens opening or the ground shaking beneath my feet. What was the big deal? In the last 7 or 8 years as my experience with wine has grown in depth and breath, and my ability to... continue reading


Wine Blogging Wednesday#8: Sicilian Reds

I'm a little late to the train on this announcement, but in case you haven't heard it elsewhere, our monthly virtual wine tasting event, Wine Blogging Wednesday, will be happening in its 8th incarnation on Wednesday, April 13th, in the form of WBW8: Sicilian Reds. (If this weren't an appropriately celebratory event in itself, it's also my birthday). Hosted by a blog appropriately entitled "I Love Sicily" we will all take a romp through the rustic reds of this small and unique section of the Mediterranean. See you on April 13th.... continue reading


2001 La Sirena Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa

There comes a point in everyone's wine appreciation when they start paying attention to names. Not the names on the bottle, but the names of the winemaker. Just like those foodies who begin sentences with things like, "Did you hear what Alain Ducasse is doing..." there are a certain class of wine drinkers (yes, I'm guilty) who closely follow the movements of the men and women behind the wine. Heidi Peterson Barrett has been one of those winemakers with her own special cult following for years. Barrett is perhaps most well known for being the guiding hand behind Screaming Eagle,... continue reading


Just How Good Is Manresa?

Regular readers will know that I'm a fan of Manresa Restaurant. I've reviewed it, given it an award, and even held a wine dinner there. It pleases me to no end, then, to be able to congratulate Chef David Kinch and the whole staff there for being named one of the top 50 restaurants in the world by Restaurant Magazine in the UK. The full list and official results will be out in three weeks, but Manresa announced the news today. Bravo.... continue reading


Now THAT'S a Penal System

Thanks to a tip from This Heaven Gives Me Migraine, we learn just how culturally advanced the Europeans actually are: instead of having their criminals make license plates, the Italian penal system is having them make wine. Apparently it's not just some small operation, they actually make 45,000 bottles of wine a year that get sold to shops and restaurants. One of them is even called "Seven Turns Of The Key" which is an Italian expression referencing the "depressing finality of imprisonment." On a more sober note, the article talks about all the problems with the Italian prison system that... continue reading


Wine Vocabulary Examined, er... Chronicled

The San Francisco Chronicle is certainly one of the most food and wine friendly, if not focused, newspapers in the country, but many times I find the writing, especially about wine, to be sorely lacking. Lacking in interest sometimes, in spirit, others, and in many cases a real critical rigor. Occasionally, though, they do manage to publish a real gem, like today's article (thanks to Vineyards of My Mind for the tip) by Wine Editor Linda Murphy, who does a fabulous job looking at the way that wine critics and writers describe the flavors and aromas of wine. Many of... continue reading


Terroir Doesn't Exist and Parker Is Pricey

This just in from the Royal Economic Society of Britain: The traditional French concept of terroir is a figment of the imagination, but the influence of Robert M. Parker, Jr. on the price of a wine is not. These two topics were among several presented at the scholarly gathering in Nottingham, England yesterday. Just when you thought the French wine industry had been beaten down enough. A study from the University of Reims and Victor Ginsburgh of the Université Libre de Bruxelles says, "You know that terroir thing we've been talking about for centuries? Yeah. Well. Um. It's Bunk. Useless.... continue reading


Restaurant Review: Blackbird, Chicago

If you'll pardon a blatant and trite Beatles reference, I don't know whether anyone was waiting for this moment to arise, but as far as I'm concerned, a restaurant named Blackbird has certainly taken flight at the right time in the right place. Nestled along the West Randolph thoroughfare, a moderate walk or a five dollar cab ride from Wacker Drive and the Millennium Mile, Blackbird and its sister restaurant, Avec, establish a distinctly modern presence in the Loop. When I say modern, I really mean modern. Blackbird reminds me of a restaurant/bar in Amsterdam (whose name I mis-remember) that... continue reading


