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~ April 2005 Archives ~



Vinography On Honeymoon

Ladies and gentlemen, Alder has left the building. After 18 months of posting nearly every day, I am getting married tomorrow and going on a honeymoon far far away. This means no cellphones, no e-mail, and most certainly, no blogging. I HAVE TURNED OFF ANONYMOUS COMMENTS IN MY ABSENCE. I'm sorry that this is necessary, but the comment spammers would take over if I didn't. I will return soon (but not too soon) and resume normal blogging activities. Ciao!... continue reading


The Appellation System is Meaningless?

This belongs in the "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" category of silly panel findings and institute resolutions. According to a news item in Decanter Magazine this morning, it seems that European Confederation of Independent Winemakers (CEVI), whoever they are, has decided that the system of appellations govering most European winegrowing and winemaking operations is doing more harm than good. "Three quarters of all wine produced in Europe now bears a specific geographic reference. The more this happens, the more devalued it becomes, and the less consumers want to pay for it." Whoa. Yeah, whenever I actually find out... continue reading


Ehlers Estate, Napa: Current Releases

Who ever heard of a non-profit winery? The first time the folks at Ehlers Estate told me they were, I nearly laughed. But somehow it's true -- amidst the glitz and glamour of Napa, there is a small winery that feeds all its profits back into the cardiovascular research foundation that owns it. There is, of course, a story behind this most unusual of affairs. The Ehlers estate was established in 1886 by Bernard Ehlers, who erected a winery building and carved his name in the stone above the doorway the year after he purchased the estate for $7,000 in... continue reading


How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?

This article has been out for a while, but I thought I'd point readers to a nice piece in the International Herald Tribune (and New York Times) by Eric Asimov about a growing issue in the wine world: steadily climbing alcohol levels in most red wines. How much of a problem is this? According to some people, it's a serious problem that makes wines significantly harder to enjoy, especially with food. To others, it's simply a natural consequence of better viticulture which is now yielding riper grapes with more sugar (which then gets converted to more alcohol during fermentation). I... continue reading


The First Bad Health News About Wine

Every day some new study comes out telling us all how great red wine is for your health. Well for the first time in a long while, there's news that drinking too much wine may not be the best thing for you, especially if you're stressed out or have a history of high blood pressure. Apparently wine, just like beer, tends to raise blood pressure on the whole. Here are some more details on the study.... continue reading


Vinitaly 2005: Verona, Italy. Final Dispatch & Biodynamic Wines.

Vinitaly is over and initial results are under scrutiny by wine industry watchers. The main topic of discussion is the large presence of international visitors this year at Vinitaly - as many as 30,000, making up 1 in 5 out of the 143,000 total visitors of this 39th edition of the exhibition. These numbers represented a growth of 12% over last year, and represented 21% of the total attendance. Numerous exhibitors renewed relationships, others established new contacts or were able to finalize relationships set in motion from afar with international industry members. Some exhibitors reported meeting many Americans and others... continue reading


2003 Olson & Ogden "Sonoma Valley" Syrah, Sonoma

As regular readers know, I am very interested in small, family-run wineries. These come in several flavors in the industry, and one of the most interesting to me is the estate-less label -- those wineries who have no permanent physical presence. These types of operations have no vineyards, own no buildings, and sometimes don't even own any equipment. Such wineries are most often the result of someone taking small steps towards their personal dream of being in the wine business, and are often sources for great wines at reasonable prices. Olson & Ogden winery is a perfect example of such... continue reading


2002 Whispering Dove, Oakville, Napa

Mr. Cult Cabernet I presume? Surely you've heard of Screaming Eagle. I tend to use it here at Vinography as more of a metaphor than actually a real wine. It's the 400-700 case production Napa Cabernet made by Heidi Peterson Barrett that sells for $1400 and change at retail. I think I've only ever seen one bottle in my life, and that was a mistake because I don't make enough money to be allowed to see the bottle (they check your tax returns before opening the box at the 3 wine stores in the world that get it). Well someone... continue reading