California's Best Syrah?: A Report From Rhone Rangers 2005

Well, there wasn't a complete set of wineries represented at Saturday's Rhone Rangers 2005 Tasting for me to name with authority the best Syrah in California, but if you're interested in this varietal and others from the Rhone region, the tasting was proof that there are some excellent Rhone wines being made in California these days. My coverage of this tasting is also proof that I'm not a rock solid, mercenary professional journalist. I took some pictures at the tasting, but I'm traveling for business now and didn't remember to upload them to my camera before I left. I also... continue reading


Vinography in The San Mateo Daily Journal

Vinography was mentioned in a recent article by Nino Marchetti, who rounded up some of the best resources for food and wine on the Internet. Vinography was kindly mentioned along with several other fellow bloggers as well as mainstream media outlets. Check out the shortlist here.... continue reading


The Best Of Italian Wine: A Report From Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri 2005

Since it debuted in 1986 as an eight page newspaper insert, the Gambero Rosso guide to Italian wines has had somewhat of a religious following. Within a few years of that first insert, it grew into the authoritative guide to Italian wines, and its trademark "uno, due, and tre bicchieri" (one, two, and three glasses) rating system for wines became Italy's (and the world's) gold standard for evaluating everything from Barolo to Zibibbo. The guide is now printed in English and German as well as Italian, and weighs in at a hefty 912 pages and reviews about 14,000 wines produced... continue reading


2000 Peacock Family Cabernet, Spring Mountain District, Napa

I have a hard spot in my heart for peacocks. Spending summers with my father in Sonoma County as a kid, we had a neighbor with a bunch of peacocks that would wander over towards our house and hang out in the trees nearby. Beautiful birds? Yes. But they also have an incredibly loud, piercing call that at 5:00 AM makes you wonder what peacock stew tastes like. I recently learned what Peacock wine, er, rather Peacock Family wine tastes like, and we won't hold the bird's reputation against Christopher and Betsy Peacock, because the wine they're making from their... continue reading


Empty Your Wallet, Fill Your Cellar

Yes, that's right folks, Saturday is the big day. Looking to drop a cool $50,000 on a case of Romanee Conti 1999 Grand Cru? How about $20,000 on a single bottle of 2000 Chateau Cheval Blanc (OK, OK it's an 18 liter bottle, maybe that helps). On your mark, get set, spend: It's the Sotheby's Rare and Fine wine auction in New York, which I would have missed, save for a tip from the Luxist. Now if you're like me, this is an event you'd attend only for entertainment purposes. However, there's an oft overlooked reason to go to these... continue reading


No Barrique, No Berlusconi, No Bartolo

I read today about the passing of Italy's Bartolo Mascarello, often referred to as the patriarch of Barolo. I actually don't know anything about this guy, and I've never had any of his wines, but as I was reading his remembrance, I found myself wishing I had. He was definitely one of the old guard, staunchly defending the old ways of making wine, but also doing it with a sense of humor. Apparently in his later years he began hand painting his own labels, one of the most famous of which was emblazoned with the words "No Barrique, No Berlusconi"... continue reading


Mondovino: The Other Wine Movie

In an effort to stop all of this endless post-marketing about the movie Sideways and its effects on the wine business, I propose we all start immediately arguing about the next wine movie to hit the theaters: Mondovino. I had a chance to see this documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Jonathan Nossiter a couple of weeks ago in an intimate setting with several of the subjects in the movie present, along with the filmmaker. I guess it was sort of the Bay Area premiere of the film, which I believe is getting a wider theatrical release in the coming months. I... continue reading


2001 Luna Vineyards Merlot, Napa

I must have driven past Luna Vineyards about a hundred times. As it is right at the start of the Silverado Trail, I've been reluctant to stop on my way to places farther up the valley. Recently, though, I had the opportunity to try this wine and I'm realizing that I may have been missing out on some good wines. Luna Vineyards might be the answer to the proverbial question, "How many high-powered wine industry executives does it take to...er...start a winery?" Luna, started in 1995, is the brain child of George Vare, Mike Moone, and John Kongsgaard, all big-time... continue reading


WBW7 Roundup Has Been Posted: Obscure Red Varietals

Wine Blogging Wednesday, our favorite virtual wine tasting event was held last week, and the roundup of all the tasting notes has recently been posted by our host Andy. The theme was Obscure Red Varietals, and yielded some excellent wines, many of which I had never heard of before. It's an excellent read in three parts. Be sure to check them all out.... continue reading


The Strangeness of Having a Blog

Having a blog is an interesting way of observing the world around you. I keep track, as most do, of where you readers come from, and how often you visit, of course all in anonymous, aggregate fashion. One of the things I pay particular attention to is my referrer log, which is the bit of web site statistics that keeps track of which sites have links to me that you readers actually follow to get here. Most of them are pretty much what you might expect: Google search results, Yahoo search results, other wine and food blogs. But today as... continue reading


Wine Terrorists? I Thought It Would Never Happen

No, I'm not talking about Terroir-ists, I'm talking about the honest-to-god bomb-detonating, gun-toting terrorists. If you had told me over a drink that some winemakers or wine growers would eventually start blowing things up, I never would have believed you. All the wine industry people I've ever met, in this country and abroad, are just plain good folks, who, while highly opinionated, would be hard pressed to find something that would drive them to take up arms against their fellow man. Well it appears I am wrong, in particular having underestimated the strength of feeling with regards to anti-globalization and... continue reading


1998 Podere Salicutti Brunello Di Montalcino (Tuscany), Italy

You know how some wines are so much better because of the memories you have attached to them? Whether it's drinking from the bottle on a beach with your buddies, or the wine that you had on your first date, you tend to remember them, and having them again is like visiting with an old friend. This is definitely one of those wines for me. The story behind it involves a trip I took with Ruth to Italy about 2 years ago, ostensibly for a wedding we were attending, but we squeezed in a couple of weeks in Tuscany beforehand.... continue reading


Vinography in The Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle published a very nice story yesterday about San Francisco Food (and Wine) bloggers which included a bit about Vinography. I thought it did particularly good justice to the people behind the blogs and the passion that drives them to do what they do. I thought it was great that the reporter, Amanda Berne, actually went to the trouble of setting up her own blog and explaining to the lay audience what it was all about. In the article Vinography was mentioned as a "favorite read" for much of the Bay Area blogging community. Thanks!... continue reading


Is The Test Getting Easier? Ask The 11 New Master Sommeliers.

Lots of people ask me if I've ever considered "going for my Masters of Wine," as if it's a class run out of the Berkeley Extension, or something one might do over 5 years as a correspondence course. I always smile in reply and tell them I'd be more likely to get my doctorate in quantum physics first. Do you know how hard it is to become a Master Sommelier? So hard that there are only about sixty of them in the US. Er... make that seventy-three as of last week. Rich over at The Wine Cellar pointed out that... continue reading


2003 Weingut Berger, Blauer Zweigelt, Kremstal, Austria

Not simply content to enjoy standard wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, there are those who seek out the elusive, the exotic, and the backwoods wine varietals. While it is not the driving force in my wine exploration, I always jump at the chance to taste wines made from unheard of grape varieties. I was mighty pleased, then, to participate in this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday, our monthly Internet tasting party that has this month taken the theme of "Obscure Red Varietals." Thanks to Andy over at Spittoon.Biz I've been forced to hunt down something I've never tried... continue reading


The Wines of St. Helena, Together Again For The First Time

Once upon a time, there was a small town called St. Helena that sat quietly in the middle of a little known valley in Northern California. Throughout the 1800s it was settled by immigrant farmers and settlers moving West. Most set about farming and providing for their families, but a few enterprising souls put some vines in the ground, and boy did they grow. It didn't take long for people to realize that they were living someplace special when it came to wine. Vineyards multiplied, wineries sprang up large and small, and the folks in the wine business decided... continue reading


Tickets on Sale For The Aspen Food & Wine Classic

I have to decide carefully what type of events to post here. As you might imagine, I get requests from everyone under the sun to help publicize their events, even if they are wine dinners in small towns in Alabama. I've eventually come to the conclusion that most of the events that I post will only be really large public affairs that have a national, if not international draw to them. The Aspen Food and Wine Classic is definitely one such event. It's been going on for a long time, and consistently brings some of the best and brightest stars... continue reading