The Best Restaurants In The World for 2005

Well, it's out again: the list of the world's top fifty restaurants as judged by Restaurant Magazine in the U.K. Always a lightning rod for criticism from all sources, myself included, the list provides a point of view based largely on the editorial of the magazine and polling of chefs around the world. The biggest beef I have with the list is its (lack of) representation of Asian restaurants. I've not eaten at Tetsuya, but I have eaten at Nobu, and I guarantee you those aren't the best Japanese restaurants in the world. Nothing from Singapore? Nothing from Shanghai? And... continue reading


Forget Pirated Software, Watch Out For Pirated Wine

That is, if you live in China. Apparently tired of ripping off Microsoft Office and the latest Hollywood blockbusters, the Chinese have shifted their focus to another (really?) highly sought after product: Canadian Ice Wine. Yeah. Go figure. The knockoffs, which would never get far in the US with labels like "Whistler Estates Canada ice wine, Niagara Fall Pensula Rocky Mountain ice wine" [sic], have managed to significantly undermine sales of the real deal in China. The schizophrenic geography just doesn't trigger alarm bells after translation I guess. Read the full story here.... continue reading


WBW#8 Roundup: Sicilian Red Wines

I'm late to the train on this one, but the round up of all the internet wine reviews that made up Wine Blogging Wednesday #8 has been posted on the hosting site: I Love Sicily. It was a good turnout with over 26 entries (somehow mine didn't make it to the list) reviewing all sorts of Sicilian reds, most of were made from the star native grape Nero d'Avola. Check them out!... continue reading


Taste Testing The Mondovino Premise

If you've been poking around here the last few weeks (or anywhere else in the wine writing world) you'll know that Mondovino has created a bit of a stir, and that its director, Jonathan Nossiter is catching all sorts of flack from lots of people, including yours truly. Apparently the criticism has gotten to him lately, and prompted him to write quite the counter-attack in the public forum of Robert Parker's web site. It's a 4300 word venting spree that would make the Unabomber jealous. Elsewhere in the world people are putting some of the claims that Nossiter makes in... continue reading


29th Annual San Francisco Wine Auction: April 29th

Gear up your taste buds. The 29th Annual San Francisco Wine Auction is in 2 weeks, and there are about 100 tickets left. Tickets for what? How about a wine tasting, for starters, that features some of California's most prestigious wines from the likes of Staglin, Caymus, Silver Oak, Far Niente, Cakebread, Duckhorn, Flowers, Joseph Phelps, Jones Family, Jordan, Heitz, Patz & Hall, Quintesa, Spring Mountain, the list goes on. Then after the tasting (and the silent auction) you'll sit down for a dinner courtesy of Michael Mina, one of San Francisco's current celebrity chefs. The whole event benefits at-risk... continue reading


Vinitaly 2005: Verona, Italy. Day 2 & 3

As I mentioned before, this year at Vinitaly I am paying particular attention to "alternatives" - new and different ideas in the marketplace. When you visit such a big show, with more than 4,000 exhibitors and an estimated 20 to 30 thousand wines at your disposal, certainly you have to make choices. So we have a plan. And every good plan has to anticipate surprises. This year seems to be the year of the rediscovery of autochthonous wines, a.k.a. indigenous grape varieties. Italy has an enormous variety of native grapes. In recent years, many proud wine growers, often assisted by... continue reading


2000 Curto "Fontanelle" Nero d'Avola Riserva, Sicily

Old cobblestone streets, waves crashing at the base of limestone cliffs, old women in black shawls sipping espresso in the morning. Ah yes. Sicily. This month's virtual wine tasting event, Wine Blogging Wednesday is all about Sicilian red wine. The Curto family is judged by some to be newcomers in the winemaking trade in Sicily. It's easy to understand why. After all, they've only been making wine since 1670, quite a few hundred years less than some of their neighbors. Just around the time that the town of Charleston (in what would be South Carolina about 100 years later) was... continue reading


Thoughts on the James Beard Writing Award Nominees

I've never paid much attention to the James Beard awards, apart from a casual browsing through their ranks to see if chefs I've experienced have been recognized for their work. This year, however, I found myself paying particular attention to the group of award nominations focused on writing, and wine writing in particular. As I browse through this year's nominees, I find myself struck by the notion that these may be perhaps the only national awards given to wine writers, and then I find myself paying even more attention. This years nominations in the space of wine writing are as... continue reading


Kingston Vineyards, Casablanca Chile: Current Releases

Courtney Kingston's American grandfather sailed to Chile on a quest to find copper and gold. He found a lot of the former, and very little of the latter, but stuck around nonetheless, and became a beef and dairy rancher in his later life, farming the very land parcels that he once prospected. Three generations later the family is still on the farm, and instead of cattle, the family now grows grapes in what, over the years, has been established as the westernmost part of the Casablanca Valley appellation of Chile. The switch from ranching to winemaking wasn't an easy nor... continue reading


Vinitaly 2005: Verona, Italy. Ball in play.

"An event achieving impressive growth and providing the essential showcase for Italian wine" proclaimed inaugural address of the 2005 edition of Vinitaly, held alongside Sol and Enolitech, simultaneous shows dedicated to extra virgin olive oil and wine cellar/olive mill technologies, respectively. Record facts and figures equally confirm the "status" of the show this year - 4,210 exhibitors compared with 4,047 in 2004 over an area of 74,300 square meters. The Exhibition Centre now offers a further 10,000 square metres to accommodate exhibitors that were previously on the "waiting list." As in past years, it is easy to sense mixed... continue reading


1997 Dolce, Napa

This wine may, in fact, be the strangest wine produced in California (especially if you leave out all those people making blueberry wine). Its strangeness has nothing to do with any qualities of the wine itself (if you continue reading you'll see that it's pretty good) but instead comes from the fact that there was someone crazy enough to attempt to make a wine like this in California. You see, Dolce is basically a Sauternes, but made in California. It doesn't sound so strange on the face of it, after all Napa makes Cabernet and so does Bordeaux. Bordeaux makes... continue reading


Vinitaly 2005: Verona, Italy. Before Opening.

The big show is coming: Vinitaly 2005 is opening its doors today to crowds of professionals and "simple consumers" like me, your reporter on site here in Verona. Some little worries and shadows hang over the event after the death of the Pope John Paul II, last Saturday night. The Exhibitions Authority of Verona (VeronaFiere) in a statement "expresses immense sadness but does confirm the programme will proceed for Vinitaly 2005 (7/11 April) in a spirit of maximum caring and respect for the memory of John Paul II and great sadness for the death of the Pope shared in the... continue reading


Introducing Guest Blogger Giampiero Nadali

It is my pleasure to introduce the second ever guest blogger here at Vinography. To my great disappointment, this year I am not able to attend Vinitaly 2005, the largest and grandest Italian wine convention in the world. So I've done the next best thing: enlisted the services of an enthusiastic wine blogging volunteer from Italy named Giampiero Nadali. By day, Giampiero works in high tech and telecom, but by night he is the author of Aristide.Biz, a very nicely done Italian wine blog, as well as his own personal blog. "Aristide is the symbol of an identity. Identity we... continue reading


Burgundy vs. The World: Matt Kramer Calls The Fight

I really like Matt Kramer. As far as I'm concerned he's the best thing that the Wine Spectator has going for it. For those who don't know, he writes an opinion column every month that is passionate, down to earth, and often funny. For my money he's one of the best wine writers in the business right now. Anyhow, a post on a bulletin board I belong to alerted me to an article he wrote today in the New York Sun about the Burgundy Empire and how, in his words, it is dying. I know nothing that stirs the souls... continue reading


Giving A New Meaning To "Wine Geek"