Gastronomy Behind The Scenes

There are a bunch of food and dining related public forums out there on the Internet, and I don't have the time to participate in any of them. Besides, 90% of the discussions there are either uninteresting or just drivel. Occasionally though, a gem pops up, and I'm thankful to have people like Alaina over at A Full Belly to point them out. Last week she highlighted someone who had posted a behind the scenes look at the kitchen of Grant Achatz, whose soon to be opened Alinea is the talk of the Chicago restaurant scene. One of the reasons... continue reading


2002 Torbreck "Runrig" Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia

Occasionally you come across great wines that clearly show the potential of a region, of a grape, or more likely, the combination of the two. Any number of the wines produced by Torbreck owner and winemaker David Powell could easily set the bar for what Australian Shiraz can do. Powell, originally trained as an accountant, started Torbreck in 1994 after more than 20 years of working in the Australian wine industry. Inspired by his success at nursing ancient Shiraz vines back to life, and convinced of the potential of the Barossa region based on his work in Australia and other... continue reading


Vinography/Manresa Wine Dinner Recap

Several of you have e-mailed me asking for details on the Story Wine Dinner that was held a couple of weeks ago in conjunction with Manresa Restaurant, so I thought I'd post a small re-cap here. Short story: it was a heck of a lot of fun, a great meal, and definitely something that I hope to do again. The dinner sold out at a capacity of 26, but we ended up having six last minute cancellations so in all we ended up with twenty people, including myself. I had selected five wines and in an afternoon of tasting and... continue reading


Gambero Rosso Tastings in NY and SF, March 14th & 16th

Hot diggety! The last word in Italian wine, Gambero Rosso (think of them as the Michelin guide to the wines of 'da Boot) has just released their 2005 Guide and they're celebrating by holding Tre Bicchieri tastings in San Francisco and New York. Tre Bicchieri, or "three glasses" is their highest rating for a wine, and hopefully this tasting will include many wines with that distinction (this year there are an unprecedented 264 wines to win that coveted award in all of Italy, the largest number ever, I believe). So if you have any interest in Italian wine whatsoever, this... continue reading


The Best of Napa Wine: A Report From Premiere Napa Valley Auction

"And people wonder why Napa wine is so overpriced," says the guy next to me. He's half joking, but both of us have just seen five cases of Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon sell for the mind numbing sum of $50,000. When the stuff is selling at ten grand a case, it's hard not to wonder how in the world Napa seems to justify such excess. Yet thoughts like that seem to be few and far between in this rapt crowd of hundreds on a Saturday afternoon, and it's easy to understand why. Napa is one of the world's most famous wine... continue reading


Kermit Lynch Finally Has A Web Site

Regular readers will know that Kermit Lynch is one of my wine heroes. A staunch defender of small, traditional French winemakers, Kermit has been importing great wines for years, and selling them out of his shop in Berekeley. He hasn't sprung for a full e-commerce experience yet, but you can get his charming newsletters online now, which are definitely worth checking out if you aren't familiar with them. Visit his site here.... continue reading


2002 Domaine Henri Pelle, "Clos des Blanchais," Menetou-Salon (Loire), France

I only recently learned of the small Loire Valley appellation known as Menetou-Salon which sits nearby to its more famous sister Sancerre. Widely regarded as the best producer in the appellation, Domaine Henry Pelle was also one of the first, at least in modern winemaking history. A classic, family-run operation of 15 people, Pelle has been operating for over three generations in the Menetou-Salon, well before it was granted appellation status in 1959. The Domaine has 75 organically farmed acres in and around the tiny town of Menetou-Salon. Here, the soil is incredibly calciferous, made up of millions of fossilized... 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

All Wine News, All The Time 2001 Chateau Potelle Estate "VGS" Chardonnay, Mt. Veeder, Napa 2001 Chateau Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan (Bordeaux), France Wine Blogging Wednesday#8: Sicilian Reds 2001 La Sirena Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Just How Good Is Manresa? Now THAT'S a Penal System Wine Vocabulary Examined, er... Chronicled Terroir Doesn't Exist and Parker Is Pricey Restaurant Review: Blackbird, Chicago

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