I'm STILL laughing about this. I've never seen a more perfect synergy of tech geek and wine snob than this rack-mounted wine rack (that doesn't really roll off the tongue now, does it?) that appeared this morning in Gizmodo. It's totally impractical unless you have one of those huge refrigerated server rooms. Otherwise the idea of storing your wine between heat belching computers is laughable, and just the type of thing that an engineer would come up with at 4:30 AM after 20 cups of coffee. You gotta check it out.... continue reading


2000 Pago De Los Capellanes "Tinto Reserva ," Ribera Del Duero, Spain

I rarely take recommendations from readers, and even then, only from readers that have been regularly e-mailing and commenting on the site for some time. I get a lot of wine suggestions, and I can't spend my time chasing down all of them. In this case though, the person was so insistent and sincere, and on top of that, was able to compare the wine to several that I had reviewed already, that I decided to give it a shot, and I'm glad I did. Located very close to the heart of the Ribero Del Duero region of Spain, Pago... continue reading


Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants From The Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle, and more specifically, Restaurant Editor Michael Bauer released their list of the top 100 restaurants in the Bay Area. With all such lists, the making of which I utterly dislike as a concept, it must be taken with a grain of salt. Here are the top 17 restaurants according to Bauer (in reverse alphabetical order by star rating): 4 STARS: The French Laundry (Yountville) La Folie Fleur de Lys Chez Panisse (Berkeley) 3.5 STARS Zuni Cafe Terra (St. Helena) PlumpJack Cafe Oliveto (Oakland) Michael Mina Jardiniere Gary Danko Farmhouse Inn (Forestville) Farallon Dry Creek Kitchen (Healdsburg)... continue reading


A Free Wine Course From The CIA

That's the Culinary Institute of America, by the way, (not the Central Intelligence Agency). Thanks to a tip from Amy over at Cooking With Amy, I learned this morning that the CIA is offering a free online wine course, presumably as a hook to get people into their overall online offering. Not wanting to subject my readers to anything untested and potentially schmaltzy, I took it myself this morning so I could bring you a full review. In all, it's a reasonably good course for wine novices who are looking to learn a bit more about wine. I think if... continue reading


It's Not Parker's Fault, It's Global Warming

With Mondovino out in theaters in the US now, there's no shortage of finger pointing and arguments about who's responsible for the supposed homogenization and globalization of wine. It's Parker! It's Michel Rolland! It's the Stupid American Public! It's Evil Rich People! I had to chuckle today when I came across this article which says, oh no, it's not the fault of any of those people. You see it's actually Global Warming that's responsible for all those wines tasting the same. It seems that some scientists and French winemakers expect more and more heatwaves in the future which will result... continue reading


2002 Carlisle Syrah, Sonoma

As you know, I have a soft spot in my heart for struggling family wineries, those that have grown up in fits and starts powered by the passion, ingenuity, sweat, and tears of normal folks who decide to follow their dream. Mike Officer and his wife Kendall Carlisle, who lends her last name to their Carlisle Winery & Vineyards, have lived that story. It's a story that has become almost a cliché over time: young man has his first sip of real wine, falls in love, dreams of making wine, starts making it in his kitchen, then the garage, then... continue reading


The Future Of Dining: No Food, Only Scents

For those that have seen and experienced everything comes the latest innovation in dining experiences. Forget architectural food, that's so 1990. Forget molecular gastronomy and inkjet printed food. That's so 2004. Ready yourself for a meal comprised purely of smells. Wine aficionados may perhaps be able to appreciate it most. Why chew when you can inhale? A recently opened restaurant in Washington, DC offers just that. 9 courses of pure scents with coffee bean "palate cleansers" in between for $65. Read the review here.... 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

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Most Recent Entries

Vinography On Honeymoon The Appellation System is Meaningless? Ehlers Estate, Napa: Current Releases How Much Alcohol Is Too Much? The First Bad Health News About Wine Vinitaly 2005: Verona, Italy. Final Dispatch & Biodynamic Wines. 2003 Olson & Ogden "Sonoma Valley" Syrah, Sonoma 2002 Whispering Dove, Oakville, Napa The Best Restaurants In The World for 2005 Forget Pirated Software, Watch Out For Pirated Wine

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